Monday, March 20, 2017

Date Night Deal At Coda Bar And Kitchen


We were recently invited to Coda Bar And Kitchen in the South End to experience their Monday evening Date Night special.


This is a special dining offer for two and, yes, we know that Monday may not be your typical date night but if you can make it then you'll be able to enjoy this really great value.

The deal is that you get two appetizers, very generous portions I must say, then split a main course and dessert all for forty dollars total.  Not bad!

 

I opted for this Endive Salad which was quite good and the runny egg you see there was every bit as perfect as it looks.  Of course both of us shared the appetizers and there was plenty enough to go around.

 

The Crispy Polenta was our favorite taste, however.  Perfectly done with a chicken confit inside and floating in a puddle of creamy tomato soup.  Really good.


Our main was this Half Chicken which, again, was perfectly turned out.  Somebody here really knows how to roast a chicken and the brussels sprouts were also excellent. 


For dessert we opted for these Ice Cream Sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies and vanilla gelato.

All in all a great value and we did not leave feeling hungry.  The appetizer portions, as mentioned, were quite substantial.  In fact, this was more satisfying than the sea of "small plates" restaurants where one can spend a lot more and depart feeling like you now need to go somewhere else for dinner after dropping a hundred dollars on a few drinks and tastes.

Of course, there are other menu options to choose from as listed in the photo above.  A glass of wine will add about an additional ten to eleven bucks per person.  We went with a dry Finger Lakes region Riesling that was perfect.  So, Monday nights are it if your looking for a quality night out in Boston at a very reasonable price.

Coda Bar And Kitchen
329 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA  02116
Telephone:  617.536.CODA

@CodaBarBoston
@TheBostonFoodie

We were invited to dinner as guests with no promise of any editorial coverage or consideration.
 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Making Pasta At Eataly


We were recently invited to spend a frigid afternoon at Eataly in Boston for what turned out to be a fabulous experience called Cook Better, Eat Better:  Fresh Northern Italian Pasta. Yes, we were off to cooking class at this massive Italian food emporium!  



I was greeted at the entrance to the cooking school with a glass of prosecco (Flor Prosecco NV to be precise, from the Veneto) and met my table mates Susan and Karen.  Together we'd be learning about the northern Italian region, it's cooking style and wines and enjoying an afternoon of deliciousness and fun.



Along with the prosecco we were served this Crostini con Salsa Verde to whet our appetites and get us in the mood for food.



Our class was taught by Chefs Sam De Los Santos and Donna MacDonald-Rizzo, both very experienced.  This would be an immersive hands-on class, beginning with each of us having our own bowl to mix and make our own pasta.  I had never done this, believe it or not, and the kneading was quite the workout but also a great thing to learn in the hands of experts.



Things were kept moving right along.  Next we had to fill and cut our own pasta.  We made Ravioletto and Agnolotti.





Chefs provided all of the tips and tricks we needed and assisted us with careful eyes with suggestions.



Once complete, our Ravioletto were packaged up so that we could bring them home to share and the Agnolotti were cooked up. Then, we washed up and sat down to enjoy freshly-prepared plates.



The pasta was delicious, helped along with a heavy dusting of shaved truffles.  Additional wines were served from the Piedmont (Oddero Collaretto 2013 and Borgogno Barbera 2014) and Lombardy (Rosso di Valtellina 2013) regions.  It was great to learn about the wines and traditions from people who had actually lived and worked in the area.



A Chef-prepared version of the Ravioletta was then served in an incredibly flavorful, rich stock that had been cooking for over six hours.



And there was not an empty bowl or plate in sight!

We were also provided with a full packet of information on the wines and sheets with the ingredients and recipes to make everything at home.  Every student also receives a 10% discount on any shopping at Eataly that day, which came in very handy.

At about $100 per person the value of the class was well worth it considering all that you get and especially the expert techniques one will use in the home kitchen forever and the discount on all the exclusive, high-quality ingredients they carry.  The cost of the truffles and wine alone made it worth it!  First class all the way.

One word of advice would be plan ahead.  I had been looking for a class since November and this was the first one that had an opening.  They fill up very quickly, especially on the weekend dates.  If this one seems a bit pricey there are many others to choose from in lower price ranges but I'd recommend this as a splurge.  Many of the students received the class as a gift from a partner or family member.  If you have any interest in quality Italian cooking it is a delicious, informative and very fun way to spend the day.

Eataly
Prudential Center
800 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02199

Telephone: 617.807.7300

Media
@EatalyBoston
@TheBostonFoodie



This class was provided as a sample by Eataly with no promise of editorial coverage positive or otherwise.  All views expressed are our own.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thai Cuisine At Thames Street, Newport


It's a small, family run hole-in-the-wall type place that one could easily walk past with scant notice.  Yet, after our visit on a whim two years ago for lunch it has become a must-dine-at mission every time we visit Newport.  It's Thai Cuisine At Thames Street.


Just a casual spot but always a favorite with all of the locals we meet and chat with, we've never had to wait for a table at this go-to spot.  And we've never heard anyone say that they were disappointed. 

We began with soups, a bargain at $4.25 each.  The Chicken Coconut Soup is creamy yet not heavy and laced with a hint of ginger and lime.


My Won Ton Soup was exactly what one would expect from a classic rendition:  good, clear broth, chewy shrimp and chicken won tons and fresh scallion.  Simple but satisfying.


We both ordered the Chicken Pad Thai.  It is not just one of the best I have enjoyed but THE best.  A hot, heaping platter arrives of noodles, sprouts, chopped egg, ground peanuts, spices and loaded with chicken.  No panning for chicken gold here, as one does in some joints.  Every, single bite had a piece of chicken. 

The Pad Thai is a fave dish (with locals, as well) but we will be back to explore the rest of the menu, too, when we return for a week in June.  And if you just hate to leave the confines of your gilded age mansion and ocean view they do offer take-out.

Thai Cuisine At Thames Street
517 Thames Street
Newport, RI 02840
Telephone:  401.841.8822

Looking for social media handles?  Apparently, Thai Cuisine is so refreshingly old-school that they can't be bothered.  It adds an air of mystery.  We say congratulations to that!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Newport Off Season


The annual week in Newport, Rhode Island just before the official summer season commences when all the stores and restaurants are open, the weather is spectacular and the tourist crowds are thin is something we look forward to each year.  Yet, the off-season, with cooler weather and even less throngs on the sidewalks makes for a quite comfy weekend escape.

 
A stop at Fort Adams to see whatever is going on is always worth it.  This day we found the new replica of the Oliver Hazard Perry at dock in the icy winds.  She is a beauty and must really fly across the water at full sail on a windy day.  I am sure this will be worth a revisit on our return in June.
 

 
It was totally by coincidence that we made our arrangements during school vacation week.  It was Winter Festival in Newport with all kinds of extra-added things to do and see.  Colony House on Washington Square was holding a great event for foodies called Colonial Food For Thought.  It was our very first stop upon arrival.  We learned all about the tea trade and types of tea sipped by colonials.  It was interesting to discover that the fine people of Newport often enjoyed tax-free tea which made it's way here via the black market.  It paid to be a smaller port while Boston was heavily watched and regulated by the tax collectors. 
 
We also learned a lot about the origins of chocolate which began as a quite spicy, dark, bitter drink, Aztec in origin and brought to the world by Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes.  It would be decades before milk and sugar were added to resemble anything near what we have as a hot cocoa now.  



We wandered, along Thames Street and in the smaller shops off the beaten path.  Like the colonists we sought spices and other new ingredients, food and drink, the scent of the sea in the air.

 
As it also turned out, nature smiled upon us with unseasonably warm weather for February.  As the mercury soared to near seventy degrees we saw a full parking lot at the beach and decided to pull in.  Hundreds were strolling along the long shoreline.
 


And, yes, even the guys at Surfer's End at Second Beach, technically in Middletown took to the water.  The waves were great this day!


It was a spectacular weekend all around and a great break from the hectic city pace that we can highly recommend.  All just a short ninety minute ride from Boston.

If you choose to go here are some sites to check out:

Discover Newport
@dscvrNewport on Twitter and Instagram
Newport Buzz (Great for what's happening now, especially nightlife events)  @NewportBuzz on Twitter and Instagram
Hotel Viking for central, elegant accomodations
@hotelviking on twitter and instagram
@TheBostonFoodie For fun, food, travel and new ideas in and around Boston and New England

Our trip was sponsored in part by Hotel Viking without any editorial consideration provided.  All opinions expressed are our own and not that of any sponsor.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Staying At Hotel Viking


We had stopped in at Hotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island, in the Autumn of last year to attend a special mixologist event hosted by Hennessy Cognac and were smitten by the old-world elegance of the place.  It really is a throwback to the Gilded Age, Newport's oldest luxury hotel AND situated right on iconic Bellevue Avenue.


So, when the opportunity came along to return for their 2017 Wine Festival, a series of more intimate dinners with the wineries who have paired the four course meal with wines we just knew we'd have to go back for at least one.  We chose the Hedges Family Estate wine dinner and were not disappointed.


The quality is always in the details.  We define a luxury experience as one where some of the niceties are provided even before one has to ask.  Fresh fruit and ice cold water upon arrival is always a great way to start when arriving in town.


The other thing we really love when traveling are the unique, even retro, features that make the experience special, like your not just in any cookie cutter designed hotel that looks the same no matter where in the world it is.

 
 
The design elements here were clearly Gilded Age, ornate but comfy, classic without being over-the-top or gaudy.
 


The common areas, including the indoor pool, were always impeccably clean, yet another extremely important factor when weighing the overall quality.



Overall, it's hard to beat Hotel Viking if you are staying in Newport.  The location makes just about everything within walking distance, the rooms are comfy, it's a great design, clean and the service is terrific.  We can't wait to go back for rooftop drinks when we return in June.

Hotel Viking
One Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI  02840
Telephone:  401.847.3300

Twitter and Instagram
@HotelViking
@TheBostonFoodie

Our stay was provided by Hotel Viking without remuneration or any promise of editorial consideration.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Buttermilk And Bourbon Opens


We had a sneak preview of Chef Jason Santos' new restaurant Buttermilk And Bourbon on Monday night which will be opening just in time for Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras.

The Hurricane cocktails (on tap, no less) were flowing as we wandered the four rooms, each with a unique feel and reminiscent of any haunt on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  We loved the funky, retro design and feel of the space.

We sampled Fried Chicken Sliders, Egg Salad On Toast and Beignets worthy of Café du Monde.  The restaurant opens to the public next week and features a southern cuisine with a heavy New Orleans influence.  King Cakes will be ready!

Buttermilk And Bourbon
160 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA  02116
Telephone:  617.266.1122

In Media Res:

Twitter
@milkbourbon
@ChefJasonSantos
@TheBostonFoodie

Instagram
@buttermilkbourbon
@TheBostonFoodie

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hotel Viking Wine Festival 2017


We spent part of our weekend in Newport, Rhode Island as the guests of Hotel Viking for their Wine Festival 2017.  We opted out of the larger wine events taking place this season for this very relaxing and elegant few days out of town and were not disappointed.  There were lots of fun and interesting events going on around Newport as part of their Winter Festival. More on that later.

The sumptuous four course dinner was expertly paired with the wines of Hedges Family Estate wines and hosted by the Hotel Viking and winemaker Christophe Hedges.  The wine dinner series continues through March.


Our first course was this very nice Roasted Beet And Wine Gelee With Peppercorn Chevre Cream.  We love a good beet salad and the wine gelee was a new twist with excellent results. The dish was matched with a 2012 Red Mountain Blend.  The winery is located in the state of Washington and produces red wines.  Great pairing.


We were lucky enough to have Christophe himself seated at our table which gave us the exclusive opportunity to talk more in-depth about organic and biodynamic wines.  Hedges produces only biodynamic wines, the latest wave in wine production.  The beautiful setting and lively table mates made for some great conversation in a more intimate setting, more like a dinner party with the firsthand knowledge of the winemaker.  Does anyone miss dinner parties as much as we do?


Next up was this Cumin Crusted Australian Lamb Chop With Vanilla Bean Mashed Potatoes, Cassis Carrots And Cabernet Reduction.  Australian lamb is a great product we have enjoyed many times before but the slight hint of vanilla in the mashed potatoes was a new one on us. It worked.  

This course was served with both a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 La Haut Cuvee, a very special wine.  Both were terrific wines.


Dry Aged Filet Of Beef, Cherry Demi-Glace, Chocolate Dipped Champignon, Grilled Soft Cheddar Cheese And Baby Endive.  Our favorite taste, this had many layers of flavor.  The cheese was a Sage Derby (that green stick you see) one of our favorite mild, primarily English, cheddar cheeses.  

The wine selection here was a 1999 Red Mountain Reserve, again a great pairing.


Dessert was this Lavazza Creme Brulee With Chocolate Expresso Bean And Felchin Madeline, adding that final, indulgent zing of rich flavors.  The wine served here was a 2009 Red Mountain Fortified, a much stronger wine that stood up well to the bolder food profiles. Just fantastic.

A great experience with expert service in a beautiful, comfortable setting worthy of the Gilded Age and a great option for a special weekend getaway!  We guarantee you will not be disappointed.

This experience was provided by Hotel Viking without remuneration or any editorial consideration.

Friday, February 3, 2017

City Tap House In Ft. Point


We loved the appetizers at the VIP party at City Tap House so much that we decided to head back recently for dinner.  Located in the booming Ft. Point area (a bit set back from the Seaport District and, thus, easier to find an actual parking space), the place was packed on a Sunday night.


We started off with a signature dish, Pimento Cheese with Bacon Jam and Pickled Cucumber.  As fans of pimento cheese, we had to sample this.  Popular down South, you don't often see it on menus here but we're hoping it soon becomes a thing.


Next up was Oysters Kennedy:  Baked Wellfleet Oysters, Spinach, Prosciutto and Parmesan Cream.  Briny and delicious and a great match for any one of the many craft beers available.


The Maplebrook Farms Burrata with Mashed English Peas, Prosciutto and Lemon Oil.  The creamy, fresh mound of burrata was offset quite nicely by the citrusy, more flavorful version of mushy peas and looked beautiful on the plate.


We washed part of the dinner down with this brand new Hoppy Table Beer from Allagash.  City Tap was the very first to get this in the Boston area so we just had to try it.  It's a surprisingly mildly hoppy aroma in the Belgian tradition with a slightly fruity, clean taste that held up well with the salty, stronger-flavored plates.


My Shrimp And Grits was served with a requested side of Charred Brussels Sprouts with White Miso and Truffle Salt.  Both salty and rich, the sprouts were a delight and the shrimp/grits combination, again a nod to Southern cuisine, is something we'd highly recommend.



The Maple-Brined Pork Chop featured candied pecans and a maple bourbon vinaigrette.  Are we seeing the theme here, yet?  The slab of pork was perfectly done, juicy and chewy at the same time. 


Then there were the Ricotta Beignets.  What looked like a heavy finish to our feast was actually quite airy and light with beautiful textures and flavor.  Don't miss these.


City Tap House runs a supper special every night save Sundays and also serves up a number of flat bread, wood fired pizzas that looked and smelled so good it's a reason for us to head back.

It wasn't that long ago that this neck of the woods was a vast sea of parking lots and abandoned warehouses.  Now, Ft. Point is a hotspot but not as overblown and overdeveloped as the Seaport District.  It was even relatively easy to find a parking space, a near impossible feat just a few blocks away that used to be an attractive incentive to visit the area.  No longer.  Stick with Ft. Point.  It has so much to offer.

The crowd here was an eclectic one with families that lingered over dinner and a spillover of young Southie couples and groups of friends hanging out in the no-rush-at-all coziness.  Once the warmer weather prevails we are told that outdoor seating will provide more room although the place never felt either crowded or too loud.  So, head on over for a relaxing few hours of Southern inspired fare with a New England twist and check out a few new craft beers while you're at it.

City Tap House
10 Boston Wharf Road (just off Congress)
Boston, MA  02210
Telephone:  617.904.2748

Social Medias:
@TheBostonFoodie
@CityTapBoston
@allagashbrewing