Monday, September 29, 2014

Sunflowers and Stars | Farm to Table Dinner

Tigerlily Events together with No. 8 Kitchen and Spirits of Amesbury hosted a six course farm-to-table dinner among the sprawling sunflower fields and under the twinkling country night stars at Colby Farms in Newbury. The evening was lively and entertaining, the perfect setting to catch up with my Mom and celebrate her birthday! The festivities kicked off with a hay ride pulled by a John Deer tractor out through the majestic sunflowers as the sun went down. The tractor left us at the tent where we were greeted with appetizers of locally made cheeses and fresh vegetables paired with a fall harvest sangria. 

After we took our seats at the rustic tables arranged with fruits and vegetables, gorgeous flowers, cloth napkins, and candle sticks flickering from wine bottles, the courses began. We feasted first on a roasted beet and arugula salad with ricotta salata shavings, followed by corn on the cob loaded with house cured ham. The wine pairings this evening were also local, provided by Flag Hill Winery and Zorvino Vineyards both of New Hampshire. 

Filling the tent with a delightful smokey aroma, the hay roasted carrots and broccoli were fantastic. The charred hay flavor was so unique and the vegetables were elevated by wisps of soft prosciutto and dots of pomegranate seeds. Mom and I concurred that the next time we roast vegetables we would have to remember this pairing. It would make an awesome Thanksgiving side dish, too. The pork was slow roasted for FIFTEEN HOURS, yielding incredibly juicy and tender bites from each perfectly carved piece. It was served with a squash puree and roasted Yukon gold potatoes. Lastly, we enjoyed an apple crumble with ice cream and whipped cream, paired with a Baldwin apple mead from Russel Orchards.

Many thanks and heartfelt gratitude to all who played a roll in this beautiful and memorable evening, especially Tara Nelson who runs Tigerlily's Event planning and Chef Chris Jackson of No 8 Kitchen. Here's to many more successful, inspiring and locally sourced events in the future!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Bistro & Wine Bar at Mirbeau

After a most luxurious and relaxing time at Spa Mirbeau, The Bistro & Wine Bar warmly welcomed me for a late Sunday brunch. Opting to be seated outside I settled into a comfortable porch table and ordered a glass of Sancerre ($12); soaking in the afternoon rays of sunshine as they combined with a crisp breeze. Gazing out at the zen pond gardens and vibrant green Japanese bridge, I recognized the inspiration from Claude Monet's Gardens at Giverny. For a moment I was transported back to one of my favorite days on a trip to France in 2009. 

The allure of France continues with the food where I recognize executive chef Stephen Coe's name on the menu, he used to be the chef at Bokx 109 in Newton. 

The hearty French Onion Soup ($10) warns off any hint of a lingering chill. A deeply flavorful broth is loaded with sweet caramelized onions. A thick slice of brioche is cloaked in musty gruyere cheese and dusted with chives. 

Chef sends out his signature appetizer - the Pear and Mascarpone Sacchetti ($10) which I also recognize from Bokx 109.  Sweet juicy pear and creamy mascarpone are tucked neatly into adorable little satchels with moustarda fruid, vincotto and chive fondu. I am delighted that he has continued serve this at Mirbeau!
Following the Sacchetti, a sample of chilled melon soup is refreshing and sweet. The piece de resistance isChicken Francaise Sandwich ($12) where supremely crispy skin gives way to tender meat that is layered with sage and honey. On the side, duckfat french fries complete the meal. This wasn't an easy choice though, the entire brunch menu looks stellar.

Mirbeau, you've been good to me. Exceptional, in fact. I'm beyond relaxed and ready to take on the real world again. Merci, beaucoup!!

I was treated to a complimentary "Touch of Class" spa package (choice of one 50-minute massage, facial, or nail treatment with a 3-course lunch) which retails for $200.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Escape to Mirbeau

Arriving to a chateau that looks like it was transplanted straight out of the French Countryside, I spot the number 35 above the framed doorway, confirming I have reached my destination for the afternoon. Mirbeau Inn & Spa is located at 35 Landmark Drive in The Pinehills - a luxury residential community in Plymouth, MA, just 45 minutes south of Boston. A short yet leisurely Sunday drive already feels worth it, it is a crisp late summer day with rich blue skies and this place is gorgeous.  
A doorman greets me at the entrance and escorts me down a regal winding staircase to the spa where I quickly check in. I am whisked to the spotless locker room and provided with a pair of Haviana Flip flops and a fluffy terrycloth robe. I was wisely advised to arrive an hour before my scheduled massage and so at this point I have the full hour to enjoy the complimentary amenities. 

I start in the Eucalyptus steam room, inhaling the scent that invigorates and calms, the relaxation is immediate. Being in here feels like relieving your body of a lifetime worth of toxins. On my way out I grab a cool cucumber infused facecloth and retreat to the indoor resting area. It is quiet not because they have signs posted reminding you to "shhhh" but because not a soul is around. In complete serenity guest's can recline in a padded lounge chair, cozy up to the fire, or soak their feet in a heated massage pool that surrounds a large stone flickering with candles

My masseuse greets me right on time. Given my choice between two oils I choose the energizing - a blend of rosemary, blood orange and mint. The calming scent combines sandalwood, lime, ginger and green tea. I later realize these to be Mirbeau's signature scents, found throughout the spa in their lotions, body wash, shampoos and conditioners. The massage is heavenly. Lindsay works a rhythm that feels in tune with the unusually upbeat and later soothing music, and I appreciate her focus on the hands and feet. 

Post massage I head to the Aqua Terrace, a tranquil outdoor bar and lounge space featuring a jacuzzi and babbling rock fountain. I'm fine to dunk my feet in for now and soak in the sun, next time I'll remember my bathing suit!

I decide on a quick shower before my lunch reservation; feeling invigorated I throw my wet hair in a bun, spritz in some hairspray and slather on that amazing scented lotion. I am entirely hesitant to walk out of the locker room door. Do I really have to leave this realm of luxury? At least there is lunch to look forward to!

The experience at Spa Mirbeau is first rate. Seeking to add calm and balance back into life, this chateau tucked away in Plymouth's Pinehills is a worthy destination. 
I was treated to a complimentary "Touch of Class" spa package (choice of one 50-minute massage, facial, or nail treatment with a 3-course lunch) which retails for $200. View all the spa treatments and packages here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Parla | North End

Parla is a hip new addition to the North End. Located among the mainstays on Hanover Street it is tiny and tucked away with a cozy bar in the back, pressed tin ceilings overhead and vintage artwork lending a 1920's vibe. The signage is displayed on the interior, illuminating the space with retro neon bulbs adding to the speakeasy-eqsue ambiance. (Pretty sure it has been flying under the radar since it opened in April.) My visit was way back in May with some of the first friends I met through blogging. This was one of those lovely catch up and share everything dinners - with the always present bottle of bubbly rose, crowd pleasing appetizers, refined cocktails and dressed up versions of classic pasta dishes. It was nice to reconnect while discovering splendid new offerings in a neighborhood we all love. 

Cocktail | Sacco & Vanzetti - rye, blackberries, peychaud bitters
Small Plates | Wild Boar Meatballs and Braised Oxtail Arancini
Antipasti |  Buratta Fritta - eggplant caponata, balsamic reduction, red pepper puree
 Pasti | Lobster & Uni Ravioli - homemade ricotta, lemon cream, diced tomatoes, fava beans, garden peas
Squid Ink Gnocchi - wild boar ragu, basil, parmesan, garlic bread puree.    
Quail Egg Carbonara - panchetta and spinach

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Barking Crab

I've lived in Boston for 8 years and I've never had a meal at The Barking Crab - until this summer! We meandered over the Fort Point Channel on a warm Monday evening, the place was PACKED. We enjoyed some nice conversations with out-of-towners at our communal picnic table. The views out from underneath the bright red and yellow awning are spectacular; the Financial District illuminated sprawls out before you across the channel. The meal was comped for me this evening but I did pay for the alcohol, which included Zesty Oyster Shooters ($9) and a couple Harpoon Barking Crab White Ales ($6). Kicking off a seafood meal with a freshly shucked oyster in Stoli Hot and hot sauce isn't a bad idea. Our waiter recommended an appetizer when we couldn't decide, the Scallops ($12) had a beautiful pan sear and paired nicely with a corn puree and fennel slaw. I enjoyed my Naked Lobster Roll ($26) and Bob devoured his Stuffed Lobster ($54). Simply prepared, the lobster meat is fresh and plentiful. If you're in the mood to dine on the water in a casual communal setting, socialize with some tourists, and splurge on seafood, this is the place to do it.
88 Sleeper Street
Boston, MA 02210