Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dining At Pier 6

It was a bright and slightly breezy night when we headed over to Pier 6 in the Navy Yard for dinner recently, located on 8th Street just two streets over from Old Ironsides.  Perched right on the harbor, with sweeping views of the city, we had reserved the Captain's Table.  The table is set off into a small alcove just off the main dining room, open air with a roof overhang and has a door one can close to minimize the dining room clatter, perfect for a special occasion.

We began with a refreshing 21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat, very light and not overly fruity, perfect for a summer night such as the one we were enjoying.

With the Zakim Bridge off to one side and the boats sailing the harbor on the other, the view was part of the experience and great from either seat.

I started with the Fried Oysters, served with a house made tartar sauce and very fresh.  I liked the fact that these were not overly breaded or too deeply fried.

My dining companion for the evening went with the Lobster Chowder.  Filled with lobster meat, leeks, sweet potato and bacon, the base is made with a manzanilla sherry and the flavor profiles are both rich and subtle. Very good.

Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish was the special of the night and we were very glad we chose to sample it.  Firm and flavorful with a taste of the sea, we savored every morsel.

The Sea Scallops.  What is better than fresh scallops on a beautiful summer night?  A carrot-cumin puree, fresh peas and pea greens with a golden raisin brown butter also dressed the plate.  I absolutely loved that the peas were raw, taking me back to to the days of my youth in Maine spent picking peas in the early summer and eating them shucked and raw right from the basket on the way home.

For dessert: this Cheesecake Brownie.  The vanilla sauce with ground coffee nibs slathered the plate.  We spooned out every drop.

My Butterscotch Pudding was just as good, elevating me past those horrible things served in school lunches that almost made me swear it off forever.  If you can relate, get this dessert.  It's a palate-changer.

One of the best parts f the Captain's Table is the amazing light show over the Boston skyline as you dine.  As the sun sets the whole look of the city changes every five minutes or so, the sky going from blue to pink, the puffy clouds drifting by, the little sailboats and big yachts both sailing by and when the lights begin to twinkle after the sun goes down it reminds me of why I could never live anywhere else but here.

As I tweeted (@TheBostonFoodie) and Instagrammed (@TBFWilliam) the ever-changing views from my catbird seat I began to get messages from friends asking me exactly where I was and it is, indeed, a hidden secret I almost hate to give up, a vantage point that most Bostonians don't even know about.  Yet, I have and I would strongly recommend you try it out this summer, even if just for a relaxing cocktail and appetizer as the sun disappears from the sky.

The Captain's Table is not advertised by Pier 6, unseen with online reservations and solely available upon request, an exclusive enclave and precisely the kind of spot we love to share with our readers and followers.  When you go, do call ahead and request the table.  It is, without doubt, the best seat in the house.

Pier 6
Thompson Square
Navy Yard, Boston, MA 02129
Telephone:  617.337.0054

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mia Wines: Lunch With Gloria Collell

Spanish winemaker Gloria Collell was in town recently and invited us to lunch at Tapeo to introduce us to her new line of wines called Mia produced in conjunction with Freixenet.  And what a glorious lunch it was.  We laughed a lot, sipped her wines, talked wine and international foods and I enjoyed an afternoon in the company of accomplished women and wine-lovers.

Paella was on the menu, in addition to a slew of tapas at the popular Newbury Street spot with an authentic Spanish feel.

We sipped the Mia White, Red and Rosé, along with her Moscato and Pink Moscato.  The wines are light, refreshing and less dry, aimed at a female market and absolutely sure to be a hit, fruity and unpretentious.  I especially liked the white.  The Moscato was also excellent.  Moscato has been a hot wine over the past few years but some find most labels to be exceedingly, almost soda pop sweet.  Not here.  It's a far less sweet Moscato and a Gold Medal winner of the Berliner Wein Trophy 2014.

All of the Mia wines will be on the market here soon and we are sure you will not be disappointed in any of them, especially when sharing something new with friends from a lady who is a passionate wine maker and enthusiast.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Earl's Kitchen Coming To Assembly Row

Earl's Kitchen And Bar is coming to Assembly Row in Somerville in September and Mixologist Cameron Bogue will be helming the drinks program.  We had the chance to meet him and sample some of his most interesting drinks recently and we were, of course, not disappointed.

We met up with Jenny Johnson, co-host of NESN's Dining Playbook and enjoyed a cocktail called "Bee's Knees".

The crafty concoction is served in these cute, little honey jars.  The ingredients?  Simple:

 A citrusy gin drink sweetened with honey

GLASSWARE: Honey Bear Jar
GARNISH: Lemon Zest, Wooden Honey Dipper

0.75 fl oz                                                              House Made Honey Syrup
1 fl oz                                                                   Fresh Lemon Juice
0.75 fl oz                                                              Aviation Gin
0.75 fl oz                                                              Cointreau
3 dashes                                                              Angostura Bitters

1. In a Mixing glass; measure 0.75 fl oz Honey Syrup, 1 fl oz Fresh Lemon Juice, 0.75 fl Aviation Gin, 0.75 Cointreau and 3 dashes Angostura Bitters.
2. Pack Mixing glass full of ice. Top with a stainless steel shaking tin.
3. Shake vigorously 12 times to mix ingredients.
4. Strain over fresh ice into a Honey Bear Jar.
5. Garnish with a Lemon Zest and a Wooden Honey Dipper.

Eric Twardzik, Boston Editor of UrbanDaddy was there.  They are always on the forefront of new openings and happenings.

The place will be a casual upscale design and focus on contemporary American comfort food.  This is Earl's, which operates 65 locations throughout the USA and Canada will make it's first entry into the area at Assembly Row, which is shaping up quite nicely as the area's newest shopping, dining and entertainment destination.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Triple Treat

Who doesn't like a good burger in the summer?  Well, we stopped by the new Del Frisco's Grille in Burlington on a recent night to try out their Triple Treat.  A double burger with cheese, shredded lettuce, pickle and sloppy sauce on a toasted bun, it's about as good as a burger gets.  If you've ever tried to imagine, as I have, what a gourmet version of a Big Mac would be like well wonder no more.  In fact, it it also goes by the name of the Adult Happy Meal.  The "adult" part is a creamy yet not-too-thick shake made with vanilla ice cream, Nocello Walnut Liqueur and Creme de Cacao Chocolate Liqueur.  Delicious, sweet and not overly alcoholic.

We chose the Sea Salt And Parmesan Frites.  You can also get these plain or opt for a Sweet Potato version.  I recommend the Parmesan.

The place was pretty packed.  The space is industrial modern in design.  The service employs the team concept and it seems like there was a new person at our table every other minute checking on things so it's impossible that a diner could want for anything.  This was really a great, quick casual meal and an excellent burger in a nice setting worthy of trying.

Del Frisco's Grille
92 Middlesex Turnpike
Burlington, MA  01803
Telephone:  781.365.2005

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Patio Dining At The Sinclair

It's summer.  Finally.  That means it's time for alfresco dining all over the City and we recently visited the kitchen at The Sinclair to sit on the patio atop Harvard Square and sample their very newest menu items and cocktails. We began with The Skylark:  Damrak Gin, Agave Nectar, Becherovka, Dimmi and Lemon, our favorite sip, refreshing and riding the wave of the gin/agave popularity.

We sampled several snacks including Pickled Pepperoni, outstanding Chicken Wings and this Half Cooked Egg With One Year Vinegar And Toasted Oats.  The egg was perfectly runny with a really nice crunch to the toasted oats.  Very nice.

Charred Romaine With Pickled Grapes, Toasted Hazelnut Milk And Radish.  Simple and elegant, the delicious details in the pickled grapes and sauce are the creative choices of Chef Matt Cunningham whose ingredient combinations are both new and lovingly prepared.

Head-On-Shrimp With Salted Egg Yolk, Bottarga And Thai Basil.  The flavors were rich, especially that salted egg yolk, and the balance of the Thai basil and shrimp was something I'd never experienced before.  Excellent in every way.

Next up (not pictured) was Sirloin With Aged Corn Relish, Charred Kombu Butter and Greens. Salting, pickling, aging and other long-process preparations seem to be a hallmark of Chef Cunningham and the results are worthy of the extra effort.

Dessert was this stunning Buttermilk Pudding With Dried Strawberry, Smoked Honey And Pretzel. I've never had anything quite like this and could have easily enjoyed another.  The creaminess along with the crunch and the subtle, smoky flavors was an exceptional treat.  While this has not yet been added to the menu it is worthy of a visit just for this dish alone.  I promise.

The breezy, casual ambiance of the patio was filled with a younger crowd ranging from grad students to artsy intellectuals and designer-clad club kids who looked like fashion models.  The service was excellent.  Take a break on one of these cooler early Summer nights and do stop by. It's almost certain that you'll discover something new.

The Sinclair
52 Church Street
Cambridge, MA  02138
Telephone:  617.547.5200

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Mooring In Newport

At some point this summer you'll probably be heading out of town for a relaxing getaway at the shore.  We recently spent a few days in gorgeous Newport, Rhode Island, enjoying strolls along the water and on the Cliff Walk, viewing the incomprehensibly luxurious mansions and, of course, dining out.  We stopped for lunch one day at The Mooring, a casually elegant spot with a very nautical motif offering seafood dishes and views of Narragansett Bay from virtually every seat in the house, especially on the mahogany deck.  Both the menu and the space capture the quintessential New England seaside dining experience and a visual sweep of the room revealed an eclectic mix ranging from bluebood locals in preppy attire to international visitors of all ages.

We sipped on Windward Weiss, made by Coastal Extreme Brewing and named after Castle Hill, just a short distance away and a place we visited in colder weather last year.

The Bag Of Doughnuts jumped off the menu.  Who could not like Lobster, Crab and Shrimp Fritters served with a Chipotle-Maple Aioli?  Fried to a golden crisp with a flavorful filling these were like having a satisfying seafood beignet.

We paired this with the Beet Salad for a nice lunch on the water.  Roasted Red And Golden Beets With Citrus, Goat Cheese And Shallot Vinaigrette, a very nice, fresh beet salad to offset the heavier fare.

We also sampled the Surf And Turf Sliders:  Shaved Sirloin, Lobster, Cheddar-Ale Sauce, Arugula, and Crispy Sweet Potatoes.  While it's unusual to mix the meat and seafood together we actually liked this combo.

The dining choices in Newport can seem overwhelming for the occasional visitor.  Our advice is always when in doubt go where the locals do.  I'm certain one would not be disappointed with lunch at The Mooring.

The Mooring
1 Sayers Wharf
Newport, RI  02840
Telephone:  401.846.2260

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chefs In Shorts 2014

The Chefs and Future Chefs of Boston at the Seaport Hotel to celebrate Chefs In Shorts 2014.

Every time that I attend an event involving Future Chefs I think about the advice that I could best give to young people and, indeed, to my younger self if I had the mystical power to go back in time.  I would tell them to always be aware that life and the way that you are perceived by all and everything around you is constantly hanging in the balance, like the scales on a butcher block table used to measure ingredients precisely.  Every time that you disrespect someone or something the scales tip against you, even if just a little bit.  When you make a cruel joke about someone or something that, sure, people may laugh at temporarily, you may hurt feelings that will never heal and cause the perception of what you are, the values you hold, to be forever damaged.  Likewise, when you show up for work on time, you tip the scales a little bit in your favor.  When you put your work that's easy for you aside to help someone else who is struggling that may just be a moment that they will never forget and always grateful for. For you and your spirit and generosity. When you apologize for something you did you tip the scales back in your favor.

Every time that you prepare food well you are creating joy for someone.  Celebrate the fact that you have been handed this power.  Last night at Chefs In Shorts 2014, the largest number of Boston Chefs ever assembled for this event came together.  I think they do it, like me, because it is an affirming experience to share with young people the things that we, perhaps, wish we had been shared with us at their age.  Understanding.  Learning. Setting an example.  Teaching someone something new that will help them steer through the turbulent course of life.  And let's not forget that it's also just plain fun.  For many it's a night when they can turn from the sometimes many disappointments in life and truly shine.   

Life is an emotional bank account.  You can choose to make deposits or withdrawals, the only two transactions. From the moment you open your eyes in the morning until that time when you fall back into your quiet slumber you are tipping the scales, positive or negative.  When you reach the tipping point with another then you have made a true friend, complete with all of the admiration and respect due you.  Or, you have ruined what might have been one.  Every action has an often unseen or unknown consequence but it always takes place.

I ran into Tom from @Bostontweets (and dozens of other friends and food-lovers) who said to me: This is my favorite event of the year. Always." I couldn't agree more.  Mother Nature smiled upon us with a night of glorious, cool, sunny weather, great food and an atmosphere of giving.  Great night everyone!

Above:  Chef Matt Cunningham of The Sinclair was tipping the scales with his creative cuisine, no matter how hard the work or how long it takes.  He has some of the most inventive dishes we have recently had the pleasure to sample.

One of the best ways to tip the scales is to simply be a good role model and lead by example both in and out of the kitchen.

M + C Spiedo was tipping the scales with great sourcing on their plate with the help of Future Chefs.

Future Chefs Staff is ALWAYS tipping the scales for all of the young people with an interest in food and the culinary arts.

Suzi Maitland of Trina's Starlite Lounge was tipping the scales with love for good, old-fashioned food and the young people it can inspire.

I've been called a "social media influencer."  What this event always demonstrates for me, beyond just the great food on a plate, is that we all have influence.  How we choose to use it every day is the challenge.  Never stop looking for the opportunity to inspire someone.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Besito Mexican Preview

Location.  Location.  Location.  It's a mantra in the restaurant business but as avid food-lovers know sometimes the most extraordinary food can be found in the most unexpected places, like Burlington Mall. This week we had a sneak preview of Besito Mexican and, believe us, the food is spot on, maybe the best Mexican we've had since we were in, well, Mexico.  We started off the night with the Sangria de Besito, a blend of white wine, Cointreau, peach liquor, fresh fruit and juices.  Fruity, cold and refreshing without being overly sweet, it was the best light Sangria we've ever had.

It wasn't long before a basket of chips arrived (still warm) with the house salsa, again a nice traditional blend and very much just like all the corn chips and salsas we tasted south of the border.

The Guacamole en Molcajete is made in fresh batches tableside and not to be missed.  Not a pureed, old green mess as some places serve.  This was as fresh as possible, chunky and flavorful with the tomato chunks included and a brilliant green guacamole.  Just the Sangria and this could be a light meal alone and totally satisfying.

Tosquitos de Camarones:  Crispy chrimp, shredded organic romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, chipotle cream salsa, cilantro and queso fresco.  The crunchy shrimp with the fresh greens and creamy sauce were enough to get our gastric juices flowing.

Ceviche del Dia:  Fresh ceviche with plantains.  Beautiful to look at and flavorful.

Sopa de  Tortilla:  Tortilla soup, avocado, pulled chicken, chopped cilantro, toasted pastilla chile, crema and onion.  I was so anxious for this that I forgot to snap a pic until I was half way through. A thick, rich flavorful broth, meaty chicken bites and the unmistakable lace of cilantro.  Absolutely delicious, one of the highlights of our dinner.

Ensalada de Salmon:  Pistachio crusted pan seared fillet of salmon, organic mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, avocado, queso fresco and chipotle cream dressing.  I love my salmon served over a bed of healthy greens and this did not disappoint in any way.

Costillas de Piquin:  Boneless beef short ribs, rajas, crema and tomatillo-chile piquin salsa.  As dark and rich as it looks, truly melting in the mouth into a buttery, rich meat flavor.

Owner John Tunney stopped by our table and insisted we try the Tamale de Elote, a fresh corn tamale with chipotle chile cream, onion, cilantro and queso fresco.  A big hit!  The little ring of onion sitting like a halo atop this plate was fitting.  The dense stuffing of sweet, creamy corn, sauce, spices, everything just perfect.

As stuffed as we were we could not resist a taste of the Devil's Food Cake dessert served with a fresh whipped cream filling and cream sauce with raspberries.  Exceptionally light yet as flavorful as any chocolate cake can be.

The restaurant opens to the public on June 17th and if you like well-made, traditional Mexican cuisine you will not be disappointed.  It is the fourth restaurant in a small chain but the decor and ambiance does not betray the very authentic experience.  Congratulations!  This was one of the finest restaurant openings we've been a part of in a long time.

Besito Mexican  (A Small Kiss of Mexico)
75 Middlesex Turnpike
Burlington, MA 01803