Monday, May 18, 2015

Under Fire, Back Bay, Boston

Let's say you're wandering around the Back Bay.  You've explored, you've shopped and now you're ready to drop....unless, of course, you get a little sustenance.  Opening just a few weeks ago is a brand new spot that's offering a bright new fantastic option to make sure you're ready to take on the rest of the stores.  

Now, lets be clear, this isn't your average pub grub.  Under Fire, opened in the downstairs bar area of Fire and Ice, is bringing its diners fun, easy and delicious foods at bargain prices for the area.  Their menu is full of finger foods- a burger bar, fantastic tacos and delicacies known as BLT sliders.  I had the opportunity to attend a media function there recently and loved every bite.

Let's start with those BLT sliders.  Delicate rolls, stuffed with juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce, a slather of mayo and...pork belly.  Under Fire isn't using regular old thin strips of bacon here.  No, their pork belly is thick, rich and full of that perfect smoky flavor meaning it's not getting lost in this sandwich.  Every bite yields a full helping of each ingredient making it the perfect sandwich.

The tacos are what really stole the show however!  I loved how they are putting a unique twist on the standard format of tacos.  How about the Pollo Pesto which combines grilled chicken with a sunflower pesto, tomatoes, fresh basil and that awesome salty deliciousness of Queso Fresco.  This was a great unique twist on your average taco borrowing influence from Italy and combining big leaves of fresh basil with that queso fresco that we all have been gifted from Mexico.  Or check out The Club which brings that amazing pork belly to center stage again and combines it with fire grilled chicken, guacamole that they are making fresh in house and a jalapeno garlic aioli.  

Their burger bar is chock full of interesting toppings and additions such as peach bourbon BBQ sauce, red cabbage slaw, or pulled pork.  And this burger bar isn't just beef burgers, turkey and veggie are also options.

Under Fire is a fantastic addition to the Back Bay.  They have fun cocktails, a friendly staff and a menu designed to make sure you're noshing on only delicious items.  

Friday, May 1, 2015

Chestnut Hill Square- Spend a Day and Have a Ball!

The city of Boston is great, you will never hear me say anything to the contrary- but I get it, if you don't live within the city limits it can be challenging to get into.  Parking is tough to find and can be expensive.  The T isn't always up to can be a bother.  I understand.  Until recently though, it was the best option to spend a day- the shopping, the activities, the food...oh the food.  However, in just the past year and a half or so the little village of Chestnut Hill has been emerging as a perfect alternative.  

The Chestnut Hill Square is jam packed with everything needed for a full day of fun.  Start off the day with something to energize you- a hard core work out at Equinox, or a total sweat session at SoulCycle will bring out all of your best and prepare you to face the rest of your day head on.

Once you've gotten your energized from your work out, re load with a nutritious breakfast sandwich from Panera.  Panera produces good, clean, easy breakfasts
packed with protein rich eggs and cheese which are the perfect food to feast on after a tough work out.  

After breakfast- get to shopping!!  The Chestnut Hill Square is chock full of tons of awesome stores like Francesca's which houses super cute clothes, accessories and even great decorative items for the home at great prices.  Anthropologie picks up the lux a bit offering higher end clothing and housing accessories.  This store places an emphasis on boho chic and their home decorations are my personal favorite.  I always joke about wanting to just move
into the store. 

Of course maybe after that great work out that you had, you're looking to refresh your work out gear.  Have no fear- Chestnut Hill Square has both Athleta and TrueRunner to keep your fashions as tight as your abs.  

All of this shopping may make you a bit hungry though- there are solutions for that as well!  Whether you're looking for something decadent or health conscious there are options for all.  Cupcakes from Sweet, Italian fare at Brio, health conscious fresh dishes at Seasons 52 or hearty steaks at Capital Grill.  Whatever your craving is- it will be satisfied at the Square.

While I was buzzing around the Square
with their team, I was treated to a fantastic dinner at Capital Grill.  They are, of course, known for their delicious carnivorous steaks, but they have so much more than that and in fact have just launched a full burger menu.  They are serving up Wagyu beef all ground up and grilled to perfection with an incredible list of topping- think Gorgonzola Cheese and Truffles or wild mushrooms with an aged balsamic drizzle.  It was a tough choice but I settled in on their Wagyu burger topped with fried onions and that oh so decadent fried egg.  You know- the thing I struggle most with when I order a burger is what temperature to order it at.  Medium rare, rare- both have a place in my heart, Capital Grill didn't make me choose.  They offered up a Rare Plus- a mid point between the two which completely made my day.  As fantastic as the burger was- and believe me- it was amazing- Capital Grill shines with their service and attention to detail.  Their staff can provide countless facts and information on the menu and their ingredients, and they can do so with a smile and a funny story.  They work to ensure that every need of their guest is met whether it be a refill on water, or an explanation of the wine list, or a joke for a smile.  Capital Grill has always been a great celebration spot, but with their new burger menu- its a great anytime spot as well!

The Chestnut Hill Square packs a full day of fun, shopping and dining, all with a big parking lot making it a fantastic spot to visit with in city options and full on convenience.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you should- ASAP!    

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.

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