Lines form around the block on Friday afternoons and before major Jewish holidays, though this challah is too good to save for special occasions. Cheryl Ann's challah has the soft sweetness of brioche and looks like a food stylist's dream loaf, golden and braided. These breads are not available elsewhere; fanatics admit that their New York relatives beg them to Fed Ex Cheryl's challahs to the Big Apple. 1010 West Roxbury Parkway, West Roxbury, MA .
If it's possible for a Scandinavian apple pie to be better than an American one, Trudie's Swedish apple pie takes the cake. The secret: sweet, juicy apples, nuts to keep it crunchy, and a crust made with real butter. You can find Trudie's pie (and an assortment of other baked goods) at Arena Farms in Concord, Mahoney's in Winchester, and a number of other area farmstands.
A good muffin is a delicate thing. All you want is a little sweetness, not too much butter, and lots of fruit. Your delicate morning palate winces at anything so heavy as pound cake, but you want your muffins to have some substance. Carberry's delivers with flavors that range from the exotic (Lime Poppy Seed, Chocolate Orange, Raspberry) to the homey (Blueberry, Banana Nut, Cranberry Nut). 187 Elm St., Somerville, MA .
Take 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1 fennel stalk with leaves, 6 sun-dried tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves, 8 black Italian olives, 1 dry hot red Italian pepper, 1 small red and 1 small yellow sweet pepper, and infuse for one day in two quarts of Finlandia vodka. V-8 never tasted like this. Trattoria Il Panino Restaurant, 295 Franklin St., Boston, MA .
We'll just say it: The North Shore doesn't typically see many promising new restaurants opening. So Cilantro came as a pleasant surprise—authentic, hearty, and diverse Mexican specialties in an upscale but easygoing brick-walled setting. Fresh specialties such as crispy flautas rolled around chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole, and queso fresco are breaths of fresh air after so many ersatz Mexican dishes. Don't miss the creamy flan—a smooth, sweet followup to the often fiery main courses. 282 Derby St., Salem, MA cilantrocilantro.com/.
Romantic meals in France are often more about joie de vivre than over-the-top luxury. The same could be said of Scituate—at least when it feels like the quatrième arrondissement. And in the intimate Petit Paris Bistro, it does. Lyon-trained chef Norbert Bouhana sees to it that all the French staples are present and accounted for: a smoky-sweet boneless duck à l'orange, escargot de Bourgogne, a hearty wine list, and all the recherché charm any couple can handle. 95 Front St., Scituate, MA .
A sweet roadside stand that serves handmade ice cream from local cows' milk, scooped by fresh-faced neighborhood teens on summer break—Benson's is straight off the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. All cuteness aside, though, this ice cream rules. Some of the rich and creamy flavors are only available during short windows of time, depending on which local berries are ripe. Be sure to sample the fresh raspberry or peach. You'll be smiling till the cows come home. Rte. 133, Boxford, MA bensonsicecream.com/.
This tiny bakery makes breads, sandwiches, and European-style pastries worth searching out—plus unbelievable muffins, pies, and wedding cakes. But what puts it over the top is its inelegant-sounding "dirt bomb," a dense, indulgent breakfast pasty dusted with cinnamon and sugar. It's a sweet way to jump-start any Cape Cod morning. 5 Cottage St., Orleans, MA cottagestreetbakery.com/.
You can't see the ocean from Detente, but once you taste the food here, you won't care about the landlocked location. Don't miss the "boarchetta," a creative take on porchetta that involves boar belly and sweet cherries. Also unforgettable: locally caught tautog with cavatelli, crab, and a light cod bisque. 15 Winter St., Edgartown, MA detentemv.com.
Vogue named him one of the "most sought after trainers in America": he has a client list peppered with Boston's beautiful people, and his state-of-the-art gym is more Philippe Starke than YMCA grunge. But don't let appearances deceive you: Berke's a task master who realizes people do not want to be sweating their buns off, doing the same old grunts seven days a week. Gym rats addicted to StairMasters, aerobics, and other such standard pursuits be warned: Berke will have you jumping rope, spinning, and taking part in high-intensity weight training. He will also create an individually tailored diet regime, which can include two glasses of red wine a night. $75/hour. Adam Berke Gym, 1260 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
Considering the onslaught of just-opened and recently renovated hotels, it's a good time to be a guest in Boston (if a somewhat less good time to be a hotelier). How to stand out among the expected 300-thread-count sheets, Frette robes, designer bath products, and 24-hour room service? The glossy waterfront InterContinental outshines the competition (literally—its wavelike structure is swathed in reflective glass) with all of the above, plus a spa, a gym, three novelty restaurants, and one of the biggest ballrooms in town. The quick, courteous employees are a business traveler's dream; the mini esplanade along nearby Fort Point Channel, a stroller's delight. 510 Atlantic Ave., Boston, MA intercontinentalboston.com.
In a year when sending love meant more than ever, Sofi Madison’s “Local Maker Gift Box” provided a much-needed dose of TLC, in the form of delectable shortbread cookies from Lark Fine Foods, peanut butter patties from Seacoast Sweets, and a Well Told rocks glass engraved with a city map. The best part? Purchasing one for your favorite cousin or college bud is a gift to the community, too, as every small-batch, handcrafted item inside is produced right here in the Bay State. 623 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118, olivesandgrace.com.
When you slurp an oyster from this hip dockside restaurant overlooking the harbor, it’s likely that the fresh, sweet bivalve was in that very same water just hours before. But it’s not just the oysters, of course, that earn Cru its title. The buttery fried clams, famous lobster roll, and jumbo cocktail shrimp all deserve recog- nition, especially when accompanied by a cool and refreshing “Crucumber” martini. One Straight Wharf, Nantucket, MA 02554, crunantucket.com.
Chef Tim Maslow casually explodes the crudo genre at his innovative South End izakaya, playing at a level few others can match. The brilliance is in the deft balancing of bold contrasts. Charred-skin mackerel with pungent truffle ponzu cries out for a palate-resetting respite—then gets it, from feathery radish sprouts. Velvety scallops with sweet blood orange are nudged back to savory by fiery-citrus yuzu kosho. Norm-core tuna tartare this is (definitely) not. 647 Tremont St. , Boston, MA whalinginoklahoma.com.
Briny oysters are just the tip of the ice-packed platters here. Sure, restaurateur Kathy Sidell provides an intimate Back Bay port of call for passersby to stop and slurp expertly shucked bivalves—buttery, Duxbury-raised Merry Oysters, sweet South Bay Blondes from a multi-generation Onset farm. But there’s also super-fresh shrimp and crab cocktail, sea urchin spruced up with ponzu sauce from medicine droppers, and a list of bottles for washing them down in crisp waves of wine. 281 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA saltiegirl.com.