Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do Rose Wines Confuse You?

Are those pink wines out there making you scratch your head?  Are you turned off by the color?  Do you believe that they are just super sweet wines to be scoffed at? Check out my discussion that explains all the ins and outs of those pretty pink wines!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fairsted Kitchen, Washington Square, Brookline

I gotta say- the last few months have seen the opening of some amazing restaurants.  These are restaurants where the food is inventive, but not approachable.  They are places where it's not necessary to consult google to determine what an ingredient is, they are places where a word like homey could be used....if your home contained a professional chef, of course.  One of these places is Fairsted Kitchen, located right on the green line in Brookline.

Under the extremely capable hands of chef Jason Albus, the team is offering up comforting, delicious, and well planned meals.  The cuisine can only be categorized as Contemporary American, though that general term does it no justice.  Fairsted Kitchen isn't holding back.  

The menu is designed for sharing, and so, on a recent trip, we sat down to four of their small plates.  We began with the sumac cured salmon, topped with fresh arugula, an herbed citrus vinaigrette and crunchy fried potato strings.  The salmon was beautifully seasoned and cured.  It sparkled with the unique lemon-esq flavor of the sumac, but upheld its classic salmon flavor.  The spice of the arugula was a wonderful complement, and of course the fried strips of heaven brought a sense of danger to an otherwise healthful meal.  As much as I loved all of the components of this dish, this was actually the only miss of the evening.  We found that someone had a heavy hand with the salt in the dressing and often found that to overcome the other, more delicate flavors.  

Next to our table was their house made
gnocchi, swimming in a creamy, buttery sauce, enhanced with those beautiful spring vegetables of bright green peas, fava beans and earthy Maitake mushrooms.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie Julie & Julia is when Julia Child takes a bite of her fish entree and sighs with delight "butter!".  I had the exact same blissful reaction to this dish.  The gnocchi were delightful, pillowy soft, still with some weight to them, fresh, sweet green peas, nutty fava beans with their wonderful toothsome feel, and of course the Maitakes, but the sauce that sang with pure butter is what pulled all of those other flavors and textures together in harmony.  Simple flavors is what it's all about.

Next were the crabcakes, sitting in a bright fresh Romesco sauce and accompanied by my favorite charred romaine lettuce.  Steering away from the classic crab cake accompaniments took this, bordering on ordinary dish, to a whole new level.  The Romesco was bright with acidity, a tiny hint of spice and an overall clean feeling which highlighted the sweet crab and ensured that was the true star.  The cakes themselves were plump and had the perfect mix of filling, and crab.  It is far, far too infrequent that I see charred romaine on menus and here it was became a stellar way to sop up every last bit of sauce.

Finally we tested out their sea
scallops, seared, and served with shaved leeks, puréed butternut squash and chopped cashews.  The scallops were perfectly cooked, golden brown exterior to a just translucent interior.  In these warm summer months, squash may have seemed out of place, however combined with the freshness of the leeks it was a refreshing choice.

As we wrapped up dinner we were buzzing a bit on how delicious it had all been so when our server asked if we'd like dessert, it wasn't a hard choice.  Blackberry pie, graham cracker crust, marscapone whipped cream.  The Blackberry filling was slightly tart, slightly sweet, a little creamy...the
crumbly graham cracker crust didn't was a perfect summer dessert that brought me right back to my mom's kitchen table on a hot summers eve.

Fairsted Kitchen is homey, the plates are mismatched, there are several sets of utensils being used, and you're sitting on church pews.  The coffee comes in a French Press for self serving.  It is homey, warming, and comforting.  It's food is no exception- simple food executed perfectly.

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...