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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

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I met a colleague for a business meeting at Sportello – he had never been and I was raving about Sportello, saying that he had to try the place that has my favorite bolognese. He might be a hard sell as his mom makes the best bolognese he’s ever had.

Sportello is run by Executive Chef Colin Lynch and Chef de Cuisine David Cavilla. Cavilla has been part of the Barbara Lynch Gruppo for some time, working at B&G oysters, The Butcher Shop, Stir, and now Sportello.

All the pastas on the menu look delicious – and while I do love the bolognese, I like to try other dishes as well. So I decided to get two half orders of pasta, one of course being the tagliatelle bolognese (pictured above).

imag1432Garganelli with Italian sausage and pecorino. I really enjoyed this dish, the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente.

imag1435We decided to split the coconut cake ($6) which was light as air. It had just the right amount of sweetness – because you know how sickly sweet coconut desserts can be…and delicious, creamy frosting.

Sportello

348 Congress Street, Boston, MA

http://sportelloboston.com/

Sportello on Urbanspoon

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imag1464I met my two old friends over at Trade for dinner. We grabbed a great seat by the window and gabbed the night away.

Trade is owned by Eric Papachristos, Sean Griffing and chef Jody Adams. You may know Jody as a James Beard winning chef and the co-owner of Rialto in Cambridge. Griffing is a 15 year veteran of the Boston restaurant scene and Papachristos is a self made restaurateur. Jacki Morisi has just moved over to Trade as the new events manager – she comes from Rialto, where she was the marketing and communications manager.

We start with curry cauliflower with red onion, raisins and yogurt ($7). The presentation is lovely and the dish has a warmth to it – the yogurt was a really nice addition to complete the dish.

imag1465Chicken meatballs with smoked corn, charred tomato vinaigrette and pine nuts ($11) were a table favorite. Classic yet bold in flavors.

imag1466Fried polenta bites with chorizo aioli, cilantro and preserved lemon  ($9). These were delicious – I loved the texture of the polenta.

imag1469Baked rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone  ($22) had perfectly al dente pasta. The ragu wasn’t too game-y as sometimes lamb can be. It felt like comfort food without that heaviness that can sometimes come with it.

imag1467The chocolate decadence cake with caramel, creme fraiche and 5-spice ($8) went quickly. The cake was dense but not heavy. It paired well with caramel and the 5 spice wafer was a nice mix – sweet and spicy.

Trade

540 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA

http://trade-boston.com/

Trade on Urbanspoon

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imag1453I met Melissa over at Wink and Nod to check out Josh Lewin’s Bread and Salt. From the moment you meet Joe, who greets you outside at the front door, you feel like you are part of a private supper club. As you descend the stairs and walk into the restaurant, you see a dimly lit room with comfy sofas and armchairs. Is this the bat cave? I already know I want to come back soon and we haven’t even eaten dinner yet.

They have recently added bread service – and you’ll be glad they did. Here is the soda bread with a schmear of lobster butter which may rival my all time favorite honey butter from Sweet Cheeks. They also make a delicious saffron roll.

imag1455I’ve met Josh a few times and he knows Melissa too, so he comes out to the table  and chats for a bit. He brings us delicious Pani Puri with Tamarind Chutney, Truffle Oil, and Potato Purée. I try to be lady like and make it into two bites, but really, it’s a one bite kind of thing.

imag1456We start with a lovely peach with ricotta salad with a honey film- I’m trying hard to hold on to the last bits of summer!

imag1457The lobster curry ($13) is an excellent dish made with spiced corn broth, pork rinds, pickled onion, puffed rice.

imag1459The insanely talented Sous Chef, Kate Holowchik, comes out next to say hello and brings us some scallops with grapefruit and avocado – such a wonderful dish- sweet, creamy and perfectly acidic.

imag1460The hand rolled pasta is cooked perfectly al dente and comes topped with mushrooms and rabbit cakes.

imag1461Peaches & Corn. This dessert features popcorn panna cotta and peach sorbet with cornmeal crumble and bay leaf mousse for a slight savory note that cuts through.

Not pictured (because we were too eager to eat), the fernet bon bons. Kate Holowchik stabilizes the alcohol first before adding it to the ice cream base so that more alcohol can be added and you get an intense fernet flavor – not to mention a buzz!

Monday nights join Bread and Salt for their night market menu from 8pm-12am. They print up menus that look like newspapers with the evenings selections. Most are small plates/bites, all priced at under $20. The also have #winktiki Mondays, where guest bartenders come in and serve drinks –  this particular evening, Angel’s Envy was getting mixed up in cocktails.

Bread an Salt

Located at Wink and Nod

3 Appleton Street, Boston, MA

http://winkandnod.com/

Wink and Nod on Urbanspoon

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IMAG0391We met Ruth and Joe, my cousins, in Worcester for our monthly meal together. We headed out to a new spot, Livia’s dish.

IMAG0394We are usually horribly late, but today we are here first. We sit and look over the menu while we wait for our dining companions to arrive.

IMAG0392The decor inside is simple and a bit dated, but the food is pretty good, and the price is right!

IMAG0395The nutella French toast ($7.99) was enormous, and I couldn’t even get halfway through it! As I mentioned before, the price is right, four of us for breakfast and the bill was less than $50! Service was good – they allowed us to sit and chit chat well after the time when they close for lunch. If you’re ever in Worcester and looking for a casual bite, stop in!

 

Livia’s Dish

1394 Main Street, Worcester, MA

http://www.liviasdish.com/

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I was invited to the media grand tasting for the newly opened Tuscan Kitchen in Burlington. It was nice to see familiar faces there: Kerrie from Urban Foodie Finds, Jeff from Kitchen Kibbitz and Devin from popular Twitter handle and now website, Only in Boston, among others.

This new restaurant focuses on regional Italian cuisine: from meats and pastas to fresh local produce. The service for the night was on point – the servers were friendly and attentive.

Billy Costa and Jenny Johnson from Dining Playbook were there to introduce owner Joe Faro. Faro opened the first location in Salem, NH in 2010 and has always wanted to open up a restaurant in Boston. The restaurant seats 543, 101 of which will be outside. The interior is spacious, covering about 14,000 square feet, and yet Faro made it feel like he invited you to his home for dinner. The restaurant has a Tuscan market at the entrance where you can purchase fresh pasta, artisan bread, fresh mozzarella and pastries made from scratch.

Tuscan Kitchen 7There is a 30 seat cafe area in the market where  guests can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and a sweet treat.

Tuscan Kitchen 9The cocktail hour showcased their artisan stone hearth breads.

Tuscan Kitchen 5In addition to the bread they offered home made porchetta, fig jam, 24 month prosciutto, parmigiano reggiano, local truffle honey, housemade burrata and grilled vegetables.

Tuscan Kitchen 1

We started with antipasti course, the Crostini di Granchio and the Tonno Crudo. The crostini (front) was wild caught Jonah crab on grilled ciabatta with semi roasted tomatoes and mustard seeds. The tuna came with navel orange, Calabrese peppers and crispy prosciutto and was finished off with a drizzle of olive oil.

Tuscan Kitchen 2

The second second course, or primi, was two  samplings of pasta. The first was a truffled mascarpone gnocchi with wood roasted mushrooms, fava beans and shaved pecorino tartufo.

Tuscan Kitchen 3

The other side of the plate had the vanneloni di vitello, which was a thin sheet of rosemary pasta stuffed with slow braised veal breast with wilted spinach and Tuscan bean mista.

Tuscan Kitchen 4For a main course I chose the filetto di manzo, a 10 oz aged wood grilled filet with caramelized garlic “riduzione” which came with a side of truffled parmigiano fingerlings, Brussel sprouts and pancetta slaw.

Tuscan Kitchen 6For dessert they offered a selection of desserts.

Tuscan Kitchen 8And of course the gelato! I especially loved the pistachio and lemon flavors!

Tuscan Kitchen

24 New England Executive Park , Burlington, MA

www.tuscanbrands.com/kitchen/

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IMG_6644I had anxiously been awaiting this years honey dinner since I missed it last year. The Intercontinental Hotel has 8 beehives up on their roof.  If you are at Miel for dinner, you can check out the observation camera by the host stand and see activity in the hive.

IMG_6645Guests were greeted with a honey infused champagne cocktail.

IMG_6648The cocktail reception started at 6pm. Servers came around with a green cleanse and a peekytoe crostini. The creaminess of the avocado paired nicely with the saltiness of the crab.

IMG_6652There was an observation hive on display for guests to view. Did you know that in the summertime bees cool down their hive and in the wintertime they heat up the hive to a constant temperature?

IMG_6654This is how the trays come out of the hive – they harvest honey twice a year at the Intercontinental.

IMG_6653The color of the honey depends on the nectar source – they plants and flowers bees visit. Honey color can vary from almost colorless to a deep brown. Generally, lighter colored honey has a milder flavor and darker honey has a bolder flavor.

IMG_6655The other appetizer was a chilled honey and lemon glazed jumbo shrimp.

IMG_6656I was pleased to see my friend Noah, of Best Bees, at the event. Noah’s company took over the care of the bees this year for the hotel. See my previous post on Best Bees here. Noah gave a a brief overview about bees – including information on the different types of bees and which cities are the most “bee friendly”.

IMG_6661The first course  was a shaved pear, fennel, zucchini salad with truffle honey dressing. A really nice way to start the meal, a little sweet with a little tang.

IMG_6663The entree was Georges Bank scallops and squab, wrapped with Maine smoked bacon with celery root gratin, vegetable tagliatelle and a honey beure blanc. The beure blanc sauce was divine – rich and flavorful. The scallops were a tad overdone, but still quite tasty. The squab, or pigeon, tastes like dark meat chicken. The bacon added a nice salty quality to the dish.

IMG_6665Dessert was a goat cheese ice cream with warmed seasonal berries and honey. This was probably my favorite part of the meal. The goat cheese ice cream was cool and light – not too goaty. To me, nothing is better than honey and fresh berries. Dinner was $65 per person and Miel will be doing more of these types of dinners in the future. They have a wine dinner coming up, a cheese dinner, a seafood dinner and a steak dinner all on the books. Check out their website and social media channels for more information.

Miel at the Intercontinental Hotel

510 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA

Visit their website here

Miel Brasserie Provencale on Urbanspoon

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img_20140830_165300On our way out of town on a Saturday morning, we stopped back in at Cafe Madeleine to try some of their delicious pastries. The almond croissant was by far my favorite. Just perfect – the right amount of sweetness, a little crunch to the outside while being soft and light on the inside. I probably could have eaten three of these.

IMG_6466The cinnamon roll was different than I thought it would be – only because when I think of a morning bun, I think of Joanne Chang’s version from Flour. Still a tasty treat, but not top of my list.

IMG_6476I picked up a bag of macarons for later – they came in a variety of flavors: lemon, salted caramel, rose, and chocolate. A nice treat – chewy with filling that was bold but not overwhelming. You can also buy these individually.IMG_6475The signature madeleines were tasty, a hint of sweetness in these spongy cakes – just lovely with a cup of tea.

IMG_6471I can’t recall the proper name for this apple dessert, but it was outstanding. While I love summer and berry season, I really look forward to fall and apples – apple pies especially. This dessert had a lovely eggy consistency with a sweet finish.

Cafe Madeleine

517 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA (South End)

http://cafemadeleineboston.com/

Café Madeleine on Urbanspoon

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imag1393My favorite time to go to the Cape is in September. The tourists are gone for the most part, the beaches are empty, the air is crisp and best of all, you can get a table as a walk in. The Pickle Jar opened in February of 2013 in the old Laureen’s space.

imag1394My friend Ziggy is opening up his own pickle business, Fox Point Pickles – don’t hate me, I swear I was just checking out the competition! Check him out though, seriously, he is insanely talented. To start, we all share the pickle jar ($7) that was an assortment of pickled veggies: cauliflower, carrots, olives, mushrooms, onions etc. Really delicious.

imag1396For lunch we had the special – the lobster hand roll ($16). Lobster tossed with fill aioli and lemon juice and rolled with lettuce, cucumbers and pea shoots in a lavash. A lighter, seemingly healthier version of a lobster roll.

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The egg salad sammie ($7) was a twist on a classic with sliced hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts with dill aioli.

imag1401The Firehouse sandwich was the star of the afternoon ($10) with house smoked chili rubbed boneless pork, wilted kale, pickled carrots, smoked cheddar and BBQ sauce on a toasty house roll. The pork was flavorful and I loved the pickled carrots on top. The sandwich was much heavier than the other two options we ordered, but it was so worth it.

The Pickle Jar

170 Main Street, Falmouth, MA

http://www.picklejarkitchen.com/

Pickle Jar Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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IMAG0463Caffe Nero is the newest coffee shop to hit the scene. The European based chain opened it’s first location by the Loews movie theater in Downtown Crossing.

IMAG0452They have an extensive drink menu – serving premium Italian espresso.

IMAG0454Customers order in line and then find a seat in either a booth, the long communal table, a leather chair by the fire, or a two top in the corner.

IMAG0455Sandwiches are pre-made and can be toasted up in the panini press. Here are some of the sandwich choices:

Caffè Nero Breakfast Sandwich
Baked Frittata made with fresh eggs, roasted tomatoes, bacon with emmental cheese and arugula served on a toasted ciabatta.
Caprese on Baguette
Fresh mozzarella, garden fresh tomatoes, basil leaf and extra virgin olive oil.
Prosciutto de Parma with Mascarpone
The crown jewel of hams with a touch of mascarpone pressed on a baguette.
Roast Turkey and Brie with Cranberry Chutney
A pressed roast turkey with cranberry chutney, brie & caramelized onions on a baguette.
Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions & Grainy Mustard
Tender roast beef & sharp cheddar cheese topped with sweet caramelized onions and Dijon horseradish spread served on a baguette.
Roasted Vegetable Focaccia
Focaccia pressed with roasted peppers, eggplant, squash and zucchini and an olive tapenade spread drizzled with pesto aioli.
Ham and Cheese Baguette
Rosemary ham with emmental cheese withbutter on a baguette.
Tuna Salad Sandwich on Ciabatta
All white tuna tossed with celery and mayonnaise served with baby field greens on a ciabatta.
BLT
Bacon, lettuce and tomato with pesto aioli served on a ciabatta.
Artisan Italian on Focaccia
Rosemary ham, hard salami and mortadella topped with provolone and olive salad.

IMAG0457The have an enticing case of sweets to choose from.

IMAG0459Caffe Nero is a more upscale version of Starbucks – with leather seats and a warm fireplace.

IMAG0461We both ordered the Caprese on a baguette with fresh mozzarella, garden fresh tomatoes, basil leaf and extra virgin olive oil. Pretty tasty – but I think I would have liked it not toasted.

IMAG0458Limoncello Mascarpone Cake – my downfall. So impossibly light and delicious – I may be drooling as I am writing this. It is sweet, but only just enough. I have dreams about this cake.

 What is your favorite coffee shop?

Caffe Nero

560 Washington Street (Downtown Crossing), Boston, MA 02111

http://www.caffenero.com

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imag1417Scissors and Pie is the new pizza place on the block. Located on Newbury Street in the Back Bay – these guys are doing things a little different. When you go into the restaurant, you’ll notice that they make their pizzas in trays. All “slices”, or “petzos” as they call it, are cut to order, with – you guessed it….scissors. You tell them how little or how big of a piece you would like – then, you pay by the weight of the pizza. Scissors and Pie was generous enough to come into our company for a tasting. They brought a traditional Margherita topped with their signature tomato sauce, fresh handmade mozzarella, aromatic basil and finished off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

imag1418Scissors and Pie’s version of the pepperoni (since they don’t have pepperoni), this meaty pie was pretty spicy. What really makes this pizza is the dough, it’s light with a crisp crust and a chewy interior.

imag1419The parmiggiana topped with their signature tomato sauce, fresh handmade mozzarella, roasted eggplant, freshly grated parmesan cheese, aromatic basil, extra virgin olive oil with a drizzle of home made garlic sauce. This was a crowd favorite.

imag1420The salsiccia e broccoli with fresh handmade mozzarella, imported sausage, fresh broccoli, red pepper flakes and spicy oil. Probably my favorite out of all of the slices – this kind had a really nice kick.

imag1421The bufala, pomodorini e scaglie di parmiggiano with fresh handmade mozzarella, plump local cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh hand made bufala mozzarella, home made pesto, and a sprinkle of home made garlic sauce. Their version of a vegetarian pizza.

Scissors and Pie

225 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

http://www.scissorsandpie.com/

Scissors & Pie on Urbanspoon

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