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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

My food adventures…and some other random stuff

LAH1Liquid Art house is set to open next month, I was lucky enough to get a first look last week. The 220 seat restaurant, located in the landmark building The Arlington (100 Arlington St) will be the first restaurant of its kind – a gallery/restaurant hybrid. The space boasts tall marble columns, dark wood accents, honeycomb floor tiles that mirror the decorative molding on the ceiling, and that’s not even the art. Ruta Laukien, the founder, is a native Lithuanian and a former investment banker. Laukien has brought Ana Katarina Vinkler Petrovic on as LAH’s curator. There will be a fluid exhibition of 1800 sq feet of hanging space, 2 curator’s lounges that will be dedicated to installations of furniture, ceramics and sculpture, and 220 sq feet of digital and video art. You will be able to purchase the art, and if you love the Lu Murano chandelier, master glassmaker Fabio Fornasier can make one custom for you. Love the communal table? You can have one made by John Househmand Design. The inaugural exhibit will debut street artists from around the world, with works by artists from Iran, Lebanon, France, Spain, Brazil, Argentina and the US. Exhibits will rotate every 6-8 weeks.

LAHThe kitchen has a custom designed Vulcan suite where executive chef Rachel Klein will be at the helm. Klein will be joined in the kitchen by her chef de cuisine, Ensan Wong, sous chefs Kylee Anderson, Caroline Curtin, Johan Ramirez and pastry chef Giselle Miller. They will have an in house bread baker, Maurizio Odermatt. Klein was the executive chef at XO Cafe and Lot 401 in Providence and when she came to Boston, she was the executive chef at Om, Aura and most recently, the Mandarin Oriental. Born in Boston Massachussets with Chinese and Nicaraguan origins, chef Ensan Wong is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and freshly hails from 3 Michelin starred Le Meurice in Paris (you may remember him from the Good Ones dumpling battle). Kylee Anderson joins the LAH team with over 12 years of experience in both the front and back of the house. Giselle Miller was most recently at Deauxave where she received some great press for her creative desserts.

IMG_0475Meet “Lulu”the rotisserie. Klein’s menu will debut D’Artagnan green circle chickens and later move on to other meats. Green circle chickens are raised in Pennsylvania and fed the vegetable peelings and day old bread from some of Manhattan’s most acclaimed restaurants. Can scraps from acclaimed restaurants, where only the best ingredients are used, create better tasting chickens? Here is a preview of what will be on the menu:

Lounge Dining

Small Plates

Crisp Langoustines basil, sweet & sour sauce

Sea Bass Crudo coconut, lime, chamomil, aleppo

Point Judith Calamari smoked aioli

Soft Shell Crab Tacos LAH tortilla, avocado marble, pickled cabbage, chinese sausage

Mangalista Hungarian cured ham, Meredith dairy goat’s milk spread, arugula, LAH baguette

Mici Skewers lamb, LAH puffy pita, Turkish salad, mint chermoula, sheeps milk yougurt

Chicken Feet sweet & sour flavors, shishito peppers

Crepes duck confit, gruyere, shallot jam

Falmmkuchen bacon, wild mushroom, carmelized onion, sherry reduction

Yucca & Chicharrones pico de gallo

LAH Burger comte cheese, crispy onion, tomato confit, LAH milk bun, fries

Rotisserie Sliders chicken, egg, bacon, savora mayo, lettuce, tomato, baguete

Handmade Dumplings

Sour cherry dumplings foie gras, pine nuts, sour cream, rose

Corn & honey dumplings duck cracklings, Brussels sprouts, aged Gouda, Asian pear

Wild mushroom dumplings caramelized onion, sour cream

Cheese Selections

Lake’s Edge (Salisbury, VT) Goat’s milk , apricot lavender jam, Marcona almonds

Weston Wheel (Weston, VT) Sheep’s milk, pickled walnuts, red currant mostarda

Challerhockers (St. Gallen, Switzerland) Cow’s milk, pine nuts, jicama, sherry reduction

Miranda (Walton, NY) Raw cow’s milk, watermelon radish, green grapes, panforte, baby arugula

Bayrischer Blauschimmelkase (Allgau, Germany) Cow’s milk, blue cheese, acacia honey, picked peaches, vanilla infused asian pear

Desserts

Rhubarb-rosewater custard olive oil Sicilian lemon cake, raspberry, confit lemon, lychee, pink peppercorn labne yogurt sorbet

Thai young coconut semmifreddo sweet tamarind, tres leches cake, black sugar young coconut sherbert, chartreuse, lemon balm

Tainori dark chocolate bark chocolate miso ganache, shattered frozen bourbon cream, smoked black walnuts, dark coffee bean walnut ice cream

Apricot vol au vent muscovado marcona almond butter, caramel rum yellow raisins, tonka bean, cannele ice cream

Ricotta cheesecake aerated manzano banana emulsion, rice puff, passionfruit, brown butter banana wafer, buckwheat ice cream

Cherry bread pudding bitter almond ice cream, burnt vanilla creme, caramelized white chocolate, black sesame

Hazelnut praline orange souffle orange marmalade, Grand Marnier anglaise

Dark chocolate & mint coulant cocoa nib peppermint ice cream, dark cocoa fernet sauce

Ice creams Mexican vanilla bean, creamy chocolate, salted caramel

Dinner

Starters

Young greens sherry vinaigrette, herbs, shallot (vegan)

Spring radish salad drunken tofu, pickled mushrooms, tatsoi (vegan)

Asparagus Pecorino romano, truffle emulsion, tarragon, chicken egg

Carrots little carrots & turnips, Vadouvan spice, carrot emulsion, coconut, lime, kale crisps (vegan)

Sweet pea veloute Salchichon iberico crouton, petite vegetables

Smoked sable beet borscht, sour cream, pickled pearl onion, potatoes, dill, rye crisps

Sea Bass Crudo Green papaya, black garlic, smokey lemon, ginger, cilantro

Soft shell crab Chinese sausage, golden sprouts, creamy milk garlic custard, baby celery

Duck Confit Medjool dates, rocket, Urfa pepper, Spanish blue cheese

Main Course

Roasted scallops Gigantes beans, leeks, passion fruit, chorizo & cilantro

Maple planked arctic char baby potatoes, quail eggs, dill pickles, sour cream & roe

Roasted tilefish clams, baby romaine, fennel cream, black garlic, yuzu

Lamb loin potato puree, mixed olives, Muscat grapes, Parmigiano Romano, lamb jus

Grilled Steaks

NY Strip

Filet Mignon

Bone in Rib Eye

Skirt Steak

From Lulu the rotisserie

Green circle chicken half chicken – chicken jus

Whole communal roasts served at the exclusive rotisserie table/family style

Ozark mountain baby pig shallot jam, red wine jus, choice of three sides

Green circle chicken chicken jus, roasted olives & grapes, choice of three sides

Sauces: Bernaise, chimichurri (vegan), Liquid red pepper (vegan), chicken jus, LAH steak sauce, port wine demi glace

On the side

Local baby vegetables

Asparagus, lemon zest, sea salt

Sardinian fregola, Parmesan, herbs

Wild mushrooms, sallots, herbs

Young greens shallot, herbs, sherry vinaigrette

Jack’s Mamalgia honey, brunza cheese, sour cream

Rotisserie potatoes

Persian rice

Potato puree

IMG_0488A sneak peak into the back of the house. The restaurant’s architecture is simple and elegant, playing off the historic features of the building, Dartagnan Brown has done a wonderful job with the space. Looking forward to the opening next month to see the finished product.

Liquid Art House

100 Arlington Street, Boston, MA

https://www.facebook.com/liquidarthouse

Liquid Art House on Urbanspoon

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IMG_4086Sam Singer, a Watertown native, and graduate of Hobart college, started Train Gum in in his dorm room (where all great ideas start). After moving back to the Boston area, he now operates Train Gum out of Somerville.

IMG_0116Wanting to bring gum into the natural foods market, Singer formulated a gum with 5 ingredients: Chicle (the sap from a gum tree), simple syrup (sugar and water), peppermint oil, stevia (a natural zero-calorie sweetener) and rice flour for coating. Because the gum is made with only natural ingredients, it is completely biodegradable, and the muslin bags that serve as the packaging are biodegradable as well. Each piece of train gum is hand wrapped and the bags are re-usable. The texture of the gum when you first chew it is a little firmer than I am used to, but it gets softer the more you chew it. I tried the mint flavor, which was subtle.

IMG_0120The gum, previously only in mint flavor, now comes in grapefruit as well! Bags sell for $2.50 each and come with 8 pieces of gum in each bag. You can buy Train gum online at the website below, or at these stores:

  • Fit to Eat, Portland ME
  • HWS College Store, Geneva NY
  • Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge MA
  • Spirited Gourmet, Belmont MA
  • Gordon’s Fine Wine and Liquors, Waltham MA
  • Volante Farms, Needham MAY

http://traingum.com/

*Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary bag of Train gum to sample, but all opinions are my own.

IMG_0433This was my first event with Boston Bloggers, and I have to admit I was a little nervous, like first day of school nervous. But good thing I had my spirits expert Mark with me! We both have always wanted to learn a little more about whiskey. The other bloggers at the event couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive of each other. And who doesn’t like to swap stories about favorite places to eat and drink? The whiskey tasting was held at Saloon, the second venture for David Flanagan and Ken Kelly (owners of Foundry on Elm – also in Davis Square).

IMG_0432We had our own private room for the tasting.

IMG_0444I love the architecture and the design of this place – it gives the bar a lot of character.

IMG_0435We grab a drink at the bar since we are a few minutes early.

IMG_0436Mixed drinks run you anywhere from $9-$13.

IMG_0429The bar focuses on brown liquors and local beers.

IMG_0463Beverage Director Manny Gonzales takes us through the whiskeys – we are blind tasting and he reveals the brands after we have talked about each drink. He encourages everyone to participate, people call out what flavors and smells they are experiencing.

IMG_0445Why do some people spell whiskey with an “ey” and others spell it, whisky, with just a “y”? The Irish spell it with an “ey” at the end and the Scottish spell it with just a “y”, whisky.

IMG_0442Tonight we are sampling 4 brands. We will start at the top left and go clockwise.

IMG_0441Thank goodness there are some delicious snacks on the table while we are doing the tasting! They had this amazing bread, challah like in texture, with some sea salt sprinkled on top that was absolutely delicious. Above is a really nice meat board with crispy baguettes, mustard, pickles and pickled onion.

IMG_0446They call these “devils on horseback”, feta stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. They were amazing, and the flavors really highlighted the caramel flavors in the whiskey.

IMG_0457So starting at the top left, we later found out that it was Willett, a Kentucky bourbon, barrel #7674. Bourbon is an American whiskey, made primarily of corn (at least 51%). Bourbon is aged in oak barrels with a heavy char inside, they call the char “alligator skin”. The toasting of the wood gives brings out the wood flavor in the barrels, giving the alcohol an earthy quality. This particular bourbon is 72% corn and 13% rye. It was medium in color – Manny suggested that we keep the bourbon on our tongue for some time to get all the flavor notes. The alcohol was “sweet” (not girly drink sweet, ’cause it still burned on the way down) and had caramel and vanilla notes.

IMG_0453The second drink we tried was High West whiskey, a rye whiskey. Rye whiskey is at least 51% rye. This brand was a blend of a 2 year old whiskey and a 16 year old whiskey and made from 53% rye, 37% corn and 10% barley. This had a dry flavor, with notes of cocoa, cinnamon and licorice (a lot of spice – a characteristic of Rye) and was sweeter than the Willett.

IMG_0465On the bottom right, we have the Highland Park, a single malt Scotch whisky. Scotch must be aged for at least 3 years, this one has been aged for 12. A single malt whisky is made with malt from one distillery. This Scotch has an almost medicinal quality to it, with tangerine notes, pear and honeysuckle. It was fruity and earthy with a smoky flavor. To be honest, all I got was the smoke, thank goodness I had Mark there with me.

IMG_0459Bottom left was the Irish Whiskey, the lightest in coloring. Irish whiskey is made in…Ireland. It must be aged at least 3 years and is usually distilled 3 times (as opposed to Scotch that is usually distilled twice). This was the sweetest of all, with a smoother finish than the Scotch whisky. There are currently only 9 distilleries in Ireland.

IMG_0471Overall, it was a really great night. I learned a TON about whiskey and met some great people. Looking forward to more Boston Blogger events in the future!

*This event was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Saloon

255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA

http://www.saloondavis.com

Saloon on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2165What do you get for someone that has everything? Ice cream. Graeter’s (if you haven’t heard about them) is an ice cream company out of Cincinnati, OH. Order a 6 pack for $60 or a 12 pack for $120, you can mix and match your flavors. Graeter’s creates its ice cream 2 gallons at a time, it’s hand swirled and then hand packed into pints. They make nearly 20,000 pints a day!

IMG_2168Really great flavor and texture with the black raspberry chocolate chip. There are huge chunks of chocolate (signature chips) – yum!

IMG_2169Toffee chocolate chip.

IMG_2171They use the same toffee as they do in Heath bars.

IMG_2342Mint Chocolate Chip.

IMG_2343Made with triple distilled peppermint oil and their signature chocolate chips.

IMG_2250Chocolate peanut butter chocolate chip. Their chocolate ice cream that has been fortified with creamy peanut butter flavor and loaded with peanut butter cookie dough pieces and our signature chocolate chips.

IMG_2252Buckeye Blitz.

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Just like the Buckeye Candy, this has a chocolate-peanut butter base with peanut butter cookie dough pieces and dark chocolate chips.

IMG_2263Probably our favorite flavor of the bunch was the egg nog.

IMG_2262Check out Grater’s here: http://www.graeters.com/

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IMG_3727Bagelsaurus is a twice-a-week micro-bagel-bakery that is located inside Cutty’s sandwich shop. They are open Friday and Saturdays at 8am and go until they sell out. Mary Ting Hyatt hand forms these babies!

IMG_3723Current flavors: Classic, Everything, Sesame, Poppy, Sea Salt, Black Olive, Pretzel.

IMG_3725Check out my Favecase video: http://favecast.com/24CDfjQUWB

IMG_3726I was glad that when we arrived late morning that they still had bagels. We had ours with butter, but there was a delicious egg sandwich on the menu that is calling my name next time I stop in.

IMG_3728The pretzel.

IMG_3730The everything.

IMG_3731The salt bagel. Not many places make salt bagel – man are these delicious. The bagels had a nice crust on the outside, the sign of a good New York bagel.

IMG_3732The insides however are very light and fluffy, which makes these bagels the best of both worlds! Cutty’s does have a few small tables if you want to eat in.

Bagelsaurus at Cutty’s

284 Washington Street, Brookline, MA

http://bagelsaurus.com/

Cutty's on Urbanspoon

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Freshii is tying to change the way we think about food, offering fresh lunch options that fill you up – think slow burning carbs, filled with fiber and lean protein.  They are a green restaurant, eliminating traditional industry staples: excess packaging, heavy energy consumption, and greasy processed meals.

If you order off the menu, step right up to the line. If you are making your own creation, grab a clipboard and a pencil and start checking off your choices!

I choose the Asian noodle bowl ($7.99): rice noodles, roasted chicken, cucumbers, carrots, edamame, crispy wontons and warm peanut sauce.  The portions are generous here, and I can’t even come close to finishing this thing! The cucumbers were a little weird for me in this dish, but it was tasty. The dish was light and yet filling at the same time (mission accomplished?). The line moves quickly – like most lunch spots in the area. Freshii has a good variety of salads, wraps, burritos, bowls and soups (built fresh to order).

Freshii

100 High St #100, Boston, MA 02110

http://www.freshii.com/us

Freshii on Urbanspoon

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IMG_3257It feels like Steve Wynn didn’t spare any expense with his luxury hotel. Their lobby is another one of my favorites.

IMG_3258The Wynn tapped famed event planner Preston Bailey to create this hot air balloon that is 20 feet tall and weights 4,000 pounds.

IMG_3274There is also a working carousel that is 13 feet tall, 16 feet wide and weighs 6,000 pounds. Every three weeks the property replaces more than 5,000 seasonal flowering plants. Amazing!

IMG_3260Travel down the escalator to the lower floor to SW Steakhouse.

IMG_3261The lighting!

IMG_3262If you can, try and sit out on the patio, it overlooks their lake of dreams – giving you prime seating for their shows. The have 8 in total that run on the half hour.

IMG_3263We arrive and get an inside table.

IMG_3264I would say that the dress for SW is business casual, although I did see some people wearing jeans.

IMG_3265You’ve heard me say many times before that you can judge how good your dinner will be by the breadbasket you receive. This one was exceptional. A French baguette, pretzel rolls and my favorite, the bacon and cheese rolls cooked in muffin tins. I could have eaten these for days!

IMG_3266We start with the King Crab Soup ($16). It was hard to taste the old bay that was supposed to be there, and to be honest, I thought that this was going to be a creamy soup. Either way, it was delicious and the “puff pastry crouton” on top was lovely.

IMG_3267The Ribeye ($58) was exceptional. The meat was a little fattier with great marbling and flavor. It comes bone in and was 20 oz.

IMG_3268I had the Scallops ($38) English pea risotto, pea vines, black truffle sauce. I almost had no room after the bread, but this dish was delicious – the scallops were perfectly cooked, a well executed dish. An excellent choice if you are not in the mood for steak.

IMG_3271Lemon tart ($12). As delicious as it was pleasing to look at. We licked the plate clean!

SW does offer a vegan menu for those in your party that may not eat meat. The food was delicious, but the service was excellent – some of the best that I’ve had. Mark was our server and I feel like I just had to think that I needed something and he was right there at the table. He was knowledgeable about the menu, confident in his recommendations, personable, and on top of everything that we needed. It was the service that really put SW over the top for us. Next time we are in Vegas, we will certainly be back!

SW Steakhouse at the Wynn

3131 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV

http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/Restaurants/FineDining/SWSteakhouse

SW Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2551There has to be good for at the Super 88 market, every time you drive/walk by, there is a line to get into the parking lot and the food court is packed. We recently got take out from Pikaichi, which took over the space formerly occupied by Ken’s Ramen House. Ken closed his doors in 2011 to move back to Japan While no one’s ramen can compare to Ken’s, who imported noodles from Japan, Pikaichi does offer some delicious dishes . Pikaichi boasts that they serve 6oz of ramen in their dishes, where the industry standard is 5oz.

IMG_2552The part I love most is that they give you all the pieces of the meal separately – no soggy, bloated ramen noodles here.

IMG_2558The portions here are generous – with the additional ramen and the thin slices of pork.  The broth is salty and allows the other flavors in the dish to shine through. Overall, we were very satisfied with this meal.

Pikaichi

1 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA

Pikaichi on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2183I stopped in to Olives and Grace on Christmas Eve (I’m catching up on posts!), I was doing some last minute shopping and figured I could pick up some stocking stuffers.

IMG_2184Check out “The King candy bar” from Liddabit Sweets. Never heard of Liddabit? They are a small company based out of Brooklyn, and the HAND MAKE everything! The company is founded by two friends, Liz Gutman and Jen King who recently finished writing a cookbook.

From their website, they tell you what goes into making a King Bar:

  1. Butter is browned, and used to make the cookie dough base. The dough is rolled out, cut to size, baked off in sheet pans, and set aside to cool.
  2. Peanut butter nougat is made by cooking sugar syrup to a certain temperature, pouring it over whipping egg whites, and folding in smooth peanut butter at just the right time. The warm nougat is spread over the cooled cookie base.
  3. Fresh bananas are puréed and mixed with white chocolate and cream to form a ganache. The ganache is spread over the cooled nougat, and the whole slab has to set up.
  4. Milk chocolate is tempered. The slab is turned out of the sheet pan and chocolate is spread over the cookie base. Once the chocolate sets, the slab is cut by hand into 1” x 4” bars.
  5. More milk chocolate is tempered. The bars are dipped by hand and allowed to set up; any holes or “bald spots” are fixed up afterwards with a small metal spatula and some more tempered chocolate.
  6. The bars are hand-packaged in cello wrapping and heat-sealed. Boxes are hand-stamped with the “best before” date and folded, and the bars are nestled inside. Finally, the label is wrapped around the box (you guessed it – by hand).

IMG_2185The King bar is soft peanut butter nougat is sandwiched between a brown sugar-brown butter cookie and a layer of fresh banana ganache, and dipped in milk chocolate. After eating one of these candy bars, you can never go back to a Milky Way or a Snickers…the banana flavor in the bar is pretty subtle which I liked…these candy bars are out of this world. Check out their website for other flavors like: PB&J, S’mores, beer and pretzel caramels, fig ricotta caramels and tally ho’s.

IMG_2201Apotheker’s is a small family run company founded by Russell and Shari Apotheker. Their dark chocolate is sweetened by honey from third generation beekeepers. They come in great flavors like Cashew Sea Salt, Cherry Almond, and Spicy Triple Pepper. They will be doing a pop up at Olives and Grace this weekend. The event is 12pm-3pm on Saturday (3/29), and they will be debuting their newest product!!

IMG_2259Sweet Lydia’s is a Lowell, MA based company specializing in s’mores. Other flavors include: white chocolate, raspberry, caramel and peppermint bark. See their website for additional flavors and  to view their hand made candy bars.

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Check out Olives and Grace here (or at the store on 81 Pembroke Street in Boston), Liddabit Sweets here (or at the Chelsea Market in NYC), Sweet Lydia’s here, and Apotheker’s here.

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IMG_2566A friend of mine and I took a calligraphy class in the leather district and decided to grab a bite just around the corner at Sorriso. In January, Sorriso, and it’s sister restaurant, Les Zygomates, were bought by Anthony Botta. Botta teamed up with his brother in law, Mark Tosi, and they are planning on giving both restaurants an interior facelift.

We were there about 2 weeks after the sale. It was late at night, and we were given a quiet table in the back – perfect for catching up! Even though there is a facelift in the works, I do think there is something charming about this place.

IMG_2563To start, we have Ben’s mushrooms ($12): soft polenta, Grana Padano (an Italian cheese) and a poached egg. I love anything with a poached egg! The egg here added to the creamy saltiness of the dish.

IMG_2565I had the braised beef short rib ravioli ($21) with white truffle oil and shaved Parmesan. The pasta was light as was the sauce. Short ribs can sometimes overwhelm a dish with their strong flavor, but this dish was excellent – filling but not heavy. Service was good, although being all the way in the back, we felt that sometimes we were easily out of sight, out of mind. I will be curious to go back and see what changes they have in store for the menu.

Sorrisso Trattoria

107 South Street, Boston

Sorriso Trattoria on Urbanspoon

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