Sunday, December 30, 2012

Russell House Tavern

          I'd been hearing great things about Russell House Tavern for awhile, so I jumped at the chance to try it the other night with some friends for a late Christmas celebration. We sat in the downstairs dining room and ordered a mix of small plates and entrees, to try as many things on the menu as possible. We had amazing experience that not only lived up to the hype, but even exceeded our high expectations!

          I started with a drink, the Always Sunny, partly for the name and partly because I've been on a ginger beer cocktail kick lately. Russell House's selection with house made ginger beer, lime raspberry syrup, and orange bitters was one of my favorites. It was sweet but didn't have that overpowering flavor from the sour mix that so many places use.

          Next were the small plates, I loved all of these but my favorite was the bone marrow. Everyone at the table had a different favorite, which I always interpret as a sign that everything was outstanding!

Smoked Pig's Tail Pierogi with Celery Root & Honey Crema

Hickory Smoked Lamb's Belly Toast with Walnuts, Apricots, Harissa-Ginger Aioli

Archer Farm Marrow Bone with Pickled Red Onion, House Marmalade, Brioche Toast

          I had a hard time choosing between the pork trio and burger for my entree (as in asking our server to come back three times!) but finally decided on the burger when two of my friends ordered it (I knew I'd be jealous if I didn't have one). I was glad I did; it was one of the best burgers I've ever had! The eight-ounce patty of Maine Co-op grass fed beef was cooked and seasoned perfectly, and extremely juicy and flavorful. The sharp cheddar, bacon, and caramelized onions were great additions and the English muffin as a bun was just right and somehow made the whole thing seem a little bit lighter.

          We were stuffed after our entrees, but had to at least try dessert and decided to share one between the four of us. The only disappointment of the night was that they had run out of the dessert we wanted to try (I honestly can't remember what it was) and the burnt sugar ice cream that came with it. We were content to have another round of drinks for dessert, but our server was generous enough to bring over that night's special: chocolate cake with a fig and honey filling. It was amazing, and of course we devoured it in seconds!

                    There isn't one thing I tried that I wouldn't order again, but there were so many things on the menu that looked good I could see myself going back several times and having completely different meals. I definitely plan to return soon!

Russell House Tavern on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Very Foodie Christmas

          I've been MIA from blogging and twitter for the past week, because I've been busy with LOTS of amazing holiday celebrations with friends and family! Of course there was plenty of good food, wine, and many food related gifts exchanged, which inspired this holiday recap post!

What I gave
          This year I was really excited about some of the great gifts I found for the foodies in my life, and most by the two extremely rare bottles of wine purchased at Urban Grape for my bf and a close family friend. I was psyched to find a bottle of Quintarelli and Jarvis, but didn't mention it in my original post for fear of giving away the surprise. Both had the same reaction, "OMG where did you find this?!?!", which was perfect and exactly what I was hoping for!

          I also gave out several jars of McCreas salted caramels with black lava sea salt, which were a huge hit at work and with my friends! I first tried these when I received a jar in my gift bag from the Boston Wine Expo Preview Event earlier this year, and devoured the whole thing within a day!
What I got
          From the bf: An amazing bottle of Barbaresco, a nice wine opener, a truffle shaver, and Harold McGee's book On Food and Cooking

          From the family friend: a really nice bottle of Lambrusco, coffee, and a Chanel business card holder (not food related, but so amazing how could I not mention it)??

          From another great friend: a jar of my favorite truffle salt, which I had coincidentally just run out of.

          From my parents: a frozen pizza from Tony and Ann's, my favorite pizza place growing up (and of all time). While not as famous as Regina or Santarpios, the original had enough of a following to be featured on the Simpsons and after its closing when Tony passed away there was so much demand from lifelong loyal customers (like my family) that Tony and Ann's grandchildren recently re-opened in a different, much larger location.

Where I ate
           In addition to the holiday parties, I had some great meals out but took a break from the pictures (mostly because I'd already been and reviewed a place or I wasn't ordering enough to make for a complete post). Some of the highlights included:
  • One of the best burgers I've had in awhile at Farmstead Table in Newton
  • A delicious pork belly plate at La Verdad
  • Tons of great tapas at Loco in Easton
  • Creative and tasty Parnsip Soup with cherries and polenta fries in a Puttanesca sauce at Citizen Public House

What were you up to over the holidays?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fish Market

           The fish market is a tiny sushi restaurant in Allston that appears to do mostly takeout and doesn't serve alcohol. It's the sort of place I might have walked by without thinking twice if I hadn't heard that it was opened by a former sushi Chef at Oishii, one of the best sushi restaurants in Boston (and one of my personal favorites).

          Some friends and I decided to check it out last weekend before going to a show at Brighton music hall. We ordered a bunch of dishes to share, had an amazing meal, and were impressed not only by the quality ingredients and creative presentation, but also the very reasonable prices.

          We ordered many dishes that were all great, but the ones that stood out for me were:

          Kobe Beef: pieces of rare Kobe beef in a slightly spicy sauce of sesame oil, red peppers, red onion, and ponzu sauce topped with fresh lemon wedges.

          Truffling Tuna: sliced tuna sashimi topped with black flying fish roe, swimming in a plate of truffle butter.

          Avocado Ball: voted by Boston magazine as the most memorable dish of 2010, this looked like an avocado salad but was so much more! It came stuffed with diced raw tuna, white tuna, and flying fish roe all mixed in a lemon – mayo dressing.

          Spicy tuna hand roll: this is a standard dish, they did a great job, and it had plenty of slices of fresh raw tuna.

          Beef udon noodles: I was too full to try any, but both of my friends who tried the udon loved them! These were very generous portions – definitely big enough for a few to share!

          Since Allston isn't exactly convenient for me, I was psyched to see an advertisement for Foodler in the window. I'd definitely make this my go to spot for sushi delivery and make a point to dine there in person when I'm in the neighborhood!

 Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brunch at Church of Boston

          This week Blog and Tweet Boston hosted a brunch at Church of Boston. We enjoyed some great company and sampled LOTS of amazing food! Chef John Rush created an eclectic mix of dishes for us to try including dishes that represented his Eastern European and Amish country PA roots, as well as some Latin and Asian inspired dishes.

           The Vietnamese style vermicelli was spicy and topped with plenty of succulent grilled shrimp.

          The cornbread was browned perfectly in a cast iron skillet, and tasted light and buttery. I may have gone back for a second piece!

          The potato and cheddar perogies fried and topped with sour cream and chives were perfectly authentic; my Polish father would approve.

          The toad in the hole was some of the thickest French toast I’ve ever seen, topped with a poached egg and bacon. I made sure to get a bite with a whole piece of bacon, and the combination was a perfect representation of a hearty New England brunch.

          The lamb béchamel was unlike anything I’ve had before; a giant skillet of ground spiced lamb topped with baked béchamel.

          I loved the huevos rancheros, which reminded me of a breakfast taco served in a grilled tortilla with poached eggs, black beans, and spicy chorizo.

          The flap jacks were so indulgent and could have been dessert with the whipped cream, roasted apples, and candied walnuts.

          Just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat anymore, Chef John brought out a cocktail of godiva white chocolate, spiced whiskey, and maple liquor and announced that he would be bringing out even more food – several selections from the dessert menu. I was excited to the see that my top two picks were on the list, the ginger toffee cake and apple empanada. Both lived up to my expectations and then some!

          The two layer ginger toffee cake was soaked in caramel, which oozed out as you broke into it. It was the best dessert I’ve had in awhile, and I would go back to Church just for this!

          The empanada was served warm with dulce de leche ice cream, and stuffed with sweet roasted apples.

          The chocolate flourless cake was also amazing, and when eaten in combination with the cherries on the plate tasted like a chocolate covered cherry.

          The trio of sorbets were light and flavorful; the concord grape was my favorite.

          Although we sat at a table, Church has plenty of comfy couches to lounge on while you enjoy your brunch, and will be doing a special pajama brunch for New Year’s day. If you can’t make that, they’ll also be hosting and participating in the Fenway area’s second annual chili cook off!

Church on Urbanspoon


          Looking for sweet holiday gift ideas? Cocoanuts in the North End has something for everyone on your list!

          Tucked away on a side street between Hanover and Salem, Cocoanuts is an adorable shop full of creative and tasty artisan candies and mixed nuts!

          The owners Tara and Jen have been friends since childhood and recently left the corporate world to pursue their dream of owning their own shop. They source from local producers as much as possible, including Quinn Popcorn (Woburn), Zoe's (Brookline) and their neighbor in the North End who walks over the macaroons herself a few times a week (the eggnog were delicious)!

          I found out about Cocoanuts when I attended a chocolate and wine tasting at Urban Grape. After sampling several amazing chocolates like liquid caramels and red zinfandel truffles and chatting with Tara, I had to check out the store!

          In addition to the truffles they sell creative items such as little devils (like a gourmet ring ding) six packs of Guinness flavored chocolates, beer and pretzel chocolate, and even some healthy options like roasted nuts, energy bars, and raw chocolate (heated only to 200 degrees to retain its antioxidant properties).

          They offer a variety of gift baskets (both custom and premade) for the holidays, or just stop in and grab some treats for yourself like one of the many varieties of salted caramels!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Amazing Event Brite Contest

          Have you heard about Event Brite's contest for Boston bloggers? One lucky blogger will have a chance to to attend 10 plus Event Brite events in and around Boston (up to a $500 value) and blog about them! To enter fill out Event Brite's online invite.

          Eventbrite is an online service that can be used anywhere to create, share, and join events such as classes, concerts, dinners, meetups, and more. Event Brite makes it easy to create, promote, and sell tickets to your event. If you sign up for Event Brite now, you'll even get a $100 credit on your account!

2012 Foodie Events and Specials for the Holidays

          Looking for something fun and festive to do this holiday season? Check out these upcoming events put on by some of Boston’s top restaurants and companies.

Ring In the Holidays: 12/13 7-11pm
          Tomorrow Ring Communications is throwing a holiday part to benefit Horizons for Homeless Children is a local non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of every homeless child in Massachusetts and beyond. To attend, register with event brite and bring at least one item on the Horizons for Homeless Children Wish List.

Special Hanukkah potato latkes at Beacon Hill Bistro: Now through 12/16
          Did you know that potato latkes are cooked symbolically in oil to pay homage to the flame that burned for eight days? Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro’s Executive Chef Josh Lewin has come up with an innovative take on this tradition, featuring a garnish of salt cod crème fraîche, thinly sliced heirloom apples , and brined juniper berries. This dinner special is available now through December 16th for only $11. For More information please call 617-723-1133 or 617-723-7575 or visit their website.

Gospel Christmas Concert at the Beehive 12/19 8PM – Midnight
           The Beehive is hosting its first-ever holiday Gospel Concert featuring The Roxbury Presbyterian Praise Team. The group will be led by Aaron Bellamy, who performs regularly at The Beehive as co-leader of the Funky Abs. Aaron, his band, and four singers from The Roxbury Presbyterian Church will perform soul-inspired Christmas classics. Guests can enjoy their favorite holiday melodies while enjoying delicious food and drink including specials from the evening’s sponsor, Bulleit Rye. For reservations or for more information please call 617.423.0069 or visit the website.

Holiday Lunch at Grill 23: Now through 12/21 12 – 1:30pm
          Every year, for two weeks in December, Grill 23 hosts a special holidiay prix fixe menu for lunch (the regular dinner menu is also available udring lunch hours). Guests are treated to scrumptious dishes as well as gorgeous holiday decorations, including over 100 holiday trees and spectacular window gardens. Pastry Chef Molly Hanson has created a special treat this year: Profiteroles with white chocolate candy cane ice cream and bourbon chocolate sauce! For reservations call 617.542.2255 (recommended).

Beef Brisket Chili
roasted chile cornbread, chipotle crema
Lolla Rossa & Pierre Robert
candied almonds, dijon-raspberry vinaigrette
Duck Rillettes
roasted shiitakes, spicy beet mustard
Ragu Bolognese
prime beef, Yorkshire pork, parmigiano risotto
Boneless Fried Chicken
spicy cheddar, blue cheese dressing, coleslaw
Smoked Salmon & Falafel
on baguette, with spicy yogurt, cucumber salad & pickles
white chocolate-candy cane ice cream, bourbon chocolate sauce
Butterscotch Pudding
pecan & gingersnap crumble

Post 390’s Farm to Post Menu featuring WiAnno Oysters : now through 1/11
          The monthly "Farm to Post" series at Post 390 highlights the restaurant's favorite farms, fishermen, foragers and growers with special menus featuring the season's local bounty. Brennan and his team go out each month to meet with farmers, ranchers, producers, and not only return to the restaurant with amazing local product, but also a deeper respect and knowledge for what is going on right here in New England within our agricultural community.

Baked WiAnno Oysters
Linguica, Cornbread, Vella Dry Jack
Nantucket Bay Scallop Ceviche
Ruby Red Grapefruit, Avocado, Dill
Steak Frites and Oysters
Brandt Farm Bavette, Fried WiAnno Oysters, Red Wine-Shallot Butter
Pan Roasted Monkfish au Poivre
Beef Stock Poached Sparrow Arc Farm Potatoes, Finnan Haddie Creamed Spinach
Taza Crème Caramel
Almond Macaroon Cookie
Old-Fashioned Apple Turnovers
Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

TW Food

          I recently read a Zagat article on the 10 best restaurants in Boston and upon seeing two on the list I hadn’t tried, I decided to fix asap. I started with TW Food, assuming it was new (I would have heard of a restaurant this good if it had been around long right)?!? I was shocked to learn it has actually been open for years.

          I went with a couple of friends, and we ordered the seven-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings. Each of the courses was outstanding and so creative, and the generous wine pairings went beautifully with each of the dishes.

          We started with the cauliflower soup with sea urchin and house made lardo. I don’t normally like sea urchin, but this was delicious and had a smooth creamy texture.

          Next was the Nantucket bay scallop with grapefruit and sesame. I love the classic pairing of scallops and grapefruit, and this was no exception.

          The third course was a crème brulee of fois gras with bosc pear and watermelon radish. This was a tie for my favorite dish of the night; the texture of the fois gras was incredible, really just like crème brulee. It was delicious spread on the toast, and very decadent.

          The lobster gnochetti was my other favorite dish, consisting of lobster, fresh pasta, and black trumpet mushrooms.

          The final savory course was the brambly farm pork loin served with a lentils and a small piece of sausage. I loved everything about this dish, but especially the sausage.

          The cheese plate included one of my person favorites, bayley hazen blue cheese from Vermont. It’s by far one of the best cheese I’ve ever had, and one I buy regularly.

          For dessert the poached bosc pear with saffron pistachio ice cream was an interesting combination of sweet and savory. The dish was light, which was the perfect to a satisfying meal.

          I loved TW Food so much that going back this week! I’m looking forward to trying some of the other dishes on the menu (although the fois gras will be hard to skip)!

T.W. Food on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 8, 2012

No Kid Hungry Dinner at Rialto

          Have you heard about Share Our Strength? Through their No Kid Hungry campaign, Share Our Strength aims to end childhood hunger in America by providing children with food through partnerships and programs with schools, local organizations, and government officials and educating low income families on budgeting for and preparing healthy, nutritious meals.

          One of the ways Share Our Strength raises money is through culinary events including my favorite, Taste of the Nation, which I attend in Boston every Spring.

          I recently had the opportunity to attend the No Kid Hungry dinner at Rialto, which included collaborative dishes prepared by several of Boston’s top chefs including:
          Although I was unable to stay for the entire event which included a live auction, I did taste some amazing dishes and snap a few photos!

           The evening started with a cocktail hour and several passed hors d’oeuvres including raw oysters, pork dumplings, ham, cheese, and potato croquettes, and scallops. All of these were delicious, but I couldn’t get enough of the oysters and croquettes!

          The seated dinner consisted of a five course menu, with incredibly moving speakers and presentations between the courses.

          First Course: Antipasto Plate of tasso ham, goat cheese, pepper mostarda, fried pickled cauliflower, and candied nuts.

          Second Course: Autumn Lasagna, five grain pasta, chestnuts, black kale, pumpkin, fontina cheese, cripsy herbs, and chanterelle mushroom.

          Third Course: Nantucket Bay Scallops, sunchokes, heirloom apple, and crispy shiitake mushrooms.

          Fourth Course: Grilled Quail, wild rice, celery root, roasted figs, and smoked fois gras

          Dessert Course: Nutmeg Cake with sherry semifreddo and autmumn fruits, Midnight Chocolate Cake with cranberry preserves.

          I love that by attending Share Our Strength’s Events, I am not only supporting a great cause, but getting to experience some amazing food in the process! To support Share Our Strength visit their website.

Treats on Washington

          Earlier this week I attended a tasting event at Treats on Washington in Brighton Center. I'd never been, but was excited to check out a potential new breakfast or lunch spot near my office. I was expecting to try some tasty pastries and baked goods, but everything from the food and beverages to the cozy atmosphere and super friendly owners completely exceeded my expectations!

          In addition to traditional bakery items, Treats also offers a variety of savory dishes for breakfast and lunch. I sampled the curried lentil soup (vegan) and roasted vegetable sandwich, which were both amazing! I was impressed to learn that all of the ingredients including the bread are made from scratch in house.

          They even make their own sodas, including the syrup and carbonation. The flavors vary, but the cranberry ginger I tried was delicious!

          I tried several desserts, some of my favorites included the blueberry white chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon buns, and chocolate meringue cookies. 

          I also learned that Treats has a catering menu available including custom pies, cupcakes, and wedding cakes in addition to the regular menu. 

          They make fresh donuts on Saturdays and change the flavors up once a month. I'm bummed I missed last month's apple beignets, but will have to make it in on a weekend sometime soon to check out this month's special! I also can't wait to try the bacon, egg, and cheese "hot pockets" for breakfast and take home a chicken pie for dinner!
Treats on Washington on Urbanspoon