Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Word to all the French pastry lovers out there that Caramel Patisserie in Davis Square is now open. It seems they are still ramping up but do have some of the best croissants we've had since, well, being in Paris. All of the pastries are brought in daily from their original bakery in Salem where the kitchens are located.
A good number of macaron, ten varieties in fact, were on display. We loved the Pistachio and Earl Grey and (promise) that we will work through all of the flavors. Well, all except for the Rose because we don't eat flowers and just don't get why people do.
There are other caramel and flan type of delights, too. We did not, however, see any rendition of a Canelé or Petite Madeleine, two classic French pastries one would expect to see at a Patisserie.
As noted, it's still a work in progress. They do open at 8:00 a.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m on weekends and closing times seem yet to be ironed out, as well. The good news is that you can't beat a genuine, fresh croissant.
235 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
The clouds and mist gave way to brilliant sunlight as we approached Marble House for the 2017 Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival. It's definitely our favorite celebration of the year.
After being welcomed in we briefly stepped into the sumptuously ornate first floor dining room, one of many in the mansion, then rushed out to see who was there before the event was opened to the public and attendees streamed in.
Each guest is greeted with a glass and a quick pour before entering the massive tent where vintners and vendors await.
We simply could not walk by the station our friends at Dole & Bailey were hosting. They grilled up steaks and shrimp all day to the sellout crowd proving to be, without question, the most popular vendor at the festival.
The famous Chinese Pagoda was hosted for VIP guests by Chateau d'Eclans. After a few stops at some wine and restaurant booths, we entered the party.
The day long party was hosted by none other than Paul Chevalier, Managing Director at Chateau d'Eclans. We sipped Whispering Angel and Rock Angel, their newest rosé, both great, as we chatted with others. Wine Enthusiast gave the Rock Angel a great review, noting the "depth of flavor from the zest and red berry fruits."
The Pagoda was beautifully laid out with comfortable settees and couches and decorated in the signature pale rose wine color.
After mingling for a bit we basically had the very best seats in the house, a table on the porch of the Pagoda overlooking the entire event including the cooking demo stage and the ocean views.
Trudy Cox, CEO of the Newport Mansions Preservation Society even stopped by to say hello.
The weather and stunning backdrop make this event a spectacular affair every year. The perfect weather, variety of participants, really friendly crowd from all over the country (we even snagged an invite to the Kentucky Derby 2018 from new friends we met from Louisville) and all of the great food made this the very best festival we've attended. They just seem to get better and ramp up the quality of the experience every year.
We tasted plates from some great restaurants both local and neighboring locales, including Boston, along with some great new wine discoveries. More on that later.
All in all a wonderful weekend yet again of like-minded food and wine lovers!
We attended this event as members of the media with no remuneration or any promise of editorial consideration.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
When you get invited to meet one of your all-time favorite recording stars, in town for a food event, one cannot say no. The legendary Patti LaBelle was in town this week, partnering with Hood to showcase their new Calorie Countdown product for a cooking class. A very small group of bloggers and influencers were invited to cook and meet with Ms. LaBelle and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
Ms. LaBelle is well-known as a great home cook. When she travels on tour she does so with her pots and pans and rarely dines out due to her very public admission of having Type 2 diabetes. She absolutely loves food, sugary, sweet, fatty, and fried and the diagnosis was a major disruption. Yet, she has learned to cook to accommodate her needs, has published several cookbooks and even hosts a TV cooking show "PATTI LABELLE'S PLACE".
So, she's out there promoting more healthy alternatives. Exhibit one was this Chocolate Intensity Smoothie. Less fat and much less sugar, it's not as rich as real but still tasted okay. She also prepared a Macaroni And Cheese dish made with low fat cheeses.
Having a few moments with her to talk person-to-person was my best part of the event. I have a strong family history of diabetes and religiously get tested. We instantly bonded over this. I told her about my Grandfather, a victim of this disease later in his life. He had all of his toes amputated to stop an infection caused by poor circulation, a common symptom, much like her own mother. And I whispered to her the good news: he lived to be ninety-seven years old and extremely strong to the very end.
This went beyond the typical media tour, for me anyway. As a journalist I often approach these things skeptically but, sometimes, beyond the hair and make-up and handlers you break in and discover something human. Thank you Patti LaBelle for being such a class act!
I attended this event as a member of the media without remuneration or any editorial consideration.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
A heavy, cold mist and brisk winds could not keep the crowd away from Rosecliff mansion in Newport last Friday to kick off a wonderful evening of socializing, drink, and food at the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival 2017.
Among the guests we ran into were Kylie McCullough (l) of Bravo's Real Estate Wars and Amy Bruni (r) of Ghost Hunters fame. Oh, how we'd love to tag along and see what upstairs/downstairs paranormal activity she'd discover on Bellevue Avenue!
Dean Igoe, our photographer, was even able to take a little time to enjoy meeting some of the guests.
Bill Burns and Nancy Matheson-Burns of Dole And Bailey
Nancy Matheson-Burns, CEO/President of Dole & Bailey, was there. The Dole & Bailey cooking demo area proved to be THE most popular at The Grand Tasting events showcasing their meats and seafood.
And we met many, many new friends there, as well. As far as the foods, we absolutely loved Rachel Klein's Corn Mousse with Clams and The Red Lion Inn's Corn Tortellini. Chateau d' Eclans Whispering Angel was our favorite sip of the night but there were many other interesting wines. More on that to follow.
All in all, another fantastic gala event to kick off a great weekend in Newport.
We attended this event as members of the press/media.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Ninety percent of the blog posts here will always be about food. However, we do have a sizable amount of readers who are visitors to Boston and are always looking for fun, interesting things to do. So, I thought I'd share a place to visit just outside Harvard Square and tell the story of my morning with Andy Warhol.
I have had an avid interest in Warhol since I was a teenager and learned about the concept of "Pop Art". Over the years I have read virtually every biography of Warhol written including the Andy Warhol Diaries, a massive tome that was basically a compilation of his daily notes on what he did last night with occasional philosophical quips. It was absolutely fascinating insight into what life was like in New York City in the 1970s and '80s.
Anyway, what I'm getting to is my recent stop into the Harvard Art Museums. You may recall it was completely remodeled a few years back with a stunning Renzo Piano design. I was in Harvard Square on a Saturday morning with some time to kill so I wandered over. It's a beautiful space with an impressive collection and is actually free to Massachusetts residents on Saturday mornings. I wandered around with the idea in the back of my mind to end up looking at the Warhols I knew they had. I'd seen them before.
Much to my dismay they were not there. When I asked an attendant I was told they were in storage. Some pieces are rotated out due to their delicate nature. I was clearly crushed. Eventually, the attendant returned and advised me that if I truly wanted to see the works I could set up a private showing with the Art Study Center. This, of course, led to my morning with Warhol.
Just Google search the name and you will be inundated with thousands of images. He has to be one of the most photographed modern artists ever. And then there is the oft-asked question: was he even a real artist? Which always leads to: what is art?
I got to select the works I wanted to see. I looked at a listing and chose a few familiar works and asked the curator to select a few surprises. It was kind of like ordering an appetizer off the menu then asking for whatever the chef would like to make for the entrée. If often works out best.
Obviously, everyone knows about the Campbell Soup Can series done by Warhol. The Jackie portrait is rather famous, difficult to see in this iteration where silver (a favorite Warhol color) was used. These are silkscreened prints. They had to be to produce the massive quantities Warhol wanted although he was quite aware that they would never hold up physically. In fact, he thought it was quite funny and would often joke about it. So much of Warhol was an understated tongue-in-cheek comment on society that was completely lost on most. I think that's precisely why I like him so much.
There was one piece, however, that I was immediately drawn to. This was clearly an early work done before Warhol became WARHOL. What gave it away to me was the very cursive signature that he used when he first began work as a commercial artist. Once the Pop Art began it was a much more angular signature, if he even signed them at all, or himself.
It is not Pop Art in any way. It is clearly the antithesis of it. Across the bottom of the pencil sketch dabbed with the lightest brush of watercolor is the message: "Happy December Bob." But who is Bob? The early date (1954) rules out Bob Dylan, who sought out a friendship with Warhol. It also rules out Bob Colacello, his editor at Interview.
After hours of scrolling and scrolling I finally found out some information. It is, obviously an early work. At the time Warhol had made the move to New York and eked out a living as a freelance commercial artist. He also did children's book illustrations and this, it appears, was one of them.
I loved it. It pictures a group of innocent children at play. It could not be further from the pulsating, energetic, often drink and drug-infused New York City lifestyle that Warhol would eventually become an impresario of. Nor was it anywhere near the mass-produced silkscreens and prints and portraits that sold for thousands. And it was actually used by Warhol as his Christmas Card that year, 1954. So, it was personal. You can learn more about this less-famous work here.
I will be back to see the Marilyn paintings. And the others. I'll continue to watch all the documentaries and read the books and articles. I'll probably even head over to American Repertory Theater to see WARHOLCAPOTE. From now on, however, this will always be my favorite piece of Warhol work.
Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Monday, September 11, 2017
Earls, the Canadian-based chain of premium casual dining restaurants, has opened at the Prudential Center in the former space of Legal Seafoods. The first level is a bar area with the innovative idea of what they are calling the "cocktail lab." Noted mixologists from other Boston restaurants will take turns at the bar creating new drinks on a rotating basis. Sounds like fun to us!
The design of the space is a big factor, open and airy with a roof deck where the ceiling rolls back on those warmer, starry nights. It is, in fact, the biggest Earls in the chain so far.
Diners who have visited the first USA location at Assembly Row will recognize the upscale comfort food fare and if the crowd on opening night was any indication the new Pru spot will be every bit as successful. Although the spot is a bit noisy on the upper level the food, cocktails and crowd will make for a fun night out for everyone.
Earls Prudential Center
800 Boylston Street
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
We ventured out to Burlington recently which, as you may recall from previous posts, has become quite the dining mecca. We visited Temazcal just across from Wayside Commons in a small office park.
We felt compelled to order the sangria since it seems most of our summer was spent consuming these at various locations throughout the city. Here, they pack a punch. White, Blush or Red Wine is mixed with Bacardi Limon, Raspberry Vodka, Crème de Peche, Sprite and fresh fruit. A nice sangria and, as noted, a bit stronger than others we have sampled in the past few months.
Next up was the Lobster Guacamole. This appetizer featured lobster, tomato, onion, cilantro, and serrano chile. It was interesting in that one would think the delicate lobster flavor would get lost in the layers of other flavors. It did not. And there was plenty of lobster meat.
The Scallops Al Pastor, however, was spot on delicious. With sautéed sea scallop, grilled pineapple, kale, crispy plantain, and spicy citrus butter. We thought the pineapple would be a bit too sweet but there are really only small bits of it in the dish and the plantains were excellent.
Grilled Skirt Steak Tampiquena: rolled skirt steak, cheese enchilada, black beans, queso fresco, salsa roja, and Mexican rice. This was packed with flavor. The spices in the marinade were both subtle and compelling and the enchilada had that firm texture that is the signature of the bite. Great all around.
For dessert this Mexican Brownie was standard fare, served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
The Fried Ice Cream was not exactly what we envisioned. We were thinking more of a frozen-solid as-a-brick slab of ice cream actually fried long enough to form a crisp coating on the cornflake and coconut crust. In reality, it was more like a pudding. Still good but not quite what was expected.
All in all, the drinks were great and the fare traditional if you are in the area and looking for a casual spot for Mexican.
2 Wall Street
Burlington, MA 01803
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Our food and drink was provided by Temazcal Cantina without any editorial consideration. All opinions are our own.
Monday, August 28, 2017
Yes, we will be back at our favorite food and wine event of the year this Fall, the Newport Mansions Food And Wine Festival 2017 and it's less than a month away! We'll be at Rosecliff on Friday for the always so elegant Wine And Rosecliff and then off to Marble House on Saturday for the Grand Tasting. The 2017 list of wineries, chefs and restaurants is truly impressive. It's the height of the season for food events and this is the true classic of them all. Don't be left out!
Monday, August 21, 2017
Despite many trips to Europe I can't really say that I was ever enthused about visiting any of the wax museums. I thought of them as sort of creepy to be honest, like walking through some kind of dungeon with ghosts or a horror movie.
So, I had to admit I thought it strange when I started getting press releases about a new wax museum called Dreamland opening in Boston. Do people even go to these any longer? And, if so, exactly what type of person does go?
The answer is yes, they do go, in droves, and patrons cross all ages and races with a decided nod to the young. It seems the current celebrity-obsessed, Instagram-addicted population has found a way to rub elbows with the famous even if it means that the lookalike might require a healthy dose of imagination. And it's really quite fun.
I mean, some of the wax figures are pretty spot on, Snoop Dog probably being the best of the lot. The Tom Brady is no Tom Brady. The Trump is no Trump. Some of the others look like maybe they have a swollen nose or their cheek bones receded. That hair on Bill Clinton? An emphatic no but I wondered if he was really that tall. A query to one of the very knowledgeable attendants (and they are all very well informed about the displays) assures us that, indeed, all of the figures are the actual height of the person represented.
It was an ocean of iPhones and cameras as we stood and watched the crowd. WCVB's show Chronicle was there broadcasting the Grand Opening VIP Reception live as if it were the Oscars. You could stand with historic figures and world leaders for portraits and selfies. It didn't seem to make any difference if they were alive or not.
The fantasy of standing at the Presidential podium, shades on and wineglass in hand was irresistible. As was sitting at the desk in the Oval Office, red phone in hand.
Normally I'd say take the kids but in this case I'm actually going to say leave the kids at home and take the teens. They seem to love it more than anyone. You might even be surprised to find it a fun afternoon or evening yourself.
Dreamland Wax Museum
One Washington Street
Boston, MA 02108
Here's the Chronicle event coverage and interviews:
Dreamland Wax Museum Gala
We attended this event as members of the invited media. That means we didn't have to pay just like Chronicle (or anyone else) didn't have to pay but we have to say that and they don't. Silly FTC. As always, we call 'em as we see 'em.