Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sangria Satisfaction

Photo:  Paul Saraceno
Legal Test Kitchen's White Sangria
Bartender:  Lauren Rogers

It only takes one hot day to spark our thirst for what is the ultimate summer relaxant and cool-down:  Sangria.  Lucky for us, the Seaport Hotel will be hosting the second annual Sangria Smackdown on Thursday, June 2nd, where you can sample twelve different sangrias from local bartenders.  And the best part is you can do this all for a mere $20.00.  Vote for your favorite after you have quaffed a few fruity concoctions.  The reigning champion is currently The Barking Crab.
Ticket information is here.  What better reason to spend an evening cooling off in the Seaport District?  See you there!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Taste Of The North End

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito congratulates Donato Frattaroli (l), founder of The Taste Of The North End.

We were recently invited to attend Taste Of The North End, the annual celebration of all things food and wine in this historic part of our City.  First, I just want to say that the DCR Steriti Memorial Rink, where the event was held, has to be number one one the list of public skating rinks with the most spectacular view in this city. We had never been inside before and the view is absolutely stunning.

Second, this is a real, fun community event celebrating the old school Italian heritage and traditions that are still very alive in the North End.  If you haven't been to the North End in a while you would not be disappointed with an evening or weekend stroll through the area or a visit to one of the many great restaurants.  You will want to linger for hours.  Here are some photos of the many different tastes and sips we enjoyed.

Strawberry Shortcake from Modern Pastry.

Creamy polenta and braised short ribs from Lucca.

Jim and Rita Sorrento were there, enjoying the great food and company.

One of the many wines provided by Fantasy Wines, Fabrizia, Voga Italia Wines Champy and Zonin.

And look at that view at nightfall.  

We can't list all of the forty restaurants and food vendors that led us on the feast but we can certainly say that it was well worth it. Congratulations Donato on another great year!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

That Time Of Year

Yes, it's that time of year again where the social season just bursts with so many events that one can't possibly attend all of them.  As much as we like to, and we're always reminding people we can only be in one place at a time, we might race around a bit on Thursday night as we've been invited to attend two events simultaneously.

The first is the Bay Cove Changing Lives Gala held at the Seaport Hotel.  With drug abuse and addiction in the news practically every day now we really feel it's worthy to support a cause that works with people to end their addiction issues.  Bay Cove has been doing that for years and they need your support.  Please check out their web page and see just how much great work they do in our community that you were probably not even aware of.

The other event is Taste Of The Back Bay, being held this Thursday at the Prudential Skywalk.  Enjoy treats from loads of Back Bay restaurants while enjoying a spectacular view of Boston.  It's a great way to help support local businesses and we are always interested in local, smaller, independent business and restaurants. 

We hope to see you at both events so be camera-ready!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ninth Anniversary

It was nine years ago today that I began writing this blog, fresh off a trip to England which had prompted me to begin researching these things called "food blogs" on a quest for good London restaurants.  Once I began, I never looked back and soon friends and family were reading the posts and making comments.

Then, I began to get email from people all over the world who were traveling to Boston and wanted some restaurant suggestions.  Before long restaurants were inviting me to "media dinners" to meet their new chef or try their new seasonal menus.  There were only a handful of food bloggers back then.  Many more over the course of nine years have come and gone. 

I never considered myself a restaurant critic and still do not.  I am a food writer and although I am happy to give you my impression of a restaurant, I never followed the rules of classic restaurant criticism.  It just seemed too outdated.  Instead, I chose to write stories about food and that was mostly the stories of the people behind the food. 

I'll continue to cover food events across the entire New England landscape from wine and craft beer shows, lectures with scientists and seminars with experts, to chefs that make the food and the people who grow it.  It's a lighthearted look at food and the best part of social media has always been the "social" aspect.  We'll also continue to meet people with profound and inspiring stories.  I hope everyone will continue to explore the posts when looking for a food event to attend or a new restaurant to check out.

Especially fun has been all of the wonderful friends who've helped over the years with photography, event attendance and traipsing all over town often dragging cameras and other equipment.  And the interns I've had were not just fun but offered real insight into what millenials think, want and do.  All of this has resulted in being invited to judge competitions, serve on discussion panels, give media interviews and write for well-known and respected magazines and newspapers. 

Thousands of people read the blog and follow us on twitter and instagram every day.  Over the course of a month, that's a lot of people and they are all eager to go new places and try new things.  They just want to be led there.  There is no question that bloggers drive business into restaurants because our readers often feel that they have a personal relationship with us and quite often they do.  They are the people who I worked with for many years, belonged to the same organizations, were friends and friends of friends.  Throughout all of this The Boston Foodie has always been the number one return on google searches containing that phrase.  In a recent survey I did with chefs and restaurants they all told us that food bloggers have become a vital part of their business and, for some, the most important media exposure that they have had.

Even when I show up uninvited to new restaurants, a reservation booked under a different name so there is no way they could be prepared for me and pay in cash so they can't get the name on the credit card I've found most places generally have great food and great service.  Very rarely have I had an experience where I would never go back to the spot.  So, yes I do anonymously visit places and they have no idea what I'm going to write about them ... if anything.  The restaurant business is far too competitive today to expect a four to six week honeymoon phase as they work out the kinks like they did in the old media days.  Every person who walks in the door is now a citizen journalist with a video recorder and camera in hand and ready to post something online instantaneously. 

I also attend cultural and culinary events where I am well-known to others.  Food and lifestyle writers are very lucky people.  I believe it's important to give back to the community and support important causes and organizations that are doing great work.  I'm proud to be able to help them in any way I can and my track record could not be better.  Every one of the events I have chosen to promote in advance and attend has been sold out. 

Trends come and go.  I've seen restaurants embrace local food, something which I don't think will ever go away, thankfully.  I've seen the hushed tones, white tablecloths and heavy silverware of fine dining enclaves dwindle in favor of more casual, louder spots that feature much smaller plates.  The recent trend of more and more restaurants moving to the suburbs where the rents are cheap and the parking is free seems to be an exodus that will continue, not that Boston will ever have a lack of restaurants.  Or food trucks.  I've seen the cost of a dinner out (and a liquor license) skyrocket. 

I'm certain that things will continue to change.  There will be new, exciting places and landmark institutions will close.  Yet, food is food.  We all love it and we all love talking about it.  Tipping or no tipping, minimum wage laws, generic big chain restaurants, private dining clubs, more and more wines, craft beers and local distilleries, cherished dining traditions, avant-garde cooking, a new generation of talented chefs and technology all spread out before us.  I hope that all the readers and followers will continue to enjoy the journey with me and those who help.  And a very big thank you to all of you who have.



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ehrmann Grand Dessert

It was up, up, up to the very top of the Boston Harbor Hotel in their spectacular Atrium Room party space, both intimate and soaring, for the elegantly splashy introduction of Ehrmann's Grand Dessert.   Ehrmann is well-known in Europe as the largest maker of desserts and my German friends tell me it is one of the most successful companies in their country.

Due to the higher fat content their yogurt has a much creamier, almost pudding-like texture that is rather unknown in the States.  Any traveler to Europe with a discerning palate will notice that the taste of ice cream and any dairy-based dessert is richer.  It's the higher fat content.  And we love it.

Our favorite flavor of the premium dessert (which comes topped with a froth of real whipped cream) was the vanilla.

Although the weather was quite cool, we ventured through the French doors for the spectacular night view of the Boston Harbor.

And, of course, looking down through the glass dome onto the famous view that anyone who commutes along the Greenway is a must.  A grand space for a grand party to introduce America to a Grand Dessert!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Waxy's Modern Irish Bar

We were recent guests at the opening of Waxy's Modern Irish, a new take in the group of Waxy O'Connor's Restaurants owned by Paul McKenna.  The string of more traditional Irish style spots is quite popular but this Waxy's brand is just what it says:  more modern.  And you can take it from someone who has been to Ireland many times and visited more than his fair share of pubs.

Gone is the peat fire and the menu is updated for a more gastropub feel with offerings like Pork and Leek Sausage, Fingerlings Mash, Seared Salmon in Magner's Irish Cider with stews, battered fish and burgers, as well.

The spot has a nostalgic, real modern Irish feel and all the charm when it comes to service, however, and this opening night crowd was fun but not overly boisterous.  We especially liked the two "Cubbies", more private tables off to the side with partitions (without an obstructed view of the full space), private bar service and a flat screen for watching those important rugby games.

There are forty draft lines and a rotation of craft beers available as would be the case in any Irish bar. This particular drink was the Fruitations Cranberry:  Absolut Elyx, Fruitations Pure Cranberry, Lime and Orange Soda garnished with Star Anise.  Very refreshing, indeed.  Waxy's is now open to the public.

1032 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA  02446
Telephone:  617.651.8323

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ode To Spring: Allergies

You know how you go to food and lifestyle events all over New England and people run up to you and hand you a gift bag and their business card and whisper sweet nothings in your ear and they pile up in your hallway until friends or family visit and you invite them to pick out all of the kitchen utensils, product samples, T shirts, autographed vodka bottles, baseball hats and everything else just to get rid of the clutter?  We call it the Prize Vault.  Until it comes time for spring cleaning, when we call it Anything Alley.

I usually scour the bags for nice leather-bound notebooks from media events, the really good ones that can take fountain pen ink, and personal care products that I overlooked when tired at midnight on a Tuesday night. There can be some real gems like a pocket square or cufflinks or a dusty, small bottle of balsamic.

So, I was thrilled to rummage through the stuff and discover this box of goodies from Noble Originals on a stuffy, congested, in-the-throes-of-allergies night at home.  There is nothing like a warm shower with a new soap called Sinus Relief and then a vicks-like home treatment of body butter before bed after a long week.  I slept (and breathed) like a baby.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spirit Of Boston

Of course we've been on Spirit Of Boston cruises many times.  Social events, office parties, group things.  Yet, at a recent private party mostly for corporate event planners I have to say that we were impressed by their recent $3 million renovation and upgrade.  It's gone from Blah to Yeah.

First of all, it looks better.  There is much more attention to detail and service.  The lighting is more flattering, the sound system is certainly improved and it just felt more like a floating restaurant, or nightclub, where everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Most surprising is that the food was better.  Much better.  The Pesto Ziti was actually deserving of a second helping.  Yes, gone is the average-at-best cafeteria food.

Fun amenities such as a photo booth and caricature artist have been added.  There is now more dance space and the DJ doesn't cause an eye roll.  We were almost dancing.  And for us that is a rarity.

Spirit Of Boston
Spirit Cruises
Seaport District
Boston, MA

Friday, April 15, 2016

Happy Anniversary Mr. Sid

If you can survive for forty years in the fashion industry then you can survive anything.  So, it was time to celebrate this week at the legendary Mr. Sid in Newton Centre, home of luxury fashion brands for men.  God only knows how much we enjoy men's fashion events and shows.  Sponsored by fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna and hosted by Esquire Magazine, it was a class act from start to finish.

We shopped the store, forgetting how big the place actually is and the extent of all that is offered.  It's a classic haberdashery with that old-world feel of total quality, a touch of modern but never trendy. And the basement is devoted to Chivalry, the men's "Grooming Parlour", an exclusive, hidden gem.

Alongside the suits that can be custom-tailored were custom-made drinks and tastes being served up by none other than Chef Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon, one of our favorite Ft. Point spots to dine.  The Smashed Shrimp was delicious.

Andrew and Bik.

(R) Barry Segel (co-owner) and guest.

And what would an elegant fashion event be without Boston Herald Lifestyle Editor Erica Corsano in the house? We are huge fans of the Status Report weekly radio show.  Congratulations Mr. Sid and here's to another forty years of classic looks for men.

Mr. Sid
1211 Centre Street
Newton, MA  02459
Telephone:  617.969.4540
Twitter:  @Newtonsid 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Dine With Daniel Boulud

Our friend Chef Daniel Boulud will be swinging back into town this week and will be happy to meet you at special dining events at Bar Boulud at Boston's Mandarin Oriental.

Two events are scheduled for tomorrow evening.  There is a four course dinner being held in the private dining room at 7:30 PM being served by Chef Boulud with very limited availability.  Yes, think exclusive.  This intimate experience can be booked by going here

A more casual event, "Bar Bites With Boulud", will run from 5-7PM  where you can mingle with Chef while enjoying small bites and a cocktail.  The more casual event can be booked here.

Having eaten here many times I can tell you that the food is always great and this is a great opportunity to meet with an award-winning, internationally-recognized Chef.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Taste Of Ginger 2016 At The MFA

Bik-Fung Eng (who has lost several family members to diabetes) was the honoree at this year's annual Taste Of Ginger at the Museum of Fine Arts.  The event raised over $300,000 for Joslin's AADI (Asian American Diabetes Initiative).  

Did you know that Asian Americans are far more likely to develop diabetes than the average American?  That message was driven home very clearly at the 12th annual Taste Of Ginger event at the MFA this week.

We joined over 30 local Chefs and hundreds of supporters in the Art of The Americas wing in support of the initiative.  Suffice to say, the food was glorious and the setting gorgeous.  It's one of our favorite annual food events.

Joanne Chang (now working on her fourth cookbook) and the crew from Flour were there, as always, to show their support.

Chef Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger congratulating Bik-Fung Ng, who has worked tirelessly as an event committee member since its inception in 2005 and is a well-known as an activist in the Asian community.

And of course our old friend Chef José Duarte of Taranta was there.  Chef José has supported the event for many years.  We had a very interesting conversation on what restaurants must do to reach out to millenials. More on that hot topic later.

Congratulations to all of the honorees, restaurants and supporters on another great event!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sara Moulton At Harvest

Yes, Sara Moulton was back at Harvest recently, the very spot where she began her illustrious career many years ago.  The Food Network pioneer and PBS mainstay returned to celebrate the publishing of her new cookbook HOME COOKING 101 and we were invited to attend the lunch.  It's almost hard to believe that Harvest has been an Harvard Square legend for over 40 years now.  The menu and wine parings, as you can see, was mouth-watering in itself.

Luckily, I was seated right next to Sara and the conversation was lively.  We all talked of Julia Childs, who lived just down the street and who Sara worked closely with, and her influence on the Boston food landscape.  Julia, who was well known for pushing Chefs and restaurants to hire more women in the kitchen, I postulated, is the reason why Boston has so many great female Chefs.  In many other cities it still remains pretty much a boy's club.  We talked food reality shows (we hate them) and recipe authentication and loads of other subjects that were great to explore with a seasoned pro.

Sara did a small demo with help from a diner/volunteer, preparing the excellent dessert we all enjoyed.

The first course was a Spring Pea Soup that featured a slice of in-house smoked salmon.  It was excellent.  All of the dishes were prepared by Tyler Kinnett, Executive Chef and/or Brian Mercury, Executive Pastry Chef and inspired by Sara's cookbook.

The Steak And Eggs were a take on the Red-Wine Braised Short Ribs Of Beef in the book.  A perfectly runny poached egg was served atop a rich slab of braised beef.

The showstopper, however, was the La Tulipe's Apricot Soufflé, adapted from Gourmet Magazine, where Sara served as Editor for many years.  Incredibly rich in the tart/sweet flavor of the apricots, the taste was intense and spectacular.  This was paired with a Chateau Suduiraut, Semillion, Sauternes, France 2005.

Executive Chef Tyler Kinnett who, despite his youthful look, has an impressive breadth of experience, then joined us.  Chef Kinnett took over the kitchen at Harvest last year.

After the feast Sara made time to sign a book for each and every person attending.  A real class act and a wonderful afternoon.  The restaurant is currently planning more Chef Luncheons so stay tuned!

44 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA  02138
Telephone:  617.868.2255
Twitter:  @DineAtHarvest

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ketel One Celebration At Fenway

Photo:  Dean Igoe 

Fenway Park may not be quite ready for opening day yet but we didn't care when we were recently invited to attend a very special evening at the EMC Club, the guests of Ketel One, to help celebrate their 350th Anniversary. Is that a diamond anniversary?  It must be a heavy diamond.

Seriously, Ketel One is a small-batch craft vodka made in the Netherlands that one only needs to taste once to realize the premium quality.  So we were more than happy to join the celebration. Congratulations to the Nolet family and their dedication to being the best for so many years.

Photo:  Dean Igoe

With Carolus Nolet, Jr., showing off the gorgeous 350th Anniversary Ketel One bottles.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Foodie Films: City Of Gold

We had the chance to view an advance screening of the new documentary CITY OF GOLD this week and absolutely loved it.  It's the story of Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic and self-professed lover of the city of Los Angeles.  His approach to dining is more like that of an anthropologist rather than a journalist as he delves into the culture behind every meal he consumes. What is revealed to the viewer is a patchwork of immigrants and others celebrating diversity, and, in fact, life through the joy of their traditional food.  This is Gold's universe.  His writing, needless to say, is thoughtful and dreamy.

A soft-spoken, interestingly eccentric intellectual, Gold also reveals the key to truly great restaurant reviews:  the stories behind the food and the realization that food has an emotional component and visceral connection to all of us.  Mundane reviews tell us the ingredients, the name of the "mixologist" and a basic laundry list of information, throwing in a word or two that most people have never heard before to prove some worth.  Great critics give us the story behind all of that and the true reason to celebrate the cuisine.  They don't talk down to us.  They subjugate their hefty egos.  Gold also gently slides the lid off the sham of anonymity (he offered up his identity publicly a while back) and shamelessly admits that he was taken with the idea of "eating on someone else's dime."

Having been to Los Angeles and seeing the preview with a friend who spent time there as well we both had to admit that in our visits there we had never seen this Los Angeles.  And it motivated us to return and visit these places, savoring every bite and moment as we plan to discover new finds in our very own city.  Great film.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spring Cocktails At Davio's

After escaping a markedly mild Winter season, compared to recent history, we are eager to usher in the Spring with it's longer days and warmer evenings.  Menus are changing and that includes the cocktail offerings.  So, we spent a recent night at the invite of Davio's in Boston to sample their new libations. These  include the Strawberry New Fashioned, made with Bulleit Bourbon, the Prickly ‘Rita, made with Don Juilo Blanco and Prickly Pear Juice, and the Spring Mule, made with Ciroc Coconut and Ciroc Red Berry Vodka. The cocktails are of a lighter, fruitier and refreshing variety and are now available for $12 each.

 Photo:  Dean Igoe

Photo:  Dean Igoe

Our favorite was the Spring Mule (middle drink in the photo above), offering a new twist on the Moscow Mule with added berry and fruit juice flavor. It is smooth and easy to sip and well suited to the sunnier, warmer days ahead.

Spring Mule
1 oz Ciroc Coconut
1 oz Ciroc Red Berry
.5 oz Cranberry Juice
.5 oz Pineapple Juice
Ginger Beer

Davio's Boston
75 Arlington Street
Boston, MA  02116
Telephone:  617.357.4810
Twitter:  @daviosboston