Friday, January 30, 2015

Read: Most Talkative

Happy Friday everyone! Congratulations to those who live in the northeast. You survived a blizzard!

Today I want to talk about a book I finished two weeks ago, written by the one and only, Andy Cohen. Most of you know Andy from his Bravo TV fame. In his first book, "Most Talkative," he brings you on the journey from his hometown of St. Louis, all the way to his signature "Watch What Happens Live" clubhouse in NYC.

I think what I loved most about the book, is that Andy is a pop culture addict just like us. His enthusiasm and fandom has not diminished one bit since becoming famous himself, especially when it comes to Oprah, Dan Rather or Susan Lucci.

In fact, one of the best chapters in the book tells the story of when Andy met his soap opera idol, Susan Lucci. He secured an interview with her by telling her publicist he was writing a feature story for the Boston University paper. In the below excerpt you learn about their first meal together and get a great sense of Andy's voice in the book:

"Well, I hope you like Mexican food, Andrew, because I'm taking you to lunch," she purrs.
"In fact, I hate Mexican food. I have a lifelong aversion to beans, and I wanted to see the studio. On the other hand: Susan Lucci and I are going to lunch? On a date? Me gusta!"

You can hear Andy's voice, the same voice that became famous on the "Real Housewives" reunions, on every page. Reading each chapter feels like gossiping with your best friend, only this BFF has some serious dirt!

Throughout the book I learned several things that my fellow Bravo addicts might appreciate:

  • Andy never thought "Top Chef" could be a hit.
  • The Bravo team wanted Padma Lakshmi as their host from the very beginning, but she turned them down. Katie Lee Joel was the host of season one (I forgot!) and then they did finally reel in Padma. 
  • "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" is the most successful of the Housewives franchises.
  • Andy has a very tense relationship with Jill Zarin, a result of her pushy behavior and insistence that he fall in love with her yappy dog, Ginger.
  • Andy got his start in front of the camera hosting reunion shows for "Top Chef" and "Work Out" (the one with trainer Jackie Warner).

He does spill a lot of secrets about how certain shows came to be, the perils of last minute casting and which shows rocked (or tanked) in the ratings.

Though I was most excited to read the book for the behind the scenes intel, I found myself loving Andy's relationships with two people in particular, his best friend Graciela and his mom, Evelyn.

Andy and Graciela met during his semester abroad in college. Graciela is the type of friend who always chooses "dare" in Truth or Dare and lives to rile people up. She makes multiple appearances in the book and there is a very sweet scene where Andy throws her a bridal shower, while still in complete denial that his bestie is marrying another man.

Andy's mom, Evelyn, is the stereotypical, overbearing, Jewish mother. What I actually found very endearing was that Andy seemed to define which points (and shows) in his career were successful based on his mother's reaction. She appears in every single chapter.

In the final chapter, Andy share's Evelyn's response to the first draft of the book and I think this excerpt summarizes it perfectly:

"What is going on is that I DO NOT SCREAM!!!" she screamed.
"Ummmmm, okay," I stammered.
"EVERY SINGLE TIME I APPEAR IN THIS  . . . BOOK, I . . . SCREAM! AM I SOME KIND OF . . . SHREW TO YOU?" I had to crack a smile because she was totally, utterly screaming.
"Mom, it's a book and you are the best part of it. You come in and out and  . . . offer your wisdom and it's funny and meant to be that way and I mean, yeah, Mom, you scream. You do scream but it's an affect. Gillian [my editor] says you're the best character in the book!"
"I'm not a CHARACTER in a BOOK." That was a very wrong thing I had just said, apparently. "I'm your MOTHER!!! And I do NOT SCREAM LIKE THIS!"

I was on the bus when I read that particular part and I burst into laughter. Sorry, 71 bus passengers.

If you already love Andy Cohen (or the Housewives) you will absolutely devour this book. Even if you don't, hearing about Andy's rise through the ranks - from the CBS morning show, to the evening news, to an unknown cable network, to Bravo - is fascinating. Of course now that I've finished this book, I need to move on to his new one, "The Andy Cohen Diaries."

Have you read either of Andy's books?

*Image source.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grey's Anatomy: Winter Return

Wahhhhhh! I am currently traveling for work, which means I won't be able to watch "Grey's" tonight and share my thoughts with you.

I am so sorry that after waiting two months for the show to return with a new episode, we'll have to wait to dissect every moment together.

My plan is to share a double recap next Thursday, including episodes one and two.

Thank you for returning every week to share your thoughts with me. I'll be back in action with "Grey's" next week!

*Image courtesy of the Grey's Anatomy Facebook page.

Dining Out: 5 Napkin Burger

Last week, I was invited to attend a media preview for the new menu at 5 Napkin Burger. Though I have walked and driven by the restaurant countless times since it opened in 2011, I'd never been in! So this new menu, as well as the old menu, were both completely new to me.

After work, I jumped on the T and headed to the Prudential stop. When you pop out of the train, the restaurant is just across the street.

Inside, the restaurant is very spacious with a fun bar area and plenty of tables and booths in the dining room. They also have two areas with large family style tables for private parties.

At the table, I was joined by three of 5 Napkin Burger's lovely PR and Social Media gals, plus Will from The Boston Foodie, Eric from Thrillist Boston, Fiona from A Boston Food Diary, Kristen from Indulge Inspire and Imbibe and Nneka from WCVB's Chronicle.

Before chowing down, we learned how the 5 Napkin Burger empire came to be. Chef Andy D'Amico and partner Simon Oren opened a French restaurant on the Upper West Side in Manhattan called Nice Matin. Simon fought hard to put a burger on the menu, a 5 Napkin Burger, and it was such a hit (becoming the star of their New York Times review) that they decided to open a new restaurant focused on burgers. Their first 5 Napkin Burger opened in Hell's Kitchen and now they have five locations - three in New York, one in Boston and one in Miami.

To begin, we shared a round of appetizers, served family style. The first to arrive was the calamari. Though I didn't sample this personally, the girls around me loved the tasty batter and the garnish of the hot peppers.

Next was a bowl of beautifully plated edamame hummus. The celery green spread was whipped into the center of a circle of precisely placed, thinly sliced radishes, then garnished with miso-tahini, sunflower seeds and sprouts. It was served with toasted flatbread for dipping.

My favorite of the appetizers was the stack of panko crusted onion rings. I love this vertical presentation. The rings were served with a side of pimento cheese dipping sauce. I normally dunk my onion rings in ketchup, but this was a welcomed change. The pimento cheese added a creamy contrast to the crisp of the batter.

The final of our appetizers was the pesto flatbread with oven-dried tomatoes. I found it, particularly the pesto, a bit too salty. The pizza did however have a nice airy crust.

For the entree round, we took a brief pause from the family style dishes and each picked out our own main course. Having never been to 5 Napkin Burger before, I opted for the veggie burger (shocker!).

The veggie patty is made with beets so it has a bright pink color to it. It's topped with B&B pickles, 5 Napkin sauce, tomato and lettuce, served on a multi grain bun.

I cut the veggie burger in half and inhaled the first side. The patty was tasty and fresh, but not too heavy, as veggie patties can be. The pickles added the right amount of acidity.

With the burger, I received a side of French fries. These were pretty underwhelming. I really enjoy thinly cut fries, but these were bland.

Thankfully, we had ordered a few sides of cheddar tots for the table and those were excellent. Golden brown on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.

I stopped eating well before I normally would have because I knew we were having dessert. Our very kind waiter boxed up the other half of my burger and the remaining cheddar tots. He brought them back to me in a box that read "Special Delivery." That is so cute! I love when restaurants put thought into their takeout packaging.

Now for the grand finale, dessert!

The restaurant manager proudly brought us dessert, which was three flavors of milkshakes. We sampled the salted caramel, the cookies 'n cream and the s'mores. The salted caramel had a great purity of flavor. The cookies 'n cream featured big pieces of Oreo cookie, which was heavenly. The s'more milkshake stole the show however, with it's toasted marshmallow floating right on top.

While the toasted marshmallow drew you to the glass, it was actually the taste of the shake itself that kept you coming back for more. It had all the flavor of a graham cracker but without that powdery, chalky texture you can get from eating the crackers. I don't know how they achieved that smooth, graham cracker taste, but it was amazing!

Overall, I was incredibly impressed by 5 Napkin Burger and I left asking myself, "How did you not make it here sooner?" The location is great, the service was impeccable, the veggie burger was top notch and those milkshakes! I can't get over the milkshakes. I would actually take the T all the way to Prudential (six stops in the wrong direction), hop out, get the shake and then start to make my way back home.

A huge thank you to the 5 Napkin Burger team for their generosity and for such a fun evening. It was also great to share a meal with some of my favorite Boston foodies!

Tell me, have you ever been to 5 Napkin Burger? Which signature burger is your favorite?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shop: Bow & Drape

Earlier this month, Forbes magazine published its annual list of the "30 Under 30." One of the featured super stars was Aubrie Pagano, the 29 year old co-founder of Bow & Drape.

Bow & Drape calls itself the "Build-A-Bear of women's apparel," but it's so much more than that. It's my spirit animal (along with Mindy Kaling, of course).

On the Bow & Drape website, you can select an apparel item - sweatshirt, t-shirt, beanie, tote bag, makeup bag- and then decorate it. Items (prior to being adorned) range in price from $48 dollars - $24 dollars.

Flair includes matte lettering, sequin lettering and sequin embellishments (hearts, sunglasses, food, animals).

I've played around a ton on the site, decorating item after item to get a feel for what I might want to order. But even more than the creations I've pieced together, I love seeing the designs Bow & Drape highlights on their Instagram account, @bowanddrape.

I nearly spit out my tea the other morning when I saw this one:

I'm also partial to this beauty, which could easily be the permanent state of Pop.Bop.Shop.

I text a pictured of this sweatshirt to one of my BFFs, which reads "Fries not Guys." I told her it couldn't be more us unless it was nachos. #TrueStory

This past weekend the Bow & Drape team posted this gem:

Though I am leaning towards ordering a sweatshirt, I've also seen some fun designs for the other apparel items, like the tote bags. Check out this hysterical one:

With all the traveling I do, I might also benefit from a makeup bag. How about this one, jazzed up with a unicorn, pink sunglasses and an ice cream cone?

What I love most about Bow & Drape is that it lets you express yourself without apologizing. It embraces all things girly, flashy and snarky.

Tell me, have you heard of Bow & Drape? Have you customized something on the site?

*All images courtesy of @Bowanddrape on Instagram.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shop: Shake Shack Two-Pint Conversion

It has been well documented here on Pop.Bop.Shop. how much I love Shake Shack (here, here and here).

It's also well known that I love the Super Bowl (check out last year's party here).

This year, those two beloved things are joining forces in the form of Shake Shack's Two-Pint Conversion.

From this Thursday, January 29th, through Sunday, February 1st, if you purchase one pint of frozen custard, you'll receive a second pint for free. The Shack team will also throw in a mini football. I cannot confirm if these Shake Shack footballs are part of #DeflateGate, so don't even ask!

This offer is available at both Massachusetts Shake Shack locations - Chestnut Hill and Harvard Square.

Can you imagine anything sweeter than eating free frozen custard during a Patriots Super Bowl victory?

*Two pint conversion promotional images courtesy of Shake Shack.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Support: Boston Police Foundation

This Wednesday, January 28th, the Boston Police Foundation will host its first annual Operation Dine Out event. If you aren't familiar with the Foundation, it was formed in 1993 to provide financial support for critically needed resources for the Boston Police Department (the oldest police department in the country!). Supporting the Foundation helps to fund special equipment, advanced training, new technology, officer safety and wellness, and youth outreach programs.

So how can you help? By chowing down!

This Wednesday, 18 restaurants have committed to donating anywhere from 5% - 100% of their sales throughout the day to the Boston Police Foundation. You can help just by choosing to dine at one of these generous establishments.

This is the first year of the fundraiser and the list of participants includes:
I'm hungry just thinking about all these delicious possibilities! 

If you are meeting friends, family or coworkers for dinner on Wednesday, please consider sharing your meal at one of these restaurants. The brave men and women of the Boston Police Department risk their lives every day to protect us. The least we can do is pig out. 

For more information on Operation Dine Out, visit the Boston Police Foundation website.

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2015: Best & Worst Dressed

Last night was the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG for short). What's special about the SAG Awards is that the winners are determined by fellow actors. There's no stuffy academy, just a group of their peers.

The SAG Awards have never gotten as much attention as the Emmys, the Golden Globes or the Oscars. That never felt more true than when Maria Menounos replaced Giuliana Rancic on the red carpet last night. People under estimate what goes into being a witty, charming red carpet host and last night, Maria just did not have it. She was blocking the camera, she was gushing over celebs like a teenage fan and there were so many awkward moments I lost count. Sigh. Giuliana - if you can hear me, please come back from whatever vacation you've been Instagramming all week!

Sharing the red carpet with Maria was Ross Matthews, who was dressed as a life size awards statue.

Let's get right down to it, the best (and worst) fashion of the night.

BEST DRESSED 

1) Eddie Redmayne - The number one spot goes to my number one celebrity crush, Eddie Redmayne in Prada. Last night he took home the award for Male Actor in a Leading Role. With the SAG Award and the Golden Globe, the Oscar can't be far behind!

2) Jennifer Aniston - Holy mother, did Jen ever bring it. She looked stunning and sexy in a plunging black and gold vintage Galliano. I love the pattern of the lace, the black trim on the bottom of the skirt and the necklace she paired with the dress. Though you can't see it in the below photo, the dress was also gorgeous from the back.

3) Emma Stone - Emma Stone totally wowed me in her pants ensemble at the Golden Globes and tonight she nailed it again in Dior. This combination of an oversized suit jacket paired with a sheer black train was elegant and fashion forward. Her red lipstick was the perfect finishing touch.

4) Julia Roberts - These photos do not do Julia and this Givenchy ensemble justice. From head to toe, she looked breathtaking. Her hair was the epitome of Hollywood glamour and you just can't compete with that megawatt smile.

5) Reese Witherspoon - Reese had a solid showing at the Golden Globes, but upped her game in this white, one shoulder Giorgi Armani dress. It's tough to see in the pictures, but there's a band of white sequins lining the top of the dress. That little bit of glittering texture takes it to the next level. Her makeup was gorgeous and really brought out her blue eyes. While she was talking to Maria on the red carpet, I learned that she shot a movie with Sofia Vergara! I had no idea.

6) Julianne Moore - No one wears emerald green like a red head. Julianne Moore turned heads in this beaded Givenchy dress. She graced the stage is this sparkler to accept her award for Female Actor in a Leading Role for "Still Alice." I am currently reading the book and can't wait to see the movie.

7) Joanne Froggatt - I don't watch Downton Abbey, but I am a fan of this black Honor dress on Joanne Froggatt. She has the classic Hollywood waves going on with her blond hair and just the right amount of diamond frosting. 

8) Matt McGorry - Matt McGorry, a.k.a. Officer Bennett on "Orange is the New Black" and Asher on "How to Get Away with Murder," looked handsome, as always, on the carpet. I did have to laugh a little when he presented with Laverne Cox and she towered over him by about two feet.

9) Julianna Margulies - I put Julianna towards the end of this list because I am giving her massive applause for this rich, saturated blue hue, but not forgiving the poorly gathered skirt on this Giambattista Valli dress.

10) Rashida Jones - Others may disagree with me on this pick, but I kind of love that Rashida took a risk and wore this patterned Emanuel Ungaro dress. Her gown seemed bright in the sea of black on the red carpet. I love the blue pipping on the bodice. Her stylist is Bravo TV star Brad Goreski.

Ok, now for all of you who love to hate, here are my picks for the biggest blunders.

WORST DRESSED

1) Matthew McConaughey - I hated his look at the Golden Globes and I hate his look again! Maybe it's the facial hair?

2) Felicity Jones - I know many people are going to put Felicity on their Best Dressed list (Kelly Osbourne already did) for her pale pink Balenciaga gown, but I think it looked like she was wrapped in Bubble Tape gum. And she was barely wearing any makeup!

3) Keira Knightley - Keira totally bombed at the Golden Globes in her first red carpet appearance while pregnant. This time around, she draped her baby bump in a plethora of purple fabric courtesy of Erdem. I'm sorry, but I just hated this. Way too much fabric.

4) Amanda Peet - On the red carpet, Maria was grilling Amanda Peet about being married to one of the creators of "Game of Thrones" and all I could think was, "Why is she wearing that dress?" Her J. Mendel gown looks like a "Project Runway" design gone awry.

And there you have it! My Best and Worst Dressed.

Before signing off on this year's recap, I wanted to share some of my favorite moments from the show:

- Watching Uzo Aduba, a.k.a. Crazy Eyes, win Female Actor in a Comedy Series for "Orange is the New Black." She plays one of the best, most complex characters on television and she really showed her range in season two. Just moments later, she also spoke on behalf of the cast when they won for Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
- Jared Leto saying "It's a no show" when Mark Ruffalo won for "The Normal Heart." I will love Jared Leto no matter what. What is it about his eyes that just draw me in?
- Tearing up with Viola Davis as she gave her acceptance speech for Female Actor in a Drama Series for "How to Get Away with Murder." Her career has taken off in her 40s and she is always so humble and grateful. Also, I binged watched the entire season over the holiday break and damn that show is good!

Did you watch last night? What were your favorite moments?

*Images courtesy of JustJared.com, Joanne Froggatt image courtesy of EOnline.com and Amanda Peet image courtesy of Redcarpet-fashionawards.com.
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