Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sun Winefest With The Chefs


Chris Coombs, Executive Chef, and Adrienne Wright, Chef de Cuisine, of Deuxave.

It never fails.  Although there were literally hundreds of wines to sip and talk about whenever we are invited to spend the weekend at Mohegan Sun for their annual Winefest we always end up spending the most time with the Chefs discussing food and watching their demos.  In our opinion, Chef Chris Coombs stole the show with his Truffle Roasted Chicken.  Loaded with Perigord Black Truffles, then Truffle Juice, then Truffle Powder and finally Truffle Butter, it was an amazing taste.  And the Egg Yolk Ravioli were not bad either!


At the big Dine Around event on Saturday night we spent some quality time with our old friend Chef Michele Ragussis of TV fame and her crew.  Of course, Michele is Executive Chef of Central House at The Crown in Provincetown.


We've been fans of Sarah Moulton for years.  She has to be the hardest-working woman in to food TV scene.  She hosted several shows over the years including two back-to-back live cooking shows on the Food Network, a grueling schedule that launched many TV Chef stars.  Her latest entry is Weeknight Meals on PBS which features simpler, easy-to-make meals for the home chef.


Last but certainly not least was Dante DeMagistris, owner and Chef at our hometown jewel in Belmont, Il Casale. In a funny twist the elderly lady sitting next to us was so anxious to find out what kind of olive oil he used that she sought him out backstage (who could refuse her?) and he ended up graciously giving her the bottle to take home!  Class act all the way.

Next up will be the Boston Wine Expo where I am sure that we'll spend most of the time at the food demos as well.  Oh, and more on the wines we discovered in another post!  Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Foodie Finds


It's like a Brighams malted frappe in your mouth.  The creamy milk chocolate and the burst of malt is absolutely one of my favorite taste sensations, built upon layers of sweetness and some heavenly, slightly salty flavor bits.

One of our new features for 2016 is Foodie Finds, products we have seen and sampled and wanted to share. Because who doesn't like chocolate?

We got this Hammond's Malted Milkshake bar at Bob's Italian Food Store in Medford and it has already become one of our favorite snacks.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

And the winners are ...


Thank you to all who participated in our contest for tickets to the 2016 Boston Wine Expo.  We had many participants eager to attend what is the largest expo of it's kind in the U. S.

And the winners are ...  Erica Thomas and Bill Raye!  Please provide us with your email addresses so that we may forward the vouchers to attend (a $180.00 value),  We are certain that you will enjoy all the wines and food.  Congratulations!


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Boston Wine Expo 2016 Ticket Giveaway


It's that time of year when we give away tickets to this year's Boston Wine Expo, the largest wine expo in America celebrating twenty-five years of success in 2016.  This year we are lucky enough to double the prize catch!  Yes, we are giving away two pairs of tickets to TWO lucky winners.  The tickets are valued at $90.00 per person but four of our happy readers will attend for free.  There are literally hundreds of wines to taste and discover, free seminars to learn more about wine, celebrity chef food demos going all day long on two different stages and vintners from all over the world to meet and talk with.  It is, without question, the most exciting annual wine event in Boston.

This year's event is also quite special in that the tickets we are giving away just happen to fall on Valentine's Day, Sunday, February 14th!  So, if you want to be the perfect cupid for the wine-lover in your life we've got you covered.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment here saying:  "Yes, I want to attend the 2016 @BostonWineExpo with @TheBostonFoodie".  For an additional entry you can also tweet the same message out on twitter.  You may enter once daily (that's two entries per day if you also use twitter) to increase your chances.  The contest begins now and ends on Saturday January 16, 2016.  The two winners will be announced on Sunday January 17, 2016.

Good luck!  We will see you there!



Saturday, January 2, 2016

Kicking Off 2016 At Precinct Kitchen


“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  – Luciano Pavarotti

All photos by Dean Igoe



There is no question that the most memorable meals that we have in life are made by the people we share them with.  It's not just the food.  It's the conversation, laughter, interesting ideas and sheer fun. So, we kicked off our first meal of 2016 with brunch at Precinct, at their invite, not with our usual crowd but with a competitive weightlifter and an up-and-coming chef, a bright start to a new year. Precinct Kitchen + Bar is in the lower floor of the Loews Hotel. Many will recognize the historically significant location as the former Headquarters of the Boston Police Department.


Before we even looked at the menu or ordered drinks a Charcuterie Platter was presented to us. A cheese assortment,  fruit and a still-warm bowl of grilled, sliced baguette and four hungry guys.  It was massacred.  The Berkshire Bleu was excellent.


The Roasted Chicken and Nueske's Bacon Flatbread also disappeared as we talked food, restaurants, relationships, finances and finding clothes that fit well.  The toppings were all high quality but we'd prefer a slightly more crispy crust.  Still good.


My Back Bay Eggs Benedict With Tater Tots.  Served on a buttermilk biscuit with cured Irish Bacon, it was rich and filling.  The Tater Tots were perfectly crispy.


Dean and Tom both went with the Steak And Eggs with Garlic Buffalo Tots.  I tried a piece of the excellent steak.  


Austin had the Omelette, with a side of Blueberry Protein Pancakes, of course, because that's what weightlifters do. I tried a piece and they tasted slightly of chocolate, probably from the protein powder, but were not as dry as I expected. We all sipped White Sangria.


And then there were the Beignets.  Two perfect trays of sweet goodness and little pots and spoons that Austin had never seen before, used for the dipping sauces.  These were excellent, served still warm as a beignet should be.


But Tom did not miss a beat digging in.  He had us laughing all day, after just a few hours sleep, fitting right in in this swanky hotel, a Loews property.   Overall, a great way to kick off 2016.


After brunch we toured the place.  It's actually quite luxurious.  We charmed and manuevered our way into the Fitness Room where Austin gave us a mini weightlifting class, mostly laughing more and taking pics. 


Who's there?  As it is a higher end property the dining room and bar were filled with a typical, diverse group of well-heeled travelers, families and couples.  The bar scene was evenly split between a large group of twenty-something quasi-hipsters and middleagers enjoying a sip, or perhaps a hair of the dog, on New Year's Day.

When to go?  The brunch was actually great and and reasonably priced with mains in the $4-18 range, Flatbreads $16, great for sharing, and our Sangrias, which were great, fruity, fresh and not overpowering, were $13.  We'd certainly go back for brunch and may even be tempted to revisit for dinner.  

Favorite things:  Location.  Parking, for some strange reason, is always pretty easy in this area making it a good meetup spot.  The contemporary American design was comfy. Service was great.

What we'd tell a friend:  A reasonably-priced, great brunch when you want to meet up with friends in the City without the pretension of more formal spots or the ear-ringing decibel levels of others.  Yes, you can actually have a conversation here.  

154 Berkely Street
Boston, MA  02116
Telephone:  617.532.3827
Twitter:  @PrecinctKitchen

And while you're at it, follow us all on twitter!





Monday, December 21, 2015

The Gourmet Pop Tart


At some point over the next few weeks you'll probably have a morning or afternoon that's a bit more relaxed than usual.  We like to use that time to cook or, more specifically, bake.  The many years I spent working in a bakery creating delicious pastries were truly enjoyable times and the feeling of making something that everyone loves and wants to share compares with nothing else.  Many food writers and so-called "restaurant critics" don't cook at all.  Writing AND cooking have always been a big part of my life and I'm lucky that I have the chance to combine both.

One of my favorite things to make over the holiday season is breakfast pastries.  I used to call these the Better Than Pop Tarts because they reminded everyone of that popular toaster snack they enjoyed as children.  Sadly, today they are mostly so filled with chemicals that we don't go anywhere near them.

These are different.  Even better, they are extremely easy to make.  You don't need a mixer or any fancy equipment.  Use the very best ingredients and you will always wow your family and friends. The only downside to these is once you make them you will probably be forever asked to make them again.  Which is not a problem. They are that easy.  We'll be anxious to see who gives it a go and what the results were.

Gourmet Pop Tarts

Set oven to 350.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (NOT imitation)
12 ounce jar fruit preserves of your choice

Directions:

Combine the sugar, flour, salt, egg, butter and vanilla. Crumble with fingers. Take half the dough and spread into a square 8x8 pan (ungreased). Pat the bottom layer in well with your hands.  Spread jam on top. Top with the remaining dough, crumbling and patting it in on top.  Don't worry if the top crust does not cover everything completely.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. When edges start to brown remove. Cool completely, at least two hours.


Here is the icing recipe:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a small bowl stir together the sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Beat in the corn syrup and extract until glossy. If icing is too thick add more milk.  Spread evenly over the top and allow to dry until fairly hardened.  


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

'Tis The Season


From here on out to the new year it will pretty much be a steady stream of cocktail parties and holiday celebrations with friends and family keeping us busy every day and night.  Some of these have been very fun to attend at this festive time of year so we thought we'd share a few of the highlights so far.

Photo Credit:  Leah Klein

We were invited to the Fairmont Copley Plaza for the kickoff of their new cocktail program called "Classics Revisited."  The invitation advised the event was being held in the St. James Room.  After wandering the glamorous halls for ten minutes looking for the room we were finally forced to ask a concierge exactly where it was.  Come to find out that the St. James Room does not exist but he offered to walk us there anyway.  What?

We were led over to a beautiful bookcase.  Suddenly two well-dressed gentlemen appeared and slid the bookcase to one side revealing a hidden entrance and corridor, speakeasy style.  Very cool!  At the end of the hallway we were ushered into one of the typically elegant spaces of the Fairmont Copley, rich with thick drapes and gold leaf crown molding and offered glasses of champagne.

An international team of mixologists were there to offer us any of the cocktails featured in the new program.  Our favorites was the Pomegranate Paloma, a delicious libation that featured Tequila and Cointreau.  Great event and we'd highly suggest you visit and try one of these new takes on the classics.  Here's the short video invite featuring the mixologists.



Twitter:  @FairmontCopley

 With the fabulous Joanna Roffo

Another night, another luxury hotel.  Then there was the invite to also kick off the new pop-up Champagne Bar at the Mandarin Oriental.  The lobby of the Mandarin is even more glammed-up than usual for the holiday season.  It's so comfy to sit in the plush, high back seats by the fireplace and just relax for a bit with a glass of Taittinger bubbly.  In fact, I can't imagine being in the Prudential Center shopping area and not stopping by at some point.  As PR Director Sara Flight explained to us:  "Because we are considered a real luxury property a lot of people are intimidated but it's a great spot to stop by and relax and we welcome everyone."  It's definitely a great place to visit and soak up the luxurious surroundings and exemplary service.  Also, the artwork!

Twitter:  @MO_Boston

And don't forget to follow our hijinks on Twitter:  @TheBostonFoodie


Monday, December 7, 2015

La Motta's


When asked to preview La Motta's  (a name easy to remember for that movie) we were curious.  It's the South End spot where Union Bar and Grille used to be.  Let's go.

The space has been pretty much revamped and centers on a large, lively bar but still manages to have that rustic Italian tavern-like feel.  We scored a seat behind the bar, a great perch to people-watch and overlooking what could actually be a courtyard in Italy.

The food is classic Italian-American fare and not skimpy on the portions.  The Chicken Parmigiana pictured above was exactly and as comforting as one would expect.  The mound of Burrata was, too. And the Garlic Bread.

As we visited before opening to the general public it's hard to gauge the entire experience before a revisit.  The crowd was well-suited South End gentlemen, eclectic couples, happy drinkers and a few fine-skinned boy model lookalikes who know where to buy shoes.  But it was a welcoming, congenial space and the fare was casual and right out of Momma's American kitchen.

We want to go back on a snowy night and look out the windows onto the street as we sip wine and enjoy the warmth inside, a welcome plate of familial goodness in front of us.

La Motta's
1357 Washington Street
Boston, MA  02118
Telephone:  617.338.5300
Twitter:  @LaMottaBoston
Instagram:  @LaMottaBoston

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mast'


All photos by Dean Igoe.

When guys named Francesco and Marco invite you into their restaurant featuring Southern Italian and Mediterranean dishes how can one refuse?  So, we headed to Mast', through the dark back streets of Downtown Boston, following the crowd.  The place is full.  The twenty-something couple ahead of us discover that without reservations it's a thirty minute wait for a table.  So far, so good.

We sip some Sangria and try some of the Neapolitan pizza they have made a reputation on.  After ninety seconds in the blasting oven the thin crust is near perfect.  They call it Zucca:  Pumpkin Squash Creme, Fior di Latte, Spezia.  It's full of flavor and textures and done well.


The Lasagna, Francesco Gargiulli, Executive Chef explains, has very thin layers of pasta (all made in house) and is heavier on the meat and vegetables.  With cheese, peas, ground beef, gravy, it's almost like an Italian version of Shepard's Pie.  I like it.

The crowd is lively.  A singer just a few feet away is crooning what is basically the Frank Sinatra songbook.  What a perfect way to unwind on a Friday night after a hectic week.


Then there is the Tiramisu.  Rich in flavor but not too heavy.  


But the dish we came for was the Dessert Pizza, that crispy crust, a layer of Nutella, dobs of cream and strawberries.  If you love Nutella (and who does not?) then it's the perfect sweet finish.

The menu offers so much to want that it might be daunting.  Just do what we did and try anything. Then, you'll want to go back and try the rest.

Who's There:  Lots of young couples, larger tables of single ladies and young professionals in phase one of a fun night on the town, older couples who seem to just enjoy great regional food, the cast of characters one might find in that unusual spot that draws the diversity of those fleeing the Financial District for the weekend, Back Bay stalwarts, Primark/H&M shoppers and an occasional theater starlet.

Perfect for:  Old friends, new friends, casual dates, breaking out of your usual geographic routine or we-all-work-in-the-same-area-so-let's-go-here troop movements.

Favorite things:  The cocktails, the pizza, the pasta.

What we'd tell a friend:  It's like going to a restaurant in Italy where the family that runs it really wants you to enjoy the food and have a good time.  Great place to go if you don't want the cookie-cutter experience of a slick chain.  Be adventurous.

Mast'
45 Province Street
Boston, MA  02108
Telephone:  617.936.3800
Twitter:  @MASTBoston


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cheese Guild At Henrietta's


Seared Fluke with Robinson's Farm Swiss Au Gratins and Fisherman's Sunrise Saison.


We were recently invited to the Massachusetts Cheese Guild Dinner at Henrietta's Table In Cambridge, sponsored by Robinson's Farm Cheese and Cape Ann Brewing Company.  The spot was a favorite haunt of Julia Child who lived just down the street and could often be seen brunching here. Under the watchful eye and hands of Chef Peter Davis the restaurant has been doing farm to table dinners for many years before it became trendy, then expected.  It was also great to finally meet and enjoy dinner with Tiffany from the highly popular @BostonFoodies on Instagram.  Of course, I had to mention that I was THE Boston Foodie.

In addition to the fluke pictured above we dined on Roasted Beet Carpaccio with Prescott Cheese and Fisherman's Brew.  Then there was an excellent Grilled Balsamic Portobello with Barndance Cheese and a Fisherman's Pils.  It was also a long overdue opportunity to learn about all of the wonderful artisinal cheeses being produced right here in Massachusetts.  The Cheese Guild was recently formed to get the word out that one doesn't have to go to Vermont to find a plethora of great cheeses, many award-winning.

We're predicting that there is going to be a lot of locally-produced cheese featured on menus throughout Boston in the coming year and with this level of quality we heartily approve.

Henrietta's Table
The Charles Hotel
1 Bennett Street
Cambridge, MA  02138
Telephone:  617.661.5005
Twitter:  @HenriettasTable
               @MACheeseGuild
               @CapeAnnBrewing





Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall Cocktails At Committee

 Photo:  Dean Igoe

What better way is there to begin your weekend sipping cocktails on a Friday night?  So, that's what we did at the invite of Beverage Director Peter Szigeti at Committee who has whipped up some new concoctions to embrace the Fall.  I began with the Nice Plum Where Ya' From?  Dos Madera rum, fresh lime juice, maple syrup, dark red plum.  I've never had a drink with such a prominent plum flavor.  Light on the rum, smooth, refreshing and unique without being forced, I loved it.  My long week was already becoming a faded memory.

 Photo: Dean Igoe

Next up was the very creative Burnt Forest:  bourbon, dark chocolate, sour cherry, lime, cinnamon, and ginger. Sounds complicated but it worked.  The tongue searched for the slight hint of chocolate, the bourbon released and the cinnamon stick swirled into the tall glass added yet another depth to the taste.  This is a sipper worthy of tasting all of the levels.


Photo:  Dean Igoe

And, of course, there were also those snacks, the Mediterranean meze that the place is famous for. The North African style Hummus with mashed chickpea and baharat, The colorful Beet Tzatziki (new on the menu) and the excellent Yogurt Marinated Chicken Skewers, tender and moist.  The Spanakopita was good, too, crispy little triangles of spinach and feta in phyllo dough done well and Lamahjun with a copious amount of ground lamb although we prefer a crispier crust, a smear of lamb pressed in.

Scene:  Lots of thirty-something sippers eager to start the weekend, older Seaport curiosity-seekers, single ladies, work-friend groups, double-date couples lounging on the comfy leather waiting to dine on shared plates.

Perfect for:  The full range, cowboy boots to designer dresses, more fun, less romantically intimate, nice first date spot.

Favorite things:  Really interesting drinks, lively crowd, just steps away from the ICA.

What we'd tell a friend:  Go for an interesting drink and two shared plates.  Buzz out to the mellow 80's soundtrack and just relax.  It's a nice spot to visit before or after the main event.

Committee
50 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA  02210
Telephone:  617.737.5051
Twitter:  @CommitteeBoston
Instagram:  @committeeboston




Saturday, October 31, 2015

Del Frisco's Grille


We recently enjoyed quite the lunch at Del Frisco's Grille in Chestnut Hill on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.  If you haven't been it is the more casual dining experience of the steakhouses that are so popular.  And the food was great.  We began with this Chopped Chicken and Farm Greens Salad: Chicken, Tomato, Carrot, Roasted Pine Nuts and Blue Cheese With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette.  The Guacamole was just as good.

As we've written before, there is so much great dining moving to the suburbs now and Del Frisco's Grille is, indeed, part of that migration.  We loved the fact that the parking was so easy we practically grabbed a spot at the front door.



The Cheesesteak Eggrolls were excellent and served with a Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce.  Meaty, savory with that hint of sweetness and heat in the sauce, one of our favorite bites.


The Lollipop Chicken Wings were a new take on the typically messy buffalo style wings and we liked the idea. Served with an Avocado Ranch Dressing, this was our favorite taste.


As guests of the Manager, the plates just kept coming out of the kitchen.  The flatbread menu features this Spicy Pork Meatball:  Roasted Tomato Sauce, Banana Pepper, Fresh Mozzarella and House-Made Ricotta.  This was as good as any flatbread you would get in the city.


Fish Tacos were yet another offering.  Again, as good as any and part of their new Grab A Pair menu featuring these tacos, a flatbread or a wrap sandwich paired with a salad or soup for a quick lunch. We tried them all and are pretty sure that you would be happy with any choice.


The Roasted Corn Bisque with Tortilla Strips and Crema would definitely be the choice we recommend if you go with the Grab A pair.  Buttery, sweet, savory flavors are layered in a hearty bisque that is not overly filling.

All in all, we loved it.

The scene:  Everyone from well-heeled suburbanites to the collegiate, families, singles and groups of friends.

Perfect for:  Pre or post Eagles games (hopefully victories), a change of scenery (did we mention the view is nice?) and those post shopping hunger pangs.

Favorite things:  Those Lollipop Wings, that Bisque, a roomy, casual spot for solid food and drink with great service and plenty of free parking.

What we'd tell a friend:  If you haven't been to this area in a while you should go back.  There's lots of great shopping, scenery and this is a great place to relax for an hour or two and enjoy good food.

Del Frisco's Grille
33 Boylston Street
Chestnut Hill, MA
Telephone:  617.608.3682
Twitter:  @DFGrille



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

WuBurger


We were recently invited to the latest addition to the upscale fast food landscape: WuBurger.  This one is in the suburbs and  Co-Owner Kal Gullapalli explained to us that the name comes from their location in Woburn, known to locals as "The Wu".  The retro diner look is cool but not overly Disneyesque and after a quick walk-through we settled into a comfy red leather corner booth.


I opted for the standard WuBurger and added Applewood Smoked Bacon and Crispy Onions.  My dining companion added the Fried Egg.  Milky Way Frappes were the drinks.

The result:  a really great burger.  Without picking apart the details too much, why don't more burger places use a plum tomato?  We liked it more than the growing chains of more urban, upscale burger joints we've tried and, yeah, we've pretty much tried them all.

WuBurger plans to open up a new location in Inman Square by the end of the year in the old East By Northeast space, giving a whole new clientele of hipsters, bohemians and Cantabrigians a taste.  

Our only advice is that if they plan to expand into places more populated by the culturally diverse they may want to rethink that name.  WuWu.  Just saying.

880 Main Street
Woburn, MA  01801
Telephone:  781.281.0277
Twitter: @WuBurger
Instagram:  @WuBurgerMain


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mohegan Sun Brewfest 2015


Some people call it "BroFest" and with good reason but it's one of our favorite events.  Admittedly, it can, at moments, seem like a huge frat party but it's a classy frat party where no one gets out of hand and everyone seems to have fun.


Yes, we were invited as guests of Mohegan Sun and, yes, it's one of the perks of being a food writer (just to settle that pesky disclosure issue that only bloggers seems to face) but nobody cannot call it a cool event and extremely popular.  It was Mohegan Sun Brewfest 2015. What's not to like? Hundreds of beers to sample, a fun crowd and a safe place where everyone is encouraged to drink up.

Lots of the bigger, more established brands were there but, as always, we found some stuff we liked. Duvel (yeah, yeah it's not local) was there with a Triple Hop, Shebeen Brewing with an Irish Pale Ale and Outer Light Brewing with a Libation Propaganda Coffee Stout.  Ever hear of those?  Can you say that last one three times fast?  Didn't think so.   All good.


There was also Jenga because, you know, guys are competitive and we all like to think that our strategy is better than yours.  This guy's was actually not bad.  Why is it always that the construction workers and engineering majors seem to win at this?


The DC Project Band provided the live music.  We're not music critics (or restaurant critics for that matter) but we liked it and so did the crowd.  Some well-lubricated guys even danced.


They even had candles from Crafty Drinker and, yes, we really liked that Not Your Father's Root Beer scented candle because it would be a perfect gift to bring to a frat house party.  You should give gifts, right?


The best sign award went to Newcastle not only because we stole their standee last year (okay they gave it to us) but also because it was neon.  Real neon.

The bottom line:  all blog posts do not need to be serious.  You should go next year.  Because it's fun. And there are already enough people out there taking things too seriously.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fresh And Honest Dinner


We've been a fan of Chef Peter Davis and Henrietta's Table for years now.  The restaurant was a favorite of Julia Child, who lived just down the street, and Chef Davis has long been a pioneer of local sourcing and farm-to-table dining, many years before it became the thing to do.

One of our first and most popular recipes is for the Melon Gazpacho that Chef Davis personally provided to our readers years back.  So, when we heard that he will be putting together two of our favorite things - cheese and craft beer - how could we resist?  This is sure to be a great night of great food.

Join us at Henrietta's Table on Tuesday, October 20th at 6:30 PM for a celebration of local cheeses, beer, and cuisine at their MA Cheese Guild Dinner. Chef Peter Davis’ four-course menu will feature Robinson Farm‘s award-winning organic raw cow’s milk cheeses paired with and brews from Gloucester’s Cape Ann Brewing Company, plus a meet and greet with cheesemakers Ray and Pamela Robinson.

Tickets are sure to sell out and there's not much time left to get in.  Purchase your tickets here.  Hope to see you there!