Michael Natkin at Trident Cafe

Today, my friends and I went to Trident Cafe to see Michael Natkin give a free cooking demo. Natkin recently published a new book, Herbivoracious: A Vegetarian Cookbook for People Who Love To Eat, and showed us how to cook a recipe from his book, serving us samples of his creation.

I found out about the demo through The Boston Globe’s events page, a tool I use frequently when trying to find things to do around the city.

We got to the cafe, a place I’ve been before. I like Trident, but I don’t love Trident. I think it’s pretty overpriced for the quality and amount of food served. They definitely attract a more “hipster” and young crowd, I always see kids with sweatshirts from Emerson, Berklee and Boston University. The menu is seemingly organic, and definitely vegetarian friendly. 

However, I know the cost of juice. I have a juicer, I enjoy juicing. Tonight, I ordered the “Body Cleanse” juice. Carrots + Beets + Apple + Cucumber all juiced together for the $5. It was fine, but I like my juice served with ice, and the juice they served me was warm. Ew.

I asked for ice, and was promptly served a cup, so I can forgive them. Over ice, the juice wasn’t bad. Not necessarily worth the $5, but now I know a recipe I enjoy and can juice at home.


“The Body Cleanse” from Trident Cafe

Natkin began just after 7, and it was a short demo. He told us a brief history about the meal he was preparing, a Vietnamese sandwich, a popular recipe from his new book. He went step by step through the process, showing how easy it can be to make something delicious.

He was very personable, attentive to questions, and kept a smile through the whole demo. The ‘sandwiches’ were delicious – and he made them quickly. Slice of Baguette + Cucumber + Pickled carrots + marinated mushroom + mayonnaise + cilantro. 


Vietnamese Sandwich Appetizer

They really were delicious, but making them seem like a simple dish isn’t entirely accurate. Pickling carrots can take some time, as can marinating certain types of mushroom. What he put together in about 15 minutes, is probably not going to be the actual preparation time for most people.

Regardless, the author did a great job selling his book, many attendees purchased his book and requested a signature.


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Where do Bostonians get their News?


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BostInno: Expanding News, Expanding Audiences.

BostInno was the brainchild of two young entrepreneuers hoping to break into the Boston startup scene. After graduating from Hamilton University in upstate New York in 2007, BostInno co-founders Chase Garbarino and Kevin McCarthy moved to Boston with little money and big ideas. They started a digital media company in college together, and were interested in working in the field further.

In late 2010, the two created a technology, Pinyadda, that gathered the news and organized it by topic through a simple system of tagging.  The initial plan was to use this technology to create a “consumer news aggregation platform,” said Garbarino. The platform didn’t gain the popularity the two had hoped, which Garbarino credited to people needing “less information, not necessarily more.”

The work put into the technology was far from fruitless, as it allowed the creators access to well-organized, real-time news. The challenge was to gain traffic. At the time, BostInno was a WordPress-hosted blog Garbarino and McCarthy used to write on Boston’s growing innovation and tech scene.

“We ended up taking the technology that we had built, using it for being data driven, in terms of how we covered things…so that would drive traffic for us, seeing what was trending on news, getting out very early on with news coming in,” said Garbarino.

With this technology, Garbarino and McCarthy were able to see that city news was a topic BostInno could capitalize on, so the team shifted their focus to the Boston news scene. Their plan of action was to go as deep as possible into the trending news topics, and because of their shared interest in technology and media, BostInno’s first vertical became Boston’s growing tech and innovation scene. From there, traffic grew, investors showed interest and enough money came in that the team was able to branch out and grow.

“[We] expanded our team from a handful of people to a few handfuls of people and we expanded editorial, started to bring on marketing and sales, brought more developers to continue to build out the platform,” said Garbarino. Beginning in 2011, the team began rolling out new content by expanding coverage to interests outside of just local tech and innovation.

“We have a writer for each vertical, and that’s something we’re constantly expanding and working on and finding out where we have an audience,” said Melissa Ablett, marketing coordinator at BostInno. The editorial team holds daily meetings to go over what content will be put out on the website, organizing the deadlines incrementally to have a continuous stream of new content being pushed out.

Currently, the team covers three umbrella interests: technology, city news and education.

With articles covering topics such as the upcoming unveiling of Harpoon Brewery’s Boston location, Babson’s new wind power initiatives and weekly rollouts of “BostInno Approved” events, the website is reaching out to a variety of audiences.

BostInno’s heaviest readership is among the 25- to 34-year-old demographic. But the fastest-growing demographic for the site comprises people between 34 and 50.

Early on, Garbarino and McCarthy sought to establish an edgy voice in covering local business. As the company grew, they wanted to maintain the early company standards of edge and depth, while still expanding their audience.

“The way that we think of the whole editorial coverage is work, play, buzz – which is a template for pretty much every city in the country,” said Garbarino. This coverage has proven to be successful, as BostInno is no longer the only city with a website of this kind. BostInno.com is now in a league of three, with Washington D.C., getting coverage on InTheCapital and New York City’s InTheEmpire. Altogether, the three websites make up Streetwise Media.

The cities thrive from the unique and fresh voices present on the Streetwise Media teams, but also the community platforms available on all the websites.

“We really focus on the fact that, in this day and age, every single person can produce content,” said Ablett. The BostInno team decided to embrace the community of writers putting out content

The platform, called Channels, is where organizations can publish directly on the BostInno platform. BostInno opens the platform to anyone, even likely competitors. Channels is a platform made up primarily of companies focused on content marketing and strong blogging reputations. Companies create a channel they use to publish posts and create a branding for their organization.

For companies like MassChallenge, a Massachussetts initiative to funding local startups, the Channels platform has become a perfect place to spread news of featured startups. BostInno shares the 14th floor of their corporate building with many of the small startups featured on MassChallenges’ posts. It’s been beneficial all around, as the site and startups keep each other in tune to local shifts in business.

Individual users wanting to publish outside of the organization-based Channels have the option to submit a guest post. The posts are screened by the BostInno team, but according to co-founder Kevin McCarthy, they allow all posts except ones that reflect “outright hate for no reason or no benefit.” McCarthy, who work primarily on the technical side of the website, says this is essentially a “non-issue”, and thinks they’ve had less than a handful of posts deleted.

Streetwise Media has expanded across multiple social media platforms. It has 5,115 fans on Facebook and 3,120 followers on Twitter. They’ve tapped into visual media with a “Party Rocking at the #InsiderAwards” Storify story and have a regularly updated Flickr account.

The website is still growing, reaching new readership everyday. However, the goals of the team remains strong. “Our biggest focus will always be going as deep as possible in the news, [no matter what] we’re coming,” said McCarthy. Even as they roll out new verticals, this dedication to in-depth coverage has proved to be successful. BostInno thrives from its writing style and coverage, and also its community platform. Allowing other businesses to publish on BostInno’s platform has proven to be a great success for BostInno, and the content pushed out by these companies is well-read by the BostInno audience.

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Marathon Monday 2012 Photographs

Marathon Monday 2012 Photostream

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Marathon Monday 2012 Photographs

Marathon Monday 2012 Photostream

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Marathon Monday 2012 Photographs

Marathon Monday 2012 Photostream

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Tupac Storify

I’m not sure about you, but I was fairly disturbed by the way too realistic hologram of Tupac that appeared at Coachella with Snoop Dog. Naturally, I had to make a Storify about it.

Tupac Storify

Here is the video of “Tupac’s” performance. I was completely creeped out when he said Coachella.

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Marathon Storify

More posts to come this weekend on the Boston Marathon, but I’m currently swamped with finals work. Threw together a Storify for the marathon last night, though. Enjoy!

Marathon: Afterwards

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Beats & Eats

Sometimes, good music is just what you need during your run to push you through the pain. Just when your muscles start to feel that ache that makes you want to give up, that perfect song comes on and your discomfort vanishes with the beat blasting through your headphones.

These are those songs:

On another note, I’ve recently taken up cooking again, a past time I hadn’t been making time for earlier in the semester. I’m a huge snacker, and always looking for new recipes to curb my cravings for chip-like foods. I’ve stumbled upon two through my experiments that remain favorites among my taste-tested friends and I.

The first is “my” infamous popcorn recipe, slightly manipulated from a recipe I found from allrecipes.com. The recipe, submitted by Leo LaLande is pretty perfect, but in addition to the ingredients, I toss in about two tablespoons of powdered ranch dressing mix. My personal preference powdered ranch dressing is Hidden Valley, which I’ve found at any major grocery store.

I just toss it on some stove-top popcorn, which saves bundles of money. Easy guide here, or watch the movie below if you haven’t popped on the stove in the past:

It’s super easy, it’s always a hit, and popcorn is pretty nutritional.

Want to get all the antioxidant benefits from popcorn? Don’t slather in butter, just make my recipe.

The other is another knock off of an allrecipes.com recipe, Kale Chips. I can only take so much kale, so I replaced the kale with fresh baby spinach leaves from Whole Foods. I preheat the oven to 200, took two handfuls of leaves and tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of garlic powder and a few shakes of sea salt. I spread the baking sheet with parchment paper, separated the leaves and spread them out (no overlapping spinach leaves) across the paper. I find they generally cook anywhere between 12 and 20 minutes. I prefer them slightly brown, so I keep them in for longer, but a few of my friends prefer them less crisp, so when I’m serving them, I lean more towards 12-15 minutes.

The nutritional value of spinach is pretty extensive, take a peek at Livestrong’s review of spinach.

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Days Away

With just days remaining until the Boston Marathon, runners are at their last stretches of preparation for the marathon.

As a spectator, I can’t help but feel some sort of guilt, knowing that in just a few days I’ll be watching those memorable faces of dread trying to climb the notorious Heartbreak Hill.

This year, I’ve vowed not to be just another Bud Light toting spectator, chanting aimlessly at any pained runner. This year, I’m going to be informed, and know more about the legendary people and moments I’m about to see.

Must Knows:

In order to qualify to run the marathon, the runners must have run the qualifying time by September 25, 2010. These qualifying times correspond with age group and gender. Participants must be at least 18, and have proof of qualification with their application. The race must be an official race, as noted by the Boston Athletic Association. A list, though not all-inclusive, of recommended races can be found here.

The times for 2012 are as follows:

Qualifying Times for Boston Marathon, taken from BAA.org

These times are for runners only. The marathon also hosts entrants in the Push Rim Wheelchair Division, Mobility Impaired Division and Visually Impaired Division. These qualifying standards are also based on age and gender, but remain unchanged from recent years. Qualifying times for these entrants can be found here.

The race will be split up into 3 waves, split according to the type of participant and the qualifying time. Members of each wave are recognizable by the color of their bib.

Waves for Marathon

Boston Marathon Wave Number, taken from BAA.org

Upon entering the marathon area, runners go to Athletes’ village to relax, stretch and get light refreshments and prepare themselves for the race ahead. Then, the runners are split into Corral time (time when they are allowed to exit the village and enter the marathon), and the race begins. The schedule of release is as follows:

Boston Marathon Schedule of Release, taken from BAA.org

So, what does this mean for the spectators?

At 9 a.m., the mobility impaired participants start, followed by the push-rim wheelchair division start 17 minutes later. At 9:22, the handcycle participants start.

These athletes should, by no means, be overlooked or missed. Not only are they often fan favorites, but they serve as equally or more inspirational as runners. These are the most elite athletes of the sport, and the Boston Marathon is one of only three races where these athletes are required to meet a qualifying time. Thus, the best of the best come here, and absolutely do not miss it. Where some of the world’s greatest marathon runners will overlook Boston in exchange for other marathons, it is not so for athletes with disabilities. You will see all of the best and only the best athletes with disabilities at the Boston Marathon.

A guide to understand what disabilities qualify for which division and see more qualifying times for athletes with disabilities, look here.

Last year, Masazumi Soejima, 40, won the push rim wheelchair division. He lost his legs at 23, due to a building collapse. He completed the marathon in 1:58:50. Wakako Tsuchida, 37, won the women’s division in 1:34:06. She lost her legs in a car accident. Both are from Japan.

Ron Hackett, 56, of Canada, won the men’s Visually-Impaired Division with a time of 3:50:27. Hackett lost his sight in 1966 due to a drunk driver. Jennifer Herring, 36, of New Jersey, won the women’s Visually-Impaired Division, with a time of 3:37:02. Herring has been blind since birth.

Nicholas Roumonada, New York, won the Mobility-Impaired Division with a 4:07:05. After losing a leg to bacterial meningitis, the once nearly dead teenager is now a top marathoner. Adrienne Ramsey won the women’s Mobility-Impaired Division, finishing in 3:54:37.

Competing in the handcycle program, Christopher Ayres won the male division with an official time of 1:18:56. Ayres lost his right posterior thigh and nerve damage throughout his back and leg while deployed in Iraq as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. Kelly Brush crossed the finish line first in the women’s handcycle program with an official time of 1:55:01. Brush sustained severe spinal cord injuries during a ski race in 2006, while a member of the Middlebury College ski team.

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won the men’s Running Division of the Marathon with an official time of 2:03:02. Mutai ran the fastest marathon ever, with a 3:32 per mile race. The Boston course does not meet the criteria to be eligible for the mark, so this time is not recognized by the International Associations of Athletics Federations. However, many still recognize his time as the fastest marathon time ever. Caroline Kilel of Kenya won the women’s Running Division with an official time of 2:22:36. She beat American runner, Desiree Davila by just two seconds. After winning the marathon, Kilel stayed in Boston to run the inaugural B.A.A. 10k race, a race traditionally following the marathon. Kilel also won this race with a time of 31:58 minutes.

So there’s your introduction to some of the race basics, and the top participants from last year. Stay posted, as I’ll be posting some follow up posts and projects relating to the upcoming marathon.

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