Monday, March 29, 2021

The World's Best Buttercream Egg


The buttercream egg is, for us, the quintessential Easter treat and we are confident that we have discovered the best of the best.  It's from Hilliards Chocolates.  Enrobed in a delicious coating of milk chocolate it is creamy and not cloyingly sweet.  It's also large which means you can enjoy it in several visits.  The butter cream is not runny like in other chocolate eggs but more solid.  And it melts on the tongue in such a satisfying way.  Made in small batches, by hand, this really is tops. Try it.  We guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Sugar Plum Chocolates


You know what's coming up this month, don't you?  Well, here at TBF we eat a LOT of chocolate.  Someone has to taste all these samples!  This is an interesting one that we really liked from Sugar Plum Chocolates:  Strawberry Cheesecake.  It even has little bits of crumb mixed in for a bit of crunch and a real cheesecake experience.  Get this for your significant other and, promise, it will not be forgotten.  Look for these in fine food stores or order online through the website, like we get everything these days!

Stash Tea


We are absolutely loving the samples sent here to TBF HQ from Stash Tea.  Delicious herbal teas perfect for afternoon tea on these cold (and often snowy) afternoons here in New England.  We love the Meyer Lemon and Coconut Mango varieties, so far.  Some of the decaf blends make a perfect, warming sip just before bed.  We're also looking forward to some flavorful lattes, chais and cocktails. Look for Stash in your supermarkets or order online where you can also find all the cool recipes.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Nu Burger


If you're anything like us the one thing you've been dying for during this pandemic is a great burger.  Well we recently had one at Nu Burger, a pop-up burger outpost at Anoush’ella in the South End.  It was everything and more that satisfied the hunger for a juicy, meaty experience.

I went with the Pesto Basilico with fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, roasted tomato, lettuce and crispy pancetta.  Medium rare, dripping with flavor, fresh ingredients and a toasted brioche bun it was all we had been craving for.  We've had other burgers during this pandemic but nothing nearly as good as this.

My dining companion enjoyed the Umami Truffle with pecorino, truffles, fried egg, tomato, balsamic shallot, arugula and aioli and reported equally satisfying results.  "The best I've had in years," being the exact quote.  There are a few other varieties you can find on the menu and we both vowed to go back and try them, as well.  Why go anywhere else when you've had the best?

It's really quite difficult during these trying times to report on the vibe of a place or even an area with most places that were once thriving now literal ghost towns, shocking us with an eerie emptiness but we saw more people out and about in the South End than in other locations, all properly masked and practicing covid-19 etiquette.  And the steady stream of takeout orders was impressive.  Then again, good food will always be in demand.

35 West Newton Street
Boston MA 02118
Telephone:  857.265.3195


Saturday, December 26, 2020

A Very Unconventional Christmas


It was a very unconventional Christmas 2020, to say the least.  Bound by the constraints of the pandemic protocol there were no family gatherings with exchanging little gifts and most of all no big family feast with lots of desserts and laughter that lasted for hours.  What can one do except roll along with the punches that are 2020?  

Since there was no need to cook and do my traditional weekend of baking the annual treats for everyone with, typically, all those trips to a crowded grocery store where let's just say not everyone is properly masked or keeping a safe distance I did something different.  I picked up dinner at the local Chinese food place.

I braved the pouring rain.  It was an unnatural sixty degrees out with howling winds, not exactly a New England Currier And Ives scene.    Yet, despite everything it was relaxing, I have to admit.  

And it was a time to look through the front door windows dripping with humidity (it was warmer than Florida) and onto 2021, when we are all hoping for much better things, much better times and a renewed realization that we should be grateful and never take for granted all the little things in life.  I am really looking forward to smelling those Springtime flowers!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Kitshy Halloween Dinner

Here's a fun Halloween treat that kids of all ages will love.  Surprise them with Stuffed Pepper Jack O' Lanterns.  Easy to assemble and make and a nice surprise.  Maybe they'll even eat a vegetable!

Draw out the face of your design on the pepper then carefully cut out with a sharp knife.

Get a can of good old school Beefaroni.

Drain a bit of the sauce out.  Otherwise it's going to leak out all over the place.  Then mix it with some shredded mozzarella.

Stuff the peppers and bake at 350 for 30 mins.  Let cool a bit and serve to your ghouls.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Contests, Contests, Contests


One of the things we've recently heard from lots of different friends is that since this whole pandemic began they've entered a lot of online contests.  And some of them are winning!

I have to say that we at TBF are in the same camp.  We enter pretty much any contest that doesn't require one to jump through too many hoops because who needs them.  We've won some small swag items, a few gift cards to restaurants and stores and even a cash prize.

Have you been entering contests?  Have you won anything?  Let us know and we'll share the results here and through our other social media outlets.  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Athletic Brewing Oktoberfest


Well, since we have not been attending all those incredible social events and openings this Autumn we've been focusing on new products and cooking at home quite a bit.  As a result we've been tasting a whole slew of products some of them with a Fall theme although we truly abhor all things with event a remote sniff of pumpkin spice.  Don't even bother.

We did, however, manage to sample Oktoberfest from Athletic Brewing, a "non-alcoholic Festbier."  As an experiment, we tried an ice cold can in between sips of another brand of alcoholic beer just to see if it could stand up.  And you know what?  It did, complete with the slight pumpkin flavor and all.  In fact we loved it.  It wasn't dull, flat or overly sweetened or flavored at all.  So, it gets the rare TBF thumbs up.  As we've said before, a full eighty per cent of the product samples we get are trashed after the first sip or bite.  Yes, they are that bad.

So, look for Athletic Brewing Oktoberfest at your local liquor warehouse as we walk beside you to look for other products by them to sample.  You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Foodie Films: A Chef's Voyage

Everyone who has read this blog at least a few times over the 13 years that I've been writing it knows that I am a big fan of film.  I've been to hundreds of premieres and previews and thoroughly enjoy films where food is a central character, documentaries or not.  I've seen them all.  Of course, I'm also a student of all things food and food-related as well as travel, art, culture and history.  I've sat through hours of lectures at Harvard University on Science And Cooking at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences where I met such luminaries as Ferran Adria and Harold McGee as we explored the molecular chemistry of sugar and eggs.

So, when I was invited to media preview A CHEF'S VOYAGE I was, of course, game.  It's the story of Chef David Kinch of Manresa, the Michelin 3 star restaurant in Silicon Valley.  I had never heard of Mr. Kinch nor his restaurant.  It's the story of his trip to France, along with his entire staff.  They will visit 3 other restaurants, among them the legendary haute cuisine palais of Taillevent.  They will share their menus with these establishments and their staffs, observe and learn from them and enjoy together their mutual love for the very highest levels of cuisine and service attainable.  As is stated in the film - it is not just about the food but the entire experience of dining.  The quest to improve never ends.

Knowing all that let me just come right to the point:  the film is stunning.  Not only beautiful to look at as your eyes drink in the breathtaking scenery but also as your mouth waters seeing food as carefully and beautifully set as the crown jewels.  And it is more than that.  So much more.  There are so many levels going on that it's almost Shakespearean as these rock stars and maestros all come together to create these magical, impressive meals.  The lessons of dedication, joy, teamwork, obsession, beauty, wisdom, youth and experience are played out on a stage so authentically French that it's like being there.  It's also not always a pretty picture.  The exhaustion, burnout and oftentimes loneliness of the lifestyle is also subtly but earnestly introduced.

I loved this film.  It's by far the best documentary about the restaurant and hospitality business that I have yet seen.  The other thing I liked was that it completely took me away from all these pandemic concerns we are having for 90 minutes of pure bliss, meeting new people, seeing new things, salivating over those dishes and going places that I had no idea could be so staggeringly extraordinary.  The film opens virtually on September 18 and you can stream it by going here.  I absolutely guarantee you will enjoy it and it will be the best $10 you have spent in the past 6 months.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Walkabout Boston

Strolling about the city on these brisk cool days and evenings is such a joy even if masked and the crowds are thin.  The "new normal" of social distancing, masks and virtual everything is going to be here for a while, I'm afraid.

Yet I'm encouraging everyone to get out there and do it.  There are so many little corners of the city to discover like this little section in and around Province Street near Old City Hall where we recently dined al fresco.  

It was really like a little bit of Europe right here.  Just make sure that if you do plan to dine out that you try to make reservations unless you're planning to dine early.

 There may not be many tourists wandering about town these days so why not be a tourist yourself, look at things from a new angle or stroll through somewhere you haven't been in years.  The city if well-worth rediscovering and now is the time to do it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Dining At Mast

Paccheri Alla Genovese at MAST' Boston

We recently enjoyed an al fresco dinner at a beautiful hidden gem in Boston, MAST' restaurant.  We've dined here before but this time sat outside on the patio in this glorious weather.  The place is tucked into a little corner of the city where, if I were to drop you there right now, you would swear that I had transported you to some unknown European haunt that I was keeping a secret.  It could be Italy, Belgium, maybe France but one would never guess Boston.

We actually started with the antipasto plate Cartoccio Napoletano. Included was Arancini, Fried Polenta, Potato Coquette and Zeppole.  Everything was great but my favorite was the Arancini, the rice balls typically filled with meat, a bit of cheese and peas.  This was as perfectly done as I've ever had it.

Next up was the Paccheri Alla Genovese, short ribs slowly braised in chianti wine and onion served with the wide ribbons of fresh paccheri pasta and marinara dusted with a finely grated cheese.  Even my dining companion, not a fan of pork, had to agree that this was heavenly.  

Of course, what many come here for is a refreshing glass of sangria and their famous Neapolitan Pizza.  The Chef and owner is, after all, from Naples.  So, you can rely upon that famous chewy and  crispy crust with the highest level of beautifully sourced ingredients.  Just like Italy. I love when not only is the food on par with that served to us on trips to Italy but the atmosphere, ambiance and service actually make you feel as though you are there.  We tried both the white and red sangria.  You can't go wrong either way.

 This has been a horrible time for restaurants as well as those of us who truly enjoy dining out.  It many cases, even at our favorite places, the experience has just not been the same.  Yet here it was even better.  It may have been the gorgeous weather or the continental level of service, the delight and surprise of the extraordinary food or the surroundings.  In any case, and it often is elusive as to what exactly makes an evening dining out perfect, we can easily promise that you would love it just as much.

45 Province Street
Boston, MA  
Telephone:  617.936.3800


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Flax 4 Life


Flax.  I would never just eat a bowl of it despite my nature to eat healthy and well.  Believe me, I've tried.  It's a great source of fiber and nutritional value, though, so when the people at Flax 4 Life offered to send along some samples I was game, sweeping any skepticism aside.  

I loved the products especially the muffins and brownies which come in a variety of flavors.  So, yes, now I can have my flax and enjoy it, too.  A big TBF two thumbs up, a rare rating to bestow.  The products are also gluten-free.  Look for them in your supermarket or online.  They're terrific.  

#flax  #flax4life  



Friday, August 21, 2020

Dining Alfresco At Real Italian Gusto


This strangest of summers is waning and all we wanted was one night of normalcy, the way things used to be, a simple dinner out in a nice place.  We got it.

We snagged a balcony table, only one of two, at Real Italian Gusto, a small, off-the-beaten-path spot just around the corner from us in Medford.  We sipped an icy rosé whilst relaxing and enjoying the view on a warm, breezy night at sunset.

I began with the Arancini, served elegantly and simply with a tiny pool of delicate red sauce, sweet and savory and just that leaf of fresh basil likely grown on the same spot.  Delicious.  

I have always said that what gives rise to a memorable meal is not just the food but also the conversation, the view, the service, the plates and table, the entire experience.  Tonight I was joined by a great neighbor.  For years we have promised to celebrate our mutual summer birthdays.

Artichokes Wrapped In Prosciutto.  I don't know about you but I just always have the time to prepare a dish like this at home, making it all the more special.  Chewy and salty and textured and unforgettable.

We both chose the same main, this Pappardelle Bolognese.  Fresh ribbons of house-made pasta with a sauce rich in bubbles of beef.  Again, fantastic.  I scoffed down the generous bowl like a starving maniac for once not even staining my white shirt.  This is living.

Tiramisu.  The goal is not to serve it soggy and this was was perfect.  One could taste the coffee soaking the bottom layer.  I felt like I was back in Venice, tucking in with the view of the gondolas and the hushed Italian chatter and laughter all around me, backdrop to a memory. 

And then my Pistachio Gelato With Chocolate Swirl.  Covered with a layer of caramelized, real pistachio nuts, roasted, not some cheap substitute.  It was served in a tall glass with the proper ice cream spoon so I could dig out every drop like I was a child again.  

In this frenzy of unknown dining out, things falling apart daily, an uncertain future measured against a reliable past I have to say that this will be among the best dining nights and a very, very hopeful memory that I will savor for years to come.

Real Italian Gusto

24 High Street 

Medford, Ma 02155 


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Broma Organic

I liked the name Broma right away.  I mean, I sort of like anything that has the word "bro" in it.  Call me stupid.  Anyway, this spread we were sent to try was one of the best products we've been sent recently.  It's great on toast, English Muffins or a fresh croissant for breakfast but also went well smeared on a cracker with iced tea on a sultry afternoon.  It's also vegan and gluten-free.  And all of the bros in the office loved it.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Bug Out Bars

Product samples.  The number one product sample that we consistently receive here at TBF International Headquarters are protein bars.  It seems like everyone thinks that they have created the ultimate bar.  Yet, it's not the easiest thing to do.

The problem seems to be the balance between flavor, texture and the amount of protein one can pack into a small space.  I, for one, typically eat a high protein/low carb diet as I am always on the go and I keep long hours.  I need the energy but don't want to compromise on the flavor.  That's typically the challenge with these things.

Enter the Bug Out Bar.  Strange name, eh?  Or maybe not so.  Go with your first guess and you will be correct.  Yes, it contains bugs and in this particular case the bug is crickets which are very high in protein and, God knows, sustainable.  

It's not like we have never tasted a snack bar with crickets before.  We have.  They never really quite seemed to be a fit for us.  This one is high in protein, yes, but we just could not get used to the texture or flavor.  This doesn't mean that it won't be a fit for everyone.  Lots of people in training or those with a heavy workout schedule who need massive amounts of protein may likely find it very convenient.  For them, check out the link and the pricing.