Monday, February 24, 2014

Franklin Southie

          This weekend the bf and I decided to check out another popular spot we've been hearing about in the new neighborhood, Franklin Cafe Southie. The atmosphere is casual, with a menu consisting of modern American dishes made from local seasonal ingredients. The menu includes a mix of small and large plates, and can be ordered tapas style or more traditional salad or appetizer and a main course. We tried a mix of the small plates starting with some selections from the raw bar and moving on to some of the cooked dishes.

1/2 Dozen of the daily oyster selection - East Coast, Cape Cod
Salmon tartare with soy, cucumber, yuzu, and shrimp chips

Roasted acorn squash with pecan granola, maple, and chili
General Tso's chicken wings with cilantro and sesame
     I enjoyed everything we tried, but my favorite was by far the squash! There were so many other options I would've liked to try like the fried chicken, pork belly buns, and buffalo style chicken skins - I"ll definitely be back soon!

Franklin Southie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Social Wines

Social Wines is my new favorite neighborhood wine store! I went in just a few days after moving to Southie after driving past a few times on Broadway, and was psyched at such an amazing find!

Social Wines specializes in local wines and craft beers, and most of the selection is very affordable (under $35 per bottle). After describing the style of wine I was looking for (natural unfiltered wines, or orange wines-my current obsession) the staff was able to recommend two bottles that I absolutely loved. I came back a couple of days later and bought a half a case at a 10% discount!

          In addition to a great selection and friendly and knowledgeable staff, Social Wines will deliver orders over $70-$75 and offers weekly wine and beer tastings on Thursdays and Fridays. Even if you're not local to Southie, it's worth making the trip in to check them out!

Back Deck

          Earlier this week I had the opportunity to try Back Deck in the theater district. The atmosphere is casual, and meant to feel like a backyard style BBQ in the city. Most of the meats and veggies are cooked on a charcoal grill, which gives them a great smokey flavor. I've been trying to eat healthy lately, and appreciated how accommodating Back Deck was of all the special requests.

          I started with the creamy eggplant dip, made with smoked eggplant, garlic and cream cheese. They substituted celery and radicchio in place of the tortilla (the gluten free substitution), and I enjoyed this lighter version. I wouldn't have thought to pair eggplant and cream cheese, but it worked. 


          For my main course, I tried the pork chop porterhouse with pickled red cabbage and gumbo greens instead of polenta. The pork was grilled to perfection and had a slightly sweet flavor from the balsamic glaze. The greens were delicious and cooked with a bit of bacon and chorizo.

           In addition to the food, the service was friendly and attentive. Back Deck's location right around the corner from the Opera House makes it a great pre-theater dining option, and I would definitely come back in again before a show!

 Back Deck on Urbanspoon

2014 Boston Wine Expo Recap

         Last weekend I went to the Boston Wine Expo for the second year in a row. Having come once before, I felt a little bit more prepared. As the largest Wine Expo in the country (open to the public) it can be a bit overwhelming. This year instead of trying to hit every booth and taste everything (not a great strategy), I was strategic about which regions and booths I wanted to hit up.

          The room is set up by region, with most of the wineries toward the center and the food and other vendors on the sides near the demonstration stages.

          I started with Italy, and tried some of the natural wines, which are quickly becoming some of my favorites. Natural wines are wines made with no (or minimal) chemical or technological intervention in growing the grapes or the winemaking process. Natural wines are often organic or biodynamic, hand picked, and contain no added sugars, foreign yeasts or additives. They are often unfiltered which gives them a great earthy, rustic taste.

          The Italian pavilion also included plenty of food - hand carved prosciutto, cheeses, charcuterie, pasta, and more.

           Next I headed to France and tried some not yet released vintages from Chateneauef Du Pape. These red blends were some of my favorite wines at the expo this year.

          I also tried some wines from the Boston Winery, which is located just a few miles away from the Expo. They had an amazing brachetto, which is one of my favorite dessert wines.

          Some other stars were the Vina Robles Petite Sirah being sampled by Dos Familias, and the opportunity to sample several different varieties of Ribera del Duaro in the Spanish pavilion (one of my favorite regions).

          There was also a ton of great food, including cooking demonstrations from Ming Tsai and Barbara Lynch, and tons of great vendors. My favorite was the duck being sampled by Bella Bella Gourmet Foods of West Haven, CT. This table had seared fois gras, fois gras pate, duck pastrami, duck leg confit, duck breast, and more! I might have hit this table up a few times, trying to score a fresh piece of the seared fois gras!

          There was also a table with some delicious Valrhona chocolate samples, and I learned about a new award winning blonde chocolate - a caramelized white chocolate with a hint of salt.

          This year's Wine Expo was a ton of fun, and I learned about some new wines and products I'd like to buy in the future. I can't wait to see what they have prepared for 2015!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


          If you follow my other blog, you know that I've just recently moved to Southie! I'm so excited to be back in the city, and have found a place with parking, walk in closets, a deck, fireplace, 3 bedrooms and bathrooms... Here are some photos of the new place:

          Before we were even officially moved in, the bf and I decided to check out one of the local restaurants we'd been hearing a lot about: Lincoln. We went in at 6pm on a Sunday night and were shocked at how packed the bar was. It's definitely THE spot for folks who live in the area.

          When we sat down I was excited to see this sign. Although we live within walking distance, it's a great benefit we could definitely take advantage of in the cold!

          The menu had tons of delicious sounding entrees like buttermilk fried chicken with sausage gravy and biscuits, but since I've been trying to eat healthy I ordered an app and a salad. I started with the Tuna tartare which came with avocado, shaved fennel, and lemon meyer vinaigrette. I loved the combination of the lemon with the tuna, and the diced onions on top also added great flavor.

           Next was the beet salad with frisee, toasted pistachios, goat cheese, and apple cider vinaigrette.  This was a huge portion of red and yellow beets, and could've been a meal in itself! I did my best but couldn't quite finish it.

           The bf ordered a burger with an extra side of grillos pickles which he also enjoyed (and took home some of the pickles)!

          While I'm excited to check out the other places around me, I can see Lincoln becoming one of my regular spots!

Lincoln Tavern and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Long Bar

          Blog and Tweet Boston recently headed to Oak Long Bar and Kitchen to check out the brunch menu. I'd been for cocktails but otherwise hadn't eaten since the space was (fairly) recently redone. Oak Room used to be one of my favorites, so I had high hopes for Long Bar. It did not disappoint.

           The space was gorgeous and I enjoyed relaxing on some comfy couches and chatting with other bloggers. We started with some cocktails; I chose the bloody mary, which was a perfect start to our meal. 

          There were so many items on the menu that sounded amazing, I didn't know what to get. It helped when the table decided to share the flatbread special topped with smoked salmon, caviar, and creme fraiche. 

          I settled on the corned beef hash baked in a skillet and topped with poached eggs, mushrooms, and hollandaise. Despite the generous portion, this was so good I polished off the entire thing!

          The others at my table ordered the burger and short rib quesadilla, which also looked amazing (especially Stacey's burger!)

          Thanks to Oak Long Bar for such a great meal! I can't wait to return and try some of the other dishes like the eggs benedict or chocolate hazelnut french toast!

 Oak Long Bar + Kitchen on Urbanspoon

2014 Wine Expo Special Offer

          The Boston Wine Expo is almost here! If that's not exciting enough, I have one more special offer for my readers. Meat lovers can get 25% off Del Terruño beef at their booth at the expo. Del Terruño is a group of ranchers in Uruguay, South America, who breed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford cattle. They raise the animals free range on fresh grass only, 12 months of the year, with lots of space to roam, relax and ruminate; three acres per animal. Del Terruño chooses only young Aberdeen Angus and Hereford heifers to export, 18-36 months old, so the meat is firm and tender.

           Here's a link for a 25% off coupon, no need to print it out, just show your smart phone at the booth!

          If you haven't bought your tickets yet, there's still time! Use my discount code SOCIAL for 10% off.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cupcakes and Cocktails at the BCAE

          A couple weekends ago, Blog and Tweet Boston headed to the BCAE for an amazing cooking class: Cupcakes and Cocktails taught by instructor Dustin Rennells. Here's the BCAE's class description:

          What’s better than drinking a delightful cocktail? Eating one! In this course, set up like a cocktail party, we’ll all take a hand in preparing such treats as: Cosmo cupcakes, brandied peach, tiramisu cupcake, sangria cupcake, strawberry daiquiri, pina colada, Jell-O Shot cupcake, etc (flavors alternate depending on the season). But first we’ll start with cupcake flavored and shaped shooters, followed by two cocktails corresponding to our seasonal liquor-laced cakes to keep up the mood. Bring a friend and get ready to get your hands dirty and your palettes sweetened!

           It was such a fun evening, and Dustin was an amazing instructor. He kept us entertained and some how made sure we were all following his instructions correctly!

          We started off with a Cake Frosting Shot.  This was a delicious blend of vanilla vodka, amaretto, and pineapple juice topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. 

          Next were the cupcakes - Dustin had us split up into groups, and somehow all three cupcakes and pairings came together perfectly! 

  1. Spring Break cupcakes with strawberries and jello, paired with a second (or third) frosting shot.
  2.  Brandied Peach Cupcakes with Tangy Brown Sugar Frosting, paired with an Apple Cider Hot Toddy. 
  3. Sangria Cupcakes with Red Wine Frosting, Dark Chocolate, and Fruit Compote Topping, paired with a Spicy Winter Sangria infused with cloves and cinnamon sticks, and fresh fruit 
          The best part was we all got a sampler plate of cupcakes to take home. My favorite ended up being the Chocolate Sangria cupcake!

          If you want to check out the class, the next session of Cupcakes and Cocktails is March 28, 2014 from 6pm-9pm. The BCAE is located at 122 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116 and is a short walk from the T.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pop Chips

       Popchips recently became available in several stores in the Boston area including Tedechi’s food stores and Stop & Shop. Never fried (too greasy) and never baked (too cardboard-y), popchips are a delicious line of popped chips with all the flavor and half the fat of fried chips. Popchips do not contain trans fats, soy, MSG, preservatives, or artificial flavors and they are certified gluten free.

        I recently had the opportunity to sample a wide variety of flavors including BBQ, cheddar, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, and kettle corn. My favorites for snacking were the cheddar and BBQ, but I was excited to learn that  in addition to a healthy and tasty snack popchips are great for cooking with. They're even endorsed by Jillian Michaels, several of her recipes are available online here.

After eating several of my bags as snacks, I decided to try them as an addition to a recipe I make already. I substituted cruched popchips for bread crumbs on the top of a chicken, broccoli casserole. They tasted great, and added a lot more crunch than bread crumbs!

Recipe: Chicken Broccoli Casserole with crunchy Pop Chip Topping

  • 2 bags of frozen broccoli florets
  • 24 oz boneless skinless chicken tenderloins
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat free milk
  • 2 oz dry sherry
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat swiss
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 bags of popchips (I used cheddar potato and original)
  • cooking spray
Steam broccoli in the microwave and set aside

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Crumble two bags of popchips in a bowl, and mix with parmesan cheese.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Saute chicken on medium-low heat in a skillet until both sides are browned, and almost cooked through (5 minutes on each side). Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cooled, slice chicken into bite sized pieces.

Add the butter and oil to the same skillet with chicken drippings. When the butter melts, stir in the flour with a whisk until smooth. Stir in broth, milk and sherry and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the swiss cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add broccoli and chicken to the sauce and mix thoroughly. Pour in a large casserole dish and top with popchips mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is crunchy.

          Stay tuned for a fun Blog and Tweet Boston event involving popchips in the near future. This is one you won't want to miss!