Saturday, June 16, 2018

Comfort Food and Classic Drinks at Seaport's OG Lucky's Lounge (Boston, MA)

Before Fort Point was the hot spot that it is now, there was Lucky's Lounge. I have to admit since it wasn't hot and new, it wasn't really on my list to check out after moving to Boston - but I'm glad I finally did.
Known for its live music and Sinatra brunches for many years, Lucky's Lounge also has a great beer list and serves surprisingly good comfort food and variations on classic cocktails.

I was pleasantly surprised at the cocktails I had here. There were seasonal Pimms cup, classic cocktails and in general a more interesting menu than what I expected. The drink was smooth and well balanced - I can recommend this place for cocktails in the Fort Point area!
Lucky's Lounge
The food here is comfort food with a twist, like this fried buffalo brussels sprouts with blue cheese and bacon. I'd recommend this to share with a few people, it was pretty rich with all the bacon and blue cheese!
Lucky's Lounge

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Preview: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, June 1-17, 2018

by @discovering_LA

The annual Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is currently taking place through June 17 with over 100 participating restaurants throughout Coachella Valley offering prix-fixe lunches from $15-25 and dinners from $29-49.

Executive Chef Jason Moffitt of Chi Chi at the Avalon Hotel Palm Springs recently collaborated with Executive Chef Michael Reed of Viviane at the Avalon Beverly Hills for a pre-event tasting that I was fortunate to attend. We were seated outside near the hotel’s famous hourglass pool. It was rather chilly and we benefited from the non-obtrusive heaters. This hotel is historically preserved from Beverly Hills in the 1990’s and was renovated to make this property retro-chic to restore the glamour of Beverly Hills. I thought the exterior pastel colors really set the tone for the evening.

We began with Spanish Octopus.

The octopus was perfectly grilled with a pleasant wood-smoked flavor. The combination of smoked eggplant labneh, bulgur, pickled fresno chile, mint and zaatar gave it nice flavors with a bit of spiciness. It was served on top of grilled lavash.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Spectacle on Spectacle Brings Gourmet Eats and Drinks to Boston Harbor Islands on June 21, 2018

The ultimate Boston summer food festival might be Spectacle on Spectacle, which brings guests to Spectacle Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands, for a food and drink extravaganza complete with a ferry ride to and from the island.

Since last year, the Boston Harbor Now has signed on Barbara Lynch to be in charge of their culinary programs, so you can bet her restaurants will be participating at the event as they did last year. This year's Spectacle on Spectacle will take place on June 21, 2018 and there will also be a fireworks display.

The evening starts with a ferry ride to Spectacle Island, and there were appetizer stations and beer/wine served on the boat. It actually did rain that evening during the event, but they were ready with tents and the rain didn't stop any of us from having a blast.

There were other great Boston restaurants participating last year in addition to the Barbara Lynch Gruppo. Some of my favorite dishes included this sea trout crudo from SRV.
Spectacle On Spectacle
There's of course, the iconic butter soup (with mussels and caviar) from Barbara Lynch's Menton.
Spectacle On Spectacle

Monday, May 7, 2018

Omakase at the Hidden Sushi | Bar (Encino, CA)

I heard about a sushi bar in Encino with a name pretty impossible to google: Sushi | Bar. This is Phillip Frankland Lee's hidden omakase-only sushi bar behind Woodley Proper in Encino. Sushi | Bar has two seatings per night and only seats eight people at a time. Reservations for the night opens at 10 am that morning on their website (EDIT: Sushi|Bar now takes reservations up to 2 weeks in advance!)

Sushi | Bar is hidden inside Woodley Proper. You check in at Woodley Proper and wait at the bar with a welcome cocktail before the party is escorted to the secret room. Sushi | Bar is not a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant. Phillip Frankland Lee and his team serves up a creative 17-course omakase of sushi with unusual garnishes and preparations.

We chatted with the sushi chefs and other diners and the 17 courses and their drink pairings come and go in rapid succession. I wasn't able to take detailed notes of every single preparations and photos of all the dishes, unfortunately, but here are what you might expect out of this wonderful and unique omakase experience.

We started with a West Coast oyster with whipped nigorizake and caviar, among other ingredients. I opted for the drink pairing which mixed in sake, beer, and cocktails - starting with sake to pair with the oysters.

There's the Purple Peruvian scallop with noc chuom and leche de tigre
Sushi Bar

Oo-toro, pineapple, brown sugar, wasabi, soy
Sushi Bar

White prawn from the Gulf of Mexico marinated for 3 days in chermoula. The prawn was oasted, then topped with dehydrated matcha, kelp, wasabi, and soy
DSC00049
The prawn was paired with a cocktail made with Japanese whisky, port, lemon, matcha, kelp, soy - the three ingredients matched the garnish on the prawn sushi itself.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Where to Drink Cocktails in Boston: Fenway / Kenmore

If you were to do a cocktail crawl in Boston, the Fenway Kenmore neighborhood is actually a great place to do it, due to the concentration of good cocktail spots in close vicinity to each other. Drink at one of these spots next time you're in the neighborhood - or just go to all of them!

The Hawthorne
Hawthorne Thirst Boston
Owned by Jackson Cannon and currently managed by Jared Sadoian, The Hawthorne is the cocktail lounge to go to in Boston when you want to feel fancy in a quieter spot with excellent drinks. Their oft-changing cocktail menu features well thought out classic variations. For a more casual vibe, visit them on Swizzle Sundays on the patio.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Spring Cocktails, Crab Toast, and More at OAK Long Bar + Kitchen at The Fairmont Copley Plaza (Boston, MA)

A month or so ago, I finally visited OAK Long Bar + Kitchen for a proper cocktail tasting. I often neglect hotel bars, but I've heard good things about this particular one so I decided to try it.
I was given a special sneak peek of their spring cocktails, which at the time didn't even have names yet! I was waiting until "spring" to post about them, and I think it's finally here, right?

I started with one that really invokes spring, a cocktail that's now been named Home Grown. It's made with Gunpowder Irish gin, English pea syrup, lemon, honey.

DSC02405
The vegetal notes of the pea worked really well with the botanicals in the gin. But don't worry, this refreshing drink is not overly vegetal, it was tempered nicely with the honey.

The restaurant manager Will Caines did a great job pairing up the cocktails with some bites from Oak's food menu. Will was previously a bartender at Doretta Taverna.
The first drink was served alongside Avocado and crab toast (peekytoe crab, burrata, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, $18)
gourmetpigs.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fish by José Andrés at The Cove at Atlantis (Bahamas)

The day I headed out to The Bahamas, I found out that Fish, a seafood restaurant by José Andrés, had just opened at The Cove at Atlantis the day before (on April 12, 2018). I love José Andrés and have generally had great meals at his restaurants including Bazaar Steak in Las Vegas, so I really wanted to try Fish while I was in the area. I couldn't get a reservation online but I was told that they take walk-ins.

The restaurant wasn't full when I got there, and I managed to get seated in the lounge area for dinner. Fish by Jose Andres

I started with probably the one healthy dish I had all weekend: Brussels sprouts, lemon pith puree, apricot, grapes ($12)
Fish by Jose Andres
The brussels sprouts was tender and delicate and I loved the unusual combination with sweet grapes.

For me, the must order here is the conch, the Bahamian treasured mollusk! FISH offers a few preparations of the mollusk, and I ordered the grilled conch with chimichurri sauce ($24)
Fish by Jose Andres

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Tasting Menu of Mind Fish Co's Tuna from the Maldives

by Bryan Tsunoda @discovering_LA

If you haven’t experienced a collaboration before, it is an opportunity to see what is possible when two artists combine their efforts. The effort could involve many creative efforts such as a motion picture, a song, or even a breakthrough in science. I was invited to see a menu collaboration between two entrepreneurs: Mind Fish Co and chef Teresa Montaño.

“Pole-and-line fishing is a centuries-old technique and continues to employ the fishing communities of the Maldives, where their only natural renewable resource is the wild skipjack tuna,” said Mind Fish Co-Founder Jerry Lin. “All our skipjack tuna are pole-and-line caught and processed/packed in the Maldives.”

Lin obtained his masters in Aquatic Biology and wrote his thesis on the Maldives fishing industry. His interest and passion for sustainable seafood grew, which led him to starting Mind Fish, a company that exports canned tuna from the Maldives. Teresa Montaño was previously the executive chef of Ración which was on Jonathan Gold’s top 101 Best Restaurants. There she prepared beautifully plated Basque and Spanish tapas. She created a Spanish-inspired menu emphasizing sustainability, local ingredients and dishes to share with Iberian wines and beers.

The first was a crostini topped with a whipped goat butter, anchovy and tuna and topped with roasted radishes and fresh herbs.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Support Community Servings with LifeSavor on April 26, 2018

Community Servings is one of the nonprofits in Boston I love supporting .They prepare nutritious meals for the homebound and critically ill, each meal catered to each patient's condition.
Each year, they fold a big fundraising event called LifeSavor, which starts with a festive gala reception at The Langham Hotel.
LifeSavor 2017
Guests can sign up either for the reception alone or for a multi-course dinner. After the reception, they will be transported to one of the participating restaurants for dinner and after the dinner they'll be transported back to The Langham for a dessert after party.
This year's participating restaurants include Bondir, Craigie on Main, Bar Mezzana, Toro, Oleana, Mistral, and many more. See here for a full list.

There's plenty of food at the reception itself, provided by The Langham ...
LifeSavor 2017

Thursday, April 5, 2018

LA: Taste of the Eastside, April 29, 2018 + Giveaway!

You know it's spring in LA when it's time for Taste of the Eastside! The food festival is coming back for another run on April 29, 2018 to the Los Angeles River and Gardens. The festival showcases restaurants in the Eastside neighborhoods including Eagle Rock, Silverlake, Highland Park, Los Feliz and beyond.

This year's participating restaurants include Melody, Oki Poki, Malo Restaurant, Daw Yee Myanmar Corner, Cliff's Edge, Momed, Cento Pasta Bar, and more. There will be ice creams from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, Pazzo Gelato, and McConnell's Fine Ice Creams. Drinks will be served by Frogtown Brewery, Green Bar Distillery, Silverlake Wine, Eagle Rock Brewery, and others.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thirst Boston Returns April 27-29, 2018

Thirst Boston is Boston's cocktail festival. The afternoons are filled with various workshops meant for bartender and cocktail enthusiasts. They cover molecular mixology approaches, ice carving techniques, as well as tasting seminars about cognac and other spirits. There are also seminar on woman in cocktail history and a hands-on make-your-own gin workshop that I wrote about here.

Now, why should you care about Thirst Boston? If you're not a big enough enthusiast to attend the seminars and workshops, there are still other Thirst events that will interest you! Namely, their fun cocktail-filled evening events.

One is Blender Bender, which this year will take place on Sunday, April 29 at Whiskey Saigon. The event is pits teams of local bartenders in a blended drink competition. There's always a theme to this event and the bartenders are known to go all out in costumes and garnishes! It's a big dance party with great blended drinks all night.
Thirst Boston
Last year's theme was the Gender Bender Blender Bender, and this year will be a Mad Max theme.
Thirst Boston

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Beyond Malbec: Argentinean Wine Tasting with Proemio Wines at Prezza (North End, Boston, MA)

Argentinean wines = Malbec. That's what most of us would think of, I think. At least I did as well, but there is so much more happening in the Argentinean wine industry beyond malbec and I recently got to taste some at a luncheon featuring Proemio Wines.

Proemio was founded in 2001 by Marcelo Bocardo, a third generation winemaker and an Italian descent. They have three vineyards in different wine regions of Mendoza and as of 2017 all the grapes are organic certified. Most of the wines we tasted came from Maipu, Mendoza where they have 148 acres of vineyard.
The wine luncheon took place at Prezza in Boston's North End with a special menu by Chef Anthony Caturano.

We started off with a glass of Proemio Chardonnay 2017. This wine was 30% aged in new French oak (the rest in stainless steel). The wine was pretty delicate. The winemaker wanted vanilla rom the oak but still wanted good acidity and freshness, hence the blend of oak and stainless steel.

For appetizers: tuna tartare crostini and crispy shrimp with cherry pepper aioli
Proemio Wine
The wine lineup:
Proemio Wine
Our first course: Grilled quail over red wine lentils and bacon. The quail was grilled perfectly.
Proemio wine
We tried each dish paired with two different ones. For the quail, we had the Proemio Terroir Blend 2017 (Petit Verdot) and the Proemio Syrah/Garnacha 2015.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Where to Drink Cocktails in Boston: Central Square

I'll be doing a series of blog posts featuring the best cocktail bars in each of Boston's neighborhoods, starting from the area where I work: Central Square!

While I wish there are more craft cocktail spots here (for all those after-work "happy hours"), there are enough solid spots for the discerning drinkers to hit up for different occasions. Here are where you should be drinking cocktails in Central Square:

Craigie on Main
Craigie on Main

Craigie on Main's bar is always a great spot to grab a drink after work solo or with a close co-worker/friend. The cocktail menu is concise but covers a range of palates. Whether you want a classic champagne cocktail or a Penicillin, or one of bartender Eric Books' latest creations (spicy gin drink, perhaps?), Craigie on Main is a good bet any day. 

A4cade
A4cade

Friday, March 23, 2018

Belly Up to Eight Korean BBQ for 8 Flavors of Pork Belly

Eight Korean BBQ focuses on pork belly, and has locations in Buena Park, Koreatown, and Singapore. The main attraction here is the eight flavors of pork belly. If the concept sounds familiar to you, that would be because the Koreatown location was Palsaik which also served eight flavors of pork belly. Palsaik is now rebranded (and with much much better service!) and with new menu items.

We got the Combo A, which comes with the eight flavors of pork belly plus a seafood stew and mozarella kimchi fried rice for $56.99. It was plenty of food for 2 people and probably would feed 3-4 depending on how much you eat.
Eight Korean BBQ
The eight flavors were: hot, miso, curry, herb (mostly rosemary), garlic, black sesame, original, and wine. The black sesame one is a new addition (it replaced the ginseng) and I'm pleasantly surprised how well the sesame flavor worked with pork belly. I think the sesame was my favorite this time around, but the garlic and hot flavors are also great.
Eight kbbq
We also ordered the Flower Pork Belly ($22), because it looked so cool! Although we thought it looked more like a hedgehog than flower, but either way it made for a great photo and more fatty pork belly for us to eat.
Eight kbbq

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Staying and Dining at Cape Cod's Historic Dan'l Webster Inn (Sandwich, MA)

Dan'l Webster Inn is located in the charming small town of Sandwich, MA, the oldest town in Cape Cod. The inn has been around and offering lodging for more than 300 years and has that old world charm and a lot of history.
Danl Webster Inn
I was recently hosted to experience the inn and the on-site restaurant. It was unfortunately rainy that day, so we spent a lot of our time in the room napping, but now I can tell you the beds are quite comfy here. A walk around the property to check out some of the historic features (or the doll given to them by the Empress of Japan) was a good way to kill time. There's also a spa on-site.
Danl Webster Inn
Dan'l Webster Inn has a fine dining restaurant and a tavern on the property. The restaurant has a few different rooms you can dine in, but the most beautiful in my opinion is the Conservatory! On one side The Conservatory is line by floor to ceiling glass windows and some tables overlook the koi pond.
Dan'l Webster Inn
We started dinner with some appetizers including Shrimp cocktail ($16) and Scallop and bacon arancini ($10) with smoked tomato coulis, bacon aioli
Danl Webster Inn

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 5: Dead Sea and Kerak Castle

After our tour stops in Wadi Rum and Petra, we left Wadi Musa to stay in Amman again, with a couple of day trip/ stops in between. The Dead Sea and Kerak Castle trip actually took place on two different half days.

After our morning Petra run, we left Wadi Musa for Amman, stopping to see Kerak Castle in between. As with other castles here, Kerak sits on top of a hill with a nice view of the city.
Kerak castle
Kerak is a Crusader castle that was constructed in the 1140s (fairly young compared to all the other stuff we've seen!). In the 1180s the castle was captured by the muslim Sultan, Saladin. Then it was captured by rebels. Then by the Egyptians. It was also the site of a terrorist attack. Quite the tumultuous history, no?
Kerak castle

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 4: Petra!

So far I've talked about my Travel Talk Essential Jordan tour in Amman, Jerash, and Wadi Rum desert. On day 4, we left Wadi Rum and made our way for what is (to me) the highlight of the trip: Petra! Petra is the ancient Nabatean city built into the sandstone rocks and cliffs.

So, all I knew about Petra before was The Treasury, which you and I have seen on many Instagrams and of course, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I didn't realize how big Petra really was! It is 264 sq km (102 sq miles). So what I'm basically saying is, be prepared for a hike or at least a long walk.

The main trail goes from the Visitor's Center to the start of the steps to the Monastery, and it is 4km long (2.5 miles) - that does not include the steps though.

From the visitor's center you will walk through The Siq. It's a 1km crack in the mountain so you are walking in a narrow corridor surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs. There are a few things to see in the Siq, a taste of what's to come. At the end is a view you might have seen on Instagram as well. The narrow corridor opening up to the impressive Treasury!
Petra
And there it is, in full view. I wonder how long it took the Nabateans to carve this into the cliffs.
Petra
Now, if you really want to see the monastery but don't think you can cut it hiking up the steps, they do offer donkey rides (I'm not sure how much, depends on how good you are at negotiating, but one of the people on our tour group got one for 10JD). She did say riding the donkey down the stairs was a bit scary! Anyway, I decided to be healthy and hiked it.
Petra

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 3: Wadi Rum Desert

So far I've told you guys about my tour through Amman and to Ajlun and Jerash. On the third day of the Travel Talk Tours' Essential Jordan Tour, we left our hotel in Amman and headed to Wadi Rum!

On this day we are joined by a second group who is doing the longer Egypt and Jordan tour. There was some change from the regular itinerary, since the political climate meant people were having more issues crossing the land border, so the group coming from Egypt was now coming by ferry and our guide / bus need to pick them up in Aqaba.

The change ended up good and bad for us, in my opinion. On the bad part, originally they were going to have us go to Aqaba too, but that was an extra few hours drive for our group for not doing much. Instead, we got dropped off at our Wadi Rum camp, Hillawi (Sand Rose) Camp.
Wadi Rum
The original itinerary says we were supposed to get lunch included in the camp that day, but with the changed schedule we arrived only after lunch. This was kind of a sticking point for us as well, as there was nothing going on that morning. We could've been picked up earlier and arrived in time for lunch. Oh well.

The rooms at the desert camp is pretty basic, but it has what you need. Wall outlets to charge your phones, en-suite bathroom with toilet and running water. There's no hot water in the private bathrooms, although supposedly there's hot water in the communal shower area. Since we were only there one night, I'm pretty sure everyone skipped the shower :P. Wadi Rum
Even though there's no hot water, there's pretty good wi-fi, especially in the dining area. I was there in December, so the nights can get pretty chilly. I had to use all the blankets and slept with socks and my sweater on, but it was manageable. Just a warning to pack appropriately.
Wadi Rum
 Anyway, while our guide and bus driver went to Aqaba, we settled in and was given the option to take a short camel ride through the desert. This was an extra 10 JD (about $15) and everyone in the group took it.
Wadi Rum

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Sakana Sushi Lounge (Downtown LA)

by @discovering_LA

I recently visited Sakana Sushi Lounge in DTLA. It is located on 9th street just east of FIDM. Fortunately, Joe owns a lot of parking lots in downtown LA and I was able to find parking a block away from the restaurant. Sakana Sushi Lounge has a hip and modern decor. Effective use of wood, glass and color make for a classy interior. The dining room seating is a combination of comfortable tables and booths. Decorative steel chain curtains give window seat customers some additional privacy.

We started with deviled eggs.

The eggs were soaked in soy sauce and were topped with a nicely whipped mixture containing the egg yolks. The salmon roe on top gave it a nice presentation and boost of flavor.

The tempura cauliflower is the perfect dish for vegetarians. The cauliflower is coated with tempura batter and lightly fried. It is topped with sriracha aioli. The serving size is quite generous and this could almost make a meal for one.

A nice assortment of nigiri followed: hamachi, toro, uni, hotate, sake and kazunoko.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Mark the Dates for Cochon555 Around the Country

Cochon555 is returning - a time of celebration for pork lovers. Each Cochon555 event pairs five chefs to five heritage pig breeders to prepare a nose-to-tail feast. One chef will be crowned Prince of Porc and will go on to compete for the title of King of Porc at the Grand Cochon finale.

In Los Angeles, Cochon555 will be at Viceroy Hotel Santa Monica on March 11 and you can purchase tickets here. There's no signature event in Boston this year, instead there will be a Heritage BBQ on August 5. You can check out the rest of the national schedule on Cochon555's website.

Last year, I was in Boston for their Heritage BBQ event, which is run very similarly to the signature event.

Boston Cochon555
Barbacoa on chicharoon by Juliet
Boston Cochon555
Whole pig break-down


Saturday, February 17, 2018

Travel Talk Essential Jordan Tour, Part 2: Ajloun and Jerash

On the first full day of my Essential Jordan tour  with Travel Talk Tours, we visited Ajlun and Jerash and then returned to our hotel in Amman in the evening.

The tour guide picked us up at our hotel in Amman. We had the same tour bus, driver, and guide throughout the trip. The bus was a bit old, but it does have wifi!

The first stop was Ajloun (Ajlun) to visit a 12th century Muslim castle that sits on top of a hill in Jabal Ajlun (Mount Ajlun) district.
Untitled
When we got off the bus there was a guy selling hot mint tea for 1 JD. December in Jordan is a bit chilly (40-50 Fahrenheit) and Ajlun being at the top of a hill was a bit windy, so it was nice to hold a hot cup of tea in my hands, although the tea itself was a bit too strong and bitter for my taste (the tea at Hesham Restaurant in Amman was much better).

Ajloun Castle was a Muslim castle, but it was in fact built on top of the ruins of a Byzantine church, and you can see remnants of this as you tour the castle.
Ajloun Castle

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