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
The Palm Boston (www.thepalm.com/Boston) got a new lease on life when the iconic steakhouse moved from Copley Place in Back Bay to the swank One International Place Tower at the edge of the Financial District. Now that the weather has warmed, the restaurant can show off one of its greatest assets: the outdoor seating looking out on the new Seaport District just across Fort Point Channel. Over the winter, regulars gathered in the glittering interior for wine dinners. We enjoyed the Lafite Wine Dinner that paired a number of wines from the legendary Bordeaux house's farflung empire with some classic Palm cookery, including seared sea scallops with a pea and truffle purée, ancho- and espresso-rubbed lamb chops, and braised short ribs with a wild cherry...Read More
It's official. The Food Lovers' Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire has shipped to stores and is available online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Thanks to our efficient editors, we beat the technical publication date of July 3. In addition to restaurants, the book highlights great shops and local food producers. Vermont may be best known for maple syrup and cheddar cheese, but there's a whole lot more. Here are some of our favorite things to bring home from the Green Mountain State. The Red Bar from Middlebury Chocolates (2377 Route 7 South, Middlebury, VT; 802-989-1610; www.middleburychocolates.com) is the hardcore chocolate lovers' chocolate. Stephanie and Andy Jackson make all their chocolates straight from the bean. The Red Bar, says Andy, is “a throwback to...Read More
Our latest book, Food Lovers' Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire (Globe Pequot Press), just arrived two days ago and it brought back fond memories of the research. One of our favorite meals was at the Bedford Village Inn, when Benjamin Knack, fresh from a season on Hell's Kitchen, had just take over the dining program for this romantic destination property. It so happens that Ben makes a killer gnocchi, which he claimed was so simple that even his then 4-year-old daughter could do it. There are a couple of secrets to getting just the right texture. The potatoes should be cooked so they “squeak like Styrofoam when you squeeze them,” he says. And they should be pushed quickly through the sieve so the potato...Read More
Every cook has a different way to cope with the end of tomato season. In June, Brian Aspell was lured away from the Equinox in Vermont to bring his brand of culinary passion to the Mountain View Grand in Whitefield, N.H. He was still getting his feet under him when we visited in August, but on very short notice he managed to whip together a chef's tasting menu that swept us away. It was a harbinger of great things to come at this grande dame of the White Mountains. (The fall menus will be pure Aspell.) The opening salvo of the dinner was an amuse-bouche of a New England gazpacho. Aspell served our portions in tall shot glasses, but on a warm day we could...Read More
Please forgive the shameless plug, but the second edition of our locavore book, Food Lovers’ Guide to Massachusetts, has just been published by Globe Pequot Press. We love researching the farmstands, restaurants, bakeries, fishmongers, chocolatiers, and cheesemakers that are featured in the book. Food people are some of the nicest and most generous folk in the world, and they remind us that we don’t have to go to exotic locales for wonderful tastes. We are already at work on the next edition. Of all the great places in the book, Tower Hill Botanic Garden (11 French Drive, Boylston, MA 01505, 508-869-6111, www.towerhillbg.org), home base of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, is one of the best places to learn about New England heirloom apples. The society...Read More
And speaking of cheesemongers…. We have fond memories of eating raclette--a big plateful of melted cheese with cornichons and boiled potatoes--after a tough day of winter snow hiking in Switzerland. It has always seemed too much trouble to make at home: Buy a big block of raclette cheese, find or build an open fire, etc., etc. But one day when we were in Rubiner’s Cheesemongers in Great Barrington, Mass., we wandered into the Rubi’s Cafe for lunch and found the perfect solution to our raclette craving. Rubi’s piled shredded raclette cheese and sliced cornichons onto sourdough bread slathered with Dijon mustard and stuck the sandwiches into a panini press. Voila! Instant raclette in your hand. (And easily duplicated at home.)
[caption id="attachment_370" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge, Mass."][/caption] Few foods so directly conjure up their origins as artisanal cheeses. Walking into Formaggio Kitchen in our home town is like taking a trip around the world. This is where we went for the Cabrales to serve with apples, and FK is our go-to vendor whenever we need something really special. Ishan Gurdal first opened a cheese monger’s shop here more than 30 years ago and built his own ripening caves in 1996. His cheeses are so special and so perfectly cared for that even Thomas Keller of the French Laundry orders from Ishan. Formaggio Kitchen has a second location in Boston’s South End, and also sells through its web site: Formaggio Kitchen.