Sunday, January 13, 2019

Durgin Park Cornbread Recipe 2019

We first ran it years and years ago when we were handed it by a friend, tried it and loved it.  Now that the legendary spot is closed it has become a big request so here it is ...

Durgin Park's Corn Bread

3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (regular, not coarse grind)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix the sugar with the eggs. Shift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together. Stir in the egg mixture. Beat quickly by hand (do not use an electric mixer unless you want an even more cake like texture).

Bake in a 11x13 inch buttered pan for 35-40 minutes. Makes 21 squares.

For blueberry cake, add one cup of blueberries before turning the batter out into the pan.

For tea bread, substitute one cup of flour for the cornmeal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Au Revoir L'Espalier ... And Others

A luncheon cheese plate at the now-closed L'Espalier.
L'Espalier.  The Tam.  Durgin Park.  Three very different types of restaurants that have all recently closed, or are about to.  75 On Courthouse in the Seaport closed after just seven months.  Rumor has it that others are on the way.  Have people had it with the frustrating drive into the city?  Then, the parking.  The cost?  The restaurants say that business was dwindling.  No one wants that kind of dining any more.  The rents are outrageous.  The rising minimum wage was also a factor, driving a new model for front and back of house parity that doesn't always work for everyone.  Others say that it is the bubble finally bursting as many have predicted.
 A source for 75 On Courthouse told us that the Seaport just did not deliver the traffic that they had hoped for.  Maybe it's because of that one road in and out from the often backed-up Greenway.  And although all of those luxury condos may be selling well and at unprecedented prices we rarely see lots of people walking in and about the area.
Graeham Henderson, Executive Chef at Le Méridien Cambridge, told us:  "We have hit the saturation point."  Indeed, even his own restaurant has eliminated dinner service and many hotel restaurants are having trouble attracting a steady dinner crowd year round.  "Boston is about to see restaurant closings in unprecedented numbers.  "The real reason is, he says, is:  "Quick serve casual is a huge reason why.  Millenials love that concept and is has greatly improved with a new, wider appeal."  Take it from one who IS a millennial.

That is a new insight and may explain why some with that concept do seem to be thriving.  Committee in the Seaport District seems to always be mobbed with groups of friends all enjoying apps and a craft cocktail.  So does Earls At The Prudential.  Such restaurants are the new clubs. 

Rents and the cost of an alcohol license seem to be the biggest culprit in Boston according to many chefs and owners we talked with.  None of them wanted to speak on the record, notoriously famous for being close-lipped about closings, any closings.  Clearly, many restaurants are fleeing to the suburbs like Burlington and Lynn, with lower rents and plenty of curbside, free parking, where the dining scene is thriving.

Only time will tell and, of course, we'll be carefully watching and documenting on how things roll out in 2019.  Meanwhile, if you have any thoughts to share please do so here or on our other social media @TheBostonFoodie.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Plans

One of the resolutions you should have every year is to take time and enjoy life.  I try to do something fun, something that I truly enjoy, every day.  You don't have to spend hours and it's really true that "life's little pleasures" are often the best. 

And then sometimes you just want to get out of town for the weekend.  For years now our first getaway of the New Year has been a drive down to Mohegan Sun for the weekend to attend the Food And Wine Fest.  It's always been fun but this year we won't be attending.  There are many reasons and we will go into those in detail in our next post.

In a nutshell, 2019 is going to be a year of great change and the food landscape will not be immune.  So, we'll have to adapt and some of the events and, yes, even traditions that have marked our annual calendar are going to have to be redirected in a positive way to keep our focus on the joy of food and drink.

Stay tuned.  We are with you all on the ride into the future and look forward to sharing it together.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Friendly Toast Brunch

Pumpkin Pancakes at The Friendly Toast.
Part of the holiday season for us always includes at least one brunch out with friends or maybe as a stop between shopping excursions and/or city walks.  When in Cambridge we'd suggest The Friendly Toast, although they do have multiple locations now.

A Flight Of Mimosas.  Cute, clever and delicious.
The menu at The Friendly may seem overwhelming at first.  Everything is tempting.  After deliberating over which Mimosa to try (there are several options from Apricot Brandy to Elderflower) our server suggested we just try the flight and sample them all.  We'd suggest you do the same.

Breakfast Eggrolls.
A newer menu item, as are the Pumpkin Pancakes, we just knew we HAD to try these.  It's just such a great idea to put some typical breakfast foods in or on a roll and then make it not typical.  These egg rolls are stuffed with, well, eggs, scrambled, of course, corned beef hash, Swiss cheese and then the unusual kimchi slaw.  And it all works beautifully.

Salmon Ramen
Ramen for breakfast is not a bad thing.  Neither is salmon.  Ever.  So we went with that.  A steamy bowl of fresh ramen noodles in red curry broth, with Gochujang glazed Coho salmon, an over easy egg, kimchi slaw, scallions & mango-habanero sauce.  Not your Grandma's breakfast food but a luxurious one.

Avos To Apples at The Friendly Toast
Another unusual mix the Avos To Apples:  A slice of Anadama toast (an old New England bread recipe made with corn and molasses and totally satisfying) loaded with avocado, roasted caramelized apples, blue cheese crumbles, spicy pecans & a hint of cinnamon. Served with root vegetable hash & a sunny egg. And, again, satisfying, terrific breakfast fare or hangover cure, take your pick.

Of course you'll most likely be spending more than one day out shopping and strolling in  and around the city this holiday season and The Friendly offers so much on the menu you could visit every weekend without coming anywhere near exhausting the menu possibilities.  It's just the perfect way to brunch at any time of year.

The Friendly Toast
1 Kendall Square B3101
Cambridge, MA 02139
Telephone:  617.621.1200

@_TheFriendlyToast (ig)

We were invited to this brunch as members of the media with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Wine Lunch At Moon Bar

Smoked Bluefish Pate at Moon Bar
We recently enjoyed an intimate group of food writers at a great wine lunch at Moon Bar in Park Square, on the first floor of Mooncusser Fish House.  What a gem! 

Lobster Bisque at Moon Bar.
Of course, it was seafood all throughout and all of it was excellent.  I was joking with dinner companions how after each dish was served we would then exclaim that that was actually our favorite.


The wines were also very well paired.  I particularly liked the Riesling, St. Urbans-Hof 'Nik Weis', Mosel 2015.  Delightful wine, well-balanced, not too sweet as some Rieslings can be.  Then there was the Cabernet-Franc, Couly-Dutheil, Chinon 2017.

Fish Tacos With Cabbage Slaw, Cilantro, Pickled Red Onion And Thoreau Sauce.
To reiterate, this was our favorite.  Really, though, the tempura has never been done better, light but crisp.

Smoked Mussel Toast With Pumpkin, Sage, Roasted Garlic Aioli On Sourdough Toast.
No, THIS was our favorite.  It may have not been the prettiest girl, or boy, at the prom but if one loves the taste of smoked foods then this is a standout winner.  Beautifully rich flavors layered on top of one another, the texture of that toast and all infused with that smoky essence. 


Swordfish Souvlaki With Garlic, Oregano, Lemon, Cucumber, Cauliflower, Chickpeas, Yogurt And Pita.
This was our favorite.  Seriously, it's too easy to dry out swordfish.  Yet, the morsels on the kebab stick were moist, tender, succulent and packed with flavor. 

Although we dined downstairs at the bar we did head upstairs for the view of Mooncusser Fish House imagining how beautiful it must be with that view of Park Square all glistening in the holiday lights, a hidden gem.  Then we were reminded that the space was once that infamous after hours private club that we flocked to when the bars closed at 2AM and we were just getting started.  remember the name?

Moon Bar and Mooncusser Fish House.  A great find where you will not be disappointed.

Mooncusser Fish House
304 Stuart Street
Boston, MA  02116
Telephone:  617.917.5193


We were invited to this event as members of the media and professional press with no promise of any editorial coverage.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Saloniki Greek Harvard Square

We'll all be out doing our holiday shopping and socializing this season and at some point, well, we all have to eat.  So, we're kicking off a short series on places where you can stop and refuel before you hit the shops again.

Our first feature is Saloniki, the new, Greek-inspired casual spot from Jody Adams.  We visited the Harvard Square location in the newly renovated Smith Center formerly known as the Holyoke Center.  And what a stunning redo it is!

The spot features comfy seats and booths and Greek foods for a quick nosh with a view of the lively Dunster Street in Harvard Square. 

We went with the smallish Spinach Pie, or Spanakopita, not a bad version for light lunch or snack to hold one over until the purchases are made.

In addition to the menu and bar there are foods to go and an assortment of traditional food products imported from Greece.  Nice little spot to stop in and refresh and maybe even pick up a few gifts for that foodie friend.

Saloniki Greek
24 Dunster Street
Cambridge, MA  02138
Telephone:  617.945.5877


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Favorite Things 2018 III

We know.  It looks like something you'd give to your toddler.  Easy to digest.  100% pure fruit.  No added sugars.  And portable.  Sounds like something perfect for the multi-tasking, short on time adult, too.  The Ceres Smoothie To Go series of flavorful snacks is an easy, portable snack between meals and a healthy one, too.  We really like it post-workout when we won't be eating for a while.

Samples were provided by Ceres for our tasting with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Favorite Things 2018 II

We recently discovered Lindemans Framboise at a tasting while shopping at Wegmans in Medford.  The color will catch your eye.  Some people really love it, some not and there seems to be no in-between.  Of course it has a wonderfully fruity taste and I really felt the tartness on the sides of my tongue.  Oftentimes people will recommend pairing a sweeter beer with a sweet pastry or dessert or even ice cream.  I find them to go best with a more salty, savory snack or dish.  In any case, if you have not tried a Lambic recently, or at all, we suggest that you try this flavorful, lower alcohol content sip.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Favorite Things 2018

French Toast flavored Bantam Bagels make for an easy breakfast.

As many readers know we receive many food and food-related products to test, taste and share throughout the year.  For some reason this gets amped up during the holiday season to the point where we are often getting packages delivered daily for weeks on end.  Most of the stuff is rejected after the first look and taste sample.  You can't believe some of the absolutely horrible stuff we have seen.

This year we thought we feature some of the stuff we actually liked in a series of our "Favorite Things".  Yes, we know it sounds like Oprah (who actually stole it from "The Sound Of Music") and we won't be giving away thousands of products but, hey, we liked them.

First up are the Bantam Bagels.  You may have seen this product on Shark Tank and, due to their success, in Starbucks stores nationwide.  Not bad.  They are basically bagel bites that are filled with cheese and come in a variety of flavors.  Some are spicy, some savory and some sweet like our favorite French Toast.  They are purchased frozen but we've thrown a few in the gym bag early in the morning and when we arrive at work they are all set to be heated up for breakfast.

And that is the appeal of this product:  easy.  The taste is not bad, though.

This product was provided to us by the manufacturer for sampling without promise for any editorial consideration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Piquillo-Almond With Pomegranate Molasses and Fresh Pita at Chickadee in the Boston Design and Innovation Building.
It somehow seems fitting that this week as most Americans are cooking and feasting for Thanksgiving we'd be writing about what many people consider to be Boston's hottest new restaurant right now:  Chickadee.  Chef John da Silva and Ted Kilpatrick have teamed up to open this cool spot on the "other side" of the very busy Seaport District featuring a Mediterranean inspired menu.  It is the very first sit down restaurant at The Boston Design Center, a part of the larger Innovation And Design Building.  For folks who have grown weary of the traffic battles to travel and park here we have two words:  free parking.  And plenty of it.

It is an extraordinary experience right from the start where one is served these fresh pitas, house made and all thick, warm and fluffy like a pillow, just the first of many delicious surprises served up.

We imbibed in the Crimson Sunbird made with gin, huckleberry, jasmine and tonic, every bit as delightful as the glass of Riesling, riding a perfect balance of sweet and dry, a Von Winning "Winnings" Riesling, 2015. 

(Foreground) Marinated Beets With Pistachio, Goat Cheese And Ras El Hanout.  Charred Eggplant With Bell Pepper and Cilantro.

The salads pictured above were also delectable, all of the details done well especially those candied pistachios in the Beet Salad.

 Grilled Salmon With Honeynut Squash, Apple, Leek and Vadouvan.  An absolute standout dish.
My marinated, grilled salmon was perfection and as many readers know I am quite fussy about my salmon.  Even my dining companion who is not a fan of this fish wanted more.  The slightly sweet and smoky layers of flavor made it my instant favorite taste of the day.  That vadouvan compendium of spices is everything. This is very worth going back for.

Duck Sausage With Smoked Almond, Grape, Jicama and Mint.
The Duck Sausage was not bad either.  The almond was turned out hummus style with more than a slight hint of smokiness, a new experience, and, again, with a balanced layer of tastes and textures that worked perfectly.

Figs With Almond Cake And Gelato.

And, then, of course, there's always dessert, every tiny morsel a new sensation. 

The space is spotlessly clean with the bright, airy feel that seems de rigueur these days, an open kitchen and high top tables that were the most comfortable we've ever graced.  The service was seamlessly perfect, the dishes inventive and the presentation beautiful. 

In fact, the whole area is cool, somewhat reminiscent of that new-yorky-meatpacking-district vibe.  Just when we were lamenting the overexpansion of the area it's nice to cut through the congestion and walled-in feeling for a admittedly grittier yet refreshing other side and find this gem.  We have not heard one, single bad thing about Chickadee.  You should go.

As a final note we had a great conversation with Mr. Kilpatrick on the 2% administration fee charged on all meals in an effort to equalize front and back of house wages, a vexing and delicate problem now facing all restaurants.  While most places have not made the leap to address this issue which will crash in with the implementation of a new minimum wage law it seems to be working just fine for them AND their patrons.  Congratulations on what many consider to be a bold decision.

21 Drydock Avenue
Boston, MA  02210
Telephone:  617.531.5591

@chickadeerestaurant (IG)
@chickadeeIDB (twitter)

We were invited to dine at Chickadee as members of the media with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Chef Flynn, The Movie

You may remember Chef Flynn McGarry, the wunderkind once featured in that New York Times piece that went viral.  He's the "kid chef" as most people called him.  Well, there is a new documentary about him that hit the Sundance Film Festival, opened in limited release on November 9 and will roll out across the country soon.  And if you are a foodie you may find it quite interesting.  We did when we prescreened the film this week.

The documentary "Chef Flynn" features Flynn, the boy chef, his somewhat of a "stage mother" and an interesting story of creativity that unfolds before us like a sheet of pastry dough, rife with issues and criticism, indulgences and fates, imperfections and the wonder that maybe McGarry is to food the equivalent of what Mozart was to music. 

He gains media attention due to his age and the unusual career path he followed, dropping out of public school at a very young age for home schooling which pretty much seems to have been turning his bedroom into a kitchen/food laboratory all with the blessing and extensive funding of Mommy.  Not a conventional path, indeed.  For him, of course, it was a natural thing but when he takes his first step into the limelight, the New York Times Magazine cover story, he finds that with fame there always comes stinging criticism.  He knows he did not do the fifteen years of grunt work and apprenticeship that others have done to get this.  Yes, his parents are Hollywood creative types with lots of powerful connections.  Sure, he is younger than them.  He's been lucky, indulged, well-funded but ... is not the food good?  And isn't the pang of jealousy clearly apparent, as is often the case, in the most vocal of critics? 

It's an interesting film and one I encourage you to see if, and it may not be possible, one can ignore the age of the person being profiled.  That is the challenge that seems the point of the film.

We were provided with a screening of this film at no cost and with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Brunch At Lower Mills Tavern

Lower Gin Mills:  Lion's Tail Gin, elderflower, mint, lime and house made ginger beer.  It's for those who like their daytime weekend libations more on the boozy side.
Everyone is always asking us where to go for brunch.  There are lots of options but when we were invited to Lower Mills Tavern to try out their experience we were game. 
It's not an area we visit often but the traffic was fairly light on the rainy, cold Saturday we visited and we found it warm and inviting inside with a pretty good crowd at 1PM.


Three Little Birds:  Citrónge liqueur, pomegranate juice, strawberry-blood orange shrub and prosecco.  Refreshing and lighter.


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blackberry compote, served with home fries.
We began with a couple of cocktails, tasty indeed, as we glanced over the menu.  Everything looked good but we knew we just had to begin with the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. They did not disappoint.

Steak And Eggs Hash with mushroom, red onion, breakfast potatoes, fresh mozzarella, chive and rosemary oil.

The eggs featured in this dish were perfectly poached and runny, a classic, hearty breakfast dish.

The Home Fries at Lower Mills Tavern were really some of the best we've had, perfectly seasoned with an almost creamy texture under that outside layer of crisp.

Chicken Sandwich:  Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Vermont cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and creamy ranch dressing on a seeded brioche bun.
The Chicken Sandwich was my favorite menu item.  I always think the buttermilk helps but, really, you either nail it or fail it.  This one was great.

Avocado Toast with eggplant hummus, chili-toasted chick peas and balsamic gastrique on whole wheat bread.

How can one not try the Avocado Toast?  It's such a thing now but this one was perked up with those chickpeas offering a tinge of heat we liked.

A side of Cauliflower Mash.

We also really liked the architectural details of the restaurant design which gave things an authentic mill town feel, the exposed brick and comfy leather banquettes were inviting and casual.  It was the kind of place you can just slow down and relax in for hours.

The aftermath.
The verdict:  The next time we are asked where to head for weekend brunch south of downtown Boston we'd advise anyone to try Lower Mills Tavern. 
2269 Dorchester Avenue
Boston, MA  02124
Telephone:  857.267.4461
We were invited to attend this brunch as members of the media with no promise of any editorial consideration.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Kicking Off Boston Christmas Festival 2018

Reporter Andrew interviewing Judge Owen for NBC 10 at the Boston Christmas Festival 2018 today.

It's not often that I get to combine family and food events but it happened today at the kickoff for the Boston Christmas Festival at The Seaport Convention Center where my nephews and I joined forces as Official Judges for the Gingerbread House Competition 2018.

It was a tough choice as all of the entries were impressive.  Fortunately, they only picked off one piece of a display and ate it before Uncle intervention.

Owen takes over the reporting responsibilities for NECN.

There were also some delicious cookies to taste and believe me they took this part of the competition most seriously.

Ally Donnelly of NBC 10 was also on hand t cover this traditional annual event.

Even little Gavin was there to provide unlimited cuddles.

(l to r) Miranda Allan, Ed Cameron, CEO, and Patty Kelly, Associate Director, of Housing Families were on hand to remind us that not all families are lucky enough to have a warm and comfy home for the holidays.  Please visit their site to show how grateful you are and make a donation towards their excellent work.

And the winners were ... stay tuned!