Monday, April 28, 2014


Sarma means wrapped; enveloped; rolled up; a bundle of food that is bite sized and served as a meze. From the chef that brought us Oleana and Sofra, Sarma is Ana Sortun's version of a Turkish tavern, known as a meyhane. Here in Somerville's Winter Hill neighborhood, a warm embrace of little dishes with intriguing spices and herbs delights.

Painted in a deep cornflower blue with turquoise and green accents, decorated with an elaborate set of painted plates, dangling exposed lights and Turkish mosaiq lamps, the restaurant is colorful and comfortable. Megan, Emily and I caught up one evening, deeming the majority of the plates a hit, with a few misses in the mix as well. 

In order of appearance, the Basturma & Cheese Rolls ($8) with chive and fenugreek fell somewhere in the middle. A lovely bite, but nothing that knocked our socks off. The Haloumi Fries ($7) with kimi white fig ketchup and the Brussels’ Sprout Bravas ($9) with hazelnut migas, fell on the awesome side of the spectrum. Even right now I find myself craving these terrific bites! The Haloumi was warm and melty, while the brussles were rich and spicy. From the bar, I sipped an Old Soul ($10) with Bourbon, pineapple, fenugreek and bitters. This was followed up by a glass of crisp, food friendly Txakolina. I'm a big fan of wine menus offering this Basque Country gem - a dry slightly sparking white wine.

We expected to love the Fava Bean Pate ($7) with capers, red onion and dill, but some abrasive salty-spice in the pate itself, plus those capers, overpowered the usually bright and fresh tasting favas. Green Garlic & Zucchini Keftedes ($10) were soft and light patties, topped with refreshing almost palate cleansing ingredients - crisp cress and cucumber tzatziki. The heavier meat and seafood based dishes we ordered were hits. Persian Beef & Swiss Chard ($12) with sweet potato, cilantro yogurt and lime, and the Octopus Skewer ($15) with grilled avocado, grapefruit charmoula and Israeli couscous both proved to be boldly flavored yet balanced dishes with welcome spices. 

For dessert, there's about 15 toppings to customize either the thick and tangy Greek style Frozen Yogurt ($5) or the Loukamades ($5) - a ricotta doughnut dusted in powdered sugar. We wisely chose both and paired them with the heavenly Banana Pudding ($2) and the ethereal Passion Fruit Curd ($2). Definitely a fun way to end the meal without being too heavy. Even if you happen to over do it on the small plates (an easy feat, the menu is pretty large) I wouldn't pass on dessert.
249 Pearl St. 
Somerville, MA 02145
 Sarma Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Genève, Switzerland

Before Chamonix, there was a night in Geneva, Switzerland. We wandered along the banks of Lac Lucerne and through Vieille Ville (old town), ducking into cozy bars for a mug of vin chaud or a glass of Kronenbourg. Restaurant Le Thermometre was buzzing on an otherwise quiet street, so dinner was decided on a whim based on the crowd. We were seated at a high table in the back corner by the custom zinc and red painted bar, where we had an amazing meal in good company. (We became friendly with the owner, that's him in the photos.) I turned 30. It was a really nice way to celebrate.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc

Named for the brightly colored rock lobsters that live along the rugged Marlborough, New Zealand coastline, the Lobster Reef family produces unique blends of lively and distinct boutique wines. 
The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with fresh grapefruit flavors nicely balanced by some earthy, grassy notes. It lends bright aromas and a generous palate, with a refreshing mineraly finish. It beautifully complimented a dinner of shrimp scampi - buttery, garlicky pasta and crisp shrimp dusted in fresh parsley. Seafood or shellfish are a recommended pairing. 
Lobster Reef wines are a great value retailing at $10-$15. I received this bottle as a sample. (Wine samples are always welcome here!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mount Gay Rum Supper

Let's talk about rum; the worlds oldest refined rum, the brand that is intimately connected to the sea and sailing community, the kind first distilled in copper pots on the northernmost tip of Barbados 310 years ago in 1703, Mount Gay. Harmoniously blended using sugar cane molasses and coral filtered Barbarian water, Mount Gay produces some wonderfully elegant, full bodied and complex rums. 
The brand ambassador, Scott Fitzgerald and the lovely folks at their marketing company hosted a private dinner at Forum, where we honored their Black Barrel blend - a small batch of handcrafted rums matured in double pot distillates and finished in charred bourbon oak barrels. A luminescent amber color boasting aromas and flavors of spice, pepper and toasted wood with hints of sweet caramel and vanilla, this rum is something special.
The first cocktail we enjoyed as we mingled before dinner was a Black and Ginger - Black Barrel, ginger ale, angostura bitters and a lime wedge. Once we sat down and Scott began his stories (quite the storyteller, I loved learning about the rum through his tales) we were served Black Barrel neat, alongside another cocktail called the Old Soul - Black Barrel, lime juice, simple syrup, mint leaves and a prosecco float. This one was my favorite; it was elegant and refined just like the rum itself. 
The supper began with a gorgeous appetizer, the Spiced Seared Tuna with a cucumber mango salad, avocado crema and a white soy passion fruit vinaigrette. Scott waxed poetic about rum, and we listened to tales of the Mount Gay Barbados Regatta among others. 
For the main course, Forum presented a beautifully prepared Pan Roasted Halibut with pineapple salsa, rice pilaf and asparagus, accompanied by another terrific drink. The Mt Nahn was a balanced, tropical blend of Black Barrel, Kings Ginger, lime juice, pineapple juice and Peychauds bitters with an absinthe rinse.

Dessert was outstanding, Mount Gay Extra Old served neat alongside Southern Style Fried Peach Pies with ginger anglaise and salted caramel sauce. 
They gifted us a bottle, and I'm nearly through it! Friends I have been sharing it with are equally impressed. I love discovering new staples for my at home bar. Many thanks, Mount Gay!

bottle images photo credit: Daniel Krieger

Friday, April 4, 2014

drink of the week | Lucky's Pimm's Cup

Found at the Fort Point mainstay dubbed the "Den of Cocktail Cool", Lucky's Lounge created their own version of the Pimm's cup and it is delicious. The Lucky's Pimm's Cup ($10) combines the namesake English liqueur with cucumber vodka and ginger beer. The classic spiced and fruity notes in the Pimm's No. 1 lend itself perfectly to this pairing. The result is a refreshing meets gingery-spiced, carbonated cocktail.   It is served over ice in a pint glass with sliced cucumber garnishes.

Find more drinks of the week (which are not in fact weekly but whenever the mood strikes) here and here

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lunches Downtown

After working at the Schrafft's Building in Charlestown for nearly 7 years, I had the good fortune of transitioning to a project within my company that moved us to an office in Downtown Crossing. Working in the city is much more exciting than being on the outskirts, for the lunch options alone. It has been over a year now, so sharing some of my favorite lunchtime eats is long overdue. (Additionally, a lot of my favorite spots are in Chinatown, which will come in a separate post.) 

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe - 86 Bedford Street 
I always get the #4 - Hand Pulled Noodle ($6) with a Cumin Lamb Skewer ($1.50), a green tea juice box, and if I'm there early enough, a small table to watch the chefs "Biang Biang" noodle-making in action and the place fill up with regulars. These thick and wide noodles coated in garlic and chili paste, generously spiced with chili powder and accented with scallions and cilantro are jealousy inducing good, as in, if you haven't tried them yet, I guarantee you are looking at that photo, itching to slurp some up right this very moment. Eating here kind of feels like you are part of a secret lunch club. 
Gene Wu's hole-in-the-wall establishment is cash only and open from 11am - 4pm.
 Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe on Urbanspoon
Yes, their tacos are excellent, but have you tried their Tortas? A torta is a toasted Mexican sandwich with white onions, pickled jalapenos, avocado crema and black bean spread. Pictured is the Carnitas Michoacan Torta ($6.50) which in addition to the above contains slow braised sweet pork and fresh cilantro. Mexican street food in the form of Tortas, for the win. 

One of the first food trucks to hit the streets of Boston, and still one of the best. Their gourmet Grilled cheeses are classic comfort with a twist. On this day I enjoyed the Green Muenster Melt ($6) made with muenster cheese, applewood smoked bacon and homeade guacamole, the Roasted Tomato Soup ($3) and a Blueberry Mintade ($3)
 Roxy's Grilled Cheese on Urbanspoon

Avery Provision - 571 Washington Street
They have plethora of lunch options here, but the sushi counter for a Maki-Rito ($9.95) is where it's at. Spicy tuna, crunchy tempura flakes, crisp english cucumber and creamy avocado are wrapped tightly in sticky white rice and nori and instead of slicing up the roll, it is left whole to enjoy burrito style. It's a fun take on sushi. Of course, you could always stick to regular maki, though, they tend to be a splurge compared to the options next door in Chinatown. I like the Shrimp Tempura Roll ($11).

Avery Provision Company on Urbanspoon 

 Captain Marden's Seafood Truck
This Crab Cake Sandwich, best enjoyed in the summer time when the Cod Squad truck is out and about, is phenomenal. It comes on a lightly toasted bun with crisp lettuce, onions and tomatoes. On the side some equally amazing hand cut french fries and a scoop of zesty coleslaw. 
Captain Marden's Seafoods on Urbanspoon

The lunch options in Downtown Crossing and the Financial District are endless, especially with the consistent presence of food trucks in Dewey Square, Government Center and Post Office Square. The City of Boston Food Truck schedule can be found here