A Chocolately Saturday in Union Square

Morning!

Here’s a little overdue update for your Tuesday morning.

A couple of weekends ago, Tim and I decided to have a little date day in Union Square in Somerville.  We headed over to Taza Chocolate Factory for a chocolate filled afternoon!  If that’s not a great day, I don’t know what is.  🙂

If you live in the Boston area and are looking for a fun and inexpensive daytime idea, I highly recommend checking out what Taza is all about.  The tours are only $5 each, they last 45 minutes, and they run often on Wednesdays – Sundays.  Definitely sign up ahead of time though because there is a maximum number of people allowed on each tour.

We got there a little early, so we spent some time browsing the Taza Chocolate Factory Store.  The store is a great little space where you can look directly into their manufacturing facility while sampling different chocolates.  We learned that every piece of Taza Chocolate is made from bean-to-bar at the Somerville factory.  In fact, the chocolate is roasted, winnowed, grinded, tempered, and molded in-house and by hand!  Pretty cool, huh?

I loved the chocolate because it was all DARK chocolate – yum!

I also appreciated the small pieces for sampling.  Sometimes too much can leave you feeling gross and stuffed, but these were the perfect size to avoid that too full feeling.  We sampled lots of different types of stone ground chocolate, including:

  • Taza Stone Ground Bars — High percentage, single-origin pure dark chocolate bars with intense cacao flavor and an ever-so-slightly gritty texture.
  • Taza Chocolate Mexicano — Rustic, round dark chocolate discs with a distinctively gritty texture, some sweet, some savory, some spicy.
  • Taza Chocolate Covered Treats — Fresh organic nuts and cacao nibs, roasted in-house and covered in rich layer of stone ground dark chocolate.

One of my favorite parts – obviously – was snatching up all the recipe cards they had up for grabs!

Nerd alert…

What?!  I just wanted some for my recipe collection!

The tour itself was fun.  Our tour guide was very enthusiastic and personable, which really does make such a difference.  During the guided 45 minutes, we were able to sample more stone ground dark chocolate, we learned about cocoa beans, and we got to see the machinery used to make the traditional stone ground chocolate in the factory!

One funny part — they made everyone wear hair nets on the tour!  Tim even had to wear a BEARD net – LOL!  Look how funny we look:

We left with a handful of goodies — clearly we couldn’t leave empty-handed!!

That box of chocolate covered almonds?  Already gone!!

After our time at Taza, we strolled around Union Square a bit but eventually started feeling a bit hungry for lunch.  I decided I wanted to go back to Bloc 11 Cafe, the same place I grabbed lunch with the CBC ladies the day of our fitness demonstration a few weeks ago.  I love this place!  It’s such a fun little hangout.

We started out with some massive drinks — all the chocolate made us thirsty!

A lemonade for Tim, and a giant iced coffee for me.

Seriously — it was a HUGE iced coffee!!

Tim and I ended up splitting this sandwich for lunch, “The Clover.”

Locally made fresh moz­zarella, arugula pesto, caramelized onions, tomato & greens on baguette.  Holy moly.  Second amazing sandwich from this place in one month.

That night we were tired from our day of fun, so we decided to have a low-key night in.  That was the night we cooked the zucchini for dinner — and had (yet another) Chopped marathon.

Ever been on a chocolate tour?  Do you guys have any recommendations for cheap “days of fun?” 

Be back later with a new cupcake recipe!!

Friday. Saturday. Sunday.

Hello!  Feel like I haven’t sat down to blog in quite some time.  How’s everyone’s weekend?

Friday

…was another crazy busy day at work.  Quick little poll — what’s worse, being so busy at work you have no time to breathe, or being in a lull where you are really bored and the day drags?  I can’t decide.  A middle ground would be nice!  By the time Friday night came around, I was POOPED and wanted nothing more than another lazy Friday night in on the couch with the boyfriend.

Dinner was inspired by a recipe that caught my eye on For the Love of Cooking last week.  That site called it Gemelli with Chicken, Garlic, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, and Asiago, but I’ll just call it “Really Easy & Yummy Rotini.”

Really Easy & Yummy Rotini

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Pepper to taste
  • 7 oz whole wheat rotini pasta, cooked per instructions
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Several fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • Asiago cheese, to taste

Directions

Tim cooked the chicken on the grill instead of cooking it in the pan like the original recipe called for.  So I guess that’s step 1.  Grill the chicken!

Then:

  1. Cook pasta per instructions on box, and drain.
  2. Add the olive oil and minced garlic to same pot you cooked pasta in, cook for 30 seconds while stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and add the pasta to garlic and olive oil, tossing to coat evenly.
  4. Add chopped up chicken, tomatoes, basil, asiago cheese, then season with pepper to taste.

Apparently we were hungry, because we finished ALL of it!  Enjoyed with some cabernet savignon.

By some I mean we then proceeded to kill the bottle between the two of us while watching The Ides of March on the couch.

George Clooney AND Ryan Gosling in the same movie?  Yes, please.

Wasn’t sure if I would enjoy because politics ain’t really my thang, but I did.  Good movie.

Saturday

…I was up super early for a day of fitness fun with all my gym ladies.  Liz’s van party bus left the Oak Square Y at 8:30 am, we headed over to CBC and had a nice little Two A Day Saturday sweat sesh with Erin’s Cutz followed by Emily’s Kix.  My calves are on FIRE today from these two classes back to back.  I really liked the Saturday morning atmosphere at CBC though.  Since my weeks are getting so crazy, I need to try to get over there more on the weekends!

After classes, a whole group of us trekked over to Bloc 11 Cafe for lunch.

We were quite the sight, I think 10 of us all sweaty charging down the street for some good eats.  I definitely want to go back to this restaurant again, it was super cute and my lunch was delish.  I ordered “The Terrace” which was turkey, ched­dar, red onion, avo­cado, tomato & romaine on focac­cia with gar­lic mayo.  Except I asked for the sandwich with no mayo and I substituted whole wheat bread instead of the focaccia.  Definitely hit the spot after our workout!

Our next destination after lunch was Somerville High School for the Somerville Mayor’s Fitness Challenge.  Twelve of us represented CBC by helping Kristen out with the Corpbasics table for a bit, and then demonstrating about fifteen minutes of Kix.  Just bits and pieces of a few different routines.  More on the Somerville Mayor’s Fitness Challege coming soon!

All of that happened between 8:00am and 1:30pm — I was home by 2 and spent the afternoon lounging and finally enjoying some me time.  Got some laundry done, caught up on some blog reading, and munched on some sweet potato “fries” that I baked in the oven.  Was definitely craving something sweet and salty, so with a bit of sea salt those made the perfect little afternoon snack.

Saturday Night

…was date night!  Tim and I haven’t had a real going out date night in so long.  We had a BuyWithMe coupon to Tommy Doyle’s in Harvard Square, so we started our night there.  It felt nice to wear an outfit that wasn’t a work outfit, spandex, or sweatpants.

Anyways, at Tommy Doyle’s we sat at a high table in the upstairs bar area.  We started out with a beer – we each ordered a Harpoon Celtic Ale.

Then moved on to an appetizer – a pesto and avocado dip.

This doesn’t look like anything special (I was skeptical, I mean really?  A plate of bread?) but the dip was delicious and actually went really nicely with the pita.  Tim and I liked that they gave us enough dip that we didn’t run out.  A lot of places can be stingy!!  I also ordered a Magic Hat #9 after I finished my Celtic Ale.  Love those “not quite pale ales.”

My dinner was a salad with grilled chicken, goat cheese, red onion, cranberries, candied walnuts, and a blackberry vinaigrette.

Honestly, it wasn’t anything exciting.  The Tommy Doyle’s menu last night actually didn’t thrill me, they definitely didn’t have as many options on there as they did the last time we went, or even as they advertise online.  But we needed to use our coupon before it expired so it did the trick.  And Tim loves it there for their Irish food — right up his alley.

We decided that after dinner we wanted to venture to a few other places, so we also enjoyed a beer at Grendel’s Den (Rapscallion Honey) and Grafton Street (Cisco Whale’s Tale — not a fan).  Caught a cab home, and went to bed.  We love bar hopping around Harvard Square — so fun!

Sunday

Today I literally stayed in bed until 11:30.  Lazy morning = much-needed, and it wasn’t even because I was hung over.  I just really needed to catch up on sleep.  I eventually dragged myself out of bed and got ready for Ashley and Aloisha to pick me up.  We headed to the Needham Y and got certified in PUSH.  Loved that we actually did the moves out instead of just sitting there talking about them.  (Yes, we’re all crazy).  So now I have some new killer exercises for everyone – but you’ll all have to wait a week.  I’m off to run a couple of errands and pack for Oklahoma City this week for work.  Gotta catch a plane in the morning, bleh.

Y folks — Ashley will be subbing my Tuesday night, and Rausan will be subbing on Thursday morning this week.

Tell me what you guys did this weekend!  Anything fun?