Friday, April 30, 2010
Cleaning out the fridge- ends up on my dinner plate! Quick Pasta with Bacon, Chicken, Mushrooms and Green in a Smoky Tomato sauce
Thursday, April 29, 2010
YUM will feature 13 restaurants all located in Somerville, and all owned by immigrants to Boston. A list of participating restaurants can be found here. Tickets are $40 a piece inclusive of tastings from each of the participating restaurants as well as live entertainment.
So you may be wondering, as I was, what is The Welcome Project? Begun in 1987 as the result of state mandated regulations for racial integration, The Welcome Project focuses on supporting and assisting new residents to Somerville who fled here, often times, to escape harassment at home. The Welcome Project ensures that these new residents are welcomed here, and also offer assistance finding employment as well as education.
More information can be found here: http://yumsomerville.org/
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Food Network wants YOU if you truly lack the ability to cook, but are desperate to learn how. "Worst Cooks in America" places contestants, known as recruits, through book camp to learn how to cook like a professional! Recruits can either self nominate, or you can nominate a friend or loved one that you feel would be perfect for the role. To apply, simple email email@example.com and tell them why you think you, or your friend, is the worst cook with the best intentions. Please also include name, age, home town, occupation, phone number and a recent photo of the culinary challenged.
Interviews will take place on May 10th and May 11th, however as this is not an open casting call, locations will be revealed only to those selected to interview.
I can say this much- cooking is my greatest joy and my creative outlet. If you have desire to learn how to cook but for whatever reason just haven't gotten it- you should definitely check this out! What a great opportunity!!! Those of you who do apply- drop me a line and let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear about it!
came together. My final favorite of the day? Bacon, that had been smoked over cocoa beans and then dipped in Taza Chocolate from the Happy Pig Salumi. Oh my lord- I had to walk away from this table VERY quickly-it was dangerous. The bacon had a very subtle chocolate flavor, the chocolate dip
was perfectly sweet. I am craving more just thinking about it! The other rockstar dish was the chocolate cupcakes with a stout frosting all topped with a nice piece of bacon from the South End Buttery. The stout taste in the frosting was light enough to not overpower, but just nicely compliment the chocolate- and again that mix of savory bacon with sweet concoctions is just heavenly!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Entering the store I was immediately greeted by a very pleasant sales person who offered me a taste of their chocolate to start. I selected a piece of dark chocolate and was impressed by its deep velvety flavor. Strong chocolate, with just a hint of sweet that was perfect. I felt immediately that coming here would absolutely do the trick to reverse a bad mood into a chocolate induced happiness.
I wandered about the store and selected champagne truffles, rum truffles and the much talked about chili chocolate bar. When bought in sets of three they totaled $18, which for gourmet chocolate I felt was somewhat reasonable. I set off with my purchase, excited to try it out as my dessert for the evening.
I reached home, had myself a lovely dinner of leftover pasta, and then turned my attention to the chocolate at hand. I started with a small piece of the chili chocolate. The chocolate had the same wonderful flavor as the piece I tried in the store, however I was disappointed that the chili flavor wasn't as present. It seemed to be a back of the palate heat, which just slightly caught in the throat. Sort of an odd sensation, and a bit disappointing that the flavor wasn't more present.
Next I tried the truffles. Oh my. The flavor that I had felt was missing from the chili chocolate was more than made up for in the truffles. In credibly strong notes of alcohol came through when biting into these truffles, too strong. The champagne truffle had an almost sickly sweet taste to it, as flat champagne would. The rum truffle- well I'm finding them inedible. Though the chocolate casing is delicious, the filling is so abrasive I felt like I was doing a straight shot of rum, and felt all of the grimacing normally experienced with that act. I have completely sworn them off.
Now to be fair, others who have sampled my stash are not quite as put off by them as I have been, and actually have rather enjoyed the flavors present. So a bit of a disclaimer I suppose there. I however, love the pure chocolate at Hotel Chocolat but am now looking for a place to donate my truffles- anyone want them? Or should I just pour you a shot of not so great rum instead?
UPDATE: A Second Look at Hotel Chocolat
Friday, April 23, 2010
More details and the entry form can be found here: http://www.clickfilosophy.com/your-chance-to-win-free-heating-oil/
I hope that all of you home owners in the greater Boston area enter-it would be great to have one of you great food lovers win such an amazing prize!!!
And now back to our regularly scheduled food programming!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
This year, as food industry seems to be moving more and more towards partnering with sustainable providers, and ensuring that the meals that they serve us aren't detrimental to our planet, we have a unique opportunity to enjoy a tasty meal, and celebrate Earth Day all in one.
Taranta Restaurant, a delicious blend of Italian and Peruvian delights and one of a few Certified Green Restaurants (dinegreen.com), is partnering with Carapelli Olive Oil to offer a prix fixe menu that is earth friendly and heart friendly. The complete menu is offered for $49.00 per person can be seen here: http://tarantarist.com/v5/carapelli.html. Taranta will be offering this menu today through April 25, 2010.
I had the opportunity to dine at Taranta a few years back and had a wonderful experience. For your convenience- here is the link to that review: Taranta.
No matter what you do on Earth Day, please give some thought to the little changes that you can make to your every day life to help make sure that Earth is around for many many more centuries. To find out about volunteer activities around you: http://www.earthday.net/volunteercenter
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Since then Boloco has been on my radar for those days when I just don't want to bring my lunch to work, but don't want to sacrifice healthy eating either. With this in mind, you can imagine my delight when I was invited to attend a meet and greet and eat (I heart rhyming) with the CEO of Boloco last night. We met at their new headquarters located in the Berklee district of Boylston Street. We were led through the restaurant -which is sparkly clean by the way- and into a back conference room. Once there we were greeted by John Pepper and their executive chef and partner, Jason Hutchinson. We spent the next couple of hours eating tasty creations, as well as learning what makes Boloco so great.
Boloco (which stands for Boston Local Company) began in 1996 with the name "Under Wraps". It began as a place where one could get a "wrap" inspired by the Mexican burrito. But they didn't want to be just another burrito shop- they wanted to be more. This is what I love about Boloco- 14 year later, and a couple of name changes as well, Boloco still holds this principle at their pinnacle. They are in no way "just another burrito shop". Sure- they offer items that are similar to a burrito, they may look like them, they may incorporate the same principles, but their flavor variations, ingredients, and constant attention to detail sets them far apart.
Pepper and Hutchinson made it clear last night that they are committed to not only bring the people of Boston tasty food fast, but they are committed to good food, nutritious food fast-if that's what you want. Every burrito is fully customizable so if you don't want cheese- then don't have cheese. If you want tofu instead of steak- go for it. If you don't want the carbs of a wrap- get it in a bowl. Want just a small meal? Try their mini size burritos- they are the PERFECT size for a light lunch. Even better? Before you head to Boloco hit up www.boloco.com and check out their nutrition calculator- start with the base burrito of your choice and then add and subtract ingredients all while being mindful of their affect on calories and nutrients.
However, they don't stop there. Boloco seeks to bring more and more choice to their menu, offering things like brown rice, and now even testing a possible gluten free menu. Their principles are clear- they want to make the burrito better- better for everyone in regards to taste and nutrition. They are also making a mean smoothie over there! Served in 8 different flavors, they are cold and refreshing with a selection for everyone. I tried out the Jimmy Carter last night- peanut butter, banana, skim milk and non fat fro yo-amazing. I am absolutely craving another this morning.
I personally taste tested both the Memphis BBQ - BBQ sauce, coleslaw and pinto beans, made with Carnitas, as well as the Yucatan Habanero- which had a delightfully spicy salsa, pickled onions, sour cream, rice, and was made with chicken. They were both delicious-but completely different tastes. I really felt that if I went to Boloco every day, I could have a different tasting burrito every day and never be bored.
All in all, I have a new found appreciation for Boloco and admire their dedication to bring us a burrito that is SO much more than just a burrito.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I found a basic recipe on line at Joyofbaking.com (http://www.joyofbaking.com/printpages/shortbreadprint.html) and decided to see if I could customize it a bit. After really loving the combination of lemon and rosemary from my gremolata the other day, I decided to try to replicate this flavor marriage. Shortbread is always so buttery and decadent, the idea of lightening it up with the taste of acidity, and that great woodsy-ness of rosemary just seemed like a perfect match!
As I set out making the cookies though- I realized that I had committed a grievous error. I had failed to read the directions carefully and had enough granulated sugar on hand but no powdered sugar, as the recipe called for. Being rather short on time to make these little devils, I decided to push through anyway and continue in my quest. I began by chopping several sprigs of fresh rosemary in a fine powder like substance, and then zested a lemon and half and ran my knife through that a few times. Then I began to follow the recipe by creaming 4 sticks of butter (I doubled the recipe), and then adding the rest of the ingredients as instructed by the recipe. Once it was all incorporated, I added the lemon and rosemary and blended for a just another minute or two, mindful of not over beating the dough. Then I scooped all of the dough together, wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two. Once completely chilled, I rolled it out to about a 1/4 thick, and then set to work on cutting out cute little bars. These guys got baked for about 10- 15 minutes, when they started to brown, I pulled them from the oven.
For a first attempt at shortbread, and utilizing the wrong type of sugar- these little guys were delicious! Light and buttery just as I remember, with great note of lemon. The rosemary was very faint in the background- so the next time I make these I need to come up with another way to really have that flavor shine. The best part though? The bake sale raised over $100 for Operation Frontline, an offset of Share Our Strength, which organizes education programs for children to learn to cook. What a great cause!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
It has been a great technology week for the Boston food community! First with the unveiling of the Bakespace.com and Litl partnership, and last night we were introduced to a new website being rolled out that can revolutionize the way we talk about restaurants to our friends and colleagues. How often does someone ask you for THE place to go for the best burger? Or the best menu with vegetarian options? Or that's good without being over crowded? And then, after they ask the question- how often do you look at them blankly because you just cannot remember the name of that place that you went that one time on that street with the thing? Maybe its just me- but it seems as though this happens all the time. Well, fret not, Smorgie.com has the answer!
Smorgie.com is a brand new site, technically still in beta, that allows you to upload a list of your favorite restaurants, complete with comments on your favorite or least favorite things about the place, and then share those lists with your friends. It will organize your "wish list" of restaurants and is even there for you with suggestions when you're looking for a cocktail after a rough day.
It must be noted as well that the lovely launch party was held at the always chic Dante in the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge. I've always loved it there, both for the view, and the food which did not disappoint last night. Hors d'oeuvres of crispy crostini topped with sliced cucumber, beautifully creamy cheese and oil (type is being debated), delicious arancini, baked mussels that were topped with butter bread crumbs, and spring rolls were served through out, and nicely complimented by Dante's great drink selection. Smorgie-you chose a great spot for your launch!
I am really excited about the concept behind Smorgie, and I cannot wait to get in and start playing with it. I'll definitely keep you all updated on how its going, and when the official release is. All I know? This is going to be a really useful and fun website!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
As I'm sure it's no great surprise- food is my passion. I know- obvious statement of the year right? Of course this does not mean that food is the only thing that interests me. I am pretty addicted to new technology- and in this age where we all carry around a multitude of cell phones, blackberry's, iPods, laptops etc-technology is pretty fascinating. Last night I had the opportunity to join an event that celebrated both- food and technology- I was in heaven. The joint efforts of Bakespace.com and Litl were the drivers behind last night's meet up, and was really a fantastic way to introduce both!
Bakespace.com, founded in 2006, was started with the idea of bringing together food lovers in a social on line forum - a true recipe share site, without corporate endorsements to sway the creativity. There are forums for members to discuss their recipes, ideas and thoughts for improvement, as well as a great system of those people known as "mentors" who can help with difficult challenges in the kitchen. What I love is that not only was this begun before the craze of Facebook and Twitter, but it's intention is so pure and allows the food world to really come together in a helpful spirit. Whether you're obsessed with food or not, you should definitely check out Bakespace.com for all sorts of great information and helpful tips.
The second leg of last night event was really and truly remarkable. Litl, a great company based here in Boston, released in November a new on line tool that revolutionizes the way we should look at computing devices. Void of any operating system, Litl brings you the Internet in crystal clear images. Its revolutionary design is small and light, easy to transport around the house, and displays your sites, photos, weather, clock, even movies, where ever you go! What I loved was that the folks at Litl are busy rolling out all sorts of great "channels" like Bake Space, but if you find a site you love, and you want it to be part of your favorites- just subscribe to the RSS feed and Litl allows you to scroll through the content. This little thing is so much fun to use, great to look at (some are using the system as a digital picture frame when not using it for data), and incredibly convenient. I heart technology!
The evening was great as we got more familiar with all of the wonderful features of both Bakespace.com and Litl-all while sipping wine and snacking on cupcakes!
Monday, April 12, 2010
I started with just a box of Pancake mix. I could have been good and made them from scratch -but last week was long and it was Saturday, so I gave myself a break. I have to say, I love a good blueberry pancake, but am always annoyed if all that's in the cakes are spotty blueberries. People- I want blueberry flavor all throughout my pancakes. I decided to solve this issue. I pureed my blueberries before adding them to the mix. But I didn't just mash them up, I wanted some interesting flavors to them, so I combined the juice of half a lemon that was left over from the week previous (zest would have worked better, however the lemon chose not to zest), a handful of fresh chopped thyme (which has a lovely bright, citrusy flavor) and a pinch of salt with the blueberries. I used my trusty immersion blender (I have far too much love for that piece of machinery) and created a beautiful blueberry puree. Once liquefied, I added the puree to the batter, stirred to combine, and then ladled spoonfuls onto my hot pan. One flip to cook both sides, and breakfast was served.
I love the combination of lemon and blueberry, and the addition of thyme to the mix was a really nice twist. The flavors layered really nicely together, and with the addition of a little pure maple syrup the appeal of savory with sweet shone through. A perfect start to what turned into a gorgeous Saturday.
Friday, April 9, 2010
I took a few laps around the room before tasting anything to get acclimated- well and to enjoy the glass of Prosecco that was handed to me as I walked through the door. They certainly knew the way to my heart! My first bite that I finally selected- a lovely slice of hot dog slathered in a tasty mustard based sauce from Trina's Starlight Lounge. I missed a blogger event at Trina's a few weeks ago, and so I was excited to finally get a chance to check out their hot dogs. I am really excited to give Trina's a go now- Ill have to make it over to Inman Square soon- this was a perfect start to my evening!
The next table I hit was for The Blue Frog Bakery, located in Jamaica Plain. They were serving iced hot chocolate (whoa) and mini eclairs. That iced hot chocolate was so decadent, so chocolaty, for one of the first times in my life- I felt completely chocolate satisfied. If you know me- you know that's weird. Their eclairs were also delicious, however after the drink- well- I was good for a bit. I tend to forget to head over to JP for their amazing food locations- from now on The Blue Frog will have to be on my rotation.
As I continued my journey I stumbled upon Panificio's table. Now-Panificio and I go way back. I often frequented this great little cafe when I lived in Beacon Hill, and I have to credit them with inducing the ridiculous obsession I have with Tomato Soup. One chilly winter day, John went to Panificio to get us some lunch-I knew I wanted half a sandwich (their tomato, basil & mozzarella is second only to my own- mmm) but I also wanted soup. I asked John to get whatever soup they had without even thinking about it. He came back with Tomato. Now- I have never like Tomato soup. I have always found it either too sweet, too salty or just bland. But since I wanted soup, and John and gone through the trouble of getting it- I gave it a taste. Immediate, ever lasting, glorious love is what I felt. Rich flavors of tomato, perfect tomato, and basil shown through. The texture made you know it was fresh and homemade. Wonderful. So when I saw Panificio at Taste of the Nation well- I gushed. I chatted to their poor chef for quite some time about how wonderful their soup is. He rewarded me with two canolli. I am not one to turn down gifts of food. Delicious canolli-I have a little relief that I wont be tempted by them daily, though my sadness remains for their tomato soup.
As I continued my walk around I found this sign: Doesn't that just attract your attention? You see BACON some where- well-I know I'm immediately drawn to it. Turned out I was following the sign, not unlike the pied piper, to Hungry Mother table. The Hungry Mother is located in Kendall Square, Cambridge, and specializes in Southern Comfort food. Yes- I find bacon comforting. Their offering for the evening was extensive- spicy pimento sandwiches topped with a healthy slap of bacon and a slice of okra, cookies, and sweet tea. I snagged a sandwich and nibbled as I walked away- what a tasty sandwich! Such a simple concept but so well executed as the spice rang through without being overpowering, and then of course the bacon added delicious smokey-ness. Wonderful. It increased my need to visit The Hungry Mother even more.
My next stop was to the Verrill Farm table. Verrill Farm is located in Concord, MA and specializes in beautiful rich vegetables, while following the guidelines for sustainable agriculture. They were serving a gorgeous piece of steak with beautiful purple potatoes and spring greens last night. Such a tasty combination of flavors, and beautiful to look at as well. Verrill Farm supplies much of their produce to area restaurants, including many that were represented last night. Chances are that if you're chowing down on fresh vegetables, that are full of natural flavor, you are eating the bounty of Verrill Farm.
My next stop was one that I was extremely excited about. I had staked out the Dbar table early in the evening, and was excited to see that one of our latest local celebrity chefs Chris Coombs, Dbar's executive chef, was there manning the table. Chef Coombs appeared on the Food Network's show Chopped that aired earlier this week. He had taken second place in his competition, pitted against other talented chefs. As I had watched the episode I was intrigued by his cooking style, knowledge of different ingredients (extreme ones at that), and his creativity. His offering last night was a lamb dish with a tabbouleh like side. This was my favorite dish of the evening. The lamb was perfectly cooked to a gorgeous medium rare, with wonderful flavor, and the accompaniment was perfect- light and fresh, off setting the protein beautifully. I would like more of this dish....now. Thank you. I have decided that Chef Coombs was robbed on Chopped. Robbed.
One of the vineyards that I was most intrigued by was Yellow + Blue wines. A green vineyard (get it- yellow and blue make green?? I had to have it explained to me) they are packaging their wines in what are called Tetra Packs- basically boxes that cuts down not only on waste, but on their carbon foot print. As it was explained to me- the box severely cuts the weight of the packaging, which means that they can ship more wine, which means fewer trucks. Less pollution. The concept is fantastic, and one that you would think more vineyards would be adopting. The wine stays fresh and delicious, and our environment does too. I hear a win win situation.
The food and wine industries commitment to going green was one of the facets that was most apparent last night, aside of course from their commitment to delicious and beautiful end products. Each purveyor that I spoke with talked about their commitment to sustainability, or cutting down their waste. We have moved beyond simply going local for our produce and meats. The industry seems to be taking a hard look at where exactly each item is coming from, and the beliefs of that company. Together the restaurants and purveyors work together to create a partnership that they can both be proud of, and a quality end result for the consumer. Its a great thing to observe.
Taste of the Nation really was an incredible event with great emphasis on attention to detail. The silent auction included a huge variety of items from wine, to food, to Nespresso machines, even an autographed Cougar Town poster (won by a colleague of mine). The live music was perfect in the background, not intrusive but adding the relaxed vibe, and every person there was a joy to talk to. Taste of the Nation brings a very real plight of children around the world to light, gives assistance in a major way, and provides a more than enjoyable evening for food buffs everywhere. Kudos to the founders and staff of Share Our Strength!!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The first thing that makes this place awesome- it’s self serve-completely self serve. You choose your cup size, choose your flavor, and help your self to as much or as little as you want. THEN-the best part in my opinion, you help yourself to toppings-and they have QUITE the selection. As many different varieties as you want, in the varying quantities you prefer-all your own decision.
The second thing that makes this thing awesome- its all priced on weight- $.35 per ounce. Not a bad deal for you to help your self and compliment your flavor selection with the toppings you prefer.
Finally, the third awesome thing- the yogurt is only 100 calories for 3.5 ounces. Those are some numbers I can deal with.
My first experience at Berry Freeze, I helped myself to a small cup, selected coconut as my flavor choice and added a small twirl of yogurt to my cup. Then I helped myself to sliced kiwi fruit, bananas, strawberries, walnuts, and for a little decadence- a sprinkle of a few chocolate chips. The yogurt was extremely cold (great for those extremely hot summer days you know are on their way), and had great coconut flavor without seeming over done. The toppings were fresh and delicious-they even managed to keep the banana from turning brown! All in all this was a very tasty treat on one of the first summer like days of the spring. I can’t wait to return and try new flavor combinations!