Category Archives: eating out

springtime sampler

We finally had some decent weather this past weekend and I was absolutely desperate to get out of the house. We’d never been to New Bedford, a town hailed for being one of the most important whaling ports in the 19th Century, so we made the one hour drive down from Boston and checked out some sites that Joseph had picked out.

The highlight was definitely Margaret’s (actually across the river in Fairhaven), a small, unpretentious seafood restaurant that we picked based on strong Yelp reviews. It was packed but turnover was fast enough that it seemed that no one ever had to wait. They had yummy focaccia at the table waiting for us before we even sat down which is both delightful and dangerous for someone who loves bread as much as I do. We both got seafood plates that had slightly different content, but pretty much the same sauce. The food – especially the huge, sweet, and plump mussels – was delicious and the prices were friendly on the wallet. Simple food done well, amazing prices, awesome service. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely recommend stopping by.

We also stopped by Lydia’s, a Portuguese Bakery, for some somewhat unmemorable pastries.  We knew nothing about Portuguese pastries and had no idea what to get, so that may have been the problem.  Next we headed to Sid Wainer & Son, a specialty food wholesaler with a retail store open to the public where you can get a $300 jar of winter truffles and enough free food samples to constitute a small lunch. Make sure to bring a jacket if you want to peruse their well-stocked cheese room.

Next was Travessia Winery, an urban winery that sources most of their grapes from a vineyard in Massachusetts. The Pinot Grigio and the Chardonnay are well worth skipping, while the Vidal Blanc and especially the red blend Jester, whose grapes are sourced from California, are tastier. Mostly I was just glad that you saved $2 off the tasting by opting out of getting the “free” glass.  Anyone want any winery wine glasses?  We have enough to stock a small restaurant.

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a weekend of food love

Taza Chocolates

One of things that I really love about Joseph is that we both really enjoy and value food.  It’s not enough just to like food, to like to eat it.  Who doesn’t like to eat?  To be the man that I’ll spend the rest of my life with, he has to really appreciate what went into a dish to make it what it is, he has to celebrate the flavors and the way they work together, and he has to have a curiosity and genuine interest in what makes a dish so special.  It doesn’t hurt to also be an amazing cook who also does a heck of a job washing dishes.  Joseph is all of that, and more.

Valentine's at Taza Chocolate

We spent the weekend before Valentine’s exploring local food treasures including the Danish Pastry House (absolutely incredible pastries), Fastachi (nuts, chocolate, and more), Penzeys Spices, John Dewar & Co. Butchers, and the Spirited Gourmet for a sake tasting.  Then we had a fabulous dinner at Hungry Mother, one of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area, where the highlights were the braised beef tongue appetizer, the french gnocchi (I always have to order their gnocchi), and the outstanding bourbon upside-down cake with butter pecan ice cream.  I can’t stop thinking about that sweet, salty, rich, nutty caramel goodness.  And that was just Saturday.

cacao pod

Sunday, we trooped off to Taza Chocolate for a tour at the factory.  If you aren’t familiar with Taza Chocolate, they’re located in Somerville, MA, just outside Boston and they are the only direct trade, organic, stone ground, bean-to-bar chocolate maker in the country.  You’ll find plenty of chocolatiers in the States, but finding one that buys the cacao beans and does everything else from roasting the beans, to tempering, to making the bars, wrapping them (by hand no less!), and selling them is much more rare.  I knew it was a really cool company, but being there and actually seeing and hearing more about it, well, I’m completely smitten.

Taza Chocolates

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rhode island calamari

Calamari is one of those foods that garners all kinds of reactions from people.  Some people are appalled by the mere idea of it (“it’s squid!!”), some people are only ok with it if it’s deep fried, some people are only ok when it’s cut into rings and they do no want to see the tentacles, and some people love it in all its forms.  I used to be of the second persuasion: only ok with it as long as it was deep fried.  It just seemed safer and more unrecognizable in that form.  I mean, it’s breaded and deep fried.  Of course it’s good!

My very first date with Joseph was at a tapas restaurant and as we were selecting dishes to share, he suggested a sauteed calamari dish.  I was faced with a dilemma.  Do I present myself as a picky eater who’s somehow willing to eat (and enjoy) fried calamari on our first date, or just suck it up and eat something that sounds, frankly, kind of disgusting.  I went with option number one and openly admitted that I was a little nervous, but of course I would try it.  I loved it.  After one bite I didn’t want to share the rest with him. Continue reading


Blueberry pickin’

blueberries

When we came to West Branch Pond as kids, my sister and the kids of our close family friends often went blueberry picking. It always made me think of Blueberries for Sal, one of my favorite books, and I was always on the lookout for a mama bear and her cubs. We never saw them, but I don’t think I will ever be able to go blueberry picking in Maine without thinking I’ll also see a bear.

This trip was no different than past trips (you know, other than the fact that we were now much older and picking berries with our husbands) and we didn’t see any bears. But we did end up with a bunch of berries to bring back to the kitchen at WBPC. The next morning there was no question about what we were going to pick for breakfast. I only wish we’d gone picking earlier (and frequently!) so we could have had berry pancakes every morning! Alas, these blueberry pancakes were our last breakfast before heading back to Boston to return to the daily grind of real life. It was pretty sweet while it lasted.

blueberry pancakes


West Branch Pond

 

west branch pond row boats

moose

So the real reason for our trip to Maine was not the blueberry beer, but to go to West Branch Pond Camps to hang out for 3 1/2 heavenly, relaxing days with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. This is the kind of place where the most difficult decisions you’ll be faced with are whether you want pancakes or french toast for breakfast and whether you want to go for a hike or go canoeing and take a dip in the pond.  It is a hard life!

dining

 

All meals at WBPC are prepared by the owners at the lodge which was only 100 feet or so from the log cabin we stayed in.  While not all of the food was quite 100% up to my standards (canned green beans?), the rest of the food more than makes up for it.  Really.  It more than makes up for the canned green beans.  Fresh baked bread with every lunch and dinner.  Fresh baked dessert with every lunch and dinner. And just damn good home cooking for the rest of it.  Macaroni and cheese with huge chunks of croutons.  Beautiful roasted cornish hen.  Turkey dinner with the most amazing, rich, creamy mashed potatoes and killer stuffing. And the ribs!  Having been vegetarian for many years, I had never actually had ribs.  The meat practically came off the bone just by looking at it and was smothered in a tangy barbecue sauce.  I was in love.  And while some of the veggies may have come from a can, many of them also come straight out of their garden.  So really, the rest of the food more than made up for the occasional canned veggie. By a long shot.

cornish hen

cream puff

lemon square

Oh, and of course we brought our own wine.  Lots of it.

Sharp Rock

Sharp Rock Synergy


Fisherman’s Catch

We may have just gotten back from our trip to Europe, but we decided it was time for another vacation (if only life could always be like this).  We started our trip to Maine right after work on Thursday and worked our way up to Greenville where we were staying the night before heading to West Branch Pond early the next morning.  We were eager to start the Maine experience and followed glowing Yelp reviews to Fisherman’s Catch in Wells, ME on the way up.  There was a 70 minute wait, but we figured it would be worth it, in part because people people kept telling us just that as they exited the restaurant patting their bellies. A Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale with wild Maine blueberries bobbing about made the wait easy.  The beer itself is tasty, but the berries, which explode with fresh blueberry sweetness and the the subtly fruity ale they’d been soaking in, were the real highlight.

blueberry ale

The meal itself was less satisfying.  So many of the Yelp reviewers raved about the fried clams and the menu alerts readers to the fact that the clams make it into the book 1001 Things to do Before You Die.  Or so I thought…. I found out later that it actually said 1001 Things to do Before You Diet.  I find this considerably less exciting because the first is not limited to food. Regardless, when we ordered the Captains Platter for 2, which was loaded with fried scallops, clams, shrimp, and haddock on top of french fries and hey, why not throw in some rolls because there’s not enough white/yellow food, we found that it pretty much all tasted the same.  Maybe it’s because we don’t eat much fried food?  I don’t know.  It really all just tasted like the batter, which I would say was only so-so.  But maybe it’s just Joseph and me, because everyone else just loved it.  Next time I think I’ll just stick to the lobster.

mountain of fried seafood


Clover Food Lab

clover food lab

I was excited to see the feature on Serious Eats on the Clover Food Lab truck over by MIT because friends had just told us last week that we needed to check it out.  That was all we needed to convince us to ditch our plans to go to the gym and head on over before they closed at 7:00. It was fantastic. They gave us a “sample” of freshly made watermelon soda while we waited and believe me, a sample that’s 2/3 the regular serving certainly gets me in the mood for a good meal.

chickpea fritter and soy blt

Joseph got the soy BLT and I got the chickpea fritter.  The soy BLT was more about texture, while the chickpea fritter had more substance (and was very pretty to photograph). We also split the rosemary fries which were pretty awesome – the little fried rosemary leaves were tasty on their own, not to mention with the fries. And we got all that for $13.  Not bad.

rosemary fries