I 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.
Chef 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.
Chef 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.
Andy 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.
Il Casale made panzarotti: smoked scamorza stuffedpotato croquettes with a roasted red pepper sauce.
Chef Matt Morello from Brasserie 28 in Andover had a charcuterie display.
Chris Coombs from Boston Chops did a lovely steak tartare served on a potato chip paired with a 2012 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
The State Room prepared a lobster bahn mie sandwich with cilantro citrus marinated lobster, pickled fennel and chili aioli.
Chefs 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.
Tallulah 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.
Chef 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.
Will Gilson from Puritan and Co. made a heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil and marinated scallops.
Chef 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.
Chef 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.
Chef Nevin Taylor from Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain made lamb kofta and mixed vegetables with a green goddess dressing.
Chef Jason Bond from Bondir.
Chef William Kovel from Catalyst made a spice crusted tuna with a cucumber radish salad, lemon syrup and a sesame tuile.
Chef Brooke Vosika from The Four Seasons Bristol Lounge made crab gougeres with chives, served with golden tomatoes and lobster coral.
Chef Brian Alberg from the Red Lion Inn made a summer ratatouille with a tomato vinaigrette and Mill River micro greens.
Chef 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.
The bisque was served with Herradura Silver Old Fashioned.
80 Thoreau‘s chef, Carolyn Johnson, made lamb dumplings with smoky eggplant and peppers. It was served with a Donelan Family 2011 Cuvee Christine Syrah
Tyler Anderson of Millwright’s in CT made onions, chicken vin, fried chicken skin with picked golden raisins.
Entertainment was provided by The Perry Rossi Band. Great band with a great sound!
To hear a sample of their sound, check out my Instagram video here.
I 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.
And 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?
Justin 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”.
I 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
For 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).
You may recognize Stephanie from Top Chef Season 11.
Stephanie 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.
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
The 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.
Whenever 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.
For 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.
The 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
There 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.
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
On 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.
The 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.
Stop in to Lou’s for a little piece of history.
30 South Main Street, Hanover, NH
Nothing 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.
Phil 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!
Whole 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.
6 large chicken sausages
3 cups of beer
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon expeller-pressed canola oil
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.
Recipe 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!
For 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!
And 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!
Whole Foods Market
51 Austin Street, Charlestown, MA
Disclaimer: Whole Foods provided me with a sampling of complimentary sausages
Located 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.
So 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.
Tom 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.
It’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.
Keeping 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.
To find out more about bees and honey, check out the Best Bees website.
839 Albany Street, Boston, MA
My 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.
We 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.
I 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.
1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA
Have 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!!
What 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.
Maple 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.
You can find Maple water in Whole Foods or you can buy them online.
The 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.
560 Harrison Street, Boston, MA