{You Pick Six} An Interview with Drink Blogger: Claudiane Philippe

Serendipity is a favorite word and a most welcomed occurrence. It’s also how I learned about Claudiane Philippe.

While scrolling through posts in the Brandeis Alumni of Color Network Facebook Page, I saw a Boston Globe article about her.  She is not only a fellow Brandeis University graduate, but she is a much sought after blogger with 11,500 followers on Instagram. Well, “Cheers” to you Claudiane!

Because her nails always look beautiful and are front and center in photos of featured cocktails, her blog is called Nail The Cocktail. How cool is that?!

If you’re interested in finding the best cocktails in the Boston area and beyond, check out her blog where she goes into more detail about the drinks that she’s posted on Instagram.

So let’s stir things up and learn a bit more about Claudiane and resume this ongoing series with the 20th interview of You Pick Six.

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What is a favorite dessert?
My favorite dessert of all time is tiramisu. I’m not a great baker and I don’t attempt to bake often, however I found a “fool proof” recipe for tiramisu online once and it came out great! Any time I see it on the menu somewhere, I order it without second guessing.

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
Some of the best advice I have ever received was the phrase: if you’re not willing to do something for free at first you don’t truly love it. This quote resonated with me because so many millennials won’t take an opportunity unless there is a paycheck attached to it. If something is a true passion of yours, starting off by taking good opportunities is a way to network and prove yourself until you land an opportunity to get paid for what you love. Life is about working towards goals and dreams. Having patience is key.

What is a favorite simple recipe to prepare at home?
When it comes to cocktails my favorite recipe to make at home is a Mule. I love trying new spirits with the tradition recipe. I use lime juice, ginger beer, and whatever liquor I’m in the mood for that day. Right now I’m feeling spicy tequilas so I’ve been adding that to my Mules regularly. However, can never go wrong with a traditional Moscow Mule which uses vodka. Usually I pair my Mule with some sort of fish like salmon for dinner.

What is a favorite childhood food memory?
My dad used to always get me a Quarter Pounder with cheese and no pickles at McDonald’s all the time. It was my favorite thing to eat as a kid. I haven’t had one in years now.

What are some things that you can’t leave the house without?
Nowadays, I can’t leave the house without my camera. I’m always on the go and as a cocktail and lifestyle blogger, you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to snap an awesome moment to keep forever or share with an audience online. I also am attached at the hip with my cell phone, but who isn’t these these days.

Tell me about what you’re working on now.
Right now I am working on expanding my cocktail blog to a wider audience. I’m primarily based in Boston but I would love to expand to NYC by the end of this year. If I could have my blog recognized nationally by by 2022 I would be elated! I’ve been hosting and curating events around Boston to give young people something to do in the city that’s both fun and responsible, all while getting my name out there.

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Thank you so much for participating Claudiane!

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Photos: Provided by Claudiane Philippe.

Al Fresco Dining at Novara Restaurant in Milton

Views of outdoor seating at Novara restaurant.

Didn’t make it to Italy this summer? Neither did I. But while dining at Novara Restaurant recently, it felt like I was transported to Italy for a mini-vacation.

I took another mini-vacation in July when I was in Connecticut for a couple of days to see Maxwell in concert. The concert ticket price included Maxwell’s new CD blackSUMMERS’night, but you had to get it later via mail.

My friend received our CDs and asked if she should send mine or if we should get together. Get together of course! I suggested dinner at Novara and we enjoyed a wonderful summer night dining al fresco.

Starting off, the service was great. Full disclosure*, I was invited to visit Novara. However, I have been invited to visit other restaurants over the years and been shocked by less than stellar service and disorganization. Thankfully Novara’s staff was friendly, professional and organized.

My friend and I were both pleased with the delicious bread. Our cocktails were tasty, refreshing and strong.

Bread basket at Novara restaurant.

Cocktails at Novara restaurant.

Novara is the sister restaurant of Abby Park, which I wrote about on Craving Boston. It was a very warm evening, but we did get a quick rain storm out of the blue.

Because the tables have umbrellas over them, it wasn’t even a problem. A perfect summer night.

Entrees and dessert at Novara restaurant.

For my meal, I had the Special, which was lobster gnocci. So good! My friend had zucchini parmesan. She loved hers too!

Like its sister restaurant, Novara has a wonderful menu. I love Italian food, so I basically wanted to eat everything. I noticed people picking up food to go, so the take-out menu is a great option as well. Of course I had dessert. The chocolate mousse was the perfect ending to my meal.

I definitely recommend Novara and will return. Having a good restaurant so close to home makes eating out easier. Parking was not a problem and it’s often an issue in Boston.

Logo for Dine out Boston aka Restaurant Week Boston.

Restaurant Week, now called Dine Out Boston, is coming up in just a few days. Even though Novara is located in Milton, they have joined in as well.

You have two opportunities (August 14 -19 & August 21 – 26) to participate. If you want to start adding restaurants to your list, start with Novara!


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Disclosure* Thank you to Novara for the  complimentary dinner for two!









Girls Night Out: Hard Rock Cafe in Boston

Hard Rock Cafe outdoor seatingLast Saturday was a girls night out!  Two friends and I wanted to get together and just relax. Have a simple meal and some summer cocktails.

I learned that Hard Rock Cafe has special tropical inspired drinks for the summer in mason jars. Who doesn’t love mason jars? Plus, when you order one of these drinks, you get to take a mason jar home! It has a cover and a hole for a straw. I’ve already used mine several times.

So many drinks to choose from!

Summer Splash Daiquiri – BACARDI Limón Rum, amaretto, Finest Call Mango Puree, sweet and sour mix and strawberries.

Hard Rockin’ Mai Tai – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, BACARDI OakHeart Spiced Rum and amaretto mixed with made-from-scratch lemonade, pineapple juice, grenadine and splash of Sierra Mist®.
Summer Fizz – BACARDI Gran Reserva Maestro Rum and Cointreau Orange Liqueur shaken together with muddled fresh raspberries, Black Cherry Reàl and lime.
Summertime Blues – Fresh blueberries, mint and Blueberry Reàl muddled together with made-from-scratch lemonade and topped with Red Bull Yellow Edition.
Back Porch Tea – BACARDI Superior Rum, Bombay Sapphire Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, iced tea, made-from-scratch lemonade, muddled basil and mint with a hint of Monin Cucumber.
Hard Rock Cafe Cocktail Back Porch TeaMy friends had the Summer Splash Daiquiri and Summertime Blues. I was intrigued by the Back Porch Tea.
It actually had a cucumber in it! Mine was not too sweet, plus nice and minty.

We all enjoyed our drinks and our mason jars to go! Our meals were delicious too. The servings are huge, so you won’t leave hungry.

For dinner, I had a veggie burger and parmesan fries.

The parmesan cheese sprinkled on the fries was a nice touch. The veggie burger was remarkably good.

I’m often hesitant to try veggie burgers when I eat out, because they can be quite bad. This was such a pleasant surprise. It was made of black beans, but didn’t have a bean consistency. If I recall correctly, the burger was topped with a huge mushroom and roasted tomato. It was quite divine actually and I’d definitely order it again.

This Hard Rock Cafe location is right across the street from the Millennium Hotel. If you’re staying there while on vacation or business, you’ll have a convenient and good place to eat.

If you’re a local and want to go, it’s right around the corner from Haymarket on the Orange and Green lines, if you’re taking the T.

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After we ate, it wasn’t very late. The night was still warm and there were many people milling about.

Music was playing and Faneuil Hall was just steps away. So we walked around, then sat on a bench and talked. And talked. And talked.

It was nice catching up and enjoying being out. We still remember the winter well and want to make the most of what is left of the summer.

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Disclosure: While our meals were free, we truly enjoyed them!

Recently Read: Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste

Book Cover, Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American TasteWhile looking at the new books section of the library, I happened to see Provence, 1970. The names immediately struck me and I was intrigued. The synopsis convinced me it would be good.

Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance.

Great change never happens in a vacuum and no one person does it alone. So it was especially interesting to read about how these great food writers all knew one another. They worked together and socialized together.  As I was finishing up the book last night, I put on the TV to see what was on and happened to catch the last hour of Julie & Julia. What serendipity!

The book discusses how this rarefied circle of friends sometimes were not so friendly. We also see how the torch was passed with the introduction of Alice Waters toward the end. As I thought about my recent blog post on food writers of color, it made me consider how many food stories have yet to be written about.

One of the things that I found especially sad and surprising about the book is how James Beard was described. When I think of James Beard, I think of the awards and picture a very large and smiling figure. Everyone was worried about him. His love of food was killing him. He was trying to lose weight and was under a doctor’s care. His legs were swollen and his mobility was greatly impacted. Beard is so famous for the food he cooked and wrote about, but he suffered for it.

If you love food and food writing, then I highly recommend the book. Or even if you’re just interested in a slice of life piece. Learning about a very distinct period of time in a particular place.

We probably all can remember a certain time and place with good friends that we will never forget. That forever may have changed who we were at the time and led us to become who we are now. Or maybe was just a good time that now serves as a beautiful memory when we need it.

While the book describes a lot of food, there are no specific recipes. However, towards the very end, there is a very delicious sounding cocktail, on page 282, that is mentioned. I’d like to try it. Maybe you would too. So below is an excerpt in which the author describes part of his July 2010 trip to Provence.

Yet another old friend — we had a full house, even after my father and grandmother had departed the previous week — joined us in the kitchen and announced that he would be making a cocktail, a new invention in fact. It would be called “The Plascassier.” Into the blender went a basket of raspberries, fresh mint, lemon juice, and vodka. This liquid was poured judiciously into the bottoms of glasses, and then topped with Laurent-Perrier champagne.

It’s still pretty cold outside, but this sounds like a cool and refreshing summer drink that I can imagine adapting to suit my taste. Believe me. It will be blogged.

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Photo Credit: Amazon