Monday, July 27, 2015

Touring Newport, RI

Let's begin our Summer Of Fun Touring New England with a stroll through gorgeous Newport, Rhode Island, summer home to all of those turn of the century industrialist millionaires and their incredible mansions.

The first stop is one that's newer on the landscape, the Audrain Auto Museum.  On your visit it will feature about twenty or so classic vehicles housed in the restored,  historic Bellevue Avenue Audrain building.  This 1927 Mercedes-Benz 630K Drophead Coupe Sport Touring model is exactly the type of luxuriously detailed vehicle we'd order up for our ultimate tailgate fantasy picnic.  Champagne and caviar, anyone?  The cars are switched out every season so that you can return to see newer models.

Just a few steps away is the International Tennis Hall Of Fame.  They still play on the grass courts here and you can stroll in at no charge and sit under the classic gamble roofs and observe the follows. We sat in the boxes so valuable that the families who own them actually will them down to future generations as part of their estates. It's a great spot to sit and relax, enjoying a beverage after walking along our next spot.

The Cliff Walk not only hugs the ocean but also steers one along a procession of glorious mansions both new and old.  It's all stunning homes on one side and breathtaking ocean views on the other.

Along the route you'll probably get some great nature shots so don't forget to bring the camera.

The Cliff Walk has been closed for repairs for the past few years but is now fully open.  Enjoy the views of the Tea House Pagoda on the grounds of the impressive Marble House mansion.  (You may remember we visited here last Fall for the Newport Mansions Food and Wine Festival).

Once the Cliff Walk is complete you can stroll back to town along Bellevue Avenue and enjoy the front views of all of those incredible mansions literally built for ostentatious summer socializing and entertaining.  The Gatsby-like parties were legendary and the wealth was meant to be displayed.  It's the closest thing we have in America to castles built for lavish feasting and dancing in huge ballrooms on spacious grounds.

After a day of walking you'll, of course, be hungry.  In our next few posts we'll check out some dining options in Newport.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer In New England

We've spent the past few months traveling New England and it's made us realize that once the warm weather hits there really is no place like home.  We've also discovered that visitors from all over the country and the world are quite amazed at all of the free cultural and outdoor events offered in Boston and beyond.  From concerts and Shakespeare plays, public art exhibits, food and wine tastings, outdoor activities and just the natural beauty to be discovered there are really multiple options every day and night for every person.

We've traveled the quiet back roads of Vermont to visit an historic Inn and craft food makers and then we dined in New Hampshire.

We were inside Lamborghinis and mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, where we continued to enjoy feasts in uniquely historical and stunning settings while staying atop the cliffs overlooking Narragansett Bay.  There is nothing like waking up to a sunny, breathtaking view.

We've seen New England from the vantage point few get:  floating one thousand feet above the earth at slow velocity in retro-plush comfort.  YES, we are unusualists, adventurers and seekers of the peculiar!

We've had breakfast, lunch, dinners and late night cocktails made from ingredients sourced from the very best that local food and drink has to offer.  From fine dining to casual spots, hits and misses, we've been there.  And although we shun the "best of" lists and compilations that some publications feel compelled to offer we really do feel we have uncovered some true gems.  It's not all high brow and fancy (although who does NOT like luxury?)

And then there's Boston.  We've actually been impressed (and rather surprised) by the huge number of international visitors who take advantage of the summer months to visit our city.  Virtually everywhere we've been we've met people from France, Germany, Luxembourg, Australia, Japan, Britain, Ireland and Canada.  We are truly a world class city that millions of people each year are eager to visit and discover.

Of course, many of these people don't stray too far from the major tourist attractions as part of group tours, etc.  A great part of our readership has always had a wide international reach.  About eighty per cent of the email we get is from people on their way here who have googled the term "Boston Foodie".  Of course, they arrive on the very blog that you are reading now as the first return.  We try to steer them to the lesser-known spots and local events in  neighborhoods coming up over the next few weeks.

Younger visitors are social media savvy and use their phones and tablets to seek out the fun on Twitter and Instagram, where we try to post our weekend picks every Friday.  Most of them are free. All of these are ways to have an enjoyable day or night and meet new, local friends who can take them to even more unknown but interesting spots.  You don't see the tour bus parked at The Lawn On D.  Or when a new tall ship arrives.  Or when people dance the salsa on the banks of the Charles River.  And we are convinced that you, too, should join the experience.

Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing posts about our New England travel and dining adventures. You can follow the hijinx on @theBostonFoodie and the yet more sarcastic @TheBoysOfTBF on Twitter.  On Instagram look for @TBFWilliam and @deano_iam.  Yes, there will be food pics and people pics but never words or names scratched in the sand on the beach.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bienvenue L'Hermione!

French Citizens on holiday visiting Boston, French-Americans who emigrated and a horde of Francophiles and tourists all gathered at Rowe's Wharf this morning after a short parade from Faneuil Hall to formally welcome The Hermione to our city.  A replica of the 18th century ship that carried the Marquis de Lafayette from France with the secret message that France would support an American Revolution will be here all weekend and is open to the public.

Historians agree that without the aid of the French  and the particular fervor of Lafayette we probably would have not won that war.  So, it was a great day to join the French Consulate, Mayor Marty Walsh, United States Navy forces and a cast of hundreds participating in the ceremony in full costume saluting and celebrating the historic alliance.  And the ship is an absolute French beauty!

The Hermione will be open on Sunday, July 12 from 9:00 a. m. to 4:00 p. m. for public viewing but we suggest you get there early.  The lines today were winding for blocks around the Seaport area. There are also a several tents on the Greenway with information and historical exhibits.  And LOTS of cool French tourists to meet!

Friday, July 10, 2015


With many close Greek friends growing up and now Greek members of the family, I look forward to celebrating the cuisine of Greece and the Mediterranean whenever possible.  So, when Demetri Tsolakis of Committee, the hot new restaurant to hit the Seaport - and the new place to be, invited us over for dinner it was only a question of when.  In fact, we left the beaches of Maine and cut short our holiday just to make dinner reservations there. And we do suggest making a reservation.  It's that popular.

Greek culture offers a unique dining experience, other than the fact that it is not unusual for dinner to commence at 10:00 p. m. and last for many hours.  It is a very social, drawn out affair with lots of small plates and much wine and/or cocktails consumed.  It is not short on bold flavors.  The atmosphere is one of celebration where the interaction with others is central.  Dining is an important, serious celebration of life.  And you can feel that whole concept the minute you walk into the airy, modern industrial designed restaurant.  There are many tables filled with groups of friends or associates, six to ten people all sharing plates, laughing, talking, sipping drinks and in absolutely no rush to leave.  Dining here is not a stop before going to an event.  It is THE event.

We began with drinks.  This is the Smoke Show: Strawberry Infused Mayalen Mezcal, Aperol, Amaro #4 and Sweet Vermouth with a Candied Bacon Strip.  Yes, it's boozy but not overpowering, meant to be sipped slowly, savoring each drop of it's smoky goodness.  And that little red clothespin holding the bacon on was a whimsical touch that signaled this was meant to be a fun night out.

Grape Leaf Dolmades with  Rice, Sumac and Pine Nut.  Friends who have prepared these for me at their homes will often add a healthy dose of mint, something I am not exactly a fan of.  Sans the mint, I loved these.  It was also a great way to start.  So much of traditional Greek cuisine is simple and straightforward, not prettied up or lavishly dressed like, perhaps, French haute cuisine.  The moment you sit down a basket of warm pita bread slices and a frothy feta and red pepper sauce is brought to you. Not the most photogenic of plates yet instantly welcoming and satisfying.  We followed this with Baba Ganoush:  Charred Eggplant and Whipped Tahini (not pictured).  Again, a traditional food and about as good as it gets.

As mentioned, everything is small plates called meze, served cold and hot.  Most diners will begin with the cold, then warm, grazing, tasting and sipping as the night moves on.

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Skewers with Spiced Honey Sauce.  Often, skewered strips of chicken are a combination of burnt and raw.  These were perfect.  The meat was white but not overly firm, and it was succulent.  The plate is served with only two skewers which was somewhat of a tease as they were so good.  Then again, there was yet much more to taste.

Eggplant:  Braised Chickpea and Eggplant, Clay-Baked with Sweet Sauce.  Again, not the most beautiful thing you'll see and not fancied up with Versace plates or other unnecessary gimmicks but it hits all the right flavor notes.

Grilled Haloumi:  Cypriot Cheese with Blistered Grapes and Ouzo.  This was my favorite.  The cheese has a very salty bite.  The texture is firm but chewy, like a thick caramel.  The delicate sweetness of the heated grapes cuts through the salt just beautifully.  And then the drizzle of Ouzo. Simple yet layered with so many tastes and sensations.

The crowd was growing.  We were now fully relaxed and everyone around us seemed to have lost the sense of rush that invades our days.  It was time for another cocktail.  Mandarine Sour:  Mandarine Napoleon, Cognac, Dry Curacao, Vanilla Syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice, Egg White, Aromatic and Orange Bitters.  Best taken in small sips but very refreshing.

Keftedakia:  Greek-style Meatballs with Oregano and Tzatziki.  Again, simplicity.  Greek meatballs may seem drier than the Italian-style, steeped in a simmering vat of sauce for hours, that most are used to.  I like them dry. The cooling Tzatziki is the perfect accompaniment.

Lahmajun:  Ground Spiced Lamb, Charred Tomato and Nigella, served on a pita crust.  As many readers know I am a huge fan of the Lahmajun pie and often stock up in the middle eastern food shops in Watertown.  So, needless to say, this was a huge favorite, a very special treat and a hit of the night.  It's so much more than just a Mediterranean version of pizza.  The delicate flavor of lamb is a top flavor profile in my medley.  When you visit, this is not to be missed.

We sampled the Rice Pudding for dessert (not pictured).  Some diners may find it bland but the creamy texture and subtle taste is meant to quiet the palate after a night of spicy plates.  Americans enjoy huge desserts with tons of sugar and bold, zingy flavors.  The Rice Pudding is clearly more subdued and served in a portion for one - not three to five.

Galaktobourekakia: (pictured above) Custard, Phyllo, Honey and Fruit.  Half the fun of this dessert is learning how to pronounce it.  We'll save the fun for you to enjoy with your server, who just may actually be from Greece, but if you want to seem cultured the last "kia" is silent.  However you pronounce it, it's delicious.  Layers of textures and flavors.

Needless to say, we would highly recommend a visit.  Even if you sit alone with a glass of wine and just have the Lahmajun or Grilled Haloumi, you're bound to feel at home and among new friends.  I can absolutely see this as a regular stop whenever we're in the Seaport area.

50 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA  02210
Telephone:  617.737.5051

Friday, July 3, 2015

Aloft In The Flying Cucumber

When Hendrick's Gin calls and invites you to take a flight on their traveling airship called The Flying Cucumber to kick off the July 4th weekend there was no way, despite any trepidation, that we were about to pass on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  It was everything I love:  the 1930s style retro feel of travel from a bygone era, the adventure, the fun and sailing over the landscape as if we were actually gliding on our own wings.

We arrived in style, escorted to the airstrip by the Hendrick's team as if we were about to play aviators in a film.

Charlie, the Hendrick's Team land coordinator greeted us at Beverly Municipal Airport and brought us out onto the airstrip.  We had been selected to take the inaugural flight in Boston at 8:00 am this morning.

Mark Stoddard, Hendrick's Ambassador, greeted us with, believe it or not, ice-cold early morning libations of Hendrick's and cucumber water.  SO refreshing!  That (and a dramamine) took the edge of my fear of heights.

We relaxed in style on sofas set up right on the runway as we waited for the airship to be readied.

Soon, the crew had everything set up for us in the retro-posh airship.  We were handed engraved silver flasks as gifts, pre-filled, of course, with Hendrick's Cucumber Lemonade.  I removed my hat and took a hearty swig.

We settled in, fastened our belts, prepared our cameras and put on our headphones so we could hear the pilot, air tower and ground crew.

And, then, in an instant, we were aloft!

The views were absolutely spectacular.  We could not possibly have asked for better weather - crystal clear visibility from every angle as we soared at about 1,000 feet over the North Shore and coastline.

I managed to snap this photo of the Boston skyline in the far distance.  The airship will be flying all over Boston on July 4th and you, too, can win a ride on The Flying Cucumber by snapping a pic and using the hashtag #CucumberChallenge.

After landing, we were elated.  We relaxed and sipped yet more as we greeted the passengers next up. THANK YOU Hendrick's Gin for an absolutely unforgettable day!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The World Burger Tour At Hard Rock

 Photo:  Dean Igoe

If the Hard Rock Cafe does anything right it's burgers.  So, when we were recently invited to visit the Boston location and sample the new World Burger Tour menu, it was hard to resist.  Twenty four legendary burgers culled from recipes using ingredients from all over the world.  First up, and perhaps our favorite, was The Andean:  a certified Angus Beef patty is topped with Avocado Slices, Melted Cheddar Cheese, Garlic Mayonnaise and then a Fried Egg.  The Bolivian entry, it was rich, meaty and loaded with flavor.

 Photo:  Dean Igoe

The Mai Tai One On:  South Pacific inspired.  A blend of Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, Cointreau, Orange Liqueur, Monin Orgeat and a splash of lime and orange juice.  Needless to say, I was about half way through it before we even got the first burger. Refreshing but it packs a quiet punch.

 Photo:  Dean Igoe

We also tasted the Schnitzel Burger.  Yeah, I know, technically not a burger but Germany was well-represented with these two stacks of Tender Pork Schnitzel, lightly breaded, topped with a crunchy Sauerkraut, Spicy Brown Mustard and Savory Bacon.  How could we resist?  What's not to like?  Just say yes.

Photo:  Dean Igoe

The Mezcarita:  A Mexican blend with a decidedly smoky flavor made with Del Maguey Mezcal, Cointreau Orange Liqueur, Malibu Coconut and Fresh Strawberries.

If you're a burger fan it's definitely worth checking out.  It's sometimes fun to play tourist in one's own city as one tastes the world.

Hard Rock Cafe
22-24 Clinton Street
Boston, MA  02109
Telephone:  617.424.7625

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Science Behind Pixar

Did you know that in the film Ratatouille none of the toes of any human character are ever shown? Or that filmmakers created over 270 pieces of food in the computer?  Every food item was prepared and styled in a real kitchen, then photographed for reference AND eaten.

Those are just a few of the fun facts you'll uncover at the Museum Of Science in their new exhibit: THE SCIENCE BEHIND PIXAR.  There are lots of interactive sets, life size characters for photo ops and a short film that explains all the basics.

During a recent press dinner and preview we had the chance to meet with Pixar executives and learn all about animation, lighting, modeling and rendering, among other things.  Needless to say, it's a very fun way to spend a few hours and enlightening to see all the work necessary (a single frame can take up to 17 hours to produce) behind the scenes to create some of our favorite film characters.  The exhibit opens today and runs through the end of the year before it begins a national tour.  You will not be disappointed.

Museum Of Science, Boston
1 Science Park
Boston, MA  02114
Telephone:  617.723.2500

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Touring And Tasting At Tuscan Market

We were recently invited up to New Hampshire for a tour and tasting at Tuscan Market, the emporium for all things of quality imported from Italy and foods prepared for take out or eat in, all from scratch.  It was well worth the thirty minute drive from Boston.  There's really nothing like it on this scale in the area.

We toured the gleaming, new expanded kitchens were all of the food is prepared from fresh pasta to pastries and desserts.

We got a first hand view of the chefs at work and having worked in a commercial bakery I can say that the level of quality and cleanliness is impressive.

Then we sat down for lunch served by Chef David Crinieri which included this beautifully fresh burrata with a truffled honey drizzle.

Several pasta dishes and a glass of wine followed one of our favorites was this butternut squash and brown butter pasta with pecorino romano cheese.  Top notch but, really, so was everything else.

The just-stuffed cannoli was also excellent with a surprisingly light cream filling.

And the tiramisu was equally good.  As were the selection of gelatos and sorbettos we sampled.

After purchasing a few take home treats to enjoy later, we left with every intention of heading back for more. The prices?  Surprisingly affordable.  We found the pricing to be less than that of Whole Foods for superior quality foods.

Tuscan Market
63 Main Street
Salem, NH  03079
Telephone:  603.912.5467