Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kirkland Tap and Trotter

          I tried Kirkland Tap and Trotter when they first opened almost a year ago and had a great meal. I recently tried them again and since the menu had changed quite a bit, thought an update post was in order!

        I went with the fiance and another couple for the last night of the anti restaurant week menu. Our server explained that any of the dishes on the special menu could be ordered a la cart, and that we could mix and match courses from the two menus.

          We started with a few apps to share including the pate and Spanish octopus. I loved both of these, I always think of pates as one of Tony Maws specialties and this did not disappoint. The octopus was cooked perfectly; it had great texture and wasn't at all chewy.

Housemade Pâté de Campagne red onion compote, pickled mustard seeds
Spanish Octopus Salad zucchini & yellow squash hummus, za’atar flatbread
          For my main course I was really tempted to try the burger, but I just had to go with the pork belly. It was smoky and tasted like extra thick bacon with the perfect ratio of fat cap to meat - everything I hoped it would be!
Slow-Roasted Pork Belly cranberry bean ragoût, braised radish & turnip
          The others at the table all enjoyed their dishes, and I tried to steal a small bite of each!

Grass-fed Chesseburger kimchee Russian dressing, emmantaler  with the fried egg
Grilled Kielbasa with kraut and whole grain mustard
Swordfish with chickpeas and baby clams in white wine broth

          We shared a side of Green Beans à la Plancha with crispy shallot-ponzu vinaigrette and though I don't normally like green beans, I really loved the flavors of the sauce.

          For dessert we shared an ice cream sandwich from the special menu - two crumbly cookies rolled in chopped nuts, filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. It was just enough for each of the four of us to have a couple of bites, and with all of the other courses it was all we needed!

          The biggest difference I noticed when comparing my most recent visit to when they first opened is that the menu had less of a tapas feel, although you could definitely make a meal of the apps and small plates. It's fun to see places grow and evolve, and I can't wait to see how Kirkland Tap and Trotter  - still relatively new- continues to do so over time!

Kirkland Tap & Trotter on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 24, 2014

Two Hospitals Commit to Serving only Sustainable Seafood

          It's not often that my two worlds collide (food blogging, and healthcare), so I had to share this article about two hospitals  in Washington (Overlake and Virginia Mason) that have committed to serving only sustainable seafood! 

        You can read the whole thing here but the rationale is that sustainable seafood is healthy for patients and also to our ecosystem. Hospitals' economic activity in Washington makes up about 18% of GDP, and Overlake hospital's executive chef estimated they go through about 500 pounds of Alaska Coho salmon every two weeks. An amount that sizable can absolutely make an impact!

          If Washington can do it, it seems like something that would also be feasible in a city like Boston with both a huge concentration of large academic medical centers and an abundance of local seafood and suppliers.

          Readers do you think this is feasible and reasonable to ask of hospitals? Should they focus on the environment in addition to their patients? Let me know in your comments!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Baltic European Deli in South Boston

          I haven't been able to go out much since my appendicitis and surgery earlier this week, but I have been exploring a lot more of the takeout options around me in Southie! Today I made my first trip out of the house in a few days (the fiance drove) to pick up some prepared foods from Baltic European Deli.

          Baltic European Deli is a cute store in a Polish neighborhood of South Boston. The shop is small but packed full of a huge selection of imported and prepared foods including a deli, bakery, frozen prepared foods, and other grocery items. Everything in store is either imported from Poland or made from scratch using local ingredients and traditional Polish recipes. I had been planning to pick up some prepared items for my Dad's birthday anyway (he's Polish and grew up eating this type of food), and since I've been out of commission I decided to grab a few things for myself for a quick and easy dinner!

          There is a huge selection of kielbasa, sausages, and meats at the deli. I went with two recommended leaner and slightly higher end sausages, one smoked and one not. They were both delicious! I also tried the potato and cheese and meat (beef and pork) perogies which were perfect steamed, and topped with a dollap of sour cream. Finally, we had some potato pancakes topped with an apple and orange fruit spread we found in the shop.

          Overall it was a great meal, and I definitely plan to check out some of the additional prepared foods (and will probably make everything I tried already a regular staple)!

Baltic Deli & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Del Frisco's Grille Burlington

          Last weekend Blog and Tweet Boston headed to Del Frisco's Grille in Burlington, which opened this past summer. Del Frisco's Grille is a more casual version of the fine dining steakhouse, Del Frisco's. While some of the menu items are similar, Del Frisco's Grille is a more affordable alternative with many bar and grill type dishes on the menu. 

           We started with several apps to share including the ahi tuna tacos, a sampling of flatbreads, and philly cheesesteak rolls. Everything was delicious, but the eggrolls with spicy ketchup and honey mustard were my favorite. I also loved the wild mushroom and truffle flatbread.

Ahi Tuna Tacos
Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls
Wild Mushroom and Truffle Flatbread
Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Flatbread
Brussel Sprout and Bacon Flatbread

           As a main course we each got a half of a burger (this was more than enough!) and our own fries with this adorable mini ketchup. Our server told us these are the most stolen item in the restaurant, and I can definitely see why! The burger was piled high with bacon, pickles, onions, cheese, lettuce, and 1,000 island dressing. It was quite impressive, and I would definitely order it again!

          For dessert we sampled smaller versions of the adult milkshake and coconut cream pie. The milkshake tasted like a frozen mudslide, and the coconut cream pie was surprisingly light and topped with delicious shaved white chocolate.

          Of course as bloggers we had to pose for a few pics before finishing lunch! Overall the meal was a lot of fun, with tons of excellent comfort food. Thanks to Del Frisco's Grille for hosting!

Del Frisco's Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wine and Chocolate Paring at Chocolate Therapy

          Blog and Tweet Boston recently hosted a wine and chocolate pairing class at Chocolate Therapy in Framingham. I'd been once before for a chocolate making class, and while that was a lot of fun, it was a bit more relaxing to sit back and enjoy the wine and chocolate that was already prepared for us!

          Before starting the class we took a brief walk around the shop, where we saw this chocolate goat! There is a great story behind the goat that will actually be featured on owners Pam and David's a new reality show. We got to see a sneak preview of some of the footage, which was hilarious! The reel should be up on their website shortly, so be sure to check it out!

          After the goat, we heard a great talk from David about chocolate and how it's produced. Then Pam led us through the tasting.

          There were four pairings in total including: a lemon and lavender truffle with sauvignon blanc, Milk chocolate truffle with a hint of pepper paired with a petite syrah, strawberry balsamic vinegar truffle paired with a pinot noir, and my personal favorite - the salted caramel paired with a rich port.


          All of the chocolates are made from natural ingredients with no additives, and many of the truffles are made with fun and unusual ingredients including herbs and spices that have some therapeutic qualities. I definitely recommend checking out Chocolate Therapy for one of their classes, or just to pick up a box of delicious chocolates as a gift (or for yourself)!

A New Public Market Coming to Boston

          Just a couple of weeks ago there was a groundbreaking ceremony for Boston's first public food market, scheduled to open next summer. The market will be 28,000 square feet with 40+ vendors and located in a state-owned building along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, at the corner of Hanover and Blackstone. The market will feature produce, meat and poultry, baked goods, local seafood, and an assortment of specialty and prepared foods. There will also be a teaching kitchen with cooking demonstrations, health and wellness programs, and more.

          I can't wait to check out this market, and was especially interested in the seafood available! According to the Boston Public Market's Business Plan there will be plenty of local vendors featuring black bass, buefish, cod, flounder, mussels, oysters, scallops and more. Here's an excerpt directly from the business plan on the New England seafood they expect to offer:

"New England is home to some of the most nutrient rich fishing grounds in the world including Georges Bank, the Gulf of Maine and Cape Cod Bay. Georges Bank is arguably the most productive piece of ocean bottom in the entire world. Today’s fishermen work within regulations designed to eliminate overfishing and promote the stock’s biomass growth. While certain populations are still at risk, over the last 17 years the fishery biomass in New England has grown by more than 500 percent. New England’s annual catch size is second in value only to Alaska, and today, scallops help New Bedford, Massachusetts, bring in more revenue than any fishing port in the nation for the 11th consecutive year in a row."

          The market will also present an opportunity for small local fisherman, farmers, and other producers that might otherwise face barriers to entering the Boston retail market including supply chain obstacles, and inability to operate an entire storefront on their own due small size or high Boston rents.

          Although the Boston Public Market is still several months away from opening, you can check out their website for news and updates.

          What topics do you want to read about seafood and / or sustainability? Leave your suggestions in the comments section!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Legal Harborside

          Legal Seafoods is a Boston based restaurant group, that's been around for ages and somewhat of a local icon. I recently visited one of their newest concepts, Legal Harborside which has several different floors each with a different menu and concept. I ate on the second floor, which is more of a fine dining concept and the most high end menu available at any Legal Seafood concept.

          I've eaten at the more casual Legal locations many times over the years, but it was only before this most recent visit that I thought to do some digging and find out if they had any kind of stance on the issue of sustainability. I was impressed to learn that they are committed not only to serving seafood that is sourced in a sustainable manner, but also to raising awareness around the topic and eliminating a lot of the misinformation that's out there.

You can read the whole policy on their website, but here are some of the highlights:
  • We need to find solutions that are sustainable not only for fish, but also for the fishing industry.

  • We endorse moratoriums and quotas on over-fished species.
We only serve fish and shellfish that are within National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) guidelines and, as such, are considered sustainable species by the federal government.

  • We look at every species of fish and make an ethical decision on whether or not it should be served.  For example, we do not sell Chilean sea bass because most of the world’s catch is illegal.
We think the debate on seafood sourcing - wild versus farm-raised - is necessary and aquaculture that utilizes the highest levels of sanitation, environmental safeguards and is antibiotic-free should be supported.  
My Experience at Dinner

          The fiance and I walked in on a Friday night around 7:30, hoping to get a seat at the bar. We managed to score a high top table in the bar area, which was even better! The view was amazing!

          We started with some of the oysters offered that day including Wellfleet and Island Creek. I enjoyed both, and the Island Creeks were some of the biggest I've ever had!

           Next was the smoked trout pate with rye toast, pickled grapes, radish, and trout roe. The trout had a great smoky flavor, which was an interesting contrast with the sweet grapes. The saltiness of the roe and crunchy toast rounded out the textures and flavors, making this a really interesting and flavorful dish.

          For my main course, I had the Cape Cod diver scallops with confit pork belly, sweet potato, mustard greens, peach mostarda. Both the scallops and pork belly were cooked perfectly and the portion was huge!

          I tried a bite of the fiance's fluke with grilled summer squashes, smoked tomato mussel nage, crab stuffed zucchini blossom. The fish was also cooked perfectly, but my favorite was the crab stuffed zucchini blossom.

          Overall the meal was excellent; everything was cooked perfectly and the portions were very generous. Though the prices were in the same ballpark as several other high end seafood restaurants in Boston, the portion sizes definitely made Legal Harborside a better value.

Legal Harborside on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

LIQS Cocktail Shots

          If you're anything like me, you probably don't keep lots mixers or liquors on hand to make fancy drinks or shots at home. My idea of making my own mixed drink is adding lime flavored sparkling water to my vodka! So I was psyched when I was given the opportunity to try out LIQS cocktail shots: a delicious and low calorie ready to drink premium shot.

About LIQS

          LIQS Cocktail Shot, the world’s first premium ready-to-drink “Cocktail Shot” brand, recently launched in Massachusetts. LIQS are a ready-to-drink hybrid between a bartender-quality cocktail with the portability of a shot sealed in a high quality plastic shot glass. These portable shots combine top-shelf spirits with the high quality flavors seen in traditional craft cocktails to bring a potent, low calorie alternative with no preservatives or artificial flavors. They are fun, delicious and serve as the perfect party starter, addition to a BBQ or pool party, for a night on the town or for celebratory occasions.

I had the chance to try all four flavors including:

Tequila· Cinnamon · Orange, made with 99% agave tequila infused with a blend of subtle cinnamon and fresh orange to produce an irresistible balance of spicy and sweet (55 proof; 120 calories)

Vodka · Cucumber · Lime, a six-time distilled vodka shot with the cooling nature of cucumber combined with the citrus of lime (45 proof; 90 calories)

Vodka · Kamikaze, an improvement on this nightlife staple with six-times distilled vodka infused with the finest citrus and a hint of natural vanilla (45 proof; 100 calories); and

Vodka · Lychee · Grapefruit, a perfectly pink mix of six-times distilled vodka balanced with the citrus of grapefruit and the sweetness of lychee to create a fruit-forward option that is not cloying (45 proof; 90 calories).

          They were all delicious and it was hard to pick a favorite. If I had to choose it would be a toss up between the lychee and kamikaze. LIQS are available in three packs for $7.99, and have recently rolled out in over 100 liquor stores throughout Massachusetts including one of my local Southie favorites - Al's.

          For more information visit: Follow LIQS Cocktail Shot on Twitter at @LIQS, Facebook at /LIQSshot and Instagram at @LIQS.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Douzo Sushi via Door Dash - Boston's Newest Delivery Service

         I recently had the opportunity to try Door Dash, the newest restaurant delivery service in Boston. I currently use a few of these already, so I was interested in seeing how Door Dash was different. Door Dash definitely stood out in a couple of ways. Before I get to the details, I want to share a special offer with you: Use my code UrbanDoorDash  for free delivery on your first order. You can place your order here.

          The first thing I noticed upon logging into the website was that a lot of the options were not typical takeout places (although there were plenty of those available). There were French bistros (La Voile), Italian restaurants (Cinquecento, Via Matta), and high end sushi (Douzo) just to name a few.

           I liked that the delivery fee is a flat $7, no matter where you order from. Many of the other delivery services advertise free delivery or delivery for $2-$3, but often there are additional fees (the restaurant charges its own fee, they use a subcontracted delivery service that charges its own fee, etc). Based on my experience, $7 isn't especially low or high and I don't mind paying it for a nice restaurant that wouldn't normally deliver.

My Experience
          I decided to order from Douzo, a sushi place I've been wanting to try for awhile. The estimated wait time was about an hour, which is pretty standard. The order arrived right on time, and the driver even called to confirm my special request, and texted me when he was on the way with my food. He even included a hand written thank you note, which I thought was a really nice touch.


          The food from Douzo was amazing, and I would absolutely order from them again. I plan to go back in person sometime soon to get the full experience. 

          Torched salmon with sweet crab meat salad: this was amazing and not only my favorite dish that I ordered for this meal, but one of my favorite sushi dishes in Boston. The salmon was lightly seared on the outside, served on top of delicious crab meat and topped with salmon roe and scallions. 

           Omakase lunch special: This was an excellent value, and included a mix of sushi, sashimi, and rolls for $17.95. Although I'm not sure what every piece was, I enjoyed all of them. There was definitely some salmon, eel, California handroll, shrimp, yellowtail with ginger sauce, and seafood naruto.

          Shrimp tempura and spicy tuna handrolls: These are pretty standard dishes, and Douzo did them very well. The fish was high quality and fresh, and I always like it when my spicy tuna comes with tempura flakes!

          I highly recommend both Door Dash and Douzo; I plan to use / dine at both of them again soon!

Douzo on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tuscan Kitchen and Market

          I recently had the opportunity to attend a grand opening party at Tuscan Kitchen and Market, which is set to open any day now in Burlington, MA. 

About Tuscan Kitchen

          The Burlington Tuscan Kitchen will encompass everything that guests have come to love about the Tuscan Brand. Italian ingredients ranging from hand-made pastas to freshly baked artisan breads to homemade gelato are prepared fresh daily. Tuscan Kitchen will also incorporate imported pasta machines, a meat rotisserie, wood-fired ovens, and fireplaces to create a cozy atmosphere. This new restaurant will seat 543, 101 of which will be outside.

About Tuscan Market

          Tuscan Market has an impressive Italian-imported décor and custom-designed equipment. Tantalizing aromas of homemade pizza and panini will lead guests to the various house-made foods available for purchase including artisan breads, fresh pasta, fresh mozzarella and delicate Italian pastries made from scratch in the open kitchen for all to see. In season, local fresh produce will be available for purchase at designated stations throughout the marketplace along with delicious cheeses and cured meats. Visitors can take a break and relax at the Tuscan Market Café, a 30 seat café area, while enjoying coffee, espresso or a bite to eat. For something sweet, an authentic homemade gelato machine imported from Italy will feature over 24 different flavors of the creamiest gelato offered this side of Italy. 

          With over 25 years of experience in the food industry, owner and chief food taster Joe Faro’s vision to expand the Tuscan Brand into Massachusetts has finally transformed into a reality. When Faro first opened the award-winning Tuscan Kitchen in November 2010, the concept was to combine the freshest ingredients with time-honored preparation to create a truly incredible culinary experience.

          Faro’s motto has never been truer, “You are guaranteed to experience true regional artisan Italian at Tuscan Brands.” The opening of the new Tuscan Kitchen and Tuscan Market is scheduled to open the first week of September 2014.

The Dinner

          We started in the market area with some sparkling wine and passed hors d'ouvres including fresh shaved parmesan, and two types of crostini with braised octopus and butternut squash.

          Before heading in to the bar, I had to stop and check out the prepared foods section of the market - everything looked so good!

          We loaded up on charcuterie and headed to the bar next, and they had an amazing wine selection!

          Once we sat down to dinner we started with a sampling of apps including Tonno Crudo with navel orange, and calabrese peppers, and a crostini with wild caught Jonah crab. These looked so good I dug in before I remembered to take a picture. They tasted even better than they looked!

          Next was the pasta course, which included Canneloni Di Vitello (thin sheets of rosemary pasta stuffed with slow braised veal breast, wilted spinach, and tuscan bean mista) and Truffled Mascarpone Gnocchi (gnocchi with wood roasted mushroom, fava beans, and shaved pecorino tartufo). Both of these were amazing, but the truffle cream sauce was one of the best I've ever had. 

          For my entree I ordered the Filetto Di Manzo: a 10 ounce aged wood grilled filet with caramelized garlic "riduzione", truffled parmigiano fingerlings, and brussel sprout and pancetta slaw. The filet was so tender you almost didn't need a knife, and I loved the rich flavor of the sauce which also had a hint of truffle. 

          Since dessert was a serve yourself display with tons of yummy looking pastries and treats, I naturally took a bunch of them even though I could only try a bite of each! My favorite was definitely the lobster tail. 

          I'd heard great things about the Salem, NH Tuscan Kitchen and the new Burlington location definitely exceeded my expectations. I can't wait to go back and try it again once they're officially open!
Tuscan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 3, 2014

Does Frozen Seafood Have an Unfair Rep? - Highlights from the Let's Talk About Food Fest

          Last weekend I stopped by the Let's Talk About Food Festival, a free three day educational event put on by Whole Foods and the Boston Globe. There were tons of booths set up with samples and information around all kinds of issues relating to food (sustainability, nutrition, cooking, kids' school lunches, etc.). I was most interested in the chef talks and cooking demos, and made it a point to see the Something Fishy demo by Chef and sustainable seafood advocate Barton Seaver, seafood distributor Michael Dimin of Sea2Table, and Chef Jeremy Sewall of several Boston restaurants including Lineage, Row 34, and Island Creek Oyster. 
           The presentation included a cooking demonstration for an easy salmon recipe, and a talk about sustainable seafood with a particular focus on frozen vs. fresh. I personally have always purchased only fresh seafood, but after hearing this talk I may reconsider. There are benefits to frozen seafood including:

1. When fish is frozen at sea, it is often frozen as soon as it's caught and vacuum sealed. In these cases, it may be more fresh than the never frozen fish at the seafood counter which may be several days old after transportation and depending on how quickly they sell. 

2. Frozen seafood is generally cheaper, since seasonality and air transportation are not a factor. 

         Like fresh seafood, it is important to know your distributors, where and how the fish was caught, and how it was processed. You can find this information available in many of the resources I've mentioned in prior posts, or by shopping at places like Whole Foods or a trusted local seafood market.
Now for the recipe:
  1. Rub a piece of salmon with olive oil, rosemary, minced shallot, and lemon zest
  2. Slow roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the fish is just opaque in the center
  3. Finish with roasted wild mushroom and corn, and fresh lemon squeezed on top
Up next week: my experience at Legal Harborside, and Legal Seafood's commitment to sustainability

What do you want to read about seafood and or sustainability? Leave your suggestions in the comments section!