Helping Hands Monkey Helpers: Food Festival

Saturday September 28, 2013 marked the annual Helping Hands Monkey Helpers Food Festival fundraiser at the WGBH studios. Every year food and beverage sponsors come together to support Helping Hands and raise money for the non-profit organization. Established in 1979, Helpings Hands is a unique group that provides service monkeys to disabled adults with mobility impairments. The organization cares for and trains each capuchin monkey for about 4 years before donating them to one of their applicants. It costs on average $40,000 to train each monkey, and as they are provided to recipients free of charge, it’s imperative that Helpings Hands receives support from generous donations.

Enter Columbus Hospitality Group! CHG is one of the many event supports, with the largest presence hosting five restaurant tables: Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, Mooo…, and L’Andana. Other great Boston restaurants were represented, each serving up tastings of knock out appetizers.

This was my second time attending the fundraiser, and both years my favorite station was Mistral’s. The French bistro served Duck Confit and Wild Mushroom Cous Cous “Risotto” with Parmesan and Black Truffle. I don’t even like mushrooms and I had two bowls of this stellar dish.
I think L’Andana was next on my list with their House Made Ricotta Bruschetta with fig and their own harvested honey. Fig + ricotta + honey may be one of my favorite food combinations. Sweet, light, and irresistible.

Mooo… offered tiny but hearty Beef Sirloin Sliders with Mooo Sauce and Caramelized Onions on House Made Rolls.
Being pregnant, I wasn’t able to taste Sorellina’s Tuna Tartare with spicy mustarda aioli and chili vinegar, although I’ve had it in the past at their restaurant and it can’t be missed!
Along with raw tuna, other treats I couldn’t indulge in were…
Cinquecento‘s Red Wine Poached Pears with Whipped Gorgonzola & Olive Oil Crostini. If I were able to have “moldy cheeses” I would have probably consumed this enter plate.
Jody Adams’s Trade and Rialto were represented at one table, offering Ceviche with dukkah, harrisa, and lime. Another raw fish option I had to avoid.
I shouldn’t have tried Masa‘s Wild Mushroom Empanadas since they contained caramelized onions and feta cheese (some “soft cheeses” are a no-no while pregnant), but it was half way down when I realized there was feta in the middle. Oh well! It was worth it 🙂
Back to the things I could eat, and ate a lot of!
The Catered Affair had incredible Butternut Squash Agnolotti drizzled with Sage Brown Butter and topped with Fried Sage. I had to walk away from the table after my second helping, because I could have stayed there all night.
Zocalo may have had the best table, simply because they were serving three options, each one out doing the last. My husband probably had five spoonfuls of the Tuna Ceviche with lime, tomatoes, mangos, avocado, onion, cilantro and EVOO.
Thank goodness avocados are not on the pregnancy “do not eat” list or else I’d be in major trouble. I was able to try (quite a few of) Zocalo’s Guacamole Tostadas.IMG_5803
And last but not least were the Chilapitas, which are sweet plantains stuffed with pulled pork, crema fresca, avocado and pickled onions, topped with ranchera sauce and cotija cheese. YUM! Out of all of the restaurants mentioned, this is the one I haven’t been to, and after their showing at Helping Hands I think I’ll be making a reservation very soon.
After consuming all of the savory apps, my sweet tooth was calling. Thankfully Konditor Meister represented for desserts with unforgettable cream puffs, mini pies, tarts, and more.
I couldn’t enjoy the open bar this year, but Ketel One was serving cocktails at their vodka bar, and beer and wine were flowing from Harpoon Brewery, M.S. Walker, and William Grant & Sons.

With guaranteed amazing food, live entertainment, a silent auction, raffle prizes, and knowing I’m contributing to an incredible cause, I look forward to attending the Helping Hands Monkey Helpers Food Festival every year! If you want to learn more about the organization or donate to assist in the care and training of the monkeys, visit



When my good friends from the Columbus Hospitality Group asked me to come in and try Mooo‘s new Sunday Brunch I absolutely could not resist. I have only been to Mooo once, and it was for dinner about 5 years ago. I can’t remember what I ordered but I know I left impressed and more than satisfied. As Mooo is located in the XV Beacon Hotel, it is open 7 days a week and offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The brunch menu has been recently revamped and I was one of the first to try the new offerings.

Let begin with cocktails! The drink menu features 3 signature concoctions as well as a variety of Bloody Mary’s. I’m a huge Bloody Mary fan but wanted to try something outside my comfort zone and went with the Honey-Bee: Hendrick’s, house-made thyme honey syrup, and St. Germaine. Luckily my husband ordered a Bloody Mary that I was able to taste, however he went with the classic version. I personally would have tried the Bloody Caprese with an addition of fresh mozzarella. I’ve never had cheese in a drink before but I’m not one to turn down mozz.


cocktail list

cocktail list

The menu is broken down into sections: Juice Bar, Appetizers, Eggs, Specialties, Steak & Eggs, Sandwiches, With Maple Syrup, Sides. If it wasn’t for my cocktail I would have ordered the Lean & Green Monster Smoothie. I was thinking of making that my appetizer but instead we ordered the Kobe Dumplings, a Mooo signature dish. Four steamed dumplings stuffed with Kobe beef sat in a salty soy broth. Every part of this dish just about melted in your mouth! Next time you’re at Mooo I suggest trying the Kobe beef in any fashion it’s offered.


In place of a standard bread basket we were served warm Cinnamon Rolls. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how incredible these were! Doughy, soft, topped with crystallized sugar, lightly swirled with cinnamon, this may have been the best part of the meal. I tried unbelievably hard to only have one but ended up putting down a second at the end of the meal. I just couldn’t resist…

Whenever I go out for brunch I always want to order a sweet meal like Belgian Waffles, but always end up ordering a savory egg dish. This time was no different as I picked an item from the Specialities section, the Poached Eggs & Salmon complete with savory bread pudding, dill crab hollandaise sauce, and roasted tomatoes. The eggs were perfectly done, soft and fluffy on the outside and runny on the inside. There was a large amount of salmon under the eggs which topped the eggy bread pudding.

Poached Eggs & Salmon

Poached Eggs & Salmon

Matt ordered the Egg White Frittata which came with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes, and basil. This would have been my second choice, and I probably would have ordered it had he chosen something different. The creamy goat cheese melted into the thin omelet-like frittata. I wasn’t able to steal a bite but Matt cleaned his plate which can only mean one thing 🙂

Egg White Frittata

Egg White Frittata

Overall Matt & I really enjoyed the brunch experience. Our server was great and checked in on us at just the right times. He even placed a warmer over Matt’s dish since Matt was in the bathroom when our meals arrived. The menu had a nice variety of options, the high-backed chairs made for a comfortable meal, and the live mood music in the background was a perfect touch. Next time you’re planning brunch I suggesting making a reservation at Mooo. Order the Bloody Mary Flight and tell me how it is!
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