Monday, October 16, 2017

15 Years of Ono Hawaiian BBQ (+ Freebies on Oct 17!)

Did you know that Ono Hawaiian BBQ celebrates their 15th anniversary this year?
When you go to an Ono Hawaiian BBQ on the anniversary day (Tuesday, October 17), you can get $15 Ono Bucks after spending $15 on food and drinks. They're also giving away a free tote bag with $15 purchase while supplies last.

I remember going to Ono quite a bit during my time as a UCLA undergraduate, and I recently paid them a visit when I was in LA, because it's hard to find spam musubi in Boston!
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Just two of these would probably make me full already, but how can I say no to spam musubi? Such a perfect snack.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Farm-to-Post Foraged and Wild Dinner at Post 390 (Back Bay, Boston, MA)

Farm to Post is the dinner series at Back Bay's Post 390 that showcases the local farmers and New England producers the restaurant works with. I attended a pork dinner last year featuring Dogpatch Farm and I had another opportunity to attend a special dinner recently. In September, Post 390 held a "Foraged and Wild" dinner featuring (you guessed it) foraged ingredients.

Each Farm to Post dinner always starts with a cocktail reception with passed hors d'oeuvres. This year's most popular appetizer was probably the fried Damariscotta oyster (from Maine) with creamed wild spinach and bacon.
Post 390 Foraging
The first cocktail is a sparkling Cocchi Americano drink with wild peppermint and sweet fern tea
Post 390 Foraging

First course: "Secret spot" mushroom vol-au-vent
Marsh greens, spiced black walnuts, blackberries, wild flower petals, Solomon's plume vinaigrette.
This was paired with Oxbow Brewing Farmhouse Pale Ale from Newcastle, ME.
Post 390 Foraging
The pastry for the vol-au-vent was perfectly flaky. The mushrooms, and other foraged items in the dinner were foraged by Nicholas Deutmeyer. The mushrooms came from his secret spot (hence the name). We had black trumpet mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, and chanterelles. The greens also featured foraged sea beans and sea arugula. Perfect start to a foraging dinner!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Brunch and DIY Irish Coffee Bar at Lansdowne Pub (Boston, MA)

Lansdowne Pub in Fenway started Irish Brunch Banger on September 17, which was Halway to St. Patrick's Day. I didn't know that was a thing, but why not - any excuse to drink Jameson and Guinness.

Lansdowne Pub is an Irish pub just steps away from Fenway stadium that offers live music and open mic nights. As a bar, live music spot, and a place to go before and after a Red Sox game, Lansdowne is quite popular, but this is the first time I'm checking out the food, which was surprisingly good.

We had a number of classic brunch dishes like the Sausage & Eggs. The grilled housemade chicken and maple sausage had a nice flavor and a touch of sweetness - I was a fan.
Lansdowne Pub
There were also some atypical items on the regular menu, like the Duck confit grilled cheese. This was a hit at the table, with tender duck confit on grilled bread. The duck is the star rather than the cheese, though.
Lansdowne Pub
My favorite item was probably the Apple Crumble Pancakes (buttermilk pancakes, sauteed apples, oatmeal cinnamon streusel, $10)
Lansdowne Pub
Usually I'm more of a waffle or french toast girl, and I was never a huge fan of apples either, but I couldn't s top eating this apple crumble pancakes! The pancakes themselves were nice and fluffy, and I loved the combination with the cinnamon streusel and the soft, slightly caramelized apples.

Other brunch dishes we tried was the Crab Cake Benedict ($13)
Lansdowne Pub

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dine Out at LA Restaurant Oct 7-14 to Help Puerto Rico with LA Loves Puerto Rico

I think we all know by now how devastating Hurricane Maria had been for the island (and US territory!) of Puerto Rico and how much more help they still need.
Most of the people in Puerto Rico don't have access to clean water, shelter, and power.

If you're unsure of how to help, there are plenty of ways. In fact, there's a very easy way. Just go out and do what you normally do - go out to eat and drink at 100s of LA restaurants next week, from October 7-14. Just be sure to order certain special dishes, where these LA restaurants and bars and their great chefs and mixologists have pledged 100% of the proceeds from those items to Unidos por Puerto Rico for a campaign called LA Loves PR.

Unidos Por Puerto Rico / United for Puerto Rico is an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of the hurricanes.

There are more than 85 establishments participating and offering great special dishes and drinks - because our LA peeps are awesome. You can find the full list here.

As an example: the coconut rice pudding with mango passionfruit sorbet at Woodley Proper.
Photo credit: Jakob Lyaman
Other participating restaurants include Georgie, Miro, Lucques, Sotto, Rossoblu, The Bazaar by Jose Andres, and many more. Seriously, just take a look.

There are some nice cocktails on the list, too, like this Pearl Diver from Accomplice Bar made with Puerto Rican rum, guava, and Gaby's secret Gardenia Mix.
photo credit: Accomplice Bar
You'll find cocktail specials at Commerson, Cana Rum Bar, Barcito, Harvard and Stone, and others.

I urge you, Angelenos, and anyone visiting the city next week. Eat and drink every day, as much as you can, and order these dishes/ drinks. It's for a good - and much needed - cause.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit Food Festival Returns Tomorrow (Oct 3, 2017)

The Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston has been underway since this weekend. The summit gathers 7000 "young leaders" and present motivation panels, pitch contests, as well as music and food festivals. Tomorrow (October 3) will be this year's food festival. The food festival features young notable chefs from the 30 Under 30 list and they will compete for the title of America's Best Young Chef (there are two categories: the Judges' Choice and Audience Choice).

I attended last year's Forbes Under 30 Food Festival, which again featured some great young chefs from all over the world. Here are some of my favorite bites from the Forbes 30 Under 30 Food Festival last year:

This beef and truffle donut - probably my favorite of the night - from Henry Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery a.k.a. The Fabulous Baker Brothers in United Kingdom
Forbes Under 30 2016

Seaweed pie from Toni Toivanen of the Scandinavian pop-up restaurant Sandladan. While they ran out of the seaweed tartlets, I still loved the custard - made of fermented egg yolk and lobster brains (yes), topped with poached lobster and ants.
Forbes Under 30 2016

Eel kabayaki with black puffed rice from La Cime in Osaka, Japan
Forbes Under 30 2016

This year's Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees competing in the food festival / cook-off include:
 Andrew Chmielewski (Dave’s Sweet Tooth, Ferndale, MI), Alexandra Clark, (Bon Bon Bon, Detroit), Simon Davies (Chef de Cuisine at Alinea, Chicago), Zachary Engel (Chef de Cuisine at Shaya Restaurant, New Orleans), Kelvin Fernandez (Executive Chef at La Marina, New York) – defending 2016 “America’s Best Young Chef – Audience Choice” winner, Christian Pettersen (Head Chef at Mondo, Norway), Kwame Onwuachi (Chef & Owner at The Shaw Bijou, Washington, DC), Henry Herbert (TV Personality from The Fabulous Baker Brothers, United Kingdom) – defending 2016 “America’s Best Young Chef – Judge’s Choice” winner, and more.

The food festival will be held tomorrow, Oct 3, 2017 from 6-10 pm at JFK Library in Boston. The food festival is open only to holders of VIP and all-access passes to the 2017 Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Earl's Kitchen + Bar Heats Up the Prudential Center

Earls Kitchen + Bar is a Canadian-based restaurant chain that has made its way to a number of US cities. I haven't had the chance to check any of them out before, but I was recently invited to the opening party of the new location at The Prudential Location.

What I was surprised to see, and one of the coolest part of Earls at The Pru is the Cocktail Lab downstairs, where they will feature guest bartenders from all around the city.
Earls Prudential
The Goddess Manhattan, created by one of the restaurant's regular bartenders, was one of the bloggers' favorites of the night.
Earls Prudential
Other rotating bartenders who was also behind the bar that night were Will Isaza and Melinda Johnson-Maddox. I'm definitely excited about coming back to check out the Cocktail Lab and see who's behind the bar!                                                                                                                               
Earls Prudential
We also tried some bites off the menu during the party, including the Spicy Tuna Sushi Press (spicy soy marinated tuna, chives, nori, avocado, pickled ginger pressed on sushi rice, topped with sriracha mayo)
Earls Prudential
The tuna was served aburi-style, a.k.a. seared.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Seafood and Drinks at The Hourly Oyster House (Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA)

Grafton Group, which has a good hold on Harvard Square with restaurants like Russell House Tavern and Grafton Street, opened another spot last year.
The Hourly
The Hourly is a seafood-focused restaurant. It was named after the horse-drawn carriages that used to transport people from Cambridge to Boston on the hour back in the day - in 1826. The cozy patio features a painting that shows one of the "hourly'.

I recently attended a blogger tasting at The Hourly and tried some of their most popular offerings.

We started with some raw East Coast oysters served with fennel mignonette. Among the oysters we tried were from Cuttyhunk - an island off of Martha's Vineyard, Island Creek oysters from Duxbury, Mookie Blues from Maine, and Warren's Cove from Plymouth, MA.
The Hourly
The oysters were paired with some Tuck Bekstoffer Hogwash Rose of Grenache from Napa. This was just one of the fun wines that they offer at The Hourly.
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Next we had some New England clam chowder paired with Barrel House Z's Sunny and 79' Pilsner (MA)
The Hourly
We had a small cup of the chowder to taste, but of course, the regular order is a full bowl. The Hourly also makes their own saltine crackers for the chowder, which was filled with chunks of clams. The beer is quite a unique one. It is a ginned pilsner made using juniper berries and it was aged in used tequila barrel. They paired this with the chowder because tequila works well with seafood.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Seafood and Absinthe Go Swimmingly Good at Waypoint (Harvard Square, Cambridge)

Waypoint is the seafood-focused restaurant from Chef Michael Scelfo from Alden & Harlow. Tucked between Central Square and Harvard Square, it has become one of my favorite restaurants to go to for seafood.

One time, I went for the chef's counter tasting menu using a Gilt City voucher (seriously, Boston's Gilt City has some great restaurant deals listed from time to time).

For the tasting menu, we started with some oysters with pickled fennel mignonette, and fish pepper cocktail sauce
Waypoint
this was paired with Ca Di Rajo's Le Moss Pet Nat
Waypoint
We loved the wine. Le Moss is an unfiltered sparkling Glera Pet-nat (Petillant Naturel). Unlike champagne, these wines are bottled before fully completing its first fermentation.

The second course was the steak tartare, 3 minute egg, smoked trout roe, toast
Waypoint
This was one of the better steak tartare in the city, in my opinion. The flavor and texture of the meat was spot on, and the slightly runny egg yolk added a nice touch.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Food on Sticks at WGBH Food Fight and The Taste of WGBH

The Taste of WGBH, their annual multi-event food and wine festival held by Boston's public radio station WGBH is coming soon on October 5-8. There will be four different events that weekend, from a red-carpet Chef's Gala to three fun tasting events.

Last year I attended Food Fight, one of their events that pitted Boston restaurants in a competition for the best food-on-a-stick.
WGBH Food Fight
The winner of last year's food fight is Kaki Lima, the Indonesian pop-up that's currently doing a residency at Wink and Nod. They served their sate lilit, a Balinese spiced chicken satay served with turmeric rice.
WGBH Food Fight
I also got seconds of the lobster corn dog from Lincoln, because lobster!
WGBH Food Fight

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chef Fest at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai (Big Island, Hawaii): Preview Dinner at LA's Redbird

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda (discovering LA)


From Oct 4 - Oct 7, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai will play host to Chef Fest, a culinary experience featuring high profile dinners paired with wine, food and wine tastings, interactive cooking classes and special cocktail experiences with top mixologists. Attendees will also have the opportunity to get cooking tips from top chefs Neal Fraser, Andy Ricker, Jonathan Waxman and others.

I recently attended an advanced tasting of this year’s Chef Fest at Redbird in LA. Executive Chef Neal Fraser (Redbird) and Executive Chef Thomas Bellec (Four Seasons Resort Hualalai) were on hand to prepare a five-course meal paired with wine that evening.

We were greeted with island cocktails made with Ko Hana Agricole Rum (made by Manulele Distillers in Oahu). During that time, I had an opportunity to speak with both Fraser and Bellec. 
I found them both to be down to earth and personable. Bellec was previously the executive chef at the Beverly Wilshire and is classically French trained. We had a good conversation about food sourcing and I learned that 75% of the ingredients used at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai are obtained from local farms.

We started with the Oysters Brûlée. Bellec made the preparation entertaining as he used a large butane torch to scorch the fresh oysters. 
They were topped with yuzu curd and finger lime caviar. The taste was unique as it was slightly tart with a mild smoke flavor.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer Cookout at Element Boston Seaport Hotel

I recently had a staycation at the Element Boston Seaport hotel and had a summer cookout with friends. No, really, the Element hotel rooms are equipped with a kitchen and their patio has a grill that guests are welcome to use, as well, making it easy for both short or longer-term guests to "eat in" while they're staying here.

Element Seaport
Yes, we cooked this at a hotel
First off, the Element is a new hotel that opened up in Seaport last year, just across the street from Lawn on D.
Element Seaport
Element has rooms and suites, both of which are equipped with kitchenettes.
Element Seaport

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sumiao Brings Hunanese Cuisine to Kendall Square (Cambridge, Boston, MA)

Boston honestly doesn't have too much regional Chinese cuisine, but this is changing with the arrival of Sumiao in Kendall Square. Sumiao brings Hunanese cuisine, which is hard to find in most places, and combines it with a chich decor and solid cocktails.
Sumiao

The regular menu already has a number of authentic Hunanese dishes, but on weekends they add even more authentic recipes as specials. I got to try the Homemade La Rou with Mushrooms ($28)
Sumiao
La rou is like Hunanese bacon - it is pork belly that's been smoked then hang-dried. This is one of the quintessential Hunanese food. In Hunan, they like to smoke their meats, which is then stir fried with some chili and vegetables (because Hunanese also love their chilies!). They also have la rou with a different preparation on their lunch menu for $13, and I encourage you to try it.

Hunan tofu pot, pork belly, green chili, black bean chili sauce, $18)
Sumiao
As I mentioned, Hunanese love their chilies. Chairman Mao hailed from Hunan and reportedly once said "you can't be a revolutionary if you don't eat chilies!" The Hunan tofu pot was one of the spicier dishes. The spice isn't too bad but it does build up (but if you want more, you can ask for "authentic spicy"). This was one of our favorites that day, with the nicely fried tofu and the flavorful pork belly.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Discover Classes with CourseHorse: Wine Tasting Class at Dave's Fresh Pasta (Somerville, MA)

CourseHorse is a portal to discover local classes, varying from tech classes, languages, life skills, and of course cooking and wine tasting classes. Even fitness classes are listed. I was invited to experience one of CourseHorse's openings, so naturally I looked for the food-related ones. Browsing through the selection I found numerous cooking classes, a cocktail making class at No. 9 Park, and a number of wine tastings. You can look through the current culinary offerings in Boston here.

I decided to take one of the wine tastings offered at Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville. Dave's Fresh Pasta is a gourmet food and wine store, but they also hold events like this wine tasting on a few Thursdays 7:30-9PM each season. The wine tastings at Dave's Fresh Pasta is typically $55 per person. I was there for their Local Cheese and Spring Wines tasting with Vineyard Road, a wine distributor based in Framingham. We tasted five different wines paired with food.

We started with 2015 Murgo Lapilli from Sicily, Italy ($11.95). This wine is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Sauvignon Blanc, which are typical grapes of Italy.
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The wine's apple notes pair well with the Hudson Valley Camembert cheese, apple butter, and apple slices on cracker.
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2016 Domaine Lelievre from Cotes de Toul, Lorraine, France ($16.95). This rose wine is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Lorraine is in the northern center France. This region used to make a lot of wines in the 1500s but a lot of disease had diminished the planted area.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Spending Bastille Day at Taix French Restaurant (Los Angeles, CA)

by guest blogger Bryan Tsunoda (discovering LA)

I look forward to eating out on the holidays of other countries because it is an opportunity to experience something new. For that reason, I enjoy eating out on the French National holiday of Bastille Day.
I was happy to learn that Taix was featuring bouillabaisse as their special that day. Given a choice or proteins, I veer towards seafood and within that food group, I prefer shellfish. Therefore, bouillabaisse satisfies that craving.

Visiting Taix is like taking a trip backwards in time. Driving into their lot, you are warmly greeted by a valet. Entering the restaurant, you walk down a dimly lit hallway. To your right is the bar and straight ahead is the maitre d' station. Inside the dining room are large comfy booths and frosted glass for privacy.

On Bastille Day, the male employees wore red felt berets. My server, however, was female and she wore a ribbon with the French national colors around her neck.

The Tour de France was taking place in France and Taix featured specials each race day. Even the highlighted wines were from areas near each stop on the tour. Also taking place through Friday is Dine LA and Taix is one of the participating restaurants.

When you sit down in one of their plush booths, you receive fresh sourdough bread and crudité. I ordered Claudia’s beet salad from the Dine LA menu and the special that day, bouillabaisse.
The beet salad was nicely plated. I like that the ingredients were chilled, the butter lettuce was crisp, the oranges were juicy, and the garlic vinaigrette complemented the beet salad.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tapas Tasting at Toro, a Boston Mainstay

I have long wanted to try Toro. This tapas bar from duo Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette has been around for many years (since 2005), but there's still always a long wait every night since they don't take reservations, even after they've opened other locations in New York and Bangkok. I finally went to try it when I saw a Gilt City voucher for it. The voucher for a tasting menu wasn't cheap at $100 but it was 8 courses including wine pairing, but the best part is that it allows you to make a reservation! If you've never used Gilt City, you can save $25 off your first order with my invite link.

The tapas tasting started with a Tortilla Espanola (egg, onion, potato, nettle, aioli). A nice rendition of the traditional Spanish dish. The ratio between egg and potato is just right.
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Uni Bocadillo (pressed uni sandwich, miso butter, pickled mustard seeds)
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This is similar to the uni sandwich at Coppa. Of course, I'm always happy to get uni on a tasting menu.

Since my friend is kosher, we got different third courses - I wanted at least one porky dish. I got the Jamon Blanco (Toast with lardo, marinated Jonah crab, black garlic, crispy shallots and avocado)
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While this wasn't what I had in mind when I wanted a "pork" dish, I enjoyed the toast regardless.

Friday, July 14, 2017

5 TV Shows That Are Suprisingly Filled with Food Porn

You don't have to watch food reality TV or food shows to be enticed by food porn on the screen. In fact, there are quite a few TV series that don't revolve around food yet is surprisingly filled with some amazing scenes foodies would gawk at and salivate over. A lot of these shows are available for free or on demand to stream if you have Verizon Fios account (even if they're not, you'll still want Fios' near-gigabit internet speed so you can stream seamlessly!). Now that summer is here, it's a great time to check out theses shows, if you haven't yet. Just be sure your fridge is stocked when you do.


Hannibal


OK, so this show has beautifully shot and amazing looking food scenes, thanks to the supervising of Chef Jose Andres. Hannibal is a food connoisseur and a great cook, but of course, each food scene is a bit unnerving, especially when Hannibal is cooking a meat dish. Could it be human meat? Knowing Hannibal, probably! That's why Gillian Anderson's character will only eat oysters - though I think lobster would be fine too ;) Still, even with the underlying unease, the cooking and dining scenes in this show are some of the best out there.

Master of None
credit: Popsugar
Aziz Ansari's character Dev takes an impromptu weekend trip to Nashville and was late catching his flight home to go get BBQ. He lies to his parents and skips out on prayers to go binge out on more BBQ at Smorgasburg. He's basically just eating around Italy in the beginning of the second season, because "eating in Italy is my favorite thing!" Hats off to Aziz for somehow getting a dinner at Osteria Francescana in the show and making it a business expense.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

WaterFire Lighting in Providence, RI

WaterFire has become one of the top attractions in Providence, Rhode Island in the summer. WaterFire is a sculpture/art installation by Barnaby Evans on the three rivers in downtown Providence, creating a line of bonfires on the water.
Waterfire
Over the years, the installation has been expanded to 100 braziers, and there are multiple lighting events throughout the summer, taking place at sunset (mainly on the weekends).
Waterfire
Most of the lighting activities take place in the basin at Waterplace Park, surrounded by the Providence Place mall and the visitor center. During the lighting, boats with firewood receives fire from a mime, and the braziers are lit one by one as fire acrobats perform on the boats and music is piped all long the river.
Waterfire

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pangea Nutrition, the Mediterranean Diet Meal Kit Delivery

I recently tried a new meal kit service called Pangea Nutrition. Pangea Nutrition is started by two Boston-based doctors. Dr. Christos Mantzoros (Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as Director of the Human Nutrition Unit of the Division of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and Dr. Jason Paruthi, who completed his residency at Harvard Medical School as well as entrepeneurship courses at MIT Sloan School of Management. They combined their medical and nutrition knowledge with the entrepreneurial streak in Pangea Nutrition.
Pangea Nutrition
Pangea Nutrition abides by the Mediterranean diet to make it easier for people to adopt this healthier lifestyle.

Different from other meal kit services, Pangea Nutrition actually utilizes Amazon Fresh for their deliveries, while the recipe cards come separately in the mail. This means you can get Pangea Nutrition if there's Amazon Fresh service in your area.
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