Wednesday, January 30, 2013

winter at ArtBar

| 1 | Botany Bay, square one, drambuie, amargo bitters, elemakule tiki bitters, grapefruit 
| 2 | All Natural Meatballs, harissa tomato sauce, stone ground polenta, crumbled feta 
| 3 | Winter Froth, spiced rum, egg white, ginger simple, lemon, balsamic vinegar
| 4 | Lentil Fritters, curried mushroom ragu, tzatiki  
| 5 | Rocket Greens, golden raisins, whipped ricotta, pine nut brittle
| 6 | Charred Octopus, chorizo vinaigrette, butterscotch beans, spiced carrot puree 

| 7 |  Winter Vegetable Stew, roasted farro, butternut squash, pesto aioli 
| 8 | #5, house espresso-infused bourbon, amaretto, campari, mole bitters 
| 9 | Georges Bank Scallops, roasted beets, quinoa and bacon salad  
| 10 | Duck Breast, confit of duck leg ragu, sweet potato gnocchi, pomegranate, red chilli jus 
| 11 | Tom & Jerry, coronet brandy, egg, demerara, nutmeg, spiced rum, steamed milk 
| 12 | Moroccan Bastilla, saffron ice Cream, honey winter spice flower water
| 13 | Due Cheese and Cranberry Strudel, fall fruit compote and pomegranate coulis

The other night, I got to sample the new winter menu at ArtBar. The bar program here is outstanding and the food really something special. Between the two of us, Amanda and I drank six excellent and interesting cocktails, and still there are so many more that looked appealing. The use of balsamic vinegar in the Winter Froth ($11) was pretty fantastic, giving a tart zing to contrasting ingredients of egg white and spiced rum.  Another gem proves to be the #5 ($11) where an awesome espresso infused bourbon blends with campari and amarretto for equally bitter, sweet and nutty flavors. 

The chef sent out his favorite dishes and after eating our way through 10 or so plates, nearly ever single one I would order again. The cast iron skillet of Meatballs ($10) were a highlight among the starters, flavorful and moist with hearty polenta and thick cubes of tangy feta cheese. The Charred Octopus ($13) was also particularly tasty. The Winter Vegetable Stew ($18) and Seared Scallops ($27) alike were outstanding, the former boasting chewy farro and impossibly tender butternut squash drizzled in a creamy pesto aioli, the latter nicely seared and complimenting golden beets and plump pearls of quinoa. The Duck Breast ($25) and accompanying confit ragu were both perfectly executed, the entire dish comes together really well with the chewy sweet potato gnocci and juicy pomegranate. As far as desserts are concerned, pick the Strudel! Overall though, it was all about the the preceding repertoire of drinks and hearty entrees that stood out at ArtBar on this freezing winter evening.

*this tasting was complimentary, all opinions are my own 

Friday, January 25, 2013

weekend on cape

Pictured: a long walk on Chapin Beach in Dennis, plus some antiquing in Brewster and a stroll through a quaint neighborhood in Centerville. These are just a few reasons why a Cape visit in the middle of winter is a welcome one. (Also good reasons: Inaho takeout, my Mom's cooking and in general spending time with her, yoga at Sasha's and movies at the Cape Playhouse.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marigold Kitchen | Madison

I miss Madison. (Of all the places, Wisconsin!) Downtown, there are some lovely little breakfast spots to wake up and relax at. One morning at Marigold Kitchen a frothy cup of chai tea and fluffy blueberry pancakes do the trick. Another time, pretty lattes and a nutella, banana and almond crepe at Bradbury's, and I don't mind for a second that 18 inches of snow left me stranded here an extra day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sweet Cheeks Q

Sweet Cheeks serves up Texas Style BBQ in a refined rustic setting with heavily distressed wooden tables and delicate strands of white lights. Located on Boylston Street in the Fenway neighborhood, the exteriors signage is loud with exposed bulbs, a giant glowing BBQ sign presides on the corner.

The Biscuits ($10) which come four to a tin bucket with creamy honey butter, are as good as every single person who has ever set foot in this establishment (and ordered them) says they are. Flaky yet sturdy on the outside, warm fluffy layers on the inside, heaven. Don't let the fact that you must order four at once deter you, portion sizes are huge, so leftovers in general are highly likely. (In other words, take those biscuits home with your meat!)


Served in mason jars, cocktails stick with the theme of being on the large side. The Federale with tequila, jabanero simple syrup, agave, grapefruit and lime was super spicy, a great drink if you like a punch of heat. A Genesse Cream Ale also makes an appearance. 

A tray of Berkshire Pulled Pork ($18) comes with white bread, tangy mustard pickles and onions and two sides - I chose collard greens and the carrot salad. I had heard lots of praise for that salad specifically; I guess that's the plus side of visiting a regularly hyped restaurant opened by a Top Chef Alum over a year after its debut. (I already knew everything I should probably order.) I would concur with the beauty of that cold scoop, it was memorable with thin shards of crunchy carrots, golden raisins, toasted walnuts and blue cheese crumbles in a zesty dressing that nicely tied everything together.

As far as the hot scoop, I thought the collard greens were pretty amazing, too. The pulled pork was juicy and tender, a Texas style dry rub renders it subtly smokey and three types of tableside BBQ sauce add another layer of flavor. (Depending on which you choose - standard flare, intense heat or a sweet North Carolina vinegar style.)

It is completely worth it to muster room for dessert, the unassuming little mason jar of Butterscotch Pudding ($6) is terrific, super rich and smooth in texture, equally as sweet, and then balanced out by a cap of sea salted caramel.  
So if you're craving some good BBQ in Boston, I'm pretty sure this is where you want to end up!

1381 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215
Sweet Cheeks Q Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

winter mix

All the things! (The holidays, winter tea juleps, making good use of my dining room, the light in my dining room, precious newborn babies, plaid shirts, winter beers, and snow. Always snow.)