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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Tag Archives: celebrity chef

imag1464I met my two old friends over at Trade for dinner. We grabbed a great seat by the window and gabbed the night away.

Trade is owned by Eric Papachristos, Sean Griffing and chef Jody Adams. You may know Jody as a James Beard winning chef and the co-owner of Rialto in Cambridge. Griffing is a 15 year veteran of the Boston restaurant scene and Papachristos is a self made restaurateur. Jacki Morisi has just moved over to Trade as the new events manager – she comes from Rialto, where she was the marketing and communications manager.

We start with curry cauliflower with red onion, raisins and yogurt ($7). The presentation is lovely and the dish has a warmth to it – the yogurt was a really nice addition to complete the dish.

imag1465Chicken meatballs with smoked corn, charred tomato vinaigrette and pine nuts ($11) were a table favorite. Classic yet bold in flavors.

imag1466Fried polenta bites with chorizo aioli, cilantro and preserved lemon  ($9). These were delicious – I loved the texture of the polenta.

imag1469Baked rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone  ($22) had perfectly al dente pasta. The ragu wasn’t too game-y as sometimes lamb can be. It felt like comfort food without that heaviness that can sometimes come with it.

imag1467The chocolate decadence cake with caramel, creme fraiche and 5-spice ($8) went quickly. The cake was dense but not heavy. It paired well with caramel and the 5 spice wafer was a nice mix – sweet and spicy.

Trade

540 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA

http://trade-boston.com/

Trade on Urbanspoon

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IMG_6756I was invited to the third annual Taste of WGBH Food and Wine Festival on September 11th. Chefs from all over New England came to sample their dishes at the Chef’s Gala Reception. The events continued all weekend including a farmer’s market, artisan taste sessions, educational seminars and a brunch bar.

IMG_667325 of the top chefs paired their dishes with selected wines and a few select craft beers.

IMG_6681Chef Michael Werneke from Prohibition Pig in Vermont made corn muffins with cultured Farmstead butter, smoked pork rillettes on crouton with pickle, and Bailey Hazen blue cheese tartlet with black walnuts and maple. The dish was paired with Guzman Riestra Brut Nature Cider.

IMG_6687Chef Cara Stadler from Tao Yuan in Maine made Grandma Tang’s roast pork buns which was paired with a La Madrid Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc. This was my favorite dish of the evening. Very well made, and the filling was so flavorful.

IMG_6697Andy Husbands from Tremont 647 was serving a BBQ brisket with kimchee sauce and yuzu apple slaw. It was paired with a Bissell Brothers Brewing Substance Ale. Andy always knocks it out of the park. Andy just finished a cookbook called Grilled to Perfection, you should check it out.

IMG_6699Il Casale made panzarotti: smoked scamorza stuffedpotato croquettes with a roasted red pepper sauce.

IMG_6700This was paired with the MacPhail Sundawg Vineyard Pinto Noir 2011.

IMG_6702Chef Matt Morello from Brasserie 28 in Andover  had a charcuterie display.

IMG_6703There were three different offerings.

IMG_6704 All the charcuterie was paired with the  Alchemist Heady Topper.

IMG_6706Chris Coombs from Boston Chops did a lovely steak tartare served on a potato chip paired with a 2012 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

IMG_6713The State Room prepared a lobster bahn mie sandwich with cilantro citrus marinated lobster, pickled fennel and chili aioli.

IMG_6715The sandwich was paired with a Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc.

IMG_6718Probably one of the best plated offerings of the night.

IMG_6720Chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier from MC Spiedo made a spit roasted suckling pig with macaroni, root vegetables and a farm egg. The dish was paired with a 2010 BV Tapestry.

IMG_6724Tallulah on Thames, a restaurant in Newport, prepared a lovely dessert – Sweet Berry Farm peaches that were compressed and served with a curried yogurt, anise, hyssop, tarragon and pickled onions. It was paired with a 2011 Terrior Hunter Sauvignon Blanc Leyda. The peaches were almost translucent and the flavors were bold. I loved this dish.

IMG_6726Chef Louis DiBicari of Tavern Road prepared a smoked bluefish pate with fennel pollen and orange mostarda. It was served with a 2012 Malvasia del Fiore.

IMG_6730Will Gilson from Puritan and Co. made a heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil and marinated scallops.

IMG_6733Chef Michael Scelfo from Alden & Harlow made a grilled corn salad with avocado creme and pumpernickel crumbs. It was paired with a 2013 Chateau de Munuty Prestige.

IMG_6735Chef Jaime Davis from Deuxave made a milk chocolate cremeux with compressed apple cider and olive oil cake. It was paired with a Broadbent 3 year fine rich madeira.

IMG_6741Chef Nevin Taylor from Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain made lamb kofta and mixed vegetables with a green goddess dressing.

IMG_6751Chef Jason Bond from Bondir.

IMG_6754Chef William Kovel from Catalyst made a spice crusted tuna with a cucumber radish salad, lemon syrup and a sesame tuile.

IMG_6759Chef Brooke Vosika from The Four Seasons Bristol Lounge made crab gougeres with chives, served with golden tomatoes and lobster coral.

IMG_6764Chef Brian Alberg from the Red Lion Inn made a summer ratatouille with a tomato vinaigrette and Mill River micro greens.

IMG_6776Chef Shannon Bard from Zapoteca/Mixteca in Portland, ME made a spicy lobster bisque. A simple and yet lovely presentation. The broth was a bit spicy but really quite delicious. Probably my second favorite dish of the night.

IMG_6779The bisque was served with Herradura Silver Old Fashioned.

IMG_6782Maura Kilpatrick from Oleana made a Taza bittersweet chocolate with beet and licorice.

IMG_6781The dessert was garnished with figs and chocolate covered cocoa nibs.

IMG_6748The dessert was paired with the  Sandemann Porto from Portugal.

IMG_678780 Thoreau‘s chef, Carolyn Johnson, made lamb dumplings with smoky eggplant and peppers. It was served with a Donelan Family 2011 Cuvee Christine Syrah

IMG_6791Tyler Anderson of Millwright’s in CT made onions, chicken vin, fried chicken skin with picked golden raisins.

IMG_6793Entertainment was provided by The Perry Rossi Band. Great band with a great sound!

IMG_6795To hear a sample of their sound, check out my Instagram video here.

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IMG_6583I recently met up with Stephanie Cmar and Justin Burke Samson of Stacked Donuts and Trademark Tarts. They have officially become Party of Two! We chatted at Fairsted Kitchen before their pop up event. You would think that they had been best friends since first grade (they complete each other’s sentences!), but really, they became friends when Stephanie started Stacked Donuts at the beginning of the year.  What is amazing to me is that Justin is self taught – his creations are delicious. Here he is making a chocolate cookies and cream pop tart with Bailey’s frosting – perfect for the boozy themed evening.

IMG_6592And let me tell you, he didn’t skimp on the Bailey’s!  Justin always thought that he would do this kind of thing later in life – like when he was 50. I’m glad he didn’t wait that long! I asked him if leaving a 9-5 and steady paycheck to focus on Party of Two was scary – and he said of course it is, but would it be worth it if it wasn’t scary?

IMG_6597Justin said that they learn something new with each pop up they do and that the best pop ups are the ones where the host restaurant really gets involved and excited (but they have all been good)!

IMG_6614Justin is definitely a baker – very detail oriented. He was telling me that one time he had to make the donuts using Stephanie’s recipe. She took one bite and said they were AMAZING, what did he do? To which he simply replied, “I followed the recipe”.

IMG_6584His second treat was a strawberry Rosé tart.

IMG_6618I asked where his flavors come from, are they genius ideas that come to him in the middle of the night? Do loyal fans request flavors? Are they crowd-sourced? He said all of the above! Did you know that Trademark Tarts is a finalist in the Martha Steward American Made awards. Please vote for him! The prize is $10K that will all be put towards opening a brick and mortar business!  http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/94057/food/trademark-tarts

IMG_6591For the event at Fairsted, Stephanie made about 40 donuts. For events on the weekend, she makes more. Even at 10pm, when those donuts were put on the table, there was a very decent line of fans patiently waiting (if not frothing a little at the mouth).

IMG_6623You may recognize Stephanie from Top Chef Season 11.

IMG_6630Stephanie is a 2007 graduate of Johnson and Whales. She returned to Boston after graduation and started her career at Top of the Hub. From there she moved on to Ivy Restaurant. In 2009 she began working with the Barbara Lynch Gruppo, first at B&G and then at Stir. Most recently she was at No. 9 Park.

IMG_6632While they are focused on their craft, they also manage to have some fun along the way. Check out their instagram photos,  Stephanie and Justin have a slew of selfies.

IMG_6627 The lavender sugar donuts smelled amazing.

IMG_6634Rosé donuts were a big hit!

Check them out on social media to see where they will be next. They are at State Park today at 2, Moody’s in Waltham on Saturday from 2-6pm and Mei Mei Street Kitchen on Sunday at 11am.

Party of Two https://www.facebook.com/PartyOfTwoBoston

Stacked Donuts https://twitter.com/StackedDonuts

Trademark Tarts  https://twitter.com/trademarktarts

 

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IMG_6489Thursday night, September 4th, Buick hosted an evening at Sweet Cheeks Q. To follow the conversations check out the hashtag #summerencore and #bosdistrict along with the twitter handle @districtdrive. It was the perfect summer evening, we had the whole patio to ourselves and they pulled up the canopy so that we could eat under the stars.

IMG_6485Guests included Rachel from Eater Boston, Eric from Urban Daddy Boston, Erik from Thrillist and Tom, aka Boston Tweet. There were two signature drinks for the evening, a “Regal Buick” and a “Palmer Encore”. So here’s what you’re thinking: what does Buick have to do with BBQ? From time to time they do these events to get out in front of their audience. People buy cars every 8-10 years, you don’t want to wait that long to have a conversation with them. The evening was relaxed and casual – it was about the company and the food, talking about a new car was a bonus. Buying a car can be pretty stressful, trust me, I bought one a little over a year ago – from a 25 year old girl who looked like she just came from a club – it was so awkward I didn’t know where to look.

IMG_6486I love how creative they got with the seating. Guests were sent home with a Buick wine stopper and the opportunity to take a Buick vehicle out for a full week for a test drive. Conor, co-founder of SoonSpoon joined me for the evening and we had a blast! He’s from Texas, so this was right up his alley.

imag1404

The cocktail hour featured small canapes: summer tomato with whipped pimento cheese and charred scallion; maple crisped southern “Johnny cake” with bluefush pate (above); smashed cucumber with North Carolina tahini and dill; and crispy oysters with lettuce and corn salsa.

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First course was plated: pork belly and grits with smashed tomato sauce and shrimpy sauce. How can one go wrong with pork belly?

imag1407The second course was served family style: a fried chicken and shrimp boil poured out right onto the table. How amazing is this? The fried chicken was PERFECT, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. You should have seen the size of those shrimps! Tiffani came out and chatted with us over the course of the meal – we talked Top Chef, opening your own restaurant, and where the other best places in the city are to get fried chicken. We met briefly at a Good Ones party months ago, but this was a nice chance to get to know her a little better. Let me tell you, she couldn’t be nicer or more down to earth.

imag1409Don’t for get the sides: biscuits with honey butter, mac and cheese, collard greens, fried okra and broccoli casserole. The best part about Sweet Cheeks are the biscuits – not only are they enormous but they still manage to feel light – and that honey butter? Forget about it – I dream about that stuff.

imag1412Dessert was a gigantic nutter butter with garnishes. One word: AMAZING! On the regular menu, it’s just the nutter butter, so this one was kicked into overdrive. We couldn’t finish it all! Thanks to Buick and Tiffani for a wonderful evening. Can’t wait to pick out a car and take it for a spin!

Disclaimer: Buick invited me to attend this event as their guest – all opinions are my own.

Sweet Cheeks Q

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

http://www.sweetcheeksq.com/

Sweet Cheeks Q on Urbanspoon

 

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IMG_6553By now you may have heard that Stephanie Cmar (Stacked Donuts) and Justin Burke Samson (Trademark Tarts) have officially partnered up and re-branded to Party of Two LLC.

IMG_6554What have they been up to this summer? They have been on a whirlwind tour – taking their sweets on the road to LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Brooklyn and Portland, ME. And they have been getting some great coverage: Boston Magazine in April, again in July,  Lux and Concord, and Eater.

IMG_6569I stopped by State Park on Friday to chat and get some treats. Justin made fruity pebble pop tarts.

IMG_6579And cookie dough candy bars…a little melty/messy but boy was is tasty.

IMG_6575Stephanie rolled out a chocolate Guinness stout donut.

IMG_6571She also made a white chocolate cherry donut and a sugar bruleee donut (not pictured). Did you miss them on Friday? Don’t worry, they will be at Fairsted Kitchen on Monday, September 8th at 10pm serving up boozy versions of tarts and donuts!

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WGBHImage

I am excited to attend this year’s Taste of WGBH Food and Wine Festival! This year over 25 of the top chefs in the city will come together for this great event. I will be attending the Chef’s Gala on Thursday, September 11th.  Readers of A Little Bit About a Lot of Things can get a 20% discount on tickets! I hope to see you there!

Some of this year’s participants will be: 80 Thoreau, Alden & Harlow, Bondir, Boston Chops, Brasserie 28, Catalyst, Deuxave, Douro, Four Seasons Bristol Lounge, Il Casale Cucina Campana & Bar, MC Spiedo, Millwright’s, Oleana, Prohibition Pig, Puritan and Co, The Red Lion Inn, Ribelle, The State Room, Tao Yuan, Tavern Road, Tremont 647, Zapoteca and Zebra’s Bistro.

You can purchase tickets online at http://www.wgbh.org/foodwine/festival_tickets.cfm and use the code FOODBLOG to get 20% off your ticket.

Here is the full schedule:

Chef’s Gala Reception

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dress code: Cocktail attire, business attire

7-10pm open to general ticket purchasers

Tickets, general admission: $150

The event is held inside the WGBH Calderwood Studio, and Atrium

Imagine 25 of the best chefs from the far corners of New England under one roof! Don’t miss this incredible gastronomic adventure in food, wine, and craft beer! The Chef’s Gala Reception is an elegant evening with 25 unique stations showcasing cuisine of local chefs/restaurants paired perfectly with selected wine and a few select craft beers from 25 featured artisans. Meet and mingle with your favorite chefs, and discover new favorite restaurants. Learn about the magic of pairing various dishes with the perfect wine to enhance flavor, and your experience.

*Must be 21 to participate

 

The Artisan Taste

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dress code: Business casual-casual

Two Sessions: 1pm-3:30pm and 5pm-7:30pm

Tickets for one 2 1/2 hour session: $50 for members and $60 for non-members

Located in back WGBH visitor parking lot

Experience a wide variety of artisanal foods featuring New England’s renowned restaurants, chefs, and local producers.

·         Exhibitor tables featuring more than 100 wines from around the world, local food purveyors, and local fare.

·         Clarke Sub-Zero Wolf Celebrity Cooking Stage to include two chef demonstrations during each two and a half hour session.

·         Interactive displays and sponsor activations and entertainment will be included on the stage between each of the cooking demonstrations

*Must be 21 to participate

 

Farmer’s Market

Sat. 9/13 11am-5:30pm and Sun. 9/14 10am-3pm

FREE event, open to the general public

Will feature 15-20 farmers/vendors with a wide assortment of fresh produce, spices, herbs, and baked goods. Check the website for updates in the coming weeks ahead with a complete list of participating vendors

(will be located in front parking lot by Newbury Comics and our parking garage in same configuration that we had in the 2012 Wine Fest)

 

Brunch Bar

Sunday, September 14, 11am-1:30pm

Tickets: $40 for members and $45 for non-members

Dress code: Business casual-casual

We’ve taken the guessing out of where to have brunch with this exclusive event. Have Sunday Brunch at the Brunch Bar with more than 100 different restaurants, artisan food producers, craft breweries and wines serving up sumptuous tasting-sized portions of foods from the exotic to down-home. The event features live chef demos, live music and an unbeatable way to travel New England in the span of a couple hours.

 

Also on Sunday Sept. 14 are two

Food & Wine Festival Seminars

These will be located inside Cahners Conference Room, Reno and 3rd fl cafe

 

Pickled: Preserving the honored tradition        

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2-3:30pm

Donation: $25

Capacity: Capped at 40 guests

Presented by Tia Pinney, Naturalist/Adult Program and Eco-management Coordinator from Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

Join us for a visually, aromatically, and gastronomically exciting event, as we explore a plethora of pickles with our friends from Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. The art of pickling has made a comeback in recent years with the popularity of the do-it-yourself movement. This class will provide you with the basic skills you need to pickle a wide variety of fruits and vegetables at home.

We’ll review the elements that go into crafting a good pickle, including acid, flavorings, spices, produce choices, preparation, and storage. You will have a chance to sample some delicious pickled fruits and vegetables during the seminar, and you’ll even be able to take home your own pickled creations at the end of class. Bring your appetite, and get ready for this adventure in pickling.

Shaken & Stirred


Sunday, September 14, 2:00-3:30pm

Donation:$25

Capacity: Capped at 40 guests

The dedicated staff from the James Beard Award-winning Kenmore Square cocktail lounge, The Hawthorne, is calling class into session to teach guests a little about the history of the cocktail, and the style and technique that go into mixing a drink. Katie Emerson, The Hawthorne’s bar manager, will cover ratios for a few original classic cocktails, while mixing up a classic Bee’s Knees. Katie will provide the details needed to assess your home bar, and the tools to customize cocktails using three basic formulas for a variety of delicious and time- honored variations. You’ll leave armed with the fundamentals to mix the perfect cocktail and a few goodies to take home to your own bar.

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IMG_4615We headed up to Maine for a quick weekend away in Kennebunkport. We were staying at Hidden Pond, and while it was hard to pick the thing I was MOST excited about, eating at Earth was at the top of my list.

IMG_4637We picked the same weekend to go up to Kennebunkport as M and B, so we decided to meet up the first night for dinner. The restaurant was quite dark, so the pictures here are not the best – good enough for you to get the general idea though.

IMG_4638The treetop/nature theme from the resort is carried through here as well. The decor is beautiful – I love the white lights on the tree branches above the bar.

IMG_4621The restaurant is packed, as I expected it would be. Earth is Ken Oringer’s seventh restaurant. Earth uses local ingredients and produce from the property’s two on site organic gardens.

IMG_4622Sangria ($15) is always a good way to start a meal!

IMG_4625Burrata, mustard fruit, black olive oil, crunchy olives, rhubarb ($15). The plating is a work of art, unlike any burrata dish I’ve had before. Creamy and delicious, this dish makes me crave more burrata on the plate.

IMG_4629Wood fired lobster, green garlic butter, fresh garbanzo beans, Meyer lemon, chamomile ($42). Another great presentation, I loved my entree. Earth makes it easy for you to eat the lobster meat – and there is a decent amount of it.

IMG_4630Crispy skin duck, fermented garlic, sunchokes, baby turnips, tardivo ($36). I know I keep talking about the plating, but it really is quite something to look at.

IMG_4631Diver scallops, smoked potato purée, Fiddle Head, baby fennel, Vidalia onions ($38). Fiddleheads might be one of my favorite things. The scallops were on the larger side, M couldn’t finish the whole dish.

IMG_4633Warm donuts ($10) came served on a wood board – simple and delicious.

IMG_4632Meyer lemon curd, blondie, whipped cream, umiboshi, white chocolate, granola streusel ($10) While I was so full from my lobster entree, I loved every bite of this dessert – meyer lemon anything is top of my list!

 What’s your favorite Ken Oringer restaurant?

Earth at Hidden Pond

354 Goose Rocks Road

Kennebunkport, ME

http://www.earthathiddenpond.com/

Earth on Urbanspoon

 

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TradeI was asked by Tastetrekkers to do a guest blog post about my top 5 _______. With summer just around the corner, and Battle of the Burger in August, the likely choice for me was top 5 burgers. There is a certain familiarity with a burger – no matter where you travel, you feel like it’s a safe choice – you know what you’re going to get. People are more likely to try rare game meat like bison or elk if it is in burger form. But I digress. My first stop was to Trade in the Financial District. (See my second stop, Liquid Art House here)IMG_1583They have a great space with amazing floor to ceiling windows. I was there at lunch time and it went from this to bustling in a blink. James Beard award winner Jody Adams co owns Trade with restaurant industry veterans  Sean Griffing and Eric Papachristos. Chef Andrew Hebert came out to talk to me about his burger.

IMG_1598The burger starts with Pineland Farms ground beef and pancetta, top that with Vermont cheddar, lettuce, tomato, house-made pickles and onion all on top of an iggy’s brioche bun ($15). Great burger! The bun stands up to the burger, which is key, there’s nothing worse than having the bun fall apart halfway through your burger. The flavors all meld together well – the saltiness from the pancetta, the sweetness of the onions and the bite of the house-made pickles. The burger patty is flavorful – adding the pancetta to it makes it stand out from the crowd. Have you voted for the Trade burger in the Battle of the burger? Every time you vote you are entered into a drawing to win 2 free tickets to the Battle of the Burger on August 13th.

Trade

540 Atlantic Avenue

Boston, MA

http://trade-boston.com

Trade on Urbanspoon

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IMG_0875We were wandering around looking for things to do, and decided to drop by Blue Dragon for lunch. We’ve been meaning to get in here, but the wait on a Friday or Saturday night can be long – and they don’t take reservations.

IMAG0102The place has a good sprinkling of people – a bunch of couples at two tops and one larger party of 6 sitting at a high top grabbing some afternoon drinks. We grab two seats at the counter facing the windows just as lunch is starting to wind down. Our waitress is super friendly and on top of our water from the moment we sit down.

IMG_0866We start with the pork and scallion wontons ($8) which were delicious, although a little hard to grab with my chopsticks (I think I’d better brush up on my skills). They were excellent, well season and the wonton skins were impossibly thin.

IMG_0868Next up was the Korean beef reuben with fresh kimchee slaw on Iggy’s rye bread served with white sweet potato chips ($13). A really delicious sandwich, not sure I can ever go back to a traditional reuben again!

IMG_0873The house ramen ($12) was a pork ramen in a really silky smooth broth – much too much food for me to eat in one sitting! Glad we finally had a chance to stop in and see what we had been missing.

 

Blue Dragon

324 A Street, Boston, MA

http://www.ming.com/blue-dragon.htm

Blue Dragon on Urbanspoon

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Garten_headshot2_HiResCalling all Ina Garten fans! The best-selling cookbook author and star of Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” is coming to Symphony Hall in Boston on November 5, 2014 at 7:30pm! Ina will share behind the scenes stories and will be joined on stage by a local moderator. There will be an audience Q&A following the interview. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, May 16th, but here is your chance to get access to tickets BEFORE they go on sale to the public.

Pre-sale begins today, Tuesday, May 13th at 10:00 AM EST.
Go to: www.bso.org/ina

Tickets start at $39.95 and range in price to $75. You can pre order Ina’s ninth cookbook, Make is Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook from Williams Sonoma and pick up your autographed copy at the event. Use the following link: www.williams-sonoma.com/inagartentour  as limited copies will be for sale the night of the event.

And check back on my blog often, as I will be giving away TWO tickets to the event!

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