Tag Archives: fancy

A Great Birthday

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So it was my birthday last Saturday, and I don’t really like making a big deal over my special day.  Luckily for me, The Russian is an awesome guy and hooked it up.  Knowing my love for local chef Ken Oringer, he took me to Clio, Oringer’s flagship and an institution in Boston restaurants (the place has won so many awards it’s almost not real).

While I don’t want to spare all the details of dinner, I will mention a few incredible dishes that have been on my mind:

The oysters with horseradish, caviar, and what i believed was some kind of foamed creme fraiche.  They were incredibly creamy and the caviar was another salty compontent to the dish that helped balance the creme.

Also the escargot was devine, with crispy duck tongues and pickled ramps, in a broth that was do addicting, The Russian and I both cleaned the plate sopping up the extra juices with our bread (not very fancy behavior for such a fancy place, but I didn’t care).

These two dishes alone would have made my night, but of course we had entrees as well.

I had an incredible short rib dish with broccoli rabe and The Russian had a pork dish with some of the crispiest pork shoulder I’ve had.  It was like a pork cookie, and I could have had a box of them.

All in all, it was a memorable evening.

-L

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Eating for Monkeys

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IMG_2299This past weekend, I was lucky enough to represent my job at a benefit for Helping Hands, a wonderful organization that pairs the paralyzed with a Capuchin monkey to help them with tasks and provide companionship throughout their lives.

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The cause is incredible, and I really wish the monkeys could have been there (although we were given stuffed ones at the end).  There was a lot of great food, awesome people, and music to keep the night alive. The space itself looked beautiful:

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I definitely strutted around the room looking for the best food I could find at the event, and I found it.

Firstly, we served an awesome shrimp ceviche with a homemade chip. It was light but had some healthy heat, and people were coming back for seconds and thirds at our table.

and the dish was bright and beautiful

and the dish was bright and beautiful

There were some other delicious ceviches out there as well, like the one from Trade with harissa, lime, and dukkah, which is kinds of like a spice and nit mixture from the Middle East. It added a nice crunch and the fish couldn’t be fresher.

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Zocalo’s ceviche was also really nice, with mango and cilantro, which made it very refreshing and a good reminder of my days trying traditional ceviche in Peru.

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I really liked the red wine poached pear from Cinquecento, although the crostini was a little hard.  The pairing with the blue cheese was perfect, however and I’m pretty sure I came back for seconds.

IMG_2278There was a ricotta bruschetta from L’Andana topped with figs, which I’m really into right now (along with a lot of other chefs, looks like). The cheese was creamy while the fig was perfectly sweet.

and very pretty

and very pretty

There was an excellent  tuna tartare from Sorellina, which is one of my favorite spots I can’t afford in Boston (except for restaurant week of course). Another great seafood dish.  I was pleasantly surprised how much seafood there was, and how expertly prepared it all was (thank god).

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The sliders from Moo… were also wonderful, the meat cooked beautifully, and lots of caramelized onions played off the meat really nicely.

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Beyond all that wonderful food, I had some real favorites, dishes I fell in love with and I’m still thinking about. Firstly, the duck confit risotto topped with shaved truffles from another favorite spot that I can’t really afford but I dream about, Mistral.  Before even trying it, I knew I would love it because it includes duck and truffles, which are some of my favorite things.  I was not disappointed.  It was rich and luscious and felt like a meal instead of a small preparation.

I died with happiness.

I died with happiness.

Finally, to tie it all up, I had the vanilla panna cotta from Teatro.  It was SO creamy and had so many fresh vanilla beans (the black specs in vanilla ice cream are a great sign). It was topped with candied nuts and a salted caramel.  Now, since I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate, this was a great dessert for me.  I had two, and I’m not ashamed.

I should have had more.

I should have had more.

This was a great event, guys.  Lots of wonderful food and great people, all for an unique and wonderful cause.  It was a great way to spend a Saturday, even if I was technically working. It didn’t feel like work.  I wish every Saturday could be this fun.

-L

 

 

 

Recipe: Strawberry–Nectarine Cobbler

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IMG_2254I have a confession to make…I’m not much of a baker.  Most of my desserts are made with pre–made pie crusts, or are tarts that are made from pre–made pastry.  Not saying they don’t taste good, they do, but something about actually baking, like making my own biscuits or anything that rises, freaks me out a little.  It’s so precise, and I like to cook as I go along, adding more ingredients if necessary.  With baking, you have to get the proportions correct before you put the dish in the oven, and hope for the best.

Then I saw this recipe for a cobbler, and I knew I had to try it.  I even went out and got a new set of measuring spoons to make sure I would get the ingredients correct. My set’s markings on the cups has been faded for years.

True Life: I eyeball all my recipes

True Life: I eyeball all my recipes

The great thing about this recipe is it uses stuff that most people have in their pantries, and if you don’t, buying the dry ingredients will last you for a while so it’s a good investment.

Ingredients:

3 nectarines [$3]

1 qt strawberries [$4]

1 lemon [.50 cents]

cornstarch (I already had this on hand, but costs around $2)

All purpose flour (Already had this on hand but costs around $3 or $4)

sugar (I had this on hand as well,but a small box is around $1)

Baking soda [$2]

baking powder [$3]

buttermilk [$2]

butter (Had this as well, $2)

vanilla extract (…and this too. $4)

Ice cream (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut up the fruit and put in an oven–safe dish (I just used the same roasting pan I use for my meats cause I don’t have a oven safe pie dish, or any pie dish for that matter). Cover with 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, lemon zest, and a little juice if you want a little more zip. Place in the oven for 25 minutes until the fruit gets nice and gooey.

Melt 1/2 a stick of butter and mix with 1/3 cup buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract when it has chilled.  In another bowl, mix 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of both baking soda and salt. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine.  It kinda feels like the biscuit dough that comes out of the pop–able cans.

When the fruit comes out of the oven, separate the dough into 6 mounds and place on top of the fruit; top dough with more sugar.  Place back in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

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look, guys, I did it!

Then scoop some out on a plate, top with ice cream if desired, and pat yourself on the back.  You have baked.

It tasted like victory.

It tasted like victory.

-L

Recipe: Peach–Bluberry Tart

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First off, happy 100th post to me! It’s been so fun writing this blog and I hope my readers enjoy my cooking as much as I enjoy making it.  Here’s to another 100 blog posts.

Sometimes you can get inspiration from anywhere, and just a picture can set off a wonderful cooking experience.  That’s what happened to me.  I was looking on Food Porn Daily, a site that has beautiful photos of food for you to click on and drool over.  I love the site. It is addicting.

Last week, I was looking around the site when I saw a blueberry–peach tart that looked to die for.  I clicked on the link from the site from which it came and found an easy–to–follow recipe and decided to make my own.

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It tasted just as good as it looked

Ingredients:

1 package frozen puff pastry [$4]

3 peaches [$1.50]

1 container blueberries [$3]

1 container cream cheese [$2]

Sugar (I already had some in my pantry) [$2]

Apricot jam and vanilla ice cream, optional.

Directions:

Let the puff pastry thaw and preheat the oven to 425.

Slice the peaches and add the berries in a small bowl.  Toss with sugar, a little flour, and a pinch of salt and let cool in the fridge while you prepared the other ingredients.

Roll out pastry on a floured surface until its a somewhat rectangle (mine was a bit rustic, cause it tore twice. So just eyeball it). Outline a 1–inch border on the pastry and prick inside of the border with a fork.  Sprinkle some sugar on the border and put pastry in the oven for about 13 minutes.

Take the cream cheese, softened, and throw a few tablespoons of sugar in.  Beat with a hand mixer until fluffy. Once the puff pastry is out of the oven, spread the sweetened cream cheese inside the border that was drawn.  Take fruit out of the fridge and place on tart in whatever pattern you like, but a simple one is best so fruit cooks evenly.  Bake for another 20 minutes.

If desired, loosen apricot jam with some water and brush it on for the last few minutes of baking.  I couldn’t really tell it was there, however. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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This tart is a great way to use some of the last of summer fruits in a simple, delicious way.

Enjoy!

-L

Restaurant Week Bliss: No. 9 Park

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Restaurant week is almost over (sad), but I have a few more stories to share (fun). Last week, The Russian and I headed over to the very fancy No. 9 Park, which is owned by Barbara Lynch, another great Boston chef, and the mentor of last season’s Top Chef winner.

Boston is full of talented people

We walk inside, and I instantly feel fancier.

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Feeling fancy, I decided to opt for the wine pairing with my meal, because I felt in cases like this, it’s best to leave it to experts. I was right.

I started my meal with the Foie Gras with eggplant, raisins, and pine nuts.  While I normally hate eggplant, I wanted the Foie more.  The dish was super tasty, and I loved the vinaigrette of raisins and pine nuts over the top. My waiter paired this dish with some Spanish sherry, which I never thought to drink before.  It was divine.

and it looked incredible on the plate

and it looked incredible on the plate

The Russian had cured salmon with beets and squash vaudovan, which is like curry spice in pureed squash and had an almost horseradish bite, which was nice with the delicate salmon.

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I moved on to the roman gnocchi, which were like little polenta cakes, with duck, pesto, and a poached egg. The dish was paired with a medium bodied red that played off the duck and pesto and worked perfectly with the Parmesan cheese.

an egg makes everything better

an egg makes everything better

When I broke open the yolk it flowed over everything and made it so incredible.  The duck was perfect, and the little cakes were so fluffy, yet so filling.  I had to be rolled home.

The Russian had pork belly, naturally, with a thick pepper soup on the bottom and marinated watermelons that were cut into the tiniest (therefore cutest) cubes.  The pork belly was like cutting into warm butter with your fork.

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Finally, when I thought I could eat no more, there was dessert.  The waiter brought a slightly bubbly, fruit wine.  It was soft and sweet, and it was all I could do not to take a huge gulp in the middle of the fancy restaurant.

For actual dessert, I had a raspberry cake, which tasted almost like a coffee cake, topped with ice cream.  So tasty, but by that time I was having serious trouble fitting more food. I managed.

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The Russian had a flourless chocolate cake with a salted caramel and coffee foam.  It was decadent and so beautiful on the plate.

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Everything was so wonderful, we both want to go back as soon as possible, even though it normally a bit out of our price range.  It’s so worth it.

-L

Marathon Patriot Gala Nomfest

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Last night, I was lucky enough to get to check out the Marathon Patriot Gala hosted by the Newbury Street League. Once again, people coming together to help others by eating. My kind of event for the food, but I missed the memo on the fancy level.

I’m decidedly causal pretty much all the time, while people at this event were wearing ballgowns (I congratulate myself when I make it more than an hour in heels).  Whoops.

Then again, it was at the Mandarin Oriental.  I probably should have known.

Then again, it was at the Mandarin Oriental. I probably should have known.

There was even a live band.  They were really classy too.

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Either way, the way I was dressed certainly didn’t affect the food.  And it was glorious.

Some favorites were the oxtail tacos with spicy crema, baby cilantro, and pickled shallots from Met Bar:

I got too excited to eat to remember to take a photo, so he's a half–eaten taco instead.

I got too excited to eat to remember to take a photo, so he’s a half–eaten taco instead. So delicious and flavorful.

It was a flavor explosion.

I also liked the cornmeal–crusted cod with eggplant capenade from Papa Razzi. The fish was perfectly cooked and flaky.

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it also looked classier than I did

I thought the yellowtail sashimi from Forum was super fresh, and didn’t even need the citrus sauce it came with (the sauce was delicious though):

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Speaking of fish, I have to represent Cafeteria Boston, which served rock shrimp ceviche.  Super bright and fresh with the veggies with a hint of spice, and of course the tortilla chips are addicting.

And they were pretty

And they were pretty

Then there were the ribs from Joe’s American Bar and Grill.  I love sweet BBQ, and the sauce really hit the nail on the head for me.  newbury13

I forgot all about looking nice pretty quickly after taking my first bite.

clearly

clearly

Other honorable mentions included the Greeen Goat pizza from The Proper Slice with pesto, fresh tomatoes and goat cheese:

newbury7The paella from Tapeo; while super tasty, the paella I had in Spain ruined all others for me (I’m a paella snob though).

it was chock full of meat and seafood and plenty of rich saffron.

it was chock full of meat and seafood and plenty of rich saffron.

The seasonal sangria from Forum was also very tasty, but Spain still kinda ruined it for me.

Although I would have no problem downing a carafe full of these

Although I would have no problem downing a carafe full of these

Overall, most things were really tasty.  The only thing I wasn’t really about were the samosas from Kashmir: They were a bit dry for my linking, but the flavor was still good.

 

and they were super cute

and they were super cute

I’m always excited to go to events, and this time was no different. I had a lot of fun, and will try to remember to check the dress code next time I go somewhere.

-L