Monthly Archives: August 2011

Spotlight: The World of Chocolate at Koko Buzz

Photo: courtesy of Koko Buzz

Meet Walter of Koko Buzz. He is a taster, blogger, purveyor and serious lover of chocolate. He’s also the feature for today’s two-in-one post (Spotlight! Food Therapy!), vis a vis his simple recipe for the tempting Chocolate Raspberry Cooler you see to the left.

But, before you give in and clink on that link, allow yourself to wander through the many facets of Koko Buzz. It’ll take you very little time to realize this is a committed chocolate-lover’s space.

Walter seeks out artisanal chocolate makers — those engaged in bean-to-bar production — and his tastings take him around the globe, both figuratively and literally. He’s blogged from Costa Rica, Mexico and Japan, where he filmed a “Taza takes Toyko” chocolate tasting, live from the action-packed streets of Toyko’s Harajuku neighborhood. (Yes, as in Taza Chocolate of Somerville. The interviewees are wonderfully quirky; the whole endeavor, hilarious!)

Walter, too, is funny, which makes his posts entertaining. At the same time, his voice is incredibly accessible and honest. These traits make Koko Buzz eminently readable. You’ll find in each tasting post the author’s carefully-turned comments on aroma and texture, along with descriptions of first impressions, the middle taste and finish of the chocolate in question, plus an overall rating. In his choice of terminology, the analogies to wine-tasting are obvious, but not blindly followed — not by a long shot. Walter openly explains his methodologies and his philosophy on “one of the most enjoyable foods on Earth.”

What has he been tasting lately? Dark chocolate from Cuba and a Single Origin Cru chocolate from Venezuela. Curious about caffeine? Koko Buzz has you covered.

Now, for some Food Therapy from that Chocolate Raspberry Cooler.


Pupusa Nostalgia

Photo: Flickr/BeSighYawn

I’m always on the hunt for Boston’s best pupusa, the traditional Salvadoran dish consisting of a stuffed corn tortilla. This piping hot full-of-yumminess tortilla is served with curtido, a cooling slaw.  This driving desire has taken me to Lynn, to Somerville, to East Boston–the list goes on but I’m a bit embarrassed at this point.

The best pupusa I’ve ever had is back in the mother country, the incredible Tipicos Margoth in El Salvador.  So far, nothing in the Bay State comes close–but I’m heartened by a recent post from Brian Knowles of The Gringo Chapin. He says Rosticeria Cancun, a Maverick Square hole in the wall is a contender.

Read more here and let me know if you’ve sampled some seriously good pupusas.  And if you’ve never tried one, seriously–get on IT.


A Food Tour of Concord, MA: Part Five

Even—or perhaps especially—in a micro-region devoted to good food, such as Concord, the debate over what is best to eat continues.

Should we eat everything locally, choosing our baby greens from the farmer next door and embracing the grit? Or can we justify incorporating more worldly products into our diets? I’m thinking of the thick, fruity coffee from Costa Rica I love so much; the sprigs of saffron I brought back from Italy in a tiny glass jar; and, the strong cracked Spanish blue cheese I still seek out in New England. Shall we acknowledge that many Americans still do not know enough about food sourcing to realize their acts of consumption are choices, and that by eating deliberately–by realizing the implications of their meals–they impact others?

The two final food businesses in this series–Verrill Farm on the Concord/Sudbury line and Debra’s Natural Gourmet in downtown West Concord–enter this conversation simply through what they place on their shelves. Be it new June strawberries or Amazonian tea, both small-town businesses challenge us to question what it means to eat well.

9.) Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Rd., Concord

Steve Verrill of Verrill Farm (photo: Katie White/PRK)

Steve Verrill greeted me at the entrance of his sizable, well-stocked farm store wearing brown work-shorts, high socks and boots, a flannel shirt held up with suspenders, and a straw hat. He has skinny legs, sharp eyes and believes strongly in his work. Continue reading

Thursday Tidbits: Bee Happy

Photo: tommycorra/Flickr


Mind Your Own Beeswax
From 10am – 1pm on Saturday, August 27th, the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), in collaboration with the Boston Nature Center, will host Honey Harvest: From Hive to Jar, a workshop for those interested in harvesting their own honey. Cost: $25 members/ $30 non-members.
To register for the workshop or for more information contact Laura Eppstein at or call 617-913-0538.

Last call for free ice cream!
It’s the final week of the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Truck in Boston. If you want the truck to roll your way with free phish food before it’s final day on August 28th, tweet your address to

Catching on
Cape Ann Fresh Catch (CAFC) begins its Fall 2011 CSF season on September 6th. This year, CAFC will deliver fresh, sustainable seafood to members at 17 delivery sites throughout MA–including their newest site in Needham–for a ten-week period. To become a member, and for information on share options, pricing, and the Fall 2011 season contract/online shopping cart, head to their website.

Tomato Tastings
To kick off Massachusetts Farmers Market Week, the Patrick-Murray administration hosted the Commonwealth’s 27th Annual Tomato Contest this past Monday. Over 100 tomato growers from around the state converged on City Hall Plaza to display the fruits of their labors. Top prizes went to Idylwide Farm of Acton, Stillman’s Farm of New Braintree, Verrill Farm of Concord, and Ward’s Berry Farm of Sharon.

Waffle Week at the Bristol Lounge
The Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons has kicked off National Waffle Week with an updated menu. You can sweeten their traditional Belgian waffle even more with options such as peanut butter and jelly, red velvet and cream cheese butter, lemon poppyseed, strawberry shortcake, and even pecan pie! The sugar high ends Saturday, Aug. 27th. Continue reading

Food Therapy from Bottom-Up Food

Photo: Courtesy of Bottom-Up Food

Making pasta at home, especially without a pasta press, might seem overly ambitious when Barilla® et al. are usually just a few blocks away–sitting on shelves, poised to be snatched and shaken into a pot. Ten minutes to al dente. Hands clean.

But Bottom Up Food, with a nod to Pasta Recipes Made Easy, reveals that making your own farfalle (bowtie) pasta can be a satisfying, joyful process in and of itself.

Follow both blogging chefs as they mix flour, egg and a pinch of salt together with their fingers, roll out and slice up dusty yellow dough, and pinch the little butterflies closed.

The butter-and-sage sauce that Bottom Up Food suggests is so simple that it negates any frustration caused by spilled flour. Dinner made more difficult; but dinner made more delicious, and gratifying.

And if the smell of fresh dough makes you hungry for more, check out Bottom Up Food’s homemade fettucine as well.

Food Therapy from Lottie + Doof

Photo: jeffweese/Flickr

Photo: jeffweese/Flickr

I’ll get this one out of the way quickly: this is a recipe for sweet corn ice cream.

“The thing you need to remember,” writes Tim of Lottie + Doof, “is that sweet corn ice cream tastes like sweet corn. Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is going to taste like anything other than corn. I know that sounds obvious, but as prepared as you might be, the first bite is shocking.”

“Delicious,” he writes, “but shocking.”

Yup – this recipe, I think, is not for everyone. However, if you – like me – have tried to put corn in pretty much every single dish this summer (how did I not realize before that raw corn is absolutely delicious?), I can’t imagine that you won’t like it. Me, I’m imagining this with berries on top, served on zucchini bread like some kind of twisted strawberry shortcake.

Campfire Food: Roughing it (but not really)

Photo: ninahale/Flickr

Half the fun of camping is anticipating your meals, isn’t it?

You set your menus ahead, shop for ingredients and pack the gear — all the while strategizing how t0 carry, wash and waste as little as possible.

But the deliciousness factor really counts: there’s nothing more satisfying than eating awesome-tasting food that’s just been pulled from the fire. Somehow, you love your designated chef that much more in that moment.

Well, here are some easy, ingenious campfire recipes from how2heroes, their finger ever on the pulse. My #1 favorite is the “Campfire Eggs in an Orange.” But, if you’ve got pie irons (I don’t; note to self and husband), you’d be crazy to pass up these pizza and apple-pie treats.

Meet Your Bartender: Grafton Street’s Diana Morell

Diana Morell of Grafton Street sips a Jurnalista (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

Growing up in Colombia, Diana Morell never thought she’d become a bartender. Her family owned a small restaurant, so she grew up in the hospitality industry, and she recalls that she had an early interest in esoteric spirits. She even had an uncle who experimented with barrel-aging cocktails — highly unusual in a country without much of a cocktail culture. But Morell’s creative outlet was fashion design.

It was her love of fashion that brought her to the US, where she worked for a time in New York while also working in restaurants to make ends meet. Eventually, Morell began tending bar and was attracted to the creativity that was possible in mixing drinks. She began developing her drink-making skills at small restaurants and bistros. Most significant among these was the Italian restaurant Il Casale in Belmont, where she developed an inventive cocktail menu, including some barrel-aged drinks, perhaps in homage to her uncle. “Ah, I left one of my barrels there when I left,” she says ruefully. Since that was quite recently, you may still be able have one of her drinks at Il Casale, though she’s no longer there to serve it to you.

Five months ago Morell left Il Casale to take over as bar manager at Grafton Street in Harvard Square. Grafton, which has a relatively young clientele and also gets its fair share of tourists, is worlds away from the relatively calm, low-volume, fine-dining restaurant bars where she cut her mixological teeth. She’s been pleasantly surprised, however, by the relatively adventurous palates of her younger customers and she’s created a sophisticated drink menu to match. Continue reading