Saturday, June 20, 2020

Our First Pandemic Dining Experience At 75 On Liberty Wharf

Well, we finally enjoyed our first dining out venture since this whole pandemic nightmare began so we thought we'd share the story of that whole experience.  It was a beautiful, warm night at 75 On Liberty Wharf, our chosen spot and we could not have looked forward to it more.  

Signs are posted at the entrance of most restaurants regarding safe spacing, hand sanitizing, etc.  We can'stress enough that advanced reservations are required.  You can't walk up and get a table and we saw dozens of people attempting to do so turned away, many of them not even wearing face coverings of any kind.  So, one really has to play by the rules for the safety and welfare of all and it was encouraging to see that those rules are being enforced and taken seriously.  We've waited a long time (well over 100 days) to be able to do something we love (dining out) and we really don't want to see this all called off a month or two from now.  If that should happen it will likely be far longer than three months before we get to this point again.

All staff that we saw we were wearing masks at all times.  A good sign.  All tables were well-spaced and full at all times.  Most diners enjoyed a dinner experience of about 90 minutes or so like we had.  We did not feel rushed.  There didn't seem to be a great push to turn over the tables quickly and there was never a line of people waiting for their table.  So the timing appeared to be well-handled.  Almost everyone that we saw arrived and left wearing a mask.  There were one or two exceptions when we witnessed people, who should know better, leaving without donning a mask again.  So, overall we felt completely safe and at ease.

As you can see, the spacing was good, the place was full and without crowds or lines of people lingering about.

Everybody seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to get out and really enjoy a night on the town again and we were no exception.

We began with a very refreshing, signature drink at 75 On Liberty Wharf, the White Sangria.  

Next up was this Crispy Fried Bay Calamari.  Lightly breaded, not at all heavy (considering the fact that we all have mostly put on a few pounds over the months) and quite good, served with a couple of good sauces.

I went with the Steamed PEI Mussels.  It includes a Spanish Chorizo and tomatoes in an herbed broth that was not overly garlicky, as is sometimes the case.  The toasted slices of French Bread were smeared with a Chipotle Aioli.  It was as good as any we have had.

My dining companion went with Beer Batter Fish And Chips.  The fish is cod, the fries were crispy and very good and the coleslaw very fresh.  

Again, the overall experience was impressive and well-handled and the "magic hour" setting could not have been better.  We had no problems with cleanliness, sanitation or restrictions.  Great job.

We do have to say that walking the few blocks on our way back to the car we did notice a Seaport bar that appeared to be quite crowded and people were clearly NOT following the social distancing guidelines.  We shook our heads.  Really, let's not screw this one up, people.  We realize that there will always be those few who push things beyond the limits and everyone is anxious to get back to the comfort of normalcy.  Establishments need to be vigilant.  There has been a great loss of business in the hospitality field and many of our favorite, even legendary, spots will never return.  Let's ALL do our part to NOT do anything that might increase that number.

75 On Liberty Wharf
220 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA  02210
Telephone:  617.227.0754



Friday, June 19, 2020

Buying Hotel Bonds

It's not often, in fact if ever, that we give out investment advice in this blog but this is a cool and unusual deal that's worthy of taking advantage of.  You may remember that about a year ago we stayed at the absolutely beautiful Portland Harbor Hotel.  Well, now here's a chance to stay there and make fifty percent on your travel investment.  The Harbor Hotel Collection is offering a Pay Now Stay Later program where you can buy a "hotel bond".  Full details are in the link but basically for every one hundred dollar bond that you buy it will be valued at one hundred and fifty dollars when you stay at any one of their hotels.  

Portland is a great foodie city with lots to discover and lots of fun people.  Check it out today!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Pandemic Cooking III

Our last installment of pandemic finds and cooking features this incredible Lemon Scone from Petsi Pies in Cambridge.  Believe me, we have tried them all and theirs are truly the best.

Last but not least is a year round favorite:  Salmon Fillet.  A small Capellini And Asiago pasta salad and steamed green beans was the perfect accompaniment.  

Happy cooking, everyone!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

More Pandemic Cooking

For Part II we begin with these delicious Mini Egg Rolls.  Yes, even we buy the grocery store stuff at times.  These were veggie, delicious and even light.

More time for breakfasts on many days have brought us omelettes and tastings of all those new jams and jellies we have received as gifts over the holidays but never seem to have time to use.  This one was the Red Pepper Jelly from Stonewall Kitchen.  It's also great on a thick roast beef sandwich.

Fresh basil torn from the windowsill hydroponic plant yielded us this classic summer dish:  Caprese Sandwiches.  Crusty rolls, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Maldon Salt and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for a simple, rustic meal so popular in Italy

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Cooking During A Pandemic

We have ALL been cooking more during this pandemic.  Sourdough starter, anyone?  Many of us have turned to old family recipes and meals and have even become more adventurous in our ingredients with many of them bought locally at smaller purveyors.  It's quality stuff.  Not such a bad thing.  That along with no traffic have been a few of the bright spots to get us through.

The sandwich above is something that began on the beach in Ogunquit one day when we were young.  Unless it was raining, we went to the beach every day, all day and our aunts, uncles and cousins would join us..  Mom would pack a lunch to bring along every day.  No take out window for us.  One day she was making tuna fish but she ran a little short.  Like a good cook, she improvised and quickly boiled a few eggs turning it into egg and tuna salad.  Everyone loved it and to this day I still enjoy making it.  It brings back all those fond memories of running endlessly along the shore, swimming in that freezing water until we were literally shivering, our lips gone blue, trying to fly a kite when there was virtually no breeze and all the laughter.  It's a comfort to make it.

Another comforting summer dish is scallops sauteed in ghee and served on a bed of creamed corn with bacon and chive.  It's a spectacular layer of flavors.

Here it's served with a small, classic Caesar Salad with very fresh, local romaine lettuce and home-made croutons.  

So, what have you been cooking and eating lately?  Have you tried anything that you've never had before?  What new recipes have you discovered?  What's the best idea or recipe you've collected from a friend?  Let us know and stay tuned for part two and three!  Things are looking up and this week we have our first dinner reservation in over one hundred days coming up later this week.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Post Covid 19

The hydroponic basil has been sitting at the window for about a week now.  It grows toward the sunlight and beautiful weather and helped to make some great Caprese sandwiches.  I think that the worst is over.  Restaurants are calling again. The wardrobe is ready.  It's time for alfresco dining.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Life During Wartime

That's what it's like, really.  Fighting an invisible enemy.  For one who writes about food and food events in New England it's also like a disaster hit right before the war began.  We sometimes visit two new restaurants in a week and often attend two or three more food events.

It was just a few weeks ago that we had a full agenda and were looking forward to Spring, April kicking off the social season that will last right into July Fourth and beyond.  Then, in the blink of an eye it's all gone.  

I walked the streets in my neighborhood last weekend just for something to do and photographed all the signs as pretty much everything has been closed except for the drug store and a few small restaurants willing to live on takeout only.  A ghost town.  So quiet.  Everything cancelled.  

Since then things have been changing daily, sometimes hourly.  I'm still at work although I am now wearing a mask and gloves and my hands have been washed and sanitized so much that they are like sandpaper.  And all I want to do at home is eat.

They say that the worst is yet to come.  Stay safe, stay healthy, eat well and be grateful for each day we have when we are not sick.  Hopefully I will see you all once all this subsides.

The saddest part of all is that some restaurants just will not survive this.  Higher end doesn't lend itself to a carryout bag.  People want the lighting, the atmosphere, a full dining room, a well-crafted cocktail.  Others can do it but for how long?  That cocktail is often the only surefire money-maker on the menu.  Other restaurants have already announced they they are closing their doors for good.  

Whether it's weeks or months I like to think we will all survive and be back.  Things will certainly change and those who were barely making it month to month will be gone or find a way to reinvent.  In the meantime, I'll be here helping to support in any way I can.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Dine Out Boston: Henrietta's Table

We are in the throes of Dine Out Boston.  You know the drill.  Some of the best restaurants in Greater Boston feature three course prix fixe dinners in order to sway the locals to try out the cuisine and hopefully return again or many times more.

Smoked Pastrami Salmon.

For years our go-to during the two week event has been Henrietta's Table at the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square.  This spot was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement using fresh, local ingredients in an inventive and delicious way.  The plates are all full portions that one would normally get, not the pared down version offered at other places.

Braised Brussells Sprouts.

If that's not enough the menu here for the special rate of $33.00 for dinner is extensive.  Lots of places have two options only.  And they even include a side order with your entree.  Needless to say, we highly recommend it.  You will not be disappointed.

Warm Beet Salad.

Blueberry/Blackberry Pie.

Warm Oatmeal Cake.

Not pictured (it never photographs well) is the absolutely mouth-watering Yankee Pot Roast With Mashed Potatoes.  Total comfort food deliciously made and served with a rich brown gravy.  The Three Mushroom vegetarian entree was also spot-on.

Don't wait too long.  Offers end this week.

One Bennett Street
Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA  02138
Telephone:  617.661.5005


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Breakfast At The Groton Inn

Breakfast is included when you stay at The Groton Inn and it's a full country breakfast including a made-to-order omelette station.  There is plenty to eat and the coffee is great.  A great way to end our stay.

Now all that is left is to write about it!

The Groton Inn
128 Main Street
Groton, MA  01450
Telephone:  978.448.6600

Friday, February 21, 2020

Forge And Vine

A High School couple on a date sits at the table beside us.  The young man wears a shirt and tie and looks like Baron Trump.  There are no smart phones in use, typical of a true preppy.  Groton School and Lawrence Academy are only a stone's throw away.  A gaggle of college students stumble in sporting appropriate champion sweatshirts emblazoned with school names.  Singles, older couples and families fill out the rest of the crowd and the place is really hopping.  Even on a Sunday night.  

We're at Forge And Vine in Groton which sits just behind The Groton Inn, a quiet country inn with understated New England elegance.  Once you take the one minute walk and venture beyond the foyer at the restaurant, however, it's like stepping into Oz.  From the outside we wondered if it was even open.  Inside, the place is crowded and hip, the drinks are flowing and the food is plentiful.

We are seated beside the open kitchen, the flames warming us up on a chilly night.  It seems that every other dish being served up is a thick, juicy burger.  We each order a smashing German Riesling.  

We began with the Roasted Squash With Wild Rice.  A great cold night treat it also featured black beans, maitake mushrooms, toasted walnuts, grapes and baby kale.  This comes as a vegetarian entree but the chef accomodated our interest.  Very nice flavors.

Carmelized Onion Gratin:  smoked bacon, Great Hill blue cheese and sourdough crisps.  An easy fave of the night, we could have eeaten this alone and left happy.  Rich in flavor and creamy in texture it was very satisfying with that sip of wine.

Grilled Berkshire Pork:  herb potatoes, glazed carrots, braised red cabbage and mustard jus.  Tender and well-balanced.

Filet Mignon:  wilted greens, potato rosti, beet root and horseradish demi.  Tender and, again, wonderful flavors.

Dessert was gelato made on-site.

All in all, a fun vibe at this casual, popular eatery that features what I would describe as classic tavern food, heavy on the beef and it's locally sourced.  Well worth the visit.  Next time, burgers.

Forge And Vine
126 Main Street
Groton, MA  01450
Telephone:  978.448.9200

We were invited to dinner here as members of the press/media with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Groton Inn

There's nothing like a weekend away at a comfy New England Inn during the winter months.  And we found The Groton Inn to to be the luxuriously cozy antidote for our "Palentines" weekend of relaxation.

Spacious, warm and inviting and only about a forty minute ride out it's a great way to get out of town and just relax for a few days.

The historic Inn (the oldest in the country) unfortunately burned down awhile back but was painstakingly rebuilt to exacting specs and the exterior looks virtually the same as it once did.  Inside, however, luxury awaits with heated bathroom floors, spacious rooms and meticulously clean throughout.

The halls are also filled with gorgeous antiques and original works of art all, by the way, available for purchase should the art collector in you take over between eating and naps.

Think of it as your country house you retreat to on weekends.  That's what most of the people we met staying there seem to do.  A wonderful getaway you don't have to spend hours to get to with an old New England, charming countryside feel.

The Groton Inn
128 Main Street
Groton, MA  01450
Telephone:  978.448.6600

We were invited to stay here as members of the press/media with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Long Cross Bar And Kitchen Brunch

It's not all glittering social and food events in opulent settings for food writers.  We like to check out the local spots, too, to see where people are going and, more importantly, why they are going there.  So, off we went to Long Cross Bar And Kitchen at Station Landing in Medford which was once a local outlet of Not Your Average Joe's, a chain that seems to have closed all of it's locations in Massachusetts and for good reason:  poor service and poor management.  

Bar area at Longcross Bar & Kitchen at Station Landing.

We went for brunch on Sunday and ordered the classic diner breakfast.  It was fairly full with locals who also seemed to be trying out the place.  They've been open about a month.  The guy in the booth next door whined, incessantly and loudly, about everything in his personal life.  It was, without doubt, the finest example of a reason to dump someone on the spot.  And leave him with the check.  It was comical.  So, they get an A+ for entertainment value at least.

The coffee did not rate as well.  It's a real challenge to serve coffee that is both weak AND very bitter but here that was executed perfectly.  The eggs were almost okay, overcooked with slight burn spots.  The sausage and potatoes, meh.  The bacon and toast both excellent.  I love it when toast is crisped on the griddle.

The parking is free and easy.  The service was excellent.  The bar, which dominates the entire space, seems to be exactly what the place was built for.  Maybe we should stop in after work on a Friday night for another visit.  We can't help, however, but predict it will be pretty much the softball league and cougar crowd. C'est la vie.

Station Landing
501 Fellsway
Medford, MA  02155
Telephone:   781.874.1033

Socials:  @thebostonfoodie