a sweet finish

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.

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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.

Obolsky's lime mousse with lemon verbena gele, raspberry, graham crumble, and crispy meringues
Obolsky’s lime mousse with lemon verbena gele, raspberry, graham crumble, and crispy meringues
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Mercury’s chamomile sugar dusted fried dough with hibiscus lemon curd, cream cheese mousse, poppy seeds, and berries

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.

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Obolsky’s Old Chatham Kinderhook Creek sheep’s milk cheese with black pepper gastrique, candied marcona almonds, and tiger stripe figs
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Mercury’s mint vinegar sorbet with mead foam, concord grape gele, and buttermilk

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.

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Obolsky’s coconut pavlova with dulce de leche and tropical fruits

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.

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Mercury’s “grown-up” root beer float: root liquor ice cream, bourbon cake, vanilla foam, root beer gastrique, and mascarpone
a sweet finish

holidays with Eat Boutique

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Can’t make it to the shop? Be not afeard, trendy food shopper. Eat Boutique is primarily an online shop, check it out here.

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holidays with Eat Boutique

a love letter to Gordon Hamersley (in pictures)

Dear Chef,

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.

Cheers to you, sir.

-An adoring fan

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a south end landmark

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crispy duck confit with roasted apple, frisee, walnuts, and dreams.
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spinach and ricotta crêpes with sugar pumpkin, broccoli rabe and creamy parmesan sauce. perfectly perfect in every way.
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seared sea scallops with sweet potatoes, roasted apple, brussels Sprouts and maple-cured bacon … balsamic glaze. Otherwise known as: all my favorite things.
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THE roast chicken. with garlic. lemon. and parsley. and chicken will never be the same.
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warm apple, oat and almond crumble with vanilla ice cream. a perfect fall finish.
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au revoir, mon chéri.


a love letter to Gordon Hamersley (in pictures)

boston burger tour: 1st edition

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.

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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.

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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.

IMG_5091Not 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.

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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.

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boston burger tour: 1st edition

rosé all day

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.

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NV Huber ‘Hugo’ Sparkling Rosé from Austria at Puritan & Co bar

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.

NV Côté Mas, Crémant de Limoux Rosé, Languedoc at Row 34
NV Côté Mas, Crémant de Limoux Rosé, Languedoc at Row 34

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?

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé at Harvest Cambridge. Paired with the city's best bar bite: the bacon bun.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé at Harvest Cambridge. Paired with the city’s best bar bite: the bacon bun.
rosé all day

bargain bivalves

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).

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mignonette sauce is my topper of choice

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

Tuesday: Puritan & Co, starting at 5:30pm

Wednesday: GRILLED OYSTERS?! at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Thursday: Les Zygomates, 4:00-6:00pm

Friday (but available everyday): Lineage, 5:00-7:00pm

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he is just begging for a glass of champagne

The thing that is still unclear to me is just how many is too many. Can’t stop won’t stop.

bargain bivalves

market season

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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.

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never was there a more colorful array of carrots and radishes.

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.

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hello, gorgeous.

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.

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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.

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this is CHEESE. and not just any cheese. the prince of cheeses…comte.
this is CHEESE. and not just any cheese. the prince of cheeses…comté.

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.

 

 

market season

cold brewing

As we enter the iced coffee season, it seems that the hottest trend in the world of caffeine is “cold brew”. Though I still feel unsure about how it differs from iced coffee, we decided to try our hand at making some.

After having some deliciously cold brewed coffee at my favorite little South Boston shop, American Provisions, I immediately purchased the brand of bean they were using, asked how they made it, and went on my way to experiment.

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boston roasted, home brewed

Flatblack roasts their coffee beans right in Boston. The Italian roasted variety that we chose has a rich, smoky flavor, ideal for holding up to the unheated brewing and being served over ice.

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The beans get coarsely ground, and are covered with cold filtered water and left to steep at room temperature for 12 hours. They are then strained through a wire sieve fitted with a coffee filter. What you get is a very concentrated liquid that you then cut with cold water (more or less depending on how strong you take your coffee) and then pour it over ice.   And it’s good. real good. It’s not at all bitter, and the flavor stays soft and pleasant because it is never heated.

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all the kinds
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lemon filled. do it you won’t.

If you’re smart, you’ll serve this with donuts. You might have noticed I have a slight addiction to donuts. These are truly my favorites though, from Hole in One in Eastham on Cape Cod. I dream about these donuts. They have my favorite: lemon filled (the most underrated flavor of all time); but their toasted coconut, chocolate coconut, and sugar raised filled with raspberry jam could all ruin other donuts for you forever.

the one and only
the one and only

I am still not confident in my cold brewing, but if you want to give it a go check out these instructions.

cawfee.
cold brewing

chronicles of a breakfast addict

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I am not sure who they are, but they are right.  For me, few things come close to a perfectly cooked egg or a piece of toast slathered in butter.  I am a glutton for breakfast treats (current addiction being the lemon curd danish at Crema Café in Harvard square…it’s divine), I am addicted to cereal, and I would wear maple syrup as perfume if it wasn’t so sticky.

I could wax poetic on all ways that breakfast is culinary heaven, but instead I shall recount some early morning excursions I’ve been on lately so that you might go off and have your own adventures amidst Boston’s best pancakes, homefries, and the like.

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THE sourdough griddle cakes with honey butter.

Puritan & Company:  Brunch here literally blew my mind. Everything was phenomenal, and we tried the majority of things on the menu.  Highlights were definitely the flawless over easy eggs that topped most of the dishes, the sourdough griddle cakes, and the deconstructed yogurt and fruit parfait.  They even have a central breakfast treat table to display the assorted homemade pastries too.  I want to wake up in their dining room every Sunday morning. Creepy? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

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The most perfect sunnyside up eggs with baby chive bits and toasts.
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deconstructed parfait: all the fruit, homemade pear compote, greek yogurt dollop, tasty granola.

                                                                          Boston Brunchers at Brio: I got really lucky and had the chance to attend a brunch at Brio in Chestnut Hill with the Boston Brunchers, a fantastical group of bloggers in Boston that get free brunches about town and then tell the rest of the world about them.  We got a complimentary stint at SoulCycle (which nearly killed me) and we were rewarded with brunch.  There was stuffed French toast, eggs benedict, sweet potato hash and huge bowls of fresh fruit.  The place is lovely and the service was friendly. Great spot for an easy morning meal.

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stuffed berry covered french toast and baby benedicts on decadent biscuits with turkey sausage and spinach…stunningly plated.

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everyone’s favorite dinosaur.

Bagelasaurus: This micro bagel shop lives inside Cutty’s (which is fantastic itself).  On Friday and Saturday mornings Mary Ting Hyatt is making bagels the old school way: from scratch and rolled by hand.  You have to get there practically right at 8am when they open to ensure you can get them before they run out, and even then you’ll likely be waiting in line.  But they are worth getting up early for.  They are unlike any other bagel around…the outside has that ideal crispness that gives way to an airy, chewy interior.  And it doesn’t even require toasting, just a good slathering of schmear. (Edible Boston put Hyatt on the cover of their Winter 2014 edition, and the article is worth the read and littered with ridiculously pretty pictures).

not even doing these beauties justice.
not even doing these beauties justice.

OTHER PLACES OF NOTE: Keltic Krust in Newton (go for the breakfast sandwiches on traditional Irish brown bread); Mul’s Diner in South Boston (epic greasy spoon, cash only, a classic breakfast); Ohlin’s Bakery in Belmont (unreal donuts but not for the faint of heart, these are industrial sized pillows of sugar and joy).

Now accepting any and all breakfast/brunch recommendations.

chronicles of a breakfast addict

pop-up treats

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For the last 3 weekends, Stephanie Cmar (disciple of restaurant queen Barbara Lynch and Top Chef alumnus) has been gracing Boston’s South End with a pop-up donut shop: Stacked Donuts.

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Operating out of The Butcher Shop, the doors opened at 9am. I arrived at 8:30 to a line that was already at least 50 people deep.  But it didn’t matter. People were happy and chatty, the sun was out, and for the first time in months the temperature was above 30 degrees.

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Few things get me out of bed at 8am on a Saturday morning, but small batch gourmet donuts are definitely one of them.

They were yeasty and cakey, dense and light all at once.  And they weren’t aggressively sweet (which is what made them delightfully easy to inhale).  They were 100% worth the wait in line (which was pretty painless due to the countless adorable dogs and babies also up early for their treats) — Cmar might just be a donut whisperer.

No disrespect to Dunkin’ Donuts, to whom this city is lovingly devoted…but Boston is in dire need of someone to elevate our donut game.  There is practically nowhere in this town to get a product like the one Cmar is making.  Here’s hoping her pop-up is a precursor to a permanent shop!

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pop-up treats