Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 2014 Roundup

          I'm starting a new series where I round up the best dishes I've tried all month - this way if you didn't have a chance to read all of my posts you'll know which restaurants and dishes are MUST HAVES! Here are this month's in the order I tried them:

          The lamb meatball sandwich at TR Street Foods: The photo doesn't do it justice; you'll be craving this warm pita with spicy harissa, yogurt, and tender lamb for weeks after!

          The rotisserie chicken from Liquid Art House. Seriously the best chicken I've ever had; these chickens are fed from the scraps of Thomas Keller's garden. A recent globe article sums it up best - these chickens eat better than you!

          The mini falafel at Oleana - I loved every dish on the vegetarian tasting menu and thought it was one of the best values for a tasting menu in the city. It was hard to choose a favorite dish, but if I had to it would be these mini rollups.

          Poutine from DuckFat in Portland Maine - the fries are fried in duckfat, topped with duck gravy, cheese curds, and a fried duck egg. Pure indulgence, and this dish alone is worth a trip to Portland.

          What are the best new restaurants or dishes you've tried this month? Tell me in the comments section!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Duck Fat, Portland Maine

          This weekend on Memorial Day, the bf and I headed up to Portland for the day. We decided to try Duckfat, a casual sandwich shop that came highly recommended by a couple of different people. Aside from amazing sounding paninis like pork belly and duck confit, they specialize in duck fat fried fries. It was packed at 3PM, and we got what appeared to be the only open spot. 
          Most of the seating is counter style, with this fun magnetic poetry board you can play with while you wait for your food. It definitely kept me entertained!

         We started with some poutine - duck fat fried fries topped with duck gravy, cheese curds, and a fried duck egg. This was just as indulgent as it looks!

           Going in I was deciding between the pork belly or duck confit panini, but when I saw the special I had to order it - lamb sausage with roasted red pepper, feta, cucumber, and mint. The bread was perfectly crisp, and the thin sliced sausage allowed for just the right balance with the toppings. I finished every bite, and was happy with my decision.

          The bf enjoyed his panini, ham and gruyere on rye with sourkrout, and whole grain mustard; almost like a reuben.

          For dessert we had to try the duckfat fried doughnut holes with caramel and spicy chocolate sauce. I don't care how full you are, there is always a special place for dessert - especially when doughnuts are involved. Again, we cleaned our plates and both preferred the rich caramel.

           Portland has tons of great restaurants, but I would definitely go back to Duckfat on my next trip. It's the perfect casual lunch spot with a creative menu and affordable beer and wine list.

Duck Fat on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 24, 2014


          I tried Basho Sushi in the Fenway recently, and despite a few minor issues (the kitchen was slow and one dish didn't come out how we ordered it) I enjoyed the sushi and would go back.

          The bf loves his dumplings and rolls, so of course we got a couple of each! There were lots of creative rolls on the menu; my favorites are always torched or crunchy, and there were plenty of these to choose from.

Steamed Shrimp gyoza
Steamed Pork shumai

Crazy roll - shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber & spicy mayo;

Crunchy roll - fried onion, cucumber & spicy tempura crumb wrapped w/ salmon, tuna, tobiko, salmon roe & mango sauce

          My favorite was the sashimi dinner, which was $25 for an assortment of the most popular sashimi. This was a great value; all of the fish was high quality and fresh. The plate included tuna, salmon, yellowtail, bluefin, tomato, crab stick, and some type of octopus or squid. My favorite was the yellowtail with the spicy peppers but the salmon was a close second and just melted in your mouth. 

          I would go back to Basho for the sashimi alone, although I enjoyed the rest of our meal. It's definitely one of the best values in the city, and the quality is on par with some of the more upscale sushi spots.
Basho Japanese Brasserie on Urbanspoon 9d1ec68c44760a982fdc056637df81ff556240ce7c5d97d145

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


          My friend and I went to Oleana the other night, and it was the first time for both of us. Everything looked so good that we asked for the bartender's recommendation. He suggested we share the four course vegetarian tasting menu ($40) and order a couple of extra courses. I'm not vegetarian, and it's only been recently that restaurants like Oleana have helped me appreciate the "genre". It's dishes like these that make me think (albeit briefly) that I actually could become vegetarian.

          We started with a basket of fresh bread served with whipped feta with sweet and hot peppers. The peppers were actually whipped into the feta, so you got the combination of all three flavors in every bite.
Whipped Feta with Sweet & Hot Peppers

          Next was the asparagus grilled perfectly, and served with a corn and cheese fondue, black garlic, and honey. The addition of popcorn on top added a nice crunchy texture.
Asparagus, Toasted Corn Fondue & Black Garlic Honey
          The spinach falafel was my favorite dish, these were served on top of two open faced pieces of lavash with yogurt sauce, pickles, and beets. We rolled ours up and ate them like mini sandwiches.

Spinach falafel with tahini, yogurt, beets, and crinkled cress
          The next dish was another favorite and one of the most creative - chickpea terrine with apricot, pistachio and tahini sauce. It was similar to a hummus, but much lighter and creamier. 
Chickpea Terrine— Apricot, Pistachio & Tahini Sauce
          The spring pea salad was one of the lightest options, and full of bright fresh flavors. It was a perfect spring dish!

Spring Pea Salad with pickled sunchoke and almond crumbs

          The Turkish cheese pancake was probably the most universally appealing, and would be a great dish for non-vegetarians or less adventurous eaters. How can you go wrong with warm cheese baked inside Phyllo dough??

Turkish cheese pancake with Za'atar

           The next dish felt like one of the most creative - maybe because I hadn't heard of fideos before this - but they were crispy fried noodles with a little bit of a kick. 
Spicy Fideos, Chick Peas, Swiss Chard & Orange Aioli
          I was too full to eat more than a bite of the tart, but the strawberry drink was perfect after such a filling meal!

Rhubarb fennel sharbat, white chocolate tart, roasted strawberries

          I enjoyed everything I tried at Oleana and would definitely go back. The $40 tasting menu may be the best value for a tasting menu in Boston. It was advertised as four courses, but there were more like 5-6. Although it's designed for one, there was enough food for two to share!

Oleana on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brunch at Ribelle

          I've been wanting to try Ribelle for awhile, and finally made it in for brunch with the bf this past weekend. The menu is extremely inventive with lots of smaller plates to share. At our servers recommendation we shared one sweet, two savory dishes, and a side. We tried to mix a few of the more adventurous dishes with others that seemed more within our comfort zone.

                    Bomboloni + cinnamon-sugar, espresso pastry cream - these were miniature balls of fried dough served warm with espresso cream. They were definitely my favorite, and I would love to have these for breakfast or for dessert after dinner!

          Potato raviolo + beef hash, salsa verde, ketchup, yolk - This was one of my favorite dishes - I've had raviolo with egg yolk before but never with the addition of the braised beef and mashed potato. The combination was amazing, savory comfort food at its best!

          We also tried the sesame buns with panelle (Sicilian fritters), calabrian chili mayo, and lettuce. These are popular street food in Sicily, but unlike anything I've every tried!

          Of course no brunch would be complete without bacon - this dish came with peameal bacon and a potato cake (like hashbrown). which is made from boneless pork loin rather than pork belly. It's much leaner, and tastes almost like thinly sliced ham.

           I enjoyed the brunch at Ribelle and appreciated the creativity of all the dishes. There's definitely nothing like it in Boston, and can't wait to come back for dinner!

  Ribelle on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blog Tour: My Writing Process

This post is a little bit different - rather than focus on food, I'm going to write about my blogging in general and feature three of my favorite local bloggers as part of a fun blogger tour.

Michelle from Economical Eater invited me to participate, and I love the idea! I met Michelle at a blogger event (I can't remember which because I've seen her at so many), but I already read her blog and followed her on twitter. In addition to being a blogger and professional food writer, Michelle is also a chef for Kitchen Surfing. Her blog includes tons of great recipes including this gem (goat cheese baked in carbs, need I say more?) as well as affordable options for dining out around the city. If you have a chance you should definitely check her out!

1. What am I working on?

The short answer is - ALOT! Here are some of the highlights

Recap posts of some of the new restaurants I've tried recently. Including:
  • Brunch at Franklin Southie
  • Lunch at Del Frisco's Grille
  • Brunch at Ribelle
Recreating The Swami (and curry miso sauce) from Life Alive. I've tried just about everything on the menu and this is my favorite. I'll post my recipe once I get it right (I'm getting close)!

Three food related events for Blog and Tweet Boston 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write about all types of restaurants, including some of the highest end places in Boston like Oya and Menton, to tiny hole in the wall type places in Chinatown or East Boston. I also track my progress toward trying every Michelin starred restaurant in the US

3) Why do I write what I do?

I love all types of food and trying new restaurants, and I want to share (and support) the great new places I find. Because this is my focus, my reviews are generally positive. If I don't like a place, I don't write about it at all. 

4) How does your writing process work?

I take photos and quick notes during my meal if possible. I try to finish posts (or at least write really detailed notes) asap while the meal is fresh in my mind. I find the longer I wait, the harder it is to remember small details.

Now for my featured bloggers who'll have their own posts up next week!

Jess of Little Miss Runshine:  I met Jess at a Blog and Tweet Boston event, and immediately became a big fan of her blog. She posts about a wide variety of subjects, but mainly about food and fitness. I know that if I'm curious about the newest classes or latest fitness craze I can find a review (and often how to try it for free!) on her blog. She also has tons of great recipes perfect for meal prep Sundays or quick after work dinners - her crock pot sesame chicken is now on my regular rotation!

Jess of Gluten Free Boston Girl:  I also met Jess at a Blog and Tweet Boston event, and I love that she doesn't let her food intolerances stop her from being a total foodie and enjoying all of Boston's best restaurants. Although I'm not gluten and dairy free, I'm lactose intolerant and trying to eat healthier (paleo about 75% of the time). I know I can always find great recipes and menu options on Jess's blog. She also does a ton of giveaways, so I make sure to check regularly and enter!

Semirah of Sound of Charm: I also met Semirah at a Blog and Tweet Boston event - she came to our first ever at Church, and has been a regular ever since. When I first met her I was surprised to learn how young she is (she's graduating high school this year). She's accomplished so much already with her writing and blog, and is probably the most mature high school senior I've ever met. She covers a wide variety of topics including fashion, fitness, food, and her recent college search and application process.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Del Frisco's Grille

          Our latest Blog and Tweet Boston event was at Del Frisco's Grille in Chestnut Hill, where we had the opportunity to try out some of the most popular items from the lunch menu. I've never dined at Del Frisco's Grille, but Del Frisco's is one of my favorite steakhouses in Boston so I was excited to try it. We started with a few apps including some flatbreads, deviled eggs with truffle sauce, tuna tartare tacos, and Phili cheesesteak eggrolls.

           Tuna tartare eggrolls: Two of my favorites, spicy tuna and tacos combined in one dish. There was no way I wasn't going to love this!

           Eggs and truffles are a classic pairing, but I've never seen them done comfort-food style in the form of deviled eggs. I could easily have taken down the whole plate but I knew there was more coming and (somehow) exercised restraint!

           Bacon and brussels sprouts are another perfect combination, but when you add cheese and cream sauce on top of thin crust it gets even better!

          The crabcake is a signature at Del Frisco's (and my personal favorite crabcake anywhere) so I was excited to see it on the menu at Del Frisco's grille. This is "all crab, no cake" essentially a pile of pan seared lump crab meat with a cajun lobster sauce.

          Phili Cheesesteak spring rolls - fried meat and cheese, another dish there's no way I woudn't enjoy!

          We shared a few entrees; my favorites were the prime ribeye stroganoff and sliced filet.

          For dessert we tried the cake balls - bite sized versions of the six layer lemon cake.

           Del Frisco's Grille was the same quality I've come to expect from Del Frisco's, but feels more like an every day kind of spot rather than something I'd save for a special occasion. I can't wait to go back and check out the brunch and dinner menu!

 Del Frisco's Grille on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bloc 11

          Bloc 11 is a coffee shop in Union Square in Somerville with a great atmosphere and plenty of healthy and vegetarian lunch options. I tried it recently on my lunch break, and it has quickly made it into my regular rotation!

          The Prospect: Fresh moz­zarella, fig jam, tomato spread, grapes, and slivered almonds

          The Azolla: Caramelized onion, avocado, marinated zucchini, and queso fresco

          Although I've only tried the salads so far, the soups and sandwiches (served with pasta salad) all look amazing. There is also a bakery case with tons of delicious looking treats that have tempted me (but so far I've had the will power to skip). The kitchen sink cookies look especially yummy...

          Bloc 11 also hosts some cool events like open mic night, art exhibits, and private coffee tastings. I'd definitely like to check them out sometime for something fun and different to do after work!

Bloc 11 Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 5, 2014

Liquid Art House

          Liquid Art House opens tomorrow, and if you read my preview you know it's a high end restaurant and art gallery, unlike anything else in Boston!

          I had the opportunity to attend several pre-opening events, experience the first art exhibit Outside In (street art from around the world) and try out a handful of the dishes on the menu. Here's a glimpse at what you can expect:

           Three different kinds of bread made in house, including my favorite the German pretzel, served with cultured butter and fleur de sel.

          Hamachi crudo with green papaya, black garlic, smokey lemon, ginger, and cilantro - This dish had the perfect balance of clean and delicate flavors. It was my favorite appetizer and something I would order every time I come in. 

          Several types of dumpling including these wild mushroom and chive served with porcini cream, shitake chips, and sour cream. I didn't order these, but tried a bite and they were amazing! I can't wait to try some of the others like the cheese and duck.

          Canvas of baby carrots prepared several ways including salt roasted, pickled, charred, and a carrot creme fraiche custard accompanied by kale crisps and coconut powder. Several of my friends ordered this dish and were so impressed by the presentation and combination of flavors. They all commented they'd never known they could enjoy carrots so much.  

           Rohan Duck Confit with medjool dates, urfa aioli, queso azul de valdeon - this was definitely the most hearty of the appetizers I tried and could almost be a small meal. The confit came with a crisp layer of skin on top (my favorite part of the whole dish) and tons of tender duck meat piled underneath. I tried to get a bit of the skin and the dates in each bite.

           Green circle chicken from the French rotisserie Lulu- LAH is one of two restaurants in Boston to offer these chickens, fed on the scraps from the finest restaurants in NY including Per Se and Daniel among others. Before trying the chicken I'd heard that the white meat is just as tender as dark, and the dark meat is unlike anything you've ever experienced. It definitely lived up to my all of my expectations, and was unsurprisingly my favorite entree.

         The chicken came served with equally impressive sides of jack's marmaliga (an Eastern European, grit-like dish) and asparagus. 

          Tile fish with baby clams, broccolini, turnips, black garlic, and yuzu beurre blanc poured over the top table side. I enjoyed the presentation and each element of this dish.

          Colorado lamb loin with potato puree, green olive and mint gremolata, roasted grapes, and parmigiano romano - my friend who doesn't normally eat lamb ordered this and loved it. She finished every bite and said she would definitely order it again.

          Faroe Islands Salmon with baby potatoes, quail eggs, dill oil, pickles, salmon roe, and sour cream -  another dish I only tried a small bite of but received rave reviews from my friend.

          Tainori dark chocolate bark with dark chocolate ganache, aerated chocolate meringue, smoked black walnuts, toffee, and dark coffee bean-walnut ice cream - as a chocolate lover this was my dream come true.

          Rhubarb - Rosewater custard with olive oil jam, raspberry, lychee, confit meyer lemon, and pink peppercorn labneh yogurt sorbet. I loved the flavors but was even more blown away by the stunning presentation.

          Sour cherry bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, burnt vanilla anglaise, and caramelized white chocolate. Bread pudding seems to be making a little bit of a comeback, and this is by far the best I've had. My favorite was the caramelized white chocolate, and I made sure to scrape every bit off of my plate.

          Liquid Art House is unlike anything Boston has ever seen, and I expect it will redefine the Boston dining scene. I already have a reservation for my fourth visit this Saturday!

Liquid Art House on Urbanspoon