Monday, February 17, 2014
Looking for something fun to do during school vacation week, or maybe with your significant other, even a first date? Surprise them with a trip to the most famous restaurant in the world: elBulli. Of course, the famed Spanish gastronomic destination has been closed for a few years now but a new exhibit at the Museum of Science is the next best thing. I have said before that I consider Ferran Adria to be the Pablo Picasso of food. You may call it molecular gastronomy, modernist cuisine, avant garde cooking or the techno emotional school but it all comes down to the same thing: an entirely new approach to the way we dine. Through techniques never before attempted, Adria forged the way for new textures and flavors to be experienced in playful, impressive and thoroughly unique ways. Foods that you know and love are transformed into gel capsules, foams, powders, snows and liquids. It's magic. It's not just for adults, either. Loads of kids during our visit had fun with spherification! Innovation In The Art Of Food is now open.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
We recently spent the weekend at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut reveling in their annual Sun Winefest, meeting Chefs, enjoying the food and, of course, sipping all that wine. The trends in wine for this year continue to be a wider interest in wine by a younger demographic as millenials reach out and the popularity with sweeter wines. We were awash in muscato, prosecco, rieslings and dessert wines. The Finger Lakes region also continues to impress us. Here I am with Boston Concierge extraordinaire Alaina Posluszny enjoying a sip for the photogs.
We were guests at a truly impressive dinner at Ballo Restaurant on Friday evening which included this Ricotta Gnocchi with Squash, Brussels Sprouts and Guanciale. Rich in flavors and textures, the dish was paired with a Antinori Bramito Chardonnay 2010. The food, drink and atmosphere in this upscale Italian venue at Mohegan make for a very special night
Monica Mawhinney of Arrigoni Winery in CT snapped us with her winepod cam as we sampled their wines.
The Sun Winefest is a compeltely unstuffy, fun wine event for people who just want to learn a little more about wine.
Sassy Bitch wines was not only giving taste samples but also handing out their lipstick, guaranteed not to come off on your wine glass.
We caught the news on WFSB upon arrival and saw Mark Dixon. Dixon surprised us by walking out on the main cooking demo stage the next day to host the event.
Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine recruited audience members to help with his cooking demo but didn't stop there. The large audience he attracted also taped a Happy Birthday message for the Queen Latifah Show and he ended with getting everyone up on their feet to dance and saluting participants who had served in the U. S. military. Very entertaining and fun.
I chatted on stage with Chef William Kovel of Catalyst in Cambridge who had the tough assignment of following the barnstorming Irvine. Kovel prepared a delicious scallop dish.
Chris sat next to us in the front row of the demo stage. We practically pushed him up on stage when Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia asked for volunteers to assist. He did a great job even if we lied about it being his birthday!
We also enjoyed a lunch at Jasper White's Summer Shack which, frankly, was underwhelming. The food (pictured clam roll) was okay but the service staff needs, perhaps, a bit more training.
All in all this was a great way to get out of town in comfort and luxury and enjoy doing something new with loads of people who have similar interests: wine. The event went very smoothly, the crowd was handled well and the people were a lot of fun. Don't miss the next one!
Friday, January 31, 2014
And the winner of our giveaway is ...
Congratulations to one of our latest twitter followers who was very persistent in her her tweets to win. We're glad it paid off and you will be enjoying a day filled with wonderful wine and food with a guest. Please email us your email address by the end of the day so that we can forward it to the Wine Expo for your will call tickets. Proper ID must be shown. Thank you to all who participated and please check in often for more great giveaways!
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
We kicked off the Sun Winefest at Mohegan Sun this past weekend with a fantastic dinner at Ballo, one of the more upscale dining venues that features classic Italian cuisine.
We settled into the lounge area with a glass of Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Superiore, an excellent sip. The architecture and design made us feel more like we were nestled into the corner at some European Cathedral with soaring archways and comfortable leather couches rather than a restaurant.
We realized that it was going to be a night of lively conversation and great company as we joined other Boston area writers and media with our first taste. Prosciutto di Parma, Sopressata, Provolone, Parmigiano, Boschetto Ricotta Stuffed Peppadews, Roasted Tomato and Fig Jam. The rustic chunks of meat, cheeses and vegetables were the perfect start to whet our appetities.
Along with freshly-baked bread, olive oil and butter came this plate of Yellow and Candy Striped Beets with fresh Mozzarella and Pistachio Vinaigrette. Paired with a Brandini Arneis 2010, the fresh, flavorful mix was an ample and satisfying Insalate course.
We munched on Flatbreads, again covered with fresh cheeses and vegetables, all layered on a perfect crust.
Our Pasta was this Ricotta Gnocchi with Squash, Brussels Sprouts and Guanciale paired with an excellent Antinori Bramito Chardonnay 2010. It was a great mix of textures and flavors, creamy, soft gnocchi with the salty, crunchy bits and sweet, seasonal vegetables.
Our Secondi was the Morrietti La Rossa Marinated Skirt Steak with Fregola and Shallots paired with a Barbi Riserva Brunello di Montalcino 2006. The meat was succulent and rich in flavor.
Our Dolce was a great finale to the feast with Tiramisu, Affogato and Expresso Cannoli. Everything was just as it should be. The tiramisu was dense, soft, rich and sweet and the cannoli a perfectly crispy, crunchy tube that must have been filled only seconds before.
The ambiance and attention to detail in every morsel makes Ballo a very special visit and worthy of the splurge when staying at Mohegan, certainly on par with any of the best Italian fare one can find when dining in Boston.
Ballo Italian Restaurant and Social Club
1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard
Uncasville, CT 06382
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
We stopped in a Hotel Chocolat recently to help kick off the opening of their new Chocolate Bar, the first in the country, and celebrate, well, all things chocolate. We sipped Prosecco and tasted confections like Pink Champagne Truffles, Dizzy Pralines, Caramel Cheesecakes and the Eton Mess (pictured above), made with Strawberry Mousse and Crisp Meringue all over a less sweeter White Chocolate. As gorgeous a taste as it looks.
CEO Angus Thirlwell flew in from London, where the first chocolate bar opened last Spring, for the event. The idea is take chocolate along the same route as wine with a focus on the ingredients, growing, harvesting and refining for a better appreciation of the taste. We tasted cocoa nibs and sipped a delicious tea made with cocoa shells, realizing we have much more to learn. Did you know that, for instance, white chocolate IS made with chocolate? Stop by, spend a little time and learn more. When you do, we suggest you try the H-Box Dark Selection.
137 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
Monday, January 27, 2014
It's another great giveaway! You love wine, celebrity Chefs and meeting new people, right? Then there is no reason why you should not enter our contest for free tickets for two to the 2014 Boston Wine Expo. You and your guest will taste wines from all over the world, rub elbows and chat with vintners and wine experts and sit in on celebrity Chef cooking demos, all for free! Some of these Chefs include: Chris Coombs, Ming Tsai, Barbara Lynch, Jody Adams and Mary Ann Esposito (host of the longest-running cooking show in the USA, Ciao Italia). For more information on the exhibitors and many interesting seminars please visit Boston Wine Expo 2014.
The value of these tickets is $85.00 per person and will gain you entry for the Sunday February 16, 2014 Grand Tasting. You must be 21 plus to attend the event, America's largest consumer wine expo.
To enter the contest simply leave a comment, email us or tweet the following message: "I want to attend the 2014 @BostonWineExpo with @TheBostonFoodie." The tweet must be exact wording. You may enter once per day. The contest is open through midnight Thursday January 30 and the winner announced on Friday January 31, 2014. Good luck! We look forward to seeing the lucky winner there.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
In what may soon become known as Boston's Restaurant Row, we recently visited Row 34 on Congress Street in the Fort Point area. This is the latest addition to the once desolate area of endless warehouses and parking lots with even more dining spots soon to follow. It was 6:15 pm on a Tuesday night in the pouring rain. The place was virtually packed with patrons of all ilk eager to try the extensive craft beer offerings and taste the sustainable seafood dishes offered by the same team that brought you the eponymous Kenmore Square stalwart Island Creek Oyster Bar. Skip Bennett, partner in the the new eatery as well as Duxbury's Island Creek Oyster Farm, explains that the name is taken from the oysters cultivated on the racks that begin, you guessed it, on row 34.
Central to the restaurant is a strong focus on craft beer cuisine and pairings. How refreshing it was, as a lover of fine brews, to see so many people thoroughly enjoying the beer pairings. We began with sips of Jaipur IPA, an excellent start.
Soaring ceilings and upscale, industrial design set the tone for a casual atmosphere but does not detract from the seriousness of the food or the excellent service.
Island Creek Oysters and Row 34s were served up aplenty with plenty of condiments to accompany the salty, briny tastes.
This Shrimp Slider was both buttery and flavorful, part of our first course and one of my favorite tastes of the night. An Ungespundet (Lager, Mahr's, GER) was the pairing here. Beer Director Megan Parker-Gray explains that her tastes run toward the lambic but I have to say that each brew served was well-chosen and most new to me.
The Tuna Crudo Joined a Black Bass Ceviche (not shown) to whet our appetites for the following courses. Seafood lovers will find much to enjoy in the plates created by Executive Chef Jeremy Sewall.
A new take on the charcuterie plate, this Smoked and Cured Board was a delightful surprise of ocean flavors. The Bluefish Pate was popular at our end of the table, as was the Monkfish Liver Mousse. The pairing here was Calablaza Blanca ( Witbier, Jolly Pumpkin, MI). Available Draft (along with 25 or so others) it was a great offset to the rich tastes.
This Mini Bucatini was our third course. Spicy, salty, rich but not overpowering. We had now moved onto the wine, specifically a 2011 Le Rocher des Violettes, Touche-Mitaine, Montlouis).
Not pictured was our Pan Roasted Tilefish and a citruisy Fried Chicken Thighs with Biscuits and Gravy that was the definition of comfort and satisfaction on a cold, rainy night. Roasted Carrots were my favorite side, cooked to perfection, slightly sweet. The Brussels Sprouts seemed identical to my own home-made version, caramelized yet tender. A 2011 Damien Laureau, Le Bel Ouvrage, Savenniéres was paired here.
The final flourish came in the form of this Butterscotch Pudding, loaded with sweet goodness yet surprisingly light (I wanted more) and and Apple Hand Pie with a flaky, crispy crust and warm filling. Very, very nice.
There is no doubt that Row 34 will become a destination spot for those seeking a new alternative to upscale seafood and a dubious selection of beers from Tripel to Wheat Eisbock to Flanders Red Ale. I'll be back if just for another Smoked Board and selection of sips.
383 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
It was once OM, where celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Ann Hathaway partied after receiving their Hasty Pudding Awards. Now it has become the upscale fast food spot known as Shake Shack with a line that seems never ending and where hipsters, tourists and Harvard types rub elbows while enjoying a burger and shake.
The impressive line in the kitchen seems to ensure that the experience goes off in a timely manner and without a hitch. We are told, after perusing the long line, that it's a bout a 4 minute wait to order and 5 more to get the food. We were skeptical but the times were quite accurate. All of the burgers are cooked medium unless otherwise specified and consistency is the key.
The upstairs dining area is packed and you may have to wait just a few moments to snag a seat depending on the size of your party. The room overlooks Winthrop Park in Harvard Square with floor to ceiling windows.
We ordered the Shack Burger ($4.85) and Dogmeister ($4.00) with Fries ($2.85), a Hasty Pudding Shake ($5.00 on limited time special) and a Root Beer Float ($5.00), perfect comfort food for a brisk night. The burger is good, not outstanding but certainly not disappointing. It's a thin burger with cheese, tomato and lettuce on a fresh potato bun (not toasted). The Hasty Pudding was a thick blend of vanilla frozen custard, banana and salted caramel sauce and my favorite part of the meal. The dog (not pictured) was served with a heap of fried shallots.
The shoestring fries are passable, perhaps a bit soggy. They just didn't have the crispness I was expecting. Overall, the burger surpassed other chains like Five Guys or Tasty Burger, in my opinion. Worth a visit.
92 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Friday, January 10, 2014
We have a winner! This contest has easily been our most popular of all time and that's nearly six years, people! The winner of this deluxe prize pack from Muir Glen, including a gift card for dining at Rialto restaurant in Harvard Square is... Adam Z from Boston. Congratulations Adam! We'll be sending the shipment directly to you for some happy cooking, reading and dining. Thanks to all who participated and stay tuned for more upcoming giveaways in 2014!
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Maybe this year we'll get a better picture with Donatella. In the meantime we are totally looking forward to Mohegan Sun Winefest 2014, January 25-26. Rumor is that Saturday is already completely sold out for the Grand Tasting. That only leaves about 14-15 events you can still get tickets to. And TBF will be strong at the Bourbon Tasting Friday night. See you there.
With the help of our friends at Muir Glen and popular Chef Jody Adams of Rialto in Cambridge, we are happy to kick off 2014 with the biggest contest we have ever hosted for home chefs. It’s super easy to win this very generous package of goodies. First off, you will receive a premium apron that is really one of the best I have ever seen, very sturdy and of great quality. You will also get a large supply of different Muir Glen tomato products to use in your kitchen, some really nice kitchen utensils for cooking and a signed copy of Chef Jody’s book: IN THE HANDS OF A CHEF: COOKING WITH JODY ADAMS OF RIALTO RESTAURANT.
If that’s not enough, you will also win a $50.00 gift certificate for dining at Rialto! To win, all readers have to do is leave a comment, send us an email (headline Muir Rialto Contest) or tweet the message “I want @muirglenorganic and @Rialto02138 #Boston” to @TheBostonFoodie on Twitter. The tweet must be exact to qualify. You can enter up to once per day! The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Friday January 10, 2014. Good luck. Happy cooking and dining!
Friday, December 20, 2013
As promised, after our recent lunch at Castle Hill Inn we had the opportunity to tour the Inn and roam the property. On the way to Newport my dining companion was telling me about his newly-acquired condo at Ocean Cliffs in Newport. During the summer he would often sit outside on the patio and overhear the sounds of weddings taking place at a nearby property. As it turns out that property is Castle Hill Inn!
The formidable home was built on the western-most tip of Newport at the entrance to Narragansett Bay in 1874 by Alexander Aggasiz a marine biologist at Harvard University. Filled with antiques and art, it became the summer home of actress Grace Kelly during the filming of the movie High Society. To this day the small beach there is still called Grace Kelly Beach. There is a warm, comfortable New England feel throughout with lots of natural wood and interesting architectural details.
We were led upstairs to the Turret Suite, one of the nine rooms in the original home. It's interesting to note that when one looks at hotels online one is typically never able to book the very highest level of accommodation, such as the so-called Presidential Suites. So it is with the Turret Suite.
The two floor suite offers 400 square feet of comfy space with a king size bed and gas jet fireplace. As we entered, classical music softly cooed on the sound system, a precursor of the kind of attention to detail one can expect.
A soaking tub sits by the windows and the old-world charm of the Inn makes one feel that he has just stepped into a relaxing, lavish Ralph Lauren advertisement.
The room is spacious and well-appointed but that's not it. We were then led to the wooden spiral staircase leading up to the turret level, the very top of the Inn.
Yet another spacious room awaits with a relaxing sitting area and library with books on astronomy, a small fridge for your bubbly and a full DVD system for an inviting night of entertainment in comfort.
The room is surrounded by windows with stunning 320 degree views of the water. We watched ships sailing in as we looked out over the rolling lawn.
And if all of that is not enough there's a telescope for stargazing as well. Before nightfall it can also be used to view up to 12 lighthouses that dot the shores. Breathtaking.
Quiet, secluded and off the beaten path this is the perfect antidote for the busy, harried hectic days. In addition to the nine rooms in the main Inn there are also Beach Cottages with sweeping ocean views available. And if you can't stay overnight there's always lunch or dinner to enjoy the ambiance, beautiful views and superior service of this Relais and Chateaux property.
Castle Hill Inn
590 Ocean Drive
Newport, RI 02840
Toll-Free Telephone: 888.466.1355
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Arriving at The Breakers, the Vanderbilt Newport Summer home.
What visit to Newport, RI would be complete without a visit to the mansions so we chose as our first stop of the day the spectacular 70 room Italian Renaissance style Palazzo built by Cornelius Vanderbilt as his summer home and called The Breakers. Making your way up the grand entrance any visitor arriving before noon will see the architectural masterpiece with the sun rising over it as the entrance faces west. I am sure this was a calculated decision and offers an amazingly theatrical arrival.
Luckily, we arrived before snowfall but after the Christmas decorations were fully in place. While photographs of the interior are strictly forbidden and enforced, visitors are free to roam the grounds and take all the pics they want.
Beautiful details are found throughout and one really gets the sense that these palaces were built to impress. It begins with the very high stone walls that surround most mansions giving the immediate subliminal impression of a true castle where most people will never get inside. Entrances are typically soaring wrought iron gates reminiscent of my visit to Buckingham Palace that swing open in a dramatic fashion, giving any visitor a feeling that this is a special event.
The architectural details are stunning and found behind every twist and turn. One of the other facets that is striking are the acres of perfectly landscaped gardens and lawns that surround the property. Unlike very large modern houses I have been in the largess of the property surrounding the place is most impressive.
The team of architects, sculptors and crafstmen employed to complete the home was nothing less than that used to build an international monument. Indeed, the mansions have recently been named as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The unimaginable wealth is apparent and wears extremely well.
After touring we joined loads of other visitors from all over the world for a little photo op time in front of the mansion, looking out over the expansive lawn with gorgeous water views. We helped others in taking their memento shots. Of course, a visit to The Breakers would be great at any time of year but seeing everything all done up in elaborate Christmas decor seems even more impressive. And, it's off season. Definitely worth the ride from Boston. Newport also offers a young, fashionable crowd of people filling the many restaurants and shops and hanging out in the coffee shops, as we did. I can't believe that I waited this long to discover Newport and will certainly be back for more.