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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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The Maine Line

20 Oct

MainerunAh, Portland. It’s my favorite food town in New England. Not to slam Boston—I’m very grateful to live here. But Portland makes me giddy. There’s that sense of home-grown pride that you find in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Chefs can afford to take more risks and run smaller, more personal restaurants. They don’t have to turn out so much comfort food to make the rent. The farm-to-table networks are strong, the local aquaculture is abundant.

Of course, with all these treasures comes a fair amount of foodie preciousness and pretension. Behold the local rutabaga. Worship it! And I got a near-horrified response from the staff at Rabelais Books when I asked if they had any old-school microwave cookbooks. But that’s the price you pay to hang in a town with a restaurant devoted to fries cooked in duck fat. Incidentally, the fries were as perfect as always, though a salad with poached egg and duck confit was just bad. Bland meat that seemed more braised than confited. Overcooked egg, wan dressing. Stick with the sandwiches, which are excellent.

Back to the Rabelais—the local food/cookbook store. Aside from the microwave snafu, the staff was really helpful, especially when I told them that I’m obsessed with apples. Turns out the store is a drop-off spot for a CSA devoted entirely to rare and heirloom apples like the Keepsake, the Pomme Gris, and the Chestnut. Can you imagine? All apples! You know how with some dogs, when you hit that right scratch spot on their bellies, they start pumping a leg (we call it “playing the banjo”)? That’s how I felt when I heard about it.
Incidentally, I was in Maine to check out a newly renovated resort in Cape Elizabeth called Inn by the Sea. It was a press tour, which means we stayed the night for free. Take my advice in light of that information, but I really did think the place was terrific and fully plan to return on my own dime. Such a short trip from Portland, but set along a gorgeous mile-long beach on one side (the photo above was taken on my morning run) and a large pond on the other. The chef, Mitchell Kaldrovich, made one of the tastiest scallop dishes I’ve had in ages, served atop a silky parsnip puree.

Go fish, go figure

2 Jul

After a very slow, snaking ride down to Wellfleet, we rolled into town around 5pm, unpacked the car, and squeezed in https://i2.wp.com/www.capecodclash.org/images/5.jpga quick dinner before the baby short-circuted. We didn’t have time to wait out the line at Mac’s Shack, so we went to The Juice, a nearby ramshackle spot with good smoothies, so-so pizza, soggy quesadillas…and a shockingly good seared salmon. Crisp-skinned, yet fully moist (not an easy feat, and I’ve seen tonier restaurants try and fail), served with braised bok choy, nicely steamed rice, a terriyaki-inspired sauce, and a kicky nasturtium garnish. It was straight out of 1992, but  easily takes its place among the best fish dishes I’ve had this year.

p.s. Scott says the fish tacos are “not California good, but still really good.”

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?

Road warrior

10 Sep
Back in 2004, Scott and I took an ill-fated foliage tour of the Maine coast in a massive luxury RV. This was back in my Yankee days, where one of the biggest challenges was thinking of new ways to cover foliage season each year. I’m happy to see that the story has finally been published in the September issue.
p.s. I finally got my car back on September 1, which is 35 days after it was dropped off at the auto body shop. And 48 days after we first shipped it from California.