Turns out summer is leaving, and I haven’t cooked all that much. I was too busy eating everything. After 2ish months of countless lobster rolls, ice cream cones, and hot dogs (a strange but totally welcome part of the Summer 2015 diet), I was ready to close out the season with a bang. And this was certainly that.
Brian Mercury, the silly talented pastry chef at Harvest in Cambridge of bacon bun fame, teamed up with Tracy Obolsky from NYC’s North End Grill for a night of sweet frivolity in the form of a 6 course desserts only tasting menu. And these 2 were not fooling around. And despite being more of a savory girl myself, I would do eat every bite they gave me again in a heartbeat.
The effortlessly dynamic pair went plate for plate, taking turns at each course. Obolsky kicked things off with an elevated play on key lime pie (dotted with tiny toasty meringues), that led into Mercury’s fried dough rounds with hibiscus lemon curd (that was a lovely shade of pink). There was then a cheese course with unadorned but beautiful tiger stripe figs, and an unexpectedly refreshing mint vinegar sorbet as an intermezzo.
Already deep into a sugar coma, the final dishes gave no respite. Obolsky’s coconut pavlova with dulce de leche and cubes of tropical fruits and Mercury’s “grown-up” root beer float were both elegant feats not only of flavor but of plating. It was almost too pretty to eat. Except that it wasn’t, because I cleaned my plate at every course.
Good meals are always worth sharing. This one was worth showing off so that you might find your way into either of these chef’s restaurants to eat anything they are making. I would happily take on another sugar rush at either of their hands.
Holiday shopping is one of my favorite things; and my second favorite sort of shopping after grocery. So naturally when an option presents itself that combines my top two shopping passions, dreams come true and I spend too much money on things that are not entirely necessary (but at the same time completely necessary).
The ever elegant Eat Boutique’s holiday pop-up shop has a full blown residence this year in the Fenway, directly next to Sweet Cheeks (our Boston BBQ situation with epic brisket and biscuits). Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for three weeks, the online store has been brought to life in a cozy little nook complete with pleasant people, tasty samples, and mini events.
Maggie Battista, the local brain behind Eat Boutique, was there giving out smiles and information on everything out for sale. The little shop had a steady flow of traffic and was adorably quaint. It was just so lovely, and I highly recommend paying them a visit this weekend or next. Sample some goodies. Chat with Maggie and some of the makers. Get a present just for yourself that you don’t want to share.
Can’t make it to the shop? Be not afeard, trendy food shopper. Eat Boutique is primarily an online shop, check it out here.
We’ve never met, but when I heard you were retiring I immediately booked a table at Hamersley’s Bistro to try your long revered food while I still had the chance. And I can honestly say it was pretty game changing. As you were greeted by friends and admirers throughout the dining room, and I ate everything the kitchen gave me without coming up for air, it became perfectly clear to me why your restaurant has been an institution in this city for the last 27 years. Thanks for that one meal, I’m only sorry there weren’t hundreds of others.
The Boston Burger Tour began as a mission to find the city’s preeminent hunks of beef sandwiched in buns. A quest as noble as the one for the Holy Grail, and equally as formidable, I must admit so far it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Stop #1 was at Alden & Harlow. Their burger includes a cheese frico made of delicious cheddar, a salty special sauce, lettuce shreds, and a buttery bun. The beef was perfectly cooked and visually evoked memories of Big Macs of yore.
We had heard good things. We heard right.
Stop #2 has gotten a lot of good press, most recently landing on Food & Wine Magazine’s best burgers in America list. You guessed it, THE Craigie on Main burger. I had heard that Chef Tony Maws only includes tomatoes in his list of classic toppings at the end of the summer when tomatoes are in season, so the timing was critical.
Not just the seasonal timing was important though. Maws only makes 18 burgers a night, and only serves them at the bar. When I arrived at 5:30pm on the dot to be the first person in the restaurant I found a line door that made me fear I would never get the chance to try this infamous beef sandwich. It all worked out though, and it was worthy of the hype it’s been given.
Aside from being a near perfect burger, the french fries that came with it were also exceptional. A burger is only as good as its sides I always say.
In short, both of these burger experiences were exceptional. They are wonderful places to begin your own burger-centric adventure (which you obviously should have started by now) because everyone has their own burger credentials. And I mean if this picture doesn’t make you crave a burger, I can’t imagine anything will.
For too long now I have neglected to give proper attention to the “wine” element of “winedinerepeat”. Despite this egregious oversight, I have in fact been actively consuming the stuff so as to further my understanding of it.
Tasting away throughout these lovely sun filled months I have discovered that sparkling rosé was undoubtedly the beverage of the summer.
Pink wines made a strong come back this year, and a welcome one at that. Too often people hear rosé and assume it must be a sweet wine…but that is not always the case. Particularly when they are bubbly. They can be sweet but they can also be dry and flavorful in totally unique ways. Never mind that their ability to accompany some of my favorite summer delicacies (namely seafood and carbs) is remarkable.
The cool air is coming and with it will come the strong desires for hearty red wines and dazzling cocktails to keep us warm. So why not embrace these last few weeks of the season with something pink and sparkly?
I was admittedly late to the oyster party. These raw, curiously textured, “tastes like the ocean” suckers were a total conundrum to me. Their in the shell presentation and consistent partnership with champagne was enough to make me want to try them, but the aforementioned descriptors are what stopped me. It took 25 years of life for me to recognize my foolishness. Living in close proximity to some of the freshest, most delectable specimens available; I was doing myself a disservice by not indulging (a credo I apply to most dining experiences).
They are one of the ultimate summer snacks, and since they pair perfectly with cold summer beverages, many restaurants draw in a hefty post-work crowd by playing the bargain bivalve game. Even some of Boston’s top restaurants do it. Eater Boston has a comprehensive list of where to find the $1 oyster deals in and around the city for each day of the week…but here are my preferences for the Monday to Friday grind:
Monday: Rialto (pictured here), starting at 5:30pm
The frizz inducing heat has come back to New England…which means…the farmers’ markets are back too! And they’ve got all kinds of pretty produce that looks good enough to eat.
My favorite thing about walking through the farmers’ markets is chatting with the people running the stands. They are always able to make suggestions about how to use irresistibly unique ingredients I’ve never cooked with before, and most often to help me decide what to buy (decision making is not a forté of mine). Being able to talk with people who have grown the food you are eating is such a treat.
So far this season I’ve become acquainted with ramps, radishes, and rhubarb; among other things. But I’ve also been drawn to the beautiful standards like strawberries that are just coming into season, and lovely heads of lettuce that have the power to make me actually crave salads.
This year, The Boston Public Market has finally come to be. This year-round market for local purveyors and goodies is what has been missing from this city for too long. I am hoping that as it grows it evolves into something resembling my favorite market in all the lands: Borough Market, in London. A description won’t do it justice, so I will just provide some visual proof of its splendor. If you find yourself across the pond, it is a must.
So go to the closest market and chat it up with the locals. Try new greens! Splurge on gourmet pastries! And appreciate how absolutely delicious produce can be when it’s eaten in season.