Saturday, May 28, 2011

Those Summer Nights...

Everyone has been talking about the sudden onslaught of beautiful summertime weather and no one is complaining. It is about time we get some luck with the sun!
Even luckier for me is the timing of it all, the times changed as soon as my summer lay-off from the ballet began.  So I have been happily basking in the sunlight all week...ok I know I should not rub it in...but I am going to.
I think many of us would agree that one of the best things about summer time are those summer nights when the breeze is slight, it stays light out until 9 or ten pm, the streets are brimming with people and restaurant patios are in full swing.
My mother and I took full advantage of Stephie's on Tremont last night.  We were lucky to snag the most perfect table right by the side walk and had pristine service from one of the outdoor waiters.
We were just doing drinks, which can be an issue in this area as they usually require you to order food as well, particularly when you are in prime seating real estate. Our waiter was very accomodating and brought us some bread with their signature garlicky-spread.
My  mother ordered her usual Pino Grigio and I was deciding between their Tea with Miss McGill, a homemade sweet tea vodka with Drambuie and fresh raspberries and their Forbidden Fruit; Black raspberry belvedere, lychee and pear.
Both sounded great, but I asked our server for her opinion.  Now, asking your waiter for a personal suggestion can be hit or miss. Either they are completely useless in saying they don't know what you like, or they can be very insightful and honest.  Our waiter was the latter and quickly suggested the Forbidden Fruit as the Sweet tea drink apparently is a mixologist's disaster.
The drink came and the suggestion was a raging success...bravo! The drink had struck a perfect balance of vodka and exotic fruit puree, garnished with a plump lychee fruit. (here's another shot a little later on in the night...just for mood!) 

We didn't end up ordering any food, but by the time we were done, the various dishes brought to surrounding guests looked incredibly tantalizing and it was difficult not to order something multiple times throughout our drinks...:)
All in all, the accumulative effect of the weather, the atmosphere, the service and the great drinks made for a fabulous evening.  I trust it would be reciprocated upon return visits. Cheers to many more summer nights!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A toast to the end of another season...and a successful remodeling!

 Rock Bottom, your classic american fare restaurant located in the Theatre District, just recently re-opened its doors after renovations.  The place, successfully remodeled and looking swanky with all its leather booths and large bar area, thankfully has the same bar menu and more importantly, the same key dessert items.
After our final performance of the 2010/2011 season, a few of us went out to toast and celebrate another successful season with the Boston Ballet.

We started with some bubbly, although the waiter made us all slightly nervous with his saber (j/k) he managed to get it open without taking anyone's eyes out and we raised our glasses to the season. 

Now, when at a place like Rock Bottom, you have to recognize that you are about to indulge in some comfort food. In other words, don't go to Rock Bottom and order a salad, first of all because the burger will be better and secondly, once all the dressing and toppings are said and eaten, you may as well have had the burger. With this in mind, we got their RB Appetizer Sampler which came in two tiers.

On the top, we had southwestern rolls, which were my favorite: (pulled chicken, black beans, corn, roasted red peppers and Jack Pepper Jack Cheese), firecracker shrimp, Green Chili Fried Mac n' Cheese and their famous ball park pretzel.
The second tier was their jalapeno, spinach and cheese dip, which was a little high on cheese and low on jalapenos.
I loved it all, the only item I was less enthused about was the green chili mac n' cheese balls.  This was only because there was a bit too much fried batter and not enough cheesey mac...
Once this was cleared we moved onto desserts, another sure forté of Rock Bottom, one I was again relieved to see survived the remodeling.
We ordered their Pint Glass Sundae, complete with Espresso Chip Ice cream, chocolate wafers, candied walnuts, whipped cream and fudge. It was delicious and just the right thing to mix with the other two desserts.

Their original  carrot cake was a must and proved to remain a staple RB order.
Third we ordered their White Chocolate Bread Pudding which was my least favorite of the three, but still a a strong contender in the bread pudding business. The latter tends to be a diffiult dessert to make and RB does a good job, this one was a bit on the subtle side, but perhaps this was just in relation to the other desserts it was competing with at the time.
Either way, everything we ordered was great, the prices remain in the mid range for the type of food, but the area and portions make it a pretty good deal.  I always look forward to a meal at Rock Bottom and won't be waiting until the end of another season for my next one!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fun in the sun by the Charles

It seemed like the sun had gotten the memo about Earth Fest this Saturday.  After a whole week of awful, cold and bleak weather, the sun was out and shining like it had never been away! It was a perfect way to spend the day by the Charles all in honour of the Earth.
I hope you had the opportunity to get out and about, even if you didn't make it to the Hatchshell. In case you didn't here are a few highlights:
Little 'eco-tips' could be found at regular intervals with tib bits of information concerning different aspects of the environment.

Along with the food for thought, there was food for the body as well...Look at these buns! From Whole Foods bakery, they were pilled high and ready for snacking.

The Whole Foods tent is always a highlight, they have stations with different recipes out for sampling, this was their black bean and corn salad. They were also offering some delicious goat cheese and mushroom quesadilla and white or red bean toasts. 

The Whole Foods tent also features cooking demos throughout the day. These are always entertaining and best of all, they give out samples to the delicious foods they make...yummm

Of course a real highlight is the day long concert at the HatchShell. Luckily, when my mother and I went the grounds were just begining to fill, so we got to stroll around amidst the booths and get a great view of the main stage.
This festival is always a highlight in Boston, right on the cusp of spring turning to summer, it is a great way to re-connect with the environment and get savvy on all the latest eco trends!
Until 2012!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Just a reminder to everyone that tomorrow, Saturday 21st of May is EarthFest! I suppose this will only be so long as the world does not end...

I would suggest getting down to the Hatch Shell by the Charles a bit earlier in the day to stake out a good spot where you can see the stage, not to mention so you can have a good go round the sample booths before it gets too crazy.
I think the weather should be alright in the begining, but it may get a bit bring an umbrella!
For more info:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Your next caffeine fix arives at AREA IV in Cambridge

The industrial feel of Technology Square in Cambridge is one that suggests busy schedules, long business meetings and other facets of the many different companies who have set up shop in this area. It's definately a place where a good espresso and something tasty would go a long way. Lucky for those who live or work in the neighborhood, Area IV, a coffee-house/soon to be full-menu restaurant opened shop yesterday (May 16th).
A friend and I went down to check it out. The place is so spanking new that it doesn't yet have a sign up, we missed it the first go around.  A pile of wood indicates where the restaurant is due to open a week from now.
However, they do have a few things under control even at this early stage. A lot of their decor is actually from the Persephone/Achilles Project, which closed its doors a while back in South Boston but was conceptualized by the same people (notably, Michel Krupp).  The extendable tables and stools fit nicely in the new space and give it an industrial/workshop appeal.

I particularly enjoyed the upside down jugs and tea pots turned into dangling light fixtures.
Of course, the coffee itself, all locally obtained and freshly brewed is an attribute, as are the staff, who are all trained in coffee-art; a mesmerizing talent that allows for very pretty objects embedded in any beverage topped with foam.
Area IV had other little quirks that I enjoyed, for instance, their collection of old school wooden games really tickled my fancy. You never know when you will be bored into a game of solitaire in a coffee house!
I was also very impressed when I asked my usual question of 'What do you do with your baked goods at the end of the day?'.  Their answer was that they had already contacted Lovin Spoonfuls, a boston based mini-team that goes around collecting surplus food from bakeries and restaurants and redistributes it to the homeless...A+!
Once the restaurant part of this project opens up, this little corner of Technology Square will be quite the favorite for a while.  The real question is whether the place is good enough to surpasse the usual 'new comer novelty' phase in a couple months time!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hungry? This mother has you covered!

Many of you have perhps heard of 'The Hungry Mother', a southern stronghold in Cambridge.  I have been to many different restaurants in Boston and Cambridge combined and yet this is the first time I have experienced such an excellent undertaking of southern flare...which is no easy feat!
The Hungry Mother resides at 233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave and looks just like any other apartment building in the area. It has an understated sign dangling above the door and even once inside you think you have mistakenly stepped into someone's kitchen.

I immediately recognised the attention to detail when I noticed the southern style and swagger adopted by the staff. Don't get me wrong though, everything was exectued with such subtlety, nothing was over the top or pretentious feeling.  Glasses of water were served in various jam jars, all the bar tools and ingredients were set out or preserved in unique and odd shaped was really as though you were in a home of southern comfort!

Although the cocktail menu looked incredibly tantalizing and Ned, the bar tender was shaking away behind his station, my friend and I opted for white wine and went straight onto our food order. We decided to get a few dishes and share...which is generally my style of ordering food.
We started with their salad special which was smoked trout, apple, candied pecan, slaw and grapefruit mixed with greens and a buttermilk dressing...(ummm ya, it was as good as it sounds).

We also ordered their country ham biscuits which came as shown above with a generous helping of their spiced jelly.  I loved the bite-sized biscuits and the ham was really tasty although I would have preferred thicker slices. The jelly really took the limelight and I proceeded to spread the remainder onto the homemade bread they serve throughout the meal.

Out of the main dishes we opted for the pecan catfish presented on a bed of vegetable rice and arugula.  It was divine, perfectly cooked and lightly coated in a crumbled pecan mixture that was both sweet and salty.  The sauce was so delicious I had to ask for another slice of bread to sop it all up.

I could not resist a side order of their grits either, made with nothing but the best ingredients and covered with bacon and cheddar cheese - totally traditional and just the way they were meant to be served.  My friend was dually impressed...someone who had turned his nose up to grits before this experience.

We finished every last bite of food and did not have much room or time for dessert...So we got the check and I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see that the hospitality continued right until the very end with little fudgey amuse-bouches. A nice way to round out a solid, southern meal.
It is worth a trip out to Cambridge anyday, this restaurant is yet another attribute of the area.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Earth Fest is fast approaching!

Taking a day to commemorate the earth is something that does not happen enough.  I suppose though, that while we put in for more earth related festivities, we can definately be thankful for the ones in circulation at the moment.  Most notable among earth awareness days in boston, is Radio 92.9 Earth Fest; a day full of amazing artists, amazing foods and fun, all the while promoting respect and awareness for the Earth.
Sound like something you might be interested in? I know I am! In fact, since I have come to Boston, four years ago, I have been to Earth Fest every single time. From KT Tunstall, to Gunster to Cake, Earth Fest, sponsored by Whole Foods (you know what that means...SAMPLES!!!) brings together prominent artists who advocate earth friendliness and awareness.

This year, we can look forward to appearances from national and local artists among which we have Atomic Tom, Sponge, OK go and Ed Kowalczyk. I am no music buff, but I do know that these bands are worth checking out.
Earth Fest will be on the 21st of May, so two saturdays from now. As always, it will be held at the Hatch Shell along the Charles River.
Stop by at some point during the day to sample earth friendly food products, to learn more about eco-conscious and other environmental organisations and to cheer on the artists.  It is a great and fun way to participate in something really important and meaningful.
From past experience, I would like to remind everyone to pick up their trash...after all, if we are trying to spread awareness of the care we should exercise towards our mother earth...this is really the most obvious and easiest effort everyone should start with!
For more information on the artists, sponsors and other activities, visit:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Much Deserved Desserts

There is nothing that makes me happier than an offer like the one above. These little pieces of joy were to be found in the playbills handed out on Thursday for the opening night of Bella Figura at the Boston Opera House. I snagged a couple, as is my usual style when it comes to coupons (you never know when they might come in handy!) and as it turns out, they make for  the perfect post-performance treat!

My friend and I had the show off and we decided to go and put the coupons to good use at Petit Robert Central, conveniently located a few blocks away from the Opera House.
 This restaurant, the third Petit Robert location, is in a prime spot for business crowds and theatre go-ers.  On this particular night, it was very quiet, which was nice - there was no wait and we had our pick of seats. We decided on two bar seats and proceeded to order.
We each got a drink, featuring St. Germain...who could have guessed? Mine was a delicious concoction the bartender invented with St. Germain, Orange flavoured vodka and fresh grapefuit juice.  The whole thing is topped with some champagne which floats and cuts the strongness of the other flavours.  It has become my new favorite drink. My friend ordered their tequila st. Germain drink which was complex and delightful - perfect for the coming summer weather.
For desserts, we ordered their Giant profiterole (below): 

And their Gâteau au Chocolat Petit Robert, which is a decadent chocolate cake, soaked in liqueur with layers of rich fudge frosting.  I am a tough critic when it comes to chocolate cakes, and this one did quite well. It was just moist enough and the added kick from the liqueur was a really nice touch.  The dish was accompanied by a chocolate Eiffel Tower - I could you go wrong? I will say however that had I paid the 10 dollars for it, I would have been a bit disappointed by the portion...

The service was exceptional, our bartender was very attentive and apart from a couple of glitches on the bill - all of which were taken care of immediately, the entire experience was enjoyable. I would go back even without my barricade of coupons...that is saying something!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The closest I will ever get to El Bulli...

For those of you who are familiar with the term 'molecular gastronomy', you may also have heard a thing or two about El Bulli - the stronghold of inventive and experimental cuisine located in Spain. Headed by Ferran Adrià and his team of culinary geniuses, El Bulli is one of the single most sought after foodie experiences in the world.
In this year's Independent Film Festival, from the 27th of April to the 4th of May, a documentary on the inner workings of this phenomenon was put on earlier this evening in Davis Square.  As per usual, it never takes much to get me to this area, I love everything about it.  The fact that a rare documentary about my fantasy restaurant was going to be presented was like a chocolate covered cherry on top!
I dragged two of my friends along with me and sincerely hoped they enjoyed it at least half as much as I did.  Luckily, we managed to skip this long wait...

The somerville theater houses many interesting spectacles, and they always do it with style.  Little details like their old school popcorn boxes are always much appreciated!

The documentary was amazing and informative and I have never been so excited about food and its limitless dimnesions.  Who would have thought you would make a ravioli with an exterior that disappears when dipped in water?  The chefs that worked at El Bulli are more than culinary specialists, they are artists and scientists all in one with creative outlets that continue to expand.  I think my favorite innovations were these little pine nut twigs drizzled with honey or this crazy dish that combined mini tangerines, ice , olive oil and green olives.  They also spent a lot of time trying to create a cocktail with peanut oil. 
Everything is trial and error for these guys and the question is always, 'Does this make sense?'.  It is not just taste that matters, it is an entire package.  Presentation, texture, colour, smell and taste all come together to create an emotion or to rescucitate a childhood memory.  Simply put, every bite is an experience.
Throughout the whole documentary I was just thinking to myself, this is what I want to experience, I need to get myself to this place.  You can thus imagine my disappointment when I realised that they just recently closed their doors...
On the bright side however, they are going to be continuing their research and experimental practices so as to continue fueling the molecular gastronomy trend of contemporary cooking.  At least I know it's out there...all I need to do is start chipping away at it!
In case you are interested in El Bulli and its history, visit:
Beware...once you have been exposed to this kind of innovation...there is no going back!