Hi

It's certainly been a while, well over two years (!!), since I've taken a seat, opened my laptop and started typing on my blog, The Small Boston Kitchen. And I'm back. Maybe? I think. Well, let me explain. 

I've missed writing for myself in a public way and just writing that makes me realize what a weird world we are living in where one can miss writing publicly. But that's the truth. I miss the creativity of it and the interaction with friends and strangers alike and cozying in to my humble little corner of the internet that I've left vacant. 

Since I last wrote, a lot has changed just as much as nothing at all has. Richard and I are still living out our passion through ownership of our personal chef and catering company, The Skinny Beet. We've grown a lot in so many ways as business owners, home chefs, and people and I want to share that continued journey with whomever is interested in reading about it. Which brings me to my next point - what I want from this site. I'm not interested at all in the typical food blog structure anymore - a short story and some dreamy photos accompanied by a recipe. That was all fine and good for me but that's not where my heart is. Not to say that I don't ever want to share recipes or the process of developing those recipes but I want to give more. I want to talk about what it's like to be a woman in this business world, as I see it. I want to talk about the books that I'm reading, those that have inspired, and things that I find particularly fascinating or helpful to me and maybe you might find it equally of interest to wherever you are in your life. I may even want to talk about politics and what is happening on a national and global scale and how that relates to my small business. I want to roll up my sleeves and get in there, so to speak. 

I started this blog in December of 2009 with a simple gnocchi recipe that I created one night after my office job in my tiny studio apartment in Brookline and I wanted the blog to be a catalogue of sorts on my journey through food discovery. Over the years, the blog took shape and then fizzled out because it started to feel, well, like homework. It felt like a business in and of itself and I was focusing so intently on growing The Skinny Beet. So I stopped. Or hit pause, I suppose. But I miss the creative freedom that this gives me; that outlet. That voice that I've worked so many years to curate and am still in the process of discovering and honing. I had been thinking about this for a while now and what held me back was trying to make a clear picture of what I want this all to look like and I struggled until I decided to just take that leap back into it. Right now it's a fuzzy image that I'm looking to just be organic in movement and growth and see what develops from there. 

So with two feet, I'm jumping back in. With what regularity I can't be certain, with what photos and formate, I can't be sure, but all I can say is it feels good to be back and I'm looking forward to more. 

European Food Trip, Part II: Brussels, Belgium

When we got off the train from London to Brussels, it was rainy and freezing. As the cab zipped along the busy city streets, we joked that Brussels looked like every other city in the US. It had a big array of restaurants from all over the world as well as a high concentration of U.S. chains like Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, ChiChi's, and Taco Bell. At first glance, I was a little disappointed. The city wasn't very appealing to me and didn't make much of an impression but despite the cold and rain, the city was still bustling along. 

Baking up, a bit to when we were planning this trip, we hadn't intended to go to Brussels but we really wanted to go to Amsterdam. Since you have to pass through Brussels anyway to get from London to Amsterdam, we thought we'd pop in for a night, just because we couldn't let the opportunity to see one more city pass us by. We had to stop. 

Frites

Frites

We pulled up to our hotel and after settling into our room and unloading our gear, we headed back out in the rain to give Brussels a chance. By this time, it was late afternoon and we were starving. We headed out and just about a block away from our hotel, we found ourselves in the center of the city. That's when everything changed about the way we saw Brussels and its charm, uniqueness and character seemed to bust out of every seam. 

Bar decor

Bar decor

Oh Belgium Beer..

Oh Belgium Beer..

We stayed, holed up in this bar for several hours, just watching Brussels pass by

We stayed, holed up in this bar for several hours, just watching Brussels pass by

Our first bite was a cone full of frites from one of the many shops that line the cobblestone streets. They were good, hot, salty and satisfying. We walked a little further until we bumped into Menneken Pis. Have you heard about this guy? Here's the full story, but essentially it's a teeny tiny statue of a little boy peeing in a fountain. There's lots of theories as to why he exists and most often, he is dressed in different outfits and the locals and tourists alike love him. There's Menneken Pis everything all around the city. Belgian chocolate shops have chocolate replicas of him and there are metal casts of him in everything from wine openers to key chains. We snagged ourselves a Mennekin Pis bottle opener which we now proudly display on our bar. It's already been quite the conversation piece. 

The crowd around Manneken Pis

The crowd around Manneken Pis

One of the many Manneken Pis souvenir shops

One of the many Manneken Pis souvenir shops

Moving on, the beer! Oh my god the beer. We stopped into this quirky bar right across the street from Manneken Pis and we were presented with a beer menu that was more like a book than a menu. It was full of beers we had never heard of, let alone could pronounce. We just blindly selected two and ordered a cheese plate as well. The beer was incredible. So full of flavor and such personality. I'm more of a wine girl usually but I've totally been sold on Belgium beers after this trip. The bar itself was very unique with creepy marionettes hanging off of every dimly lit nook and cranny. The bar was cluttered and cramped and crowded and we loved every second of this totally unique experience. We bar hopped around a bit more because we were so enthralled with the beer and the unique settings and because we had such limited time, we wanted to try as much as possible. 

We found the people of Brussels to be short with their interactions and there wasn't as much warmth to them but we loved it all the same. The city had its own identity and personality that everyone seemed to subscribe to and there was a lot of charm to that. They weren't trying to impress or be polite, it's more of a take it or leave it type of feel, which is total opposite of what we saw in London. The center of the city is breathtakingly gorgeous with ornately details buildings and warn cobblestone streets that make it hard to walk fast on. Right in the center of it all, we saw a line for a waffle stand. Obviously, you can't be in Belgium without trying Belgian waffles. The smell was intoxicating and the list of what one could top their waffle with was intense. In efforts to save stomach room, we decided to split a waffle and top it with a dousing of speculoos. Speculoos is a kind of spice cookie that is popular there (and fortunately for us is making a name for itself stateside!) and there's a spread that they make with these crunched up cookies and it resembles a sandy and sweet peanut butter - like substance. It was so good as it stuck in each little cranny of the waffle. And the waffle, it was not like any waffle I've ever had before. It was yeasty and more dense and incredibly crackly on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. 

Late night line up for frites

Late night line up for frites

Gorgeous Brussels at night

Gorgeous Brussels at night

Belgium was great, really it was and I liked it more than I thought I would but at the same time, I don't feel like we needed more time there but I'd happily return. I'm also a forever in love with Belgium beer now and have a new found appreciation for waffles. 

Next stop, Amsterdam.