Food talk from a person who enjoys eating (and often eats too much)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mmm...Cherry Beer

I promised to write about food and drink, so here it is-Cherry Beer!

Introduced to me by a beer connoisseur, this Lindemans Kriek Lambic is a great drink to have alone or pair with just about any food. This beer is definitely different from your typical Budweiser. The Kriek Lambic is fermented and then black cherries are added to obtain the sweet flavor. Lindemans also makes other flavors of Lambic, including peach ("Pecheresse"), which is also a great beer.

I also like that Lambic's are low in alcohol, so you can have more than two glasses and not be knocked off your feet. They're a great drink to offer at cocktail parties too, and not very expensive. I got this bottle at Whole Foods for just $10! Not bad for the quality of the drink. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lunch: perhaps the most difficult meal

I've always had some sort of love/hate relationship with lunch. What kind of food to eat, where to eat, how much to eat, light or heavy, hot or cold, leftovers, cafeteria, restaurant? Making all of these decisions within your short lunch break time can cause the even the wisest foodie to get frustrated. I often find myself pushing back the lunch hour because I can't even make a decision before I leave my desk! 

I thought a lot about where I could go for my 45 minute lunch break--somewhere that was fast, but not fast food, tasty, but not too fattening, and had a nice atmosphere, but wasn't too popular to have to fight for a seat. And of course, the most important factor: location. If you can't find a restaurant/deli/bar/eatery that is close enough to work/school, you can simply cross it off the list. 

So far, I've found a few places that work for me. I work in Brighton, bordering Allston and Watertown. Three of these places are chains, so if you can find one around your work/school, I'd say its your best bet for some good food at lunchtime. 

Top 5 Lunch Places
1. Panera Bread- With a huge menu, Panera has a variety of items to order from so it doesn't get old. Many of the sandwiches have distinct tastes which you won't find at usual deli's. Soups and salads are also reliable, always tasty and surprising low in calories. 
2. Bugaboo Creek Steak House- After avoiding this place for months due to its funny name, I finally gave it a try and decided I was the crazy one! Great food from sandwiches to salads to soup. The service is quick and food is always served hot. They're also good about letting you customize orders--ex: grilled salmon instead of chicken on salads, etc--which is always a plus.
3. La Casa de Pedro- A great place for salads and light lunches, especially if you're tired of the same old lunch options at other places. The Latino flare is sure to give your taste buds something new to savor.
4. Marty's Liquor, Allston- As odd as it sounds to have a sandwich shop in a liquor store, Marty's certain does it right! Best sandwiches and alcohol, all in one place, what's there not to love? Order up one of the Marty's specialties sandwiches or make your own.
5. Whole Foods Market- Did you see this one coming? Whole Foods is, not only one of my most favorite places on earth, but also a great place to get lunch. Most locations have a counter for customers, so you don't have to eat in your car. They carry everything, from pre-made salads to tuna salad to soup to BBQ sandwiches...and on and on and on. If you can find a Whole Foods near you, consider yourself lucky!

If you know of anywhere that you think belongs on my Top 5 list, tell me! I'm always up for trying new places. Also check out my past post with a list of great restaurants around Boston, if you have more time for lunch and want some really top-notch food. 

UPDATE: If you're eating anything resembling this Pancake-Sausage on a Stick, I would like to personally offer my condolences, and severely urge you to try one of the above restaurants. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Un pequeño México in Boston

Every once in a while, your taste buds yearn for something different. Something exotic. Something that all East Coasters can't get enough of...Mexican food. 

So with my taste buds screaming for some guacamole and salsa, a friend and I headed over to Cambridge for some authentic Mexican food at Ole. Expecting the traditional taco and burrito menu, I was pleasantly surprised at the menu which included duck and even lobster! Though I'm not sure either of these are "traditional" Mexican dishes, I appreciated the variety that Ole has to offer. I also appreciated the moderate prices for the quality of food here! Here's a clip of what we had:

Drinks: SANGRIA- Refreshing and delicious! Great prices when you buy by the pitcher, not the glass. 
Appetizer: GUACAMOLE EN MOLCAJETE and SALSA -Made fresh at the table, this guac was incredible! Just the right amount of each ingredient allowed for each flavor to be cherished. 
Entree:  CHICKEN ENCHILADA - Although I probably should have chosen something just for the variety, Enchilada's are like the Mexican version of Mom's Meatloaf on a cold, rainy night, which it was when we went. The side of "Creama Fresca" (translation: creme fresh) was a nice alternative to regular sour cream. You also get to choose between ranchera and mole poblano sauce, giving you even more options. If you're feeling lucky, go ahead and get both!
Dessert: CARVEL ICE CREAM CAKE -Okay, so we were too stuffed by the time we finished dinner to eat right dessert at Ole. I suggested Birthday Cake and some genius suggested Carvel Ice Cream Cake with "Happy Birthday" written on top. 

The one downfall at Ole is the parking lot behind the restaurant is usually packed. Try parking one street over for free parking after 6 pm. Just make sure you don't end up in resident parking, or else you may have another $40 bill when you leave. 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vegas v. Boston

After a week long stay in Fabulous Las Vegas I started to think about all the fabulous food I had along the way. Although nothing trumps room service (read: I'm lazy), the food really was spectacular. On the plane ride back, my friend said that she didn't think the food in Boston was comparable. I, however, disagree. I'm glad to say that I found the food in Vegas really tasty, but I think that Boston does have really good food. I will admit that our restaurants aren't nearly as decorative as Vegas', but then again, when it comes down to it--I'll take good food over good decor any day. 

During some part of the 5 hour plane ride back, I made of list of places that I thought were comparable to the places we ate at in Vegas. If you ever do go to Vegas, this list is probably a good starting place for where to dine. In the meantime, at least you can rest assured that your not completely missing out!

Las Vegas 
1. Dos Caminos at the Palazzo - Great Mexican food, lots of choices in tequila and even had Sangrita, which is extremely hard to find in Boston.       
2. Canter's Deli at Treasure Island -Mile high sandwiches with fresh meats and breads. Also had my first frozen custard here!
3. The Grille at the Golden Nugget-Another quick sandwich place in Downtown Las Vegas that had the best hot dogs and fries. I almost felt like I was at Fenway with the Sports betting going on right behind the Grille. 
4. Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian -A 24/7 cafe serving an array of food items. Finding this place at 5 am for breakfast was a treat!
5. Joe's at the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace-I'm clearly biased since the Original Joe's is in Miami Beach, but they had wonderful seafood which was a nice change from the typical steakhouse in Vegas. 

Boston Counterparts
1. La Verdad Taqueria -Amazing Mexican food in a fun and decorative atmosphere. And yes, they serve Sangrita.
2. Zaftigs in Brookline - You can't go wrong at this classic Jewish deli. From sandwiches to cupcakes, this place will definitely fill you up just like your Jewish Grandma did!
3. Spike's Junkyard Dogs - For dogs and fries, this place can't be beat. Order one of the specialty dogs or just go for the Mutt (plain dog on a roll), everything is delicious.
4. Finale -Grand Lux Cafe is actually very hard to match since it does have a wide variety of food. I would have said Cheesecake Factory, but since it's owned by the same person, I wanted to suggest something different. Although, CF does deserve its round of applause for its consistently delicious food and desserts. 
5. Union Oyster House in Faneuil Hall- Without a doubt, better than any other seafood place in Boston! 

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Adventurous American Cuisine or Trying Too Hard?

It's Friday night and a girlfriend and I are looking for a comfortable, affordable place to dine that has good food and drinks. After much web-surfing on and, we settled on Tremont647. Located in the South End, the "American" eatery attempts to serve traditional food with a hint of adventure. Case in point: bacon wrapped prunes are now brandy soaked prunes with fall spices wrapped in bacon. While this sounds like a good idea, truth is that is brandy is too strong and takes away from the flavor of the prunes and bacon. Even when taken in small bites, this dish is trying too hard, like many of the other dishes here. Even the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp was overdosed in spiciness and disguised any hint of BBQ flavor. 

There were some saving graces at Tremont647. Namely, the cocktails were excellent. I had a Pineapple Martini, which was made with house infused pineapple vodka, Vanilla Stoli and simple syrup. My friend had a raspberry vodka gimlet, made with house infused raspberry vodka, fresh lime juice and simple syrup.  The Wedge and Beet and Goat Cheese Salads were also tasty. And, the truffle, parmesan-rosemary fries were good. Although, I've had better elsewhere. 

Dessert was a surprising, delightful finish. We ordered fresh donuts with maple mascarpone cheese, which was delectable. If you haven't had anything other than Dunkin Donuts in a while, you should try Tremont647 just for the donuts. We also had an order of the Chocolate Trio, which included a chocolate-hazelnut truffle, oreo chocolate cake and a shot of orange flavored hot chocolate. As our waiter put it, it was "divine intervention." After the dinner we had, it certainly was!

With restaurant week starting today in Boston, I suggest that Tremont647 takes a look at its more simple recipes and recreates those in its other dishes. People like traditional, American comfort food because they know they won't be surprised by any overbearing exotic tastes. Even when you're warned that a new flavor will be introduced, like the brandy, you don't expect it to be as strong and overbearing as it was. Tremont647 should good back to its root and stop trying so hard to be an "eclectic" restaurant. It's just not working. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Ultimate Kitchen Table

I've been dying to tell you all about one of my new favorite places to eat in Boston. It's called Ten Tables, in Jamaica Plain. This place is by far the best place I've ever eaten at (and I've eaten a lot in my time). I also like you leave without that guilty feeling of spending too much dough ($$) on dinner. This affordable, winsome restaurant will win you over the minute you walk in the door and get a whiff of the amazing aroma. 

So what's so great about it? Here's my top 5 list:
1) Wednesday night $29 3-course dinner specials (what a frickin' deal!)
2) The food is absolutely fantastic
3) Ambiance can't be beat (unless your really old and in that case it probably sucks)
4) All of the food is local and organic 
5) Free parking

I first went to Ten Tables on a Wednesday night with a friend, not even knowing about the $29 special. We also were able to find parking about 3 blocks away for free! Awesome, considering there are many places that charge a ton for parking these days! Anyways, back to my point, if you've ever eaten at a half-fancy place in Boston, you know that appetizers+entrees+drinks+desserts+ports=$$$$. This place offers the best food. Portions were just right. Small enough that you can eat all three, yet big enough that the last bite is a feat. I started off with a cauliflower soup that was garnished with some sort of red oil. I know I'm suppose to be more familiar with this, but I have no idea what it was...all I know is that it was incredible. I could have drank this all night long and taken some home it was so good. For the main course, I had gnocchi in a red wine and wild mushroom ragout. (That means sauce for you non-foodies out there.) Usually gnocchi is so filling, I can rarely finish the plate. But this gnocchi was light, fluffy and still full of flavor. Finally, I finished off the meal with 2 orders of dessert. Yes, 2. And I decided to divert from my usual chocolate sweet tooth and ordered citrus flavored desserts instead. 1 order of olive oil cake with a citrus garnish, and a lemon tart. Both were fantastic. I also noticed on the menu that all of the food used here is from local, organic farmers. Kudos for being environmentally aware and helpful!

The menu had a wide range of prices for wine, which is always a nice surprise. The ambiance was also incredible. In this tiny space, which is exactly why it's called Ten Tables, they have managed to create a warm, inviting feeling with dim lights and an array of tealight candles. The painted brick walls are adorned with photographs that make you feel like your in an artist's loft studio. There are also tree branches and other nature-related items in the room that make you feel like your sitting in someone's living room. 

If/when you go to Ten Tables, ask for the Chef's table. This is where we sat and literally had a direct view of the kitchen. Talk about the ultimate kitchen table. Situated on stools looking into the kitchen, I was in awe at how the chef's seemed to create little masterpieces on each plate. They even came over and talked to us for a bit. When's the last time the chef came out of his kitchen at a restaurant and personally asked you how the food was? I was blown away by the true love of food at Ten Tables. I know I sound like I'm gushing...and to be perfectly clear, I am! I love this place and will definitely be back soon. From what we were told, the menu changes quite often and I'm excited to see what else these talented people can do!