Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pavement

          Pavement Coffee House is a local chain in Boston, and has some of the best local coffee and sandwiches around (including some amazing vegan options). I'm a regular at the Newbury Street location, and the place is always packed. It has a great atmosphere with a cool, artsy vibe.


          I'm not a vegan, but I'm lactose intolerant and appreciate the many non-dairy options including almond milk. I'm obsessed with the vegan sunrise, which is a breakfast sandwich on an everything bagel with veggie / tofu cream cheese, tempah sausage, hot peppers, and lettuce.



 
          Pavement has several locations in the Boston area, and if you see one I highly recommend stopping by. There will likely be a line, but it's definitely worth the wait!
 

Pavement Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Preview of the 2015 Boston Wine Expo

          It's almost that time again! The Boston Wine Expo is returning to the Seaport Hotel Feb 14-15, 2015. I'm a huge fan of the Boston Wine Expo, and if you're like me you're already planning your strategy for this year! The expo is huge and can feel overwhelming if you've never been. It's also easy to drink a lot right away, but if you start to get tipsy you won't pick up on all of the flavor profiles and subtleties of the wines you're tasting (and may not remember them). Here are a few tips I've learned from 2013 and 2014 to get the most out of the experience:
  1. Go both days and arrive as early as possible
  2. Leave your coat in the car, there will be a long coat check line
  3. Do not go on an empty stomach - there are food samples, but not enough to fill you before you start tasting wine
  4. Many professionals will tell you to always spit when tasting wine (see my point above) but that isn't always fun. Try to spit half the time, or only keep sipping (and swallow) your favorites!
  5. Look up the list of exhibitors in advance and make a list of the ones you want to try most
  6. When you arrive, find those exhibitors on your map, mark them, and visit them in order
  7. Once you've hit up all of your must try places, do a second loop and explore!
  8. Now that you have some tips for a game plan, here's what you can expect in 2015! I recently attended a preview event and got to sample wines from some of the participating makers. 

          One of the first tables I hit up was 90+ Cellars, where I not only tried some amazing wines but I also met Caitlin of Cait Plus Ate. I love her blog and have followed her for awhile now, but this is the first time we met in person! My favorite from 90 Plus was lot 90, the Rosso Toscana, an amazing Super Tuscan with flavors of dark chocolate and black currant. I also learned 90 Plus has started their own new label Ironside, and sampled the first release - a California Cabernet.

          My next stop was the Anna de Codorniu table, where I sampled some delicious sparkling rose. Sparkling rose is always one of my favorites, and this did not disappoint! It was light with notes of strawberries and cherries.

          Another favorite was Marisco Winery - they were sampling some really delicious and unusual Sauvignon Blancs.

          I also enjoyed wines from Alexander Valley, Dos Familias, Hope Family, LGL Imports, Merriam Vineyards, and Rutherford Family.

          All of the wineries I mentioned will be tasting at the wine expo, and you should definitely check them out! Additionally, the 2015 Wine Expo will include the following:

Grand Tasting: The main exhibit, featuring over 200 exhibitors and 2,000 wines

Vintner's Reserve Lounge: A smaller exhibit featuring unique wines that generally retail for over $75 a bottle, plus tastes from some of Boston's finest restaurants.

VIP Experience: This allows you into the expo 30 minutes early, a separate line and coat check, and access to a VIP lounge

Seminars: Included in the general admission price, these educational sessions are going on throughout the weekend and feature talks and demonstrations from experts in the food and wine industry

          Tickets are now on sale, and early bird prices are available through the end of the month. I'll also be hosting a giveaway for a pair of tickets in the next couple of months! Be sure to check back for your chance to wine!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brunch at Kirkland Tap and Trotter

          I recently had an amazing dinner at Kirkland Tap and Trotter, so I was psyched to have the opportunity to try them out for brunch with the Boston Brunchers.

          We started with some sticky buns to share, and they were delicious!



          It was hard to choose between so many great options, but I decided to go with one of the most interesting sounding dishes on the menu - the poached egg with pasta, lamb ragu, and pumpkin. 

 
           It was creative and delicious, exactly what I'd expect from Tony Maw's. All of my fellow bruncher's dishes also looked amazing.

Vegetable frittata with smoked salmon
Turkish breakfast
           I was disappointed to learn recently that Craigie on Main is planning to stop serving brunch, but being able to go to Kirkland Tap and Trotter makes it a little better!

Kirkland Tap & Trotter on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 15, 2014

MC Spiedo

           MC Spiedo is a fairly new Italian restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel in Boston's seaport. It was opened by Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows and MC Perkins Cove in Maine, and named for the spit-roasting or rotisserie cooking, which was popular during the Italian Renaissance. The decorum also fits the theme quite well, with pillars and red curtains around the tables. 

          The fiance and I went in for dinner the other night, and were especially impressed by the huge selection of meats, cheeses, and charcuterie. There were a few options for different boards and samplers, but we decided to create our own and selected: chicken liver mousse, proscuitto, duck ham, speck, pecorino stagionato, and parmesan. It came out with several accompaniments including grilled bread, pickled cherries, apple walnut compote, pickled onions, and honey. I enjoyed all of it, but my favorites were the chicken liver mousse which had a great creamy texture, the duck ham, and combining the honey and cherries with the two cheeses. 

          I ordered the braised rabbit pappardelle with butternut squash and swiss chard for my main course, and it was delicious. The rabbit was extremely tender, and the squash and chard were subtle and didn't overpower the delicate flavor of the rabbit.
           The grand tortellini and meat torta was very impressive, and one of the restaurant's specialties. It's a huge pie filled with meatballs, sauce, and cheese tortellini. At least one person at the table should order this dish so everyone gets to see and try it!
          Overall we both enjoyed the meal, and I would definitely go back. 

MC Spiedo on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Cod Ban in the Gulf of Maine



          Earlier this week the federal government issued a temporary six month ban on all commercial fishing of Cod in the gulf of Maine. The measure is unprecedented, and includes several components:

1. Areas where commercial cod fishing was already banned have been expanded
2. These existing bans now apply to recreational fisherman
3. Allowed accidental catch of cod is reduced to 200 lbs per boat
4. Tightened reporting requirements
5. Reduced the allowed net size

          John Bullard, Greater Atlantic regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was quoted as saying

“We’re trying to absolutely shut down fishing where there are concentrations of cod, so there will be zero cod caught"

          The measure comes after an NOAA Assessment this past summer, which found that the cod population had dropped much more than previously thought and that it was only 3% of what would be necessary to sustain a healthy population. Further, there were few young fish as a result of also low spawning rates. Overfishing and climate changes have been cited as two possible explanations for the dramatic decline.

          While environmental groups have praised the measure, local fisherman have spoken out against it calling it a threat to their livelihoods. They say that with measures this strict, they are unable to leave the docks and fish at all.

            There are definitely two sides to this issue, and not necessarily a clear answer. Which do you think is more harmful: overfishing a single species to near extinction or essentially shutting down all commercial fishing in one of the regions largest hubs? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cafe Art Science

          Cafe Art Science is the newest addition to Kendall Square's dining scene, and unlike anything this city has ever seen! The idea came from Harvard inventor David Edwards, who has been mixing science and food for years to create dishes such as breathable chocolates and pods of frozen yogurt wrapped in an edible skin. In 2007 he moved to Paris to open Le Laboratoire, a laboratory / design studio that mixes art and science.  

          Cafe Art Science is part of Le Laboratoire Cambridge, which (in addition to the restaurant) includes a museum and gallery space for public lectures from poets, scientists, and visiting chefs, and cultural exhibitions. The first exhibition, Vocal Vibrations also debuted this last week and featured, MIT Media Lab’s Tod Machover, an innovative composer, and Neri Oxman, a 3D-printing and environmental-design specialist.

          The restaurant itself brings together some big names in the Boston industry, including Todd Maul, former bar manager of Clio; Tom Mastricola, who helped open No. 9 Park and former general manager of Clio and Commonwealth; and Patrick Campbell, former chef de cuisine at No. 9 Park and executive chef at Eastern Standard.

          The food is a fusion of high end French and American technique, with a bit of art and science mixed in. If you dine in the bar you can sip a vapor cocktail, after watching it float in the air. As cool as this sounds, for my first visit the fiance and I opted to sit in the main dining room and order a multi-course meal so that we could try most of the opening menu. 


          We started with a tuna crudo topped with jalepenos, spicy cream, cucumber, and crumbled cashews. The tuna was excellent, and I loved the combination of the spice and the crunch.


          Next was the beef carpaccio with Canadian lobster and XO sauce. The sauce had some toasted garlic in it, which was delicious with the beef. The addition of lobster made this dish even better!


          For a third course, I had the poached farm egg with seasonal mushrooms, fois gras vinaigrette, and crispy chicken skin. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night, the egg was cooked perfectly, and I loved the flavors of the fois gras and crispy chicken skin.


          The fiance also enjoyed his cauliflower veloute with sea urchin, lobster oil, and curry salt.


        I ordered the Berkshire pork belly as my main course, which came with sweet potato agnolotti and truffled escargot. The pork was done really well, and was different from other pork belly I've had in a couple of ways. The fat cap was there, but not quite as noticeable as it often is because the whole thing had this great seared flavor and texture.


          The fiance's potato crusted tautog with roasted brussels sprouts looked amazing.



          For dessert we shared the cherry wood old fashioned: a warm maraschino financier with cherry wood bourbon gelee, and burnt orange meringue. This was one of the most impressive desserts I've ever had, the cake was the perfect texture and all of the flavors really did taste like an old fashioned cocktail. 


          At our server's recommendation, we paired the dessert with its namesake cocktail: the burnt cherry wood old fashioned made with a house blend of bourbons, charred cherry and orange, and demerara sugar. It was really cool to see how the two compared, and how the similar flavors were incorporated in different ways.


           Cafe Art Science definitely fits in with the neighborhood so close to MIT and all of Cambridge's tech companies. I can't wait to go back and check out some of the cool vapor drinks and effects at the bar, and see some of the exhibits in the museum / gallery.

Cafe ArtScience on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 8, 2014

PS Gourmet Coffee

          Have you spotted one of these yellow cups around Southie? Since I recently braved a snow and rainstorm for my favorite cup of hot butter cookie, I thought it was time to highlight my favorite local coffee shop: PS Gourmet.


          Located at the intersection of East and West Broadway, PS Gourmet is a small mostly takeout coffee and breakfast shop (although they do have a handful of seats). The coffee menu is huge and features a wide variety of flavors and specialty drinks. Here are just a few of my favorites from the long list of flavors:
  • Butter Cookie
  • Mocha Mint
  • Milky Way
  • White Russian
  • French Vanilla
           While the specialty items do have added syrups and sugar, I love that all of the flavored coffees have the flavors infused in the beans. This means they are much healthier and don't taste overly sweet.

           I also love the breakfast sandwiches, which are are always fresh and made to order. The eggs are always cooked perfectly, and they never skimp on the bacon!


PS Gourmet is also famous locally for two things:
  1. The Bucket - a GIANT sized iced cofee
  2. This awesome commercial that you should definitely check out!
P S Gourmet Coffee on Urbanspoon
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