Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween

I hope everyone on the East Coast stayed safe during the hurricane. I was supposed to fly back out to Madison on Monday, so much for that!
Instead, I get to stick around here for Halloween. Charlestown gets very festive for the occasion. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Madison, Wisconsin

I have been spending a bit of time lately in Madison, Wisconsin for work. This lovely little Midwest capitol has been good to me. Bordered by the ever calm Lake Mendota on one side and the silent glossy Lake Monona on the other, where a charming downtown square meets a hip college scene. The energy is centered around the capital building, with a commanding presence, it definitely drew me in on a daily basis. A slew of pretty impressive restaurants and bars keep things interesting - more to come on where I've been eating and hanging out around here!

Friday, October 26, 2012

bowman's beach

It was Ashley's 29th birthday and our last night of vacation. We popped champagne and watched the sunset at Bowman's Beach on Captiva. Then we ate a big Italian feast and drank bottles of chianti at Matzaluna, I had frutti de mare and tiramisu.

   I am so grateful for this time. And for them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

sanibel & captiva

Last week, I took a vacation that went a little something like this: serene moments on the beach where a piercing hot sun and soft white sand leave you wanting for nothing but the respite of a dip in the gulf of mexico. Relaxing under a canopy of palm trees as a great blue heron and egrets frolic along the shore. Beautiful sunsets and tropical drinks followed by fresh grilled mahi mahi and crispy coconut gulf shrimp. Girlfriends who make the quiet island nights come alive. And more importantly, who make time for each other year after year as we get older and life gets even more hectic.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Tasting Dinner | Bokx 109

I love participating in menu preview events and tastings; they allow a chef to really showcase their talent and versatility by giving you smaller bites of more dishes. The most recent I had the pleasure of attending was out in Newton Lower Falls at BOKX 109, a modern American steakhouse located inside Hotel Indigo 

Guests were seated at the sleek taupe colored marble chefs counters, with a smaller cooking and plating station set apart from the open kitchen. This unique set up lends itself well to demonstrations and interacting with the chef, giving you an intimate view of your courses as they come together.  

Executive Chef Stephen Coe was front and center all night, putting out first rate dishes at an impressive speed. Clearly, a lot of thought and planning went into this meal.
Chef kicked things off with a smokeshow, a giant wine glass was lifted to a swirl of smoke and once it cleared, a delectable Pear and Mascarpone Sacchetti was revealed. Tucked neatly into adorable little sachels, sweet juicy pear and rich mascarpone are a heavenly duo in a lemony cream sauce.
Next, a local Grilled Oyster encrusted with panko breadcrumbs is topped with fennel pollen, tomato, panchetta and chive fondu. Fennel pollen gives this Rockefeller style oyster a unique appeal. 
In a duo of Octopus, carpaccio and grilled tentacles are served with arugula and pickled red onions finished with lemon juice, olive oil and chives. The supremely thin and delicate carpaccio was the favorite in this instance, while the tentacles were quite dry and didn't achieve the texture I'd expect. 
A classic Cambell's style Tomato Soup is thick and velvety, finished with parmesan foam and served alongside a deconstructed grilled cheese with slices of baby and yellow tomatoes, a fresh hunk plus a fried cube of buratta and tiny spheres of balsamic vinaigrette.

The Lobster Cavatelli was exquisitely plump and silky, that goes for both the nicely shucked crustaceans and the homemade pasta shells as they rested in a chive cream sauce with shitake mushrooms and edamame. A welcome finishing touch (and a new to me cheese) are thinly shaved slices of ricotta salada, a lovely variation of sheeps milk cheese that has been pressed, salted and dried.
With a similar taste and texture to chicken, the Deacon Rabbit is slightly more gamey and lends delicate, juicy bites contrasting with a crispy bacon wrapped exterior, served over tender stewed butter beans.

The Sous Vide Veal Cheeks with tarragon pappardelle and red parsnip puree are impeccably tender and richly flavored. And, once again this dish showcases the chefs prowess in the pasta department, all of it is homemade and simply excellent.

A lovely little dessert plate offers bites (and sips, in one case) with a strawberry and white balsamic jelly, a petite tiramisu, a chocolate cyclone and a blueberry prosecco shooter.

A final gesture surprises us with a fun treat - Pop Rocks (!) over a limoncello souffle. Additionally, our courses were paired with interesting wines, most of the focus was on whites including a Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, a Deep Sea Chardonnay and a King Estate Pinot Gris.  The red wine of the evening was a Houge Reserve Cabernet made exclusively for the restaurant.
BOKX 109 proves to be worth venturing out of the city for, especially as it is accessible by public transportation - it's the last stop (Riverside) on the Green Line D train. It contains all of the urban charm and sophistication you'd expect from a downtown hotspot with a chef who flies under the radar but could rival the best of them. 
BOKX 109 on Urbanspoon

This dinner was complimentary, all opinions are my own.