Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Cannoli-Eating, Patois-Speaking, North End Good and Evil

Sunday was sunny, so I went for a walk around the adjacent neighborhood–the North End. I was on a pilgrimage ( of sorts) to the Church of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, which incidentally, I had visited before, but had not gone into for reasons that I don’t recall. Anyway, there I was, standing off of Hanover Street in a plaster-fawn encrusted courtyard. The church was very ornate inside, and pretty in a wabi-sabi way, with murals and statues and candles that are run on batteries. It was very quiet. 

Back out on the street, passing cannoli-eating, patois-speaking, masses on the sidewalks, I made my way past three favorite eateries: Neptune Oyster, L’Osteria, and Monica’s looking for this cafe I really like, which has wide windows that open to the street and a ceiling covered in football (euro, not american) flags. It’s called, Cafe Paradiso. I guess tourists like it but so do I. 

By then I was getting a little hungry, so I stopped into a Gigi Gelateria. What a tourist trap. I say SKIP IT, mostly due to their extremely rude staff. After being ignored for a good five minutes, I asked if, having never been there before, I could taste a flavor. I tasted the chocolate hazelnut ( not great, not very flavorful). Could I try the mint chip? No! Only one taste per customer, he said. Excuse me? I said. Only ONE taste per customer, he said. What, did he think I was just trying my darndest to get as much free gelato as possible and that an effective way to do it was by the quarter-teaspoonful? So, not wanting to get stuck with a six-dollar cup of something that was as equally gross as the one flavor I tasted, I left without buying anything. Good sales tactic, guy–way to reel in the new customers!

So then I moved on to the tourist trap next door, Vittorio, which I love because they have excellent cappucino and I take everyone there who comes to town to visit me. However, on my latest visit, I got an annoying waitress. I understand that you only get paid $2, waitress, i have been there. But believe me that is more than I am getting paid now. So, just let me enjoy my Cappuccino in peace, ‘k? After delivering the check, she told me that she was closing out, could I please pay now? I was in the act of getting out my wallet, so I am not sure what she thought I was doing instead…so as I am taking the money out, I lay it on the table, and was just fishing for the tip when she came up and grabbed the check and the cash I had already laid out, and walked away. All of you out there who are waitstaff–rule of thumb is, let the customer put down ALL their money first, THEN take the bill away. Poor girl thought I probably stiffed her on the tip. Well, after my negative gelato experience, I wasn’t about to run after her with my two dollars. 

So that is the North End for you. Full of pushy people and overrun by tourists and the shopclerks who hate them. But if you are willing to be brave, and maybe stop and say a little prayer, it can be worth it for the day out. (Especially if Ben Affleck is there shooting his newest movie….)

American Craft Beer Festival – Take Two

Hello Boston… this weekend at the Seaport World Trade Center, The Alstrom brothers (and merry band of volunteers) from Beer Advocate present the American Craft Beer Festival. With over 300 beers from 75 breweries, its one of, if not the, largest craft beer festivals on the East Coast. There are two remaining four hour sessions today, 1pm and 6pm, each for $40, and given the amazing amount and quality of beer being served there, well worth the dough. Just make sure you have something on your stomach before you start, because it’s easy to get carried away.

Some of the outstanding offerings available come from nearby and far away, with an amazing sour ale from Cambridge Brewing (Cerise Cassee) and The Eugene (OR) City Brewing Company 100 Meter Ale, a red ale that is one of the best from a small brewery anywhere. You also can find your old standby’s such as Harpoon Brewery, Brooklyn Brewery, and Dogfish Head and their wild beers. Local favorite, Harpoon is debuting their new line of extreme beers with a cask (Wild Turkey) aged Triticus Ale, chiming in at a whopping 14.3% ABV. But if strong beers don’t flip your fancy, there are plenty of other lighter and tastier options, including your standard lagers and wit beers. However, if you just want to support your local brewing establishments, have a good time, and enjoy some of the best beer found anywhere in one spot (think of it as the largest tap tine in Boston for this weekend), come by.

Red Tide

The red tide has hit Massachusetts. What a bummer! It’s basically a kind of algae that makes shellfish poisonous. Clam and mussels are affected, but according to The Globe’s write-up crab, lobster, and shrimp are still safe. They also mention fish, incase you didn’t realize that shellfish means only fish with shells. I hope you did.

Looks like I dodged a bullet – I had clam chowder yesterday.

Around the Metblogs

What’s being posted around the Metblogs?

Self-Detach (Decomposing Identities)
Earth Hour: Turn Off Your Lights (Way to go, Concord and Northhampton!)
Places Ray Nagin May Be Hiding
Vancouver Has a Cherry Blossom Festival?
S.F. Farmers Not Interesting in the City Taking Over Their Market

Restaurant Week – Winter 2008

I almost missed the boat on this one, but thankfully accidentally participated tonight. The good news is you still have tonight and tomorrow to take advantage of a good deal at a nice place. Check out The Unofficial Guide to Boston Restaurant Week.

Free Burrito Day at Chipotle

The Food Monkey would like us all to know that March 8 is Free Burrito Day at Chipotle, so swing on by tomorrow and grab yourself some lunch!

Best Sit-Down Breakfast in Boston?

Seedove17 poses the question, and Chowhound users answer.

And while they cite some great joints (the Ball Square Cafe, Charlie’s Sandwich shop), what about Cambridge? No S+S, anyone?

But enough of my opinion-mongering: what do you think?

Le Cordon Bleu Opening In Cambridge

Aspiring chefs in the area will all rejoice at this news –

Le Cordon Bleu is opening a location in Cambridge! Although I am far from a professional chef, cooking is a true passion for me. I love to play around in the kitchen with whatever idea happens to come to mind.

For months I’ve explored the recreational offerings of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, though I haven’t had the chance to attend yet. Honestly, what business have they got making those weekend classes start so early?

For me, this represents a new set of options in the world of culinary education and solidifies New England as a hub for the pursuit of fine cooking. Vermont has Neci, and in April we’ll have Le Cordon Bleu.

Friendly Fancy Food in Boston

I had a wonderful dinner at Elephant Walk in Boston, just on the border of Brookline. The food was delicious, the portions were plentiful, but the thing that really struck me above all else was the menu. With an entire vegan section and an entire gluten-free section, Elephant Walk is a great way to have a tasty, fancy meal while following most dietary restrictions.

Legal Seafood Specials

Tonight I had the opportunity to visit Legal Seafoods at the Pru and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Since it was something of an occasion, I opted to splurge and the specials sounded very good.

For an appetizer there was a lamb sausage. I thought this was really nice, but I was glad there were only three of us because we only received three pieces. Perhaps they deliberately portion a sausage for the number of diners, but the plate was just right for three pieces. The sausage was well spiced and tasty, but I don’t think the fact that it was lamb brought anything to the table. They overpowered it. Still tasty.

For an entree I had a bowl of seafood in curry. This was really interesting and I did not think it would be as good as it was. There was a variety of seafood here – scallops, white fish, shrimp, a large lobster claw, and a king crab leg. This was served over a bed of couscous and in a light bit of curry sauce. They used green curry and it was very subtle and smooth. I liked this a lot and think they should keep it around. Excellent!

For desert I had a red bean custard with cinnamon and covered with almonds. Two quarters of a strawberry and a mint leaf garnished this and, while I felt that neither really went with the desert for flavor, the dish really needed that color. Still, it was delicious and I’d eat it again.

All in all a very nice dinner. If you’re in the mood to try some new seafood at a an old favorite, give this a shot.

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