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10 Random (but useful!) Summer Food Observations

1 Jun

1. Ice cream and fro-yo taste better on a plastic spoon.

2. Lately, I prefer Korean fried chicken to American. Especially with that pickled diakon. Great examples: Roppongi in Allson, and Bon Chon, moving soon to Harvard Square.

3. Favorite summer cocktail: The Backyard at Gargoyle’s on the Square. Light, a little flowery and grassy, a little sweet.

4. If you’ve never tried Indian ice cream, sample the Khulfi at Christina’s or the saffron and pistachio falooda (like a multi-textured milk shake) at Dosa Factory.

5. The creamiest low-fat tangy frozen yogurt, IMO, is at Ufood Grill, but I also love the tamarind flavor at Berryline.

6. If you want to try your hand at DIY barbecue, you can’t go wrong with this Mexican-inspired variation: Achiote-and-Orange Pulled Pork from Sunset Magazine.

7. No Cape house? Have a waterfront picnic on the Esplanade docks near the Arthur Fiedler sculpture, or on the steps of the ICA.

8. It’s cherry season!! Whole Foods has the best ones, and they’re on sale for $4.99 right now.

9. According to a recent UCLA study, hamburgers made with an antioxidant-rich spice mixture consisting of cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, had 71% less malondialdehyde (a reactive and mutagenic oxidizer = BAD stuff) after cooking than regular beef-only burgers. I guess my mom was really on to something with her Surprise Burgers.

In other words, if you like it then you shoulda put some zing on it. Ooof.

10. If you have kids, Kimball Farm in Westford is as good as it gets: mini-golf, bumper boats,  batting cages, fried scallops, barbecue, and good ol’ maple walnut ice cream.

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Dorado, the Explorer

30 Jul

You know what’s cute? The eager teenagers working the counter at the brand-new Dorado Tacos and Cemitas in 6095_107669709266_86710249266_2037896_5205108_s Brookline. Soon, they’ll have mastered the order-bagging and card-swiping and juice-dispensing, but for now, each task is nervously, studiously performed, which means that, while some patience is required (the kitchen is learning the ropes, too), you will be reassured several times that your order is almost up and, wait, did you want your salad packed up with the rest, or do you want to eat it here? Because I wondered if maybe you want to eat something now and, yeah, right, probably not, sorry.

It’s charming, provided you’re not in a rush. And, really, don’t go to a new restaurant if you’re looking for speed. As long as the food is good, you have to write off the wait as the cost of an opening-day thrill.

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Where to eat near Harborlights

14 Jul

First, an apology: I promised this post last week, and then our DSL went down. For days. Verizon sucks. Moving on…

imagesIf you’re a fan of adult contemporary or smooth jazz, you’ve probably enjoyed a gently rocking night under Harborlights’s big tent. I know I have. (And yes, this venue is technically identified by another name. It will not be used here. You can buy the naming rights, corporate behemoth, but you can’t buy our hearts!)

The waterside location is lovely, but a bit off the beaten track (less so now, though, as the Seaport District expands, amoeba-like, to surround it). So where to chow down before the big show?

Eat Here: Sportello, Lucky’s Lounge, Perspehone*, and the Pizzeria Regina stand in the venue.

Why: Sportello is Barbara Lynch’s idea of a Brighams-style lunch counter, only with perfectly made gnocchi and papardelle and an exceptional porchetta starter. Some people hate the backless stools, bolted as they are to the ground, making them more stylish than accommodating. But I love the sleek design, the quirky wine list, and the fact that it’s open Mon.-Sat., 7am – 10pm (takeout is available until 7pm, if you want to try a pre-show picnic on the steps of the ICA).

Lucky’s Lounge is fun and retro and does nice sidecar and a very respectable take on fried chicken and waffles. What more could you want? How about a sign to help you find the place? Here’s a hint: it’s at the corner of Congress and A St.

Persephone* is one an all-around Boston fave, and my go-to spot when I miss the food in San Francisco. Fresh ingredients, many locally sourced, cooked with skill and a light enough hand to let the actual flavors shine through. Hate to contemplate how rare that can be in Boston. Also, the bar menu is solid (don’t miss the gremolata-spiked fries) and affordable, with everything (including the squid salad, the burger, and homemade bacon and sea salt pretzel) priced at just $5 from 4-6pm daily.

Now, as both of the above choices are a bit of a schlep (15 minutes on foot, 3 by car), I’ll give a shout-out to the above-average-but-nothing-to-write-home-about slices at the Pizzeria Regina stand in the pavilion. It’s always nice to have an inside option if you’re running late.

Note: I left out two restaurants of note, which you might want to consider if the above options don’t grab you: Aura at the nearby Seaport Hotel boasts chef Rachel Klein’s inspired fusion fare, but has a slightly more formal feel than I tend to want before an outdoor concert. And the Barking Crab is my favorite waterfront spot to grab a beer and some fried calamari, but the food is too spotty for a full dinner.

* Confession: I’m embarrassed to admit that the original version of this post did not include Persephone, for no reason other than my own stupidity. Thanks to Alison Arnett for pointing it out!

Where to eat near Fenway

9 Jul

I love replying to “Where Should I Eat?” requests. Stephanie asked about restaurants near Fenway and some other summer venues. Great idea. Let me start with Fenway…more to come tomorrow:

Venue: Fenway ParkPicture of Fenway Park

Eat Here: Eastern Standard, Uburger, and La Verdad

Why: Eastern Standard is big and bustling, open all day, and great at accommodating crowds. It has a top-notch bar, solid brasserie food, and a late-night menu that runs through midnight on weekdays, 1am on weekends.

Uburger is Boston’s answer to the West Coast’s In n’ Out Burger, and your best bet if you have kids in tow. The burgers are fresh, with beef ground in house daily (that’s a serious plus, given the perils of industrial ground beef), and they even batter their own onion rings (however, to be truthful, the best overall ring is found here, on Cape Cod). Even the veggie burgers are tasty.

La Verdad, Ken Oringer’s Mexican joint, has the best tacos in town, on account of the homemade tortillas—great for a quick bite before or after a game (the take-out taqueria is open until 1am weekdays, 2am weekends). Meanwhile, if you have time to kill, head to the sit-down restaurant for a taco plato, tamales, chilaquiles (fancy nachos), and so many tequila varieties, you’ll be hitting more shots than Dustin Pedroia. Heh. That’s what they call them, right? Shots?

Burgermeister

30 Jul

I’m eating at as many restaurants as possible these days, trying to catch up on all the news I’ve missed in the past couple of years. So I fear that a lot of my recent discoveries won’t seem so recent to some. But still, I want to give a plug to Uburger in Kenmore Square. Because…wow, this is hard. How can I say this? I liked it better than In-n-Out.

Look, taste is subjective. I know many, many people love In-n-Out. It’s their first stop from SFO or LAX. They pray for an East Coast franchise. Eric Schlosser approves. I just never fell in love it the place. The fries always seemed too dry. The burgers are fresh and tasty, but a bit weak on the bun-to-meat ratio.

But the fries at Uburger are fantastic. As are the onion rings. The buns are compact, and meat is ground fresh on the premesis. The toppings are tasty, and it’s easy to customize your favorite burger. Even the chicken sandwiches are good.

And thus I complete my fall from grace in the eyes of Californians everywhere.