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

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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

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cooking Together At Boston Public Market

There is nothing that brings people of different backgrounds and opinions together more than cooking.  These days we are always looking for more ways to downplay our differences and emphasize our similarities.  So, when we spotted this cooking class hosted by Just Add Cooking and Taza Chocolate at Boston Public Market recently we just had to go.  We'd written about this cooking service and the chocolates of Taza before (loved them both) and the market is conveniently located literally right on top of the Haymarket Orange Line stop just steps from both North Station and Faneuil Hall. Furthermore, the class was free and open to the public with advanced signup.  What did we have to lose?

Although we didn't have time to stay for the whole class we truly enjoyed what we saw, had a great time socializing (there WAS wine) and welcomed the respite from politics.  All of the ingredients were provided.  The group learned some cooking techniques and how easy it really is to pull together a weeknight meal when all of the super fresh ingredients are delivered right to your door.  

The menu was Irish Smoked Haddock Chowder, a great choice for a New England winter night.  And it was easy to make.  In fact, we found all of the recipes from Just Add Cooking both easy to make and delicious.

We highly encourage everyone to check out the events calendar at Boston Public Market, which features a slew of terrific locally sourced foods, then get out there and meet some new people while enjoying the one thing we can ALL agree on:  good food is good living.  And to sweeten the pie even more Just Add Cooking has generously offered all TBF readers $30.00 off their first order.  Simply use the promo code "BLOG30" when checking out.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hotel Viking Wine Series

Each winter we attend more than one wine festival event and while lucky enough to get in before they open to the public it still at some point becomes like the running of the bulls.  Once those doors swing open it just gets too crowded to spend any quality time with the people from the actual wineries.  This year we are scrapping those plans for something much more elegant and quiet.

The moment we walked through the doors at Hotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island last fall we instantly felt at ease.  Originally built in 1926 so that travelers visiting Newport for society events would have a place to stay that reminded them of the gilded age homes of their own, the structure was erected at One Bellevue Avenue so as to be close to the mansions where they would attend the most glittering parties of the season.  Since then the hotel has undergone many multimillion dollar renovations and additions and has long been considered the grand dame of Newport lodgings.

This is the second year that they will be offering a series of more intimate wine dinners which will last through March.  We will be attending the February 18th dinner with Christophe Hedges of the Hedges Family Estate in Red Mountain, Washington.  At what promises to be a much more relaxing, luxurious pace we'll discover everything there is to know about the wines while enjoying what I am sure will be a sumptuous feast with elegant company.  It promises to be, at the very least, a great weekend getaway.

We hope that you'll look over the dates and reward yourself with one of the dinners.  If you decide on the 18th then we will certainly see you there enjoying the food and wine in beautiful (even in the off season) Newport.  There will be lots of new friends to meet and photos to take!  You will certainly not be disappointed with Hotel Viking.  See you there.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Foodie Reads

It's winter, cold and snowy, and who on these nights doesn't like to curl up with a good book and a blanket or fireplace?  It's the New England thing to do.

Of course, we love to read stories about food.  In this case it's about the American dream of opening a restaurant of one's very own.  The twist here, however, is that the restaurant is to be located in ... Paris! 

I really enjoyed this memoir of Craig Carlson and all the foibles and challenges involved with the opening of one's first eatery.  Where to find a location?  Staff?  Customers?  Would a classic American style diner even be welcome in what many consider to be the gastronomic capital of the world?  Well, we won't ruin it for you but it goes without saying that it was an interesting ride filled with all sorts of memorable personalities. 

If you are looking for something to read and have ever worked in the food industry or thought about what it's like opening a restaurant, you'll enjoy PANCAKES IN PARIS.  Happy reading!!

Our copy of this book was provided by the publisher without remuneration or any consideration for editorial coverage.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holidays With Magnum Moo

At first we thought that maybe a Milkman (from the 1950s) had made a delivery to our front door.  Then we realized that although the steel canister had a beautiful retro design it was, indeed, something far more special than just milk.

It was, in fact, cream sourced from Holsteins in Holland, where the cows roam free.  Oh, and then Scotch malt whiskey was added along with some chocolate, caramel and toffee flavorings to produce a delightful product we thoroughly enjoyed sipping over the holidays.  This would also not be a bad way to start off those adult milkshakes!

Happy Holidays, all.  Here's hoping that 2017 will be a year filled with happiness, laughter and success.

Product provided by Magnum Cream with no remuneration or editorial consideration promised.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Phillips Candy House

This is an apple.  It is an apple that has been smothered in caramel.  And then, dunked in a vat of milk chocolate.  All by hand.  The two coatings seal the apple so that it remains fresh until the shell is broken.  The result is dripping with flavor.

I made these for gifts one year (a HUGE hit) and I will just say that it seems simple but is rather time-consuming.  Plus, hot caramel is basically molten lava and burns one badly.

This one is from Phillips Candy House and it is every good as my homemade version because it basically is homemade.  So, this year that's my option!

This sample was provided without remuneration or any editorial consideration.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brunch At Joe's Newbury Street

It's the holidays.  More than likely you'll be having at least one brunch out with friends or family.  We always get asked for good brunch locations so when Joe's on Newbury Street invited us to a recent get-together we couldn't say no.

First, the place is on Boston's most fashionable street, Newbury Street, and second, it's a stone's throw from Copley and Prudential Center, the two others. 

It's a nice crowd that runs the gamut from frat boys to families with plenty of room for everyone.

We began with Bellinis and appetizers like the Pork Sliders, Tuna Tartare and Deviled Eggs, which were a surprising hit.  It always amazes me how this retro plate is popular with everyone no matter where one goes.

My main was the Lobster Fritatta which was very good and the perfect texture.

Also good was the Eggs Benedict with potatoes that were excellent. 

Although I did not sample the Bagels And Lox myself, the salmon looked very good and I liked the way you are left to construct the plate your own way. 

And, of course, this being a blogger event there were tons of pictures to be had. 


And then more pictures, always the food writer's dilemma:  do you make every photo the best it can be or jump into the food before it starts to get cold?

The other thing I like about Joe's on Newbury is that it literally never closes.  They are open 365 days a year including holidays.  They are also now open for breakfast.  In fact, we were told by the Chef that most of the staff lives nearby so that even in snowstorms and blizzards you can be pretty certain they will be open when no one else is.  So don't be snowed in and stir crazy.  That's often one of the best times to go!

Joe's American Grill
181 Newbury Street
Boston, MA  02116
Telephone:  617.536.4200


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Bacon!

No, it's not a misspelling of "Holiday Baking" made by an intern.  What you're actually looking at is bacon.  Since big breakfasts are often part of the sojourn of our holiday season we thought we'd share a post on cooking bacon.

Increasingly, our knowledge of cooking here at TBF is leaning more and more toward science as the basis for ease of preparation and increase in flavor in cooking.  This doesn't mean that we are throwing out Grandma's traditional recipes which often hit the perfect mark, sometimes, we're convinced, the result of scientific luck or many generations of trial and error. 

When most friends hear of our experiments and exploits they often laugh them off.  Like when we advised them to add water to scrambled eggs for a lighter, fluffier, even brighter colored final result.  We swear.  Try it.  About one half teaspoon per egg.  Without getting overly technical that milk (or, even worse, cream) you add is adding more protein which, when heated, becomes tougher.  Water does not contain protein.  Think of how a raw piece of beef (high protein) becomes tougher when introduced to heat.  The more heat, the more tough, until it's overcooked and tragically, permanently ruined. 

Neither do many believe that when poaching a marinated salmon fillet in the microwave (a GREAT technique for salmon-lovers like myself) it actually cooks from the outside in.  Try that, too.  We're not even sure how that works although it seems that there is more oil in the outer part of the fillet and oils heat up more quickly when you nuke them than the flesh of the meat.

So, we've adopted the technique of cooking our bacon in water.  Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous  -  until you try it.  Place the bacon in the pan.  Cover with water.  Cook on high to a full boil then reduce to medium and let the water cook off.  Reduce heat to low until done. 

Beautiful, crispy, succulent bacon every time with no splattering.  We promise.  These are the things that Grandma never taught you unless, maybe, she went to Harvard in the past five years or so.  Happy Holidays and happy cooking.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Eataly Boston Opens November 29

With our friend Mary Ann Esposito, host of Ciao Italia, America's longest running TV cooking show.

The Prosecco was flowing at a recent preview party at Eataly Boston which we were lucky enough to attend, a celebration and sneak peek all to benefit the Friends Of The Italian Cultural Center Of Boston.  The goal of the organization, as we learned, is to bring together the myriad of other organizations in the Greater Boston area which celebrate the language and culture of Italy.  And what a beautiful culture it is.

This huge emporium of all things Italian covers it the full range, spread out over three floors in a sparkling new space in the Prudential Center.

Words alone cannot describe the breadth of the food, giftware, grocery items and even music and books that are on offer but, hopefully, some of these pictures will give you an idea.

Delicious Italian fare is everywhere, from the freshly prepared flatbreads and pizza pies to gorgeous pastries and sweets, wines, dinners, pastas, espresso and cappuccino, gelato and everything in between.  

As an example, some of the imported cheeses we saw are rarely available in Boston.

It's the same with the cured meats and other products, as well, heaven for those who long for authentic Italian goods.

Strolling through the grocery area we saw products that we have not seen since, well, we were actually in Italy!  Half the fun is walking slowly through the place and just perusing everything.  

We stopped to speak with a grocery manager and asked:  where are you storing all of this stuff?  Is there a warehouse nearby?  The immensity of it all is almost bewildering. Apparently, there is a mega warehouse in New Jersey were cargo ships are unloaded daily and the products trucked in at least three days a week.

Another big question our inquisitive mind's had was just how they managed to hire up a staff of 600 people when it is well-known that Boston faces a serious labor shortage for restaurant and hospitality employees?  What we discovered is that many of the people we spoke with actually did not come from the food service industry with many of them having a background more in customer service coupled with a personal yet never-fulfilled passion for food. Interesting.

We advise readers who plan to stop by to allow plenty of time when going for a visit.  An hour or two will not do it justice.  One could easily spend three hours just walking around looking at everything before deciding what to actually try or buy.  And it's a learning experience, too, not just an immense food court with multiple cafes and spots for enjoying a meal or snack. Think of it more as a cultural excursion and take the time to chat with the very knowledgeable staff.  They are eager and happy to talk about the products and history.

So, take a look at everything, including the gleaming, jewel-like wrapped candies before loading up your shopping bag.  There is a new delight around every corner.  All in all, you will not be disappointed.  Enjoy.  Ciao!

Eataly Boston
Prudential Center
800 Boylston Street
Boston, MA  02199
Telephone:  617.236.3100

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Holiday Wine Selections

The holidays are upon us.  Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!  As we go through the next few months there will be social engagements and celebrations galore and one will certainly want to have some wine on hand to share with friends visiting or those that you visit. 

We like to keep our focus on two types of wines during the festivities:  the elegant and the fun.  We don't want to turn holidays into a wine tasting class or an in-depth lecture about wine.  We just want to relax, enjoy and share a few laughs with the people we like.

One of the selections we always try to have on hand is the Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace.  This is a sparkling wine made in the Alsace region of France.  Many would say that it is the closest thing one can get to champagne which, as most know, must actually be from the Champagne region in order to be called that. 

We are particularly fond of the Brut Rosé but both are good.  We'll save you the lecture but if you would like more information you can click here for the full story and tasting notes.  This is always an elegant choice and a nice gift for friends when visiting.

The fun wine on our list this year is the Plymouth Bay Colonial Red.  A sweeter wine and one that some pretentious wine snobs may scoff at, the wine is made locally and offers the unmistakable notes of the distinctive concord grape native to New England.  Friends you share this one with will find it fun and younger people, maybe new to wine, will love it. 

As we head closer to Christmas and New Year's we'll be sharing additional wines that may help you celebrate the season even more.  Enjoy!!

Some samples provided by Pasternak Wine Imports with no remuneration or editorial consideration provided.