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Wegmans Is No Stew Leonard’s

30 Oct

According to some of my friends, the opening of a Wegmans store in Northborough was akin to the second coming, or the Cubs winning the World Series.

Getting excited about the opening of a supermarket is not a foreign concept to me, but apparently, this was different.

“It’s not a supermarket,” they said. “It’s an experience.”

Cool, I thought. I grew up in New York, and shopped often at Stew Leonard’s, where there are samples around every bend, and whimsical touches like singing/dancing food help make the shopping experience more fun for shoppers of all ages.

So suffice it to say, I know what it’s like when a store goes above and beyond to make grocery shopping different and a more enjoyable experience.

Would Wegmans be anything like that? Continue reading

Tasty Treat

8 Jul

One of the problems with the cupcake scene in the Boston area — other than the fact that there’s no Crumbs within the state lines — is that most of the places just don’t live up to their names, or the hype.

Kickass Cupcakes don’t.

Sweet’s are not.

Shot Cakes, while tasty and worth the trip, don’t include alcohol shots. (Okay, fine. Maybe that one’s a stretch.)

And so on.

Now there’s Treat in Needham Center, and, well, finally the name fits.

I went in on day two this past weekend (it opened on July 4), had a cupcake called the Plain Jane, and fell in love. Continue reading

Take Your Shot

14 Jun

Do you remember Trani, that unfortunately named place in the North End where the featured menu item was cupcakes injected with ice cream? I definitely remember it. Well, it has closed and been replaced by a pizza place — yes, just what the North End needed, another pizza place.

But last week, on my birthday, a coworker (thanks, Suzy!) came into the office with exciting news. It seems a new place just like Trani has opened up in the Burlington Mall, of all places. It’s called Shot Cakes, and it has the same basic premise: cupcakes injected with ice cream. There’s one big difference, though: Whereas Trani had basic chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat without the ice cream, Shot Cakes has a whole selection of awesome flavors that are great as is. Red Velvet, Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, Brownie, Frosted with sprinkles, and so on. Add in ice cream and some hot fudge (or any of the other toppings, like peanut butter or caramel) and, well, WOW!

Barry and I went to check this place out on Saturday, and I had a Chip Shot Cake Quake. That’s a chocolate cookie dough cupcake, injected with vanilla ice cream, topped with hot fudge, and served in a cup. It’s kind of like a sundae, minus the whipped cream. A-MA-ZING. Moist cake, yummy fudge, and ice cream too. It wasn’t overwhelmingly heavy or filling. And it cost less than $4. Had I been alone, I might have had a second. (Or a third.)

One curiosity was why there was not a bigger crowd waiting for their own Shot Cakes. Maybe we were there at an off time (who knew such a thing existed at a mall food court), but on the off chance that this place isn’t getting the attention it deserves, I wanted to put up a blog post here (yeah, ’cause that will bring the place LOTS of attention). If you like cupcakes and ice cream — and really, who doesn’t? — then by all means make a trip to Burlington and check this place out. (Just get in line behind me.)

A Passover Tradition Continues

24 Mar

Like the youngest child asking the four questions, or the hiding of the afikomen, I, too, have my own Passover traditions. One of those is posting a rant about how much I hate shopping for Passover food. If you don’t know, dietary restrictions during Passover prevent you from eating anything with flour or yeast in it. And if you’re observant enough to keep the holiday, then you need to purchase Kosher for Passover food for eating during the week. While I’m not the most observant Jew 51 weeks of the year, I often joke that Passover is the one week when I find my religion. As a result, each year I have to buy these “special” ingredients and foodstuffs.

Sunday was my annual trip to Star Market to make these purchases (the holiday starts this Monday night), and like in years past, I was annoyed by how much I was being charged to buy food I didn’t even want to buy. $6 for a box of cookies that might ordinarily cost $2.50. Cake mix for the same price, even though the cake is half the size of a normal cake (if not smaller). A jar of grape jelly for $4. A can of tuna fish for nearly $3. And those were the “sale” prices! Yes, that’s what supermarkets do: They set a price for the Passover food, call it a “sale” price, and mark its regular price a dollar or so higher. It’s like they’re capitalizing on the horrible stereotype that Jews like their deals and would rather buy something on sale than if it was normally priced. And then, because we don’t have the option, we buy all this overpriced stuff, which we only need for a week.

When all was said and done, I had spent $50 on Sunday for my K4P food — and that’s not even counting the perishable stuff that I’ll pick up this weekend. By comparison, on an average week, I usually spend about $20 for my groceries (the beauty of living by myself, I guess). So that’s why I saved my receipt. When the holiday is over, I’ll be partaking in my second Passover tradition: returning all my unopened food and getting my money back. The way I figure it, if the store’s gonna overcharge me, the least they can do is take back and refund my money for the stuff I don’t use.

Happy early Passover to all who celebrate. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Thanks Again, Google Maps

21 Mar

Yesterday, with the temperature up in the lower 70s and the sun shining bright, I decided I had two options for how to spend my day: I could go for a long drive or I could go for a long walk.

I decided to combine the two and head out to the outlets in Wrentham. Continue reading

Wow. What an Improvement

31 Oct

Holy crap.

The new Star Market in Chestnut Hill (which opened yesterday) is awesome.

Finally, we have a supermarket worthy of the zip code — one that’s a huge improvement over the old one.

I went to check out this glorious place after work last night, after weeks of waiting for it to open (months, actually, considering how long the place was under construction).

Suffice it to say, the wait was worth it. Continue reading

You Call This Love?

18 Oct

The first Massachusetts location of the chicken fingers–only fast-food chain Raising Cane’s opened in Boston this weekend on Comm Ave in the B.U. area, and because I was in the neighborhood — and I like a good chicken finger — I decided to stop in and check it out. The place was not what I expected. Instead of a menu that offers various flavors of fingers (you know, like BBQ, honey mustard, terriyaki, sweet-and-sour, buffalo, etc.), the place only sells basic fried chicken fingers in four combo combinations that include crinkle-cut fries, Texas Toast, and a beverage (some also add cole slaw). Oh, and of course, they all come with the special “Cane’s Sauce” — a condiment that no one behind the counter would identify or describe for me when I asked about it.

With such a laser-like focus on one food item, you’d think these chicken fingers would be good, right? Well, maybe it’s unfair to judge a place when it’s only been open for two days, but … well … my fingers were fresh — I liked that — but they were also greasy and slightly undercooked. The fries were nothing special. The Texas Toast, that was good. And the dipping sauce? Well, it tasted like a cross between Russian dressing and BBQ, and while I would have preferred a straight-up BBQ, it wasn’t bad. (A Google search when I got home told me it was a mix of mayo, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, garlic, and pepper.)

But here was the kicker about the experience: There are flyers on the counter with the “menu” on one side and the history of the place on the other. And there’s a pretty significant — and ironic — typo right at the top. Click on the image over there. Do you see it? Yes, that’s right: The word ‘quality’ is misspelled ‘qaulity.’ Ummm … oops. So because I’m an editor and I thought I could save the place some further embarrassment, I brought this to the manager’s attention. He responded by telling me about another typo on some wall decor that explains the chain’s history. Great. What does that say about the place?

Suffice it to say, I was not that impressed with Raising Cane’s. Food quality was average, and presentation was below that. The place makes a big deal about how it only has “one love,” but if this is what they call love, then I’d hate to see what happens when they’re not so devoted.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like …

13 Oct

There was a chill in the air yesterday, brought on partly by the combination of a Pats loss and the end of the Red Sox season, and, of course, the colder temperatures. Add to that the fact that I spent a chunk of the weekend changing over my closet from short-sleeved clothes to long-sleeved ones, and it was hard to believe it was only October 12, because it felt like early November, at least.

But then, while wandering the aisles of Target in Watertown, my eyes saw a sight that warmed my heart: A full display of Christmas music on sale! And, as if right on cue, my iPhone told me I had a new email, and it was the weekly new-releases message from Newbury Comics. What’s going on sale this week? Well, it’s funny you should ask. Today marks the release of new holiday music collections from (deep breath) David Archuleta, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Irish Tenors, the Jackson 5, Barry Manilow, and Manheim Steamroller, among others. And yes, there was a whole display wall at Target just waiting to be filled by those new releases.

You know, most people hate it when stores jump the gun and start putting out their Christmas stuff before Halloween’s even over. Not me. I say, “Oh happy day! Christmas is coming!” Or, to quote one of my holiday favorites, “I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now. For I need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

So yes, you know where this blog post is going. If new holiday music and decorations are out, then it can only mean one thing: It’s time to start the annual compilation process for A Very Marty Xmas. Last year I decided not to make a mix, but maybe this year it’ll return. Only time will tell if these new releases will be of high enough quality to make a mix equal in quality to A Very Marty Xmas 2007. Stay tuned.

For now, if this is what the change of seasons means — that Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat — then I say it didn’t get cold early enough. Woo hoo!

I Wonder What’s in Store

8 Oct

People who know me know I get excited about the silliest or simplest of things.

Like the fact that when I went to get gas last night, the price was just $2.39 a gallon — six cents cheaper than the place I drive by on the way to work every day.

What can I say? I think it’s a good thing that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Continue reading

Seeking Space

22 Sep

I’m trying to figure out when some people lost the ability to park a car.

I used to think this was a problem isolated to Newton — particularly at the Star Market on Route 9 — but of course, I was wrong.

Tonight, for example, when I came out of Costco up in Waltham, I saw this sight to your left.

The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but suffice it to say, the minivan had parked at such an angle that it was almost blocking me in my spot.

I ask: If you had parked so horribly, wouldn’t you pull out and right yourself? I mean, even after you had gotten out of your car and seen that you were over the line? And especially if you saw how close you were to another car … a car that could very easily back up and hit your own car? Continue reading