Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cooking Classes at Rialto

          Love Rialto? You can learn how to make your favorite dishes at home, with cooking classes led by Chef Jody Adams on Sunday mornings! I recently attended the class on non-traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and got some great ideas and recipes just in time the holidays. Here's a recap of the class, and what you can expect.

          The morning begins with coffee and fresh baked scones in Rialto's Lounge lounge. These were the perfect treat to wet your appetite for the rest of Jody's delicious dishes!

          Next we headed into the main dining room to watch Jody's demonstration. We were all given recipe packets to follow along and take notes. Jody was great! So funny and personable, and she makes complicated recipes seem simple by breaking them down into smaller more manageable steps. She had some great tips, including the proper way to cut a pomegranate without making a mess and where to buy pasta sheets if you don't want to make your own from scratch (Dave's in Somerville)!

          Class also includes a three course lunch complete with wine pairings. The first course, Scallop Crudo with pumpkin seed oil, pomegranate and apple cider vinegar was served during the demo. It was just a taste of a single scallop, but it was so good I could have easily eaten a whole plate of them!

          We sat down in a private dining room for the final two courses, and while we ate Jody came around and chatted with everyone.
Squash Tortelloni Pizzocheri with Bacon

Quail with fried bread stuffing, peppers and eggplant
          I really enjoyed the class and would love to take another! It's a fun thing to do on a Sunday with girlfriends, or would make a great date!

          Classes are $125 - $150 with a 20% discount for students. A portion of the proceeds go toward the Rialto Restaurant Scholarship offered yearly at the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School. To request any information on upcoming classes or to make a reservation email jacki@rialto or call 617-234-8025.


          Want to bring something fun and different to Thanksgiving this year? Check out the chocolate cornocupia from Serenade Chocolatier in Brookline. With a shell made entirely of chocolate, and the assortment of candies inside its sure to be a big hit!

          I recently visited Serenade to sample some of their chocolates and chat with the owner and chocolate maker Nur Kilc. I learned that all of the chocolate is made in house, and there are over 60 flavors available. They are also all completely gluten free.

          I tried the new dark and stormy chocolate, a dark chocolate shell with a run flavored center inspired by Nur's 21 year old son who loves the drink. She was also sampling dark chocolate and salted almond bark, which hasnt made it on the menu yet but i hope it does! My favorite was the maple syrup smoked salted caramel, made with 72% dark chocolate.

          For special occasions other than Thanksgiving, there is even a Piñata cake! The Chocolate shell is shaped like a cake and the inside is filled with assorted candies. The idea came out of trying to make a gluten free birthday cake, before gluten free ingredients were so readily available. It's even been feature on Rachael Ray as one of her favorite desserts!

          All of their products are available online, so you dont need to be local to try them. But, the shop on Harvard ave in Brookline is definitely worth stopping in if you're in the neighborhood, I'm glad I did!

 Serenade Chocolatier on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 17, 2013

2014 Boston Wine Expo Preview

           The holidays are just around the corner, and while those early winter months can sometimes feel boring in comparison, the Wine Expo in February is definitely something to look forward to! The 2014 dates were recently announced, and this year's expo will take place the weekend of February 15-16 at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. I went for the first last year and had an amazing experience! You can read all about it here.

          I'll be covering the Expo for the second time on my blog, and like last year like last year I'll be giving away FREE TICKETS in addition to several special offers from now until the expo.

          To get started, here's an offer just in time for the holidays. The film "Escaping Robert Parker" has recently become very popular world wide and the Director's Cut version closed Rioja's Five Senses Festival in September. It is currently available for purchase at, makes a great gift for any wine lover! Use the discount code "winefilm" to receive $2 off the purchase price of film in any format.

          If you don't want to take your chances on my free ticket giveaway, you can buy your tickets now at a special early bird rate.

          Now for a preview of what's in store for this year's Expo! The Grand Tasting room will include wine from over 200 different wineries including:
  • 90+ Cellars
  • Chateau D'Escians
  • Dos Familias Wine Imports
  • Hope Family Wines
  • LGL Imports
          Additional features include celebrity chef demos, samples from local restaurants, a reserve lounge for higher end wines, an upgraded VIP experience, seminars, and more.

          Each year proceeds from the Wine Expo are donated to charitable organizations. This year’s beneficiary is Tufts Medical Center’s Floating Hospital for Children and their summer camp scholarship program. Guests attending the Wine Expo not only get to taste and learn about some fabulous wines, but will also be supporting a great cause. Check back for regular updates, visit the Wine Expo website, or follow @BostonWineExpo on twitter.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spirit of Boston Winner

           The winner of my giveaway for two tickets to the 80s dance cruise is @No_End9! Congrats!! Please get in touch to claim your prize!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kirkland Tap and Trotter

          I love Craigie on Main, so naturally I've been dying to try Kirkland Tap and Trotter since it opened. The bf and I went recently on a Friday at 5:30, because a week in advance it was the only reservation available. We arrived about 15 minutes early (before they opened) and there was already a line at the door. I took this as a good sign and that the food would be just as amazing as I hoped. We ordered a mix of the small and larger plates to share, everything definitely exceeded my expectations!

          We started with the bluefish rilletes and rye toast. The bluefish is smoked in house, which gives it a great flavor. The fish was mixed with just a hint of creme fresh, making the spread rich and thick. It was perfect on the rye toast, and the pickled vegetables added just the right amount of saltiness. 

          Next was the farmhouse terrine served with whole grain mustard, red onion compote, and toast. I'm not sure what the terrine was made of, but it had a great creamy texture like a fois gras.

          We also tried the chicken liver pasta, which isn't something I'd normally order but I'd read several rave reviews. The dish consisted of fresh spaghetti tossed in a chicken liver cream sauce and bits of pumpkin. The sauce was rich and creamy and didn't have a strong liver flavor I would've expected.

          The first of our two larger plates was the choucroute garni, a plate of pork done several ways and served with a trio of housemade mustards. This included two types of grilled pork sausages (chorizo and garlic) and thick slice of pork belly. Pork belly is one of my favorite things, but if its not done right it becomes chewy and inedible (I know from a personal failed attempt at cooking this at home). This was done perfectly, and the layer of fat had the melt in your mouth texture and consistency I love about good pork belly. The dish normally comes with Kraut, but since it's braised in a stock with mushroom and the bf is allergic the kitchen gladly substituted some grilled Brussel sprouts. These were also done well, and blackened a bit, which is just how I like them. I didn't try the mustard, but the bf loved the spicy one and even put it some of our other dishes!

          We also tried the sirloin tip brochette with grilled avocado. The tips were delicious, but my favorite part of this dish was the avocado. I absolutely love avocado and eat it almost every day (sometimes multiple times) but I've never thought to grill it. It was fun to experience one of my favorite foods in a completely different way!

          For dessert we tried the fresh goat cheese with marinated peaches and a side of the maple sugar ice cream (normally served with another dessert). Growing up in NH, I've loved maple sugar since I was little kid and again appreciated the opportunity to experience an old favorite done in a completely new and inventive way.


          I wouldn't change one thing about my meal at Kirkland Tap and Trotter; each dish was both well thought out and executed flawlessly. The atmosphere was warm, casual and relaxed, and the staff was friendly and accommodating of both special requests and dietary restrictions. I wouldn't expect any less from Tony Maws, and I can't wait to go back!

Kirkland Tap & Trotter on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cook Newton

          I've been wanting to try Cook since it opened, and I'd seen the initial menu online. I was intrigued by a lobster and cornbread stuffed trout wrapped in bacon, which sadly had been taken off the menu, but there were plenty of other dishes that sounded delicious!

          I decided to try it with the bf on a Saturday, and we walked in around 5:30pm. We ate the bar because the place was already packed!

          We started with two appetizers: boar nachos (a special) and lobster sliders. The nachos were definitely my favorite of the two, served in a cast iron skillet and loaded with tons of ground boar, melted cheese, jalepenos, and a tomato cream.

           The sliders consisted of lobster salad served on on a thick potato bun.

          For my main course I tried the fried chicken dinner. The best way to describe this dish is hearty. It came with two chicken thighs deep fried in a thick batter finished with cornmeal, which made the chicken extra crisp. The side dishes were also substantial and could've been a meal in itself! I loved the biscuit and mashed potatoes and gravy. The biscuit was dense without being dry and had a great buttery flavor.

          Overall it was a great meal, and it's nice to have a new neighborhood spot. I would definitely return (even sooner if they bring back the trout)!
Cook Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dinner at Moksa with Blog and Tweet Boston

          Earlier this week Blog and Tweet Boston hosted a dinner at Moksa in Cambridge. It was a fun evening that started with drinks and appetizers, followed by a four course dinner complete with wine and cocktail pairings. The menu offered several choices for each course, and there were options available for just about any dietary restriction including vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, no red meat, and dairy free.

          We started with dumplings (pork or vegetable) and takoyaki (fried crispy balls of octopus). I enjoyed all of these, but the octopus was my favorite and so different!

          Next was our first sit-down course, a roasted butternut squash soup with coconut infused curry and young soy beans. This was rich and creamy, and I enjoyed the twist on a fall comfort classic.

          The second course was a plate of fried spicy tuna dumplings with guacamole and Thai mango sauce. This was probably my favorite course we tried, I love spicy tuna and deep frying it makes it even better!

         Next we had a surprise bite of sushi from the Chef - a cucumber roll with crab, tobiko, and avocado. It was light and fresh, and seemed like a bit of a palate cleanser before the main course.

          There were three options for the main course, and I had a very hard time deciding but finally settled on the paneer masala: cottage cheese cubes with peppers, onions, and an Indian tomato sauce. I enjoyed the subtle curry flavors, and it was a lot lighter than similar Indian dishes I've tried.

          For dessert we had a warm coconut rice pudding with pumpkin bits and a sesame cookie. It was thick and creamy, and though I enjoyed it I wasn't able to eat more than a couple of bites.

           Not only was the meal fantastic, but I had the opportunity to hang out with tons of great foodies (some I've known for awhile, and others I met that night)!

          I attended and helped organize this event for Blog and Tweet Boston. Be sure to follow us on twitter or join our Facebook group for news on future events. Our next event is 11/12 at Urban Art bar. Interested bloggers can learn more here!
Moksa on Urbanspoon

Spirit of Boston Giveaway

How would you like to win two tickets to the Spirit of Boston's 80's Dance Party??

Come aboard Spirit of Boston for a great dinner and fun night dancing to your favorite ‘80s hits! Come dressed in your best ‘80s gear and get ready for a totally radical cruise on Boston Harbor. Parachute pants, leg warmers and yes, even mullets, welcome.

11/16/13 - Boston 80's Dance Party Cruise
Board: 6:30pm
Cruise: 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me what 80s themed gear you'll wear.

2. Bonus entry: follow this blog and leave a comment telling me you did

3. Bonus entry: Follow me on twitter and leave a comment telling me you did

Winner will be selected using and announced Wednesday November 13th.

wagamma Winner Announced

          The winner of my giveaway for a $25 GC to wagamma is Jessica Dennis! Congrats!! Please get in touch to claim your prize!!

          Not a winner? I'll be announcing a new giveaway later today! Be sure to check back on this blog for your chance to win another great prize!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Tasting Menu at Troquet

          If you read this blog, you know that I'm a big fan of Troquet and even named them one of my top ten restaurants in Boston last year. I went back again recently for dinner, and tried the seven course Chef's Tasting Menu with wine pairings.

          We started with tuna tartare on a crisp cracker, topped with caviar and sesame. This was paired with a sparkling blanc de blanc. This was one of the specials for the evening, and I was excited it was included on the tasting menu!

           Next was sushi with unagi and fois gras. Paired with a reisling, which was just right with the rich eel sauce. I'm normally not crazy about unagi as it tends to be thin and dried out, but this was not like most I've had - it was thick, meaty, and tender.

          The third course was a crispy fried New Zealand langoustine served in a wrapper like a spring roll with mango, papaya, and a sweet sauce. This was paired with a Pinot Gris, which was a perfect complement. 

          The fourth course was a rice-crusted Halibut with forbidden rice, lemongrass, red curry, and kaffir lime paired with Chablis. I'd never had forbidden rice before, this was more dense and had a bit of a nutty flavor. It was an interesting combination with the halibut and curry, and the flavors all worked well together.

          The next course was my favorite, braised lamb collar with white corn polenta angolotti, fava beans, and parmesan broth paired with a pinot noir. The lamb just melted in your mouth, and the polenta and parmesan added just the right amount of salt.

           The final savory course was a duo of duck breast and crisp duck confit served with lentils, bok choy, and Santa Rosa plum and chili glaze. I enjoyed both preparations, but the confit was definitely my favorite!

          The cheese course was next, and for this course they bring the cart over to your table and let you choose. I honestly know a lot less about cheese than I should, so I'm not sure of the three kinds but I chose three hard cheeses, one with ash in the center and one very sharp like a cheddar. These came with an assortment of accompaniments including toasted raisin bread, nuts, and a fruit spread.

          I was psyched that they let you choose your own dessert as part of the tasting menu, but rather than selecting a specific dessert I asked for "something chocolate." Chocolate is definitely what i got! The Chocolate soufflé with chocolate ice cream and creme anglais paired with sherry was the perfect way to end a fantastic meal.

          I truly enjoyed my meal at Troquet, and found the heavy Japanese influence paired with classic French cuisine (especially the first three courses) a nice touch.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Berkshire Mountain Distillers

         I've been a blogger for the Boston Local Food Festival for the second year in a row, which means I also get to cover the Local Craft Brewfest one of the festival's biggest fundraisers. This year's festival will take place November 22nd, at the Moakley Courthouse in Fort Point and you should definitely check it out!

          There will be tons of local independent wineries, breweries and distilleries like Berkshire Mountain. I had the opportunity to interview Berkshire Mountain, an award winning distillery that started as an apple orchard! Check out my article on Boston Local Food Festival's Blog here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Barre to Bar with Exhale Spa, Aragosta, and Blog and Tweet Boston

          I basically work out to eat, and since my favorite type of workout is barre I was thrilled to plan and participate in Blog and Tweet Boston's Barre to Bar event- a perfect combination of the two!

           The day started with a barre fusion class at the new Exhale Spa at the Fairmont Battery Wharf. The location was beautiful, and who wouldn't want to work out in a spa? They offer massage, facials, nail services, and other body treatments in addition to the barre and yoga classes.

          Our instructor Meg was great, and led us through a full body workout including leg lifts, planks, push ups, abs, barre work, and stretching. It was definitely one of the most challenging workouts I've done in awhile, my legs were shaking and I was sore (in a good way) for a few days after. I plan to take advantage of their membership special, one week for $30 and check out some more classes!

          Next we all headed to Aragosta for the bar portion of the event - our reward for such an intense workout!

          Aragosta Bar and Bistro is a contemporary Italian bistro located on Boston's Harbor Walk in the North End. It's been on my list to try for awhile, so I was excited to check out their bar to try some apps and cocktails. We started with the Deep Cleanse, a signature cocktail designed for Exhale made from cucumber, hendricks, aloe, lime juice, and simple syrup.

           The Chef whipped up several appetizers for us including bruschetta, a roasted vegetable flatbread, artichoke fritters, and a meat and cheese plate. He even created some gluten free alternatives for people in our group with allergies.

          I enjoyed everything I tried and definitely plan to go back to Aragosta for dinner so I can get the full experience!

 Aragosta Bar + Bistro on Urbanspoon