Thursday, September 30, 2010

Boston Harbor Wine & Jazz Cruise

Melissa complimented my zest for life in her recent post Sharing Some Love. Check her out if you have a minute, she keeps it real and brings humor and a fresh perspective in her "lazy girls guide to healthy living" blog. She had some really positive words to say about myself and some other local bloggers. It is such a great feeling to know people get just as excited to read your blog as you do theirs. Thanks for the love, Melissa!
The blog community here in Boston really is just one big lovefest. Case and point; at brunch this past Sunday Alicia offered up tickets she'd won to a wine cruise but wasn't able to redeem. How thoughtful of her! Takers? Anybody? No? Are you sure?! Because I live just around the corner from Rowes Wharf and I'd be happy to take them off your hands. Spontaneous wine cruises around Boston Harbor are just what I need more of in my life.
We took in the scene at Rowes Wharf, one of my favorite spots on the Harbor. Boston Harbor Hotel docks are always pristine and inviting. I was excited, but I'll be honest with you, I had no idea how I was going to partake in a wine tasting right about now. I was s-t-u-f-f-e-d to the brim from Lord Hobo's Pork Belly Hash and feeling more like I needed a nap on my couch from the previous nights bachelorette party festivities. They had couches on the boat, so there's that going for me. As we cruised along by the Institute of Contemporary Art and Fort Point Channel, soon enough I decided it was time to dive headfirst into the tasting. (Did you really think I was going to pass on free wine?)90+ Cellars provided the majority of the wines offered aboard the Marika. I had never seen or heard of this brand before but I really enjoyed all of the wines that I ended up tasting. So much for feeling like I couldn't drink.

The "Lot 16" Pinot Grigio from Napa Valley was rich and full bodied (not what I would typically expect from a Pinot Grigio) with fruity notes of pear and grapefruit.
Some views of the city from the ship...We cruised past Logan Airport and saw a few planes land and take off. And past the some of the Harbor Islands, which I still have yet to visit any.Castle Island below
I mostly snapped shots of the Financial District and Downtown skyscrapers.
Check out this vessel - I could barely fit it all in the frame.
It was, if you couldn't tell from the photos, overcast and windy. I didn't mind so much, it was actually somewhat refreshing. Most of the ship is indoors anyways, so the second you felt too much of that windy chill run through your bones you could step back inside.
It was a great day for a sail.
The jazz was a lovely touch.
They had a buffet but I didn't partake. Again, way to stuffed. And enjoying my wine way to much!Adam had a plate of the pulled BBQ Chicken and the Lobster Mac-n-Cheese.
We made our way to the inner harbor which provided views of the Zakim Bridge,
as well as The Charlestown Navy Yard and The USS Constitution.
Thanks again Alicia for offering up these tickets!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lord Hobo

It's all about the neighborhood eats this weekend; from Washington Square in Brookline, to the North End in Boston, to somewhere in between Kendall and Inman Squares in Cambridge. Respectively, The Abbey made a great first impression with their fried halloumi cheese appetizer and Bison bolognese entree, Taranta kept me in her good graces with a hearty fall butternut squash and sage ravioli and an awesome Pisco Sour, and now Lord Hobo, caps off a weekend of fantastic eats with an inventive brunch menu and creative breakfast cocktails to boot.
The first official Boston blogger brunch commenced in a cozy residential neighborhood outside Kendall at Lord Hobo. Lord knows I wasn't the only one nursing a hangover that morning. Sometimes all the body needs to kick it is a stiff bloody mary and some greasy eggs and toast. So the question of the hour begged, could the Lord save my Sunday?(the night before):
[Side note to those of you who commented on the pumps - Steve Maddens I got at Macy's for $18 on some ridiculous clearance rack marked down 9 times over. Originally a $100 some odd dollar pair of heels. Score.]
An edgy hipster vibe emits from the industrial meets funky atmosphere with exposed metal pipes, low hanging light bulbs and walls painted red with black trim, lined with clean brightly colored canvas prints.
The water is served in mason jars and the mimosas in non-traditional champagne glasses.
Ice cold and very necessary.
Also very necessary was a Bloody Mary ($7)
Deliciously spicy and full of vodka, though, that's no ordinary celery stick - it is actually a pickled celery. It was briny with a hint of sweetness and much softer in texture than your classic stalk.
I'm sensing a trend. I ate pickled peaches in my salad the other night at Market, and now a pickled celery stick in my bloody mary. If this is a new frontier in salad courses and drink garnishes, count me in!
Between all the bloggers in attendance, we had the brunch menu covered. Check out Justin's Eggs Benedict ($12) with speck, spinach and hollandaise.
And Renee's Cuban braised pork ($13) with salami, swiss, pickled veg and fries
Both worthy choices. I stepped outside my comfort zone and chose the Pork Belly Hash ($14) with sunny side up eggs.
I usually forgo the hash option in favor of the eggs benny, but I do love a rich tender pork belly. The presentation in a Staub cast iron skillet with two bright yellow eggs staring up at me was all it took to convince me I made the right choice.
But I definitely had to work for it, the cuts of pork belly were massive! The homefries were no bite-size picnic either.
Despite the extra effort involved, the roasted pork belly were exceptionally moist and delicately fatty, combined with onions, spinach, corn, runny eggs and greasy homefries. I could feel the hangover subsiding. I ordered a side of wheat toast & jam (before I knew the size of my meal.) A little sweet to go alongside the savory makes brunch for me.
Stomach: full. Hangover: cured. Buzz lingering from the Bloody Mary: something like that.
And it was off to the next adventure!

Lord Hobo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Taranta is a solid choice for a special occasion dinner out in the North End. I find they cater well to large parties as evidenced by Saturday evening where I was dining with a group of women for Kirsten's Bachelorette party and in the past I have celebrated a friends birthday here with a large group! Just because I associate them with hosting large groups, doesn't mean they compromise on the classic intimacy you'd come to expect when dinning out in Boston's Little Italy. I assure you this restaurant would be just as special for a date night or intimate celebration for two. Taranta packs a crowd into three floors where each cozy level over looks Hanover Street. The first level beholds floor to ceiling street front windows, which I love to see open in the warm months. The atmosphere as a whole is enchanting with a combination of exposed brick and exposed granite stone walls. An eclectic mix of colorful dangling glass light fixtures hang from the ceilings and even the circular lights embedded in the steel staircase emitting deep blue, yellow and green lights captivate you from the moment you set foot inside. Opened in July of 2000, Taranta focuses on Southern Italian meets Peruvian Cuisine. The restaurant is owned by Chef Jose Duarte (who is originally from Peru) and his wife Anna. The owners deserve much praise for their commitment to sustainable initiatives in all aspects of work. This restaurant became Green Certified in 2007 and in 2008 received The City of Boston Green Business Award. They use efficient lighting and are recycling and composting 99% of their waste stream; which is very impressive.
When some of us arrived to dinner on Saturday evening 15-20 minutes late, the hostess was still welcoming and completely understanding. She even sat the members of our party who were on time (which I know most restaurants are hesitant to do.) I really appreciated the thoughtfulness and hospitality regarding this.
I spotted a Pisco Sour ($10) featured on the menu and decided to try this one out for size. You might recall I drank a Galliano Sour the night before at The Abbey, so clearly this was the weekend for sour martinis! A grape liquor whose namesake honors to the city of Pisco, this traditional Peruvian cocktail made with lemon, Angostura bitters and a dash of sugar combined with the delicate frothiness of the egg white revealed a complex and lip puckeringly sour taste. 
I drank two. They went down way too easy. I was impressed when our waiter after announcing the specials, gave us his sincere apologies for the wait we experienced early on after we were seated. It took longer than usual for him to grace us with his presence and take drink orders. (I'm hesitant to admit because it didn't seem to matter whatsoever to any of the 12 women engaged in conversation.) But, the fact that he acknowledged our wait with a simple apologetic gesture was thoughtful and, all it took to set the tone for the rest of the meal. He was efficient and attentive from there on out and overall did a fantastic job, managing to get all 12 drinks and entrees correct in a timely fashion without writing anything down! For my entree I chose the Butternut Squash Ravioli with brown sugar, sage and cream sauce with asparagus and shrimp. This dish to me represents fall. The raviolis were well made and the sauce flavorful and comforting, however I was a little disappointed in the asparagus as it was added sparingly and the bites were considerably smaller than I was expecting. The generous addition of plump juicy shrimp was a job well done.I tried a few bites of the Pappardelle con Funghi Porcini ($26) - free form cut pappardelle pasta with wild mushrooms, porcini and truffle oil and it was exquisite. 
We did order three desserts to share - A traditional Tiramisu ($8), the Hazelnut Mousse ($8) with a drizzle of dulce de leche, and Chocolate Souffle Cake ($10). I wasn't about to make anyone wait to dig in, hence, desserts went unphotograped. Sometimes this is for the best. The Tiramisu was excellent, living up to all my expectations. The Chocolate Souffle was disappointing, but I had really high and perhaps unfair expectations after this souffle. The Hazelnut Mousse with its decadent layers was my favorite of the three. The flecks of nuttiness dispersed throughout added a texture similar to a Ferro Rocher candy.
A minor bump in service in the beginning of the evening and the fact that I wanted a little more asparagus in my entree, isn't enough to keep me from recommending a visit to Taranta. I'm confident in this establishment as a whole because the staff is truly wonderful and their business practices demonstrate real integrity. The marriage of Italian and Peruvian cuisine makes for a unique concept to embrace in Little Italy.
Taranta on Urbanspoon

P.S. Earlier that afternoon I was getting pampered with some of the ladies at Christine's Day Spa in Quincy. I received hands down (haha) the best massage I've ever had. I felt so relaxed and spoiled the entire day. And my mani-pedi complete with a salt scrub leg rub was invigorating. I got OPI's All That Razz-Berry on my fingers and toes. We spent the day in bliss on the private third floor lounging around eating decadent cupcakes in plush bathrobes.P.P.S. After dinner we had a fabulous night out on the town.