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In lieu of a proper post

9 Jun

I’m hopeless this week: partial book deadline and a child with strep throat. How do you explain to a 2-year-old who wakes up at midnight screaming because his throat feels like an open wound that the screaming will only make it worse? And how to do you explain to his mom that frantically repeating “No, no…stop screaming…it only makes it worse!” only makes it worse?

Anyway.

I do have one very very exciting bit of food news, per my friend Jessica Battilana, a food writer and VT native who lives in San Francisco and spent some time working at Chez Panisse. Two of her friends from that famous foodie temple, Amelia O’Reilly and Nico Monday, have just (mere *days* ago!) opened a place in Gloucester called The Market Restaurant on Lobster Cove, and all signs point to this being a very, very exciting development for Massachusetts coastal cuisine. And Massachusetts dining, for that matter.

A Chez Panisse pedigree doesn’t guarantee that a place will be fabulous, of course, But it seriously ups the odds. And a quick look at a recent menu (asparagus salad with farm egg and Romesco sauce; scallop and lobster cakes with herbed aioli and picked carrots, bread pudding with orange and almonds) has all signs pointing to “yes.” More to come…and soon!

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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.

Welcome summer!

27 May

In addition to yesterday’s balmy temperatures and thunderstorms, there was Dante’s gorgonzola gnocchi with grilled peaches, pistachios, and pesto.

Where to Eat: Anniversary Dinner

31 Jul

Q: My wife and I are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary soon… Can you recommend a couple of  funky and romantic restaurants where we can eat well, hear one another (vs. crowded) in Metro-Boston. My wife is a big fish person, likes Chardonnays and New American food. Let me know so I can try to get in a reservation!! Thanks –Patrick

A: Hi Patrick!  Funky, quiet, and romantic, huh? You couldn’t go wrong with Lumiere in Newton, which, while more earnest than funky, does qualify as romantic and has some great bluefish and striped bass entrées. I love Michael Leviton’s cooking for its clarity of flavor, which is a surprisingly rare thing around these parts. There’s a $33.09 three-course prix fixe Sunday-Friday, too.

In Winchester, Chris Parsons at  Catch is doing some of the best seafood around, and the soft lighting in the dining room sets a cozy mood. If not this anniversary, then next. The mussels with chorizo alone are worth a trip, and could stand up to a fruity Chardonnay.

Let’s see… I’ve covered “quiet,” “romantic,” and “seafood.” But funky? My two favorite funky/romantic spots are both in Cambridge: Cuchi Cuchi in Central Square and Upstairs on the Square in Harvard Square. The former is much more casual—really a cocktails and shared plates spot, and perhaps better for a first date than an anniversary. The latter is definitely more fine dining, even in the more casual Monday Club Bar (whose chef, by the way, counts seafood as her primary inspiration).

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!

The Best Lobster Roll in New England

10 Sep

That’s my assignment: To find the best one. I’m hitting the road on Thursday, heading up the coast of MA, NH, and ME. Any suggestions?