Hi OLINsider! I’m Julia Benton (she/her/hers) and a sophomore at Olin. I’m from Gladstone, New Jersey and plan to earn an Engineering degree with a concentration in Design. I’m doing several exciting things this semester: investigating how college students make sense of their learning processes in Education Research, taking an experimental design class that is a combination of Foundational Aesthetics and Mixed Media Studio, and food blogging for my passionate pursuit.
What is a passionate pursuit you might be asking yourself? Passionate pursuits allow Olin students to pursue an artistic, philanthropic, or technical interest in a semester-long project. A student finds a faculty sponsor and establishes a deliverable whereupon satisfactory completion, one non-degree credit is earned. A passionate pursuit is completely voluntary, can be done once per semester, and often involves funding from the college. Passionate pursuits are just one of the ways that Olin promotes well-roundedness and personal initiative.
For my passionate pursuit this semester, I wanted to write an OLINsider blog post highlighting some of the great off-campus food options. With the funding I received, I tried some treats from bakeries and shops in the area around Olin and Boston. I had a ton of fun exploring new places off-campus and trying new foods, which I will review (with pictures!) in this blog.
Neighborhoods Coffee & Crepes is a family-owned artisan coffee and crepe shop in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. I tried the Sweet Simplicity Crepe, which had fair-trade chocolate hazelnut spread with strawberries. I thought the crepe tasted very good and was not too sweet. It was just the right size and wasn’t too heavy or too light. I really enjoyed the music and atmosphere of the shop. One of my friends tried and loved the apple crumble crepe, which contained apples cooked with brown sugar and cinnamon, sweet cobbler topping, and whipped cream. Another friend ordered a cappuccino, and his review was that the bubbles were a good size, the cup was a bit too small, and the flower was nicely done.
My friends and I can frequently be found shopping, eating, or playing arcade games at the Natick Mall (~20 minute drive from Olin) on the weekends. My friend and I sampled some crepes at Melt Gelato & Crepe Café, which is located in the sunny, quiet upper level of the mall. We ordered one crepe drizzled with Nutella chocolate, mint gelato, and whipped cream and another crepe with Nutella chocolate, bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream. The presentation was very nice and the crepe dough wasn’t overly sweet, maybe even a little salty. The mint gelato had an unexpected strong mint leaf taste, which we didn’t expect or enjoy very much. The whipped cream was delicious and my favorite part of the whole experience. We got lots of strawberries and bananas in the crepe, but the strawberries tasted a bit freezer burned. Overall, the taste was decent but I would easily choose Neighborhoods’ crepes over these.
While shopping for a friend’s birthday at the Natick Mall, I purchased three different chocolate squares from Lolli and Pops, a candy store with various sweets, candies, and confections. The squares I bought were milk chocolate with a peanut butter and jelly filling, milk chocolate with a cookie butter filling, and dark chocolate with a molten dark chocolate ganache filling. I was most excited to try the PB&J square, but the jelly and chocolate didn’t go well together in my opinion and the chocolate was a bit grainy and crunchy. The cookie butter-filled chocolate was spiced with cinnamon or something else that I didn’t love either. The ganache-filled one was my favorite, since the dark chocolate was quite tasty. Overall, the chocolate wasn’t spectacular, though I’d like to try other candy since the store had so many other treats and the candy shop aesthetic was very cute.
After finding some great shirts while thrift shopping at Buffalo Exchange in Allston, I tried a vanilla croffin (croissant + muffin) and a cream donut from Tous Les Jours, a bakery and café franchise specializing in French-Asian inspired baked goods. Both were AMAZING and honestly the best snack I’ve had in while. Inside, the bakery was quite busy and decorated with cute umbrellas on the ceilings. The donut and croffin were both filled with cream that was delicious and not overly sweet. The croissant bread was buttery and flaky with a good ratio of bread to cream. I got powdered sugar all over myself eating these but it was so worth it. Even more exciting: a Tous Les Jours recently opened at the Natick Mall, and I am absolutely going to be buying something next time I go.
I had a great time trying new food with the plus of finding new fun off-campus places. I’m so glad that Olin is a place that encourages me to follow my passions and learn in so many different ways outside of the classroom. Who knows what I’ll get to explore in my next passionate pursuit!