Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Joys of June

Where on earth did the month of June go? I feel like I blinked and it was over! Despite its fleeting presence, I somehow managed to pack a lot in. Here's a round up of the things I ate / saw / made / did this month to kick off summer in the city that didn't get a post all their own. 
Ice Cream Sundae @ Emack & Bolio's
Nothing embraces hot summer evenings (hey, there has been a select few) like a trip for ice cream sundaes. It's always all about gelato where I live in Little Italy, but when I crave actual ice cream I head just outside the neighborhood confines to Emack & Bolio's at Long Wharf. A scoop or three of ice cream hits the spot; my go-to flavor is the Grasshopper Pie which contains creme de menthe liquor with Oreo chunks and chocolate flakes. Top it with warm gooey hot fudge, fresh whipped cream and thick chunks of peanuts and pecans and you've got a seriously good sundae.
Paul Simon Concert at The House of Blues.
Located on Lansdowne Street across from Fenway Park, The House of Blues is always a fun venue for live music and dancing. My whole life I've been wanting to see Paul Simon in concert. I grew up to the tunes of Graceland, it still ranks up there as one of my favorite albums of all time. He played a number of songs off that album and many more of the classic tunes I know and love him for. It was a truly memorable evening and I hope he comes back to Boston soon!
Layered Taco Salad - recipe courtesy of Chelsee @ We Are Not Martha.
See, I do cook sometimes. If you consider browning beef and prepping ingredients for a salad cooking. Actually, I should give myself a little more credit since the recipe calls for making your own taco seasoning and mixing dressing from scratch.
This salad was so good and yielded an insane amount of leftovers. I ate it every day for lunch the entire week after I made it. Thanks so much to Chelsee for the recipe inspiration.
Boating in Essex, MA
My sister's boyfriend grew up nearby, and some of his friends were nice enough to invite us out on their boats for the day. This picturesque coastal New England town on the North Shore of Massachusetts is home to beaches and waterways perfect for boating, relaxing, drinking, grilling, swimming and fishing.Which is just what we did on Saturday, June 18th. Gorgeous and sunny, with no rain in sight until the final boatride home, where we experienced a heavy downpour followed by a rainbow spanning its full arch across the marsh. It was a rare breathtaking sight - my camera was packed safely away from the rain. Hopefully the rest of the landscape views suffice. We drank vodka raspberry lemonades and grilled some marinated shrimp, along with burgers and chicken. This is what summer days are made for! I felt incredibly blessed for this day since I am usually mulling about the city.

Belgian Poutine ($8) @ Saus
One of my favorite spots to open this year is Belgian street food haven Saus. If you're local, you've probably been. Or should I say, hopefully you've been. If you haven't you'll definitely want to check it out, stat! The team at Saus perfects the art of fusing traditional Belgian frites into this infamous dish native to Canada and the very Northern parts of Maine and New Hampshire. Hand cut potatoes are deep fried and piled with heaping helpings of dense haphazardly shaped cheddar cheese curds, then slathered with rich, made-from-scratch savory brown gravy. The cheese curds are mildly salty with a unique springy texture that makes them rather fun to eat. Thick and silky, the gravy coats the crispy fries without overwhelming their texture. I crave this dish on a fairly regular basis!
Chicken Stir Fry w/ Edamame Slaw
This ones all my own. It combines frozen edamame, shredded carrots, shredded cabbage and cilantro with chicken in a ginger-soy-terriyaki sauce. It was a delicious, quick and easy creation. Did the month of June fly by for anyone else?! What are you looking forward to in July?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marliave

This Fridays lunch brought me to The Marliave located at 10 Bosworth Street nestled in the heart of Downtown Crossing. The restaurant building itself is over 135 years old and was first home to a restaurant opened by French Immigrant Henry Marliave in 1885. Then during prohibition it served as a speakeasy and after that a mediocre (so I've read) Italian-American restaurant. The fourth and current incarnation of Marliave has been open for almost three years now; housing a lively bar paying homage to the speakeasy era with cracked mosaic floors and pressed tin walls. The top level where we were seated for lunch is home to a refined dining room that keeps in line with the black and white color scheme noticed throughout the other floors. Last time I was here I pulled up a seat at their crowded bar and enjoyed a couple of the noteworthy cocktails. This time around I was thrilled to finally check out the upstairs space and what the kitchen had to offer.I should also mention that Friday was Adam's birthday, and I was treating him to a spontaneous late birthday lunch! We started with cocktails - their large laminated menu giving us a plethora of options from which to choose. I tried the Yellow Journalism ($10) which looks fairly plain but proves to be a tasty libation with Clear Creak Pear Eau-De-Vie, Licor 43, Mionetto Prosecco and lemon. Adam approved of his Warren G. Harding ($10) with Old Overholt Rye, lemon and mint A simple plate of olive oil with green olives and some slices of soft bread were delivered shortly after we placed our order and inhaled just as quickly. We started the meal each with a piping hot bowl of Henry's Soup ($10). It came served in a deep white china bowl resembling a mini cauldron plated over a charming white doyle. The French Onion soup is loaded with sweet caramelized onions, a hearty crouton and thick melted Gruyere cheese. Most notably, tender bites of short ribs lace the broth taking a classic soup and elevating it to something even more incredible. Definitely one of the better French Onions I have had and the perfect first course to warm up with on a dreary and annoyingly cold and windy Friday afternoon. For his main course Adam ordered the Mussles ($12) farm raised, roasted tomatoes, garlic and parsley. He definitely enjoyed his birthday lunch, minus the roasted tomatoes! (I'll give him credit for trying one, but tomatoes are still something he can't seem to enjoy.) I ordered the salad simply labeled Beets ($12) which paired finely diced roasted beets with goat cheese, arugula, black olives and candied walnuts. A paper thin crosini balanced a top the compact beets, which were plated to resembled that of a typical looking tuna tartare. I thought it was a polished and creative presentation. The creamy and tangy goat cheese and the sweet crunchy walnuts added some great texture and initially helped balance out the strong presence of the beets. However by the end of lunch I felt slightly overwhelmed by the many beets left that lacked enough of the contrasting elements to sustain the balance of the dish the entire way through. Our waitress was pleasant and the kitchen timed our courses perfectly; granted there were not many clientele in the dining room, but still something to note.
Marliave is a gem of an establishment where the DTX/Financial District crowd can enjoy a leisurely lunch or some after work cocktails; I'm almost positive the working professionals in the area would agree. But even if you don't work in the vicinity, Marliave is likely worth venturing downtown for.

10 Bosworth Street
Boston, MA 02108
Marliave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gloria's Olives in a Bag

Recently a friend passed along a couple bags of Gloria's Harvest Olives for me to sample. I had never heard of this product but being a fan of olives was happy to try them out.I'll admit I was a skeptic about the bag until I gave these all natural pitted Greek olives a chance. Gloria's Harvest Olives are grown in the ancient fertile lands of the Mediterranean Coast and imported and distributed to certain states throughout the US. The pitted salad mix contained a well rounded variety of kalamata, green, black and blonde olives. They are hand picked and naturally cured, the flavor blend of olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, herbs and spices is truly fantastic. So, why the bag? Gloria's Harvest organization is committed to not only a high quality product but to sustainability and the preservation of our roots in mother earth. Shipping glass and brine half way around the world was not a carbon foot print they were interested in supporting. The innovative solution yielded a sophisticated 3 ply aluminated bag that allows for extended shelf lives without unnatural preservatives being added. (source)
They are conveniently pitted, fresh tasting and perfect for an easy hors d'ouvres option or a compliment to an antipasti! I encourage skeptics to give them a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. You can find these bagged olives at your local grocery stores produce section. Have you ever tried Gloria's Olives?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wagamama

The first Wagamama opened its doors in London in 1992 and in the twelve years since has expanded to open over 70 restaurants in the UK and 36 more in Europe, USA, Australia and The Middle East. Their reasonably priced fresh food in a sleek yet informal environment lends a diverse appeal. They are arguably the most popular chain of award-winning noodle restaurants in the UK. This worldwide chain offers a full menu of pan-Asian inspired dishes, but at its core wagamama is a noodle bar specializing in ramen noodle soups, cold noodle salads and hot noodle entrees. Boston is the lucky recipient of three wagamamas with locations Fanueil Hall, Harvard Square and the most recently opened location in the Back Bay's Prudential Center. Bloggers were invited to partake in a menu tasting featuring new kitchen creations and fun new cocktails! The meal tonight was free, however prices are noted to reflect the overall value. (Artsy photos expressing my new obsession with instagram are inserted just because.)Seated in long booths adorned with swag in the form of bright red wagamama tee shirts we were welcomed by the Director of Marketing, Nancy Barrett, who was on hand to briefly explain the new dishes and answer any questions we had. The reasonably priced and inventive cocktails - most of which are rum based, with a sake and a bourbon option thrown in the mix, served to impress. I started with a Mango Sekkai ($8.95) boasting sweet chunks of fresh mango muddled with bright notes of basil and lime blended with rum and soda water. I finished the evening with a Ringo Martini ($8.95) combining sour apple and honey bourbon liqueurs with fresh squeezed apple and lime, garnished with a slice of golden delicious apple.In between there were many appetizers including bowls of the addicting tender green soybeans known as Edamame ($3.95) and plates of both the Chicken Dumplings ($6.50) and Yasai Dumplings ($5.95) which are steamed, grilled and served alongside a chili garlic and soy dipping sauce. Fun Fact: 1,500 portions of edamame are eaten at wagamamas worldwide everyday.
Tempura battered and lightly fried, the squid in the Chili Calamari ($6.95) remains delightfully chewy seasoned with sea salt and shichimi (japanese chilli pepper). It was served with a sweet chili, garlic and cilantro dipping sauce.Succulent Suribachi Chicken Wings ($7.95) are tossed in a gently spicy sauce and dusted with red chili peppers and crunchy scallions.
Fall off the bone tender Pork Ribs ($8.95) are glazed with a sweet chili hoi sin sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Our first entree (everything was shared family style) was the new Lemongrass Shrimp Soba ($13.95) where perfectly grilled shrimp sat over a bed of soba noodles stir fried with minced cilantro, chiles, garlic and fresh beansprouts. The Beef Cha Han ($10.95) is shichimi-marinated beef in a bowl of stir fried rice with snow peas, carrots and leeks. Nancy told us wagamama's most popular entree is the Chicken Katsu Curry ($11.25). Chicken breasts are coated in panko breadcrumbs, deep fried, then sliced and plated under sticky rice and bathed in their famous light curry sauce. This entree comes with a side salad tossed in house dressing. Speaking of salads, the Marinated Yasai Noodle Salad ($8.75) is loaded with vegetables including marinated grilled eggplant, mushroom and zucchini combined with carmelized red onion, roasted sweet potato, asparagus, diced tomato and mixed greens. Whole wheat noodles serve as the base and pickled red ginger and sesame seeds the garnish.
The Seafood Ramen ($12.75) bathes noodles in a wakame and spinach filled vegetable broth. The soup is then topped with grilled shrimp, salmon, swordfish and marinated calamari, garnished with menma and scallions.Fun Fact: Twelve tons of noodles are served at wagamamas worldwide each week! After feeling sufficiently stuffed from a serious round of entrees, we were offered dessert. The options ranged from good, to great, to knock your socks off amazing. The Creme Brulee Cheesecake ($5.95) was good with a rich vanilla flavor and biscuit base, but a little to heavy for me after such a filling meal! The moist Chocolate Cake ($5.95) with a chocolate fudge frosting and vanilla ice cream was a pretty great slice of cake. But nothing could top the unexpectedly amazing Coconut Reika ($4.95) which was a refreshing three scoops of coconut ice cream drizzled in a tangy mango sauce and topped with toasted coconut. Wagamama's success is greatly attributed to their mission which is to combine great, fresh and nutritious food in an elegant yet simple setting with helpful friendly service and value for money. Welcoming another "positive living + positive eating" chain in the heart of Boston, the Wagamama located at 800 Boylston Street inside the Prudential Center is sure to please old fans and newcomers alike!

Wagamama on Urbanspoon