Restaurant Review: Gre.Co

by Theo Fitopoulos

Gre.Co is a subterranean fast-casual restaurant on Newbury St. in Boston. They focus on fresh and flavorful ingredients to bring authentic Greek street food to the city. The small, vibrant restaurant is a gem among the Newbury St. restaurant scene.

Pork gyro wrapped in pita with onion, tomato, fresh-cut potatoes and tzatziki sauce from Gre.Co! (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

Newbury St. in Boston may be renowned for its shopping, but tucked in the lower ground level of the 225 Newbury building, among all the fashion boutiques, you can find some of the most delicious Greek food in the city. Gre.Co opened in February 2017 as part of the recent mini-boom of Greek restaurants in Boston, joining Committee, Gyro City, Kava Neo-Taverna, and Saloniki. It has quickly become a go-to for lunch, dinner, and everything in between.

Co-owner Demetri Tsolakis opened the fast-casual restaurant after establishing Committee in the Seaport. The emphasis at Gre.Co is authentic, fresh Greek street food with quick service and fair prices that you would not expect to find on Newbury St. Upon entering the restaurant, your eyes fixate on the three rotating stacks of meat, known as gyro. Gre.Co offers pork, lamb, and chicken, which can be ordered as either a sandwich, plate, or salad. As the meat rotates, the outer layer develops a satisfying crisp, while the inside remains tender and juicy. Once its ready, each layer is shaved off and goes straight to your plate. Of the three gyro meats, the pork is my go-to sandwich order, served on a fluffy pita with onions, tomatoes, tzatziki, and fries. Tzatziki is a thick and tangy Greek yogurt-based sauce with garlic, cucumber, and fresh dill. Their fries are cooked to order and perfectly seasoned, adding a great taste and texture to the sandwich.

Gyro meats (Eater - https://boston.eater.com/2017/1/24/14375684/greco-back-bay-gallery-loukoumades)

Gyro meats at Gre.Co (Photo: Eater)

Although the gyros are eye-catching, the rest of the menu is filled with bright and simple Greek fare. The seasonal squash fritters are my favorite item on the menu and provide a great option for vegetarians as a sandwich or plate with tzatziki and Greek slaw. Along with tzatziki, the spicy whipped feta and charred eggplant dips can be enjoyed with pita bread as a shared appetizer. Mixing and matching traditional offerings with more creative ones, such as the tomato jam and lamb gyro sandwich, make for a different flavor experience every time you return to Gre.Co.

You can’t leave Gre.Co without dessert. Once you catch a glimpse of the loukoumades, you will have to place an order of the little balls of fried dough and split them with your friends. While traditionally topped with honey, walnuts and cinnamon, Gre.Co’s loukoumades are also offered in creative flavors, such as the S’morecrates, topped with marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers, or the Yaya’s, topped with Merenda (Greece’s version of Nutella), Oreos, and powdered sugar. Much like the rest of the menu, you can mix and match topping combinations as you please.

Yaya’s loukoumades (Gre.Co Instagram)

Yaya’s loukoumades (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

Like the food, the interior is quintessentially Greek. The walls of Gre.Co are painted Greek-island white. The décor pays homage to common ingredients with a basket of lemons, heads of garlic, and fragrant bundles of dried oregano hanging on one end of the restaurant. One wall is adorned with three Greek terms and their definitions: philotimo, kefi and meraki, which describe the hospitality, enthusiasm, creativity, and passion that go into the food and environment at Gre.Co. The patio offers extra seating and is a great Newbury St. hangout on a nice day. The narrow space fills up quickly if you visit during a lunch rush or busy weekend. Although service is still prompt, finding a seat can prove difficult, so plan accordingly.

GreCo Interior - GreCo Instagram

Gre.Co Interior (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

GreCo Exterior - GreCo Instagram

Gre.Co Exterior (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

Gre.Co is a welcome addition to the Greek food scene in Boston, and the graduate student-friendly prices combined with filling portions is a rare find on Newbury St. It’s just as easy to find a nutritious meal on-the-go here as it is to indulge and enjoy a meal with friends. Next time you are in the mood for Greek food or are looking to try it for the first time, I highly suggest giving Gre.Co a try.

Gre.Co
225 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
617-572-3300
https://grecoboston.com/

Hours: 11am-10pm daily

Theo Fitopoulos is a second-year student in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program, and current intern at the Tufts Health Science Public Relations Office. In his free time, he enjoys sampling the burgeoning Boston restaurant scene, experimenting with traditional Greek recipes in his own kitchen, and playing basketball and tennis when the weather permits.

The Top 10 Boston Food Events of Spring 2018

by Liz Learned

Attention: Do you love food? Are you looking for fun events to attend in the Boston area this spring? If your answers are yes and yes, then I’ve got good news for you! I’ve searched high and low to compile a list of the top 10 can’t-miss Boston food events this spring. This wide range of food-festivals has something for everyone. Whether you’re tight on cash or an avid charity-donor, a vegetarian or a meat-lover, you’ll find something to add to your calendar!

 

Cambridge Winter Farmers Market

Photo: Cambridgewinterfarmersmarket.com

  1. Cambridge Winter Farmers Market

When: Saturday, April 7th, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

Where: Cambridge Community Center Gym

To kick things off, the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market will hold its last event of the season on April 7th. The indoor market hosts over two dozen vendors, offering a wide variety of locally sourced goods. You can head to this one-stop shop to stock up on fresh produce, dairy products, meats and fish, fresh-pressed juices, breads and baked goods, specialty foods (jams, pastas, vinegars, etc.), and even body care products. Or, grab some friends and turn this trip into a meal by enjoying a prepared ethnic lunch from vendors such as Indonesian Three Magnolias and Mr. Tamole. This market does not require a membership and admission is entirely free of cost. Even if you’re short on cash, you can still hit up this market to enjoy the live music and free samples!

 

  1. 16th Annual Taste of South Boston

When: Sunday, April 8th, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: Plaza Ballroom at the Seaport Hotel

Make your way over to the Seaport waterfront to explore the offerings of South Boston’s restaurants. With over 30 participating establishments to sample from, you’re certainly in for a culinary adventure! Whether it’s Loco’s Mexican flavors, Legal Test Kitchen’s seafood specialties, Blue Dragon’s Asian masterpieces, or Sweet Tooth’s baked goods, even the pickiest of eaters could find themselves in flavor heaven at this event. While this is a pricier outing—at $55 per online ticket and $65 per ticket at the door—your money will not go to waste. Not only are you getting the opportunity to sample dishes from South Boston’s finest restaurants, but the proceeds directly support the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation. The mission of this non-profit organization is to provide affordable housing for the community, support the economic development of small businesses, improve access to healthy foods, and address environmental issues.

 

  1. North End Pasta Crawl

When: Monday, April 16th, 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Where: Boston Public Market

If you’ve hopped on the charity bandwagon with the last event, then be sure to also check out the North End Pasta Crawl. The proceeds will support the Roxbury Youth Orchestra, a project run by Revolution of Hope that aims to transform the lives of inner-city youth by offering community, teaching workforce skills, and creating an artistic outlet. With the purchase of the $55 pasta crawler ticket, you receive a commemorative T-shirt and get to enjoy samples from four of the North End’s restaurants. Are you a wine lover? If so, upgrade to VIP for $10 more and get two glasses of wine during your crawl! Whether you’re a pasta fanatic, a charity supporter, or a runner looking to carbo-load after completing the Boston Marathon, you don’t want to miss this Marathon Monday event!

 

Colorful taco from taco festival

Photo: Tacofestivalboston.com

  1. Boston Taco Festival

When: Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6th, 10:00 AM-10:00PM

Where: City Hall Plaza

If the last two events were outside of your budget, have no fear because this Cinco de Mayo celebration will likely fit the bill without shorting on the fun! The $15 general admission pass gets you access to a day of live music, taco vendors, beer tents, lucha libre wrestling, taco eating contests, and best taco award ceremonies. For the hardcore Taco Fest enthusiasts: upgrade to VIP for $60 more and get a variety of perks, including early admission, open bar access, free taco vouchers, raffle tickets, complimentary corn tortillas, and a bottle of Rocky’s Hot Sauce.

 

  1. Farm Share Fair 2018

When: Thursday, May 10th, 5:30 PM-8:30 PM

Where: The Center for Arts at the Armory (Somerville)

Have you found that living in the city is a barrier to accessing fresh, local food? If you’re interested in getting easy, convenient, and consistent access to fresh produce (and perhaps local meat, eggs, and cheeses, too) then Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is definitely for you. CSAs are a farm sharing method in which customers pay an up-front cost and then receive weekly distributions of seasonal goods. The Farm Share Fair is an opportunity to learn more about the economic, environmental, and health benefits of CSAs, as well as to compare the different programs that are available (varying in-home delivery vs. pick up, types of products, and more). So, whether you’re new to CSAs or a current participant seeking more knowledge on program variety, don’t hesitate to attend this free event!

 

  1. Lamb Jam

When: Sunday, May 20th, 3:00 PM- 6:00 PM

Where: SoWa Power Station

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve spent countless hours getting emotionally invested in episodes of Food Network’s “Chopped”. Well, lucky for us, Lamb Jam is the chance to become a part of the action! Next month, 16 of New England’s most talented chefs will compete in a live cook-off for the title of “Lamb Jam Boston Champion.” The intention of this event is to celebrate the efforts of 80,000+ family-operated farms across the nation. For $75 you will not only get to watch the action unfold live, but also get the chance to vote, eat, and have fun. Admission includes access to a festival of bartenders, winemakers, brewers, and culinary expert demonstrations, and it’s all accompanied by live music and art!

 

Participating Contestants Gourmet Ice Cream Bowl

Participating Contestants (Photo: wbgh.org/events)

  1. The Gourmet Ice Cream Bowl

When: Wednesday, May 23rd, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: WGBH Studios (Brighton)

Breaking news: ice cream is not just for kids! If you have a sweet tooth, this 21+ event is perfect for you. By purchasing a $25 admissions ticket, you will get the opportunity to sample a variety of ice cream (from classic to innovative) from four competing local brands. Make this outing of ice cream-sampling, vote-casting, and drink-sipping a fun night with your friends! The event will conclude with the ceremonious awarding of best chocolate, best wild card, and people’s choice ice creams. But if the ice cream and competitive atmosphere isn’t enough to draw you in, perhaps you will be motivated by the fact that “Holiday Baking Championship” finalist Joshua Livsey as well as “Chopped Grill Master” & “Top Chef” All-Star Tiffani Faison will be in attendance as guest judges!

 

  1. Fine Art & Food Trucks

When: Saturday, June 2nd, 11:00 AM-6:00 PM

Where: Babcock Street (Coolidge Corner)

If you love art as much as you love food, then this free outdoor art festival is a must. Enjoy indulgences from Boston-based food trucks as you peruse and shop the work of 70 selected artists and makers. Choose between Bon Me’s innovative Asian dishes, The Chubby Chickpea’s Middle Eastern cuisine, The Dining Car’s gourmet sandwiches and salads, Revelry’s Cajun and Creole flavors, and the Trolley Dog’s unique hot dog menu… or try them all! And while you’re there, be sure to check out Hive—a mobile event space offering a lounge and full-service bar with a unique cocktail menu.

 

  1. Taste of the Nation

When: Tuesday, June 5th, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM

Where: Cruiseport Boston

While this event is the most expensive on the list—ringing in at $95 for general admission—it certainly should not be ignored, as 100% of the proceeds from this event will support No Kid Hungry’s effort to end childhood hunger. Over 60 of Boston’s top culinary professionals will offer tastings of their creations, paired with premium beers, wines, and spirits. Last year’s event raised over $140,000 toward No Kid Hungry’s important cause, so now is your chance to get involved!

 

Boston Food trucks downtown at an event

Boston food trucks at an outdoor event (Photo: invisiblepotbelly.wordpress.com)

  1. Summer Solstice Celebration

When: Thursday, June 21st, 5:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: Harvard Museums of Science & Culture

Finally, say goodbye to Spring with a bang! On the longest day of the year, the Harvard Museum of Science and Culture is offering free admission to their solstice event, which includes access to all four museums, live performances, flower-crown crafting, and other sun-inspired activities. Most importantly (in my opinion), an assortment of Boston’s best food trucks will be present, providing the fuel to accompany the fun!

 

Liz Learned is a first-year MS student in the Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change program at Tufts University’s Friedman School. Liz currently works as the Communications Research Assistant for the USAID funded Food Aid Quality Review project here at Friedman. She received her BS from Union College in 2017, with a major in Psychology and minor in Sociology. Outside of academia, you can find Liz hiking, cooking, and spending time with her dog! 

The Return of Jumbo’s Kitchen

by Theo Fitopoulos

Jumbo’s Kitchen is entering its ninth year as a program at the Friedman School. Now under new leadership, Tufts students are hoping to grow the program to better serve the needs of those in our community. Jumbo’s Kitchen volunteers will have the opportunity to empower students at the nearby Josiah Quincy Elementary School through cooking and nutrition education. Learn more about what is in store this semester, and how you can get involved!

It is that time of year again! Students of the Tufts Health Sciences schools now have the chance to teach children in the local community about having fun, gaining confidence, and making healthy choices through cooking and nutrition education. Jumbo’s Kitchen returns this spring, giving students the opportunity to volunteer at the nearby Josiah Quincy Elementary School to teach the basics of cooking and nutrition. This year the Jumbo’s Kitchen team is also aiming to teach the students about gardening and growing their own food.

Student Simon Ye teaching at a Jumbo's Kitchen session in Spring 2017

Student Simon Ye teaching at a Jumbo’s Kitchen session in Spring 2017.

Jumbo’s Kitchen started at the Friedman School in 2009 and despite operating in different schools around Boston, the mission remains the same: to promote an understanding of nutrition and introduce basic cooking skills to empower kids to develop healthy eating habits. Simon Ye, a PhD candidate at the Friedman School, began volunteering with Jumbo’s Kitchen as a Curriculum Development Chair during the 2015-16 school year. When asked why he wanted to get involved initially, Ye said, “Personally speaking I love cooking and working with kids, so taking this role was ideal for me to serve the community in a way that I really enjoy.” Partnering with the Josiah Quincy Elementary School offers the Friedman the opportunity to build a sense of community with our neighbors and volunteer with young students at an age when it’s more important than ever to develop healthy eating habits.

As a first-year student at Tufts Medical School, Vanessa Yu was looking for different volunteering opportunities offered through the school. When she learned about the Jumbo’s Kitchen program, she was eager to get involved: “Going into Tufts Med, I knew I wanted to find a way to engage with the local community. Tufts is the only medical school to be located in a Chinatown, which is a really unique position to be in, in terms of understanding how to interact with a different community and culture. It’s important for students on the Boston campus to be cognizant of the lives that their patients lead, and programs like Jumbo’s Kitchen are a great way to gain that awareness. By spending a few hours each week with students of the Josiah Quincy School, we’ll get to learn about the littlest members of our community and discover what’s most important to them.”

Josiah Quincy students learn how to make smoothies.

Josiah Quincy students learn how to make smoothies.

Jumbo’s Kitchen also provides a valuable experience for volunteers. Not only are they able to help neighbors in our community develop healthy eating habits, but Jumbo’s Kitchen volunteers also gain experience developing lessons and teaching nutrition in a classroom setting. Some of the sessions in this year’s Jumbo’s Kitchen curriculum include an introduction to food groups and the USDA MyPlate, basic cooking techniques, serving sizes, healthy snacking, and field trips to the Friedman School garden and a local Chinatown grocery store. Each week will feature a different food that fits the specific lesson, and students will keep track of what they learn in their own journals, so they can share lessons with their families at home.

The time commitment for Jumbo’s Kitchen volunteers includes lesson planning, food shopping for the week, and class time. Classes will take place on eight different Fridays this semester at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School. This year’s curriculum has the Jumbo’s Kitchen board very excited, and we have a great group of volunteers ready to start the semester; however there is always room for more students to get involved. Simon Ye has seen the benefit of the program to the kids first-hand: “Jumbo’s Kitchen’s goal is to teach kids basic nutrition and food preparation skills. I believe that developing a positive and active relationship with what we eat is critical for leading a healthy lifestyle in the long run. I wish that when I was a kid someone could have helped me understand what food is in a way that Jumbo’s Kitchen is now doing. I can tell that many of the kids enjoy our classes and learned something that they will carry later on.”

To get involved with Jumbo’s Kitchen contact Vanessa Yu at vanessa.yu@tufts.edu. Be sure to keep up with Jumbo’s Kitchen this semester by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, using @jumboskitchen!

Theo Fitopoulos is a second-year student in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program, and current intern at the Tufts Health Science Public Relations Office. In his free time, he enjoys sampling the burgeoning Boston restaurant scene, experimenting with traditional Greek recipes in his own kitchen, and playing basketball and tennis when the weather permits.

Branchfood Holds First in 4-Part Panel Series on Technological Innovation in Food and Farming

by Laura Barley

On February 22, Branchfood hosted the first panel in a four-part series entitled The Future of Food, exploring innovation in agriculture, food products, nutrition, and retail. Second-year AFE student Laura Barley attended The Future of Agriculture panel, and reports on the exciting developments on the industry’s horizon. Don’t miss the rest of the series! (Details below.)

As part of its mission to connect food innovators from the local to the global, last Thursday February 22 Branchfood debuted the first in a four-part series of panels devoted to the future of food systems. The Future of Agriculture convened four ambitious leaders for a discussion on the role of data and technological innovation in agriculture, and how they can contribute to the greater vision of global sustainability.

The panel, moderated by the charismatic captain of the Entrepreneur Agrarian Fund, Aaron Niederhelman, focused heavily on one recurring theme: digital disruption. And for a field so central to the health of the planet, this kind of disruption may just be the type of makeover that agriculture needs to account for its externalities.

Water scarcity, greenhouse gas emissions, and chemical run-off continue to plague large-scale agriculture all over the world, so the implicit question underlying the panel remains: in a world where machines can now compile and analyze massive amounts of data, how can we teach sophisticated machines to solve agriculture’s most complex problems?

Lauren Moores, Vijay Somandepalli, Lawrence Wang, and Brett Brohl discuss their work in agriculture tech and data science. Aaron Niederhelman moderates. (Image source: Author)

Lauren Moores, Vijay Somandepalli, Lawrence Wang, and Brett Brohl discuss their work in agriculture tech and data science. Aaron Niederhelman moderates. (Image source: Author)

For Vijay Somandepalli, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at American Robotics, the answer lies in automation, though developing this technology hasn’t always been as straightforward as it seems. “Lots of drones work, but almost none of them are actually used,” Vijay admitted.

To counter the trend, he and his team have developed the first fully-automated field drone, which independently collects and analyzes crop field data from launch to landing. From his point of view, automation is one step closer to ensuring that the benefits of drone technology are actually implemented—if farmers don’t have to manually monitor their field data, they and their workers can spend their time on tasks better suited to human hands. Given the continued trend toward farm consolidation, where the average size of an American farm is 234 acres and half are more than 1,100 acres, this can translate into an incredible amount of saved time and energy.

Essentially, automation has the potential to become the hallmark of precision agriculture, where farmers can build trust in technology to deliver the efficiency gains they need to remain profitable. This vision for technology was echoed by the other panelists, each of whom has the power to influence agricultural production trends on a global scale.

Lawrence Wang, Digitalization and Analytics Strategy Lead at Cargill, spoke to the promising commitment that the multi-national agribusiness company has made towards technological innovation and sustainability. Cargill has partnered with Ecolab and Techstars to create a Farm to Fork Accelerator, an entrepreneurship program dedicated to bringing some of the leading ideas in food safety, manufacturing, and food waste to fruition.

Brett Brohl, Managing Director of the Techstars accelerator program, contends that “The timing is right—there’s a bunch of venture capital moving into food innovation in the last several years.” For a behemoth processing and manufacturing corporation like Cargill, which largely contributes to the nine billion animals slaughtered in the US each year, re-shaping conventional systems of meat production could have widespread implications. Concepts like traceability and transparency have become increasingly popular among consumers, and in an attempt to gauge consumer interest and trust, Cargill has even started to trace each Thanksgiving turkey all the way back to the start of its supply chain.

But for Lauren Moores, VP of Data Strategy and Data Sciences at Indigo Agriculture, data amounts to more than the results it produces. She believes that data analysis is fundamentally a storytelling challenge, and in her line of work, that challenge means simplifying the vast complexity of the plant-soil microbiome. As a prominent Boston startup, Indigo works to tap the potential of the microbes that have evolved in conjunction with plants over time, ultimately to produce a seed coating that maximizes plant health and productivity. The universe of the microbiome is still so elusive, and the microbial cocktail of Indigo’s seed coatings is complex enough to warrant selection by machine learning just to refine the tens of thousands of possible strains available.

Lauren also acknowledges that “farmers know their land better than anyone,” and that Indigo’s role is to develop data to help them cultivate their land more sustainably. The standing paradigm of the microbiome, which Indigo is actively researching, suggests that the biology of bacteria and fungi can enhance crop water and nutrient uptake, so that excessive irrigation and synthetic nutrients won’t need to be applied as frequently.

Interestingly, Vijay’s drone technology aims to reduce the need for agricultural inputs from a slightly different angle—drone imagery can pinpoint nutrient deficiency and other crop ailments at a much higher resolution than even the farmer’s own eye. Where a farmer used to apply chemicals to a whole field just to cover their bases, they can now apply them only to the specific areas in need.

This is the story of technological efficiency—and optimism—that these innovators are trying to write. Collectively our minds are capable of pioneering solutions to the problems of our past’s conventions, and agriculture isn’t the only sector that could use a technological re-vamp. To bring awareness to innovation materializing throughout the whole food system, Branchfood is hosting three further panels on the Future of Food Products, the Future of Nutrition, and the Future of Grocery respectively on March 22, April 26, and May 24. The panels will continue to bring visionary food minds together, to share and inspire how our collective food story will evolve.

Correction, March 7, 2018: This article has been updated to clarify that Indigo Agriculture uses data about plant-soil microbiomes to develop seed treatments that enhance plant health and productivity. –Editors

Laura Barley is a second-year Agriculture, Food, and Environment master’s student ceaselessly curious about the complexity that global food systems has to offer. She’s always happy to indulge conversation at laurabarley88@gmail.com.

Moving Through Winter

by Sara Scinto

Do you dread winter because it keeps you from engaging in exercise that you love? Are you looking for new ways to move your body that don’t involve the gym? Are you interested in making the best of what this cold season has to offer? Then read further for thoughts and ideas on how to move through winter with more enjoyment.

If you were anywhere in the Northeast during this holiday season, you likely experienced at least one major winter storm, cold spell, or both. Living in Northeastern Ohio where the lake effect snow regularly comes down by the foot, I encountered multiple while I was home for break. If you are an active biker, walker, or runner, snow and ice can really throw a wrench in your usual physical activity schedule. This is especially true if the mere thought of a treadmill (known to many as the “dreadmill”), stationary bike, or indoor pool makes you cringe. But instead of lamenting about these seasonal limitations, you can change your perspective on winter; it actually is an excellent time to try alternative types of movement, both indoors and outside.

Attending group workout classes is one way to build up body heat, fight frigid temperatures, and experience new forms of exercise during the chilly stretch between November and March. For me, hot yoga is the most effective remedy for the constant cold and low energy I often experience during winter. It leaves me feeling warm and relaxed for the rest of the day, as long as I make sure to take a shower and put on dry clothes before walking back into the brisk air (wearing sweaty clothes in the cold is a recipe for disaster). As Friedman students, we are fortunate enough to have multiple studios within walking distance of our school; just minutes down Harrison Avenue, there is both a Turnstyle (cycling) and a Corepower (varying levels of hot yoga) studio. If you’re looking for a nearby studio that offers something really different, check out Swet Studio, which has rowing, aerial yoga, and other antigravity activities! And if none of those get you excited, check out this list of 10 local classes that get your body moving in creative ways.

Title Boxing Club Boston Nutrition Students

Me and my friend after trying out boxing together (Photo: Sara Scinto)

Admittedly, these classes are often outside a graduate student budget, but some studios offer student discounts or even a first class for free! Although you may realize at the end of the class that it’s not for you, the complimentary class allows you to determine that without having to pay for something you don’t end up liking.

Another more affordable option for Friedman students is the Wang YMCA, where there is a wide selection of classes like Tai Chi, Zumba, cycling, and high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) classes, just to name a few. With the discounted membership rate information that was emailed to all Tufts Boston Health Sciences students before the start of the fall semester, you can purchase a monthly membership to the YMCA for the same (or lower) price as most single exercise studio classes. Although the Wang YMCA is the closest location to Friedman, a membership allows you to get into YMCA branches all over Boston. This gives you access to even more varieties of physical activity like power yoga, barre, and kickboxing.

Even though it may not seem like it, winter is also a terrific season to experience the outdoors in a way that does not involve running or biking. Despite living in the snow belt nearly my entire life, I’ve only just begun to explore snow sports. And while not every winter sport is for me, I’ve found activities like snowshoeing to be wonderful. Trekking through a forest while the snow clings to the bare trees like floating cotton balls is breathtaking in more ways than one! Although my hands were frozen for the first 20 minutes, the discomfort was worth being able to view winter and snow in a completely new and appreciative way.

Sara Scinto Snowshoeing Massachusetts

A beautiful winter forest while snowshoeing (Photo: Sara Scinto)

Lack of equipment may seem like a big barrier for engaging in winter sports, but many places offer rentals at a reasonable price. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are generally less expensive options compared to snowboarding and downhill skiing, although there are ways to save on ski lift tickets. Making a day trip with some friends to engage in snow sports can be a perfect opportunity to get outside of the city and breathe some crisp, fresh air. Here is a great resource on locations near Boston to snowshoe, ski, and snowboard (I can confirm the Weston Ski Track is great for beginners). And if you don’t have a mode of transportation out of town, don’t worry! There’s still plenty of outdoor fun to take advantage of in Boston, including something called “frost bite” sailing on the Charles River (for experienced sailors) and ice skating and sledding in the Boston Common. Because in case you needed a reminder, you’re never too old for sledding. And marching back up Beacon Hill over and over really gets your heart pumping!

Winter offers an abundance of ways to move your body, some of which wouldn’t even be possible in other seasons. Although the urge to stay snuggled underneath the covers is strong, I encourage you to try a new activity this year that will help you view winter as a season of opportunity and discovery, rather than a season of limitations.

 

Sara Scinto is a second-year NICBC student, avid coffee drinker, runner, triathlete, and yogi. She has a love for rainbows and all things food/nutrition related. During the winter, she enjoys staying warm and active with yoga and running outside in *almost* any weather conditions (to avoid the treadmill). You can find her on Instagram @saras_colorfull_life.

A Slice of Italy in Allston

by Megan Maisano

It’s the end of the semester. Motivation for cooking and weekly meal prep is low. Are you yearning for some Italian comfort fare, but don’t want to make the trek to North End? Fear not. This hidden gem will fill your heart and your belly.

As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I felt at home and part of la famiglia. Packed in tightly among 12 tables were families and friends, hunched over their meals in conversation, accompanied by glasses of wine and fresh bruschetta. The small room was filled with stories, laughter, and the smell of warm tomato sauce. I turned to my husband, Andrew, and got a nod of approval. It was our first time at Carlo’s Cucina in Allston.

Snuggled between a Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant on Brighton Ave, Carlo’s Cucina (pronounced coo-CHEE-nah) was nearly full on a Tuesday night. We snagged a table next to the kitchen in the back, with optimal views of the place in action. Paintings of the Italian countryside covered the walls and wisps of white painted clouds dotted the blue ceiling. Servers scooted between tables, waiting their turn to walk through the narrow passes, cracking jokes in Italian with regulars along the way.

The restaurant itself offers a no-frills dining experience. The table is set with paper placemats and napkins, and not much space for elbow room. While the ambience at Carlo’s Cucina may not compare to the gusto of dining in Boston’s North End Italian restaurants, the food will keep us coming back.

As someone who married into an Italian family and once took a cooking class in Tuscany, I like to believe I have developed a taste for authentic Italian food. But just to be sure my taste was true, I invited Andrew along for a second opinion. And let me tell you, we experienced some anguish when deciding what to order – we wanted to try it all! In addition to the usual spread of antipasti (appetizers), primi (pasta dishes) and secondi piatti (protein dishes), there was also a Specialità della Casa section.

While we examined the menu, our server brought us complimentary toasted bread, pimento stuffed olives, and olive oil. We did our best not to overindulge before our meal, but it was hard to pass up the aroma of freshly baked bread and olive oil.

For our antipasti, we ordered the fried eggplant, Melanzane Ripiene ($10). Laid over a large plate was eight inches of crisp eggplant rolled up with ricotta that oozed out of its sides, and topped with marinara sauce and broiled mozzarella that stuck to our forks. It was heavenly. In a rare act of self-control, we asked for a box to save half of this God-sent dish for later.

We decided to skip the primi piatti: with their generous portion sizes, I can’t imagine ordering more than one course here again. For the secondi piatti, we ordered off the specialty menu. I chose the Pollo Gerardo ($20), a chicken Marsala dish with tomatoes, peppers, and olives. Andrew chose the Vitello Carlo ($23), a popular Yelp pick of veal stuffed with artichokes, prosciutto and Fontina cheese, and topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms and sautéed onions.

I’m a sucker for a good Marsala sauce, so the Pollo Gerardo hit the spot. The dish had an appropriately oversized piece of chicken, lightly battered and pounded thin. The Marsala sauce was reduced to a thick texture and while it tasted just fine with the toppings, I missed the earthy sautéed mushrooms that traditionally accompanied it. Perhaps next time I’ll stick with the traditional Pollo Marsala dish ($20). Andrew picked the Vitello Carlo because of his love for artichokes. This dish had a lot going on, in a good way. The combination of flavors from the tender veal, plum tomato sauce, artichokes, and creamy Fontina kept us picking at it long after we had our fill. And while we planned to get desert, our stomachs begged for mercy. Next time, Cannoli… Next time.

Pollo Gerardo and remnants of the Melanzane Ripiene. Photo: Megan Maisano

Pollo Gerardo and remnants of the Melanzane Ripiene. Photo: Megan Maisano

By the end of the night, we had sung happy birthday twice to strangers, clapped, and raised our glasses to their fortune. It felt like we were a part of a large family gathering, spread across tables in a dining room, enjoying home-style comfort foods from our very own kitchen.

If you’re looking for authentic Italian dishes without making the arduous trip to the North End, Carlo’s Cucina is your spot. Make reservations, come hungry, and leave a part of la famiglia.

Carlo’s Cucina Italiana
131 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617.254.9759, http://carloscucinaitaliana.com/

Megan Maisano is a second-year Nutrition Communications student, an RD-to-be, and is generally disappointed by small portion sizes. After traveling and eating her way through 24 countries, Italian cuisine remains her personal favorite.

Ten Spots to Try Next Time You Forget Your Lunch

by Erin Child

Forgot your lunch? Too busy to cook? Consider grabbing a friend (or five) and trying out one of these ten eateries near campus. Compiled from a quick survey (a big thanks to the fifteen students who responded!), I’ve got recommendations for holes-in-the-wall that you’ve probably walked by already, hidden gems, and local & national chains with healthy lunch options. Though numbered, this list isn’t meant to be a ranking. Walking times are measured from Jaharis. Cheers & happy eating!

  1. My Thai Vegan Café

3 Beach St. (4 min walk)

My Thai Vegan Café is a popular spot with students. With ample food and bubble tea options, it’s a fun place to come with a friend. Their lunch special runs from noon to 3pm, and for $8 you get the soup-of-the-day, plus either one fried spring roll or two fried dumplings, hot Jasmine tea, and your entrée. One Friedman student surveyed recommended the Mango Curry (it has great coconut flavor!).

  1. The Little Kitchen

22 Kneeland St (2 min walk)

I recently experienced The Little Kitchen for the first time, and boy is it delicious and filling! Pretty much everything costs less than $10 and the portions provide more than enough for lunch and then another meal. Students love their steamed lotus leaf options, highly recommending the chicken and mushroom option.  One student likes that they have a selection of food that they “haven’t seen in other restaurants around Chinatown.” As it’s basically across the street from school, it’s a must to check out.

  1. Clover Food Lab

160 Federal St (11 min walk)

Clover is a local chain that has many food trucks and storefront locations throughout the greater Boston area. Clover is a vegetarian/vegan joint that tries to source their ingredients as locally as possible. They’ve also recently started serving the Impossible Burger at the Harvard Square location and hopefully it will come downtown soon. Lunch there generally costs between $8-$11. Personally, I am mildly obsessed with their chickpea fritter platters. Clover is slightly further away than other options, but worth the walk!

  1. Gourmet Dumpling House

52 Beach St (4 min walk)

I have it on good authority that Gourmet Dumpling House is a wonderful place to bring a bunch of friends, order a ton of food and stuff yourself with savory dumplings and other Chinese dishes. The prices are great, and the food is delicious. If you’re looking for a dumpling fix, one student recommends the mini juicy pork dumplings and Szechuan dumplings, which will “run you about $12.”

  1. Irashi

8 Kneeland St (3 min walk)

Irashi is a sushi and teriyaki restaurant with a great lunch deal. From 11am-4pm, you can buy miso soup, salad and two sushi rolls for under $14. They offer many different combinations of rolls, so there are plenty of options to choose from! If you’re a sushi lover, other places to check out include Avana Sushi (42 Beach St) or Whole Foods (348 Harrison Ave)—the Hirsch Library in the Sackler building recently started serving sushi, but reviews are mixed.

  1. sweetgreen

354 Harrison Ave (7 min walk)

sweetgreen is a national salad & grain bowl chain beloved by many Friedman students. Their bowls are always chock full of veggies, so you get a guaranteed healthy lunch. They easily accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies, so it’s a stress-free stop for many. Lunch starts at about $9, and can increase to $15+ depending on the bowl you choose and what toppings you add (for example, avocado is an extra $2). Students recommend the ‘The Shroomami Bowl’, ‘Harvest Salad’, and ‘My special salad’ (not actually on the menu, and sadly that student did not give us their special ingredient combination).

  1. Chinatown Café

262 Harrison Ave (3 min walk)

Next time you’re thinking of walking down to the Ink Block complex (home to sweetgreen and Whole Foods), consider stopping into the Chinatown Café (it’s that restaurant with the kitchen right on Harrison with hanging ducks in the window). Students say that they have great BBQ, and you get a lot of food for the price. They take cash only, but lunch won’t cost much more than $8 when you get one their rice, meat and veggie combo plates.

  1. 163 Vietnamese Sandwich

66 Harrison Ave (3 min walk)

The banh mi at 163 Vietnamese Sandwich are reportedly delicious, come with vegetarian and meat options, and cost less than $5 each (cash only). The restaurant has seats, but it’s almost always crowded, so you’re better off grabbing a sandwich, or a noodle or rice meal (under $10) to go. Like many spots in Chinatown, they also have bubble tea (yum!).

  1. Boston Kitchen Pizza

1 Stuart St (4 min walk)

Have four minutes to spare and four dollars in your pocket? Run over to Boston Kitchen Pizza for a quick slice. One student recommended the Spinach & Roasted Garlic slice, which will run you less than $4 and sounds delicious! (If you’re looking for cheap eats and not interested in Pizza, The Dumping King at 42 Beach St is another great option.)

  1. Pho Pasteur

682 Washington St (4 min walk)

Pho Pastuer, a Vietnamese restaurant, is but one pho spot in a neighborhood of many (Pho Hoa at 17 Beach St. was also recommended by another student), but it’s been a favorite of mine since I moved to Boston five years ago. Their pho portions are GIANT, cost from $8-$9.50, and is simply the best food on a rainy and cold November day. They have a large menu that offers more than just pho (if that’s not your thing), and offer both take out and sit-down service.

*Bonus Reminder*

Sackler

145 Harrison Ave (30 second walk)

You forgot your lunch, you literally have no time and you’re looking for a cheap, healthy fix? Seriously consider the salad bar on the 4th floor of the Sackler Library. A small salad will run you $5 and they cram the container full of veggies. Sometimes the best option is right in front of you.

Erin Child is a second year NICBC student in the dual MS-DPD program. Up until now, if she ran out of time to pack a lunch she would stubbornly & hangrily wait until she was home to eat. After writing this list she’s been inspired to try new things. Erin is thrilled to be joining the Sprout team as the social media editor this year, and is looking forward to your great articles!