Saturday, April 30, 2011

SOWA Sundays are back!

With perfect weather timing, SOWA Sundays are back!  Opening tomorrow, May 1st, from 10am-4pm Harrison Ave is going to be buzzing with stalls offering farmers' fresh produce, unique crafts and don't forget the vintage market at 460C Harrison Ave.

This open market is the perfect thing to do on a sunny (or overcast) Sunday in the South End.  If you don't live nearby, make a day trip out of it; there is so much to see and you can tie the whole thing together at the end of the day at one of the restaurants in the area.

Check it out tomorrow and every other Sunday, things change up regularly! I am going to try to make it myself.

For more info:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Burrito what now?

From the owners of Douzo, a prominent sushi restaurant in the Back Bay area, comes Basho - a Japanese Brasserie in Fenway.  This restaurant, which opened about a year ago has been on my 'trial' list.
Luckily, thanks to some pressure from a soon to expire coupon, I managed to get a group of friends together to try to the place out.
It has a typical modern interior; lots of edges and questionnable plants,a grand purple curtain separates sections of the restaurants creating the sense of grandeur.  A sushi bar is at the back and showcases the sushi chefs busy with their art - always a comforting scene!

The menu is a bit overwhelming - in a good way though. You have your typical and traditional items, sushi rolls, terriyakies and tempuras, and then you have some very interesting sounding specialty rolls like their Amaebi Mango Roll: mango, cucumber, grilled pineapple wrapped with sweet shrimp and a tangy mango sauce, or their Rock and Roll (below):  

I ordered miso soup - always a nice precursor, fairly standard and dependable. I also ordered their seaweed salad. I have always enjoyed the fresh and slightly sweet sesame flavour of this dish which contrasts well with the dash of lemon.

But what I really wanted to try was their 'Celtic Maki Burrito', which, as its name indicates, is a burrito rendition of a sushi roll.  This monster is a tuna roll, wrapped in soy paper and deep fried.  It is then topped with BBQ eel, jalapeno aioli and basil oil.  The whole things looks like a sculptured forest. It is thoroughly impressive to the eye and quite enjoyable to the palate. It is a bit of a challenge to gobble by oneself, but makes for a great center piece for sharing.
I personnaly would have preferred a bit more eel and kick from the jalapeno aioli...but on the whole, it is a dish I would recommend and order again!  As for the other rolls, my friends endorsed them all for their unique and complementing flavour combinations and fresh taste.

Basho's sushi is fresh, as are their ideas.  I was not altogether impressed with our waitress, particularly when she presented the option to switch to brown rice without mentioning the surcharge. The prices are also a little steep.  I would go back however to try out some of their signature rolls - and they had some interesting drink specials I wouldn't mind experiencing!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A very happy hour

From approximately 5 to 6 this afternoon, Kickass Cupcakes made my sweet tooth very happy. As always, on the last Monday of every month, they hold their happy hour with miniature-sized alcohol infused cupcakes:
They rotate their flavours of the month and this time around, I was beyond ecstatic to see that they were featuring a St. Germain cupcake! As some of you may or may not know, the St. Germain cocktail is my default drink...and well, truthfully, my drink of choice.  This cupcake,(the one with green icing and little sprinkled stars) is appropriately called The Mayday and consists of a vanilla cupcake soaked (quite litterally) with St. Germain elderflower liqueur and topped with champagne icing.  It was like my favorite drink in a delicious cup cake shot!
The others were a strawberry margarita; vanilla cupcake with a tequila soaked strawberry center (I know they are a cupcake happy hour, but when they say 'soaked'...they really mean it; I thought I had taken a little shot of tequila when I found the center of this baby!)
The third was a Jack Daniel's Float which was my least favorite, but still very tasty. It was a root beer cupcake with Jack Daniel's chocolate custard and whipped cream on top.
It is no wonder I await the end of the month with such anticipation.  Kickass never fails to deliver - having When Pigs Fly bakery right next door always helps too....
Next Happy Hour: May 30th...take note!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter from the Frugal Foodista!

Easter is a great day: bunnies abound, as does chocolate and more often than not, the two collide into one fabulous experience!
I wish you all a fabulous day, re-connect with you inner child and have an easter egg hunt outside! It is so beautiful...
Just in case you see today as the last day off before the week looming ahead, fear not! Tomorrow is no ordinary Monday - it is Happy Hour at Kickass Cupcakes! I will be making my way there for sure this time around...I have missed one too many of these sweet sensations.

Friday, April 22, 2011

3 Scoops - Innovation at its creamiest!

What I love most about my antics as a frugal foodista, are the little adventures that take me way out of my usual niche and into a world of innovation and creativity.  I experienced one such adventure on Tuesday evening at the hands of 3 Scoops Ice Cream Café, a little gem of a creamerie in Brighton.
After a few confused hops on and off the same bus (good thing I had a bus pass!) I was dropped off right in front of the ice cream café where my love for ice cream was about to be nurtured.

3 Scoops, which has been around for about 6 years now, is your quintessential mom and pops ice cream store; cardboard boxes filled with ice cream both very different and very traditional, hand written menus show the days featured flavours and any specials, a large tub offers little candy treats for 25 cents.

I was fortunate enough to meet with Raul, one of the ice cream makers in chief (he partners with Mark Cooper) who not only comes up with some of the most far out combinations of ice cream, but is also at the forefront of the fight against corporate monsters who try to gobble places like 3 Scoops right up and out of business.
I spent a lot of time asking questions about Raul's ice cream philosophy while trying out pretty much every flavour in the addition to some secret batches kept in the back freezer. 
To make his ice cream and sorbets, Raul makes everything from scratch using only local ingredients to support farmers in the area.  He told me he is a stickler for knowing what goes into the ice cream they sell and any single taste will justify the extra effort.
For instance, in their famed 'Coffee and Donuts' ice cream, he makes and grinds his own coffee based ice cream to which he adds apple fritter donuts which again, he makes himself.  The end result is an entire experience, it's more than a combination of flavours, its a revelation! I felt like I was sitting in a cop car at a stake out!

Of all the flavours that I tried, my favorite was...ok, so that's not going to work because each flavour was such a testimony to its name that I loved every one...apart from the coconut sorbet, which he admitted was a little off an ingredient.  I was most impressed however with his cucumber goat cheese ice cream...yes you read it right!
Raul also takes requests from customers who have a flavour they would like to see behind counter.  I have been thinking about what I would like since the moment I left the far I have St. Andre cheese, with cinamon and pear...what do you think?
If I could, I would give this place a six dancer rating, I was so impressed by the product, the pricing and the integrity.  If only there were more places like this and less of the generic corporate  replicas we can't seem to get away from!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April Showers bring May Flowers...and lots of other treats!

So Marathon Monday was gorgeous, today...not so much, but as I see things, it is always best to keep a positive outlook whenever possible.  Thus, I see today's rain, and I look forward to a bright May with beautiful flowers and lovely weather;  I see days filled with outdoor activities most of which have some kind of food-related aspect that only adds to the anticipation.
Sometimes it is hard to remember what those days are like and you may even have forgotten what kind of fun activities are out there. In case you find yourself in such a pickle, I thought it would be about time for me to give you a couple of options. For the moment, I will just give two, both of which are excellent ways to bring you back into the swing of spring and summer fun. 

The first is naturally relative to summer's most favorite dessert item: ice cream.  Of course, this frozen dessert is an integral part of my diet year round, but I understand how some people just can't face it in the long cold winters.  Luckily, I have just the place to put on your radar for when you are ready to come out of hybernation:  3 Scoops, the epidomy of a Mom and Pop creamery, located near Brighton Center on Washington Street.  It is the home of many innovative ice cream flavors which rotate weekly - or daily depending on the whims of Raul, their ice cream maker in chief.  I had the opportunity to visit the store today and will be coming out with a much more detailed post regarding this gem.

The second thing I propose is an activity I have fancied since the begining of the year when I first heard about it: the Boston Chocolate Walking Tours. These, hosted by A Taste of Chocolate are a tremendous way to learn about the chocolate heritage in a few different areas.  They hold tours in Harvard Square, Back Bay, the South End and Beacon Hill. I am hoping to set up a date within the next few weeks...
I am very excited and fairly certain I will come out with a much deeper appreciation of the history of well a satisfied sweet tooth...if indeed that is possible!

I encourage you to venture out of your nooks and experience these two options.  I will be blogging about them more explicitly this week, so stay tuned!
If you are immediately interested and what to know more, go to either of their websites:
3 Scoops does not have a website, but follow them on facebook:

If you have any fun, foodie actitivities you think I should add to my list...send them my way!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Marathon Madness!

As many of you probably know, it is Marathon Weekend! The actual marathon will be Monday the 18th, but like any popular event in the city, there is much going on leading up to it. My favorite event is the Sports Expo, hosted at the Hynes Convention Center on Boylston.
  This convention features the newest and hotest brands in fitness gear and gadgets, I think many of my fellow dancers will be thrilled to hear that Kinesio tape (our magic 'go-to' tape) made a fresh apprearance:

All the best nutritional supplement providers are also on the exhibitor list.  I dropped by today before the show to take a quick lap around the convention. It is really throbbing with enthusiastic athletes.
I of course love the sample stations, Cliff Bar always does well:

'Naked' juices was also presenting their different varietals. I went for a protein plus mango shake, which was really quite delicious and the perfect thing for getting through the throngs of marathon runners.
And of course, it wouldn't be a Sports Expo without Powerbar making a serious impression.  Their's is a whole section cut off and dedicated to their many products.
The Expo goes until Sunday at 6 pm. For more information on exhibitors and scheduled presentations, visit:
It's the perfect way to kick off a new running regime!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The whole nine yards in Cambridge

 Many people see Monday with a tint of blue and a dash of despair.  Being the first day back in what some people anticipate to be long a week, I understand and indeed, am quite compassionate.  However, when I am in performance mode with the Boston Ballet, Monday is actually my day off. It's my day to get all of my errands done and when I have had a productive Monday, I tend to feel like I deserve a nice treat.
Lucky for me, a good friend of mine was in the same mindset this past Monday and we broadened our culinary horizons and tried out Bosphorous, a new Mediterranean restaurant on Cambridge street.

It's always nice to go out on a Monday evening because crowds are never an issue. Bosphorous has been getting quite the hype as a new endownment in this culinary hotspot.  The place has a very interesting vibe; it is decorated with warm and traditional colours but contrasted with contemporary and somewhat abstract interpretations with their table and bar set up. I especially liked the canopy-like light shades hanging over the booths.
We didn't take long to order, we started with the mezze platter for two which came with a sampling of all the cold mezze appetizers, including hummus, char-grilled whipped eggplant and two different kinds of yogurt dips, a cacik (yogurt and cucumber) and another much thicker, strained yogurt spread with dill and mint.
I especially liked their red lentil patties which came served on a hammock of lettuce.  I actually enjoyed this so much I asked for a side of lettuce to wrap everything else in. Such a great contrast!

For our entrée, we shared their shrimp casserole, or Karides Guvec. It came as presented below, succulent shrimp, incredibly fresh and colourful vegetables and a light sprinkle of cheese all baked and melded together in a hot iron dish.
A true tribute to this meal was that there were no leftovers...every last grain of bulgur wheat had been pricked up. It was delicious!

We did not however stay for dessert...but that's no surprise seeing as Christina`s is just down the street.
 This family run ice cream shop is known for its special and unique ice cream flavours:
Many of these flavours, like the ginger, the carrot cake and the cinnamon are made with spices you can purchase yourself right next door in their very own spice shop.
It's the real deal!
I settled for their coconut almond chip and chocolate mousse. It was divine.
Mondays spent like this are really not Mondays at all, and if you think about it, you can trick yourself into believing that your week hasn't even started when really, the next morning will be tuesday...which is really close to wednesday...which means you are halfway there!
On another note, this kind of adventure would be satisfying on any day of the week.
Look into Bosphorous and their full menu at:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Post Performance tid-bites

There are always two things on my mind immediately after a performance.  Number one: food, and number two, shower.
The first is always the most important, seeing as its satisfaction is conducive to me being at all social.  Luckily, I have found a perfect niche for my post-performance needs. Max and Dylans, located at 25 West Street, right by the Opera House, has a great menu, full of tasty appetizers and other snacky things as well as a great drink menu.
This place is known for its different, though equally delectable, renditions of mac and cheese.  Below is their classic mac and cheese, served with a copious but not heart-attack inducing amount of cheese and topped with just the right amount of crumbs.
Another personal favorite are their waffle fries, which come smothered in cheese (yes it's a main ingredient at this restaurant) and spicy jalapenos.  This dish is perfect for sharing, which is usually the case as I meet up with show-go-ers or other fellow-famished dancers.  Suffice-it to say that this dish does not last long.

They also serve up some decent flatbreads. We tried their shrimp flatbread which was mediocre and their buffola chicken, which was much better. Neither were amazing, but flatbreads are always a pretty perfect bar snack.
I think my top vote however would go out to their buffalo chicken sliders.  These come with a surprisingly spicy, but very tasty buffalo sauce which is countered nicely with a blue cheese dressing.  The buns are rustic and hold their form superbly against the strong flavours of the buffalo chicken.  These are a definite must!

The steak and cheese egg rolls are very undewhelming however and I would not waste any time or stomach space on these.
All in all, Max and Dylans is just what I need after any performance, whether I was performing or not. It is perfect for large groups as it is a large space and best of all, if you bring in your Opera House Play Bill, you get 25 percent off your food bill!
Hope to see you there:)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An underground Ethiopian stronghold in the SE

I am embarrassed to say that in all my four and a half years of living in the South End, I have only just been to Addis Red Sea, an Ethiopian restaurant in the area.  Perhaps this is because of its sub-level location, or the fact that you can't see in and never know if anyone is in there...either way, whatever the excuse falls flat once you venture inside and literally feel as though you have been transported out of the South End and right into Ethiopia.

Firstly, you do not sit at usual tables, there is no cuttlery and you eat off of a 'Mesob'.  Ethiopian cuisine is known for their spongey bread which serves as a plate and accompaniement with your meal.

My friend and I did not take any time to order, we started with two of their 'lentil sambusa', an ethiopian take on a samosa. These were simple and tasty, the pastry was just the right consistency without over powering the filling.

We then ordered their Addis Red Sea special, which is a non-vegetarian assortment of meats, served on their bread.  There were two types of chicken curry, two types of beef curry and two vegetable sides: collard greens and tomatoes.

The meat is so tender, it just falls apart in your mouth. Look at this macro shot! My friend had actually just taught me how to use this...I think the results are pretty successful:)

And here is an action case you were curious as to how the bread technique works!
I give this restaurant an absolute five mini-me rating. It was delicious, had an incredibly authentic atmosphere, the service was excellent and best of all, the price cannot be beat! It is worth a trip to the South End, especially seeing as you will actually be traveling to Ethiopia!
After all, why not get a step ahead on your summer itinerary?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A lacklustre performance in the Fens

There is a degree of expectation associated with any off the beaten path restaurant that has recently been dubbed a 'gem' by a prominent food reviewer.
A friend and I followed this sense of expectation with enthusiasm on our way to Trattoria Toscano in Fenway. It was reported to be a 29 seat restaurant, vivaciously reminiscent of Tuscany with the feeling of being in the chef's back garden. You can imagine my degree of excitement!
All was well upon arrival, the place was quaint and small, with an authentic and rustic feeling atmosphere. First impression = strong.

The restaurant was about three quarters full and my friend and I slipped easily into a two top table by the kitchen. We were greeted by a warm and friendly waiter and ordered a bottle of red.  Unfortunately, from here on in, the good impression lost quite a bit of ground...
The wine we received had not been stored at the appropriate temperature, having been kept on a shelf near the hot kitchen.  It was thus far too an Italian restaurant that boasts such authenticity, this is surely a big no-no.
Brushing this aside and giving them the benefit of the doubt, we placed our order.
First up was their Burrata, which was also subjected to an erred serving temperature.  Burrata is supposed to be room temperature in order for the soft and creamy flavour to be appreciated and easily smoothed over bread.  This one seemed to have come out of the refrigerator...

The crostini received a mixed degree of success. The heavier pâtés were rich and tasty and well balanced against the toasted bread, but the others, a very weak salumi and sautéed porcini, were more difficult to appreciate.  I think this dish would have done better if it had been on thinner slices of toast. This picture really shows the thickness of the bread almost outweighing the toppings, which is not the desired effect of crostini.

Moving on we got their home-made pasta and their porcini risotto.  These dishes rated much better than the previous two.  The pasta was cooked to perfection and the sauce, a sundried tomato with pancetta was spiced just right.  Their risotto reminded me of the risotto I had in San Sebastian being lighter than usual which is refreshing.  I would personally have preferred a bit more thickness to the sauce...but I won't complain too much about that.
For our entrées, we ordered their veal liver which very tasty, the sauce was a perfect match for the meat's strong and particular flavor.
I would give their steak an average grade. It was presented nicely with some well roasted vegetables, but I am a tough judge when it comes to steak and I wouldn't go out of my way to order this one.

We finished our meal with a sweet, homemade ending; flourless chocolate cake and some freshly whipped cream.  As always, a dessert, when taken seriously is my weakness and this one was good. The chocolate was rich and the cake dense and fudge-like, the whipped cream was dusted with a nice touch of cinnamon.
In all fairness, I think I would have enjoyed this meal more if I had not gone in with such high expectactions.  It is just such a disappointment when you ask where certain ingredients come from and get 'I am not sure, we import it' as an answer.  Perhaps we just hit a night when the temperatures were out of sorts in the kitchen and the menu was full of new's to giving them the benefit of the doubt!