Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Brunch Winner Is…

Photo: ralph and jenny/Flickr

Earlier this week, Jaime Lutz wrote about her morning meal out with a unique group of local food bloggers, Boston Brunchers. In Jaime’s words, the group gathered was “…some of the most thoughtful writers I know.” Beyond that, they EAT. And they have a great time, in the company of like-minded bloggers who, in turn, will ultimately review the restaurant where they’re having brunch.

In the same post, Jaime interviewed the founder of Boston Brunchers, Renee Hirschberg of Eat.Live.Blog, and also promised a giveaway: one of the last available tickets to Boston Brunchers’ 1st Anniversary Brunch, to be held October 16th at the Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square. The catch? You had to leave in our comment section your idea of the perfect brunch.

This generated some pretty great comments! French Toast was a common theme, and coffee basically tied Bloody Marys for the drink of choice (bottomless, preferred). But, perhaps the least surprising, it was as much the food as the company that mattered. Sit yourself down with some treasured friends and delicious food, and you’ve got yourself the ingredients for the perfect brunch.

Well, lucky “anth” of In The Night Kitchen. The ticket’s yours!

This blogger’s ideal brunch includes “a grilled cheese sandwich (and lots of ketchup). Plus a side of silver dollar banana pancakes…Heaven.” Contact Renee at Boston Brunchers and see you on the 16th, anth. PRK will be there, too.

A Preview of the Boston Local Food Festival

Just a day away now: The Boston Local Food Festival! In anticipation of this second annual celebration of local food, healthy eating and sustainable living, we caught up with Fan Watkinson, the Project Director of SBN Food Programs, and a primary organizer of the 2010 Festival. She told us what to expect from this year’s new and improved festival, and how we can do our part to help meet the festival’s Zero Waste goal.

Check out our interview below, and then come down to Fort Point Channel between 11-5 tomorrow for great food, music, DIY booths, demonstrations and  local craft beer tastings. And at 2 p.m. meet up with PRK, Here & Now Host Robin Young, and WBUR listeners to share your festival finds! More info on the meet up is here.

PRK: What feedback did you get from last year’s festival, and how did you use it to expand this Saturday’s second annual Boston Local Food Festival?

FW: We were delighted with the positive response from the 2010 participants, quantified by strong survey results from vendors and partners and abundant positive blog articles and photos from participants.

Given last year’s enthusiastic attendance of over 30,000 people, we have expanded the footprint. In addition to the park and wharf area outside Boston Children’s Museum, the festival will run beneath Seaport Blvd/Moakley Bridge to the parking lot in front of Barking Crab and end at the beautiful outdoor grotto of Daily Catch for the Local Craft Brew tastings.

The new area outside Barking Crab/Daily Catch will have an additional music performance stage and more local food booths and demos, including the Fish Stock area with a Seafood Throwdown organized by Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). We have added three ATM’s in response to the request for more cash access and a bike valet supported by MassBike and Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness. The Local Craft Brew Tasting will have three sessions starting at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 4 pm to better manage the crowds. Tickets are pre-sold on-line via our website. There will be 6 food trucks, a first for a festival of this type in Boston. We have also added two Do It Yourself demo booths where layfolks can share skills such as food dehydration, pickling, kombucha making, etc.

PRK: Have these expansions caused the festival’s mission and goals to change, or grow?

FW: Boston Local Food Festival continues to be committed to its goal of Healthy Local Food for All with festival decisions made in accordance with its values to support local, green and fair initiatives. Organized by Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston, the festival is especially unique in its commitment to the support and promotion of locally owned independent businesses – in this case as sponsors, producers, restaurants, farmers, fishermen, suppliers, etc. In 2011, we are setting higher goals, several being: 1) the amount of local ingredients included in the food offered and 2) the amount of refuse composted or recycled (Last year we hit 75% and are striving for 90% this year.)

PRK: Your commitment to a Zero Waste festival is impressive. How can festival-goers play their past?

FW: Festival goers can help in many ways with our commitment to zero waste and sustainability:

  • purchase one of our reusable festival bags for your shopping
  • donate excess produce from your garden to the Crop Share program
  • dispose of your waste in the appropriate container
  • bring your own water bottle
  • arrive by public transportation, a bike or carpool.

PRK: What would be the best outcome in demonstrable, quantifiable terms, of this year’s Boston Local Food Festival?

FW: Videos, news articles, reports, photos and blogs documenting a glorious festival day where:

  • all vendors are busy selling out
  • 40,000 festival goers of diverse cultures, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds are arriving by foot, bike and T and are enjoying delicious varieties of food and engaged in the numerous learning opportunities throughout the day
  • professional and amateur food folks are drawing huge crowds to their demonstrations
  • exhibitors are flocked with families learning more about food and healthy choices
  • 17 performance groups are enthusiastically applauded
  • 250 volunteers are smiling and busily participating in the success of the day
  • 90% of waste is composted or commingled
  • the festival site is quiet and clean and all have happily gone home by 7 pm

PRK: What, in your opinion, is the biggest, don’t-miss attraction or event of this year’s festival?

FW: This is an impossible question as the entire event is a don’t miss attraction! I hope everyone comes early and stays long enough to explore all aspects.

That said, timely activities include the arrival of the fishing boat and Seafood Throwdown at 12 noon, the Harbor Walk tour of Fort Point at 1 pm, the Local Craft Brew Tasting sessions starting at 11am and a myriad of stage performances and demonstrations scheduled throughout the day.

Food Therapy from What’s Cooking In Your World?

Photo: Courtesy of What's Cooking in Your World?

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry, I am well versed in the overused catchphrases of diners. (As well as guilty of their usage! Fess up— who hasn’t cracked the, “You can tell I didn’t like this” joke when a server clears a plate of meatless bones?) But while these harmless clichés of dining are sufferable, there is one phrase that will cause my eyes to roll: “I have dined all over the world and I’ve never seen it done like this before.” Ironic how a phrase that’s supposed to convey so much worldly knowledge can come out so stale.

On the flip side, there is nothing more refreshing than checking back in with Sarah Commerford’s blog, What’s Cooking In Your World?

Sarah’s posts, each featuring a dish from a different country, are written in such an enthusiastic voice, I feel as if I am discovering and learning right alongside her. (The great pictures don’t hurt either!) While Sarah tackles some pretty exotic recipes, she does so with a humility that gives encouragement to home chefs with a more timid sense of adventure. Through this blog, Sarah proves that “dining all around the world” is a matter of research, a little experimentation, and a willingness to learn about differing food traditions — not your pocketbook.

Take her latest post featuring Slovenia’s Castagnaccio. The Slovenian people’s need to rely on scavenged nuts and berries during occupations and wars gave rise to this savory cake with a chestnut flour base. And like many recipes hailing from the Mediterranean region, neighboring countries have both influenced and imitated the recipe’s ingredients and process.

But if the recipe’s cultural origination doesn’t interest you, the flavor profile certainly will. As Sarah advises “Should you try this cake, do try to let go of your preconceived cake-as-I know-it notions and enjoy this rustic, savory confection.”

After all, isn’t letting go of preconceived notions the point of dining around the world? I’ve never seen a cake done like this before, and I can’t wait to try it!

Thursday Tidbits: The Full City Roast

Photo: puuikibeach/Flickr


Local Sips & Bites
Discover Boston’s “Best Kept Coffee Secret”  — Rao’s Coffee Roasters — as well as many other local food vendors at Boston’s Local Food Festival this Saturday, Oct. 1, 11am-5pm at Fort Port Channel. If you’re interested in meeting up with fellow PRK readers at the festival, click here.

How2heros invites you to head on over to the 2011 Hoedown taking place this Sunday, Oct. 2, 1-5pm at Verrill Farms. Channel your midwestern side by taking part in a pig roast, live music, hayrides and lots of delicious food, courtesy of Boston-based restaurants.  Grab yer info and tickets here.

Fall Festivities
Take advantage of the crisp autumn weather by coming out to “Fall at the Farm” this Sunday, Oct. 2, 1-5pm, at Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester. Bring the whole family and enjoy wagon rides, barn and field tours, pony rides, cider, cookies, and the chance to purchase organically grown produce. (Enjoy Fall now because, knowing New England, we probably have only a few weeks left before the blizzards hit.)

Oktober Fest Der Beehive
The Beehive is bringing Oktoberfest to Boston this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 5pm-12am.  Feast 0n an authentic German meal and wash it down with Harpoon brew, all while dancing to live German music. Dinner is free, and RSVPs recommended.  Call 617-423-0069 to reserve your spot.

Bike & Bites
Take a unique tour of some of Boston’s best restaurants while getting your exercise for the day on a Culinary Bike Tour, led by Chef Paul Turano of Tryst, on Sunday, Oct. 16, 11am-6pm. This 17-mile bike ride will loop around the ‘burbs, making stops at Wilson Farms and Turtle Creek Winery, and finishing off with a 3 course meal at Tryst in Arlington. To get in on the ride, RSVP by calling Tryst at 781-641-2227. Continue reading

PRK On the Air: America’s Food Waste

Photo: Tesla Aldrich/Flickr

How much food do you think Americans throw away each year? In weight, that is. How much would you guess you do?

Today on WBUR’s Here and Now, host Robin Young speaks with Jeremy Seifert, a filmmaker who became interested in the issue of food waste when he began dumpster diving, eating and feeding his family with the food he found.

He talks about his new documentary, “DIVE: Living Off America’s Food Waste.” (Catch the trailer at Here and Now’s site.)

Here’s To A Spicy New Year

Photo: Courtesy of Kosher Camembert

Anticipating Rosh Hashanah this Thursday, we treat you to this write-up from local blogger Kosher Camembert, who shares her recipe for Spicy Butternut Squash Soup.

Shana tova u’metukah.

This traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting wishes the recipient a good and sweet year. The Rosh Hashanah table is adorned with foods symbolizing a long, prosperous, sweet new year. We dip apples in honey, the round apples representing the cycle of a year and the honey representing sweetness. We shape our challah bread into round loaves – again, the cycle of the year.

Some families display, eat and bless an entire cornucopia of symbolic foods. I went to one of these dinners a few years ago. There was a fish head on the table to represent the hope that we are like the head and not the tail. (Some families use a sheep’s head!) We ate pomegranates and carrots and asked that our merits increase like the seeds of the pomegranate and that we be fruitful (the word carrot in Yiddish and German is mohren, which means ‘to increase’). We ate beets and leeks and asked that our enemies be removed and destroyed (another complicated play on words). We ate dates (whose Hebrew name tamar sounds like sheyitamu, ‘that they be consumed’) and asked that our enemies be consumed.

Personally, I was just hoping for a few literal dates. The tall, dark, handsome kind.

Finally, we ate butternut squash, k’ra in Hebrew and related to the word ‘to read,’ asking that the list of our merits be read before God. I didn’t cook for that meal, but I have since developed a twist on the classic sweet butternut squash soup that my sister requests every Rosh Hashanah. With an intense flavor due to roasting the squash twice and a kick from some red pepper flakes, this spicy butternut squash soup represents to me the hope for not just a sweet New Year, but a spicy one. Continue reading

Boston Brunchers turns one – plus, a giveaway!

The Brunchers, hard at work. Photo: Jaime Lutz

Remember when the prevailing stereotype around bloggers was that they were all Cheetos-dusted fat men writing angry scribes from their parents’ basement?

That all seems rather dated. Through Public Radio Kitchen, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of food bloggers, and – surprise! – they’re some of the most thoughtful writers I know. More than that, there’s an increasing recognition in the larger world that bloggers are not just typing into a void – they can be well-read, respected, even influential.

That’s the idea between Boston Brunchers, a group that brings together bloggers from all over the city to meet for that glorious, gluttonous meal. Restaurants feed these bloggers the best of their brunch menu; in return, bloggers write up a review of the meal, giving the restaurant some exposure.

In honor of the group’s first anniversary, founder Renee Hirschberg graciously invited me to one of their brunches at South Boston’s Local 149. A tea party this was not. This was a carnivorous, gut-busting, marathon of an eating experience – I have never eaten more cured meat in one sitting before.

More importantly, perhaps, my foodie dining companions were hilarious, nerdy in the coolest way possible, and simply delightful. More than the spicy Bloody Marys, it’s them I’ll remember (well, okay – I’ll remember them AND the Bloody Marys).

But I still had some questions. Trivially – why brunch? Less trivially – is this really ethical? Hirschberg graciously answers all my questions below – plus, after the jump, a chance to attend the biggest brunch yet! Continue reading

Food Therapy from The Edible Perspective

Photo: Hell, Etc/Flickr

It’s officially fall now, which means – if you’re anything like me – that you’re going to make chili in the near future.

And, if you ARE me, this means you will eat chili probably several times a week. In fact, chili will consume your meals. You’ll look for unusual recipes, perked up with beer, or chocolate, or pumpkin, or apples. You will hop around to every warm-looking establishment on both sides of the Charles, looking for the spiciest, the sweetest, the best vegan and the absolute meatiest.

Why? Because chili is awesome. It’s so awesome that I wrote out a whole paragraph here explaining why, exactly, it’s my favorite meal – before I realized that such a description was completely unnecessary. Chili speaks for itself. Order some the next time you’re out and be amazed that the cheapest dinner on the menu is also the best.

But just because chili is, truly, right up with foliage and apple-picking and Great Pumpkin Ale as the top reasons to be glad it’s fall in New England – well, that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. In fact, a single addition can make all the difference.

I present to you… perfect cornbread from The Edible Perspective.

Food Therapy from How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Swiss Chard

Fall in New England  is synonymous with apples. It can’t be too much of an exaggeration to say that 99.9% of us must, in this moment, have some type of apple, in some form, in our kitchen. Collectively, we consume: apple cider, baked apples, cinnamon apples, apple bread, apple muffins, apple crumb cake, apples in oatmeal, apple in salads, apple in stuffing, apple with squash, apple gracing pork, apples…in everything! But nothing says fall — to me, anyway — more than apples in a warm, homemade pie.

That was why I was so excited to come across the Apple Pielettes from How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Swiss Chard. What better way to get a quick apple pie fix, and sample early season apples, than these mini pies?

I followed the ‘easy as pie’ recipe two nights ago. I appreciated the apple pie experience — the smells, the tastes, the cute little lattice tops — without the more involved apple pie steps (those who pre-bake their apples for a better fit under a lattice crust will especially feel me on this). I didn’t make any changes to the straight forward recipe, though I did bake my pielettes a little longer than recommended since I like my crusts a little on the crispy side and my apple filling a bit more syrupy.

When I handed over the results to my taste testers, their first responses echoed Nita Nee’s gush on her blog: “These ‘pielettes’ are just  SO. DARN. CUTE.” Not only are they perfectly sized for a ‘I’m-going-to-pretend-this-never-happened’ snack, but they’ll get you geared up and excited for a season full of freshly baked apple pies — the big kind.

My own pielettes (photo: Elizabeth Hathaway)