Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cooking For A Cause 2016

Mixologist Will Thompson (who also served as Beverage Chair for the event) and our great friend Chef Juan Pedrosa, both of Yvonne's, were there when hundreds of people ascended the stairs at the Royal Sonesta Hotel  to attend Cooking For A Cause last night to benefit East End House.  Over 30 restaurants and bars participated offering up samples of some very creative food and drink.

One of our favorite tastes of the night were these Halva Brownies provided by Tatte Bakery. They were rich and creamy without being overly sweet.  Another big hit was the Pressed Medianoche Sliders (not pictured) served by Chef Nick Deutmeyer of Post 390.

Will Isaza of Tapestry Boston mixed up one of the most interesting drinks of the event: Prickly Privateer Daquiri.  Privateer Silver, pickled green strawberry, urfa pepper and citrus were blended to provide a sip that not only packed a punch but also a surprising bit of heat.

Guests sampled plates, sipped cocktails and mingled while learning more about the fantastic work that East End House does for Cambridge families and youth in need.

Craigie On Main was the first to run out of food and no wonder with the long lines gathered at their serving table.  

Even the weather cooperated as the crowd enjoyed a stunning sunset over the Charles River, Esplanade and Boston skyline. Great job everybody!  We were proud to be invited again this year to promote and support the event.  


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Great Road Kitchen

As we've said before, there's lots of good dining that is fleeing to the suburbs.  With more reasonable rents, plenty of easy, free parking and a liquor license that won't break the bank, fine dining and casual upscale is no longer just a City game.

So, we took the invite to brunch at Great Road Kitchen out in Littleton.  Owned an operated by the same people at Vine Brook Tavern in Lexington which we visited last year, this space has less of a colonial tavern feel, more open, airy and brighter.  

We like an open kitchen and they have one.  You can virtually see all of the food being prepared and readied for service.

They are also quite proud of their local sourcing and post their partners on a chalk board clearly visible for all to see.  They also have an extensive raw bar menu for ordering if you are into that. The one thing, and pretty much only thing, we never do is raw oysters.  Just can't do it as many times as we've tried.

There will always be a Quiche offered on the brunch menu here.  Today it had a somewhat south of the border flavor with grilled corn, cheese and peppers.  The quiche was beautifully light and fluffy with a good crust, not soggy, and served with a fresh arugula salad.

My Salmon Burger was prepared with crispy shitake mushrooms, a flavorful sticky soy sauce and sweet potato tater tots, which were excellent.  I've long been in search of the Salmon Burger that wan't dry and while this was better than many I've had I am starting the believe that such a thing does not exist.  

The Steak 'n Egg with Frites (not pictured) was okay but nothing spectacular.  

The crowd runs the gamut from families to young couples and friends and the service is good.  Perhaps Great Road Kitchen is still finding it's legs or maybe we were spoiled by the creativity and flavors at Vine Brook Tavern.  Time will tell.

Great Road Kitchen
613 Constitution Avenue
Littleton, MA  01460
Telephone:  978.952.7333

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cooking For A Cause 2016

Join us this Friday, June 17, at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge for the annual Cooking For A Cause to benefit East End House. Sample fare from over twenty restaurants throughout Cambridge and support the wonderful work East End House provides to children and families in need in our community.  This is always an excellent event with beautiful views of the city.  Get your tickets now before they sell out!

Get tickets here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Look At Boston Public Market

It was an overcast Friday afternoon, the end of a holiday week and the early June tourist season in flux.  Colleges are out but not High Schools.  It's an affordable time of year for the euro visitors who often make up a good half of our readers.  A lot of people took the week off.

The food tables at Boston Public Market were fairly busy, not anywhere near the thriving, pushy mob at Fanueil Hall, which we visited later, rife with German and British accents and Prep School boys with no need to work summer jobs, plates piled high with chicken parm sandwiches and fried rice, or persons of every conceivable age and ethnicity waiting in the long line for the Uniqlo dressing rooms.  

They have wine here, lots of good wine, actually and people who know all about their wines waiting to talk with you.  And waiting.

The lines here, however, seemed to be focused on Union Square Donuts.  If they sold stock I'd buy it because people cannot get enough and appear to be willing to pay any price for a moment of bacon and glazed yeasty goodness.  The attraction borders on addiction.  Said preppy boys here have even better haircuts and shinier looks and appear more in-the-know. Chicken parm?  Fried rice? No, thank you.

The idea seemed to be to bring a quality Farmer's Market to a permanent space in the city.   There's a demand for it, they said. Yet, it seems to be a food court for wealthy suburbanites who are not really buying but doing a lot of looking.  Harlow's Vermont Farmstand, purveying the utmost quality produce and cheeses was bereft of buyers.  Why?

At Red's Best they were longingly looking for a scant customer. I've been to their warehouse, met their fishermen and bought their seafood.  You cannot get anything fresher or more sustainable in this city.  Maybe we just hit the place at a bad time.

The ghost pepper jelly sign was almost haunting.  Why are the farm stands more like pretty ghost towns?

We join the lunch crowd with a Ham and Cheese Croissant from swissbakers.  It was, as expected, fresh and delicious.

Meanwhile, out the door and a few steps away Haymarket was mobbed.  Six peaches for a dollar. Watermelon.  Bananas galore. All probably tasteless and woody and none of it in season.  I couldn't find the leeks I wanted for my risotto and salmon dish of the weekend. The cash was flowing like it was Las Vegas.  And I just wandered around asking:  why?

Yet, we got the leeks at Roche Bros., Downtown Crossing, $2.99 a pound.  Not the best but, then again, not really is season, either.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest

A hyper-local Craft Brewfest will be taking place next weekend at The Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville.  On Friday, cask-conditioned beers will be featured.  Unlimited tastings, live music and home-brewing demos will be provided with food from local restaurants available for nominal fee.

Tickets and more information can be found here.  See you on Friday!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Taste Of The Back Bay

The social season is in full gear and this was our stunning view of the city recently when we were invited to attend Taste Of The Back Bay at the Prudential Skywalk.

Tuna Tartare Crudos from Precinct Kitchen were just one of our top tastes of the evening as we strolled the Skywalk halls with the well-heeled crowd.  

What would a food event be with a dish of Indian fare from Kashmir?  The Chicken Masala tasted every bit as good as it colorfully looked.

And it wasn't just the stodgy old stuffshirt diners.  We met lots of new friends and contacts as we sipped and mingled and tasted.

There was even two bands providing live music.

Georgetown Cupcakes was there.  One of the most popular tables at the event.

Congratulations to the Neighborhood Association Of The Back Bay and all of the restaurants, cafes and organizations who participated. Well done!


Friday, June 3, 2016

Sangria Smackdown 2016

We headed over to the Seaport Hotel last night for the 2nd Annual Sangria Smackdown.  A crowd of about 350 people gathered to sip sangrias and munch snacks resulting in another first place win for The Barking Crab.  

And well-deserved it was.  I remember the first time I actually had a tall glass of icy cold, fresh watermelon juice on a trip to Mexico and thought:  why don't we have this at home? On a stifling, hot and humid day it was the most refreshing drink I'd ever had.  So, when I tasted this watermelon, habanero, peach combination I immediately predicted it the winner. A long line at their station ensued.

Kudos also go to Ocean Prime, which served up our second favorite.  their sangria included grapefruit and orange juice with fresh mint, a splash of vodka, pinot grigio and topped off with a sparkling rosé.  Very, very nice.

Ocean Prime also featured probably the best presentation of their offering.

And, of course, what is the Seaport without the views.  Yes, with all that construction going on there are still a few left!  


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.