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

Dumpling House Cambridge
Le's (Formerly Pho Pasteur)
*Cafe Sushi (2014)
*Cafe Sushi (2007)
Shabu Square (Now closed)
Om Restaurant & Lounge (lunch - Now closed))
Om Restaurant & Lounge (Dinner under Patricia Yeo - (Now closed))
    American / New American
    The Sinclair
    *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)

      Saloon (Gastropub)
      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)

        Thai North (Brighton)
        Island Creek Oyster Bar (Seafood)
        Victoria Seafood (Cantonese)
        *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)
            **Little Q Hot Pot (Quincy)

            American/New American
            Ribelle (Brookline)
            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

                Click here to continue ...

                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

                French Lentil Soup (Lentille du Puy) with Bacon and Fennel
                "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

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

                Mango "Ceviche"
                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
                Fettucine with Asparagus, Spring Peas, Morel Mushrooms
                Ramps Pesto
                Authentic Pad Thai
                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

                Tomato Risotto
                Homemade Grilled Pizza
                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

                Foolproof Easy Prime Rib
                Soy Braised Beef Shank (Taiwanese)
                Steak Au Poivre with Congnac Cream Sauce (filet mignon)
                "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 

                Pressure Cooker Veal Osso Bucco
                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

                Olive Oil Poached Halibut with Garlic Spears and Fresh Peas
                Seared Sea Bass with Bok Choy, Yuzu, and Mushroom broth 
                Nobu Miso Black Cod
                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
                Heart Shaped Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
                Lion's Head Casserole
                Homemade Chinese Dumplings (jiaozi)
                Roasted Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

                Larb Gai (Minced Chicken Salad - Thai)
                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
                Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad)
                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 
                Crispy Basil Smashed Potatoes
                Baked Carrot "Fries"
                Roasted Beets and Fennel Salad
                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
                Garlic Scapes and Pistachio Pesto
                Spicy Tomato Jam
                Thai Penang Chicken Curry
                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

                Crispy Oven Baked Beet Chips
                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
                Tab Tim Grob (Rubies in Coconut Milk)
                Bananas in Golden Syrup
                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)

                Totoro Valentine Cookies
                Chili Chocolate Domo Cookies
                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.

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                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!

                Click here to continue ...
                you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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