Monday, March 26, 2012

TW Food - where music and food come together on a Sunday

T.W. Food, a restaurant tucked away on Walden Street, near Huron Village in Cambridge, has been on my list for about two years....TWO years! It was like one of those awful recurring nightmares where, try as you might, you just can't get to the door. (In fact, I think I had a dream about not being able to get past the door to T.W. Food was very scary).  
Fortunately, not only was I able to put a stop to this nightmare, but I was able to hit it clean out of the park with not only one visit, but the same week! I tried their dinner and their Sunday Jazz brunch, because not only is Tim Weichmann a formidable chef, but he is also a Jazz enthusiast and livens up his guests' Sunday mornings with a Jazz trio in which he plays the guitar. 

What struck me immediately at this restaurant, was the attention to detail, not only in the food but in the decor as well. Run by Tim and his wife, Bronwyn, no stone is left unturned and to me it was obvious from the moment I laid eyes on the small and modest, but exquisitely maintained front entrance.

 When I went for dinner, it was Restaurant Week, and although I have my reservations about this concept, T.W. Food is a fine place to try out.  They do nothing to minimize their menu and the quality of service and food is top.  Above is just one example of the beautiful art the team creates with every dish.  This golden beet salad with horseradish 'gelee' was as tasty and interesting as it was pretty.

 I want to move right on to the Brunch however, because it was with this meal that the restaurant really came into its own.  As I mentioned before, the Sunday Brunch is a jazz brunch where Tim, himself, plays with two other musicians throughout the 10-2 service.  The combination of music and great food, fills the space with a sense of community and friendship that is truly personable.
You can select from a Prix Fixe menu, three courses for 31 dollars (really quite a good deal!), or a la carte that offers the same items. Our table did a mix and ended up with a good deal of food...which was fine by me - seeing as I ended up taking home all the left overs:)
To start, we had their bakery plate with a chocolate-almond muffin, currant scones and house-made jam. I love starting my Sunday off with some delicious baked goods;)

 We also got an order of Tim's petite charcuterie duo - chicken liver mousse and pork rillettes.  Both were good, but I have such a weakness for liver mousse and Chef Tim's was velvety and smooth:)

 For the main dish, we tried pretty much one of everything, and I am very glad to say that at T.W. Food, the eggs are done well! You might think it is a given that eggs are cooked properly at a brunch-serving restaurant, but I have been to far too many establishments that fail to grasp this subtle art.  I ordered their Vermont Smoked Beef Brisket which had a great smokey flavor and was topped with two beautifully poached eggs.....the yolks were a fresh yellow and you can tell they are ready to ooze out at the slightest pressure:) As usual, the biscuit had me all in a dither!

 There was a great french toast dish, two omelettes (goat's milk cheese and one with house-cured ham) and a very tasty local shellfish chowder, but my second favorite dish was without a doubt the creamy, scrambled egg (served wittingly in a martini glass) and grilled 'comte' cheese with apple.  The grilled cheese sandwich was crisp and sharp and the egg was so creamy and was a surprising match, made somewhere divine:)
 Of course, a prix fixe would not be complete without dessert and although many people may find it 'too early' for dessert, I think it fits right in! To my surprise, I leaned towards their pear tarte with almond frangipane and salted caramel ice cream (yummers).  The flavors worked so well together and it made for a perfect spring-time treat.
Also of note was their chocolate budino: a jar of rich, dark chocolate, topped with a hint of sea salt and olive oil (talk about decadence!) and their lavender creme brulee. I am a fan of the traditional creme brulee, but this version was pulled off well with only a hint of lavender (sometimes it can be overbearing).
By the end of the meal, I was in such a state of bliss. Sitting in the small dining room, with the jazz strumming away in the corner and the kitchen team cooking up a storm, you feel like you are just hanging with friends...and if that is not spot on for a Sunday brunch...I don't know what is.
Hopefully I make it back soon:)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Lone Star Taco Bar in Brighton

 This past weekend was the first 'real' two-day weekend I have had since the 28th of January.  When we move to the Opera House, we switch to our performance schedule, which involves a Tuesday-Sunday work week and a consequent farewell to good ol' two-day weekends.  
So you can image that I would be filled with glee at the opportunity to explore a full two days' worth of adventures:)
As my previous post documenting my Saturday night can attest, I think I can feel pretty good about my inventory.  It would be shame however, to skip over my trip to Lone Star Taco bar, which I managed to fit in on Saturday morning...
  Located in Allston and just recently opened, this taco bar is a sister of Deep Ellum, a much loved, local craft-beer and food spot.
The interior is a simple long room with a full length and tequila heavy bar on one side and wooden benches and metal tables lining the other.  With a huge buffalo head overseeing the whole venue, it has a distinct Texan feel which is fitting, seeing as 'Deep Ellum' is in fact an area in Dallas known for its live music and culture.

 The menu is organized in small-portion items with tacos being their main attraction.  My friends and I decided to try an array of different numbers and shared them all.  We started with an order of the 'made fresh-to-order' guacamole.  It came served in a large bowl, boasting big lumps of avocado, onions and freshness all around. I really loved the chips, which were crispy and fried. (I have to give my friend credit for the shark fin certainly gave the dish a super dangerous look:) )

As far as tacos go, priced at 4 dollars each, we ordered pretty much all of them.  Above, we have their beer battered and fried fish taco with red cabbage slaw and their beef brisket taco. Lone Star has a great approach, simple and fresh ingredients...they achieved this motto with every taco, making each one a delight.

One of my personal favorites was their tofu and avocado taco. This vegetarian option came with sweet and crunchy corn salsa and black beans.  The different flavors and textures really made for an eclectic bite every time. 
The carnitas, aka, pork, taco was also a hit. The blend of herbs, cotija cheese and the perfectly cooked meat, had my friends and I fighting for the last bite:)

A taco joint would not be legitimate without traditional street corn.  I do not know exactly what does into this dish, but it is pure genius.  Some kind of combo of cojita cheese and fresh cream with a kick of chili powder make this snack something to look out for and at Lone Star, they do not disappoint:)

Seeing as it was a Saturday morning, we felt we should at least pretend to have some kind of breakfast staple, luckily, they had a great Huevos Rancheros for us to add to the table. Two home-made corn tortillas topped with an incredibly vibrant and colorful ragout of vegetables, beans, two almost perfectly (could have been more goo-ey) eggs and fresh avocado.  Each ingredient individually was delicious and so you can imagine the effect when you get a bite that has all components fused together...yum.
I would have liked a bit of chorizo or something, I think it needed a bit of spice and some kind of meat.
All in all, Lone Star Taco Bar is a great place to kick back with some Mexican beer, or a tequila inspired cocktail and some really fresh and tasty tacos. 
This is an honest spot, nothing too fancy, but good and affordable...too bad they are not open late:)

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Triple Bill in Central

 For my first official post as the Foodista on Pointe, I have decided that the documentation of a well-rounded evening of excellent food and culture would be a perfect kick off.
This past Saturday night, a couple of friends and I were very excited to see one of our Physical Therapists from Boston Ballet perform at Green Street Studios right near Central Square.  Seeing as we are usually the ones performing, it is such a treat to get to sit and enjoy another company perform.  What made our evening even more fun, were the two stops we made before and after for our tummies and some libations:)
 Our first stop was at Thelonious Monkfish, a sushi restaurant in the heart of Central Square.  We arrived at 6 30 and were lucky to get one of the super comfy, Japanese-style tables.  I was very impressed to see these seating arrangements as I have not seen them since I had sushi in Singapore this summer. At these tables, you sit on a cushion on the floor by a very low table. It creates a very relaxed, zen-like atmosphere:)

Although you cannot see the low tables, the rest of the restaurant is set up as shown above, with regular two or four top tables and an impressive sushi-bar where chefs are busy whipping together some beautiful rolls and pieces.

Once we were settled, we ordered their sashimi sampler to start.  An assortment of vibrant, fresh fish came out; the tuna was a deep red-pink and had a distinctly sweet fishy taste. I was most impressed by the mackerel however, which was sooo tender.  A good test for any sushi restaurant is their raw fish, and on this level, Thelonious Monkfish did not disappoint!

The menu here is extensive, serving much more than sushi.  They had a number of interesting sounding soups and I found it incredibly difficult to make a decision. In the end I went with their mushroom-ginger soup. It was delicious! A light, ginger spice added to vegetable broth with shiitake, julienne, shoots of ginger and enoki. Next time I will have to try their duck pickled lime soup...or their kimchee rice soup...YUM!

Of course, I could not resist ordering an order of sushi.  Again, with all the interesting rolls, it was difficult to make a choice. (I mean how can you ignore a 'Gaga Monster roll'?) In the end, I went for Fashion Maki: bbq eel, cream cheese and cucumber drizzled in their house-special sauce. As with their fresh fish, their sushi ingredients were fresh, vibrant and tasty:)

The whole reason we ended up in Central was to see the Contrapose Dance company perform.  The show was at 8 oclock and held in the largest studio at Green Street Studios.  It ran about an hour and a half and featured different choreographers, both local and remote. There is something really special about being in an intimate space with a group of impassioned artists who are giving so much.  The audience was packed and involved and it is a real pity this dance company does not make more appearances..although I am already looking forward to whatever they do next!

Once the show was over and all the dancers congratulated, we headed over to Brick and Mortar, a bar that has recently replaced the former Enormous Room - one of Central's quirkiest dance spots. Brick and Mortar embodies the same 'removed and understated' quality of Enormous Room with its location being completely unmarked.  In fact, I decided not to take any pictures of the exterior or the interior so that you can have the fun of discovering it yourself!
I will say however, that the inside has been refurbished into a great, lounge-y space with a long, half-oval shaped bar.  The staff are very attentive (which is definitely not how Enormous Room used to operate), the drinks are different and well-made and they have some snack items that are enough to make your mouth water...take for instance, their 'Devils on horseback', aka, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, or their Duck confit and gruyere fries...pictured above.
Brick and Mortar is a great spot to hit up for a casual drink and I would be eager to take it up for dinner as well.
All in all, our evening was a great mix of food and art.  Boston is a fantastic city and many interesting endeavors await at your fingertips.  Get out and take advantage - I know I plan on doing just that! Here comes the foodista on pointe:)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Food and culture - transitioning towards the Foodista on Pointe!

Writing a blog is a lot of work.  You have to plan posts, keep new ideas coming and promote them so that people are actually aware of what you are going on about.  Of course, if you write a blog, chances are you enjoy writing...and you are most likely interested in what you are writing about.  In my case, I do love writing, and I certainly enjoy everything to do with food.  
This past weekend, my father was visiting from England and as always, I was very keen on introducing him to some of my recent favorite spots. As we were going about, I realized just how much I have gained from this blog and just how much it has grown.
Since I started writing this page (almost two years ago now!), it has spread its own wings and evolved as much as I feel I have.  As one might expect from a couple years of exploring a food scene, I have become much more familiar and comfortable with Boston's culinary community, this includes other food enthusiasts and the plethora of different restaurants. Throughout this journey, my frugality has become slightly some of you may have noticed of late.
While my father was here, we had some great chats and one of them revolved around the concept of food and what it is that most intrigues me.  Nowadays, I am less interested in being frugal (although as a dancer, being frugal is still something I hold dear), instead I find more interest in experiencing what food has to offer, not only for my stomach, but for my soul.  There is such an intrinsic relationship between food and culture, food and art. 

The more I think about this, the more I see that my blog has evolved into something that comments on food as an integrated element of our society, as something more than physical nourishment.  It is a reflection of our very person, it is the instrument of many an artist and for me, this is where I would like to take this blog.
As a dancer and artist myself, I would like to veer towards a blog that explores food as an element of culture.  Boston's food scene is an incredibly exciting place these days and I intend to stay 'on pointe' with what's going on in and around Boston's food community, exploring food as an inherent reflection of the city and its people. 
The fact that most of this realization came over a dinner at Beacon Hill Bistro, a place ripe with beautifully presented food and a highly enthusiastic Chef Lewin, is not a huge surprise:) With all of this being said, I would like to bid adieu to the frugal foodista and hello to the Foodista on Pointe!
Thank you to all of my readers for keeping this blog alive and thriving through your support and interest - here's to the next chapter!
(Expect some changes to the site within the next couple of weeks!)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Industry Brunch at Trina's

For those of us who work in the entertainment industry, whether it's as a performing artist, a chef, waiter or any other profession of that nature, weekend brunch is just not feasible. As a dancer, once we start performing, our week goes from Tuesday through Sunday with Monday being our day off. I cannot tell you how difficult it is sometimes to be setting off to work on a Sunday morning when it seems as though everyone else is strolling out of their homes and restaurants are emitting sinful aromas of bacon and eggs.
Luckily, in the heart of Inman Square, where many a great food related endeavors take place, Trina's Starlite Lounge has our interests at heart with its Monday 'Industry' Brunch.
I have known about this phenomenon for quite some time and finally made it down to check it out this past Monday, after a weekend of performing Play With Fire.

Trina's us a tiny little cut out of a building on Beacon Street and it has the strong feel of a good ol' diner.  The inside is a bit dark, but sitting by the window on a sunny day..well, there was enough light to take decent pictures:)

Being with a couple of other food bloggers, we decided to try out all three 'start it up' items.  Just as well we didn't try to pick and choose, they were all great! Above we have their corn fritters served with a honey dipping sauce.  The crispy outside was thin and became a simple contrast to the creamy goodness on the inside once you took a bite.

The Breakfast Poppers were also a success with a surprise of sausage and cheese tucked away on the inside of the spicy Jalapeno.  We all loved the cheddar cream sauce that came for dipping and we kept it at our table for future use...just in case:) I did find that the batter on the Poppers was more fried than the corn fritters, but perhaps you need a more crisp outer layer to hold up to the pepper...
My personal favorite was their homemade Pop-tart of the day.  Monday's flavor was raspberry, the soft, phyllo pastry came filled with berry tasty fruit and a fine layer of delicious glaze.
For our meals, Kathy ordered their 'Ay Caramba' benny which was basically a twist on your usual eggs Benedict.  Black bean cake, 2 over easy eggs and spinach came topped on an open faced, griddled bagel and doused with a spicy hollandaise.  It was something quite special!

Another great item was ordered by Rachel, she chose their bananas-foster french toast: two thick slabs of challah bread served with caramelized bananas and thick, whipped cream. The taste I tried certainly had me craving more...but I had my own meal to tend to...
Always being the most difficult customer, I ordered their breakfast bagel sandwich, but instead of their bagel, I requested their house-made Buttermilk Biscuit. (In my could you possibly see such a thing on a menu and not order it!?) I ended up being very happy with my decision.  2 eggs over easy, muenster, avocado and lettuce came perfectly piled atop a huge buttermilk biscuit...heaven on a Monday morning!
Here is another shot, just in case you could not gather the gargantuan size from the first picture...oh and PS...I somehow managed to finish the entire number:)
After this great start to my Monday, I was able to go about a great many things on my to-do list. I suppose there is one thing that I do love about having Mondays off...and that is going to the grocery store when it is not full of crazed-fanatics rushing to get all their staples for the week.
With Trina's Industry brunch...I don't think I have much to complain about:)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Secret Secret:)

There is something undeniably thrilling about being in on a secret. Perhaps it's the exclusivity of it, the 'hush-hush' of it all or maybe just the thought that if people are not begging you to let them in on's probably because they don't even know what they are missing out on.
One of my most recent favorite 'secret' has in fact been around for a while.  It won't surprise many of you that I am referring to a 'secret dinner' of sorts people refer to as 'pop-up dinners'.  As with many secrets, pop-ups are not on display and it's not until you start looking out for them that you realize just how rich and lush the Greater Boston's pop-up scene really is.
Most people ask: what exactly is a 'Pop-up'? There are many answers. It is a term which can be used to describe an individual or group that throws a dinner party in a given location for one night.  It can be in a restaurant (like the Celebrity Chef series at Stella or Guchi's Midnight Ramen), a person's home, or an entirely different location, like a retail store. Pop-ups can also be businesses which sprout up in unused locations for a limited time, like Dore Creperie.
Different as they may be, all pop-ups share two things - first, they are always shrouded in some kind of secrecy to heighten anticipation and novelty and second, they always end up bringing together a mix of people from all walks of life. Without fail, attending a pop-up is an interesting and enlightening experience!
This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to check out a pop-up dinner in a series that has just been launched.  Unfortunately, I cannot give away the location, that is part of the puzzle leading up to your invitation to dinner. I can say however, that its concept is vegan, Afro-Cuban street food....and lots of Bubbles:)
I was especially excited about this dinner as it was a super secret pop-up, aka, it was the rehearsal for the actual launching of the series called, Barrio Pop-up Dinner. Keep reading and you will find the email that will get you one step closer to getting in on the next one!

The dinner began at 8 30 and I was very happy to see some familiar food blogger faces waiting just as eagerly as I for the door to open. Once inside, a glass of delicious Champagne was handed to us and shortly thereafter we were taken to the dinner room.  The space is small but comfortably fits about twelve people and has been made specifically for pop-up events.  It even has a demonstration kitchen and funky art work to boot!

To our surprise and many people's delight, we were soon instructed to get chopping. A large assortment of fruits and vegetables were placed in front of us and we were told to help chop the ingredients for our salad.  (I keenly steered far away from the pineapple and settled for a much less intimidating bunch of carrots).

The fruits of our labor (pun intended) were not wasted and we saw our fine skills placed on top of a bed of mixed greens constituting the first course.  Jicama, carrots, tomatoes, mango and pineapple all piled high on our plate made for a tasty and colorful medley. We were also given a skewer with grilled corn coated in crumbly cheese with a nice kick.  It was delicious! (I surreptitiously managed to procure a second skewer:) )

Another surprise was delivered once our salad plates had been cleared, this one came in the form of two scoops of Wild Blueberry and goat cheese ice cream. Talk about a stroke of genius! It served simultaneously as a palate cleanser and a hot topic of conversation. This got my table going on a tangent that veered towards the wonders of pairing chocolate and cheese...yumm:)

A ratatouille of sorts was served next with eggplant, zucchini and roasted peppers.  I am not sure it was supposed to be served cold, but the spicy salsa verde certainly helped heat it up again:)

For the main course, we were given a plate piled high with traditional Cuban street food - rice and beans, collard greens and fried plantains (which they thankfully brought out extra of.  Two soft tacos were filled with vegan chicken and green apple curry.  I was curious about how you make vegan chicken, but the big boss aka... Ice T, would not let me in on that secret...but I suppose some must be kept:)
It was pretty tasty, however I was not too crazy about the texture.
Unfortunately, the dessert, which was one of the best parts of the meal for me, cannot be disclosed would give too much away! 
All I can say is that after all of this delicious food and magical champagne flutes that somehow managed to refill themselves throughout, room must be left for the real treat that ends the meal.
Barrio Pop-up Dinner is going to be a great hit.  Once people get it on their radar they will be bombarding the correspondent to get a spot. 
Boston's food scene is always evolving, with pop-ups sprouting up here and there, there is always something new and exciting to look forward to. As for me, I am still looking to get in on a Guchi Midnigt Ramen pop-up and a couple of others...I am also looking forward to discovering more Pop-ups in and around Boston!
As promised, here is the email you should contact to get a spot at the next Barrio Pop-up Dinner (March 8th):