Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Roche Bros. Tasting Counter

The opening of Roche Bros. over a year and a half ago was a game changer for those of us who work or live in Downtown Crossing. I have hugely appreciated having them close by my office for lunch + snack options during the day and for quality grocery shopping trips after work. For lunch, their selection of sushi and maki rolls, artisianal baguette sandwiches, and fresh out the oven chocolate chip cookies have been my go-to's. 

Now, even more of game changer is their recently unveiled renovation: an impeccable 10,000 square foot space extending into the base of the Millennium Tower. This includes a tremendous selection of beer, wine, sake and alcohol, AND, a sleek new tasting bar offering fantastic lunch options!! Their well appointed tasting counter serves seasonal dishes prepared with fresh, locally sourced products that are sold in store.

I was super impressed with everything from the Seasonal Handcrafted Soda expertly flavored with thirst quenching mango + passionfruit, to the exquisite, fine dining caliber Yellowtail Poke, to the incredibly comforting Harpoon IPA FondueFrom their dessert counter a few aisles over, mini sweet treats are also a win, and I loved the thoughtful touch of red and green holiday flare on the plate! 

Counter service here is personable, knowledgeable and efficient. Bonus points for for presentation and aesthetic: that fire engine red mini cast iron staub! Stainless steel drinking straws! Sturdy plates made of recycled materials. Mini forks for fondue. Chopsticks for the poke. Eating lunch here was fun and enjoyable - this grocery store tasting counter simply did not miss a beat. 

Prices and descriptions below:

Yellowtail Poke ($14) local radish, cucumber, enoki mushrooms, yuzu + sesame dressing


Charcuterie Board ($11) - prosciutto, speck, pickled vegetables: snap peas, carrots and hearts of palm


Local Cheese and Harpoon IPA Fondue ($10) artisianal baguette + charred broccoli


Crispy Flatbread ($11) onion + tomato confit, charred broccoli, crumbled local feta

Mini Dessert Trio ($8) key lime tart, hazelnut cake, chocolate ganache cake. 
We also enjoyed a Cappuccino ($3.50) with dessert.

Right now, the tasting counter feels like an insider secret - but you should not hesitate to make it a destination!

P.S. Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!!!

Roche Bros. @ Millennium Tower
8 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110

*this meal was complimentary, all opinions are my own*

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Waypoint




Chef Michael Scelfo has done it again. Get yourself to his new restaurant Waypoint, and without a doubt, order the Uni Bucatini and the King Crab. There are some dishes that manage to get an entire city buzzing, and these are two of them

In an unassuming, sort of hidden subterranean industrial space on Mass Ave between Harvard and Central squares, Waypoint lures fans of Alden + Harlow with contemporary seafood focused plates and an absinthe centric bar menu. There's so much more than two of us could try in one visit -  like crudos and caviar and clam pizza. It's an experience much like the Choose Your Own Adventure Books that the checks come delivered in; no matter which way the menu inspires you to tailor your order, you won't be disappointed

The interior is warmly lit by a distinctive neon green fish sign and a parade of hand blown glass lamps. Large and small booths tuck perfectly into cozy spaces, while communal high tops front the space between the bar and the open kitchen. Creamy marble table tops and gorgeous herringbone inlaid walls catch my eye. It's a space that is both buzzing and soothing all at once.

As far as the aforementioned dishes go - the intensely comforting Uni Bucatini ($18) offers thrilling heaps of sweet uni, a runny smoked egg yolk, pecorino crumbles and bottarga shavings among hollow strands of the al dente pasta. Plump and fresh King Crab ($22) is piled atop a heavenly chili garlic oil, a creamy brown butter aoili, and toasty black rice; lending playful, contrasting textures and harmonizing flavors. Meanwhile, our other two dishes are not to be overlooked. Grilled Monkfish Cheeks with squid inked eggplant and kohlrabi salsa verde, along with a Squid Ink Gemelli ($17) with benton's ham, swordfish lardo, smoked pignola + pecorino crumble prove all of Waypoint's alluring coastal cuisine dishes will shine. 

Being on a mezcal kick I passed up the tales of absinthe section and went with a house original called Portside ($12) with mezcal, manzanilla sherry, pickled cherry pepper, honey + lime. It's smokey yet balanced with a little fiery kick. Later on, a really funky, seafood-friendly wine appropriate for fans of sour beer, the Denavolo "Dinavolino" ($15) from Emilia-Romagna, Italy is a delicious, unexpected discovery. 

Waypoint
1030 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Waypoint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pujol | Polanco | Mexico City

Pujol is a restaruant located in the Polanco district of Mexico City that consistently achieves a spot on the list of best restaurants in the world. Celebrity chef Enrique Olivera takes inspiration from Mexican street food and elevates it to haute cuisine. Indeed, a lot of the ingredients and dishes we had on our street food crawl show up on this outstanding tasting menu. It was pretty cool to draw the parallels and at the end of the day to have had both sets of experiences in such an incredible city!
The must try dish at Pujol is the signature mole madre, mole nuevo, where fresh mole sauce is encased in an outer layer of mole that has been aged for – at the count when we were in, 1112 days. The flavor profile of the two moles absolutely blew me away. The entire tasting menu was enchanting, I especially enjoyed the prelude of bontanas and the fanfare of sweet treats at the end. To drink - mezcal, of course, with a glass of fresh orange rimmed with worm salt. 

I. Street Snacks - Bontanas
Gordita de chicharron, chile de catarino, pice de gallo, erizo (uni)
Chileatole de calbacita milpera (type of squash), chile mulato
Tostada de chia, pure de aguacate (chia and avocado chicharron)
Elote con mayonesa de hormiga chictana, cafe, chile costeno (baby corn, chicanta ant, coffee.)

II. Escamoles (ant larve), macadamia nut, piel de pollo (chicken skin)

III. Tartar de tasajo, limon en conserva, rabano, berro, aguacate
(Dry beef tartar, preserved lemon, radish, watercress, avocado)

IV. Tostada de camaron (shrimp tostada), recado blanco, mayonesa de chipoltle

 V. Pesca del dia, mantequilla avellanada, papa, mayonesa de limon en conserva, apio
(Fish of the day, beurre noisette, potato, lemon mayonnaise, celery)

VI. Mole madre, mole nuevo 1112 dias

VII. Final Feliz - Happy Ending - avocado ice cream, sweet cocoa drink, a sprial of churros!

From the street food stalls to the sophisticated dining room here at Pujol, the food in Mexico City is something very special. And now, we are departing DF and onto Riviera Maya!

Calle Francisco Petrarca 254
Miguel Hidalgo, Polanco
11570 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

[Restaurant images credit | Araceli Paz]

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hipodromo Condesa y Roma Norte

Now that we've made our way through some of my Mexico City favorites (if you missed them: Street Food Essentials / Xochimilco / Dia de los Muertos) and come to a mutual understanding of how amazing this city is, I would be remiss if I didn't dedicate a post to the neighborhoods of La Condesa, where our hotel was located, and Roma, where we spent an equal amount of time eating and drinking. Condesa is actually made up of three colonias - Hipódromo Condesa being the funky art deco area, while the colonias of RomaRoma Norte are considered the "SoHo of Mexico City" with lofty tree lined avenues and luxurious residences. As both neighborhoods lend pretty parks, bohemian cafes and bistros, hip cocktail dens, and fascinating architecture, you will undoubtedly want to make either Hipódromo or Roma Norte your home base for exploring the continents largest city.

AR 218Hipódromo Condesa
I found our accommodations through my favorite boutique hotel booking site: Tablet. They have poetic write ups and dreamy photos for each hotel and AR 218's really spoke to me.  ".....stylish all-suite hotel, offers a glimpse of what it might be like to live here in a smart studio, right in the middle of the action....swanning through your miniature apartment, sipping a café con leche you’ve prepared for yourself, you can pretend you live here. Step outside into the cool and colorful streets of Condesa — where there’s more to see, hear, and taste than you can squeeze into a single visit."

That is exactly what we loved about this hotel, and how we treated our time here.
AR 218's modern suites are sleek and industrial-inspired. Our standard studio with a terrace was remarkably spacious, with a fully equipped kitchenette, a gleaming glass encased wall leading to the sweet little terrace, soothing pale concrete walls, comfy Ralph Lauren bedding and a big marble shower. Additionally, I loved the floor to ceiling, wall to wall mirror in our kitchen, and the circular mirrors hung over the bed - as depicted in my selfies ;)
Alfoso Reyes 218
Cuauhtemoc, Hipódromo Condesa,
06100 Ciudad de Mexico, D.F., Mexico

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Felina Bar | Hipódromo Condesa
Felina's proximity to our hotel made it an easy choice for our first venture upon arrival to DF - although, this is not a bar you are going to stumble upon just wandering the neighborhood. We had it on a recommendation list and definitely felt like in-the-know travelers when we strolled by the corner space with no signage, peered in, turned around and entered what felt like someones mid-century modern apartment. The space is dark and intimate with comfortable banquet seating backed by funky scalloped wallpaper and a tiny wet bar in the corner. They shake up fantastic cocktails specializing in mezcals and rums and offer a small but impressive menu of snacks and tostadas. The bruschettas we had were delicious! 

T.W. Julep ($115) mezcal tantito tequiliana weber, limon amarillo, rude macerada y agua de azucar
Manhattan ($115) whiskey jack daniel's, vermut rojo y bitters de naranja
Bruschetta de Tomate ($45) albahaca, aceite de oilva
Bruschetta de Kale ($45) pimiento confitado y bilbania

Prices are in PESOS. Essentially those are $5 cocktails and $2 Tostadas. How do you not instantly fall in love with city where your first cocktail is $5!?
Calle Ometusco 87 
Cuauhtemoc, Hipódromo 
06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

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Fonda Fina | Roma Norte
We had an impressive dinner featuring regional Mexican cuisine at Fonda Fina. The staff was very warm, welcoming and took great care of us. This place is consistently receiving rave reviews from the community, I highly recommend it.

A favorite dish here was the peneques rellenos de requesón which are crispy fried tortillas stuffed with requesón cheese (similar to ricotta cheese) sitting in a warm bath of green pipián (a type of mole made with pumpkin seeds)garnished with Chiapas cheese, avocado cubes, pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of Mexican table cream and nasturtium leaves. 

Fonda Fina
Medellín 79
Cuauhtemoc, Roma Nte 
06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

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La Capital | Hipódromo
Another delicious meal with polished service and superb cocktails was had at La Capital. Located about a five minute walk from AR 218 it was an ideal spot to relax after a long Dia de los Muertos spent gallivanting the city. I can't remember the exact mezcal concoction I had in that adorable clay cauldron, but it had coconut, lime, lemon, and grapefruit and was one of the best cocktails I drank on this trip! I also enjoyed a tangy ceviche, a comforting bowl of tortilla soup poured table-side, and a classic Conchinita Pibil (Pulled Pork) entree. 
Nuevo León 137
Cuauhtémoc, Hipódromo Condesa
06140 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

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Alekzander | Roma Norte

On Sunday evening we tried to get into Limantour, a cocktail bar recommended time and again as being one of the best, a must visit in Rome Norte. To our disappointment the bar was three people deep and they had no available tables. We wandered a few doors down into a global inspired restaurant with an amazing ambiance and were so happy we did! Alekzander features a "cocina de mundo" (world cuisine) menu offering everything from lust worthy Italian bruschettas, Spanish tortillas, Argentinian empanadas, and terrific salads, so it was a like-able change of pace. As the space was softly lit and fairly busy, I borrowed the good looking interior photos from AFAR. I seem to have also neglected to take any food shots this time around! Regardless, this is another solid spot to check out in Roma Norte if you're feeling like it's okay venture away from Mexican food!
Alekzander
Av. Álvaro Obregón 130 
Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte.
06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Bósforo | Centro
(photo above is the view from the tiny mezzanine space, borrowed from Eater)

For this last spot, I'm taking us out of Hipódromo and Roma into Centro for a shoutout to Bosforo, perhaps the hippest Mezcal Bar...ever, hidden away on a dark side street. The bartender did not speak a word of English, but I somehow asked in Spanish for a mezcal tasting, she happily complied, and I ordered the one I liked best. I pretty much drank mezcal or a mezcal cocktail every where we went, but this intimate bar playing funky music was by far the best place to do it! You'll come for one drink and want to linger for five. 

Luis Moya 31
Cuauhtémoc, Centro
Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico