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

a new york minute

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New York City has the tendency to be overwhelming and underwhelming at once.  There is just SO much possibility, that it almost limits you, particularly when you have a mere 24 hours to cram it all in…it’s as if no matter how much you do, you leave feeling as if you’ve barely cracked the surface of the city’s potential and offerings.

But every now and then, you manage to have that perfect little slice of city.  You see things, eat something amazing, and generally feel like you’ve experienced New York.  And it’s something to write home about.

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My kid sister had a birthday, so naturally we spent a day eating all over NYC to mark the occasion. We started at Gallow Green for bottomless brunch on a recommendation from Tasting Table, and thanks to them (and cooperative weather) we dined al fresco on the botanical rooftop sipping bloody mary’s and bellinis.  There were soft boiled eggs (appropriately served with crunchy sea salt), drop biscuits that were pure butter, and delicious grilled veggies (among other delights).  Live jazz was wafting through the greenery, and there was no line at the buffet.  As Beyonce would say, it was flawless.

the perfect plate.
the perfect plate.

Then we walked the High Line.  There were People’s Pops and the pleasant ambiance of nature contrasting with concrete, and eventually we found ourselves at Chelsea Market.  with its endless restaurants and food outposts, it is near impossible to leave there empty handed. I bought some treats at Liddabit Sweets. And then pined for everything else in sight.

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The final stop of the day was Joe Allen in the theatre district.  This place is a family tradition.  My Grandfather started going there just as it opened when he worked in the Garment District, loving the straight forward fare and cool as a cucumber atmosphere.  Thanks to him and my Grandmother staying so loyal we can say the words “put it on our tab”…which I thought was an urban restaurant myth.  They have mastered the classics, from meatloaf to burgers, but there is so much more than that.  And somehow there is always dessert.

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chocolate. pudding. pie.

There’s nothing like a New York food minute. Yet no trip on I-84 is complete unless it ends with a stop at exit 65 to hit up Rein’s Deli in Vernon, CT (in my opinion the only reason worth traveling through Connecticut at all). Chances are you’ve never been, but it is so worth the pilgrimage. It is better than any deli I’ve had in New York proper (sorry?). Perfect pickles. Matzoh ball soup. Pastrami on rye with spicy mustard. And a Dr. Brown’s cream soda…one might say that all weekends should end that way. I mean, I am saying it.

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a new york minute

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

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

sunday evening chippers

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hello gorgeous.

Something about Sunday evenings makes me crave sweets.  Sometimes I fight it, mostly I don’t.  Besides, what could be better than curling up on the couch to toggle back and forth between the guts and gore of Game of Thrones and the smooth talking confusion of Mad Men with a cookie? Maybe 2 cookies I guess.  (note: we are between seasons of Downton Abbey. otherwise there would be nothing but Branson and Maggie Smith on a Sunday night.)

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brie’s originals

My sister is the baker in our family, and her chocolate chip cookies are sensational.  Maybe I’m biased, but it’s true.  She passed on her recipe to me about 2 years ago and I had yet to make them because I lack the patience, precision, and mathematical prowess inherent to most accomplished bakers.

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good enough to eat…despite being uncooked

But look at these beauties! I subbed out half the all purpose flour for whole wheat, browned the butter slightly, and cut the chocolate in half to sub in some pecans, but otherwise this recipe is a direct copy from my sister.  I also sprinkled them with flaked Maldon sea salt. Because why not, right??

They tasted as dreamy as they look. And I ate several on the couch last night.

Important note: you don’t need to eat them on Sundays. They can cure the Mondays. And just taste great on all other days also.

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too good for words

Sea Salted Chocolate Pecan chippers

1 cup melted butter (slightly browned)

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup semi-sweet morsels

1 cup chopped pecans

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Set oven to 375 degrees.

  • Prepare the dry ingredients: Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Prepare wet ingredients: Melt the butter. In a separate bowl from the dry ingredients, cream together with brown sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Add the sugar/butter/egg/vanilla mixture to the flour/baking soda/salt mixture, mix until just combined.
  • Add semi-sweet morsels and chopped pecans to the batter and fold into batter.
  • Using a tablespoon as a measure, form into balls and set on parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle the top of each with a couple flakes of sea salt.
  • Cook for 10 minutes until cookies are just set. Remove from the oven and let stand on their baking sheet for 5 additional minutes to finish cooking, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Cookies will be cool enough to eat in 10 minutes. Try to contain yourself.

 

sunday evening chippers