Monday, April 30, 2012

chocolate madness.

Last Tuesday, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts hosted their annual Chocolate Madness event at The Cyclorama. I was invited to attend as a judge, which included a catered reception with plated appetizers and bottomless glasses of wine before diving headfirst into plates of chocolate everything. At assigned tables fellow judges and I rated eight entries, based on taste and creativity, before making the rounds to all (or as many as we could!) individual tables. We sampled from the wildly inventive treats to the standard but never disappointing confections from local restaurants, bakeries and chocolatiers who came out to support the cause.
My favorite? Definitely the Grand Cru Granada chocolate mousse with cookie crumbs, caramel, and meringue from Union Bar and Grille. Runner up was a tough call, but I gotta give it to the South End Buttery 's salted caramel chocolate cupcake.  Honorable mentions go out to the Taza chocolate bread pudding with salted caramel and toffee cream from The Fireplace, the peanut butter chocolate fudge brownies courtesy of Butter Girl Baking Co. and the French macaroons with Bergamot chocolate and salted toffee provided by Beacon Hill Bistro. Oh and then there was Foie Gras Cupcakes from Kickass Cupcakes, not for everyone, but definitely for me. As it turns out, you can have too much chocolate. But I wasn't complaining. It was such an honor to judge this event and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Gallows does it again

A spontaneous double date night brought Adam and I and our friends to The Gallows where between the four of us we made quite a dent in the cocktail (and beer) menu, I finally got to try the Scotch Egg, our entrees were top notch, and I completely fell in love with their signature dessert. It was one of those meals that kept making its way back into our conversations all weekend long (how good everything was, how much fun we had), and not unlike the last time we were there, left us eagerly anticipating our next visit. 
The waitress recommended a couple great cocktails; I let her favorites dictate my choices and started out with The Healer ($10) which I learned is one of their original originals, containing rye, mead, bitters and lemon. Also pictured is the Fortune's Find ($10) made with kumquat, gin, lemon and simple syrup. I adore their cocktail names, where they spark intrigue, they also make sense when you think about it! The Healer was soothing and comforting, yet strong, and the Fortune's Find felt like just that, a real gem. 
We shared a number of snack plates, beginning with the Scotch Egg ($6), soft boiled with a just-runny-enough yolk, cradled by a gentle layer of sausage, enveloped in a crispy fried breading. Still something of a novelty to me, this dish impressively captures the essence of breakfast in a neatly packaged bite. The Pulled Pork Corn Muffins ($6) have me convinced that all corn muffins should come stuffed with flavorful, meaty hunks of pulled pork and topped with perfectly ripe slices of avocado. The Fava and Sopressata Crostini ($6) layered thin strands of the dry Italian salami over a mash up of fava beans meets fava puree. This was an interesting pair, it didn't have me swooning quite as much as the pulled pork meets corn muffin, but it was a bite that honored the bright, springy fava bean and one worth ordering of you are a fan of either ingredient. 
The "Brontosaurus" Short Rib  is literally a bone the size of the quoted prehistoric creature. Definitely the largest short rib I've seen, those who ordered it remark that its difficult to cut off the bone, which isn't to say there's anything wrong with the meat, there's just a lot of it. As short ribs often imply fall off the bone, The Gallows version strays from that notion but still delivers tender, tasty meat. Both agreed it was very good, as was the small bite I tasted, which permeated with Asian flavors, a sweet and sour glaze and nuoc cham. Served alongside is a spicy green papaya salad.
My Udon Primavera ($25) comes with the plumpest, freshest, most vibrantly colored green peas, asparagus spears and fava beans, as well sharp radishes, beckoning from within slippery coils of Japanese noodles. I wanted to dive in face first, considering how long those noodles were, I pretty much did. Bathing in a deep, earthy mushroom dashi, the cream of the primavera crop (in Italian, that means springtime!) of vegetables are simply radiant. And my only complaint about the poached egg on top was that there wasn't nearly enough bites of it. We were stuffed, but I'm so glad we ordered dessert. Rum soaked bananas come buried among the smoothest, creamiest peanut butter and chocolate in the Bananas Foster Chocolate Peanut Butter Fluffernutter Brulee ($7). Enhancing the decadence is a perfectly torched layer of thick, gooey marshmallow fluff. My friend (who has had this before) still thinks that it needs something else, something crispy or crunchy, something to offset the creamy texture, but, I think its just about perfect as is. It swiftly joins the ranks as one of my favorite desserts in Boston, right up there with Oleana's Baked Alaska.
And same goes for The Gallows overall. I can't get enough of this place!

*Special thanks to Gretchen and Derek for their iPhone lighting skills. My pictures in the dark space would have been nothing without their efforts!*

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

spring in Boston

1. Rose Kennedy Greenway
2. Charlestown Navy Yard
3. roof deck Prosecco
4. Huntington Avenue
5. Fenway Park
6. North Street

It's one of the loveliest spring seasons that I can remember. Hope the view is just as pretty from wherever you are.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lone Star Taco Bar


From the crew who runs Deep Ellum in Allston comes an adjoining taco bar that goes by the name of Lone Star, where the Texas inspired vibe is casual with an understated hipness. Look for the single hanging star on the exterior, and settle into a vintage wooden booth under a giant mounted bison head, or pull up a stool at the custom zinc bar backed by an impressive stock of tequilas and mezcal. 

Margaritas like the smokey and spicy El Diabolo to the sweet and unsuspecting Chica Facile, shaken with aperol and orange bitters, are captivating. The tacos on housemade tortillas run the gamut from a crispy beer battered fish of the day to one that pairs grilled avocado with sweet corn relish and griddled queso, to heartier options like pork carnitas with salsa verde and Dallas spicy beef. Sides and starters to compliment the main attraction include a refreshing tuna ceviche, remarkable whole pickled jalapenos and grilled street corn bathed in a chili lime aioli and sprinkled with cojita.

One things for sure, this taco bar in Allston has created a serious buzz. You likely won't want to miss out!
Lone Star Taco Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 20, 2012