Monthly Archives: October 2010

Mystery Meet Goes Blind

Photo: Brian Fox (Courtesy of Dining In The Dark)

Photo: David Fox (Courtesy of Dining In The Dark)

In under 48 hours, darkness will cue the beginning of Halloween. But darkness isn’t just for graveyards and goblins. What about eating in the dark? And I mean four-courses-multiple-entrees eating in the dark.

Here’s the back story: A group of foodies recently signed up for a meal through a new Boston supper club called “Mystery Meet.” That’s M-E-E-T. On the second Tuesday of each month, Mystery Meet lets adventurous eaters try new restaurants with total strangers.

The web site makes clear that Mystery Meet isn’t a networking group and isn’t a dating service. Its main guidelines are to get your reservation in quickly — last month’s event sold out in five minutes — and be flexible, because participants don’t find out where they’re eating until 24 hours in advance.

But at this month’s Mystery Meet, diner flexibility was taken to a new level. That’s because no one knew in advance that October’s dinner would include — ready for this? — blindfolds.

Radio Boston crashed that “blind” dinner party and has some audio to prove it.  Tune in today at 3pm for more information. If you miss it, audio will be posted by 5pm.


Thursday Tidbits: Happy Halloween

Denis Vrublevski/Flickr


Artsy Eats
Food meets art at “Bon Appetit: A Visual Treat,” the Concord Art Association’s new show featuring food-related art. The exhibit runs till November 28th, but the opening reception is TONIGHT from 6-8pm.

Bat’s Blood Soup, Anyone?
That’s just one of the tasty (?) treats chef Rachel Klein of Aura will be serving up at her monthly Fine Dining Family Style, which has a spooky twist October 29th. Pint-size diners get to start Halloween early with games, movies, and trick-or-treating around the hotel. Adults pay $30 for more appetizing meals like grilled pork tenderloin or roast chicken, while kids pick $3 apiece edibles. Call (617) 385-4300 for reservations. Costumes encouraged.

Tight Community
Shubie’s Market Place in Marblehead is “Bringing the Community Together” at their Annual Food and Wine Fest October 30th from noon-4pm. There will be over fifty wine samples and a fondue tasting table, along with houseware demonstrations and discounts.

Serious Sustainability
If you’re seriously dedicated to sustainable living, head out to Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds October 30th with The Urban Homesteaders’ League (UHL) for a chicken slaughter. Yep, you heard right. It’s a chance to see firsthand where your meal comes from and how it got to your table. Get the details here.

Double Whammy
Gargoyles hits you with two events on Halloween: first up, a pre-trick-or-treating celebration for the kiddies from 2-4pm with cookie decorating and a costume contest. For the more mature, enjoy a three-course menu with beer pairings from Harpoon Brewery for $45 or $35 for “friends of Harpoon.” But aren’t we all?

Nightmare on Elm Street
Or rather, Beacon. The Fireplace hosts it’s eighth annual “Nightmare on Beacon Street” on the big day from 8pm until the witching hour. Show off your most creative costume and makeup in the night’s contest, or sit on the sidelines with visiting palm readers, tarot card readers, and psychics. Chef/owner Jim Solomon will be coming up with inspired eats and cocktails. No need to book ahead of time or worry about a cover charge ’cause there ain’t one.

Break Bread at BHCC
The Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery will be sitting down with Lynne Christy Anderson to discuss her book, Breaking Bread: Recipes and Stories from Immigrant Kitchens, on November 4th at 1pm. Anderson shares her experiences in immigrant kitchens and explores the relationship between food and culture. Call (617) 228-2093 for more information.

Squeeze in an Addition to Your Holiday Menu
The Culinary Guild of New England celebrates the release of Joanne Chang’s cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe, November 8th from 7-9pm at the BCAE. (Read PRK’s Q&A with Joanne and/or listen to her on Radio Boston!) Chang will be there to sign your copy, as well as share tips and give a demonstration of her signature recipes.  Tickets are $75 for non-members and $65 for members (price includes Chang’s book, complimentary wine and appetizers).

Practice Makes Perfect
Play host and guest at the BCAE’s newest culinary class, “Be Our Guest.” Instructor Dustin Rennells will wine and dine you through a three-hour dinner, breaking down the elements of a good party, from invitations to menu options. Tickets and details for the swanky lesson, here.


Candy Advocate
Samira Kawash, part doctor, part candy blogger/researcher
chats with the NY Times about her exploration into the history of candy and why it is sugary treats have such a bad rap. Kawash points out that there are many highly-processed foods in the supermarket consumed on a regular basis that don’t come under nearly as much scrutiny. Kawash adds, “At least candy is honest about what it is.” Spoken like a true candy lover.

A Food Intern’s Foray into Food

Photo: letizia.lorenzetti/Flickr

This post is the first in a series we’re launching by Sarah Minton, our intern at PRK this Fall, about her forays into food as an eager yet inexperienced cook. With the Museum of Science’s new, two-year initiative Let’s Talk About Food fully underway, we thought it would be more than simply ‘interesting’ to get a sense of what our 20-something readers are doing with, and about, their food. For example, if you’re food-minded and at school, how do you deal with the lack of quality control, exploration and creativity inherent in buying and preparing your own meals? Also, do you already know how you want to cook and eat, and from where to stock your kitchen, once you head off on your own? Do you know how to find out? How will you learn to cook?

These are some of the questions we’d like to hear answered (there are surely many more), or at least mused about, as part of an ongoing dialogue about what choices we each make and how they impact our lives, our attitudes about food, our environment. We think those answers might be edifying for all us thinking, writing and reading about food. Anyone is welcome to join in this conversation. Contact us! Now, here’s the link to Sarah’s first post.

Post #1: A Food Intern’s Foray

Week I: Knife Skills

I love it, I eat it, I now write about it, but get me into a kitchen, and I don’t really know what to do with it. The ‘it’ being food.

I’ve been spoiled the last, oh, twenty-two years when it comes to food. Growing up in Boston with a mother who diligently fulfilled her role as “chef” (slave to her children, call it what you will), I never, ever cooked in high school, nor tried to learn. I was similarly pampered these last four years at college in upstate New York. Though I was far from home, I certainly felt at home with a fully stocked dining hall at my disposal. Even my senior year, when I lived in an apartment “downtown,” my roommate and I continued to reap the benefits of on-campus living, frequenting the cafeteria at least twice a day. I don’t think we turned our stove on once.

But, both out of my love for food and out of necessity, I’ve decided it’s finally time to wise up and master something other than cereal. My “roommate” (Mummy dearest) has all but hung up her well-worn apron, and though my friends are also living at home, we have grand plans to move in together in the near future. But, only one of us has any cred in the kitchen, so now is a better time than any to put my passion into action.

For years my mother has suggested cooking classes, and for years I’ve shut down her well-intentioned idea. I had in mind that they were an old-fashioned way to domesticate women and relegate them to their ‘proper’ place. But, times have changed, as has my mindset, and rather than reject the cooking class, I’m finally embracing it.

A few months ago I signed up for a six-week cooking series at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts called “Back to Basics.” Each week focuses on a different staple–eggs, soups, sauces, moist heat cooking, dry heat cooking, etc.–and last Sunday was the intro class, Knife Skills. (I can hear you seasoned cooks tittering, but remember, everyone has to start somewhere.)

I was quite surprised by the demographics of the group. There are twelve of us in total (eight women, four men), and besides myself, only one other person is in her early-20s. Since the class focuses on the bare essentials of cooking, I expected more students/recent post-grads in attendance, but the age group ranges from early 30s-60s. From what I gathered, the issue for most wasn’t a lack of experience, but a lack of confidence. Many had been cooking for their families for years, but they weren’t comfortable with the basics. They felt as if they’d missed that step.

So, we all started from scratch and learned the fundamentals of kitchen knives, from safety to application to proper care, and fancy French words like ‘batonnet‘ and ‘brunoise.’ We also practiced these different chopping techniques on fruits and vegetables, which was prep work for the feast to come. Each round of veggies got tossed into a steaming pot, where all the flavors melded together over the course of two hours. What emerged was a delicious, perfectly-peppered soup, which we all sat down and enjoyed together, gazing proudly at our disproportionately-cut carrots and zucchinis. We also batonnet-ed lumpy brown potatoes to make rosemary fries, lightly sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (I’m salivating at the very thought of them).

Having someone show me how to properly chop an onion was mind bogglingly helpful. Before, I found handling them to be so frustrating that they brought tears to my eyes, and not just because they do that. But now I know they’re actually not that difficult to chop, so I’ve finally settled my beef with those buggers. Though I’m by no means experienced in the kitchen yet, that one class got me really excited for what’s to come.

Really. How many of you out there actually know how to wield a knife? How did you learn?

My own learning curve is pretty steep, but I’ve planted my foot on that hill and I’m climbing.

Next post: eggs!

Debate in a Bottle

Photo: Michael Piazza, Edible Boston

Ilene Bezahler
Guest Contributor
, Edible Boston

In the United States milk pasteurization began in the 1890’s, coinciding with the Industrial Revolution. Soon it became law that all milk purchased by consumers must be pasteurized. Although this law remains in effect in almost half the country (in 22 states, to be exact), Massachusetts is one of those states that allows raw milk sales–with some restrictions, however.

This past spring raw milk moved to the forefront of the news as the regulations were being revised here in Massachusetts. As with all issues, there are two sides to every story. Hannah Clay Wareham has written about the raw milk controversy, presenting both sides. Our goal is to let you make your own decision.

Spotlight: Eating from the Ground Up

Photo: Courtesy of Eating From the Ground Up

Alana Chernila has quite the resume: since graduating from college, she’s found herself in areas like publishing, architecture, teaching, design and film. Though unsure of which career path to follow, there was always a constant in the picture: working Saturdays at her local farmer’s market, Indian Line Farm. In those few hours each week, Alana found solace helping customers with all their food queries. She realized that not only did she know her stuff, but that she also felt a great sense of satisfaction sharing her knowledge and advice with others. As a way to get her “recipe giving fix” and continue to reach out to wondering foodies, Alana created Eating From the Ground Up, a food blog that celebrates simple.

Take Alana’s most recent post. Though this is one of her few non-cooking write-ups, it is nevertheless brilliant. Continue reading

Chat With Joanne Chang, TODAY on Radio Boston

Joanne Chang doing her sweet work. (Courtesy Photo)

Joanne Chang doing her sweet work. (Courtesy Photo)

You know you want to.

Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers + Chang fame will be on Radio Boston today discussing all things food and her new cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. She’ll also walk us through one of her most popular recipes, cheddar scallion scones (see the actual recipe below).

We’ll be opening the phone lines this afternoon for your sweet (or savory) questions, and we hope you’ll take advantage! As always, you can dial in directly at: 1.800.423.TALK or tweet us @radioboston and @pubradiokitchen. Commenting below will also do the trick. We’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, read below Joanne’s interesting answers to some questions we put before her before she hits the air today.

PRK: Who was your first kitchen mentor?
JC: My first mentor was definitely my mom who was a working mom but managed to make dinner for me, my brother, and my dad seven days a week. She taught me that with proper planning you could do almost anything in the kitchen!

My first professional mentor was Rick Katz, my first pastry boss. He taught me the importance of taste, taste, taste, taste, and he was always fanatical about keeping organized, making me clean my station, making sure I worked efficiently and neatly. I still look up to him and think, ‘What would Rick do?” Continue reading

Thursday Tidbits: Meat Market

Photo: mahadewi/Flickr


Carnivores Unite
It’s the first Meat Meet of the season! As the temperatures drop, so do farmer’s market sightings. But, Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm is bundling up tomorrow, October 22nd, to bring you freezers full of humanely-raised chicken, pork, lamb and beef in the Pound Parking Lot at Harvard Law School (roughly 1557 Mass Ave.) from 3:30-5:30pm. You can also make a check on your To Do list and put in an early Thanksgiving order.

Couple a’ Clams
Last week it was oysters, this week it’s clams. October 23rd marks the 28th Annual Essex ClamFest from 11am-4pm in Memorial Park. The main event is the Clam Chowder Competition at noon, where local restaurants go head-to-head to determine who serves up the best chowdah on Cape Ann. I’d love a pipin’ hot bowl right now.

“It Gets Better”
In light of the recent teen suicides within the LGBT community, Rocca is reaching out October 24th with “It Gets Better,” an event benefiting The Trevor Project, an LGBT suicide prevention organization. There will be hors d’oeuvres thanks to chef Tiffani Faison, a cash bar and, for those who wish to do so, a room where you can record a hopeful message to LGBT youth. You can make a suggested $25 donation at the door; all proceeds go towards The Trevor Project. Call (617) 451-5151 for more information about the event and how else to contribute to the cause.

Frankenstein Meets Dita Von Teese?
The South End’s Beehive transforms into a Boudoir of Horrors October 26th with the help of the Pinchbottom Burlesque performers. The show starts at 8pm, with food and festive drinks from 5pm-2am. Whips provided (kidding).

A Pint with Shakespeare
Boston’s Actor’s Shakespeare Project unites theatre and food with their upcoming event, “Falstaff’s Beer Tasting” on October 27th in honor of their production of The Coveted Crown: Henry IV, Parts I and II. Named after one of Shakespeare’s most notorious party boys, the tasting will be held on the set at Midway Studios, complete with fresh oysters and live music. Tickets ($60) available online. Let the debauchery begin!

Adult Trick-Or-Treating
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Halloween. In fact, it’s better to be 21+ on October 28th when thirteen of the Seaport District’s best restaurants will host “Halloween on the Harbor” from 6:30-10:00pm. $5 gets you ‘adult’ treats, like spooky-themed cocktails and appetizers, and free rides to and from the fun on Boston Old Town Trolleys. Grab tickets online and see the full list of participating bars and restaurants.

Dunkin’ Keeps Runnin’
Despite increasing bean prices, James Cohen, President of the Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners, says DD will not charge you more for your morning cup o’ Jo. Coffee bean prices are at a thirteen-year high and, though many other coffee chains have added cents to their menus, DD says “right now and through the holidays, franchise owners are maintaining prices.”


Global Threat
The Harvard Gazette reports that due to economic and agricultural conditions in Southeast Asia, the world’s rice supply is under serious threat. Rising prices and climate change have had a huge effect on the rice market and on the over two billion people who rely on rice for subsistence. Get the full story here.

Bacon Me Crazy
An NYC gallery in trendy SoHo got greasy this past weekend at Bacon-Palooza, a charity event that raised money for kids with autism. Guests chomped on hearty bacon bites like chocolate-dipped bacon and bacon sweet potato hash. There were even bacon cocktails (baketails?).

Too Loud to Taste
Noisy restaurants can be distracting…for your taste buds. According to a recent study reported in Scientific American, background noise affects perception of flavor and crunchiness. So, the way I figure it, my eating alone at home says nothing about my social life. I’m just trying to fully appreciate my food!

Finding Food

Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

Hello from the Kitchen! 

Today we’ve got a goodie from the ever-informative, ever-engaging JJ Gonson of Cuisine en Locale. Why? The air is getting frosty, you can see your breath in the morning and many (not all) farmers markets are set to close. Where do you find the best, fresh food?

Enter JJ. And, PLEASE. Share with all of us where YOU find the best of what’s in season, in your area.

From JJ Gonson….. Continue reading

Putting the Farm to Bed

Photo: Anna McDermott/Flickr

Meryl LaTronica
Farm Manager, Powisset Farm

Today I walked around the vegetable fields with new eyes. Rather than scouring the fields for what needs to be cultivated, planted or hand-weeded, my gaze has shifted towards what needs to be mowed, plowed, harvested, cover-cropped and protected from frost. This change has happened over the last few weeks and it’s the phase of the farm season that’s called “putting the farm to bed.” The time of year when we transform the fields back to the state they were in when we greeted them in the spring. The better job we do now of clearing the fields and prepping them for winter and spring, the happier we will be at the start of next season. Continue reading