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Fundraiser gala fare channels Shaker spirit

Fundraiser gala fare channels Shaker spirit

In early August, we had the pleasure of attending the annual fundraising Gala at Hancock Shaker Village (hancockshakervillage.org). One of the more prosperous of Shaker communities in the Northeast, “The City of Peace,” as its inhabitant called it, reached its height in the 1830s. More than 300 Shakers worked 3,000 acres of land just west of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshires. Since 1959, the community has been a history museum with 20 original buildings, a working farm, a wealth of Shaker artifacts, and many excellent interpretive programs. The village's signature building is the Round Stone Barn, pictured at the top of the post. It's a landmark structure in America vernacular architecture. We ate dinner at tables in the hayloft level. Shaker beliefs...Read More
Tastes of Scotland light up a winter visit

Tastes of Scotland light up a winter visit

We wonder if the Scottish diet was invented sometime at the end of the last Ice Age. On our recent late-winter visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh, we found that such Scottish specialties as cullen skink, neeps and tatties, Arbroath smokies, Scotch pie, and even the ubiquitous haggis have a special appeal when the temperature hovers around the freezing point and the weatherman won't commit to whether it will rain or snow. Nordic cuisine continues to have a moment on the international gourmet scene. We found that eating in Scotland was an excellent way to get in touch with the roots of high-latitude foodstuffs before the trendy restaurants of Copenhagen and Bergen started tinkering with them. There's a pure honesty to a cuisine based on short-season...Read More
California cuisine comes full circle at Dry Creek Kitchen

California cuisine comes full circle at Dry Creek Kitchen

What began in northern California when Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in 1971 has evolved into the easy sophistication of Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen (317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-431-0330, drycreekkitchen.com). Chez Panisse launched so-called California cuisine, the forerunner of the farm-to-table dining revolution. A generation younger than Waters, New York-born and trained Palmer became the leading apostle of progressive American cooking by the late 1980s. In 2003, he opened Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg to celebrate Sonoma's bounty and wine country lifestyle. It's a pretty place. Located in the Hotel Healdsburg (another Palmer Group property), Dry Creek Kitchen has garden terrace dining when the weather cooperates and a striking dining room when it doesn't. Some of the tables sit by the semi-open kitchen, where...Read More
Bassus Pinot Noir from Utiel Requena exudes elegance

Bassus Pinot Noir from Utiel Requena exudes elegance

Regular readers might recall our summer series on the wines of D.O. Utiel Requena. By and large, those wines represented intriguing expressions of the Bobal grape. The wine we're talking about today was an outlier. Made by Bodegas Hispano+Suizas (bodegashispanosuizas.com), Bassus is the only 100 percent Pinot Noir wine carrying the D.O. Utiel Requena imprimatur. As we tried to figure out what kind of food would go with it, we came across Alia Ristorante (395 Shirley St., Winthrop; 617-539-1600; aliaristorante.com) in Winthrop—a peninsular village east of Boston's Logan Airport. Best of all, Alia (as the chalkboard sign outside indicates) is a BYOB restaurant. Chef-owner Saeed Lahyani named the place for his hometown on the outskirts of Casablanca in Morocco. He has a pretty impressive culinary...Read More

Ontario food rivals the view at Elements on the Falls

A big “CANADA 150” sculpture celebrating the country's 150th anniversary of Confederation had just been installed when we settled into a window table at Elements on the Falls Restaurant (niagaraparks.com/visit/culinary/elements-on-the-falls-restaurant/). People were having so much fun climbing on the sculpture and posing for photos that we were almost distracted from the glorious view of Horseshoe Falls. The restaurant is one of five owned and managed by Niagara Parks. The agency was established in 1885 to preserve and protect the natural resources of Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. Niagara Parks also ensures a good time for all in this legendary natural setting. They oversee everything from cruises and zipline tours of the falls to gardens, golf courses, historic sites, and the Niagara River Recreation Trail....Read More

Grill 23 bar menu demonstrates steakhouse evolution

Grill 23 in Boston's historic Salada Tea building launched 30 years ago to make sure that the business guys in Back Bay had a proper steakhouse where they could seal new ventures over a big, juicy slabs of beef. It's still under the same ownership, but left the old steak-and-martini steakhouse formula behind years ago. With its succession of smart and inventive chefs, Grill 23 keeps refining what a steakhouse should be. These days the kitchen operates under corporate culinary director Eric Brennan, and just last week he launched an ambitious new bar menu with a party (above). Since Grill 23 has only had a discreet bar area since 2014, the restaurant isn't locked into tradition. The new menu is a smart cross between steakhouse...Read More

Lake Placid Lodge honors Adirondacks style

Rainy weather showed me just how good the rebuilt Lake Placid Lodge really is. I say “rebuilt” because the original 1880s rustic lodge turned 1940s resort hotel burned down in December 2005. An exemplar of the Adirondacks rustic style, it had been a great example of American vernacular vacation architecture. The owners rebuilt, opening in 2008, and I'd put off a visit for fear the new wouldn't live up to the old. Then Truman Jones -- a talented chef I met some years ago when he worked for Gordon Ramsay -- took over the kitchen and Cape Air launched 90-minute flights between Boston and Saranac Lake, a half-hour drive from Lake Placid. It was only raining lightly when I flew up, and the pilot did...Read More