Boston Restaurant Reviews Index

>>  Friday, October 30, 2009

This is an index of all the Boston area restaurants on this blog. If you're not super familiar with the neighborhoods and such, you may instead prefer to check out my summary of my favorite Boston picks first, just to get oriented.

My favorites are marked with **, and places I really like marked with *.

Harvard Square

Le's (Formerly Pho Pasteur)
*Cafe Sushi
Shabu Square (Now closed)
Om Restaurant & Lounge (lunch - Now closed))
Om Restaurant & Lounge (Dinner under Patricia Yeo - (Now closed))
    American / New American
    *Alden & Harlow
    *L.A. Burdick's
    Tory Row
    *Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage
    *Canteen (Now closed)
    *Clover Food Labs
    *Russell House Tavern
    *The Plough and Stars
    *Veggie Planet/Club Passim
    Henrietta's Table
    *Ten Tables
    **Hi Rise Bread Company
    *Upstairs On the Square (Now closed)
          Soiree Room (Now closed)
          Monday Club - 2 (Now closed)
          Monday Club - 1 (Now closed)
    Grafton Street Pub & Grill
    *Garden at the Cellar 2009 and 2007

    The Red House (Italian)
    **Rialto (Italian)
    The Upper Crust (Pizza - Now the Just Crust)
    *Cambridge 1 (Grilled Pizza)
    Sandrine's Bistro - 2010 update (French)
    Sandrine's Bistro (French)
    1 Arrow Street Crepes (French - Now closed)
    *Il Panino Express (Italian - Now closed)

    Inman Square
    *Puritan & Co (American)
          Puritan & Co {Snapshot} (American)
    *East Coast Grill (seafood, BBQ)
    *Bom Cafe
    East By Northeast (Asian)
    *Tupelo (Southern)
    Benatti (now closed)
    **Muqueca (Update!)
    **Muqueca (Coastal Brazilian)
    **Oleana Top Chef Masters (Mediterranean)
    **Oleana (Mediterranean)
    *All Star Sandwich Bar (Sandwiches)

    Kendall Square
    **Area Four
    *Bondir revisited
    Lord Hobo (Craft beers)
    *Emma's (pizza)
    *The Blue Room
    *The Friendly Toast (brunch)
    *Cambridge Brewing Company
    Legal Seafoods
    Firebrand Saints (burgers)

    Bon Me (Sandwiches)
    **Guchi's Midnight Ramen Pop Up at Bondir
    *Atasca (Portuguese)
    *Leisure Station (Taiwanese/Boba Tea Shop)
    Mulan (Taiwanese)
    *Hungry Mother (Southern)
    Izzy's (Latin / Puerto Rican)
    *Helmand (Afghan)
    P.F. Chang's (Asian)

    Porter Square
    Giulia (Italian)
    Rafiki Bistro (American - now closed)
    Chez Henri (French)
    Cambridge Common (American)
    Temple Bar (American)
    Blue Fin (Sushi)
    Stone Hearth Pizza (Italian)
    Sapporo Ramen (Japanese)
    Zing (Pizza - now closed)
    *Cafe Mami (Japanese)
    *Anna's Taqueria (Mexican)
    *Yume Wo Katare (Ramen)

    Central Square
    New American/American
    **Mariposa Bakery
    *Miracle of Science
    **Craigie on Main (dinner)
    **Craigie on Main (bar)
    **Craigie on Main (brunch)
    **Craigie Street Bistrot (2007) (now Craigie on Main)
    *Pacific Cafe

    Cafe Luna
    *Basta Pasta

    Tunisian/North African
    **Baraka Cafe

    Thelonious Monkfish

    Mariposa Bakery
    Flour Bakery

    North Cambridge
    Sofra Bakery & Cafe (bakery and Mediterranean food)
    Formaggio Kitchen (barbecue, cheese, market)
    Armando's Pizza (Italian)
    Trattoria Pulcinella (Italian)
    **Gran Gusto (2010)
    **Gran Gusto (2008) (Italian)
    Jose's Mexican Restaurant
    *Qingdao Garden (2014 Update)
    *Qingdao Garden (Dumplings/Chinese)

    East Cambridge
    Hungry Mother (Southern, French)
    Unique Dumpling (Taiwanese/Northern Chinese)
    Wisteria (Taiwanese) -  (Now closed - Allston location still open)

      Kirkland Tap & Trotter (New American)
      Posto Pizzeria
      Saloon (gastropub)
      Foundry on Elm (New American)
      *Sarma (Mediterranean)
      Pho 'N Rice (Vietnamese)
      **Bergamot (New American)
      Bergamot (2013 Update)
      Redbones (BBQ)
      El Potro (Mexican/Salvadoran)
      *Dave's Fresh Pasta (Sandwiches, pasta)
      Pescatore (Italian)
      Amelia's Kitchen (Italian)

        *Jo Jo Taipei (Taiwanese)
        Fish Market (Japanese)
        Dok Bua (Thai)
        **Fugakyu (Japanese)
        **May's Cafe (Taiwanese)

          Back Bay
          Precinct Kitchen (New American)
          Uni Sashimi Bar (Japanese)
          **Uni Sashimi Bar (Chef Tony Messina)
          Erbaluce (Italian)
          Asana (New American)
          Lucca Back Bay (Italian)
          Pinkberry (frozen yogurt)
          Towne Stove & Spirits (Eclectic)
          Clio (French/Japanese)
          Sel de al Terre (French)
          Piatini (Italian)
          *Casa Romero (Mexican)
          Parish Cafe (Sandwiches)
          Uni (Sushi / pan-Asian)
          P.F. Chang's (Pan-Asian)
          **Grill 23 (Steak)
          Sorellina (Italian)
          Capital Grille (Steak)
          Turner Fisheries (Seafood)

          West End/Chinatown/Theater District/
          Downtown/Beacon Hill
          **O Ya (Japanese)
          Troquet (French)
          Scampo (American)
                Scampo (2013 Snapshot)
          Radius (bar - now closed)
                Radius (dining room - now closed)
          *Dumpling Cafe (Taiwanese)
                Dumpling Cafe (2013 Snapshot)
          *Taiwan Cafe (Taiwanese)
          *Hei La Moon (Chinese)
          KO Prime (Steak)
          *The Oceanaire (Seafood)
          Bina Osteria (Italian)
          *No. 9 Park (American)
          Beacon Hill Bistro (American)
          Phoenicia (Middle Eastern / Lebanese)
          *Penang (Malaysian)
            South End
            Petit Robert (French)
            Foumami (Asian sandwiches)
            Teranga  (Senegalese/African)
            Myers + Chang (Asian)
            **Oishii Boston (Japanese)

            Fort Point/Fan Pier

            Dabin (Lexington)
            New Ginza (Watertown)
            Daikanyama (Lexington)

            Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe (Chelmsford)
            Formosa Taipei (Lexington)
            Golden Garden (Northern Chinese)
            Golden Garden (2013 Snapshot)
            **Shangri La (Taiwanese/Sichuan)
            *Fuloon (Malden)
              American/New American
              80 Thoreau (Concord)
              Lumiere (Newton)
              Sycamore (Newton)
              Wild Willy's (Watertown)
              **Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Dedham)
              Texas Roadhouse (Everett)
              **Rancatore's (Lexington, Belmont)
              Bobby Flay Burger Bar (Burlington)
                European (Italian/French)
                *Ribelle (Brookline)

                  Click here to continue ...

                  Golden Carrot Ginger Soup

                  >>  Wednesday, October 28, 2009

                  Yellow and Red Carrots
                  Have you seen such beautiful, colorful carrots before? I saw these in the Farmer's Market last week and could not resist buying them.
                  Yellow and Red Carrots Side view
                  When cut open, the red ones look like the orange ones we are used to, but with a dark, red outer layer. The yellow ones are yellow all the way through.  I tried a piece - it tasted pretty similar to normal carrots.  Without an orange one as comparison, I was not sure if I could tell the difference or not.  The red carrots are high in lycopene, just like tomatoes.  The yellow carrots derive their color from xanthophylls, a yellow pigment from the carotenoid group.  All of these carrots are very nutrient rich - just in slightly different ways.
                  Grating Ginger
                  I decided to make carrot ginger soup out of the yellow carrots.  In general, the fall makes me yearn for thick, hot, blended soups made from in-season root vegetables.  This carrot ginger soup is delicious.  The ginger provides a rich backdrop for the sweet carrots and sauteed shallots.  It totally warms the soul on a cool, autumn evening.

                  Of course, you can use regularly carrots and onions to make this dish and it will taste just as good.  I just happened to have these colorful carrots and shallots on hand.

                  Ginger Carrot Soup
                  serves 2 (total time: 45 minutes)
                  For a printer friendly version, please click here:

                  1 T butter
                  5 small shallots (can substitute with 1 onion), peeled and chopped
                  3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
                  1 pound carrots, sliced
                  1 T grated fresh ginger
                  1/2 cup heavy cream
                  salt and pepper to taste

                  Step 1: Saute shallots in butter and cook, over medium high heat, until the shallots are translucent and limp.
                  Step 2: Add broth, carrots, and grated ginger.
                  Step 3: Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft and tender when pierced (about 20-25 minutes).

                  Step 4: Remove from heat. I used my trusty immersion blender (for a picture of the immersion blending process, check out this post). You can also blend in batches with a blender.  Be careful not to fill the blender up too high, otherwise the hot liquid may splatter.  Puree to your desired consistency.

                  Step 5: Return to the pan (if using a blender), and add 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

                  Carrot-Ginger Soup on Foodista

                  Click here to continue ...

                  Mike's Pastry

                  >>  Monday, October 26, 2009

                  As I have mentioned time and time again, I love going to the North End in Boston. If we are hosting visitors from out of town, inevitably we will take them to the North End.  For example, this past weekend, we took the in-laws, who were visiting from California, to Prezza and Mamma Maria (on separate days!!) to try some of the best Italian food in the North End.

                  Of course, we never order dessert when we dine in the North End.

                  If you have ever been to the North End, you know there are three places that will have a HUGE line in front, without fail.  Pizzeria Regina's, Giacomo's, and Mike's Pastry.
                  MIke's Pastry

                  This Italian bakery, situated right in the heart of the North End on Hanover Street, is definitely the most well known pastry shop in the North End.  They are especially known for their cannolis, a deep fried pastry shell filled with sweet ricotta cheese.

                  They also make a wide variety of Italian cookies, pies, cakes, and gorgeous marzipan.

                  It is always super crowded, and often there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the line.  Well, from what I can gather, there really is no exact system.  There are several people working the counter, so technically there should be several lines.  However, sometimes it just looks like a big crowd inside with one long line snaking out the door.  Many in line are tourists, and thus have no idea what is going on.
                  Mike's Pastry
                  The best thing to do is to find the shortest "line" if you can find one.  If it's really hard to figure out what's going on, just keep walking in (if there's room inside), and find your way up to the counter so you can order.  The "line" (mob) moves pretty quickly.  Anyway, you may be so overwhelmed by all the choices that you might just prefer that the line take a little while so you can figure out what you want to order.  :)

                  I always get a few cannolis - my favorite is the plain one, although I agree with Bryan that the chocolate covered ones keep a bit longer.  The cannolis get soggy within a few days, so it's best to eat them as soon as possible.  Nothing beats a fresh cannoli with a crunchy exterior and a beautiful creamy center. Yum.
                  Mike's Pastry
                  I also like getting the ricotta pie, which has a filling that resembles that of the cannoli, but less creamy and less sweet.  Really nice in a different sort of way.

                  It's an age old debate whether Mike's Pastry or Modern Pastry (just down the street on Hanover) makes better cannolis.  Modern pastry fills their cannolis on the spot, whereas Mike's Pastry pre-fills them.  This supposedly means that the ones at Modern are more fresh.

                  I've had cannolis from both places (although not side by side), and I like them both.  I don't think I have ever noticed Mike's cannolis being any less "fresh," but then I do devour the cannoli soon after purchasing, so they taste pretty fresh to me.  Some say that the cannolis at Mike's tend to be sweeter, with a filling that's denser, smoother, and creamier compared to the more textured, less sweet filling from Modern's cannolis.
                  Ricotta Pie
                  From personal experience, I have found that the cannolis from Mike's Pastry keep longer.  The shells seem to stay relatively crunchy for at least one whole day (overnight), whereas the Modern Pastry cannolis get soggy in less than 24 hours.  This could be because the Modern shells are smaller, lighter, and more delicate than the heftier, cookie-like shells from Mike's.

                  Both are delicious, and I think you can't go wrong going to either one.  In fact, you really can't go wrong just by visiting the North End while you are in Boston.  It's such a vibrant neighborhood, the food is fantastic, and the cannolis are unbeatable.

                  Mike's Pastry
                  The North End
                  300 Hanover St
                  Boston, MA 02113
                  Mike's Pastry on Urbanspoon

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                  Recipe Index

                  >>  Sunday, October 25, 2009

                  Hi everyone,

                  I have finally created a library of recipes in a more organized fashion. Hopefully this will make the recipes a bit easier to nagivate. Please explore and check out some recipes from the archives! I will be making a similar index for restaurants soon as well.

                  At some point I may make a visual directory of all the recipes.  For now, please check out either my TasteSpotting Gallery or my Foodgawker Gallery for ideas.


                  Special Series
                  Photo Gallery of Chinese Recipes
                  A Culinary Tour Around the World - Sous Vide Style
                  8 Ways to Use Up Your Farm Share Veggies
                  Chinese New Year Recipes

                  "Creamy" Kabocha Soup (with a kick!)
                  Maple Butternut Squash Soup
                  Spring Pea Soup
                  Celeriac SoupCeleriac Apple Potato Soup
                  Wild Mushroom Soup
                  Golden Carrot Ginger Soup

                  Asian soups
                  Quick Winter Melon Soup
                  Fritallaria (Chuan Bei Mu)
                  Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup
                  Winter Melon Soup
                  Daikon Pork Bone Soup
                  Ro Gen Mian (Ban Genh) - Pork, Bamboo, and Mushroom Soup
                  Mung Bean Soup 

                  Appetizers / Small Eats / Sides

                  Lumpia (popiah)
                  Taiwanese Rice Dumplings (Asian "tamales") (Zhong zi / Batzang)
                  Chinese Pumpkin Cakes (Nan Gua Gao)
                  Traditional Pork Belly Buns
                  Vietnamese Spring Rolls

                  Grilled Halloumi Cheese with Meyer Lemons with Spring Greens
                  Spicy Potato Bacon Bites
                  Kaddo Bourani (Afghan Baked Sugar Pumpkin)
                  Duck Fat Fried Potatoes (Pomme Salardaise)
                  Egg Tempura (deep fried hen egg)
                  Pico di Gallo
                  Potato Blinis
                  Toaster Oven Roasted Potatoes

                  _MG_1466Pasta & Noodles
                  Pasta Carbonara
                  Pasta with Salmon, Tomatoes, and Yuzu
                  Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
                  Garlic Chicken with Golden Noodles (Liang mian huang)
                  Pasta with Sausage, Kale, and Tomatoes
                  Char Kway Teow (Malaysian Stir Fried Rice Noodles)
                  The Art of Hand Pulled Noodles {VIDEO + recipe}
                  Hand Pulled Noodles {VIDEO + recipe}
                  Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
                  Tomato Pesto Pappardelle
                  Spaghetti Carbonara with Sous Vide Egg
                  Gnocchi with Summer Roasted Tomatoes
                  Fusilli with Morel Mushrooms, Aparagus, Fresh Peas, and Corn
                  Squid Ink Pasta with Parsnips and Pancetta
                  Mochi Gnocchi with Red Sauce
                  Kabocha Squash Gnocchi
                  Kabocha Squash Gnocchi with Meat Ragu
                  Pappardelle with Arugula, Tomatoes & Blue Cheese
                  Pappardelle with Pork Bolognese Sauce
                  Pappardelle with Hot Italian Sausage
                  Pasta with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Basil
                  Pasta with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce
                  Super Easy Pan Fried Rice Vermicelli

                  Sweet Basil Pesto with Rice Noodles
                  Persian Saffron Rice
                  Easy Saffron Rice
                  Hainanese Chicken Rice
                  Pizza Flags
                  Chinese Sticky Rice (Nuo mi fan)
                  Homemade Granola
                  Savory Asian Style Steel-Cut Oatmeal
                  Wheat berry Salad
                  Totoro Rice 
                  Paella (Rice with Mushrooms, Squid, and Artichokes)
                  Domo Hamburg

                  "Pho" Inspired Grilled Skirt Steak with Mint, Cilantro, and Lime
                  Korean Bulgogi
                  Beef Cheek Boeuf Bourginion
                  Momofuku 48 hour Sous Vide Short Ribs
                  Sous-vide Steak
                  Filet Mignon for Hot Pots
                  Oven to Pan-Seared Steak
                  Japanese Hamburger (Domo-Kun)
                  Wagyu Beef - the Kobe of America  
                  Korean Bulgolgi 

                  Milanese Veal Osso Bucco

                  Lamb Loin with Chili, Mint, and Mustard Seed
                  Rack of Lamb with Morels, Asparagus, and Mustard Seed
                  Lamb Bolognese
                  Braised Lamb Osso Buco
                  Braised Lamb Shanks

                  Seared Sea Bass with Bok Choy, Yuzu, and Mushroom broth 
                  Grilled Salmon with Mint Honey Mustard Sauce
                  Homemade Gravlax
                  Grilled Copper River Salmon
                  Sous vide Scallops (Bacon Wrapped Scallops)
                  Slow Roasted Salmon with Dill
                  Tuna Tartare
                  Homemade Chirashi
                  Sous-vide Salmon in a Magic Cooker
                  Fried Fish Tacos (Baja Style)
                  Grilled Fish Tacos (Baja style)
                  Citrus Marinated Salmon
                  Salmon with Scallions and Bacon
                  Microwave Steamed Fish With Black Bean Sauce (Chilean Sea Bass)

                  Kong Xin Tsai CookedPork
                  Lion's Head Casserole
                  Homemade Chinese Dumplings (jiaozi)
                  Roasted Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

                  Chinese Oven Roasted Duck
                  Three Cup Chicken
                  Sous vide Chicken with Pesto
                  Duck Confit Salad (Thomas Keller)
                  Duck Leg Confit
                  Oven Roasted Chicken

                  Asian Vegetables
                  Yellow Chives and 5-spice Bean Curd
                  Taiwanese Grilled Corn
                  Spicy Water Spinach (Kangkung Belacan)
                  Spicy Minced Pork with Sour String Beans
                  Dry-Fried Eggplants
                  Sauteed Hollow heart Vegetable With Chinese BBQ Sauce
                  Asian Crunchy Broccoli Stem Salad
                  Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy
                  Preserved Salted Mustard Greens with Garlic
                  Spicy Tofu (Vegetarian Mapo Tofu)
                  Jo Tsai (Chinese Chives) with 5-spice Tofu
                  Korean Style Spinach Salad
                  RatatouilleCold Asian Cucumber Salad

                  Non-Asian Vegetables 
                  Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Aged Balsamic
                  Cilantro Foam
                  Fresh English Peas with Mint
                  Grilled Sweet Potato with Lime and Cilantro
                  Kohlrabi Crunch Salad
                  Oven Roasted Golden Beets
                  Romanesca Cauliflower (Broccoli)
                  Watermelon Radish
                  Frisee Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
                  Genoa style Pan Fried Potatoes
                  Summer Salad Lyonnaise (Frisee aux Lardons)
                  Convection Oven Roasted Potatoes
                  Italian Rainbow Chard Salad
                  Radish Crostini with Herb Butter
                  Fava Fennel Mint Salad
                  Sauteed Beets and Radish with Dill
                  Oven Roasted Kabocha Squash
                  Roasted Brussels Sprouts
                  Truffle Roasted Cauliflower
                  Green Mango Salad
                  Roasted Fennel, Zucchini, Carrots, Parsnips
                  Sauteed Beet Greens
                  Oven Roasted Beets
                  Corn, Avocado, and Pepper Salad
                  Roasted Eggplant, Summer Squash, and Garlic
                  Sugar Snap Peas
                  Pan Grilled Asparagus
                  Corn in the Microwave

                  Meyer Lemon
                  Dragon Fruit

                  Sauces, Condiments, and Bases
                  Basil Pesto
                  Red Wine Vinaigrette with Duck Fat
                  Herb Butter
                  Smoky Tomato Salsa
                  Chili Mayo Sauce
                  Simple White Bean Dip
                  Citrus Vinaigrette
                  Mala Broth (spicy) for Sichuanese Hot Pot
                  Totoro InarizushiAllioli
                  Preserving Tomato Paste
                  Frozen Garlic Balls
                  Easy Homemade Hummus
                  Homemade Croutons

                  Keroppi Cucumber Maki Rolls
                  Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet)
                  Homemade Chirashi

                  Oven Baked Taro Chips
                  Taro Fries
                  Sunchoke Chips
                  Over Roasted Kale "Chips"
                  Homemade Kettle Corn
                  Oven Baked Sweet Potato Chips
                  Oven Baked Pita Chips 
                  Totoro Rice Crispy Treats

                  Sweet Things / Baking
                  Matcha Mochi Cake
                  Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and Matcha Caviar
                  Olive Oil Semolina Cake
                  Chinese Eggnog Tarts
                  Easy Homemade Mochi
                  Fresh Strawberry Pie with Balsamic Reduction
                  Inside Out Apple Pies
                  Thousand Layer Spiral Mooncakes
                  Pumpkin Mochi Cake (Nian Gao)
                  Rice Crispy Critters and Sushi {VIDEO}
                  Chinese Egg Puffs
                  Read Bean Mochi Cake (Nian Gao)

                  Keroppi Cookies
                  Totoro Cookies
                  Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies
                  Homemade "Oreos" (TKO's)
                  Homemade Hob Nobs
                  Italian Biscotti
                  French Macarons

                  Rice-based Sweets
                  Red Bean Soup with Rice Balls
                  Mochi Maki Rolls
                  Mochi Nigiri Sushi
                  Totoro Rice Crispy Treats
                  Hello Kitty Rice Crispy Treats
                  Sushi Marzipan Rice Crispies

                  Keroppi Chocolates

                  Frozen Sweets
                  Toasted Hob Nob Ice Cream (including Sandwiches)
                  Avocado Ice Cream
                  Olive Oil Ice Cream
                  Frozen Yogurt (Froyo) Popsicles
                  Toasted Black Sesame Ice Cream
                  Simple Lemon Ice Cream
                  Frozen Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches
                  "Pinkberry" Style Frozen Yogurt

                  Homemade Soy Milk
                  Uni Shooters
                  Pomegranate Martini
                  Lychee Martini

                  Click here to continue ...

                  Eat Drink And Be Fair

                  >>  Thursday, October 22, 2009

                  I had the wonderful opportunity of attending Eat, Drink, & Be Fair, a “Top Chef Masters”-style cook-off between four of Boston's prominent chefs last night.  The chefs were Richard Garcia from Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro, Will Gilson from Garden At the Cellar, (one of my favs), Peter McCarthy from EVOO, and Jay Silva from Bambara.  I love Garden At the Cellar, so when I found out Will Gilson was going to be one of the chefs, I was totally there.
                  Eat Drink And Be Fair Event
                  Green Mountain Coffee organized this event in celebration of Fair Trade Month (October).  At the event, we sampled various dishes all made with fair trade ingredients.  As an interesting twist, all the chefs had to incorporate coffee as one of the ingredients.
                  Eat Drink And Be Fair Appetizers
                  Local, Sustainable, and Fair Trade
                  While the chefs were preparing their cook-off entrees, we sampled food from local caterers and vendors.  We tried some fair trade Moroccan tea mojitos, sustainable Mahi Mahi, local butternut squash arancini, and Rotini Basilica made with fair trade olives.  Additionally, local vendors, such as Cabot Cheese and Ben & Jerry's from Vermont, also provided food.  All very good.
                  Massachusetts Sea Urchin
                  Meeting the Chefs
                  I had a chance to talk to some of the chefs and learn a little about fair trade and sustainable foods.  While chatting with Richard Garcia from Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro, I learned that Maine sea urchins are almost extinct, yet Massachusetts sea urchins are quite sustainable.  Chef Garcia incorporated local sea urchin into a parsnip cappuccino soup that he served at the event.
                  We all got to sample a tiny cup's worth of the sea urchin cappuccino.  I think people were a bit scared of the sea urchin, because there were many cups left on the table.  I actually liked it so much I drank three cups of it!  The soup was mild, sweet, and creamy.  I loved the combination of parsnips, sea urchin, and coffee.  The coffee added a smoky richness to the soup, while the sea urchin added a briny depth. 
                  I also had a chance to talk to Will Gilson from Garden At the Cellar.  Will Gilson tries really hard to focus on local ingredients, and you can really tell by looking at his menu, which is constantly changing.  Out of curiosity, I asked Will where he liked to dine when he was not working.  He said he liked to eat at his friends' restaurants, which include Craigie on Main, Toro, and Sel de la Terre in Boston. 

                  We asked him about the tasting menus that they used to have (2 summers ago).  He admitted that it's harder to offer tasting menus when the place is so packed all the time.  However, they are considering offering some sort of tasting menu, maybe on Monday evenings. He also said they were going to start offering brunch soon, which is exciting.

                  The Cook Off!
                  As the evening continued, the chefs worked busily on their entrees.  Each chef, together with his sous-chef, worked feverishly, doling out tiny, beautifully presented portions of their contest dishes so that everyone attending the event could sample a few bites.
                  Eat Drink And Be Fair Chefs
                  I was quite impressed with the food.  Remember, they all had to incorporate coffee into their dishes! We received menus at the event, but silly me, I forgot to take a copy home with me!!!!  Boo hoo, so I'll just try my best to capture these dishes from memory and photographs.  If I do get a hold of a menu, I'll update the blog.
                  Eat Drink And Be Fair Entries
                  Upper Left: Sea urchin cappuccino made with parsnips, Massachusetts sea urchin, and coffee topped with a vanilla froth by Richard Garcia from Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro.

                  Upper Right: Dark Roasted Coffee Marinated Hudson Valley Mouillard Duck Breast with Verrill Farm's Parsnip Purre, Pete's Picked Pumpkin, Gala Apple, and Espresso-Vanilla Chimichurri by Peter McCarthy from EVOO.

                  Lower Left:  Bacon wrapped coffee rubbed Pork tenderloin over mashed sweet potatoes with a coffee demi-glace sauce by Jay Silva from Bambara.

                  Lower Right:  Grilled Steak with coffee nibs (from Taza) and banana and sunchoke puree by Will Gilson from Garden At the Cellar.

                  The chefs also prepared special versions of the dishes for the official judges.  For example, the sea urchin cappuccino was served in a spiky sea urchin shell.
                  Eat Drink And Be Fair Judge Food
                  And who shall be crowned the Fair Trade Master Chef??
                  Peter McCarthy from EVOO! Green Mountain Coffee donated $1000 to The Food Project, which was the charity of Peter's choice. Another exciting fact, for me at least, is that EVOO will be moving to Cambridge soon!  Kendall Square to be exact.  Can't wait!

                  But Peter McCarthy was not the only winner last night.  They had a raffle for lots of different great prizes, and Bryan won one of the best prizes of the evening!
                  Can't wait!!!! That sea urchin cappuccino was so good!

                  Other interesting facts . . .
                  We found out that Boston is on track to becoming a Fair Trade city, maybe even as early as next year. In order to obtain Fair Trade certification, a city's local schools, workplaces and businesses (1 organization per 10,000 people), must use fair trade products. Furthermore, the city must pass a resolution supporting Fair Trade.

                  Over all, I had a great time at the event.  Not only did I get to sample some truly excellent cooking, I was also able to meet some great people and learn more about fair trade and sustainable foods.  Thanks so much to Green Mountain Coffee and all the other sponsors of this event.

                  Click here to continue ...

                  Celeriac Apple Potato Soup

                  >>  Tuesday, October 20, 2009

                  Celeriac Apple Soup
                  I enjoyed a lovely meal at the Monday Club in Harvard Square this weekend. One of the soups they have on their fall menu right now is celeriac apple soup.  Because I had just picked up celeriac and apples at the Farmer's Market on Monday, I decided to try the soup myself.
                  Celeriac Apple Soup Ingredients
                  If you don't know what celeriac is, check out the ugly, sort of hairy knobby root on the left (see picture above).  Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a type of celery grown for its roots. Unlike most root vegetables, celeriac is low in starch and high in water and fiber.  It is a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese, and an excellent source of Vitamin C and Phosphorus. It tastes quite similar to celery, and can be prepared like other root vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnips, and carrots.
                  This soup recipe is quite flexible, and as long as you have the basic ingredients (some sort of aromatic + root vegetable + stock), you can make some version of this soup.  For a printable version of the recipe, please click here.

                  1 celeriac root (peeled and chopped)
                  2 medium sized Idaho potatoes (peeled and chopped)
                  1 large apple (peeled and chopped)
                  1/2 onion, diced (leftover from my chicken pho the other day)
                  1 Qt chicken broth
                  1 T butter
                  1 T oil
                  1/2 tsp dried Thyme
                  salt and pepper to taste

                  Saute onions in butter and oil under medium heat for a few minutes until browned and translucent. Add the celeriac and potatoes.  Saute for about 8-10 minutes until they are cooked.  Add broth and apples.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender or, if using a blender, blend in batches in the blender.  Garnish with toppings of your choice and serve!

                  You can cook some bacon, pancetta, or proscuitto in a pan and crumble a small amount on top of the soup.

                  Another variation by Gordon Ramsey adds a splash of lemon for tartness and crumbled stilton.

                  You can also consider chopped chives, croutons, or blue cheese.  
                  Celeriac Soup for Two
                  There's really a lot of room for creativity here.  You can easily make this soup vegan by omitting the butter and the bacon.  You can also thicken it up by adding a bit of heavy cream to the soup.

                  Experiment, and enjoy!

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                  Cambridge Brewing Company

                  >>  Sunday, October 18, 2009

                  Duck confit, beet salad
                  I can't explain it, but I always love going to the Cambridge Brewing Company ("CBC").  I don't go often, but every time I go, I wonder why I don't come more often.  The ambiance is relaxed and casual (they sometimes have jazz on Sunday mornings!), the food and beer are great, and the prices are very reasonable.  Furthermore, you can almost always get seated without having to wait.

                  CBC is located in One Kendall Square, a bustling area full of shops, businesses, and a movie theater.  CBC has been open since 1989, and it was the first "microbrewery" in the Boston area, and one of the first in the US.

                  A brief history . . .

                  There used to be countless breweries all across America.  Pre-refrigeration days, all beer was brewed locally because it could not last if transported.  During the Prohibition, many small and large breweries in the U.S. went out of business.  After the Prohibition and into the seventies, most of the remaining breweries had consolidated into a few large companies, such as Anheuser-Busch and Miller.  These large companies brewed a rather uniform and mild tasting lager.  It was but a shadow of the many types of craft beers just across the pond in Europe.
                  In light of this environment, people who craved the stronger, fuller tasting beers typically found in Europe started brewing beer at home. By the eighties, the microbrewery movement really began to take off, with CBC opening in 1989.
                  Brewing Towers
                  CBC focuses on what they call "imaginative cuisine" with a focus on local ingredients.  They develop relationships with local farms and purveyors and try their hardest to use local, New England ingredients when possible.  They also serve fair-exchanged coffee.
                  Food and Beer
                  We were all rather pleased with our food, especially in view of the prices.  We went on a Sunday when they were serving both the regular and the Sunday "beer-unch" menu.  Here's our take:

                  The Hearty Chicken Stew with cabbage and potato dumplings ($11) was indeed hearty and flavorful on a cold, rainy day.  The Vermont Duck Confit and Beet Salad was also pretty good.  The duck confit was quite flavorful. The salad also had fennel, frisee, arugula, and spicy pumpkin seeds all tossed together in a cranberry-orange vinaigrette - a really nice value at $11.  One member of our party got the Local Omelet with Home Fries and was a bit disappointed.  He didn't elaborate except to say that it wasn't a normal omelet like he was "used to".  The omelet contained eggs from Verrill Farms (local), hen of the woods mushroom, goat cheese, and grilled pear.  I guess it's definitely not a typical omelet, and may taste weird if you're expecting a normal omelet.  I didn't try it, so I can't personally comment on it.

                  We ordered the fried calamari appetizer as well.  The first time we got it, it was actually quite cold.  Really unacceptable.  The waitress was very accommodating and quickly brought us a new one.  The new one tasted much better.  I thought the dish was borderline too salty, but over all it was alright. 

                  In general, I like how the portions aren't too big.  I can actually finish my entire entree and just feel satisfied, not gross.
                  Beer tower
                  Of course, CBC also make great beer.  We ordered a "Tower of Beer," trying the seasonal Great Pumpkin Ale, which was delicious.  It was malty, not too bitter, with just a hint of pumpkin.  We drank it up.  It was only $31 and easily filled 8-9 glasses.

                  Finally, how could you not love a restaurant that has beer stained glass windows? :)
                  Cambridge Brewing Company Beer Stained Glass
                  Cambridge Brewing Company
                  1 Kendall Sq
                  Cambridge, MA 02139
                  (617) 494-1994
                  Cambridge Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

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                  you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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