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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

IMG_6756I was invited to the third annual Taste of WGBH Food and Wine Festival on September 11th. Chefs from all over New England came to sample their dishes at the Chef’s Gala Reception. The events continued all weekend including a farmer’s market, artisan taste sessions, educational seminars and a brunch bar.

IMG_667325 of the top chefs paired their dishes with selected wines and a few select craft beers.

IMG_6681Chef Michael Werneke from Prohibition Pig in Vermont made corn muffins with cultured Farmstead butter, smoked pork rillettes on crouton with pickle, and Bailey Hazen blue cheese tartlet with black walnuts and maple. The dish was paired with Guzman Riestra Brut Nature Cider.

IMG_6687Chef Cara Stadler from Tao Yuan in Maine made Grandma Tang’s roast pork buns which was paired with a La Madrid Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc. This was my favorite dish of the evening. Very well made, and the filling was so flavorful.

IMG_6697Andy Husbands from Tremont 647 was serving a BBQ brisket with kimchee sauce and yuzu apple slaw. It was paired with a Bissell Brothers Brewing Substance Ale. Andy always knocks it out of the park. Andy just finished a cookbook called Grilled to Perfection, you should check it out.

IMG_6699Il Casale made panzarotti: smoked scamorza stuffedpotato croquettes with a roasted red pepper sauce.

IMG_6700This was paired with the MacPhail Sundawg Vineyard Pinto Noir 2011.

IMG_6702Chef Matt Morello from Brasserie 28 in Andover  had a charcuterie display.

IMG_6703There were three different offerings.

IMG_6704 All the charcuterie was paired with the  Alchemist Heady Topper.

IMG_6706Chris Coombs from Boston Chops did a lovely steak tartare served on a potato chip paired with a 2012 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

IMG_6713The State Room prepared a lobster bahn mie sandwich with cilantro citrus marinated lobster, pickled fennel and chili aioli.

IMG_6715The sandwich was paired with a Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc.

IMG_6718Probably one of the best plated offerings of the night.

IMG_6720Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier from MC Spiedo made a spit roasted suckling pig with macaroni, root vegetables and a farm egg. The dish was paired with a 2010 BV Tapestry.

IMG_6724Tallulah on Thames, a restaurant in Newport, prepared a lovely dessert – Sweet Berry Farm peaches that were compressed and served with a curried yogurt, anise, hyssop, tarragon and pickled onions. It was paired with a 2011 Terrior Hunter Sauvignon Blanc Leyda. The peaches were almost translucent and the flavors were bold. I loved this dish.

IMG_6726Chef Louis DiBicari of Tavern Road prepared a smoked bluefish pate with fennel pollen and orange mostarda. It was served with a 2012 Malvasia del Fiore.

IMG_6730Will Gilson from Puritan and Co. made a heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil and marinated scallops.

IMG_6733Chef Michael Scelfo from Alden & Harlow made a grilled corn salad with avocado creme and pumpernickel crumbs. It was paired with a 2013 Chateau de Munuty Prestige.

IMG_6735Chef Jaime Davis from Deuxave made a milk chocolate cremeux with compressed apple cider and olive oil cake. It was paired with a Broadbent 3 year fine rich madeira.

IMG_6741Chef Nevin Taylor from Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain made lamb kofta and mixed vegetables with a green goddess dressing.

IMG_6751Chef Jason Bond from Bondir.

IMG_6754Chef William Kovel from Catalyst made a spice crusted tuna with a cucumber radish salad, lemon syrup and a sesame tuile.

IMG_6759Chef Brooke Vosika from The Four Seasons Bristol Lounge made crab gougeres with chives, served with golden tomatoes and lobster coral.

IMG_6764Chef Brian Alberg from the Red Lion Inn made a summer ratatouille with a tomato vinaigrette and Mill River micro greens.

IMG_6776Chef Shannon Bard from Zapoteca/Mixteca in Portland, ME made a spicy lobster bisque. A simple and yet lovely presentation. The broth was a bit spicy but really quite delicious. Probably my second favorite dish of the night.

IMG_6779The bisque was served with Herradura Silver Old Fashioned.

IMG_6782Maura Kilpatrick from Oleana made a Taza bittersweet chocolate with beet and licorice.

IMG_6781The dessert was garnished with figs and chocolate covered cocoa nibs.

IMG_6748The dessert was paired with the  Sandemann Porto from Portugal.

IMG_678780 Thoreau‘s chef, Carolyn Johnson, made lamb dumplings with smoky eggplant and peppers. It was served with a Donelan Family 2011 Cuvee Christine Syrah

IMG_6791Tyler Anderson of Millwright’s in CT made onions, chicken vin, fried chicken skin with picked golden raisins.

IMG_6793Entertainment was provided by The Perry Rossi Band. Great band with a great sound!

IMG_6795To hear a sample of their sound, check out my Instagram video here.

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IMG_6583I recently met up with Stephanie Cmar and Justin Burke Samson of Stacked Donuts and Trademark Tarts. They have officially become Party of Two! We chatted at Fairsted Kitchen before their pop up event. You would think that they had been best friends since first grade (they complete each other’s sentences!), but really, they became friends when Stephanie started Stacked Donuts at the beginning of the year.  What is amazing to me is that Justin is self taught – his creations are delicious. Here he is making a chocolate cookies and cream pop tart with Bailey’s frosting – perfect for the boozy themed evening.

IMG_6592And let me tell you, he didn’t skimp on the Bailey’s!  Justin always thought that he would do this kind of thing later in life – like when he was 50. I’m glad he didn’t wait that long! I asked him if leaving a 9-5 and steady paycheck to focus on Party of Two was scary – and he said of course it is, but would it be worth it if it wasn’t scary?

IMG_6597Justin said that they learn something new with each pop up they do and that the best pop ups are the ones where the host restaurant really gets involved and excited (but they have all been good)!

IMG_6614Justin is definitely a baker – very detail oriented. He was telling me that one time he had to make the donuts using Stephanie’s recipe. She took one bite and said they were AMAZING, what did he do? To which he simply replied, “I followed the recipe”.

IMG_6584His second treat was a strawberry Rosé tart.

IMG_6618I asked where his flavors come from, are they genius ideas that come to him in the middle of the night? Do loyal fans request flavors? Are they crowd-sourced? He said all of the above! Did you know that Trademark Tarts is a finalist in the Martha Steward American Made awards. Please vote for him! The prize is $10K that will all be put towards opening a brick and mortar business!  http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/94057/food/trademark-tarts

IMG_6591For the event at Fairsted, Stephanie made about 40 donuts. For events on the weekend, she makes more. Even at 10pm, when those donuts were put on the table, there was a very decent line of fans patiently waiting (if not frothing a little at the mouth).

IMG_6623You may recognize Stephanie from Top Chef Season 11.

IMG_6630Stephanie is a 2007 graduate of Johnson and Whales. She returned to Boston after graduation and started her career at Top of the Hub. From there she moved on to Ivy Restaurant. In 2009 she began working with the Barbara Lynch Gruppo, first at B&G and then at Stir. Most recently she was at No. 9 Park.

IMG_6632While they are focused on their craft, they also manage to have some fun along the way. Check out their instagram photos,  Stephanie and Justin have a slew of selfies.

IMG_6627 The lavender sugar donuts smelled amazing.

IMG_6634Rosé donuts were a big hit!

Check them out on social media to see where they will be next. They are at State Park today at 2, Moody’s in Waltham on Saturday from 2-6pm and Mei Mei Street Kitchen on Sunday at 11am.

Party of Two https://www.facebook.com/PartyOfTwoBoston

Stacked Donuts https://twitter.com/StackedDonuts

Trademark Tarts  https://twitter.com/trademarktarts

 

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imag1207The Blue Moon Cafe in Stowe has been a fine dining destination since 1992.  Jim Barton, now owner, was the dining room manager until 2001, when he bought the restaurant from the previous owner. Since then, they have been through multiple renovations and his wife Donna has done some extensive gardening. The kitchen is run by Jimmy Kalp who has worked at such places like National Hotel, The Ryah House, The Andirons Lodge and Frida’sTaqueria.

imag1209Whenever we go up to Stowe, we usually hit the same few places. This year, we wanted to try something new, so my friend Carolyn (of the Good Ones) who has a home up in Stowe gave me this suggestion. We start off with the artisan cheese platter ($12) that comes with some toast, dried fruit and raisins and a little mustard seed. Simple and yet so good.

imag1212We also start with the gazpacho, a refreshing way to start a meal. One of the best gazpachos we’ve tried.

imag1214The pasta special was delicious – the home made noodles were perfectly al dente.

imag1213I had the gnocchi with cauliflower, which was an excellent choice. The dumplings were amazing.

imag1216For dessert, I can’t remember the formal name for this, but raspberry sorbet and pistachio ice cream with raspberry coulis. Amazing. Two of my favorite things, combined to make a great summer dessert.

imag1219The crumble was also a delicious choice – we were almost too full to eat it after our meals! Almost. The service was top notch – we felt like we were being welcomed into someone’s home as opposed to eating at a restaurant. There were a lot of regulars dining, it was nice to see that they were welcomed by name and thanked for coming in.

Blue Moon Cafe

35 School Street, Stowe, VT

http://bluemoonstowe.com/

Blue Moon Cafe on Urbanspoon

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imag1342Mark (fortunately) forgot his lunch last week, making it an excellent opportunity to head out to Gene’s Chinese Flatbread cafe over in Downtown Crossing.

imag1340This tiny restaurant is packed at lunch time – great idea to come early or late – or just take out.

imag1339There are only a few items on the menu: the flatbread sandwich,  housemade noodle soup, lamb  hand pulled noodle soup, hand pulled noodles, Xi’an noodles, and cumin hand pulled noodles. Be prepared to wait, as they hand pull the noodles to order.

imag1343Mark orders the noodle soup, which he liked, but wished that the noodles were the same ones I had in my meal.

imag1344

I had the #4 hand pulled noodles, served with a healthy dollop of garlic, a sprinkle of chili powder, cilantro and scallions. The noodles are thick and have a good bite to them. A simple but extremely delicious dish. So good in fact, that we went back days later with other co-workers!

Don’t forget to stop at the ATM before you go, they only take cash. Monday thru Friday: 11AM-6:30PM, closed on the weekends.

Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe

86 Bedford Street, Boston, MA

Website

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe on Urbanspoon

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imag1144On our way up to Vermont this year, we decided to stop at Dartmouth for a quick bite to eat. There was a ton of traffic getting up here – something about blasting on the side of the highway – so we were famished. Lou’s has always been a midpoint for us over the years. Lou’s has been around for what seems like forever! 2007 marked their 60th anniversary.

imag1148The restaurant is a bit dated, or maybe it’s nostalgic. The food is nothing fancy, but you can get breakfast all day, delicious baked goods, and the price is right! I order the grilled cheese ($8.95) that hits the spot.

imag1147We also order the poached eggs on hash – a stick to your ribs kind of meal. The corned beef hash is made from fresh corned beef brisket and is served with a side of potatoes.

Stop in to Lou’s for a little piece of history.

Lou’s

30 South Main Street, Hanover, NH

http://lousrestaurant.net

Lou's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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IMG_6809Nothing says fall and October than…sausage? Whole Foods Market is showcasing their house made sausage for the month to celebrate Oktoberfest. Meet Phil, the Charlestown Whole Foods’ Sausage Meister. Phil grew up in Allston and started his career at the Allston Whole Foods. He quickly rose up the ranks and landed at the Charlestown location.

IMG_6815Phil was out on the floor demonstrating how to link the sausages and sampling the hot Italian and sweet Italian sausages to customers. Stop in on Tuesdays when the store does sampling, and not just the meat counter!

IMG_6811All the meat in the sausages comes from pigs and chickens raised to meet Global Animal Partnerships 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating Program.

IMG_6826Whole Foods carries a wide array of sausages, from chicken to pork, sweet Italian to chorizo. All the sausages are made in house and mixed with just the right blend of spices. They use an all natural casing for all the sausages. Whole Foods has a great recipe for Beer Poached Grilled Sausages.

Poaching sausages in beer before they hit the grill ensures that they’ll cook beautifully. Serve with potato salad, coleslaw and plenty of spicy brown mustard.

Ingredients

6 large chicken sausages

3 cups of beer

6 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil

Method

Prick each sausage a half dozen times with a fork. Arrange sausages in a baking dish and cover with beer and garlic. Cover and refrigerate; marinate for about 1 hour. Arrange onion slices in a skillet just large enough to hold all sausages. Places sausages on top and ad leftover marinade to cover. Place skillet over medium heat and gradually bring liquid to a simmer. Poach sausages until partially cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer sausages to a plate and pat dry if needed. Meanwhile, prepare the grill for medium high heat cooking. Lightly brush sausages on all sides with oil and arrange on the grill. Grill until crisp and nicely browned and sausages are cooked through, 4-6 minutes. Transfer sausages to a platter and let rest for 3 minutes. Serves as is or on toasted buns with condiments of your choice.

imag1445Recipe creation is not my forte. I like eating amazing food, I can’t say that I can cook it. The food I make is simple and tasty, but far from attractive. I made a pasta dish with the sweet Italian pork sausage. I took the sausage out of the casing and browned it in a skillet while the pasta was boiling away. I drained the pasta – and the sausage and added them together in the pasta pot. I threw in some Parmesan cheese and some butter. In a separate pan I heated up some olive oil and threw in the cherry tomatoes. I cooked them until I heard them pop (and helped the others along with my potato masher). I added the tomatoes into the pasta and sausage mix, and viola! A simple, easy pasta dish!

imag1452For my pizza I used the chorizo, Again, I took the sausage out of the casing and browned it up in a skillet. I pre-heated the oven up to 450 degrees. My pizza dough had been resting on the counter rising and it was ready to be stretched out. My shortcut is to go to your favorite pizza place and ask them if you can buy some dough. You can also buy it at the grocery store. Whole Foods makes delicious pizza and you can order take out from 10am – 9pm daily (every Tuesday you can $2 off a whole pizza!). I used my favorite tomato sauce – Rao’s as a base and covered it with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I add basil and oregano and a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes for that added heat. I pile the chorizo on top and cook for about 13-15 minutes. I like my pizzas a little more on the well done side. This is a simple recipe and it’s easy for kids to get involved!

imag1450And how do you not do a sausage, pepper and onion meal? I used the hot Italian chicken sausage and grilled it up in my grill pan with some thinly sliced onions for added flavor. In a separate pan I heated up some olive oil with red peppers and thinly sliced yellow onions – and hit that with a little salt and pepper. Once the sausage is done I put the sandwich together on a crusty baguette from Whole Foods. Feels like your at Fenway, but without the hefty price tag. Wouldn’t it be fun to make these for friends one night while you’re watching the game on tv?

So stop into Whole Foods in Charlestown today and say hello to Phil or one of the other sausage meisters!

And while you’re there, check out some of my favorite brands: Hint Water and Maple Water!

Whole Foods Market

51 Austin Street, Charlestown, MA

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/charlestown

 https://www.facebook.com/WholeFoodsMarketCharlestown

https://twitter.com/@wfm_charlestown

Disclaimer: Whole Foods provided me with a sampling of complimentary sausages

Best Bees 12I met Noah, the founder of Best Bees, at the Follow the Honey Dinner. While we were chatting at the table, he invited me to come down and see what urban beekeeping was all about.

Best Bees 1Located in Roxbury, behind Boston Body Works, the bee hives are located on hydraulic lifts. It is here where I met up with Maddie and Tom, the lab manager. Noah, the founder, graduated from Northeastern with a BS in Bio – and he likes to keep the Northeastern tradition alive by having co-op students come and intern at Best Bees. Did you know that unlike yellow jackets or wasps that can sting you multiple times, honey bees can only sting you once and then they die.

Best Bees 2So Tom pulls the lift down and shows me around the hives. A major problem with bee hives is disease. Noah and his team work with all natural remedies to try and rid the hives of diseases. Did you know that bees can fly up to 5 miles to find flowers? Bees are quite smart, in order to find their way back to their hive, they use landmarks and then as they get closer, they can use their sense of smell to return to their hive.

Best Bees 3Tom estimates that there are almost a million bees in the hives at Best Bees. Did you know that each colony can only have one queen? If there is more than one queen, which ever one hatches first will kill the other queens. If you get a sterile queen, one that you are introducing to a colony, she comes in a cage with a little bit of candy on the bottom. The bees need to get used to her smell and when they are ready to accept her, they chew the candy from the bottom of the cage and release her.

Best Bees 4It’s all fun and games until someone gets stung. That someone would be me. Trying my hardest NOT to swat at the bees buzzing around us, one lands on my lip of all places and stings me right in the kisser. Bad news is that it stung (no pun intended). My eyes have started to water and my nose is starting to run…and I may be sweating a little from embarrassment seeing as I have only met Maddie and Tom about 5 minutes ago. Good news is that I am now going to give Angelina Jolie a run for her money. And now, after establishing that they don’t have to stab me with an epi pen, we come to the stinger. Still in my lip. Have to get that baby out myself. More awkwardness. But then the give me an icepack and tell me that they’ve all been stung a bunch of times…and humor me by saying that…”it’s not that bad”. So embarrassment be damned, I stick around while they tell me all about the honey process and all things bee.

Best Bees 9Clients drop off their trays and Best Bees collects the honey.

Best Bees 7First they carefully scrape off the caps of the honeycomb.

Best Bees 5How beautiful is that honey?

Best Bees 6They place the honeycomb into a centrifuge and spin it for 5 minutes on both sides. The honey is flung out to the walls of the centrifuge and drip down to the bottom where it is collected.

Best Bees 10Keeping things pure, they only filter the honey once and then dispense it into mason jars. I was able to taste a little honey that they had just collected and it was delicious. Light and amazing – sweet and fresh.

Best Bees 11Different color honey depends on the hive and which flowers the bees are attracted to.

To find out more about bees and honey, check out the Best Bees website.

Best Bees

Noah Wilson-Rich

839 Albany Street, Boston, MA

http://www.bestbees.com

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imag1234My friend Jesse moved back to Boston after being away in California for 9 years. We celebrated his move back to the bean by heading over to Fairsted Kitchen. See my previous post here. Jesse was pumped about this because it’s just steps from their new home.

imag1236Of course we had the scallops, just an amazing dish – cooked perfectly!

imag1238The sweetbreads were tasty – not something I would normally order but I’m glad Jesse persuaded me to try them.

imag1240The lobster beignets were light and delicious served on top of a light corn salad.

imag1235The gnocchi was perfectly cooked as well and simply light as air.

imag1241We had the blueberry pie for dessert. I’m not generally a blueberry pie kind of gal, I like more of a crust to my pie, but this was delicious – like biting into summer, not too sweet and the graham cracker crust gave it some good texture.

imag1242I usually turn my nose up at pot de creme desserts – chocolate desserts (at restaurants in general) usually don’t have effort put into them. However, this was outstanding – and I stand corrected about chocolate desserts. This was light and flavorful – a really delicious dessert. I am pretty sure we I licked the cup clean.

Fairsted Kitchen

1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA

http://fairstedkitchen.com/

Fairsted Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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imag0842Have you heard of Maple Water? People are calling it the “new coconut water”. I met Kate, the co-founder, at a Good Ones party a while back. Turns out, we went to high school together – small world.  Kate has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Northeastern University. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a BA from Colby College. She’s also an ironman triathlete!!

imag0850What is Maple? Maple contains fortifying vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, prebiotics and is naturally low in calories. I know that when I heard about Maple water, I immediately thought it was going to be sweet. The flavor is quite subtle, light, with just a hint of sweetness – not at all what I had expected.

imag0847Maple supports good digestive health.
Maple is full of electrolytes good for natural hydration.
Maple gives you energy.
It’s naturally low calories, only 20 per serving.
It has half the sugar of coconut water.
There are no added sugar or preservatives.
Maple is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, non-GMO.

img_20140628_120958Where do you drink Maple? I take mine to the beach and up hiking in the woods…ok, hiking might be an overstatement…but you get the idea.

img_20140724_181608You can find Maple water in Whole Foods or you can buy them online.

 

IMG_3258Gaslight, Brasserie du Coin, literally Brasserie on the corner is part of the Aquitane Group who bring you restaurants such as Aquitane, Cinquecento, Union Bar and Grille and Metropolis Cafe.

IMG_3259Gaslight is run by Executive Chef Seth Woods and Michael Zentner, his Chef de Cuisine.

IMG_3261The decor is that of a traditional French Brasseie, from the white subway tiles and dark booths to the reclaimed wood floors.

img_20140713_093916We planned on heading over to the SOWA market today, so we came to Gaslight to fuel up (that and they offer free parking!!) We start with a Cafe American ($2.95).

imag1057Meredith raves about the raspberry croissants ($3.25), which were good, but a little on the well done side.

IMG_3265The French toast ($10.50) was good, but very sweet. With such large slices, it was hard to finish the whole dish.

IMG_3263The Pork Hache ($15.50) was outstanding: Confit pork, crispy potatoes, chili sauce verte & fried eggs. It was a stick to your ribs kind of meal with the perfect balance of saltiness. I would definitely come back for this again. Service was excellent, our waiter took good care of us.

 

Gaslight

560 Harrison Street, Boston, MA

http://www.gaslight560.com/

Gaslight Brasserie du Coin on Urbanspoon

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