Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bar Louie in Fenway

           I recently had the opportunity to attend a grand opening event at the new Bar Louie in Fenway just prior to their opening to the public. I'd been to the Foxboro locationfor drinks and apps, and was interested in seeing how this one compared. It definitely had a more upscale look and feel, and with the location just up the street from Fenway park it's a nice alternative to some of the sports bars in the area.

          We started with some cocktails and were impressed with the creative list.  My favorite was the s'mores martini made with vokda and chocolate liquor and garnished with chocolate, marshmallow, and crumbled graham crackers. My friend enjoyed her Bloody Mary with accompaniments of pickles, olives, meat, and cheese!



            We shared an appetizer of the salmon sliders, which ended up being my favorite dish. I thought the bacon was an unusual pairing with salmon, but this just confirmed that yes, everything is better with bacon (including salmon)!


          We also shared two entrees including the Mexican Sunrise and BBQ ranch salad. I preferred the Mexican Sunrise, which was a cheese quesadilla, topped with black beans, salsa verde, salsa rojo, lettuce, cilantro, and a fried egg. But the salad was no joke - a giant bowl of field greens, corn, tomato, cilantro, bacon, avocado, tortilla strips, fried onion strings, barbecue ranch! We had a hard time finishing either of these dishes, they were both so big!



          Bar Louie is a nice addition to the Brookline Ave bar scene near Fenway, especially if you're looking for a fun cocktail rather than a beer (the focus of many of the neighborhood bars).
Bar Louie on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Demonstration Dinner Series at Salvatore's

          Salvatore’s Restaurant, located in Boston’s Theatre District is launching a new dinner series that puts diners front and center. OnWednesday, October 2nd, 2013 at 6:30PM the restaurant will hold its first installment in a continuing, “Window Demo Dinner Series.”
 
 
 
          The communal dinner and demonstration will be held in the restaurants floor-to-ceiling storefront window facing Washington Street.
 
          The added visual element will be accompanied by a multi-course dinner with each course demonstrated for the at home cook by Chef Greg Weinstock and Director of Operations of Salvatore’s Restaurants Chuck Barbato.
 
          In addition to dinner, guests will be treated to a pre-event reception, receive full recipes of all dishes presented and gift bags at the end of the dinner.
 
          Seats are limited and are $45.00 per person (+ tax and gratuity) and are available by calling the restaurant at (617) 542-5555 or via email at window@salvatoresrestaurants.com.
 
I can't wait to check out the first dinner next week, the menu looks amazing!!
  • Creating the perfect salumi plate: selection, slicing and display
  • Handmade Pasta with Local Pesto: Learn to make from-scratch with home tools
  • Stuffed Roasted Pork Loin: Prep, stuff with seasonal vegetables, truss and roast
  • Simple Italian Desserts: Approachable & Easy Sweets 
Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Boston Chops

           I've been wanting to check out Boston Chops in the south end since it opened; I'm a big fan of Duexave, and I love a good steakhouse! I finally made it in this past weekend, and had an amazing experience.

          We started with two popovers, which they bring over at the start of each meal in place of a bread basket. They were baked fresh to order, and perfectly light and airy.


          Next were the appetizers; I enjoyed the roasted bone marrow, served with thin sliced toast in a skillet of onion jus. This was rich and decadent, but surprisingly light.


          The bf tried the steak tartare, one of his favorite dishes. He said it was definitely one of the better preparations he's had in a while, and appreciated that the egg yolk was already mixed in -  because in his words, the kitchen can do it much better than he could!



          I ordered my favorite cut of steak, the 14 oz bone in filet, as my main course. I usually order this larger cut for the flavor of the bone, but never finish it. This was the closest I've come in a long time, and I might have finished if I hadn't ordered the massive baked potato!


         When I say massive, I mean this was the biggest potato I've ever seen - enough for a meal on its own! It was served twice baked and topped with cheese curds, gravy, and chunks of thick sliced bacon. This was by far the best potato I've ever had; I took it home and ate the rest for breakfast the next day!


          The bf ordered the fried chicken, with the logic that if a steakhouse was offering it on the menu, it had to be really good. It definitely lived up to these expectations with three mostly boneless pieces fried perfectly (but not too) crisp, served with mashed potato and greens. I stole a couple of bites and agreed it was some amazing fried chicken!


          We were really full at this point but just had to try dessert. The sticky toffee pudding was the perfect end to our meal, and we nearly finished it!

 

          Boston Chops is a great addition to the South End and manages to stand apart from the other steakhouses in the city. I will definitely be back. 

Boston Chops on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bar Louie Coming to Fenway

          Bar Louie recently announced the opening of their newest location on Brookline Avenue in Fenway, coming this Sat 9/21! The Foxborough location used to be a regular spot when I lived in the area, so I can't wait to check out the new Fenway location this weekend!

          Bar Louie is an eclectic urban bar and eatery made famous for their handcrafted signature martinis. They also feature an exceptional selection of small plates, flatbreads, salads, burgers and sandwiches plus 20 beers on tap, 22 wines by the glass, and 32 signature cocktails made from fresh fruit and hand squeezed juices.

          The entire menu will be available until 2AM Mon through Sat, which fills a much needed void of late night dining options in Boston. They will also offer happy hour appetizer specials Mon - Fri from 4pm - 7pm.

          Be sure to check back next week to read all about my dinner this weekend!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sip and Dip: My Gaucamole and Margarita Party

          Did you know that Monday September 16 is National Guacamole Day?? To celebrate this day (which really should be a national holiday) I participated in the Sip and Dip Challenge! As part of this challenge, I received a copy of Gaby Dalkin's cookbook Absolutely Avocados, a bottle of Piedra Azul Tequila, and a $25 gift card to Whole Foods all to host my own tequila and guacamole party!

          Gaby Dalkin is a food blogger at WhatsGabyCooking.com, a Private Chef, and most recently the author of Absolutely Avocados, an amazing cookbook with tons of recipes using avocados!


           One of the things I liked most about this book was the introduction, which included a description of several different types of avocados (I had no idea there were so many), tips on buying and storing avocados, judging ripeness, and how to proper technique to cut and remove the skin. Gaby also includes a great suggestion, to squeeze a bit of lemon juice over a sliced avocado to keep it green longer. I love avocado slices as a snack or in my salad, but always try to eat the whole thing the same day so it wouldn't get brown (ok, I guess that isn't so bad... but I'll still use the lemon juice trick)!

          For my party, I decided to try two recipe's from Gaby's book: Bacon Cotija Guacamole and Mango Cilantro Guacamole. These were essentially the same basic recipe (avocado, lime juice, salt, serrano, and black pepper), with the additional toppings mixed in. Both were delicious, but the group favorite was by far the bacon cotija!

Bacon Cotija Guacamole
Mango Cilantro Guacamole
           In addition to the guacamole, I served chips, salsa, veggies, and my always popular homemade chicken enchiladas. It was a ton of food!



          What party would be complete without cocktails? To go with theme, I made two types of margaritas using the Piedra Azul Tequila and mixers from Whole Foods.


          Distilled at century-old La MadrileƱa in Tototlan, Piedra Azul Tequila is crafted from 100% blue agave weber from the southern Jalisco state of Los Altos, which gives it the robust, yet smooth and crisp flavor. Piedra Azul is named for the prized gem, Turquoise; in tribute to ancient Mexican ancestors who considered the Turquoise stone a sacred emblem of power, luck and protection. The award winning Blanco has light citrus flavors, with a bright clean finish, which made it a perfect pairing with the guacamole.

          I served both a classic margarita, and an agave nectar margarita which had a slightly sweeter, orange flavor. Both were popular with the group, and went quickly!


          Both the food and drinks at the party were a big hit, and everyone had a lot of fun! I can't wait to try out more of Gaby's recipes, which include more than just guacamole, and incorporate avocados into dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! If you want to check out the cookbook for yourself, visit my recommended reading list on Amazon and grab a copy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In a Pickle

          Since moving to Waltham I've been on a hunt for the best breakfast spot, and finally found it at In a Pickle on Moody Street. It recently moved and reopened, and I've been told the new location is even bigger and more popular. In a Pickle made my list to try after seeing the long line weekend after weekend. Since I literally live right next door, I've gone down a few times, given my name, and waited in the comfort of my apartment!

           The menu is impressive and includes a large selection of creative and delicious sounding pancakes like chocolate chip cookie dough, snickers, and more! Although I've opted for somewhat healthier options, I'm sure one day these will tempt me!


          My favorite is the eggs benedict, which is available on the weekends only. They normally come with cheese and a side of homefries, but you can make them healthier by skipping the cheese and substituting fresh tomato for the home fries. Either way, this is the best eggs benedict I've found on Moody Street.

Healthier Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict
         On weekdays when I can't get eggs benedict, I like the whole grain Belgium waffle with bananas and real maple syrup (the real syrup is a small upcharge).


          In a Pickle has quickly become my regular neighborhood spot for breakfast, and it is definitely the best in Waltham! Check them out if you're in the area!

 In a Pickle Breakfast & Lunch on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 9, 2013

Zaftigs in Natick

          Zaftigs in Brookline is known for one of the best breakfasts in town, and a notoriously long line. I'd been once before, but was hesitant to go back because of the wait. I recently heard about a location in Natick, so the bf and I decided to check it out this past Sunday morning. We walked in at about 11AM and were seated right away, which was a huge plus. By the time we left, about an hour later there appeared to be a short wait but nothing like Brookline.

          We were starving and ordered the equivalent of two breakfasts each! I tried the ham and cheese benedict, which was a variation on the classic dish. I loved the cheddar biscuit rather than the typical english muffin, and the thinly sliced ham in place of the Canadian bacon. The bf ordered the standard version and was just as happy. Both came with sides of fresh watermelon and home fries, which were perfectly roasted and seasoned.

Ham and Cheese Benedict
Traditional Eggs Benedict

          We also enjoyed sides of bacon, corned beef hash, and a bagel with lox. My favorite was the hash, which came with huge chunks of potato, shaved corned beef, and roasted red peppers.

Corned Beef Hash
Maple Smoked Bacon
Bagel with Lox
          This was definitely the best casual breakfast place I've found in the area, and I will definitely be back. I'd like to try some of the additional menu items like the potato pancakes, but the ham and cheese benedict was so good I'm not sure I'd order anything else!

Zaftigs Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The YardHouse in Lynnfield

           Yard House is an upscale, casual eatery known for great food, classic rock and a draft beer offering that features over 125 selections at every location. There are 47 locations in 16 states, including three local (Fenway, Dedham, and the just opened Lynnfield, MA).


          Yard House’s unique beer system featuring a glass-­‐enclosed Keg Room housing hundreds of steel barrels was first filled on August 23. The beer is transported from the Keg Room to the center island bar by miles of overhead steel and nylon tubing. The new Lynnfield restaurant will offer 140 draught beer selections, including 20 beers from Massachusetts breweries, such as Clown Shoes, Jack’s Abby, Slumbrew and Wormtown. The Chalkboard Series will feature five hand-­‐picked draught selections that rotate frequently, keeping the selection both innovative and fresh. These featured beers are listed on a digital chalkboard prominently displayed above the island bar. Currently, the Chalkboard Series includes Shipyard “Smashed Pumpkin” and Slumbrew “Sittin’ on Hop of the World.”

          Having been to the Fenway and Dedham locations several times and enjoyed the burgers and beer, when I recently had the to attend a grand opening party in Lynnfield I decided to branch out and try some of the other menu offerings. Some of my favorites included:

Chicken Penne with Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomatoes


Southern Fried Chicken with Corn, Potatoes, and Country Gravy
Seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi
Garlic and Shitake Noodles

Tuna Tartare


Creme Brulee with Caramelized Bananas
Sparkling Chambord Cocktail
          Since the Lynnfield is farther for me than Dedham or Fenway, I will most likely return to one of those locations first. I've always been a fan of Yard House, and when I go back I'll definitely order something more adventurous than a burger (although the burgers are really good)!

          Yard House at MarketStreet Lynnfield will serve lunch and dinner daily. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m. and close at 11:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 1:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 11 p.m. on Sunday. Happy Hour specials will also be available, including a large selection of half-­‐price appetizers and drink specials. Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and late night Sunday through Thursday from 9:30 p.m. until close.

           For more information, visit the website, like them on Facebook or follow @YardHouse on Twitter.

 Yard House on Urbanspoon

Union Square Donuts

          Union Square Donuts recently opened in Somerville, and I've been hearing a ton of buzz about them over the past few months. According to their Facebook page they're officially open 8AM - 3PM Thurs - Sun but I've heard they close when they run out of doughnuts, which can be as early as 9AM on the weekends.

          I'd been waiting to for the buzz to die down a bit before making the trip to Somerville, so I was psyched when someone brought a few boxes to work TWO Fridays in a row! These flavors were unlike any I've ever seen. I sampled several including almond honey, orange creamsicle, chocolate chipotle, and sea salted bourbon caramel. My two favorites were the almond honey and sea salted bourbon caramel. After tasting enough bites to equate to a whole doughnut for breakfast, I snagged a second almond honey and saved it for lunch.


          It was huge, but surprisingly light and airy rather than dense and cakey like other doughnut shops in the area. It was lightly glazed with honey and topped with lots of thin sliced toasted almonds.

           Sadly, I did not get to try the maple bacon, which I've heard rave reviews about. It was by far the most popular with my coworkers; the box disappeared within seconds! I'll definitely stop by the shop in Somerville soon so I can experience it first hand!

 Union Square Donuts on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Made from Scratch Chicken Enchiladas

          This is a recipe I came up with after reading several chicken enchilada recipes online, and taking ideas from several of them. It's super easy and healthy (very low sodium compared to any of the Mexican kits out there), and I'm posting this because everyone who's tried them has asked for the recipe!

Ingredients (makes 6 large enchiladas):
  • 6 medium flour tortillas
  • 8 ounces chicken breast 
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 4 ounce can of chopped green chilis
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (light cheddar, or Mexican blend)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup light or fat free sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (you can sub margarine)
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
Sauce: 
  1. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Once melted, add the flour whisking constantly until brown. 
  2. Add chicken broth and milk, continue stirring until all flour mixture is incorporated and the sauce is smooth and creamy. 
  3. Add sour cream and stir until fully incorporated
  4. Add 1/2 the green chilies and 1/2 the chili powder into the sauce
 *You can sub one can of cream of chicken soup for steps 1 and 2, but it adds a lot of fat and sodium*

Filling:
  1. Spray a saute pan with cooking spray, and cook chicken over medium-high heat
  2. When chicken is about 1/2 cooked, remove from heat and chop
  3. Add chopped chicken, chopped onions, and the remaining chilies and chili powder to the pan
  4. When the chicken is fully cooked, add a couple spoonfuls of sauce to the mixture and remove from heat
Enchiladas:
  1. Lightly coat the bottom of a baking pan with sauce
  2. Take the tortillas, spread one line of sauce down the middle, and add a scoop of the chicken mixture
  3. Roll the tortillas and place in the pan face down, so they don't come unrolled
  4. Spread remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese
  5. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until cheese starts to brown