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The Renaissance rises again in ‘The Chef’s Secret’

The Renaissance rises again in ‘The Chef’s Secret’

We always rely on food to open new places and experiences to us when we travel. But, on a recent cold night here in Boston, we were reminded that food can also be the key to other times and locales. Novelist and culinary enthusiast Crystal King has just published her second book, The Chef's Secret (Atria Paperback, Simon & Schuster, $16.99). To create an imagined life for Bartolomeo Scappi, the famous Renaissance-era chef who created over-the-top feasts for cardinals and popes, King studied his elaborate cookbook L'Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi (in a translation from the University of Toronto Press) and then let her imagination take over. “I thought what was his life like,” she told a small group gathered at Juliet restaurant in Somerville (www.julietsomerville.com)...Read More
Drink Progressively at Harvest in Cambridge

Drink Progressively at Harvest in Cambridge

One of the pioneers of New American Cuisine, Harvest restaurant (44 Brattle St, Cambridge, Mass., 617-868-2255, harvestcambridge.com) continues its innovative ways with contemporary New England fare from chef Tyler Kinnett. “The Book and the Cook” dinner series highlights recipes from a new cookbook—usually with the author appearing to explain the food and the approach as well as to guide the Harvest staff in the kitchen. The series kicked off 2018 with Urban Grape's Drink Progressively, by Hadley and TJ Douglas with recipes by Gabriel Frasca, the accomplished executive chef of Straight Wharf (straightwharfrestaurant.com) on Nantucket. As you can see from the photo at top, all three showed up for a great dinner and book signing. This was an unusual event in the series, since the...Read More

Cochon555 highlights winning tastes of heritage pigs

Roughly five hundred folks feasted on about 1,500 pounds of succulent heritage pork last weekend at the Boston stop on the Cochon555 (cochon555.com) national barbecue competition tour. And they drank a surprisingly broad array of wines, cocktails, punches, and spirits selected by local sommeliers to pair with the cuisines. The winning team opted for a Mexican menu with six different dishes served on two separate plates. Working with a 281-pound Mulefoot hog from Dogpatch Farm in Maine, the “Deporkables” were led by Matt Jennings of Townsman (townsmanboston.com), a brasserie-inspired restaurant on Boston's Greenway. The plate at right included bbq pork head tamales with a thin slice of a pork loin burrito. They were contributed by team member Will Gilson of Puritan & Co. (puritancambridge.com) in...Read More

Find homey holiday tastes in these New England stores

As the Eating Season approaches, we start craving certain flavors that we associate with the winter holidays spent with family. We want the taste of home—whether that's a cuisine from the country where our ancestors originated or something forged by Norman Rockwell and Betty Crocker. Truth is, we love to forage for festive foodstuffs. As a service to our New England readers, here are five essential shops around the region where we find special holiday foods. This post is adapted from a piece we wrote last year in the Boston Globe travel section. BRITISH AISLES Denise and Gerry Pressinger founded British Aisles more than two decades ago so that ex-pats like themselves could get everyday British foods such as HP Sauce and the pickled onions...Read More

Provisions provides pitch-perfect Boston bistro

We wondered if the opening of State Street Provisions (255 State St., Boston; 617-863-8363; statestreetprovisions.com) during December's holiday blur was like Hollywood releasing its most promising films just before Christmas to make them eligible for award consideration. In that case, Provisions wins Best Boston Bistro of 2015. But that hardly makes the place out of date for 2016. Readers of HungryTravelers know we rarely write about our home turf, but Provisions seems so representative of dining trends we're seeing in Europe and the U.S. alike that we couldn't resist. Also, we expect a lot of visitors to Boston this year, and we're happy to send them to this waterfront bistro/gastropub where they'll get good value (and great food and drink) for their money. Executive chef...Read More

Red Arrow big burger grabs headlines

Old-fashioned diners certainly love their giant burgers. We wrote about the Miss Washington Diner in New Britain a few weeks back, marveling at the monstrous burger called The Monument. In a piece in today's Boston Globe about the 24-hour Red Arrow Diner (61 Lowell Street, Manchester, N.H. 603-626-1118, www.redarrowdiner.com), we came face to face with the Newton Burger, presented above by general manager Herb Hartwell. In all fairness, the Red Arrow does serve salads, Jell-O, and other low-fat options, but the main clientele seems to gravitate to some of the heavier entrées. The place is known for its mugs of chili and its baked mac and cheese. And its burgers. A burger on toast was on the menu when the Red Arrow opened in 1922,...Read More

Eat hearty at the Miss Washington Diner

Our story about New Britain, Conn., is in today's Boston Globe (“Industrious city enjoys artful update”). But we didn't have the space to write more extensively about the Miss Washington Diner (10 Washington St., New Britain, 860-224-3772, www.misswashingtondiner.com, breakfast and lunch $3-$11). Dan Czako, shown above, has been the owner of this early Fifties gem since 2011. Constructed in the optimistic postwar Modernist style, the diner has 24 stools lined up along the long counter as well as a clutch of booths. Czako is the head cook and a whiz at the grill. He's big on hearty American meals at affordable prices. It's the perfect combo in this working-class city. The Miss Washington also offers one of those great eating challenges. Czako calls it The...Read More

Paul’s baguette makes elegant bread pudding

The poppyseed baguettes from the Paul boulangerie (see previous post) are a taste treat unto themselves. But like all great French bread, they are best the day they're baked. We decided that the logical thing to do with stale poppyseed bread would be to make lemon poppyseed bread pudding. The custard does not have any strong additional flavoring (like vanilla extract) and we didn't make a heavy sweet sauce to go on top. Compared to most American bread pudding recipes, this one is almost austere. The dish is really all about the toasted nuttiness of the poppyseeds, the aromatic freshness of the lemon, and the delicious wheatiness of the bread. LEMON POPPYSEED BREAD PUDDING Makes 6-8 servings Ingredients 1 tablespoon butter 6 cups (375 grams)...Read More

Paul brings real French bread to Boston

We've been known to drive from Boston to Montreal to get our fix of good bread, but even the Quebecois can't make a baguette like the French can. Neither can we, and we frankly gave up trying years ago. Now we don't have to. Whenever we get a jones for French bread, Maison Paul is now a 15-minute drive away. The famed French boulangerie began in Croix, near Lille, in the north of France in 1889. Some 125 years later, it has 600 locations around the world, with several spots in the Miami and D.C. metro areas, and now in Boston. On Friday, November 21, Paul started serving at Assembly Row in Somerville. The local flagship is opening in Boston's Downtown Crossing in January. There...Read More

It’s always Thanksgiving at Hart’s

The motto at Hart's Turkey Farm is that “every day is Thanksgiving” at this family-dining fixture. It sits in Meredith, New Hampshire, on the west side of Lake Winnipesaukee. Truth is, the busiest days of the fall season are already over. The place was jammed over Columbus Day weekend. But they're gearing up for the onslaught of diners (probably around 1,600) on Thanksgiving Day. On a busy day, Hart's serves more than a ton of turkey and 40 gallons of gravy. Most diners choose the turkey plate with gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a choice of vegetable and potato. It is available in three serving sizes with either all white meat, or a mixture of white and dark meat. The jumbo plate can even be...Read More