Friday, April 24, 2015

TBD Foods, Somerville MA

There is nothing more comforting, more relaxing, than being invited into someones home for a meal.  Sitting down at their dining room table, with friends and strangers alike, and sharing a meal is one of life's greatest intimacies.  Terrence Rogers, owner of TBD Foods, has been extending this incredible hospitality to his diners for the past few months and treating them to his take on haute cuisine.

The night we joined the Chef Rogers and his tight knit followers, he was collaborating with Chef John Suh a classically trained chef who has had several high end sushi spots during his career.  Their partnership for this meal resulted in some truly creative, out of the box dishes.  

We started with arancini stuffed with pickled mushrooms, and resting on a parsnip miso puree.  I loved the pop of flavors that burst through with this dish.  Where arancini are normally heavy and decadent, these were elevated with the vinegar and bright flavors making them the perfect way to kick off a meal.  

They further awakened our senses with our second course- a Sopa de Ajo.
 Spicy tomato based soup, enhanced with roasted garlic, Spanish ham, and, the piece du resistance- a poached egg.  I was urged by my friend who had accompanied me to break the yolk early as its creamy goodness provided the perfect contrast to the spice of the soup.  The soup itself though had tremendous depth of flavor - a perfect soup to warm up with.

Up next was gorgeous raw Kabachi Tuna paired with a wakami salad and a sake and soy reduction.  After the spice and the richness of the soup, this was a wonderful way to refresh the palate.  Fresh and clean with accoutrement's of pickled ginger and wasabi, the dish felt as light as sushi, and was a wonderful precursor to the remainder of the courses.

What I loved about the meal was the chances that Terrence was happy to take.
 His next course was a grilled kale salad with lightly pickled golden beets, candied pistachios and fennel pollen.   The mix of textures was spot on, but more exciting was the way in which the kale was prepared.  Grilling kale brought out sweet notes, and infiltrated it with robust smokey flavor. It was something Id never considered before and I really enjoyed it!


Keeping with the smokey notes, our final savory course offered smoked lamb shoulder paired with popcorn grits, anchovy salsa verde and fried potatoes.  Let's pause for a moment- popcorn grits.  Buttery, a touch salty, like sitting down with a giant bowl of popcorn, but mashed into submission.  I literally could have eaten a vat of these- a vat.  Totally fantastic.  The lamb paired so nicely with it, light flavors of smoke just created a feeling of nostalgia for outside BBQs and lighthearted summertime fun.  These comforting notes were contrasted beautifully with the bright and acidic salsa verde which held everything together and made the dish.

They finished our meal on the sweet side with gorgeous slice of Chocolate Decadence Cake paired with a fresh raspberry sauce and salted whipped cream.  The cake alone, deep, rich, bittersweet and fabulous would have been enough, but when paired with that classic raspberry sauce it sang.  I loved the idea of incorporating salt into the whipped cream instead of what has become a standard sprinkle on top of chocolate desserts.  It was a creative and well executed twist.  

Chefs Terrence and John did an incredible job with this meal.  Their concept is fabulous, their execution fantastic and generally know how to make a Saturday night delicious.  Terrence is currently moving his operation into a bigger space so he's able to host more of these, so I definitely urge you to go, dine at TBD Foods table.  Relish the conversation among new friends who become old friends by the last sip of wine, and savor every bite.  This is what food is all about.


Friday, April 3, 2015

American Lamb Jam Returns to Boston April 12, 2015

After what has seemed like the longest winter ever, Spring, wonderful, sunshiney, happy Spring, is finally clawing its way through the snow piles.  Now what could be a better way to celebrate this incredible arrival than with piles and piles of delicious lamb?  One of the best events of the year occurs each year as the grass begins to sprout- Lamb Jam!

Held this year on April 12, Lamb Jam, hosted by the American Lamb Board brings together 20 different chefs, from all over New England, competing for the title of champion with their own unique takes on globally inspired lamb dishes. If you are looking for the place to truly experience lamb- this is it.  Feast on lamb from the likes of Tiffani Faison, Robert Sisca, Chris Gould and so many others, and then was it all down with a selection of locally sourced beers from Mystic Brewing, Smuttynose Brewing Company, Jacks Abby and many others...its one heck of a party.


It may surprise you how incredible lamb really is.  A lean protein, packed with omega-3s and, that which is raised here in the US contains no artificial or synthetic growth hormones.  But you know- why don't I let an expert tell you about why American lamb is best?  I was able to attend an amazing lunch at Tavern Road celebrating lamb a few weeks ago and Mary from North Star Farms had some great things to say!


Lamb Jam every year produces a fantastic event and one great way to kick off Spring so get your tickets now- they will sell out!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ribera del Duero and Rueda- a Marriage Made in Heaven

Photo Credit:  Ribera del Duero & Rueda
If you've ever taken a wine tour with me then you've heard me talk about some of the great marriages in the wine world:  Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache.  Well today, it's time to announce a brand new couple- but this union is all different.  This is the union of two great Spanish D.O.'s - Rueda and Ribera del Duero.  

These two regions sit on the River Duero, which gives them similar continental climates with long hot summers and cold winters, and soil filled with lime, gravel and clay.  The roots of the vines have to dig down deep to get their nutrients giving character and strength to the wines.  As similar as these two regions are, they vary in varieties, though again, in perfect harmony.  Ribera del Duero produces, most notably, Tinto Fino, also known as Tempranillo.  Rueda, on the other hand, is most well known for their Verdejo.  

Now, you all know Tempranillo.  It reigns supreme in every one's go to Spanish red- lovingly known as Rijoa.  Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is medium to
Photo Credit:  Ribera del Duero & Rueda
medium high in body.  It is medium to medium high in acid.  It imparts beautiful flavors of red fruits- cranberries, strawberries, plums, hints of almond and vanilla. These are powerful wines- ones you can easily sip on a chilly evening or pair with a hearty bean stew, or with a Tortilla Espanola.  As it doesn't have high tannins, this isn't a wine that demands rich and fatty foods, but one that can easily pair with those chicken and pork dishes, or even pair with swordfish.


Verdejo is special.  Verdejo can be compared to Sauvignon Blanc, with its citrus and stone fruit palates, and can also show signs of herbaceous qualities.  However it is fuller in body than your typical Sauvignon Blanc, making Verdejo, in my opinion just a bit more versatile.  It will pair beautifully with your shrimp or scallop dishes, but can easily work with bigger, heartier fair as well.  This one of those white wines that can hold its own in the winter months.  

The partnership of these two regions means that both of these wines will be easier to find.  They are showcasing them over the next few years in American markets and they are excited to teach us about their treasures.  Don't skip these bottles - I had the opportunity to taste the 2014 Verdejo and it was outstanding.  These two promise great things for many years.    

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