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John Harvards reopens today after summer renovation

12 Sep

After closing its doors for the summer for a complete renovation and rebranding initiative, John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House will reopen to the public today in Harvard Square, according to a press release.

At the new John Harvard’s, history will meet modernity with a fresh take on decor, comfort cuisine and an unparalleled in-house brewing program. True to its mission, John Harvard’s Brewery & Ale House will continue to draw on the story and fabled recipes from John Harvard and William Shakespeare and push forward the tradition of craft beer as the center of life and community.

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Chefs shine with unique creations at Cooking for a Cause

10 Apr

The ninth annual Cooking for a Cause was bigger and better this year — securing funds for the great work the East End House in Cambridge does and providing guests an opportunity to sample treats from the best chefs and mixologists in the area.

Read my writeup online on Wicked Local Cambridge.

Unlike last year, this one had more variety in food with a leaning towards seafood and fish.

I swear I tried doing a blind taste by walking around, not trying to look at the signs or the chefs. Even then I ended up picking up some of the usual suspects… Anyway, here’s what I thought was spectacular among the smorgasbord of mouthwatering tastes that night:

  • Char crudo with ginger pickled rhubarb, parsnip chips, and pea shoots – Jody Adams, Rialto: delicate and mouthwatering, with a crunch.
  • Homemade beet pasta with boudin noir ragout – Tony Maws, Craigie on Main: yay, pig’s blood! Unique and tasty.
  • Cuban-style pulled pork shoulder – Jason Heard, East Coast Grill: well-cooked and packed with flavor.
  • Charred pork belly with chipotle and purple carrot and jicama slaw – Richard Rayment, Aura: mindblowingly yummy.
  • Mexican-style seafood tortilla soup (photo below) – Eric Brennan, Post 360:  full of fresh seafood and delicious.
  • Brown sugar cupcakes with butter cream frosting, caramel popcorn  (photo on top) – Chef Michael Levitov, Area Four: crunchy, not too sweet and just plain different.

A special shout out to my chef friends – Culinary Chair of the night Jason Santos of Blue Inc. with an interesting pastrami reuben fried dumpling and Paul O’Connell of Chez Henri with his family recipe for Lent, fish chowder.

Saloon takes you back to the good old days

15 Mar

It’s hidden so you might miss it. But when you find the light globe announcing Saloon in small red letters a couple doors down from its sister bar/restaurant Foundry on Elm, go down the flight of stairs and prepare to be amazed.

It’s a bar unlike any other in the area, spacious, stylish and boasting brown drinks and suave cocktails from bygone days. Bring an appetite and dress nice because once you’re there, you’ll wish you had.

With unique cocktails and braised pork bellies, Saloon wined and dined patrons at its official grand opening last Wednesday in Davis Square.

First timers admitted it was a little hard to find; regulars called it a hidden gem that they hope remains hidden before it becomes just another overcrowded Somerville haunt.

“I definitely like it,” said Jacqueline Houton of Cambridge. “It’s like an old man’s library—in a good way.”

Read my review in the Journal and check out my photo gallery for more.
Saloon
255 Elm St.
Somerville, MA 02144.
617-628-444
Mon-Sun: 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Guten Appetit – all the way from Germany

24 Feb

Jennifer Brown sent in this delectable piece on German food after her final college semester abroad in Dresden as an exchange student. This is a photo of her with a German making spaetzle.

Germany is a country known for its beer, politics, eco-friendly ways, and its food. The general characteristics given to German food are “thick,” “buttery,” and “meaty”–words describing recipes that can date back to several generations within families. Food in Germany is prepared fresh and thoughtfully; minute-ready items are seldom preferred and refrigerators are smaller than American standards in order to promote the frequent, fresh buying of ingredients. Additionally, Germans seek out local meat, dairy, and baked goods–towns often have numerous local butchers, farms, and bakeries that daily serve their own delicacies.

Considering my experience with the country and its delectable edibles, the following is a series of specialties that I highly recommend (in alphabetical order):

Bretzel – Behold the famous bretzel! Bretzel is German for “pretzel.” Bretzels are eaten at all times of the day in Germany. People cut them in half and butter them for breakfast, or they pack them away to nibble on with lunch, or they have one while they’re eating a small dinner or at an evening beer garden. My German friends generally agree that the best bretzels are in Bayern (the south-eastern region of Germany). In Bayern, Germans eat a bretzel with a white sausage and mustard, alongside a tall hefeweizen in the morning. Venture to the prominent Viktualienmarkt on an early morning in Munich to make an order!

Gluehwein – A German version of mulled wine, gluehwein is a longstanding wintry tradition in Germany. It’s a main feature at Christmas markets throughout the country, and people make it in the warmth of their homes as well. Red wine is the traditional wine used for the recipes, but white wine has been substituted in recent years. The wine used is typically a cheaper wine that grants low prices for merchants and consumers alike. Spices like cinnamon and anise are added to the wine and mixed with sugar. Drinks like gluehwein make Germany’s brutal winters more bearable.

Kartoffeln mit Quark – A long-time money saver in Germany: potatoes and curd cheese. The potatoes are boiled and usually skinned, and the cheese can be mixed with various herbs. The result is most similar to the American baked potato, however Americans don’t really have quark in their diet; the thick, milky cheese is hard to describe, with a slight sour-cream taste that melts with the hot potatoes. While trying this dish, be sure to mash up the potatoes with a fork so they can really blend with the quark. Continue reading

Another butterbeer at Hogsmeade, please

29 Aug

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you really need to get to Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter theme park, if just to taste butterbeer – a magical sweet butterscotchy concoction with beer-like foam that keeps growing as you sip it! You can get in in roadside kiosks or at the Hogs Head pub in the Three Broomsticks.

Explore the castle, dragons, ghosts and grounds in fabulous multimedia ride – The Forbidden Journey or try the Flight of the Hippogriff – a quick little roller coaster ride.

Pick some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans at Honey Dukes, check out the extended ears at Zonko’s or let the wand choose you at Ollivander’s.

I became a child at what is for me Universal’s most unique and exciting theme park. I cannot think of anything that has thrilled me more than walking around Hogsmeade, seeing the Hogsworth Express, Hagrid’s hut, the ghosts of  Hogsworth and the smashed up blue car today. It truly was as realistic as the book or the movie – and completely magical. Now my only problem is, how can I get butterbeer back home?!

We ended with lunch at what is slated as the best of theme park restaurants – Mythos.

The atmosphere was funky and the food good. I enjoyed my crabcakes and tried some of their signature dish the pepper crusted pork – pretty good. All the other stuff, ranging from pad thai to topped flatbread, looked pretty good too.

We ended with mouthwatering Cauldron Cakes bought from Honey Dukes earlier.

You could also grab a roasted turkey leg off a stand in the nearby Jurassic Park!

Newton wine store moves to Brookline

13 Aug

They call themselves Boston area’s most innovative wine shop, both online and in-store and soon moves to Beacon Street according to this Brookline TAB story.

Vinovido promises affordable and highly acclaimed wines for every occasion with a varied selection and expert recommendations.

Their current recommendation is the Muscadet, a dry white.

The 2008 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Cuvee Harmonie hails from a single parcel, and represents one of the finest expressions of Muscadet we’ve tasted. This limited production wine is perfectly suited to these hot August days, and will pair beautifully with grilled shellfish.

Special deal
Regular price: $15.50
1-5 bottles: $14.73, that’s 5% OFF.
6+ bottles price: $13.95, that’s 10% OFF.

Vinodivino
1669 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02445.
617-527-8466

Leisure Station – my pick for boba tea in Boston

27 Jul

I waited until I tried them at least three times and so far, I haven’t been disappointed.

If you love boba/bubble/pearl tea (like me) prepare to be wowed by this new find. Even if you don’t, this might be the tea that wins you over.

Leisure Station
625 Kendall St., Cambridge, MA 02142
567-855-1668

Milk tea with pearls, jasmine tea with lychee jelly, honey citron fruit tea with aloe vera, peppermint milk tea with rainbow jelly – they are all exceptional at Leisure Station in Kendall Square. In fact, nowadays I just look for an excuse to head there in hopes of grabbing one of the teas on the way.

It’s apparently the first of it’s kind in the region with a concept and boba secrets imported straight from Taiwan.  And you can order your tea online and pick it up curbside. Their fusion rolls are pretty hot too – if a tad expensive. (See my review at the Chronicle).

I even went to Chinatown this weekend to try the new tea place folks are raving about and was pretty disappointed with the less sweet and harder boba and the overly bitter jasmine tea.