Monthly Archives: March 2011

Oysters ‘n’ Beer

Fresh oysters and a good stout ale are a classic combination — second only to the oysters and white wine in the spirits and seafood pairing pantheon.

But oysters IN the beer itself? Now that’s a little odd. It sounds like the unwelcome consequence of a slip of an oyster fork on a night out, rather than something a brewer would intentionally do. At the Harpoon brewery, however, they are doing just that, dumping bivalves into beer by the bucketful to make their Island Creek Oyster Stout.

I visited Harpoon on brew day to take a look at how this unusual beer is made (see the photos above) and learn more about its history from brewer Bill Leahy. I also got a lesson in shucking oysters from Skip Bennett, Shore Gregory, and Chris Sherman of the Island Creek Oyster Company, whose oysters give the beer its distinctive briny finish. Two hundred oysters go in each batch of  Oyster Stout, along with a mix of specialty grains, such as caramel, biscuit and black malts, which impart flavors of nuts and chocolate, along with a little bitterness. Continue reading

Food Therapy from A Plum By Any Other Name

Photo: Emily Gelsomin

Scallops are one of those foods that just beg for a puree. Unlike other tender ingredients that need crunch, they muscle up and ask for a silky bed to lay on.

Emily Gelsomin from A Plum By Any Other Name brings us just what seared scallops need: Meyer Lemon Parsnip Puree – today’s Food Therapy.

Give Emily’s blog a read. It is smart and funny, and the food looks delectable. And, her recipe for Gâteau au Citron might be the perfect dessert to match with the scallops.

Thursday Tidbits: Celebrate Spring

Photo: j_bary/Flickr


You Say Oyster
Have you ever seen professional oyster shuckers open shells frighteningly fast? Were you jealous of their skill? Ok, maybe that’s just me. But you can have your chance to learn at the normal pace this Saturday: Mercato Del Mare fish market in the North End will be giving free oyster shucking lessons from 1 to 3 p.m. You do pay for what you shuck and eat.

Celebrate India
Celebrate the beauty and tastes of India at The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, April 2nd- 3rd for “Sensational India!” Try mixing up your own spice blend for signature curries or stir up food memories. The museum will also offer dancing, art projects and story telling. (Check out PEM’s impressive collection of Indian art HERE.)

Five Napkin
Something exciting happened last night for Boston burger lovers. The first location of 5 Napkin Burger, originally from NYC, opened in Back Bay! The original burger is topped with gruyere, caramelized onion and rosemary aioli. It also offers a turkey burger, veggie burger, milkshakes, and cornmeal crusted onion rings. I know where I’ll be tomorrow.

Whole Hog
Several Boston-area restaurants are now offering pig roasts indoors, said Devra First of The Boston Globe. You might lose the atmosphere of an outdoor, summer party of most pig roasts, but you still get the main event of ultra tender meat and crunchy skin. The majority of these restaurants require advanced notice, and parties of ten or more.


About Time
Vegetarians, here’s an invitation: ditch those hockey-puck veggie burgers and demand something meaty – ok, not meat-y, but substantial. Jeff Gordinier of NY Times wrote how some restaurants are giving much needed attention to the veggie burger, and that they no longer need to be a thing of shame to make or order.

Food Ban
The FDA has banned the import of some foods from Japan, including milk. Officials said fears of radiation are only from these few Japanese products, and that there is no threat to the U.S. food supply. See the story at Slashfood.

James Beard
They are like the Academy Awards for foodies. The 2011 James Beard Awards nominees were just announced, which includes some Boston names like Menton Restaurant and Joanne Chang! See the list at the Huffington Post.

Fancy Ramen
Ramen may be the budget-conscious person’s dream. Unfortunately, it can also make one dread mealtime, and this is tragic. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats wrote about 30 easy “Ramen Hacks” –in other words, how to turn your bowl from depressing to delectable. One warning: you may have to spend over a quarter per serving to cook up these recipes.

Food Therapy from Saucy and Bossy

Photo: Saucy and Bossy

Isn’t it great when you can make dinner in one pan? Isn’t it even better when that dinner tastes amazing?

Today’s Food Therapy comes from Marc and Elysabeth at Saucy and Bossy: Chicken and Israeli Couscous with Tomato and Lemon. It is a one skillet (plus one little bowl) dish.

How satisfying does that sound? A little Mediterranean, a lotta color, and absolutely saucy.

Take-Out from Where??

Go on laugh. Smirk if you must. But there’s no question that Boston Parks is going to have the last laugh and we’ll all be better for it.

Yesterday Boston City officials announced it was awarding a 15-year lease to Earl of Sandwich®, a Florida-based food chain that, as soon as early 2012, plans to set up a take-out operation on the Boston Common. Where, exactly? In the so-called “Pink Palace,” an historic structure built in the 1920s which originally served as a “men’s comfort station.” In other words, a bathroom. But not in use as such for decades. The Pink Palace is the last remaining vacant building on the Common. Next year, no more.

PRK spoke with Commissioner Toni Pollak of Boston Parks & Recreation to learn more about this creative, adaptive re-use of the structure. Continue reading

Hungry Mother’s Cornmeal Catfish

Chef Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

As a boy growing up in Virginia, chef Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother in Cambridge went fishing nearly every day and the catfish he caught was a beloved staple on the family dinner table. So when he decided to open Hungry Mother, with its Southern-inspired cuisine, he knew he had to have a catfish dish on the menu.

The recipe he shares with us is one of the most popular items at the restaurant. It features a wonderfully crunchy cornmeal crust and a spicy creole mustard vinaigrette. Once you catch your catfish (or pick it up at your local market), it’s a dish that’s inexpensive, not at all difficult to make and, after tasting it, even if you’re the flintiest of Northerners, you may well wish you could eat catfish every day.

Here’s the recipe! Continue reading

Whither Hospitality?

“Mommy, why are you kicking me under the table?” said my 8-year-old daughter. I smiled sweetly and then, when our host turned to the microwave, glowered at her and made a frantic digging motion toward my open mouth.

Our host put a plate of steaming, homemade cauliflower curry in front of me.

“Delicious,” I said, taking a bite. His daughter scraped the bottom of her bowl. My daughter sat stonily in front of hers.

“I apologize,” I said. “I guess she’s not hungry.”

I felt deeply ashamed. Not because she was being a picky eater—what parent hasn’t been occasionally smote by a bout of finickiness? Not because our host had spent a lot of time or money on the meal; the kids were noshing on Annie’s Mac & Cheese, a foodstuff about which the best I can say is it’s cheap, fast and easy. (As for the worst, enjoy it here!). And not even because we’d end up tossing 260 calories, 10 grams of protein and 46 grams of carbohydrates, an act which, in a world where 26% of children don’t have enough to eat, is almost sacrilegious.

No, I was ashamed because she had just rejected one of humankind’s most fundamental gestures of friendship. Continue reading

Food Therapy from Scandi Foodie

Photo: Flickr/mckaysavage

The recipes I fall in love with usually fall in one of two camps. The first is ordinary perfection, achieved through long trial and error and a careful reading of a recipe’s history – America’s Test Kitchen‘s inimitable pie crust falls into this category, for example. This kind of recipe is tried-and-true, a classic, what your grandma used to make but better – that sort of thing.

And then there’s the second camp, rarer, but more exciting – the kind of recipe that actually sparks your imagination. These are the sorts of recipes that let you imagine you’re living in a townhouse in France, or working in a cool modernist restaurant, or living on a hippie commune somewhere. In other words, these are the recipes that capture the magic of exploration – you’re not trying for perfection, but for an adventurous leap forward of the palate.

This recipe from my new favorite food blog, Scandi Foodi, falls somewhere in between. On one hand, it’s that classic light dessert – cheese and sweet fruit. On the other hand, read the recipe title: it’s “oven-baked fruit with Finnish buttermilk cheese.” Homemade Finnish buttermilk cheese, I should add. Reading that recipe, looking at the site’s gorgeous photos, it evokes a setting, a place and a time. You’re in a cottage surrounded by long grass and lavender; you have freckles on your face and curls in your hair; you serve oven-baked fruit with Finnish buttermilk cheese for breakfast.

Or maybe I’m the only one who responds to recipes in such a silly way. Whatever: it still looks divine.

Organic Delivery Services


Photo: AndyRob/Flickr

Today we’ve got a ‘thoughtful’ piece for you. Its author, Mya Wilke, is a recent transplant to Boston who began her career in government and social service. A few offices and two organic farms later, she decided to change career paths and pursue work in sustainable food production.

Below, Mya writes about how our shopping choices — namely, organic delivery services — grow the infrastructure for local food and aid small organic farmers who would like to reach more consumers but have very little time and few resources to put into marketing or sales.

We plan on hearing from Mya again soon, on topics ranging from the new memoir “Chicken and Egg” to the revival of old-fashioned farming tools. Til then, read on.

Mya Wilke
PRK Guest Contributor

Organic delivery services are a relatively new way for consumers to access local organic produce. The immediate difference between buying produce from an organic delivery service and buying it at a farmers market, specialty grocery store or through a CSA subscription is convenience: organic groceries are delivered right to your doorstep.

Behind the scenes, organic delivery services and similar intermediaries (such as farmer-owned co-ops) can play an important role in developing the infrastructure for local food. Such intermediaries often provide much-needed financial stability to local farmers who prefer to sell wholesale, thereby encouraging local farmers to expand their businesses.

As in many metropolitan areas, organic delivery services are starting to pop up all over Boston. The largest by far is Boston Organics, founded by Jeff Barry in 2002. Barry earned his Masters degree in environmental economics from Tufts and then started Boston Organics after using a similar delivery service while living in San Francisco.

Boston Organics allows customers to choose from nineteen different produce boxes – which vary in size and percentage of fruit/vegetable mix – that are delivered to their preferred location (often home) on a weekly basis. From week to week, the exact type of fruits and vegetables may vary, but customers are able to identify produce that they never wish to receive. Customers subscribe to the service, but can cancel at any time. Continue reading

Liquid Therapy from Periodista Tales

Periodista (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

This month has been a busy one for Boston’s most intrepid cocktail sleuth, Devin Hahn. For the past year, he’s been on a quest to uncover the origins and history of the Periodista, a tasty rum concoction that has strong and somewhat mysterious ties to Boston. He’s chronicled his journey in good potboiler style in Periodista Tales.

Recently, his search brought him to New York City, where he talked to a collector of cocktail ephemera and dug in the stacks of the New York Public Library looking for old drink menus. A filmmaker by trade and an obsessive by nature,  Hahn has a knack for storytelling and an ear for dialogue, so it’s worth reading the whole story from the beginning. In the process, you’ll get to meet some of Boston’s best barkeeps (and some national cocktail luminaries) and get a fascinating course in cocktail history.