Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stone Hearth Pizza, Multiple Locations

Pizza.  The very word conjures images of deliciousness:  Gooey melted cheese, sitting atop acidic pureed tomatoes punched up with herbs and spices all carried by a thin, crispy crust.  Nothing wrong with that right?  Of course, the delivery of pizza isn't that simple anymore now is it?  You have those crazy fast food pies that are more oil and grease than naturally possible, you have soggy crust pies, pies where the cheese doesn't adhere to the pie and comes off in one molten lava like clump, and, of course, you have the pies that taste delicious but render a price tag that reminds you of that last steak dinner you had.  Oh pizza, such a strained love affair it is that we have.  

So how about a pizza place that's making those classic pies you know and love, and some fresh and creative ones to boot (kale on a pizza?  yes please!) and making all of them with fresh, local, organic produce and proteins?  A pizza shop where they know their suppliers, they know the farms, and they even know their local beer suppliers (is there any better combination than pizza and beer?)?  Let me take this time then to introduce you to Stone Hearth Pizza.  

Stone Hearth has four locations in the Boston area, and at each is incorporating locally sourced, organic where possible, and fresh ingredients to their pizzas, salads and appetizers.  The result is food that tastes like food, like what you might make in your own kitchen.

I sampled several of their salads and loved that the greens were crisp and full of flavor, and the rest of the ingredients followed suit.  Most of all though I was impressed that the greens weren't swimming in dressings and oils.  Though they were dressed, it was done with a light hand and the natural flavors of the salad were preserved.  This seems to be a rare find out there in the world of salads- and a really refreshing twist (pun intended).

We were also treated to a selection of their appetizers.  Now normally I find appetizers at pizza places to be, well, pretty terrible.  Cold sticks of fried cheese, maybe a sorry stack of nachos...what is it with cheesy appetizers before eating cheesy pizza?  Well Stone Hearth has changed all that. Their appetizers consist of a creamy eggplant dip, mild or spicy plump meatballs or fresh salty olives wrapped in cheddar cheese and then baked into a toasty treat.  These were not your average pizza joint offerings, and it was clear that thought and time went into each.

Finally, we can turn our attention to the main event- the Pizza!  Stone Hearth's pizzas are made with organic flours and tomatoes, they are thin crusted, and baked at 600 degrees to ensure a crisp texture and a charred flavor.  The toppings are plentiful which makes you know you're getting bang for your buck, however they do limit the "gooey" feel of a cheesy pizza.  However, it is a delight to see items like kale, smoky blue cheese and arugula on a pie.  They are also conscious of dietary needs, offering pizzas that are gluten free, and offering a variety of different types of cheeses to appeal to those with dairy concerns.  This is an area that I know needs concentration by the industry and so it was a delight to see a real effort being made.  This attention to detail makes it a spot that is truly a family spot- with options appealing to everyone. 

Perhaps most impressive is Stone Hearth Pizza's commitment to the community.  They support not only local businesses, but also a variety of local charities, for more information please visit their community page:  http://www.stonehearthpizza.com/giving.htm

Stone Hearth is offering a great selection of pizzas, as well as a host of salads, appetizers, baked pastas and more.  They definitely an asset to the community, and I urge you to give them a try the next time a pizza craving hits!  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Quiet Anniversary

It's been pretty quiet 'round here huh?  I promise- it wasn't due to lack of thoughts, or food.  My silence was intentional.  This week was the four year anniversary of A Boston Food Diary.  I debated how I wanted to mark it.  I thought about the customary "look back" posts, I considered looking to the future.  Finally, I ruled out both of those.  I ruled out any type of "celebration" post.  I chose to commemorate it differently.

I don't often share personal information here, maybe some funny stories from when I was a kid and I thought watching Julia Child in our family living room made me a gourmand.  I'll recount stories from my time living in London, the dawn of Gourmet Gals, the kitschy name my fellow American roommates and neighbors gave ourselves as we whipped up fajitas and chicken parm dinners once a week.  However lately I've been doing a lot of self reflection.  I've been looking back on the last 5, 10, 15 years of my life and examining the choices and decisions I've made.  What I realized is that A Boston Food Diary, over the past four years, has been a true Godsend.  And so I chose to celebrate our little anniversary with a bouquet of flowers and um...a glass of wine.

As it has become clear, no doubt, over the time here, food has always been a major factor in my life.  When I was little I feared ridicule for my portly frame had I talked about food as much as I thought about it, so I kept quiet around my school mates.  Alone at home with my mother we discussed menu items.  We looked up ingredients in this massive set of food encyclopedias and learned their origins and use.  We watched Julia Child and laughed at her sayings.  My sophomore year of college I started really looking at what I was eating.  The Freshman Fifteen I had gained had to be eliminated, and I was intent on finding the healthiest options in the school cafeteria.  I spent the rest of my college concentrating on finding better food options, all while allowing those weekend indulgences where they applied.  After graduation, and into the working world, I set forth with one of my good friends to find the perfect diet.  We tried them all, and our weekly exercise of debating diet options kept me tied to food.  

As I continued to mature, I stretched my arms further in the kitchen.  I'd show up to Saturday night parties with plates full of artfully crafted appetizers, much to the amusement of my beer carrying friends.  (Yeah- I was that girl at the kegger with balsamic glazed chicken spears.)  I kept pushing myself in the kitchen, obsessed over menus, anticipated the opening of any new restaurant in town, and tried every new food I could.  Finally, it was suggested that I start a blog if for nothing else, as an outlet for this energy I had.  And so A Boston Food Diary was born.  

A Boston Food Diary has allowed me to fully explore food from all angles, it has given voice to a passion which I once felt the need to hide.  It has allowed the girl who chose to study Political Science and the law over flambes, roasts and reductions to fully explore these.  It has given me the courage to try techniques, ingredients and dishes that I may not have otherwise.  It has allowed this girl to be honest and frank about what truly moves me.  ABFD has given me the opportunity to mingle with some of the greatest chefs in the US, it has granted me a pass into some of the most incredible food experiences, and finally, through it, I have met some of the most wonderful like minded people.  It has become a friend in itself- a waiting blank canvas, standing in anticipation of what crazy thing I'll make next, and where this passion will lead me.

Though life has handed me my fair share of ups and downs throughout the past four years, A Boston Food Diary has been a companion through it, a comforting place to find joy in a chocolate cake, consolation in a bowl of pasta, and a celebration in the folds of an incredible dinner.  

Stemming from all of this, and thoughts I'm not brave enough to post here, I celebrated this little anniversary with reflection, a recognition of what has been, and a nod to the future.  

Back to our regularly scheduled programming next week...  Happy Saturday y'all.    

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Living Social Gourmet- A Dinner at Bistro du Midi, Boston

Oh LivingSocial...I fell in love with you long ago, what with your charming coupons and swoon inducing deals.  I fell hard when I found your listings of "escapes" wonderful locales luring me to their folds for fractions of what they would normally cost, but this was the week I realized that was true, everlasting love.  You see this was the week that I had the good fortune to test out your brand new feature- LivingSocial Gourmet.  

Similar to learning that your already great boyfriend is a guy who picks you up at 3 am from the airport, or makes you chicken soup when you're sick, LivingSocial Gourmet is going the distance bringing only the most unique dining experiences to the city of Boston.  LivingSocial is partnering up with some of the finest restaurants in Boston to offer exclusive dining experiences that are not offered otherwise.  That's right- LivingSocial Gourmet is your ticket into those new menu launches, tasting menus, and otherwise unobtainable restaurant events.  

As part of the kick off of this program here in Boston, I was invited to attend their inaugural event- a 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings at the esteemed Bistro du Midi, a relaxed French Bistro located with a fabulous view of Boston's Public Gardens.  

Bistro du Midi had elected to keep their offering small, and so a group of six of us culinary lovers were led to a small private section of the upstairs dining room, greeted by both the front of the house manager as well as their extremely accomplished Sommelier,  Todd Lipman.  Todd was our guide for the evening, explaining the course selections, as well as accompanying wine and cocktails.  As soon as we sat, our group together at the rustic feeling French Farmhouse table, we knew we were in for a treat.

Starting off the evening as our Amuse Bouce was a small serving of Bistro du Midi's saffron scented Bouillabaisse, accented with a single piece of seared Petit Loup de Mer and two small potatoes. This was paired with a gin based,  basil muddled, sparkling cocktail which was due to air on their menu the following day.  The Bouillabaisse was rich and creamy, well flavored from their use of lobster shells, Pernod and wine in the base, and showcased the seafood with subtle grace.  The ingredients balanced each other well, keeping the flavors in check lest they overpower the additions.  The cocktail was a hit around the table- strong scents of Pernod settled into the gin and basil as the it hit your tongue, and the gentle fizz created a refreshing finish, perfect for the rich Bouillabaisse.

As we moved on to our "Premier Plat", Todd once again made himself available to educate us on the course, as well as it's pairing with a 2010 l'Olivier de la Reze from Minervois.  It was a simple, clean white, dry but not overly so, a light wine which wonderfully complimented the intricate crudo dish laid before us.  Delicate Spanish Mackerel, mixed with blood orange juice,  and fennel, topped with watermelon radishes and micro greens and finally finished with a spicy pepper emulsion took my nomination for dish of the evening.  The mackerel, delicate and fleshy, scented with orange and sweet fennel was elevated by the peppery radish with the slightest hint of heat provided by the emulsion.  The dish had incredibly clean flavor, and the varying textures, from the silky crudo, to the slight crunch of the greens and finally the dense foam of the emulsion, created a different experience with each bite.  This was a dish made with expertise, a conscious nod to the flavors present, and in tune with the crisp wine pairing.

Our next course, a giant seared prawn laid atop shrimp and arugula stuffed calamari with a Blue Crab tomato ragout was a work of art.  The chef had gone so far as to add a single leaf of Arugula, perched on top of the prawn, as a palate refresher from the acidic ragout.  The prawn, well seared with quick caramelizing on a single side, was meaty and delicious bringing strong notes of  the ocean to my plate. The calamari was also well prepared, well cooked to avoid any chewy textures, however I felt that the filling was a bit lackluster.  I missed the strong presence of arugula, and the delicious flavor of shrimp and was sadly distracted by an overall feeling of dryness in the stuffing.  I was told later that a healthy dunking in the ragout solved the dryness concern.  The ragout, while on the subject, was delicious- strongly flavored with Blue Crab.  This dish was paired with the robust 2008 Domaine Fontsainte from Corbieres.  Acidic but full of berry flavors, this dry red wine stood well with with seafood, proving, once again, that red wines, even bold ones, can be married beautifully to seafood. 

Our next dish had several of us stealing glances almost asking permission to clean our plates with the highly impolite finger sweep rather than miss out on any drop of the heavenly sauce.  Prime Sirloin steak, cooked to a perfectly pink medium rare was sliced and served atop a gentle hill of mashed potatoes (pomme puree), enhanced by a drizzle of Sauce au Poivre, and finally accented with a salad of frisee and green beans.  That sauce, a combination of green peppercorns in brandy and a touch of cream...well- there wasn't a thing that could be said against it.  It was spicy creamy perfection.  It was paired with a 2008 Domaine Houchart Rouge, out of the Cotes de Provence.  This was a highly interesting wine made from remainder of the red grapes also used to make rose.  So where the rose is light, this was very dark, with deep flavors of berries that brought out those wonderful spicy notes from the sauce.  I found this wine, a mix of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon to be highly drinkable, as I do with most blended wines.

The finale was dessert- a hazelnut milk chocolate cake, topped with ganache, and served with salted caramel ice cream.  The table seriously considered ordering a vat of the ice cream, though I feel our sharing skills would have seriously been put to the test had we done so.  The salt in the ice cream was light, but noticeable enhancing the sweetness of the caramel.  The cake was my favorite part however.  Similar in flavor to a favorite Christmas time hazelnut and chocolate candy, the base layer had crunchy texture lent from cornflakes mixed into the chocolate. The ganache was silky and smooth, dotted with whole hazelnuts and spears of chocolate.  The cake itself was not overly sweet, and so when combined with the ice cream, a perfect level of decadent sweetness was achieved. This was paired with a 2009 Chateau Bel Air, Tradition from Sainte Croix du Mont, a golden wine made from Semillion grapes (one of my favorites).  The beauty of the Semillion is that while they are considered dessert wine grapes, they just aren't as sweet as some others.  Here, they complimented the dessert without bringing friction to the palate which so often results in an almost bitter by product.

I was truly honored to be a part of this evening.  Todd Lipman and Chef Robert Sisca put together a superb meal from amuse to dessert, and in turn hosted a perfect dinner party.  The experience truly felt unique, as I sat with my new found friends and we traded food stories from all over the globe, it was a night like no other.  LivingSocial Gourmet is truly offering a special service, bringing the food lover into a world sometimes seen as off limits.  It is a world I often have my nose pressed against the glass of, and I am so thankful to have been a part for this evening.  LivingSocial Gourmet can be found at http://livingsocial.com/gourmet -they are still in a bit of a launch process here in Boston, but sign up and watch the incredible opportunities filter into your in box.           

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Hoagies on Homemade Focaccia

As I was setting out to investigate football foods, I thought: can you really sit down to enjoy a big game without a sandwich?  Sure chips and dip, soups, chili's, and stews are all great- but isn't there some thing about clinging on to a sandwich with both hands as your team defends it's position and tension is high, and then tearing off a bite with your teeth- a feeling just as animalistic as a great tackle on the field- right? 

I might be stretching, just a tad with that one, but the sandwiches I settled on for our football viewing party were worth a lot more! I decided to get them started on my favorite "guilty pleasure" sandwich bread- Focaccia.  I am a ridiculous freak for Focaccia- it's crisp exterior blending into a pillowy soft yet thin interior has just the texture contrast I love.  Baked with olive oil, earthy rosemary, spicy pepper and a sprinkling of salt the flavor profile separates this from just a typical bread to something truly special.

I decided several things about these sandwiches- first, I would make the bread from scratch.  It's time that I become more comfortable with breads, and since my love of Focaccia is so great, I should be able to make a good one.  Second- I wanted to make them vegetarian.  Football food, and perhaps rightly so, is often very meat heavy, and it relegates our vegetarian friends to chips and dip while the rest of the party noshes on meatballs, sliders and Italian hoagies.  Silliness.  These sandwiches were just as warm and comforting as a big meatball sub, jam packed with flavor, and veggie friendly!

I found a recipe on King Arthur (of course) that I knew would be both easy (because I remain a baking wimp), and delicious.  I set to work on the bread, and let me tell you- the recipe was pretty fool proof.  It all got slapped together in no time, while I concentrated on other tasks.  

Focaccia Bread (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 cups (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons each- black pepper, salt
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Add 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour. Stir with a whisk and let this sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going.
Add the salt and the whole wheat flour. Add the rest of the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth ball. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn the dough to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a draft-free place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down, and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Stretch the dough into a 14-inch circle and place on a greased baking sheet. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F while the focaccia is rising. Dimple it with your fingers and place it in the oven. Evenly spread the dough with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. 
After the bread had cooled, I cut it into squares  (approximately 4" x 4") and then stuffed them with roasted Portobello mushrooms, roasted red and orange bell peppers and a slice of Provolone cheese.  I baked them off for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese had fully melted, and then devoured.  
These sandwiches were simple, but truly delicious.  The simplicity of the roasted vegetables paired with the gooey cheese and then stuffed into the flavorful homemade bread was a combination worth its salt.  They were hearty and satisfying, providing all of the toothsome feel you want when savagely ripping into them...or daintily eating them as a lady would. 
Go Pats! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mashed Potato Soup

It really shouldn't come as any big surprise that I adore, adore, my friends who are just as obsessed with food as I am.  Trading ideas, listening to their thoughts, and the obscene amount of knowledge that I gain from these conversations constantly amazes me. I am inspired by their ideas, and treasure these discussions.  Last week, in passing, my friend Dan (aka Chef Daniel Silver raved about here) mentioned that he was competing in a soup contest, and he was entering with a mashed potato soup that sounded incredible.  I was in the process of designing some snacks for football viewing, and immediately thought that that sounded like a wonderful accompaniment.  Hearty and comforting, with the approach ability of the heart warming side dish we all love so well, but spun into a perfect soup, perfect for entertaining and keeping guests warm and satisfied as they cheer on their favorite team.  

I alerted Dan that I'd be pilfering his idea, though I promised to change it up.  His included that little bit of heaven ingredient- roasted garlic, a combination I knew had to be delicious.  I took a bit of a left turn though and decided to draw some inspiration from the idea of Potato Skins, a classic sports accompaniment in my mind, and topped my bowl of steaming hot soup with cheddar cheese, scallions and bacon (mmmm bacon).  I always believe it is ridiculous to talk about "lightening" something up when I've just discussed bacon, but I did want to make the note that I decided against using cream in this soup to achieve the "creamy" flavor of mashed potatoes.  Instead, I depended on my old friend the Cannelloni Bean,which, when whipped into submission, provides a wonderful cream like flavor/texture that I truly adore.

Mashed Potato/Potato Skin Soup

8-9 medium Red Bliss Potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
4 large garlic cloves, peeled, but left whole.
1 can drained cannelloni beans
3-4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper

Shredded Cheddar cheese,
Crisp crumbled Bacon

Place the potatoes and the garlic cloves in a large pot, and fill with cold water until the potatoes are submerged.  Set over medium heat and boil until the potatoes easily break a part with a fork.  Drain the water from the pot, and then add the beans,butter and 2 cups of the stock.  Puree using either an immersion blender (my choice), or in a blender/vitamix or even a food processor (last choice).  Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to add the stock until the soup reaches the consistency you desire.  The soup should be creamy and thick.  

Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, bacon and scallions ( or whatever toppings your heart desires) grab a spoon, a beer, and start cheering on your favorite team!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I won't lie to you- bringing baked goods into my office is a secret joy of mine.  I  don't do it often- don't want to spoil my co workers, but when I do- it's just always so much fun.  I tend to do it in secret- I unwrap the goodies in the kitchen before many people are here, and then nonchalantly walk away hoping not to be spied by anyone.  Then, as people arrive I get to hear the exclamations as people stroll to the kitchen for their morning coffee or water and discover the offering.  Throughout the morning I then have morbid curiosity to find out how quickly it is devoured. What can I say- it's a little ego boost.  

Last night, I stood in my apartment, cleaning out my fridge of leftovers for the week for dinner, I noticed two sad looking bananas in my fruit bowl.  Purchased, I'm sure with the idea of eating them over last weekend, forgotten about, and then pushed aside when I went grocery shopping the week in favor of newer, tastier bananas.  They looked so forlorn there, pretty yellow siblings lying next to them, and my apple pear mocking them, I decided that I had to rescue them.  I quickly found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Bundt Cake and those that were forlorn were re-purposed.  Life again.  I knew that I would want that cake out of my house pronto- so as soon as possible I wrapped up the cake, and put it with the rest of my stuff for the day.  Two birds- one stone.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (stolen from Tastebook.com

  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10-inch bundt cake pan and dust with flour. Toss the chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of the flour and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, stir together the bananas, milk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. One at a time, beat in the eggs, mixing well after each addition. In three additions each, mix in the flour and banana mixtures until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chip mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 65 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto the rack to remove it from the pan and cool completely. For a garnish, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake or drizzle with melted chocolate chips. Store the cake in an airtight container at room temperature. 

The cake was moist and dense, full of sweet banana flavor, interrupted only by the delight of bitter sweet chocolate.  This was a sturdy cake, able to stand up to a good topping, had I dedicated time to make one, or a delightful glaze.  I kept envisioning a orange glaze for some reason...perhaps I'll have to make again. 

This is a good cake recipe though folks-and I'll say the reviews from my co workers- who quickly figured out who the "stealth" giver was- were great. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Event Alert: TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala

Can you think of any better way to spend a Friday night then sampling food from some of Boston's best restaurants and enjoying a libation or two surrounded by Boston's food loving community?  No?  I didn't think so!  

Friday, January 20th from 7-11 pm NECN is bringing their TV Diner Platinum Plate Gala to Boston!  Over 30 different vendors will be offering up some of their greatest creations and dishes.  These restaurants include:  Lucca, Tasty Burger, Taranta, Modern Pastry, Red Lantern and Market- among many many others.  

More information, tickets etc can be found here:  http://www.necn.com/pages/tvdiner_gala_home/  Check it out- promises to be a great time!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Local 149, South Boston

There are some places that you just immediately feel at home once you step through the threshold.  Many of my favorite restaurants have achieved this feeling.  They aren't pretentious, they are fun, laid back and comfortable.  Now, when they have delicious food as well, the combination makes it a spot I want to return to time and again.  

Local 149 in South Boston has quickly become one of these spots to me.  I have visited a couple of times in the past few weeks, and have already settled in to a "go to" cocktail, and have been thrilled with the dishes I have tried.  Everything I've had has been fresh, well cooked, well seasoned and ultimately delicious.  

I began my journey into Local 149 with a selection of their cured meats and cheeses, served with pickled vegetables and the traditional accompaniments.  Obviously cured meats have become rather trendy throughout the restaurant scene, however Local 149 brings a new freshness to it.  Each selection is labeled with its origin, with many locally sourced, and others representing a great cross section of the US.  Meats from Tennessee, Virginia and New York are mingled with those cured right here in New England, and the cheeses hail from California to Ireland with diversity in their flavors and textures.  It is clear that Local 149 has put time and thought into their charcuterie, and it is worth it.  

Second on the list were the Hog Wings.  Yeah- you read that right- Hog Wings. Mini Pork Shanks, trimmed down to resemble chicken drumsticks, fried and coated with a hoison barbecue sauce are served piping hot and with Local 149's own ranch dressing for dipping.  First bite of these was fantastic.  The slightly sweet, slightly spicy BBQ sauce packed the perfect punch, and when dipped into the ranch dressing, accentuated with a healthy dose of dill, the flavors blended well.  However, I was disappointed as the third/fourth bites were reached, when my bites had already eliminated the BBQ sauce, and it no longer imparted it's flavor.  The internal meat, while juicy and well cooked, lacked any discernible flavor, rendering it a little "boring" and subject to discard before fully finished.  Perhaps a bit of a marinade pre-frying would help?

Entrees at Local 149 run the gamut as well - from hearty helpings of Braised Lamb Shank, to warming servings of Chorizo Cassoulet, to the always fun Chicken and Waffles.  They offer a variety, as well, of burgers and sandwiches, and it was here that I found my new obsession.  Saturday evening, dining late and not wanting anything too heavy, my dining companion and I decided to share the Yellow Fin Tuna Burger and the Local Cheeseburger.  My first bite was the Tuna Burger in which large chunks of Yellow Fin Tuna had been formed together into a patty, topped with caramelized onions, eggplant bacon, and wasabi flavored pickles.  The result was incredible.  The tuna was fresh, and rare inside having just been seared on the outside.  It had perfect, subtle flavor and a luxurious consistency that accommodated the toppings wonderfully.  The sweetness from the onions, the  tang and spice from the pickles and the smoke from the "bacon" brought all of the familiar flavors of a burger into play while maintaining the sandwich's unique properties.  We split this bad boy in half- but each of us caught the other eyeing the half that wasn't there- plotting a stealth move of stealing it back.  That was one tasty Tuna Burger!

The Local Cheeseburger was not to be outdone however.  Thick, flavorful and juicy despite it being cooked to a medium well state (by request- I shuddered in horror), it was a burger to be reckoned with.  We elected to have it bedecked with a couple slabs of crispy bacon in addition to it's original toppings of Caerphilly Cheddar cheese and a pickled green onion- it was a very smart decision.  That crisp and smokey bacon lent a wonderful textural contrast to the melted cheese and held up well in the face of the tangy tomato.  The beauty here though was that neither of these flavors interfered with the flavor of the grass fed beef the burger was composed of.  Here was a burger that held true beef flavor- which is so often lost in burgers due to over salting, or just a lower quality beef.  Local 149 though had a truly delicious blend of seasoning and beef, and the result was fantastic.  The fries here were a bit of a misstep for me, limp and a bit soggy, they were easy to bypass.

There is no burger face off here- thank goodness because I wouldn't want to choose a winner.  

Local 149 has quickly become a comfort spot for me- a great place to enjoy a cocktail, a pint of beer from an extensive menu, and enjoy some great food with some inventive twists and turns.   I am already looking forward to my next visit...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Winter Cocktails Around Town!

I know I've been failing to bring you guys new recipes and reviews the last couple of weeks- but have no fear I am working on it!I promise! In the mean time, yesterday I received an email outlining several winter themed cocktails around the area and I had to pass it along! I figure that even without the snow swirling a warming cocktail is always a good thing! 

Legal C Bar (950 Providence Highway, Dedham, 781. 234.6500)
  • Hot Toddy ($7.95)- Maker’s Mark Bourbon, honey, lemon, clove, water
  • Hot Buttered Rum ($7.95) -  Myers’s Dark Rum, Appleton V/X Rum, spice box syrup, butter
  • Honey Apple Warmer ($8.95) - Applejack Brandy, Barenjager Honey Liqueur, spices

Legal Harborside (270 Northern Avenue, Boston-617.477.2900)

  • Rum Toddy ($10)- Rooibos chai tea, tropical rums, demerara syrup, citrus 
  • Mulled Wine ($10) - Traditional warmer- red wine, brandy, ruby port, citrus, winter spices

Woodward at the AMES Hotel (1 Court Street, Boston, 617.979.8100)

  • Hottie Tottie ($12)- Bulleit Bourbon, Earl Greater Grey Black Tea, Honey and Lemon
  • Rosehips Rita ($12) Gran Centeranio Rosangel, Chamomile Rose Herbal Tea, Agave Nectar and Lime
BOKX 109 American Prime (Hotel Indigo, 399 Grove Street, Newton, 617.969.5300)
  • Apple Warmer ($18) - Pierre Ferrand selection des anges, cider, clove clipped orange
Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake (384 Boylston Street, Boston, 617.859.8555)
  • Winter Spiced Peppermint Mocha ($10)- Peppermint and Clove infused Belvedere Kahlua, Hot Cocoa and Whipped Cream

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Legal Seafoods Announces "Chowda Day" on January 11, 2012

Whoa...it is COLD out there today!  I mean, it is seriously, frigidly cold!  I spent about 20 minutes last night trying to pick out my warmest clothes for today.  BrrrrWeather like this makes me crave big bowls of hearty soups, piping hot and able to keep me warm as I trudge through the city.

With this in mind, Legal Seafoods is helping us all out by hosting a national "Chowda Day" on January 11, 2012.  Pop into any Legal Seafoods location across the country and receive a cup of their famous Clam Chowder for just $1.00 (with purchase of an entree).  Hows that for heart warming??  If you feel like spreading the love a bit, then quarts for shipping are also available online for just $11.00 that day. 

Legal's Clam Chowder has long been my family's favorite, a dish I remember eating from the time I was little and I loved the creamy base and salty oyster crackers more than the treasured clams themselves.  $1.00 for a cup is a great deal, and I know I'll be heading to my nearest Legal on the 11th to cash in!

NB- Thank you dear reader for double checking the fine print and pointing out that the cup is just a dollar with purchase of an entree- that was a detail worth showcasing!  Readers- you are the best!

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...