Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Idea: True Aussie Lamb

          With Easter coming up in less than a week, I'm sharing another great option for an easy and delicious meal at home: True Aussie Lamb. I've been a big fan of True Aussie since I had the chance to try them out earlier this year at an event at Tremont 647.

          Australian lamb is pasture-raised, grass fed, and free of artificial additives and hormone growth promotants—a pure product of its pure environment. I recently had the chance to try a whole leg, along with some great recipe ideas.

          I used the crock pot recipe from True Aussie Lamb, but modified it to use the ingredients I had on hand. Here is what I did:

  • Whole lamb leg
  • 4 cups chicken stock (can use any kind of stock / broth)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low heat for 12 hours
  2. Remove lamb from the bone and shred with a fork
  3. Cook rice, couscous, or other grain substituting broth from the crock pot in place of water
  4. Top with shredded lamb

          This was delicious and made plenty of leftovers! I ate some of the shredded lamb plain for lunch the next day, and tossed it with gnocchi and goat cheese for another amazing dinner the following night.

          If you want a chance to try True Aussie Lamb, Tremont 647 is hosting a special multi-course meal on Friday May 1st. Enter here for your chance to win a spot with a guest.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Honey Baked Ham: An Easy Easter Idea

          Hosting Easter this year? Honey Baked Ham makes the perfect meal; it's easy to order and prepare and bound to impress all of your guests! I had the opportunity to try it for the first time recently, and can't believe how easy and delicious it was.

          I placed my order for a mini bone in ham online the night before, and it was ready for me to pick up in store the next day. They even gave me my choice of a couple of sizes and let me look at the ham before I left with it. While I was there, I also grabbed some sides of mashed potatoes and corned bread stuffing. Everything was fully prepared in advance, so all I needed to do was heat and serve according to the instructions.

          I heated the ham in the oven, which took about 45 minutes and while it was warming I prepared the sides in the microwave. Everything came out perfectly! The ham had a delicious sweet crust and the cornbread stuffing was amazing.

          The mini ham was more than enough for dinner for two! I had leftovers for breakfast and lunch the next day. The leftover ham is great for frying with some eggs or serving sliced on a sandwich. I would definitely consider Honey Baked Ham next time I host an event or holiday dinner!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dinner Lab

          Have you heard about the cool new dining club that just launched in Boston? Dinner Lab feels like a secret society for food lovers in the know... you sign up for an annual membership, which gets you access to their event list. Events are hosted by up and coming chefs, and are held pop up style in secret warehouse and gallery spaces (you find out the location a day or two in advance). Event tickets are generally $50-$95 per person, and include a multi-course meal, beer, wine, and signature cocktails, and all tax and gratuity.

          I had the chance to try on of their recent events, From Sand and Sea with Private Chef Geoff Lukas (formerly of Oleana and Sofra in Cambridge). The event was in a really cool gallery space in Fort Point, with several long tables set up family style and a couple of seatings throughout the evening. Everything was delicious and I was impressed by the creativity of the dishes, as well as the very generous portion sizes. 

          The first course was the Malauch, a runny egg with pan fried bread and spicy tomato matbucha. This was my favorite dish of the evening, the bread was perfect dipped in the egg and tomato sauce.

          Next was the Hamour mahshi; baked sea bream with pinenut stuffing, wilted greens, and preserved lemon. The fish was light and flaky, and the lemon and greens an excellent pairing.  

          The third course was the Yemenite Soup with chicken thigh, fermented lime hilbeh, and confit potato. This was a great take on a classic chicken soup, it was rich and hearty like a traditional homemade soup, with some more unusual eastern flavors which added depth.

          The smoked & braised lamb shoulder was another favorite. The lamb was incredibly tender and flavorful, and served with jeweled rice, roasted brussels sprouts, spiced lamb jus, and pomegranate molasses.

           The Rutab mu'assal for dessert was amazing; this consisted of a honey-stewed date and almond with semolina pudding. It was light and not too sweet, which was perfect after the meal we'd just had.

          After dinner, Chef Lukas spoke briefly about the meal and answered questions from the diners. It was great to see how passionate and excited he was about his food.

          Membership to Dinner Lab is $175 per year, and gives you access to all of these exclusive events. For more information or to join visit their website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Internal Matter

          Internal Matter is the newest restaurant to open in Fort Point. It's a really innovative concept; coffee shop and breakfast counter by day and wine bar by night!

          It was a soft opening, so the full menu is still in the works but for dinner they offer a selection of small plates, charcuterie and few nightly entree specials.

          They have a great selection of wines by the glass, so the fiance and I went in for some wine and shared the cheese and charcuterie platter.

          This was a great value! It was only $16 and included a delicious assortment of cured meats, cheeses, and pates.

          We had a pork and pistachio pate, country pate with pork and chicken liver, two different kinds of salame, aged gouda, maytag blue, fiddle head tomme, and piave cheeses. It was all served with toasted bread, cornichons, orange marmalade, and my favorite - bacon jam!

          I definitely plan to stop in again soon and try the full menu, but of course I'll start with the charcuterie platter!

Internal Matter Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cocktails and Hors d'oeuvres at Ostra

          Ostra is one of my favorite places for seafood in Boston (you can read more about dinner here) but I recently learned it's also a great place to host an event. They have a beautiful lounge and private dining area, and a great selection of passed hors d'oeuvres.

          I recently attended a cocktail reception and enjoyed some live piano music, delicious sparkling rose, and a selection of hors d'oeuvres including:
  • Hamachi Crudo, Citrus, Aji Aïoli, Cilantro
  • Crispy Lobster Ravioli, Carrot Ginger Beurre Monte
  • Grilled Lemon and Rosemary Chicken Sate Chimichurri
  • Bomba Rice “Arancini” Saffron, Garlic
  • Bruschetta of Roast Asparagus with Parmesan 

          I would definitely consider Ostra for a private event, and hope to dine with them again soon!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Island Creek Oyster Bar

          Island Creek Oyster is an oyster bar and seafood restaurant in the Hotel Commonwealth. It's been a favorite of mine for years, and I'm obsessed with the lobster roe noodles (lobster roe infused fettuccine with chunks of braised short rib, grilled lobster, mushrooms, and cheese) - if you haven't tried this go there now! For some inexplicable reason, I didn't try them for brunch until this past weekend.

          The shellfish tower was so good and impressive that even my non-food blogger friend had to Instagram it! It came with oysters, little necks, fluke ceviche, chilled lobster, and giant shrimp cocktail. The menu says this is for four, but three of us had no trouble finishing!

           The lobster omelet was just as good, although I don't think I would've been able to eat this without substituting egg whites. This was literally overflowing with lobster and served with home fries, and some of the thickest toast I've ever seen.

          The brunch at Island Creek is just as good, if not better than the dinner. I can definitely see this becoming a regular spot!

Island Creek Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Moonshine 152

          Moonshine 152 recently opened in Southie in the space previously occupied by The Franklin. Chef owner Asia Mei was once a Chef at Franklin, and has returned to the space with her own concept - an eclectic mix of bar food with California, Latin, and Asian influences. There are also some dishes reminiscent of the old Franklin Southie, like the popular Korean short rib tacos from the menu when Chef Mei had worked there before. Naturally I had to try these!

          The short ribs were incredibly tender, the meat just melts in your mouth. The spicy kimchi and green onion toppings were perfect for an Asian / Latin fusion dish.

          Although there were several dishes on the menu that sounded delicious and a bit more interesting I was really in the mood for a burger and decided to try Moonshine's special preparation for the day.

           This was definitely one of the best and most impressive burgers I've had in awhile! It came with cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and a pepper aioli. It was cooked to a perfect medium, and the aioli gave it a great spicy kick.

          I can't wait to come back and try some of the other dishes, including the brunch menu - but I may have a hard time ordering anything but the burger next time!

Moonshine 152 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Diner

          I've lived in Southie for about a year now, and I've only recently started exploring some of the great breakfast spots in the area. I always say if you want brunch go somewhere in town, but for the best breakfast check out local places in neighborhoods like Southie.

          My Diner is a tiny hole in the wall place that's extremely popular; if you come after 8AM it will be packed. But even if there is a wait, they turn the tables pretty quickly. Here's a pic from a recent visit, when they were all decked out for St. Patrick's Day!

          I absolutely love the eggs benedict, and there are several different variations available on weekends and holidays only. My favorite is this turkey hash benedict, and even though it's huge with three eggs and english muffin halves, I still need to get my side of bacon!

          The turkey hash is available all week, so if the eggs benedict aren't available you can still get eggs and hash. It's made from scratch and one of my favorite breakfast dishes in the city. I'm pretty sure they also serve lunch, but since they offer breakfast all day I've never tried it!

 My Diner on Urbanspoon

A Michelin Starred Chef in Boston for St. Patrick's Day

          Yes, you read that right, this St. Patrick's Day you can skip the corned beef and cabbage and take Irish cuisine to a whole new level! The Met Back Bay is featuring this special menu created by Michelin starred, award winning Chef Oliver Dunne who'll be in house for the occasion. 

An Evening in Eire Menu

1st Course
Soft goats cheese panna cotta, heirloom beetroots, orange gel and walnut praline

2nd Course
Organic Salmon, broad bean, dill and potato ragout, candied lemon

3rd Course 
Herb crusted Best end of Lamb, honey crushed swede, garlic puree with black olive & red pepper jus

4th Course 
Deconstructed Irish Coffee, Jameson 18yr Old Reserve Gel, Chocolate Ganache, Almond Crumb

          Doesn't this menu look amazing?!? I will definitely be there to check it out, and even had a chance to interview the Chef in advance.

          Chef Dunne was born in Dublin and has worked in some of the world's best restaurants, learning from Michelin acclaimed chefs including Gary Rhodes (City Rhodes), Anthony Demetre (Putney Bridge), Gordon Ramsey (Restaurant Gordon Ramsey) and Shane Osborne (Pied a terre) in London.

          In 2003 Oliver came back to Ireland opened his first restaurant. In 2006 he opened Bon Appetit in Malahide, which consists of a Restaurant, Brasserie, Tapas Bar and Cookery School and is split over a four story Georgian house with sea views. Just thirteen months, from opening and at the age of 28, Oliver's first floor restaurant at Bon Apepetit was awarded a Michelin star, the fastest ever received by an Irish Chef and has been maintained ever since. He is also the youngest Michelin Star Chef in Ireland.

           Chef Dunne enjoys producing simple, amazing dishes using only the finest locally sourced ingredients, in an informal relaxed environment. His menu at the Met will be similar in style to his restaurants in Ireland, but he has created new dishes specifically for the event. 

           Chef Dunne's biggest culinary influences include Shane Osborne the former chef of 2 Michelin starred Pied A Terre in London and Gordon Ramsey whom he admires the most for his global expansion. When he's not working he enjoys simple home cooked food, and especially Moorish food. 

          You can learn more about Chef Dunne and Irish cuisine in general at the Met event. The dinner will also include select samplings from Jameson Irish Whiskey, and is being hosted by restaurateur Kathy Sidel who has partnered with Jameson Irish Whiskey to bring Chef Dunne to Boston as a way
educate and entertain Bostonians with truly amazing Irish cuisine and culture.

Complete details and reservations are available here

Friday, March 13, 2015

Taste of Iceland 2015

          Taste of Iceland Boston is back once again! You may have read my post last year, and this year is going to be just as amazing. Taste of Iceland is an annual five-day event (March 12-16) presented by Iceland Naturally that highlights the best of Icelandic food, music and culture.

          The event includes a special Icelandic menu at Tavern Road with unique dishes made from fresh ingredients flown in from Iceland, as part of a collaboration between Icelandic chef Viktor Örn Andrésson (head chef at Blue Lagoon's LAVA Restaurant) and chef Louis DiBiccari (owner and head chef at Tavern Road).

          I had a chance to preview these delicious dishes at a reception at Tavern Road, where we also heard from Dagur Bergþóruson Eggertsson, the Mayor of Reykjavik and some great music from some Icelandic musicians.

          We started with cocktails crafted by mixologist Ryan McGrale, which featured Reyka Vodka and Brennivin, a renowned Icelandic aquavit that is now available in Boston.My favorite was this Nordic Courage with vodka, ginger beer, fresh lemon juice, honey, and rhubarb bitters.

           Next were some passed hors d'oeuvres including slow cooked cod and dried seaweed salad, and a lightly smoked langoustine salad with apple, black salsify, and pickled onion. I enjoyed both, especially the smoked langoustine.


          The next dish was lemon cured arctic char and roe with cauliflower, horseradish and dill. The char was cooked perfectly and had a such a great flavor, it was definitely my favorite dish of the night.

           The roasted rack of lamb was also amazing. This came seasoned with Icelandic herbs, wild mushrooms, carrot, and madeira glaze. I loved the crispy brussels sprouts and bit of mustard seed on top.

          Dessert was a raspberry and skyr mousse with chocolate toffee and marzipan cake with hazelnut skyr and lemon ice cream. Somehow this tasted rich, but felt light at the same time - a perfect way to end the meal.

          In addition to the special menu, this year's Taste of Iceland events include a free Icelandic film festival; a free Reykjavik Calling concert featuring musicians from Iceland and Boston; and an energy innovation panel. Complete details are available here.

Backyard Farms Tomato Talk and Tasting

          I recently had the opportunity to attend a dinner hosted by Backyard Farms, the largest grower of year-round tomatoes in New England.

          Backyard Farms recently announced the addition of the Somerset Pink to its family of tomatoes. The Somerset Pink is a rare breed that requires extra care and attention. The Somerset Pink is a full-flavored beefsteak tomato that is known for its delicate balance of sweetness and acidity. During the dinner, I had the chance to sample the Somerset Pink alongside a traditional beefsteak tomato and could definitely taste the difference!

          We tried the them as part of a simple tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad and grilled on a panini with goat cheese. Both dishes were amazing! Both were paired with a great red wine from Cellar Door, which is a winery also located in Maine.

            At the end of the night I received a great gift bag with tons of tomatoes to take home. I used mine to make a variety of salads to bring to work each day, but my favorite was this crab and avocado stuffed tomato below.

          I tossed crab meat with some chopped celery, cilantro, and chives and dressed it with a bit of lime juice and grape seed oil. I then hollowed out the center of the tomato and filled it with crab and diced avocado. I did this all in the kitchen at the office, and my lunch definitely got some attention that day!

           The Backyard Farms Somerset Pink is currently available at select Maine and New Hampshire Hannaford stores, with plans to expand. I hope they make it into MA area stores sometime soon!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

El Centro

          El Centro is a tiny Mexican restaurant in the South End, with a fun atmosphere and great food.

          The enchiladas are huge, definitely enough for two to share. This dish is more Tex-mex with lots of cheese, rice, and refried beans.

          The tacos have more of a Mexican street food feel, served on soft corn tortillas with lime, onion, tomato, cilantro, and avocado cream. I tried chicken, steak and al pastor, and the al pastor was definitely my favorite.

          This is a fun neighborhood spot, and definitely a favorite for tacos and margaritas when I'm in the area. 

El Centro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wikipearls and Cafe Art Science

          The combination of food and science is a perfect concept for Kendall Square. I was intrigued when Cafe Art Science opened and made a point to try them for dinner right away. More recently, I learned that restaurant founder David Edwards is also the inventor of Wikipearls, a healthy, delicious, and sustainable new dessert produced by Stonyfield.

          Stonyfield frozen yogurt pearls are scoops of organic, frozen, nonfat yogurt wrapped in fruit skins. The skins are designed so they won't melt, which makes them perfect for snacking on the go. The edible wrapper combined with the biodegradable bag also make them completely sustainable (in addition to being delicious)!

           At Cafe Art Science, I had the opportunity to hear from David Edwards himself and try several flavors including strawberry, peach, and chocolate coconut. They were all tasty, but my favorite was definitely chocolate coconut.

          In addition to the yogurt pearls, Cafe Art Science also provided some delicious charcuterie, cocktails, and other treats.

          Stonyfield frozen yogurt pearls are available at Cafe Art Science and Whole Foods. Here's a coupon so you can give them a try!