Saturday, June 28, 2014

Local 149

          Local 149 is a great neighborhood bar right on the water in Southie. The interior is cozy, and the menu includes upscale bar and comfort food. I'm pretty psyched to have started discovering this new to me area, and that I live less than half a mile from the beach (and even more amazing restaurants)! Who knew??



          The bf and I went in recently and tried a bunch of apps and smaller dishes. Not surprisingly, we started with a build your own meat and cheese board including bluefish rillette, BBQ rillette, two aged cows milk cheeses, housemade pickles and pickled red onions. The bluefish rillette was my favorite, but I appreciated the creativity of the BBQ which isn't something I've ever seen before.


          They offer a selection of oysters daily, and that night they were featuring wellfleets which I always love.


          The pizza was my favorite kind- thin and crispy crust, the perfect bar pizza. Available toppings include cheese, pepperoni, or chicken ranchero. We enjoyed the pepperoni.


          The kale caesar was huge, with fried white beans and white anchovies (I don't usually eat the anchovies but can appreciate the good white ones when I see them)!


          The mac and cheese is thick and creamy, it reminded me of velveeta, but high quality and homemade!


           Although I didn't try any really entrees, they sounded amazing. I can't wait to go back for the fried chicken and lamb burgers!

Local 149 on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hard Rock Cafe Boston

          Last weekend Blog and Tweet Boston headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston to check out the new menu, which was just completely revamped as of April 2014.

          For over a year the company surveyed more than 3,000 guests in cafes across six continents to collect feedback on more than 100 items from its existing and redesigned test menus. They evaluated everything from appetizers and entrees, to desserts and cocktails - even the china and glassware. The research, conducted by Cohen Research Group, included a side-by-side comparison of current menu items and modified versions – taking into consideration variations like seasoning, textures, flavor profiles, burger patty blends, French fry cut and more. The process resulted in the addition of 30 new items and the modification of 28 existing menu items.

          “For more than 40 years, Hard Rock has served guests around the world by showing off our unique rock n’ roll atmosphere,” said Mike Zajak, Sr., Director of Culinary Development for Hard Rock. “This menu redesign reflects our ever-present commitment to bringing guests fresh, authentic scratch-based offerings.”

          We got to sample a HUGE portion of this new menu including all of the dishes pictured below. My favorites were definitely the BBQ sampler with ribs, brisket, and a 1/4 chicken (not pictured), the arugula salad, oreo cheesecake, and the twisted shout shake (like a mudslide drizzled with caramel and bacon).

Arugula Salad
Margaritas
Cowboy Ribeye

Fiesta Burger

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

Legendary Burger

Salmon

Salted Caramel Cafe

Twisted Shout Shake

Brownie Sundae
Oreo Cheesecake
 
Apple Cobbler


          I'd previously only been to this location of the Hard Rock for a show (Timberfakes!) but now that I've tried the food I'd definitely come early next time for a bite to eat first.

Hard Rock Café on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chefs in Shorts 2014

          Friday night I had the opportunity to attend Chefs in Shorts, an event in its 17th year that brings together the area’s top culinary talents to fire up the grills and create their favorite dishes during this expansive outdoor, summer-in-the-city barbeque hosted at the Seaport World Trade Center. Proceeds benefit Future Chefs, a local non-profit school-to-career program focused in culinary arts.

          

          Future Chefs’ mission is to prepare urban youth in Greater Boston for quality early employment and post-secondary education opportunities in the culinary field and to support them in developing a broad base of transferable skills as they transition into the working world.

           

I had a great time at the event; there was tons of amazing food and wine, and I found it surprisingly easy to eat healthy with plenty of dishes focused on fresh seafood, veggies, and proteins (although I did indulge in a few of the more decadent items)!
 

Some of my favorites included:

Shortrib Slider, Abby Park

Lamb Sausage, Bar Boulud (opening this fall)

Shrimp and Sweet Corn Flan, Bond
Ceviche, Aragosta

Grilled Mussels, Clams, and Crabcake, Ashmont Grille

Ribs and Potato Salad, Earl's (opening this fall)

Mahi Tacos, Top of the Hub

Assorted Mini Cupcakes, Kickass Cupcakes

Shortrib Lettuce Wraps, Tamo

Whole Striped Bass, Tip Tap Room

This year’s complete list of participating chefs and venues included:

Abby Park                                                                  Anthony DeRienzo
Alma Nove                                                                Paul Wahlberg
Artbar                                                                         Brian Dandro
Artisan Bistro                                                               Andrew Yeo
Ashmont Grille & Tavolo                                          Chris Douglass
Back Deck                                                                 Paul Sussman
Backyard Farms                                                        Duncan McSweeney
Bar Boulud                                                                 Aaron Chambers
Blue Ox                                                                      Matt O'Neil
BOND @ The Langham                                           Mark Sapienza
Cask ‘n Flagon                                                          Donley Liburd
Colonnade Hotel & Brasserie Jo                             Nicholas Calias
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse                   Derrek Barragan
Earls Kitchen + Bar                                                    Tim Pennington
Fairsted Kitchen                                                        Jason Albus
Flour Bakery                                                               Corey Johnson
Foundry on Elm                                                         Alex Jenkins
Gather                                                                       Dennis Wilson
Kashmir                                                                      Harjit Pabla
Kickass Cupcakes                                                    Sara Ross
LaValle's                                                                     Andy LaValle
LTK                                                                              Shane Queiros
Lucca                                                                         Andres Cruz
Lulu's                                                                           Sarah Wade
Mela                                                                           Jatinder Singh
Merrill & Co.                                                               Jason Cheek
Pete & Gerry’s Eggs                                                  Karl Johnson
Philip R's                                                                     Philip Rotondo
Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake                          Uri Abragimovich
Prezza                                                                        Anthony Caturano
Regal Beagle & Church                                          John Rush
Row 34                                                                       Jeremy Sewall
Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center                    Karen Hodsdon
Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center                    Richard Rayment
SKYBOKX 109 GastroSports                                     Noah Gagnon
TAMO Restaurant & Bar                                          Robert Tobin
Taranta                                                                      Jose Duarte
The Living Room                                                       Andreas Edlbauer
The Tip Tap Room                                                    Brian Poe
The Sinclair                                                                Matt Cunningham
Top of the Hub                                                         Mark Porcaro
Towne Stove and Spirits                                         Mark Allen
Trade                                                                          Andrew Hebert
Trina's Starlite Lounge                                              Suzi Maitland

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Brunch at Franklin Cafe

         Since moving to Southie, brunch at the Franklin Cafe has been on my list to try... and since I've been on a complete restaurant binge lately, I figured why not?

          Each meal begins with a basket of the mini poppy seed muffins. 


          I enjoyed the Bloody Mary with all of the accompaniments and a little extra hot sauce.

 

           We shared an order of korean fried chicken with kimchee fried rice and an over easy egg to start. This was by far my favorite and I could come back just for this dish. It's on the small plates menu but large enough for a meal, especially if you indulge in the mini muffins and a side or two.


          The mini boston cream doughnuts were also really good. The cream had a hint of orange, and these were dense, like old fashioned doughnuts.


          The eggs Benedict were impressive with three thick pieces of ham, a large Portuguese style muffin and perfectly poached eggs, but I realized I like coming to Franklin for some of the more creative dishes on the menu like the fried chicken.


          Of course no brunch is ever complete without bacon.


          If you go to Franklin. Try to go early close to when they open at 11. We walked in about 11:45 with no trouble. By the time we left around 1pm the place was full; it's definitely one of the more popular places in Southie and one of my new favorites.

What I've been up to June 2014

          You may have noticed my posts have been a little less frequent here lately (although I'm back at it this weekend)! I've been working on lots of fun projects, some I can share with you now and some I'll be announcing over the next few weeks.

          I'm blogging for the Boston Local Food Festival for the third year in a row. I've already had the chance to interview two amazing local companies this year including Wormtown Brewery in Worcester (did you even know Worcester had a brewery??) and Oxfam; an organization dedicated to ending world hunger and fighting social injustice.

          If you haven't been to the Boston Local Food Festival, you should definitely check it out this year. The event is September 14th from 11-5 at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and is totally free to the public. The festival showcases local farmers, local restaurants, food trucks, specialty food producers, fisher folks, and organizations focusing on healthy food and fitness from New England. The festival also features lively chef & DIY demos, a seafood throwdown competition, diverse music and performances, family fun zone and more. The festival is a zero-waste event, meaning they divert over 91% of our waste each year and we offset 100% of our energy use!


          I've also been featured on the Taste Trekkers Blog for my post on the Top 5 Sushi Restaurants in Boston. If you know me well or have been following this blog you can guess a few of them, but there may be some surprises... you should definitely check it out!

          Taste Trekkers is a group for anyone who travels for food (ie people like me, who are obsessed enough to fly to Chicago on a whim to try a restaurant before it closes!). They have a great blog, where you can learn about the best dishes in popular destination spots and put on an annual Food Tourism Conference in Providence. Last year's was a lot of fun, and I definitely hope to check it out again this year on October 4th!

 Taste Trekkers Guest

Friday, June 20, 2014

La Brasa

          I've been dying to try La Brasa since I heard it's the more casual Latin inspired concept from a former L'Espalier Chef. I went in with the BF this past Sunday, not knowing much else.

          The huge open space has an industrial feel, with what appears to be a tiny market in the back. If you go before 5:30-6PM on Sunday you can enjoy live Jazz music while you eat. We went around 5PM and caught the tail end of it.


          The menu is tapas style, designed for sharing and multiple small courses. There are plenty of vegetarian, meat, and seafood options available. Once we ordered our server brought over jar of utensils including forks, knives, and spoons in different sizes and even a pair of chopsticks!


         We started with a cheese plate with Manchego, creamy goat cheese, and creamy cows milk cheese served with rhubarb spread, chestnut honey, and crispy bread. My favorite was the Manchego paired with the honey.


          Next was the Swiss chard pie with Colorado chile, soft poached farm egg, Spanish ham, and piperade. This was one of the most creative dishes I've tried in a long time, and unlike any dish I've ever had.The crust was flaky like spinach pie, and it was filled with warm Swiss chard and eggplant. Breaking the egg yolk over the top created the perfect sauce.


          The fried chicken with escargot brown butter vinaigrette, parsley, fresh horseradish, and slaw was my favorite. The chicken was only lightly fried, which was nice because you got the flavors of the chicken and sauce rather than just a heavy batter. The seasonings were a little spicy, which was the perfect contrast with the salty bits of escargot. I would never have thought to pair escargot with chicken, but somehow this just worked.


          The lamb kebobs with bok choy and cashews were charred perfectly, and the cool salad was a nice contrast.


          For dessert we shared the affogato with salted caramel ice cream and bourbon butterscotch pudding with whipped cream and rice crispies. They were the perfect size and just the right way to end our meal - ending on something sweet without walking out feeling uncomfortably full.



          I enjoyed the meal at La Brasa and would definitely come back. I wish I'd come hungrier or with a larger group because the entire menu looked amazing!

La Brasa on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

True Bistro

          True Bistro is an upscale vegan restaurant in Somerville's Teele Square; I discovered it recently and I'm surprised it doesn't get more attention. I went with a friend for dinner, and we shared several of the salads and small plates. I'm not a vegan or even vegetarian, but I loved everything I tried and appreciated that most of the dishes felt light, flavorful, and healthy.

          We started with two salads; the first a fire roasted apricot with watercress, almond feta, pickled red onion and sumac. This was a perfect summer salad, and the almond feta had great texture and consistency. It was much creamier than regular feta, and I think I even liked it better.


          The Boston lettuce cups filled with roasted beets, smoked tofu, and cashew cheese felt a bit like a take on the classic wedge salad. The smoky tofu was amazing and if I hadn't known I would've sworn there was bacon in the dish.


          The sweet potato pave with quatre epices, mustard cream, and peppered pecans was my favorite. The sweet potato was caramelized on the bottom and the combination of the pecans was reminiscent of sweet potato and pecan pie. I could easily have eaten this for dessert!


          My friend's favorite dish was the smoky potato kale cake with cashew cheese, smoked tofu, romesco sauce, and fresh thyme. We almost didn't order this because we thought the potato dishes might be too similar, but we were glad we did. They were nothing alike, and this was savory while the sweet potato was sweet.


          The ravioli with roasted corn and poblano cream sauce was another perfect summer dish. The corn was sweet and flavorful, and the poblano cream sauce was surprisingly similar to alfredo with a bit of a kick.


          For dessert we shared three scoops of ice cream: maple walnut bourbon, salted caramel, and chocolate. This looked so good, we dived right in completely forgetting so snap a picture. My favorite was the maple walnut bourbon, and these tasted just like regular ice cream. If I hadn't known they were vegan, I never would've guessed.

          I recommend trying True Bistro whether you're vegan or not, as long as you appreciate fresh, seasonal, made from scratch food!

True Bistro on Urbanspoon