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Cinco de Mayo!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, May 05, 2016

It's Cinco de Mayo today!  A lot of people think that it's the independence day of Mexico, like the Fourth of July in the United States. It is indeed one of the biggest celebrations in Mexico, but it's different from their Independence Day, or Grito de Dolores, which is on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo (literally means the fifth of May) is the festivity to commemorate Mexico's unexpected victory at the Battle of Puebla against French aggression on May 5th, 1862. The United States version of celebrating Cinco de Mayo is said to begin around the same time, in the 1860s, when Mexican miners in California overjoyed with the news of their country's surprising victory, and celebrated with fireworks, drinks and traditional dances. The tradition began to quickly spread throughout the country in the late 1860s and early 1900s, and cities with large Mexican population, like Chicago and Houston, followed the celebration tradition which initiated in California. By this time, the celebration included traditional foods and it grew to the community-wide festivity in the entire United States.

After 1950s, Cinco de Mayo gained further recognition as a Mexican tradition, partly because of commercialization of the holiday, and a series of social movements calling for the equal rights for all ethnicities and communities of color in the 70s and 80s. Nowadays Cinco de Mayo is one of the most well-known Mexican holiday celebrated in the United States by many different cultures. In the recent years, the holiday tradition is celebrated in many different countries, especially in English-speaking countries with large number of Mexican immigrants like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Cinco de Mayo celebration can be seen even in Tokyo, Japan, to recognize the increasing number of immigrants and exchange students from Mexico.

So, how can you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Boston? Perhaps you can go to a Mexican restaurant today or this weekend to get a taste of the Mexican culture! Here are the 5 highly-recommended Mexican restaurants in the Boston area you can eat at and enjoy the tasty traditional Mexican cuisine! (suggested by Phantom Gourmet) If you are not familiar with the Mexican cuisine and some Spanish words associated with Cinco de Mayo, click this link here for this useful website!

Painted Burro: 219 Elm St., Somerville

El Centro:  472 Shawmut Ave., Boston (also in Brookline and Belmont)

Papagayo:  15 West St., Boston (also in Somerville and Saugus)

La Siesta: 70 Woodside Ave., Winthrop

Rosa Mexicano: 155 Seaport Blvd., Boston




The OG Lemonade

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Beyoncé’s new album, Lemonade. She had an HBO special video release, and she basically publicly embarrassed her cheating husband – go Queen Bey.

I’m sure you heard about the Jay-Z, Beyoncé scandal when it happened. Her sister, Solange, took upon herself to smack around Jay-Z when rumors of his affair with Rachel Roy surfaced. Now, it’s not really confirmed whether or not they actually had an affair – but when Queen Bey decides to write a song talking about Becky with the good hair, you best believe it happened. If you didn’t make that connection: Rachel is Becky with the good hair (just google her, she really does have some great hair).

You’re probably asking me what this has to do with any of you? Well, it really has nothing to do with you. Unless you’re a close personal friend of Queen Bey, this probably hasn’t really affected your life. However, let’s think back to the title of her album. That’s right, sweet and sour, ice-cold lemonade. All this lemonade talk had me really craving a tall glass of the stuff. So it had me thinking, Boston must have good lemonade. Yeah okay, that sounds ridiculously boring – and who really goes out for a glass of lemonade? Well, I do. I happen to love lemonade so keep your judgments aside. So as to not bore you, I came up with a lemonade-pairing list too. That’s right, you won’t have to walk up to a nice restaurant and order lemonade. That way, you won’t be embarrassed, and they most likely won’t spit in your drink.

Bon Me

Bon Me is mostly known for their food trucks, that roam around Boston leaving a trail of ginger and garlic deliciousness behind. They have everything from sandwiches, to rice bowls, to noodle soups, but guess what they also have? Lemonades, duh! And they don’t just have one, they have two. Bon Me – the lemonade truck of a lifetime. Good news for you, you won’t have to run after a truck in the middle of the street, because they have two permanent locations: at the Boston Public Market and in Harvard Square (what did I tell you? Harvard Square has everything). Once you order either the Thai Basil Limeade or the Spicy Ginger Lemonade (I’m not giving you an option, you must order either or), make sure to order the Soba Noodle Salad and BBQ Pork to go along with them.

(forget the salad, put some bread in your order)

Café Jaffa

I love Middle Eastern food. I’ve talked about how much I love lamb, and lamb just so happens to be one of the most popular cuts of meat in Middle Eastern cuisine.  Café Jaffa has basically everything lamb. Lamb Kabobs, Lamb Chops, Lamb Schwarma – guys this is lamb paradise. Not that I would condone getting anything but lamb at Café Jaffa, but once you order the lemonana (lemonade with mint, yum), you can either pair it with the obvious lamb kebab sandwich, or the falafel plate.

(steve carell gets me)

Moby Dick

Yes, I’m back with the Middle Eastern food (damn C, back at it with the kabobs and hummus). Hey, I told you how much I love it – so bear with me guys. I’ve only been to Moby Dick once, but that’s honestly all it took. Seriously, they have one of the best rice dishes I’ve ever had. It’s on Northeastern campus, and you’ll most likely walk past it- it’s squished between two other restaurants. So keep a watchful eye out, because you seriously don’t want to miss this place. This blog is about lemonade, right? So I should mention they also serve saffron lemonade. Yes, saffron the super expensive Spanish spice – they put that in their lemonade. That’s some fancy fare right there.

Boston Common

This isn’t a restaurant, so don’t feel embarrassed if all you want to order is a lemonade. The Boston Common is one of the most beautiful parts of Boston, but what most people don’t know, it has some pretty great munchies too. Last summer I was walking around the park, and I really started craving something ice cold (no not a beer, and definitely not water). So I went on a search, and I found like 10 lemonade stands. If you’re lucky enough, and you’re there early, you’ll be able to snatch some lemonade slushies. If not, just have a regular lemonade – it’s just as delicious, and it won’t melt as quickly as the slushy. If you’re feeling hungry, and are craving something cheesy (I mean, who isn’t always craving cheese?), go find the arepa stand. Arepas, for those of you who don’t know (shame on you), is a Colombian corn patty cheese sandwich type thing. It’s really hard to explain to people who didn’t grow up on it, so do yourself a favor and discover the goodness that is the arepa de choclo.

(that's an arepa AND lemonade stand)

Okay, I get it lemonades aren’t things you go out of your way for, but lemonade pairings, they sure are.  As Beyoncé says, this is your final warning, you know (lemonades) give you life.

I’m not kidding, go get yourself a lemonade right now.

You have 24 hours.

(yaaaaas queeen)

Run, Boston, Run!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, April 14, 2016

Marathon Monday is quite possibly known as Boston's second Christmas. And I'm not even exaggerating here. I was actually speaking to one of my neighbors on Monday, and she told me how she marks off the whole weekend and week before Marathon Monday, just to prep herself (and she's not even running the marathon).

(just in case you didn't catch my title reference)

Before 2013, the Marathon was a day to go out, have a couple (or several) drinks, and cheer on friends, family, or random runners at the finish line. That all changed on April 15th, 2013. I don't want to go into the specifics, because quite frankly, we all know what happened at the Boston bombing. I was sitting on my friend's couch, enjoying her birthday festivities and my Georgetown cupcake, when all of a sudden, everything changed. I scrambled to find my phone, just to tell my parents and sister that I was okay, and that I'd try to keep them as informed as possible. Soon after, all cell services were blocked and I felt like I was in a some sort of trance. I was a freshman in college! I had never experienced anything like it, and needless to say, that was one of the worst weeks of my life.

I am beyond lucky to say that I wasn't on the finish line that day, and that my best friend had decided to leave Boylston about 15 minutes before the bombs went off.

Almost three years after that horrific day, Boston has gotten back on track. What happened during the marathon was one of the worst things Boston has ever seen, but what happened after, truly showed how one city can really come together in a time of remorse. There was a massive amount of support given to everyone and anyone who was in some way affected by the marathon bombing, and Boston didn't let anyone take their strength and resilience away. The city was the true embodiment of Boston Strong.

Though I do think we should take Monday to love our families and friends a little more, to thank whatever force you believe in that we're still around and we're still alive, I also believe there are many places around Boston to do so.

Boston Marathon Pre-Race Dinner

Whether you're running the marathon, or just watching it, there's always an excuse to carbo-load. At City Hall, starting at 4pm the night before, there will be an abundance of trays to any and all food and marathon lovers. If you're a superhuman running the Boston Marathon, you can eat for free! If you're lazy like me, and the thought of running more than 5 minutes absolutely horrifies you, you'll just have to pay $20 for all you can eat. On the menu are FOUR different pasta dishes, and a salad if you're feeling like pasta isn't enough for you.

Midnight Marathon Bike Ride

Now, I'm not much (or at all) of a runner. In fact, I actually hate running. I get bored, and I just don't have the will-power to force myself to do it. However, I do love biking. I am an avid spinner, and will literally bike anywhere because (thankfully) I've built up a resistance to do so. This event is basically perfect for me, but I will most likely find some excuse to stuff my face instead of attending. But don't be like me, and bike away! Every year, thousands of people gather and bike across the city, only to be greeted by a pancake breakfast right after. Yes, it's basically like pulling an all nighter for pancakes, but you deserve them after pedaling so much.

(pedal away pedal gods)

T.J. Spirits

This isn't so much an event, more like a restaurant that I highly recommend. Even though it's not located anywhere near the finish line, this place has some true marathon celebrations. You'll see your typical finger-lickin' wings, and make-your-own burgers, but what's most important is their marathon inspired beer. They serve Sam Adams' signature 26.2 marathon brew. It has a lower alcohol content, so if you're a runner looking for a post race drink, this may be the perfect solution for you - because if I were to have a regular beer on a post-workout empty stomach, I'd probably faint.

Cityside

If you're looking for a more up close and personal view of the marathon, Cityside has panoramic views that are just for you. On Marathon Monday, they open at 9am (say it with me: rise, and shine, and wine), so arrive there early for the best views on their rooftop patio or by the windows! Between the drafts, fishbowls, and greasy eats, you'll be glad you're watching the marathon, and not running it.

I rounded out what I think are some of the best to-dos on Patriot's Day. There are obviously hundreds of other places you can go, and if you didn't particularly like any of my suggestions (rude),  you can look on the BAA website and find some other places (mine are the best, just sayin').

Before I sign off, I'd also like to remind everyone of the holiday on Sunday, April 17th. If you happen to not know (shame on you), it's INTERNATIONAL (yeah she's internationally known) IT'S MY SISTER'S BDAY, DAY. You might be busy prepping for the race, or carbo loading, but whatever you're doing, send some positive vibes out and have a drink for her. She likes champagne (Moet and Veuve only, duh) and chocolate lava cakes, so order those.

Happy birthday my munchkin. Even though no one likes you when you're 23, everyone loves you when you're 24. 

(even leo)

Milking on Some Shakes

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, April 07, 2016

The world is having a milkshake moment. No, it's not a delayed response to Kelis's song Milkshake, circa 2003 - even though, 13 years later, it's still a major hit and you can catch me singing and (poorly) dancing along to it. All over the world, restaurants have been making giant milkshakes. Yes. GIANT MILKSHAKES.

It all started in the land down under, Aussie baby. Patissez, in 2015, started serving their sinfully delicious concoctions in adorable little mason jars. Well, not really mason jars because they're not in America, but pretty close to it. Now, this all sounds pretty impressive, but what puts this pastry shop over the top, is the fact that when they first started serving their milkshakes, they were only 52 days old. In 52 days, they were able to get international attention on their now nationally prided milkshakes. I can't even get my life together in 52 days - but that's beside the point. Canberra, the town where the shop is located, used to be known as Australia's boring getaway. But bore no more - they have thousands of visitors flying, boating, driving, walking (literally everything) just to get a taste of their giant caloric treats. As of now, they have flavors like Salty Nutz, Muddy Pat, French Vanilla (if you're going all the way to Aussie, please don't be vanilla and order the vanilla), and last but not least - wait for it - Nutella & Salty Pretzel. The Nutella & Salty Pretzel is quite possibly about to solve my biggest problem - being too lazy to dunk my pretzels in my giant jar of Nutella. First world problems am I right?

(just let the image sink in)

Okay, the reality of it is, most of us can't afford a foodie trip to Australia, but thanks to the beautiful island of Manhattan, we have basically the same (maybe even a little better) milkshakes on this side of the pond. This place is called Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (say that three times fast). With two locations, one in SoHo and the other in the Meatpacking District, they're gathering crowds of thousands, causing about a two hour wait time just to get a sip and a bite of their creations. Their milkshakes measure up to about a foot tall, and get this, they're not going to break your bank. They're $15, and they can feed an army. Black Tap's chef and owner, Joe Isidori, credits his success to his wife. Legend has it (can it really be a legend if it happened in November), she asked Joe to whip up a cotton candy milkshake, she posted about it on Instagram, and the milkshake cult began. They have everything from the OG cotton candy, to cookie, to salted caramel apple, and get this, a birthday cake milkshake with an entire slice of cake on top. My sister's birthday is next weekend (hi munchkin, expect a birthday post soon), so it's basically the perfect time to not only have a slice of cake but a giant milkshake too.  

(hi pretties)

Again, these all sound fine and dandy, but we're in Boston, and Boston HAS to have delicious milkshakes too. Well, I'm way ahead of you. I've made a list of the best milkshakes in Boston , so put your mileage cards away, and sell your NYC bus ticket, you won't need to go far for these treats.

Lizzy's Homemade Ice Cream

Classic Vanilla Milkshake

Even though ordering vanilla ice cream at an ice cream parlor is, well, vanilla - it's also the best way to test out how good their ice cream really is. Vanilla is the easiest flavor to make, but the hardest flavor to make well. Everyone has it, so to really nail it, you have to do something truly incredible. That's what Lizzy's has managed to do. Their milkshakes milk to ice cream ratio is just spot on, and it's not at all watery - you'll sip on a creamy and smooth, yet thick milkshake. Maybe you're not so vanilla, vanilla.

Burger Dive

Peanut Butter & Banana Milkshake

I'm allergic to bananas and I'm putting this on my lineup, so you're welcome. Even though I'd likely take the banana out of my shake, I'd definitely still order it. Guys, this is the Elvis of milkshakes. You might be slightly confused with why I'm sending you there - the ambiance is a little...interesting.. Featuring stunning views of a parking lot, but it's worth the eye sore. If you're not a peanut butter banana person, order either the s'mores or fudge brownie milkshake, and let your chocolate mustache rejoice in all its glory.

LA Burdick

Dark Chocolate

Speaking of chocolate, if you're a fan of it, you should definitely make a pit stop at LA Burdick. I'll preface my ode to the dark chocolate shake by mentioning what makes it so unique - it has no ice cream in it. This may offend you, but just listen up for a second. Instead of ice cream, LA Burdick freezes little cubes of  its absolutely incredible hot chocolate, then blends them. You'll then get a dollop of whipped cream and an actual truffle on top. If that doesn't convince you to run to LA Burdick right now, are you really a chocoholic?

Emack & Bolio's

LITERALLY ANYTHING, but actually order the Orange Cream ASAP

My love-hate relationship with this place comes down to a simple fact - they're my next door neighbors and they have made my scale hate me. So I technically don't hate them, I just really really love them too much. I'm a huge fan of Orange Creams, and this place makes me order them to the point where my pants no longer fit. Their recipe is super simple: OJ and Vanilla ice cream or yogurt (I obviously order the yogurt - trying to watch my weight over here), but it's simply delicious.

I know it's cold outside, but milkshakes are appropriate in any season. So go, unbutton your skinny jeans, and have a shake. Who knows? Your milkshakes might just bring some boys to the yard.

Get Lost in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 31, 2016

I'm inching closer and closer to graduation every single day. And yeah, it's absolutely terrifying. So as my college years come to a close, I've become extremely nostalgic. I mean, for goodness sakes, I moved to Boston four years ago. Four years ago, my mom and I drove up to the front steps of my freshmen year dorm. Four years ago, I walked into my room and yelped: "Mom, what is this? A prison?"

Well, the good thing is it wasn't truly a prison. Yes, my single-turned-double was extremely tight, and my roommate and I had to find some creative ways to coexist - but I wouldn't change my experience for anything.  For the first years of college I remember being sure that once college was done, I'd be fleeing Boston. Well, that's definitely not true anymore. My plans are to stay here, and live blissfully with my lobster rolls and green beer.

Although I'm staying here, and I guess not much will change, I thought I'd compile a list of must-dos in Boston. I didn't do much exploring my first few years of college, but more and more I realized how much this city has to offer. You guys should be aware of that too.

(even amy poehler agrees with me)

 Explore the North End, and not just for the Mike's Pastry

I'm a sucker for lobster tails. They're puffy and creamy, and I could easily chow down on like 15 of them. Mike's Pastry, besides its cannolis, is pretty well known for its lobster tails. Even though every time I go to the North End, I run straight to Mike's - I'm telling you to do the exact opposite of that. There is SO much to do in the North End, and Mike's should still be part of it - but not the only part.

Some of you may be a little far to do this, but if your walk is an hour or less, take that chance and walk all the way to the North End. You'll find all these little nook and crannies, and you might just stumble into a restaurant that you wouldn't have otherwise. That's what happened to me when I walked into Trattoria Il Panino. Okay, before you start telling me that this place is well known and that I'm ridiculous for even bringing it up, let me explain myself first. When I walked to the North End over the summer, I went around and through. The back of the trattoria was hidden in this small street, and it looked great, so I walked in. Most trattorias around Boston aren't true Italian. This place isn't like that at all - this is the true Italian. The minute I told them my family was from Italy, they immediately started speaking to me in Italian. Thankfully, I understand some of it (thanks daddy). I got some of the best service I've ever gotten, and I left with a full and happy belly.

(I ate that entire thing)

Because I'm always hungry and apparently an entire skillet of pasta couldn't fill me up, I went looking for dessert. Gigi's was the only gelato place that I could see from a short distance - but don't be lazy like me. Go on a hunt! Gigi's was good, but nothing compared to the true goodness that I found inside of Bova's Bakery. Bova's is a lot like Mike's: you know, the old school traditional bakeries that look straight out of Don Vito's neighborhood. Who knows? You might even bump into a Corleone. But back to the point - Bova's is delicious. You might feel a little lost, because they sell both baked goods and calzones - so do what I did, take the calzone to go, and eat a cannoli (or five).

Non c'è niente come il cibo italiano.

Since you're in the North End, go to the Boston Public Market

I've talked extensively about the Boston Public Market, so I won't go on for long. Moving from the Italian streets of the North End to the market might seem a little weird at first - one is very old school, and the other is a brand new, state of the art indoor market. But you just can't miss this market. You'll most likely be filled to the rim from your five cannolis, but just take a stroll.  You can pick up some flowers, and have a sip of Hopsters Alley's IPA.

Sit and chill by the Charles River

There are many times during my day where (my boyfriend and) I  repeat the line "can you just sit and chill?" And though I hear it repeatedly and attempt to make it my mantra, I don't do it very often (sorry Santi). If you're a coffee chugging, hyperactive nut like me, please follow my next recommendation. Go to the Charles River, and just sit. That's right. Just sit. Okay, don't sit inside the river because that's probably not so safe. There's a walkway around the river that's easily one of the most beautiful sights in Boston. You'll see people running, babies laughing, and couples strolling - seriously, you can't ask for a happier place. There's a dock right around the Hatch Shell. Tie your hair back (because Boston winds are no joke), take out your bag of baby carrots, and post up. You'll clear your head, and leave with some serious peace of mind.

Okay enough of this calm, here comes the storm

Well, it's not really a storm, but I thought that was a nice segway. While you sit on the Charles River dock, you'll probably see a couple kayaks roaming past you. You're not crazy, they're actually there, and they're coming straight from the Charles River Canoe & Kayak. Once Boston decides to stop changing up its weather every other day, you should take a trip down there. I went last summer with one of my best friends, and did absolutely none of the paddling, but it was still a total blast. While he paddled about 300 pounds across the river, I just sat back and tanned. Pretty lovely.

(what a view amirite?)

If you go around 11 or so, my recommendation is to (obviously) pack some snacks. I got real hungry (obviously) and had to cut my tanning escapade short. So if you're trying to just enjoy your day, and have your kayak take you wherever it may, pack a granola bar or a full thanksgiving meal - whatever floats your boat (see what I did there?).

Harvard Square isn't just for Harvard students

That's right. Even though both the T stop and the general area are named after the Ivy League school, you don't have to be a student to go there. I admittedly didn't really know much about HS before I started commuting to work. There is SO much to see there. But I'm going to start with my favorites: Felipe's, Liquiteria, and BerryLine.

Felipe's Taqueria

Almost all yelp reviews say this is the greatest Mexican food in Boston. I'll clarify that right now: it's actually the greatest Mexican food ever. Yes, it's better than Chipotle, it's even better than my hometown honey Lime Mexican Grill (that's a bold statement right there). I don't know what they do in that kitchen, or how the burrito maker goes as fast as he does - but I'm grateful regardless of what their secrets may be. Felipe's made me want to create a time machine, just so that I could keep eating and re-eating my rice-less chicken burrito. It'll get messy because the pico will spill out of the burrito, and through your fingers. But don't you dare waste that - do as your cheeto-finger-licking self would do, and lick away.

Liquiteria

This next one just shows how basic I truly am - this place is a smoothie making, juice pressing joint. There is one almost on every corner in Manhattan, but for some godforsaken reason there is only one here. And just my luck, it's not in my neighborhood (sigh). If you love kale juice and chia pudding, go here and pay $10 for your smoothie. Haha, I know. It's $10 for literally a cup of pressed vegetables, but it'll be the best (and the healthiest) $10 you'll ever spend.

BerryLine

This is my spot in Harvard Square. I shouldn't even be talking about it, because now everyone will flock there. But since I'm a good person and I want BerryLine's sales to boom so they eventually open up in Fenway, I'll tell you how wonderful of a frozen yogurt shop this is. Hands down, this is the best frozen yogurt I've ever had. It's just as smooth, with a hint of creamy as any other froyo joint, but their flavors are so insanely unique. They range from raspberry fudge to lavender honey to caramel toffee to oreo, and almost all of their toppings are homemade. I don't even know what goes into making mochi, and they make it. I'd say don't eat before this so you can try all their baked goods, but I go there straight from Felipe's...(my summer body plan is going well).

(this is the lavender honey topped with coconut, mochi, and strawberries - aka best toppings ever)

I've given you five recommendations for now, and I really do think you should take all of them. I've gone to all of these places personally, and I wouldn't be placing them at the top of my Boston tips list if I didn't love them and appreciate them as much as I do. There are more tips to come, but go on an adventure and try these out for size. 

Bahston's wicked beddah than yah think.

boston strong.

The Bunny's Guide to Brunch

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 24, 2016

Guys, Easter Sunday is coming up and you know what that means: Easter Brunch! Yes, I will also be attending mass at the St. Francis Chapel inside the Prudential, but post mass I'll be devouring large portions of bacon and avocado eggs beni.

I don't know if you guys are planners like me, but reservations are a must have for any brunch, especially Easter brunch. So unlock your phone, and load up your open table because I've compiled a list of must have New England brunches.

Bar Boulud

This place holds a particularly special place in my heart because it's one of the places where I celebrated my 21st birthday, and where I've actually had Easter brunch. With locations around the world, this is a guaranteed winner. You can opt for the prix-fixe menu, or go a la carte - but I will say the prix fixe features brioche pain perdu (guys this is the real French toast, go for it), and roasted leg of lamb. If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE LOVE LOVE lamb, so I'm basically drooling over here. It's a little on the pricey side, so if you're trying to break the bank or are in need of your girlfriend's forgiveness, aller et manger!

(voici leur pain perdu)

The Beehive

If you're an early riser and love the idea of live music and all you can eat baked goods, check out Beehive. This place opens its doors at 9am, and vows to play live music all day. What makes it so unique is not only its tunes, but its Mediterranean inspired menu. You'll be indulging in things like lamb sausage polenta, roasted leg of lamb, and scrambled eggs with lamb and feta. Wonder why I'm loving this place so much? I'll give you a hint: lamb.

Blue Ginger

I've written a blog about changing up your brunch style, and taking it towards the Asian route, but I'll reiterate that all here. Blue Ginger is possibly the most respected dumpling palace in all of New England, mainly due to its head chef. His name is Ming Tsai, and you may have seen him on a little show called Top Chef. I've met him before, and watching him make buns and dumplings is truly an art. If this is your first attempt at an Asian style brunch, Blue Ginger should definitely be your go-to. On Easter, they'll have a wok-stirred omelet station, and of course, a wide variety of dumplings. Make east and west one, and have some miso on Easter.

Brasserie Jo

Located right under the Colonnade Hotel - the one with the rooftop pool and delicious piña coladas - Brasserie Jo continues with the theme of amazing drinks. This is a PSA: they have a make-your-own mimosa and bloody mary bar. You know what that means? Bottomless and ever-changing fruity and tomato-y concoctions. And since it's Sunday, and on Sunday calories don't count, make a pit stop at their customizable cupcake station. Have a red velvet for me!

The Breakfast Club

I'm not only a sucker for breakfast food, but for rom coms as well (hi hello yes I'm basic - this definitely isn't breaking news). Any place that shares the same name as one of my favorite movies, and serves delectable home fries, all at once, is a place for me. Between their never-ending omelet selection, and their dishes named after the movie's main characters, I'd so schlep to Allston for this. I also happen to love peeps, and this diner has PEEP MILKSHAKES. Their milkshakes are most certainly bringing me to their yard.

(love you guys)

Craigie on Main

Okay, so what if you're Jewish? Are you not allowed to partake in Easter brunching? Hello, of course not! Craigie has a Passover-esque Easter brunch menu, which I find so hilariously delightful. Make your bubby proud, and order the bagel platter. Now go and mangia!

Oops, that's not Yiddish. Let me try this again:

Now go and fress!

Easter is a time to be with family and friends, and what do most of those gatherings include? Food! This Sunday is basically Christmas for anyone who loves brunch, so put your calorie-trackers down, and indulge away. Nobunny will know.

America's Hot for Hot Sauces

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, March 21, 2016

I have my moments with hot sauce. There will be months where I'll just completely hate it, and months where I'll put it in everything, even my cereal (I'm kidding, but I hear hot sauce and corn flakes is quite the delicacy). No matter how much I hate it, or love it occasionally, hot sauce is everywhere. At my favorite Mexican place in Miami, there is literally an entire rack of hot sauce. Who knew there was more than just Tabasco and Sriracha? Apparently not me. Hot sauce is such a thing right now, you'll hear about it in Beyonce's latest song: I got hot sauce in my bag, swag. Beyonce isn't even making that up, you can actually have hot sauce in your bag, with sriracha's new portable bottle. Find it here. You're welcome.


In spirit of the fiery condiment, and my on and off relationship with it, I decided to find some of the best ones for you. I'm going to relay them to you in order of spice level. If you're a wimp like me, and the simple thought of a jalapeno seed makes you want to cry, you should stop reading after the second or third brand.

Gochujang

Bear with me, I can't really pronounce this so let me spell it out phonetically: Goh - choo - jong. Okay, there we go. This hot sauce is essentially the Korean version of Sriracha. Made from dried red chiles, rice powder, and soybean paste, it's definitely the mildest out of the group - kind of like a chile based ketchup. Wimp away my fellow wimps, this one is for you.

Texas Pete

This one is like the frat star of hot sauces. It's extremely American and it's proud of it. Started in North Carolina, legend has it the prideful hot sauce was set to be named "Mexican Pete." Coming from North Carolina, the dad of the hot sauce's creator just wouldn't have it. So I guess after a few U-S-A's and beers,  Texas Pete was born. I'm including it here because it's kind of like a watered down Louisiana hot sauce, so I highly recommend putting it in your buffalo dip.

Frank's RedHot

I'd call this the older brother of the frat star above. They're both fantastic, but this one just has a little bit more experience in the hot sauce department. This is the tried and true Louisiana hot sauce you've been looking for. Fun fact, this was the hot sauce that was originally used in the first ever buffalo wing sauce. If you're a lover of spicier buffalo style hot sauce, I'd go with this one over his younger brother Pete.

Huy Fond Foods Sriracha

 This hot sauce is seriously legendary. The recipe came all the way from a small town named Si Racha, in Thailand, and most recently, it's made quite the impression in the US. The rooster branded LA based company makes its sauce with a blend of red jalapenos, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. It's far superior to the classic red hot sauce, it has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor. This and tabasco are the two hot sauces I never grow sick of.


Tabasco

This is my absolute favorite hot sauce ever. I know, it's like the most basic of all hot sauces, but it's also the most delicious. Being the hot sauce wimp that I am, I love the green Tabasco more than anything, but the red one if just as fantastic. Every time I order a bloody mary, you'll see me kissing my green bottle, and immediately filling my drink with it. Don't just take my love and word for it, it also just happens to be America's numero uno hot sauce. Good job USA.


Cholula

Okay, I'm only including this one for you guys because I can't actually have it ever. The only time I've ever tried it, slowly turned into one of the most horrifying experiences I've ever had. Relay for Life, circa 2013, I decided to grab some Qdoba for dinner (what was I thinking?). I couldn't find my friend Tabasco, so I went for the Cholula. Everyone always told me it was WAY better than Tabasco - I stupidly believed them. I doused my chix burrito with the stuff, and about an hour later once I was back at Relay, I had an allergic reaction. I turned into Angelina Jolie's ugly younger sister. My lips were the size of Texas (sorry, Pete), and I could feel my face puffing up. I don't know what it is, but I just can't have Cholula. You, my dear reader, most likely won't have the same reaction I did because I have some weird food aversions (i.e. Cholula and bananas), so take the leap and try it for yourself. It's a little bit spicier than Sriracha, since its base pepper is 7 times hotter than a jalapeno, and it tastes like what a true Mexican hot sauce should. Who knows? You may end up looking like Angelina Jolie's hotter younger sister.

Nando's Hot Peri-Peri Sauce

This hot sauce is so real, it doesn't even have any food coloring in it. I'm letting you know now, it's brown. So no, it's not expired. Piri piri, in Swahili, translates directly to pepper pepper, and refers to the tradition of scorching the African bird's eye chile. Hot enough for ya? Everything from the seeds to the stem are in this sauce, so it's ridiculously hot. But if you're looking for a hot sauce that leaves you with a citrusy aftertaste, post scorch, this is the one for you.

Huy Fong Chili Garlic

Similarly to my run-in with Cholula, I went into my short lived escapade with Chili Garlic with inaccurate expectations. I assumed that this paste would be similar to its sister sauce, Sriracha. Well, as you may have guessed, I was wrong. If you're trying to give yourself a heart attack, or entering a largest ulcer competition, I'd go ahead and try Chili Garlic. It's so hot, I actually started crying as I attempted to swallow it down. However, I will say that it cleared my sinuses quite beautifully. So there you have it, only try this hot sauce if you have a sinus infection and/or are seriously crazy.

Even though hot sauce eating competitions make me want to barf, and I won't commit to anything with an above mild label, hot sauce has become a regular at everyone's table. I'd say try these all on for size, but best believe I'll keep going through Tabasco bottles like it's no one's business. What can I say? I got tabasco in my bag. 


Everything Guadeloupe: A Little Bit About a Little Island

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 17, 2016

I've come across an extremely interesting piece in the Boston Globe, more specifically, the Sunday edition: " Beaches with an irresistible French Accent." As we prepare to welcome a group of Guadeloupian residents into our program, Christopher Muther, a writer for the Globe, has written a piece about their little-known Guadeloupe. 

A small island of 400,000, Guadeloupe is known for its pristine, white sandy beaches. I know, you're definitely picturing that beach in your head right now. But, is it filled with people? Are you irritated that someone else would have the audacity to take up your peaceful getaway? Well, luckily for you, as much as Guadeloupe is known for its beaches, not many people visit. Many of its beautiful beaches are virtually empty, mostly inhabited by local wildlife such as goats and the occasional chicken.

Muther spent a week in Guadeloupe traveling from east to west, spending little to no time in the capital city of Point-à-Pitre. He further discusses that until now, the only airline company offering direct flights from Boston to Guadeloupe, has been Norwegian Air. For as little as $49, one-way, you have the opportunity to lay in the Caribbean sands for less than the cost for a trip to New York.

Now, before you rush to the Norwegian Air website, let's catch up on some Guadeloupian facts. For one, before you jet off, you should catch up on your high school French. It is a French Territory, English is simply not spoken there. As Muther phrases it, English is the "abnorm." If you by chance speak Creole, that's also one of the island's main languages.

I'd say besides being stunningly breathtaking, the nice thing about Guadeloupe is its seemingly untouched feel. Devoid of large corporations and the American all-inclusive resorts, it inhabits the "what used to be's", the small local shops and bed & breakfasts. While you're in Guadeloupe, make sure to really indulge. As much as its developed a Caribbean flavor, it is part of France - a.k.a., there are some top notch seafood restaurants and bakeries. 

If this article for some reason convinces you to go to Guadeloupe, you're lucky I've gathered some "must-dos" while you're in Guadeloupe.

Grande-Terre:

Coming from the US, most of us just expect that drinking out of tap is perfectly fine. Well, I wouldn't take that mindset with me to the islands. Surprisingly enough, Guadeloupe has some of the best-tasting mountain water in all the Caribbean Isles, but most people don't drink it. Between the rusty city pipes, and the occasional taste of chlorine, the water isn't drunk often. If and when you go out to eat, restaurants will charge you for the bottled water, so be mindful.

While in Guadeloupe I know you'll want to steer clear of all the tourist attractions, but here are some I thought were worth taking a look at.

Aquarium de la Guadeloupe:

I know you might be coming from Boston, where the New England Aquarium is one of our most prized possessions, but this aquarium is seriously a great place to go. Besides their tropical assortment of fish and marine life, the Aquarium de Guadeloupe offers the unexpected half-day "eco tour." Alongside you and your guests, you'll have a biologist guide and diving instructor, ready to jump in the water whenever you are. You'll travel through the islands mangroves, reefs, and lagoon, from 8:30am - 1pm. Are you ready to take the plunge?

Vanibel

If waking up at 8am while you're on vacation doesn't seem like your cup of joe, maybe you just need some of it to wake you up; Guadeloupe happens to have some of the best coffee around. Joel Nelson, the groundskeeper of his Domaine de Vanibel, is more than happy to take you on a tour of his vanilla and coffee bean farm. Before you put on a summer dress to Instagram a photo of yourself at a Guadeloupian farm coffee farm, don't. Mr. Nelson will take you around the grounds, but he'll also have you picking vanilla and coffee beans, so dress comfortably. Before you leave though, make sure to buy some of his coffee. You'll be filling your re-usable K-cups with the stuff for months to come.

Plage de la Chapelle à Anse-Bertrand 

You might be sick of my touristy suggestions, so take a break at one of the whitest, sandiest beaches you'll ever lay your eyes on. Between the chapel ruins, the coco palm shades, and the little terrace restaurants at the far end of the beach, you may never want to leave. If you do decide to permanently reside on the beautiful Plage de la Chapelle à Anse-Bertrand, make sure to bring your own towel - there won't be anyone renting lounge chairs.

Basse-Terre:

  A little more untouched than Grande-Terre, you'll do a lot more exploring here. Basse-Terre is mostly known for its wide open spaces, so stop by if you're willing to hike, climb, and swim.

Ilet de Pigeon

If you didn't get enough of your scuba necessities during your aquarium visit, well here's another opportunity. Located inside the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Park, Ilet de Pigeon holds the island's best scuba and snorkeling site. If swimming among the reefs is your thing, I would make this part of your itinerary.

Cascade aux Ecrevisses

What translates directly to Crayfish Falls, Cascade aux Ecrevisses is part of the Parc Nationale de la Guadeloupe. Known as one of the island's most popular spots, people usually come here for the trails leading up to the breathtaking waterfall. If and when you decide to make that trek, be careful! The rocks can get pretty slippery. If you don't want any run-ins with other tourists, come early.

Domaine de Séverin Distillery

After all that climbing, walking, scuba diving, I think you'll need a drink. At the island's historic rum distillery, you'll be sure to be amazed. About 5 times per day, a "Petit Train" crosses the entire plantation, moving past its crayfish ponds, the sugarcane fields, the working waterwheel, and the former mansion of the Marsolle family (no big deal, just the family that's owned the distillery since 1928). The mansion is now the distillery's museum, with a tasting room and a gift shop selling everything rum. If you need to fill your stomach before you gobble down some rum, make a stop at their open-air dining room - you'll get a taste of the jumbo crayfish you just drove past.

Now, you may have just decided to read this piece for entertainment purposes, or you may be preparing to receive your Guadeloupian homestay guest. In the latter case, make sure to read our Guadeloupian Host Tips!

If you want to take a look at Christopher Muther's piece, take a look here




Cheese Whiz! Boston's Got Some Great Grilled Cheeses

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 03, 2016

I love cheese.

There I said it. Not that it's a load of my chest or anything, but sometimes I feel the need to express my obsession with its ooey-gooey-ness. Cheese goes well with and on everything. On pizza, on nachos, with wine, with a handful of almonds - I have never met a cheese pairing I didn't like. If I'm having a piece of cheese, or enjoying it in a sandwich - be aware, it is NACHO CHEESE (haha).

That being said, besides cheese, I also happen to really love sandwiches. I have one every single day. Whether it be a breakfast sandwich, or the humble yet always enjoyable BLT, I can't go a day without one. So let's put this together. If I love cheese, and I love sandwiches, what could be better than a grilled cheese (aka a cheese sandwich)?? That's right, nothing. Nothing could be better.

Luckily for me, and all of you Bostonians reading this, there are a ton of grilled cheese joints all over the greater Boston area. So let's get right into it.

Roxy's Grilled Cheese

When I first moved to Boston about 4 years ago, Roxy's was a food truck. They had recently starred in the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, and had placed in second. I remember seeing the pastel yellow truck across the street from my dorm, and being instantly intrigued. So I went on over and ordered the Rookie Melt grilled cheese.

Needless to say, I haven't looked back since that day. Roxy's has completed nailed the art of the grilled cheese, with add-ons like pulled pork and guacamole. I've never tried it, but I hear the Green Muenster is the go-to order.

The best part about Roxy's now is its storefront. No longer will I have to chase down the truck, demanding my mayo-smeared sandwich (that's right, to make it extra delightful, they use mayo instead of butter). I can now walk up to 485 Cambridge Street, and enjoy not only their grilled cheese, but their new selection of juicy burgers.

Praise the cheese gods.

Cheeseboy

I'm basically always inside the Prudential Center. Not only is my spinning studio conveniently located there, but so is pinkberry and lululemon (can you say basic?). Before they decided to completely revamp and remodel, Cheeseboy used to be part of its food court. And boy, do they have some great (grilled) cheese(s).

You can go with the classic American cheese with a side of tomato soup, or you can be like me and try all of them.

If you've just had a crazy productive spin class, or are in need of some food lovin', go with their Mac 'N Melt. This is a PSA: there is mac and cheese INSIDE this grilled cheese - and better yet, it's mac and cheese with HICKORY SMOKED BACON. Be still my beating heart (could it be a possible cardiac arrest post binge?).

Allergic to nuts? Go ahead and skip this part. Like I've said, I love cheese and I love sandwiches. But here's something else I love: nutella. I love it so much I named my management class group after it. Remember when I said cheese pairs well with everything? This is a true testament to that: Cheeseboy serves a dessert-style grilled cheese. Sandwiched between two slices of cinnamon sugar bread, you'll find a slab of nutella and a slice of American cheese. Before you started rolling your eyes in disgust, I'll ask you a quick question. Wasn't Elvis judged when he mixed bacon, peanut butter, and bananas? Yeah, now everyone loves it. Maybe nutella and American cheese is the new Elvis, who knows?

Stonewood Tavern

Apparently, Peabody isn't as close to Boston as I thought. It's about a 45 minute drive outside the city, but 45 minutes is nothing if you get to indulge like there's no tomorrow. There are taverns that offer your run-of-the-mill flatbreads and beers, but then there's Stonewood Tavern. Stonewood has your classic spinach and artichoke dip, and the ever-changing soup du jour. But besides its traditional menu items, it has equal parts untraditional dishes too. Take its All American burger. It's exactly as it says it is: an all American burger with a juicy patty, strips of bacon, fresh tomatoes - but wait, where's the bun? THAT'S RIGHT. There isn't a bun. Instead of your typical seeded bun, Stonewood squeezes your patty and all the fixins' between two grilled cheese sandwiches. You will no longer have to go back and forth between having a grilled cheese or a burger for lunch. This is America, and in America, you can have both.

The three restaurants above are just a few of the places in Boston where you can snag some much needed comfort food. There are so many other places to indulge, but these might just be worth the schlep ( make sure to check out Phantom Gourmet for more ideas). So this one goes out to all the cheese-haters out there (I'm looking at you Santiago [jk I love you]), you're really missing out.

 Eat some cheese, let it brie.

Leap Year: It's Not Just a Movie

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 29, 2016

I've seen the movie Leap Year, so in my eyes, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the once-every-four-years leap year. But in the spirit of February 29th, I went ahead and researched it. Turns out, I know nothing about leap year.

(Here's a pic from the movie - such a guilty pleasure)

The truth is, I never really knew why we had leap years - and it's actually pretty simple (well, not really but I'll summarize it). Apparently, a complete orbit of the earth takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete - not 365 days as the Gregorian calendar states. Because of this pretty precise anomaly, leap years are added to the calendars to keep our seasons, and the earth, in sync.

That's the most basic explanation of leap years, but who really wants to talk about orbits of the earth? Let's talk about something a little more interesting - the tradition of women proposing on leap year. We all know that men usually struggle with taking a hint, but apparently this notion dates all the way back to the 5th century. Thanks to an Irish nun named St. Bridget (maybe the OG Bridget Jones?), we have the chance to pop the question every four years. Legend has it, she approached St. Patrick, telling him she simply couldn't keep waiting for her suitors to propose - you go girl.

St. Bridget wasn't the only one fed up with men, Queen Margaret of Scotland also wasn't having it. In 1288, she drafted a law that allowed unmarried women to propose during leap year, and get this: any man who refused, was handed a fine. I guess she was taking Queen Bey's "if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it" pretty seriously. I know this seems a little crazy, because our assumption is that as soon as we get down on one knee, our man will flee (I'm a poet and I don't even know it?), but it's not all that true. According to the UK's The Telegraph, more than half of men, would not only be pleasantly surprised, but would accept the proposal (I always knew the Brits were great). There's some bogus research out there that says Leap Year proposals are more likely to end in failed marriages, because women proposing is "against human nature" (scoff) - but I'd like to beg to differ. If you have the confidence to propose to your man, all the power to you (YAAS QUEEN YAAS).

Proposals aren't the only things to celebrate on Leap Year, but birthdays are pretty important too. Yes, everyday marks somebody's birthday somewhere, but Leap Year birthdays are particularly special. September 29th (my birthday) is obviously the most important birthday day of the year, but February 29th is kind of cool too.

If you're a leap year baby, according to the internet, you should be in Anthony, a small town that borders Texas and New Mexico. What a bore, you may think. Well, you're wrong. Anthony is the leap year capital of the world. Every four years, on February 29th, people from all over the world (I'm not kidding, people come from like Australia, India, even England), meet up. This year, leap babies will be indulging in wine tastings, cowboy reenactments, and a leap-tastic parade.

Taking a trip to the Texas/New Mexico border today may be a little last minute, so if you're reading this and you're a leap baby, there are some real deals you can take advantage of wherever you are.

Caribou Coffee (who knew they sold more than just k-cups?) does it right. It doesn't matter whether you're a leap baby or not, today you can go in and buy one beverage at normal price, and get another for 29 cents. Bear with me, I couldn't figure out why they were charging 29 cents for a coffee - I got it about 15 seconds later.

A large portion of my family is Italian, so saying that I absolutely love Olive Garden is probably sacrilegious. But really, who can resist unlimited salad and breadsticks? I'll tell you who, nemmeno gli italiani (not even the Italians). If you're a leap baby, you can get not only one, but FOUR free desserts on your birthday. Andiamo leap babies!

I'm a dunkin girl. As you know, I love my strawberry frosted donut and caramel-coconut iced coffee (medium with almond milk please!), but I'd switch to Krispy Kreme any day for a box of donuts at $2.29. The only catch is you'll have to first buy a box of donuts at regular price. But come on, 24 donuts for $10.29? Worth it.

Hard Rock Cafe's nachos are my jam (I'm punny aren't I?). Out of pure interest, and definitely stupidity, I decided to look up its nutrition facts. You can indulge in a plate of nachos for a minuscule 1,886 calories, 45 grams of fat, and 65 grams of total carbs. My mouth is watering, so I'll just go ahead and tell you why I'm bringing up their nachos in the first place. If you're a leap baby, you can go into any Hard Rock and devour a free meal. Do yourself a favor: order the nachos and ignore the post-binge stomach pains and regret.

(Had to show you how amazing these are)

The Leap Year deals are pretty never ending, so if you want to drool through them, find them here.

Between some deliciously fattening deals, and the ability to propose, I petition to make February 29th a national holiday.

Gotta go pick up my donuts and find someone with a February 29th birthday now.