Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Carnivorous Birthday Dinner at Bazaar Meat (Las Vegas, NV)

I spent my birthday weekend last December eating and drinking my way through Las Vegas with some friends from LA. We had some pretty stellar food throughout the weekend, including a meat-centric birthday blowout at Jose Andres' Bazaar Meat!

One of the hardest decisions you'll have to make during a dinner at Bazaar Meat is which cow you want your steak that night to come from. One of the most special meats they have is the Vaca Vieja, which means "old cow". This is 8-10 year old Holstein dairy cow (cattle for beef is typically slaughtered starting from 18 months and dairy cows from 4 years), and vaca vieja is typical meat found in Basque Country. Because of the age, there's actually more flavors to the vaca vieja meat, but the server warned that it could be an acquired taste.

Since we wanted to try as many things as possible, and the steak tartare is made with vaca vieja, we decided to try that particular meat as a tartare, and try a different one for our steak!

The components of the steak tartare was beautifully plated and then later mixed tableside. We ordered the Classic Tartare ($32)
Bazaar Meat
See the dark color of the vaca vieja? It's very distinct from other beef at the restaurant.
Bazaar Meat
The tartare was a sirloin cut, prepared tableside with Savora mustard, egg yolk, HP sauce, and anchovy.

Bazaar Meat

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Making My Own Gin at Thirst Boston

Thirst Boston has come and gone, leaving us satiated and hungover after a liquor-fueled whirlwind of a weekend. There were parties and booze tastings, and of course, a number of educational seminars. I attended a hands-on Gin Lab where I got to make my own gin!
Gin Lab
The seminar/lab was led by William Codman from Diageo, and he started off with a history of gin. From how the British discovered Genever during the War in Holland, to various political situations and bans that led to the popularity of gin (often distilled at home back then) in England. Apparently it was so popular that it became a huge problem since people were drinking way too much. The craziness is depicted in this Gin Lane painting by William Hogarth.
Gin Lab
Well, now we mostly drink gin in moderation, thankfully ;)
We also learned about the different classifications of gin. To be called gin, the liquor has to be a neutral spirit that has juniper in it. When it's not redistilled after juniper and flavors are added, that is called "compound gin". A "distilled gin" means that the spirit has been re-distilled after the juniper and botanicals are added, but other flavorings can still be added after the redistillation.

We mostly know of London Dry Gin these days. London Gin is redistilled using traditional still, and flavorings can only be added during the distillation, not after, and they must be natural flavorings. No coloring may be added, although sugar may be added.

With this classification, we basically made a compound gin that day!

After the history lesson, we took turns "foraging" for our botanicals. OK, not really foraging, we went to the back of the room and picked out our botanicals from what they've prepared. Too bad were limited to five! But that's probably a good thing, as I might've gone crazy with the flavor combo otherwise.

Gin Lab

Friday, May 19, 2017

20th Annual Taste of Allston on June 24 + GIVEAWAY!

Allston is home to some of the best restaurants in Boston, so wouldn't it be great to be able to try a couple dozen of them at the same time? You can at Taste of Allston, which is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year! Spend Saturday afternoon on June 24 tasting food from 20 restaurants, and enjoy the summer (which is finally here!) with live music, lawn games, and other activities! More details (plus a giveaway for a pair of tickets!) are below:

They will be rolling out the list of participating restaurants over the next few weeks. Current confirmed restaurants include White Horse Tavern, Roxy's Grilled Cheese, The Avenue, Loui Loui, and more. They're also promising cool treats from FoMu, FroYo World, and LimeRed Teahouse!

Watch their Facebook and Instagram pages for more restaurant announcements in the coming weeks.

There will be free parking, bike racks, and free bike valet.
Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased here. OR ... you can try your luck and ENTER TO WIN a pair of tickets below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 12, 2017

Maya Indian Grill (Wakefield, MA)

I was recently invited to try out a new Indian restaurant in Wakefield, MA - about 12 miles north of Boston. The reviews for the restaurant all seemed really good, so I accepted and drove up to try the lunch buffet at Maya Indian Grill one weekend.

As we sat, they delivered hot, fresh naan to the table. Bonus points!
Maya Indian grill
The buffet items change daily, but there are about a dozen options - both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. They had the usual staples like chicken biryani, chicken tandoori, saag paneer, chana masala, and also a nice goat curry, which was probably my favorite of the savory dishes that afternoon.

Monday, May 1, 2017

2nd Annual Masters of Taste Takes Over Pasadena's Rose Bowl on May 7

Summer is the season is food festivals. Up next on the calendar: Masters of Taste will be back for its second annual event on May 7 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Guests will get to stroll the Rose Bowl's 50-yard line while sampling bites and cocktails from 45 of LA's top restaurants and bars.
Masters of Taste
This year's restaurant lineup includes Miro, The Raymond 1886, Nerano, Alexander's Steakhouse, Hamasaku, Little Beast, Kato, and Redbird.
Masters of Taste
There will be plenty to drink including cocktails, beers, and wines. Participating bars include Bar Mattachine, Birds and Bees, and 1886. You can find beers and spirits from Indie Brewing Company, Kikori Whiskey, Mezcal El Silencio, as well as various wineries.
Masters of Taste
They didn't forget about desserts. You can cool down with ice creams from Choctal and Magpies Softserve, or much on treats from Street Churros, Spirnkles, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.

General admission tickets are $105 per person which provides festival admission at 4pm and unlimited food and beverage tastings. VIP admission tickets are $185 per person and include early admission at 3pm, access to VIP lounges and seating, and special access to limited release tastings. 100% of the proceeds will go to benefit Union Station Homeless Services. The organization works to identify causes that led to each individual or family’s homeless and provide the resources they need to end their cycle of homelessness. Purchase tickets here and get 15% off with code GPIGS.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Travel Tips: Apps to Kill Time on a Long-Haul Flight

Wow AirLong-haul flights are when I catch up on my movies, TV, and books. Good airlines now have a nice entertainment options, but sometimes you might get stuck with a budget airline that doesn't have any entertainment system or onboard wifi. If you have one of those flights coming up, there's no need to fret, as there are so many apps nowadays that you can use to keep you entertained.


1. FiOs Mobile App
This app is perhaps not one that might come to mind with other options like Netflix or Hulu, but did you know that the FiOs app lets you watch live TV from up to 140 channels, and also stream TV shows and movies on demand? If you are a FiOs subscriber, this is certainly a handy app to get before your flight! They even have offline viewing options for some content, so you can download some shows before you go off the grid aboard the flight.
Plus, if you're both a FiOs TV and Verizon Wireless customer, you can stream shows from the FiOs app data-free. Makes your live streaming those sports games or TV shows more guilt-free, right?

2. Netflix
The day Netflix introduced downloads and offline streaming was the day Netflix became a great app to have for traveling! Not all TV shows or movies can be downloaded at the moment, but there enough options and they make it easy to browse the ones that are. On your app menu, there is an "Available for Download" category with popular shows like Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, and more.
You can also use Netflix while you're in another country, although they have different content. I was able to catch up on Orphan Black when I was in the UK because they had newer seasons available there.

3. Amazon Prime Video and Audible
Amazon has really upped their prime membership perks with the addition of Audible Channels. I am putting these two together because they both come with Prime membership, although they are separate apps. Amazon Prime Video app has allowed downloads and offline viewing way before Netflix did, and their exclusive content also include some binge-worthy shows. Now the membership also includes access to Audible Channels and Prime Exclusive Audiobooks.

4. Podcasts
Technically not an app, but I love listening to podcasts and audiobooks while traveling. You get to rest your eyes while still being engaged by the story. Plus, some podcasts are so addictive that they're better to listen to in one sitting (like Serial and S-Town!), so they're perfect for a long-haul flight.
Got any podcast that you love? Let me know, I'd love to get ideas for my next flight!

5. Games
The key, of course, is to download games that can be played offline. Some offline games that can be addictive are Two Dots and 1010. Some games can still be played offline with limited features, like SimCity BuildIt.


Do you have any other apps you use while traveling long distance? If you do, please share below!


This post was created in partnership with Verizon FiOs, which is now rolling out in Boston, starting from Dorchester, Roxbury, and Roslindale.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Save the Date on May 4 for Community Servings' LifeSavor, Feed the Critically Ill

I was first introduced to Community Servings last year, when they had a cooking class at the Boston Public Market. They prepare and deliver meals to people who are homebound, critically ill, and their families. It's not just mass produced food, but they really take care to prepare meals for each patient according to their dietary needs and illnesses.

They rely on volunteers to help prepare the meal, and of course, funds from donations and fundraising activities. Their biggest fundraising event is the LifeSavor gala, a glamorous evening that takes place each year and involve many of the local restaurants. This year's LifeSavor will take place on May 4 at The Langham.
LifeSavor
LifeSavor starts with a luxurious cocktail party with silent auction and balloon pop raffle. After the reception, guests will be transported to one of 75 participating restaurants around the city for a wine-paired dinner.

Not that there isn't plenty of food to go around at the reception! Spread out over multiple rooms at The Langham, I had some delicious lamb chops ...
LifeSavor
A spread of salads, pastas, cheeses, and more.
LifeSavor

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Taste of the North End Returns to Boston on April 28, 2017

Since 1993, restaurants in the Boston's North End join forces each year for a food festival that benefit North End charities at Taste of the North End. This year's event will be held on April 28 at the DCR's Steriti Memorial Rink.

Guests will be able to taste food from smaller North End businesses that normally don't participate in food festivals.

Taste of the North End
Capt Jackson's Historic Chocolate Shop

This chef and this porchetta tower was everything ..
Taste of the North End

The porchetta was from Filippo Ristorante, and they will be participating this year as well.
Taste of the North End


Thursday, March 30, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Cochon555 BESPOKE and Heritage BBQ in Boston, April 8-9

UPDATE: first round winners have been chosen but you can still enter to win a pair of VIP tickets to the Sunday Heritage BBQ on www.facebook.com/gourmetpigs !

Cochon555 is a competition and food festival dedicated to promoting heritage pig breeds. At the main event in each city, five chefs will partner with five farms to prepare dishes, utilizing 1500 lbs of heritage breed pork! The Heritage BBQ is coming to Boston at SoWa on April 9, as part of a three-day weekend of food, art, and thought called BESPOKE.

Untitled
It starts with CREATE on Friday evening, April 7. CREATE showcases Boston's artists paired with the city's guests and bartenders. On Saturday there'll be a forum (which I'll talk about shortly), a local producers' market and chef's pantry and a charity dinner. Sunday is the main event, the Heritage BBQ, where the chefs from Townsman, La Brasa, Loyal Nine, Tapestry, and Juliet will compete head to head, or nose to tail, for the Prince (or Princess) of Porc title. I'm also giving away two VIP tickets ($400 value) to the Heritage BBQ, which you can enter via Instagram until April 4 here.

They're also incorporating a new component this year, a forum called BESPOKE: An Exploration of Taste & Thought. Taking place on Saturday, April 8 from 9AM to 2:30PM, the Bespoke forum will feature keynote speeches on the topic of Food and Landscape, and a panel on the topic of Power, Labor, and Class in the Food Industry. Beyond the food for thoughts, the day will also be interspersed with a pop-up ramen bar and tastings of German Rieslings and Glenfiddich scotch. There will also be plenty of cold brew to keep everyone going.
 

Tickets to the BESPOKE event is $70 per person and can be purchased here. Want to try your luck? I'm partnering with Cochon555 to give away one ticket to the Bespoke event! You can enter via this widget:
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 27, 2017

Five Movies About Food You can Watch on FiOs On Demand

I've been waiting for Verizon FiOs to come to Dorchester ever since I moved here in May, and now they're finally here (and Roxbury)!

Getting Verizon FiOs isn't only about the internet and TV service, though. Did you know you can stream TV shows and movies anywhere with FiOs On Demand? Most of the TV shows are available for free for FiOs customers, and the newer release movies can be rented or purchased.

Of course, I've been browsing what they have for streaming (you're welcome). Here are five movies about food you can watch online with FiOs On Demand:

Chef

This was a star-studded feel-good movie that will make you look for the best food trucks in your town, or anywhere that makes Cubano sandwiches.
It follows Jon Favreau as a disillusioned chef who quit his fine dining head chef job. Unsure what to do next, he heads to Miami, gets a food truck, starts driving towards Los Angeles while stopping and serving food - all the while bonding with his young son. Oh, and they get to stop and eat at Franklin's BBQ in Austin without waiting in line. JEALOUS. Not to mention all the star cameos.
Fun fact: Jon Favreau trained with LA's chef Roy Choi so he can do his own cooking in the movie.


The Hundred-Foot Journey

After their old restaurant was attacked and their mother killed, an Indian family moves to France to start a new life. They set up their Indian restaurant in front of an upscale French restaurant and get into a rivalry with the French restaurant's owner (Helen Miren). Meanwhile, the son of the Indian family wants to get into French cooking. Lots of mouthwatering food scenes in this cute movie, both Indian and French!
PS. Sadly, the sea urchin dish they were cooking in the opening scene is not a real dish. Too bad, it looked amazing.

Julie & Julia
A story about Julie Powell, who started an ambitious project of cooking each of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" - the film is intertwined with the life story of Julia Child. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is a combination of two of my favorite characters. I loved the wit and heart in the Julia Child's storyline here, and of course, the food looked great.

Ratatouille (free)
Basically the best movie ever, right, guys? Do I even have to really tell you what the movie is about? OK, fine. One of my favorite Pixar's movies (although I love pretty much all of them), Ratatouille follows Remy, a Parisian rat with an impeccable palate and can cook to boot. He befriends a garbage boy-turned-cook named Linguini and make amazing food to eventually impress the skinny food critic, Anton Ego.





Food, Inc

An outlier in the list, Food, Inc is not a light-hearted, feel-good movie. Instead, it's a look at how our food is produced. It's a documentary of the food chain in the United States and a sobering look at how large corporations are controlling the US food industry. Still, it's a well-done documentary that has been nominated for an Academy Award - and it's very important to know where our food comes from.


You can check if FiOs is now available at your address using this link: fios.verizon.com/

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Verizon Fios as part of the #BostonFiOs campaign


Friday, March 24, 2017

Brunch at Firefly's Romantic Patio (Studio City, Los Angeles, CA)

by Bryan Tsunoda (discovering-la.com)

Firefly has consistently been on the list of Top Romantic Restaurants in LA. I guess I haven’t romanced my wife enough lately because we haven’t been there. I recently attended a media tasting to sample their Sunday brunch offerings.

Customers enter into what appears to be a library lounge setting with couches and a classic bar from the past. Walking past the bar, you enter the bright patio which appears to be outdoors, but is protected from the elements by a translucent covering. 
DSCF9055
Along the wall are Moroccan-style cabanas that can close for privacy.
DSCF9056
Food Network and Cutthroat Kitchen star, chef Perry Pollaci, took over the kitchen last November. He’s a C.I.A. alum and has used his talents in New York City, Paris and Madrid restaurants. More recently he’s worked at Church and State and Kendall’s Brasserie, and has transformed The Royce into a cutting edge wood-fired steakhouse. He also volunteers his time at Slideluck LA which is dedicated to building and strengthening community through food and art. 

If you are the type that enjoys a continental breakfast, you’ll appreciate the variety of fresh baked pastries. Despite how good everything looked, I only tried a couple of them. The raspberry tart was fruit filled, flakey and quite tasty. A few of us were impressed by the sticky bun because it had a crisp exterior and wasn’t overly sweet.
DSCF9051

I sampled both the lobster and veggie scrambles. The eggs had a nice buttery taste and were extremely light and fluffy. 
DSCF9072
Naturally I veered towards the lobster scramble because they were made with truffle butter, tarragon, and topped with caviar. I would definitely order that again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Get a Taste of Iceland in Boston

For the past couple of years, Iceland Naturally has brought Icelandic culture to Boston with Taste of Iceland. This year, Taste of Iceland is coming back to Boston from March 16-20. The five-day festival brings Nordic cuisine, music, art, film, and literature.

The main draw for me, of course, is the food and drinks. This year, they are bringing in Chef Sigurdur Helgason (a.k.a. Siggi Helga) of  GrilliĆ° restaurant to create a four-course Icelandic menu at The Merchant (not to be confused with the MIT mathematician Sigurdur Helgason - not that most of you would). GrilliĆ° is located in the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel. This hotel is actually owned by the Icelandic Farmers Association and is also known as Farmers Palace. As you can imagine, the farm-to-table vision is very much alive and well at a place like this.

Siggi also represented Iceland in Bocuse d'Or in 2015. Here, he brought many of the Icelandic ingredients for the 4-day stint in Boston. The first course is a "taste of Icelandic nature", composed of three different bites.

The first: Langoustine with black garlic-herb garden
Taste of Iceland
I look forward to a bite of langoustine each year for the Taste of Iceland event. If you've never had Icelandic langoustine, what are you waiting for?

Second: Forest mushroom in volcanic croquettes
Taste of Iceland
These bites are not only inspired by the flavors in Iceland, but also the landscapes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Boston Cocktail Lovers, Don't Miss Thirst Boston (April 28-30, 2017)

Cocktail enthusiast, bartender, or just like to drink? Whichever one you are, if you enjoy cocktails, then take a look at Thirst Boston, Boston's cocktail festival that is coming on April 28-30! There will be tasting and hands-on seminars, parties, and after-parties that you'd be wise to prepare your liver for. You can now view the schedule and map out your weekend.

First, the parties. There will be two night-time parties filled with cocktails. Saturday night is State Lines. This Thirst Boston tradition brings distillers, brewers, and winemakers from around New England along with bartenders from across the region. There will also be carnival games. Drunken carnie games!
Thirst Boston

Sunday night will be another Thirst Boston tradition, the Blender Bender. Teams of bartenders will be competing to make the best - you guessed it - blended drinks to win a fancy new Vitamix blender.
Thirst Boston
This year's twist is that it will be a Gender Bender Blender Bender, so the teams of bartenders will cross-dressing.
Thirst Boston

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Street Art and Brews in Miami's Wynwood Art District

Just a few years ago, Miami's Wynwood was a warehouse district that no one ventures out to. Now, it is one of the hottest destinations in Miami filled with street art and some of the city's best breweries and restaurants.
Wynwood
Conceived by community revitalizer, the late Tony Goldman, in 2009, the idea is to bring great street art onto the walls of Wynwood's windowless warehouse buildings, and then develop the surrounding area. Today, Wynwood Walls is a colorful place that pedestrians, both locals and tourists, all enjoy.
Wynwood
I heard about Wynwood from the bartender at The Abbey (the only brewpub in Miami Beach), who told me Wynwood has a good concentration of Miami's craft breweries. If you are a beer lover, skip the beach and head to Wynwood.
I hopped on an Uber there, but stopping off first to get a different kind of brew at Panther Coffee, one of the best-known coffee shops in the city (and probably the best, as well).
Wynwood
Panther roasts their own coffee on site in small batches. Panther has two blends for the espresso, East Coast and West Coast espresso. I opted for the East Coast espresso since the tasting notes were "very creamy, round chocolate .. notes of sweet black cherry". Those all sounded good to me and resulted in a delicious cappuccino.
Wynwood
From there, I walked to J. Wakefield Brewing. I fell in love with it as soon as I got to the parking lot. Darth Vader wall!
Wynwood

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

by CHLOE Brings Vegan Comforts to Boston Seaport

by CHLOE, a New York-based casual vegan restaurant, finally opened a location in Boston. The first Boston location is in the Seaport district while a second store in Fenway is on the way. I attended their opening preview, sampling a lot of vegan dishes and desserts. I am surprised to say, I really enjoyed these vegan dishes! And you should all know I'm a carnivore by now.

They have pastas and salads, of course, but also other classic comfort food items that somehow tasted really good even as a vegan version.
by CHLOE
For example, the "mac n cheese". The "cheese" is a sweet potato cashew vegan cheese, and the mac n cheese was topped with crispy shiitake "bacon"
by CHLOE
The Guac Burger is quite popular, and I can see. It's made with a black bean-quinoa-sweet potato patty and topped with corn salsa, guacamole, onion, tortilla strips, chipotle aioli on a whole grain bun. It was very flavorful!
by CHLOE
by CHLOE location in Seaport also has Boston-only specials, like the "lobster roll".

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