“I love chocolate, I admit I am addicted,” confesses Paula Barth in her online bio. She doesn’t sugarcoat her habit—in fact, she makes a career out of it. As the owner of Beacon Hill Chocolates, she’s spent the last 15 years curating a unique assortment of artisan truffles and other chocolates, and has traveled all over the world to track down the best handcrafted sweets. Her whimsical truffles won Paula the title of best chocolatier from Boston Magazine in 2012 (the third time she’s received the honor). From a ganache-filled kitty cat, complete with heart-shaped nose and white whiskers, to candied bacon caramels that look as though they’re speckled with stars, the truffle case contains sweets almost too charming to eat. Adorable treats like caramel sushi—a dark-chocolate dipped swirl of caramel and marshmallow––or milk-chocolate covered oreos taste even sweeter when plucked from a keepsake box adorned with an old photo or classic artwork. And Beacon Hill Chocolates can also create wedding favors or business-appropriate keepsakes emblazoned with a company logo or the CEO's baby footprints.
Fresh out of college, Vince Petryk took a job as a dishwasher at an ice cream shop. It was just a temporary gig…or, so he thought. As Petryk climbed through the shop’s ranks—he rose from dishwasher, to scooper, to ice-cream maker, to manager—he was awe-struck by the way ice cream seemed to make people feel happy. From that point on, he knew that he wanted to continue to share that joy with others and that the best way to do it, was to own his own ice cream shop. He perfected his from-scratch ice cream recipe before opening J.P. Licks, named for Jamaica Plain, the neighborhood where he opened his first location. The flavors were immediately a hit and continue to win loyal fans for their intensity and ingenuity––at any given time, guests might find cake batter and chocolate peanut butter ripple on the menu, alongside unusual flavors like tomato basil or beer and pretzels. Since those early days, Vince has also added from-scratch hard and soft frozen yogurts, sherberts, and sorbets. He has even been known to develop flavors to suit the tastes of the area's different ethnic groups, and dairy-free ice creams to provide relief to the area's overworked cows. Beyond serving traditional cones, Petryk and his staff also pack chilly scoops into house-made cakes and pies, blend them into shakes, and transform them into decadent sundaes topped with homemade hot fudge or butterscotch. The icy treats have proved so popular, J.P. Licks now has 10 area stores, leaving them ample wall space for awards: readers of The Phoenix voted it the city’s best ice cream parlor in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty: ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the U.S. and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers––homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz.
Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from Ben & Jerry’s plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
In the midst of crimson booths and dark wood tables, the nimble fingers of bustling pastry chefs carefully arrange a medley of sweets atop an open-air dessert stage, their every movement reflected by overhead mirrors to give diners an better view of the decadence they'll soon enjoy. It is this artistic and reverent approach to confections that embodies each dish at Finale Desserterie & Bakery, an upscale sweetness haven initiated by a duo of Harvard Business School graduates. The team crafts each morsel with the grace of a swan's choreographer as they put an inventive spin on classics such as cr?me br?l?e. Although the desserterie specializes in the sweet stuff, savory cravings find satisfaction in salads, pizza, and pasta selections, many of which balance palates with suggested wine pairings.
Parish Cafe and Bar allows diners to sample the distinct flavors of Boston’s most renowned chefs without ever having to leave their seats. The vision of owner Gordon Wilcox, Parish’s menu is an amassment of sandwiches created by local culinary heroes, each one bearing that chef’s signature flavor profiles and mustard-written signature. Recognizable names include Tony Maws, the executive chef and owner of Craigie on Main. He designed the egg sandwich lyonnaise, a veritable feast of over-easy eggs, applewood smoked bacon, and Dijon mustard aioli. Paul O’Connell of Chez Henri designed Henri’s veal pastrami, while Tim Cushman of o ya contributed a spicy tuna burger with sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna and homemade spicy mayo. At both the Boylston Street and Massachusetts Ave. locations, diners can enjoy this tasteful tour of Boston with a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine, while the Boylston location also serves up a view from its outdoor patio, open during warmer months.
Blink as you walk near Mei Sum and it’s quite possible you’ll miss the tiny storefront. This tiny Vietnamese bakery/sandwich shop focuses on super cheap eats in the form of pineapple buns, chocolate cake, cold cut meat-stuffed bánh mi sandwiches on crispy bread and delicate shumai dumplings. There is no menu on display and only two tables in the cramped, friendly space, so expect your meal to be of the takeout variety. Buns and sandwiches are less than $5 each, and other hearty dishes include shrimp noodles, barbecue beef and spicy tofu bánh mi, while popular dessert specialties include egg custards and coconut tarts.