Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brunch At Saloon

Everyone is always looking for a new brunch spot to enjoy a lazy weekend at and share some fine food and drink with friends.  We recently were invited to try out the bill of fare at Saloon in Davis Square.  A classic, large bar dominates the room in this spot with a speakeasy, Prohibition Era feel.

A jazz trio played quietly in the underground space with dark wood paneling and leather seats.  It was like stepping into the comfortable, quiet, soothing past.

After a Gin Mimosa (Ford's Gin, Orange Juice and Champagne) we began with freshly made donuts, still warm, served up with a slight spicy and salty chocolate sauce.  There is nothing quite like a well turned out donut to start off a weekend brunch with and this one certainly did not disappoint.

One Large Flapjack:  served with blueberry sauce and whipped cream, one was plenty and it was griddled absolutely correctly, fluffy in the middle with just that hint of crispness.

The Breakfast BLT was a bit more substantial.  Bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheddar and a beautifully runny, over-easy fried egg is assembled between two fresh slices of brioche bread.  Now THIS was brunch, just about everything one could want in a hearty breakfast all on one plate.

By now we had moved on to sipping a Bloody Mary made with an excellent house-made hot sauce.

The Braised Meat Hash was Pork, Diced Potatoes and Caramelized Onions served, again, with a perfectly runny egg.  Rich, salty, meaty and delicious, this was our favorite dish.

That is, until the Nutella Crepes came along.  Just a few bites of this crepe with that sweet hazelnut filling was enough but, of course, we had to finish it all.

This was also the very first event we have ever attended where all of the guest food writers were guys!  A real Gentleman's Brunch but well worth the visit for anyone.  We totally loved the ambiance and vibe at Saloon and any of the dishes are worth heading over to Davis Square for a visit.

255 Elm Street
Davis Square
Somerville, MA  0214
Telephone:  617.628.4444

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cooking For A Cause 2014

Where can you find Chris Coombs, Tony Maws, Michael Leviton and many more of Boston's best Chefs all cooking in one very cool cooking space?  At Cooking For A Cause, this Friday, April 4, at the MIT Media Lab. That's where.

They'll be serving up a slew of fantastic food and drink to the select few smart enough to get tickets and support the East End House in Cambridge.  This is one of the annual events on our "must go" social calendar and it supports families in need.  Please take a look at the line-up and join us there for a fantastic evening of food and fun.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Del Frisco's Grille

We recently visited Del Frisco's Grille on The Street in Chestnut Hill, a newer outpost of the very successful steak chain located in this very popular shopping and dining district.  It was mobbed, of course.  The Saturday night wait for a table was 90 minutes so please make a reservation ahead of time if you plan to go. The crowd was an eclectic, sophisticated bunch from college students to families and couples.

We started off with a cocktail.  The signature drink is called the VIP:  Sweet Hawaiian Pineapple Infused Svedka Clementine Vodka.  Very refreshing.  We also tried the Apt 5D: Tito's Vodka, Muddled Strawberries, Lemon Sour, Simple Syrup and a Dash Of Balsamic.  This was also quite nice but we preferred the former.

We tried several appetizers.  These Berkshire Pork Meatballs were stewed in tomatoes with red pepper and served with basil and a garlic aioli.  Very good but just a slight bit on the dry side.

These Cheesesteak Eggrolls came with a spicy chili sauce that was excellent.  Perfectly crispy and filled with a rich helping of meat and cheese.

The Ahi Tacos With Avocado had a spicy citrus mayo.  The taco shells were perfect and the tuna was very fresh.

I went with the dinner special:  Fillet with Baby Shrimp.  Covered with a great barbecue sauce and served with a crispy potato muffin and grilled asparagus, the meat was an exemplary medium rare.  Their steaks are always great and this was a fantastic combination, the three fillets covered with flavorful baby shrimp.

My dining companion went with the Chicken Schnitzel.  Squash and chive noodles in a rich lemon-butter sauce accompanied the chicken which was extra crispy and flavorful, as a good schnitzel should be.  I was also tempted to order this and my few bites confirmed that it was a great choice.  The pasta was also good, perfectly al dente.

This side of Truffled Mac and Cheese, however, was my hit of the night.  A comforting cast iron tray of the hearty macaroni was drenched in cheese and a very rich truffle flavor.  Honestly, I could have made a feast out of this alone.

Despite being stuffed we did manage to taste desserts with a cup of cappuccino.  This Nutella Bread Pudding was not heavy at all but dense with flavor and served with coffee ice cream and a caramel sauce. Heaven. Do make a point of saving room for dessert if at all possible.

And, of course, we could not visit without a sampling of their signature Lemon Doberge Cake with six layers, real buttercream lemon frosting and a lemon glaze.  If you are a lemon cake lover like me it does not get any better than this.

The food was great, the service friendly and informal yet professional.  This is not a stuffy restaurant at all and a great, fun place with views of the reservoir in the middle of the dining room and a hopping bar scene.  I would confidently recommend Del Frisco's Grille to friends and family, steak lovers or not.

Del Frisco's Grille
33 Boylston Street (Route 9 on The Street)
Chestnut Hill, MA  02467
Telephone:  617.608.3682

Plenty of free parking.  Reservations strongly suggested.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Waiting For Spring

It may technically be Spring but most of us are still waiting for the warm weather, with a long list of things we want to do after we can finally put the winter coats away.  We also get a lot of products sent to us to taste, test and play with here at the 101st floor of TBF worldwide international headquarters, as we like to call it. We recently were sent Sprout Pencils and were intrigued by both the concept and the fact that it is a local company.

Here's how they work.  You get a set of pencils which you can use to scribble down your notes, ideas and dreams and after you have worked it down to the stub you plant it and up grows herbs you can then use. Food from a pencil!  I had to admit that it was one of the more unusual products we have ever received. So, as we go about our daily work of writing and dreaming of the warm weather we're hoping it won't be too long before we can plant our pencils and see what sprouts up.

Friday, March 14, 2014

St. Patrick or Icelandic Culture?

This weekend we are skipping all the St. Patrick's Day so-called celebrations in favor of basking in the culture of one of our favorite places:  Iceland.  We began last night at Rialto in Cambridge with Chef Hákon Már Örvarsson, getting a tasty preview of the menu for Taste Of Iceland 2014.  If you've never heard about it, it's an event held each year that celebrates Icelandic culture.  We dined on Icelandic Lamb, Langostine Tails in herbs and butter, and Pickled Herring (the best I've ever had).  All of the ingredients are being directly flown in, super fresh, from Iceland on Icelandair.  Saturday night, music will take over at the Middle East, Cambridge, where the Reykjavik Calling celebration brings us Retro Stefson (band members pictured above) who will provide a free concert. Iceland is a very cool place filled with many great wonderful Chefs and artists and we can't wait to head back for a visit.  In the meantime, Taste Of Iceland is tiding us over nicely!  For more information on modern Icelandic culture and beautiful photos check out Iceland Review.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Art Of Food

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

Mohegan Sun Winefest 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

Boston Wine Expo 2014 Winner

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

Ballo Restaurant

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
Telephone:  860.862.1100

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hotel Chocolat

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
Telephone:  617.391.0513

Monday, January 27, 2014

Boston Wine Expo 2014 Giveaway

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

Row 34

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.

Row 34
383 Congress Street
Boston, MA  02210
Telephone:  617.553.5900