Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hotel Commonwealth Offers Late Night Accommodations

I have come away from posting general press releases over the last couple of years.  However, yesterday I got one that I thought was incredibly important and I truly appreciate.  All too often, especially it seems, through these summer months, we hear of people having a bit too much fun out and about and then getting into their cars and driving home.  The tragedy happens when something occurs during those drives where people don't make it home.  Boston's Hotel Commonwealth is doing something about it.  

Late-Night, Last-Minute Accommodations at Hotel Commonwealth
Luxury Hotel Offers Kenmore Square Revelers an Easy Overnight Option

JUNE 25, 2013; BOSTON, MA – A night of delicious craft cocktails at The Hawthorne, one of Boston’s most popular hot spots, can come to a hasty end for guests running to catch the last train or hop a ride home with a designated driver. To ensure the revelry is no longer cut short, Hotel Commonwealth’s Late-Night, Last-Minute package offers a perfectly convenient (just upstairs from The Hawthorne!) opportunity for making the spontaneous, often responsible, decision to extend the evening with an overnight stay at an affordable price of $199 with parking included.

After 10:00PM, a Late-Night, Last-Minute stay can easily be booked by placing an inquiry at The Hawthorne’s host desk, which works directly with Hotel Commonwealth to confirm availability and book the reservation.  In the meantime, guests can return to their cocktails and conversation confident that they have a place to hang their hat for the night (and at one of Boston’s top hotels, no less).

The Late-Night, Last-Minute package includes:
·         Overnight accommodations for two in Hotel Commonwealth’s spacious guestrooms
o   Hotel Commonwealth’s 149 luxurious guestrooms are distinguished by their generous size – on average 25 percent larger than the typical Boston hotel room.  To ensure an abundance of comfort, as well as space, each guestroom features upscale marble bathrooms, Frette linens and bathrobes, imported Italian linens, custom designed furniture, flat-screen TVs, (MALIN + GOETZ) bath amenities and complimentary wireless internet access.
·         Custom monogrammed slippers from The Hawthorne
·         Dopp kit featuring (MALIN + GOETZ) amenities:
o   Face cleanser and moisturizer
o   Deodorant
o   Dental kit
o   Shaving kit
·         Late check-out of 1:00PM
·         Room service breakfast from Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks
·         Overnight valet parking
·         Special room rate of $199
·         Available same-day only at The Hawthorne starting at 10:00PM, based on availability

For more information, call 617-933-5000 or visit

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kayem is Celebrating Summer and Providing Some Grilling Tips!

It is hot out there!  We have officially reached the summer months and it is officially time to get out side, and cook whatever we can over open flame.  Right?  Well, as we kick off the season, I have had the pleasure of working, once again with the wonderful folks over at Kayem Foods.  

Kayem Foods is the name behind the famous Fenway Frank over at the legendary, amazing, incredible and awesome Fenway Park where the beloved Boston Red Sox play (hows that for some Boston pride?).  Of course the beauty of Kayem is that they don't just sell their hot dogs to the parks- they are available as easily as your local grocery store.  Even better- they don't even just make hot dogs- they make an incredible bounty of delicious treats including sausages, braughts, kielbasa...the list goes on.  My favorite though have been their lean chicken Franks.  Full of the same great flavor as their regular dogs, these chicken franks have 50% fewer calories, 75% less fat and 40% less sodium to them...they are my go to for summer grilling.  

Of course, grilling, as wonderful as it is does have its own pit falls and concerns that we should all be mindful of.  Kayem asked me to include a few of their tips
for a safe and fun season:

  1. Safety First, Second, and LastGrilling is always fun, but it can also be dangerous if you aren't careful. Never leave your grill unattended, keep a spray or squirt bottle of water nearby, and watch out for kids near the grill. When you're done grilling, make sure your grill has cooled to the touch before closing up shop.
  2. A Temperature for EverythingDifferent meats need different temperatures. Anything that needs a sear, from burgers to fish, should be cooked on medium-high heat. Your poultry prefers medium heat. As for hot dogs, low heat is your best friend when grilling these puppies to perfection.
  3. Protect Your DogsRemember not to pierce the casing of your franks. Natural casing keeps in all the flavor of the dog, and piercing the casing allows the juiciness to drip out. That means tongs over forks, and no diagonal cuts!
  4. When in doubt, throw it outHow long has that meat been sitting out in the sun? Is your cooler old enough? If you aren't sure about the safety of your food, the smart thing may be to throw it out. If everyone gets sick, no one will trust your cooking ever again.

  1. Toast Anything That’s ToastableHot dog on a cold bun. No thanks. Put your hot dog and burger buns on the grill over low heat a minute or two before your meat is ready. It keeps everything warm, plus it will do a better job holding in all the juiciness of your meat. New England-style hot dog buns toast up especially well.
  2. Be PatientCharcoal briquettes take time to get fully lit, and cooking over unlit charcoal imparts a chemical smell and flavor to your meat. Wait for the charcoal to burn off a bit before you put anything on the grill. Your guests will thank you.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Strawberry Harvest Review, Harvest, Harvard Square, Cambridge

I remember when I was little, and I'd be out doing that dreaded chore of mowing the lawn, and there, from my perch, Id spy a little hint of read peeping out from under a bed of leaves.  I'd immediately stop my mower and crouch down to unearth the bright berries.  Strawberries, even now, are jewels found, whether in the market, or in the fields.  Their sweet tart flavor, especially when warmed by the summer sun screams out to be enjoyed in every possible way.

Last week I was invited in to Harvest restaurant, located in Harvard Square, to sample their latest in their line of Harvest Reviews- concentrated on Strawberries.  Each course highlighted strawberries in a unique way, pairing them with savory and then sweet, and broadening their horizons out of their typical use.

We began our evening with one of the more intriguing preparations.  A grilled Kurobuta Pork Sausage was paired with a black pepper strawberry gastrique and pickled green strawberries.  For clarification, Korubuta Pork is a type of heritage pork, raised specifically for intense flavor and rich fat.  Think Wagyu beef...Here the pork sausage was exactly what one would want from sausage, full of sweet and spicy flavor, hints of apple and nuts, and succulently fatty.  The perfection here came from the pickled strawberries.  There is something about cutting something so rich with the wonderful acidity of anything pickled. 
The green strawberries were incredible.  Having not fully ripened they had their own natural tartness, and then their flavor was brought out and manipulated really nicely in the pickling process.  Together, especially combined with the sweet and spicy gastrique it was a perfect bite after perfect bite.

Up next was a Lavender Compressed Strawberry Salad.  Bright whole lavender infused strawberries were set atop lime flavored yogurt, and then sprinkled with lavender olive oil powder and topped with fresh pea greens.  Every component of this dish played off each other.  The strawberries were naturally delicious on their own, but then when combined with the slight crunch of the pea greens, and their own sweetness, and then offset with tart yogurt, it was wonderful delight on the tongue.  Even more than the flavors of this dish, I loved its healthful side as well.  Every ingredient was fresh and natural, not over sauced and created a perfect base of vitamins and protein.  As an appetizer, or a larger dish, this was exactly what I want to feast on in a restaurant.

Our entree course arrived soon after which perched a beautiful piece of seared Scottish Salmon, atop a Yukon Gold, Leek and Smoked Bacon hash and then drizzled with a strawberry, rhubarb and ginger jam.  The salmon was beautiful.  It hadn't been doctored in any way allowing its perfection to shine through as it was meant to be.  Perfectly cooked, a wonderful medium rare, it was flavorful and delicious.  Paired with the hash, which had incredible thick chunks of bacon and then beautifully melted bits of leek all against a back drop of creamy potatoes- it was a hearty accompaniment.  I confess that the jam did get a bit lost amid the other components here, but that served no damage to the dish.

Finally we were served our dessert.  As a perfect accompaniment to summer,
we were presented with fresh strawberry sorbet, a crumble of strawberry meringue, oat cracker and then little dollops of lovage cream.  This light dessert blew me away.  The sorbet was lovely, of course, bright, flavorful, not overly sweet- it was delicious.  But the star here was what Executive Pastry Chef Brian Mercury called his gamble.  It was the lovage cream.  Lovage, if you aren't familiar, is an herb that tastes like a very highly concentrated celery leaf.  Normally found in savory dishes (its a staple in my mom's stuffing), it was a glorious surprise here lending its unique flavor to the sweetness of the strawberry and then rounded out with the cream.  It was a perfect summer dessert, light enough to allow for swimsuits, cool enough to refresh after a hot day and decadent enough to count as dessert.  

Each time I have dined at Harvest I have been beyond impressed.  Their food is always outstanding, but what charms me even more is their passion.  Each member of the staff from Executive Chef Mary Dumont, to every server and host, shows their love of food and their craft in every action.  If you have the opportunity to pass their open kitchen you can expect not to hear frustration or stress, but instead every time I've been greeted with a smile and a friendly hello.  It's not that they aren't busy- it's that they love what they do.  And it every dish.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

90+ Cellars, Rose, Languedoc, France, 2012

It is, quite officially, summer.  Summer always means the delight of long evenings, charcoal smoke filled back yards, and hot, sunny days.  During these days I always search for the perfect accompaniment to my time- something crisp and chilled, something refreshing, something to savor as the temperatures soar.  Invariably, during this time, I tend to crave the always lovely Rose wines that have been popping up all over the place the last few years.  

To kick off the season, on a recent 90+ degree day, I had the opportunity to set sail around Boston Harbor and help launch 90+ Cellars summer of Rose.  Their rose is comprised of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre, all fermented and then aged for seven months.  The result is exactly what one would want from a gorgeous glass of wine.  Highly drinkable, with notes of strawberry, a wonderful balance of acid and natural sweetness and just a bit of spicy white pepper.  Full and robust without overpowering, this is a wine that is easy to pair and to simply just sip, and at just about $12.00 a bottle- its hard to refuse!


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