Monthly Archives: April 2012

24 Hours At The South Street Diner

Photo: raindog808/Flickr

Where to grab a bite in Boston at three in the morning? It’s a conundrum that plagues club-goers, college students and hungry Hub-dwellers all over town. There’s really only one spot that Bostonians from all walks of life can claim as a their greasy spoon mecca: Boston’s only 24-hour restaurant, the South Street Diner.

Annie Ropeik
Radio Boston

A short film that debuted Saturday at IFF Boston, “24 Hours At The South Street Diner,” tells the story of this 65-year-old Leather District landmark, painting a brightly colored portrait of a thriving community space with character to spare. The diner draws regulars and first-timers of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds around the clock, serving up classic American diner fare from sizzling cheeseburgers and fries to chocolate chip pancakes and milkshakes in old-fashioned soda fountain glasses, plus beer in bottles and on tap, wine and mimosas until 1 a.m.

No matter who you are, everybody has the right to a burger at three in the morning.
– Chris the Cabbie (customer)

But the food is secondary to the soul of the place itself. Owner Sol Sidell says in the film that the diner’s celebrity outshines that of any one person who’s ever paid it a visit (and those people include rock bands, film stars and athletes). Preserved by the devotion of its community, the eatery that began in 1947 as the Blue Diner has survived fire, near-bankruptcy, changes in ownership and threats to its all-night hours to become the pastiche of Boston culture it is today. Continue reading

PRK On The Air: Get School Kids Cooking

Photo: USDAgov/Flickr

As schools grapple with ways to make their lunches healthier, they face another challenge as real as budgetary constraints: getting kids to eat them.

Why offer broccoli and whole grain rice, if the kids are just going to bring rice krispee treats and fruit roll-ups in for lunch? Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst is trying to change the attitudes kids have about food.

After joining First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign in 2010, Kathy teamed up with Central School in her hometown of South Berwick, Maine. Instead of just lecturing to them about the benefits of foods like kale, Kathy has recruited the kids into the kitchen. She says by getting the kids to cook healthier food, they’ll get excited about it. And discover, it’s actually better than the pre-packaged, frozen meals they often eat.

Listen in today at noon to catch Here & Now Resident Chef Kathy Gunst.

Related reading
Watching Their Garden Grow: Winchester school kids ‘dig’ what they eat.
A Salad For Spring: Kathy Gunst gets the most from her greens.


How Boston Taught Me To Eat

Photo: soelin/Flickr

It’s my last day at Public Radio Kitchen as I prepare to move from Boston to New York City. I’m graduating college, I have a job, and I’m looking at financial independence for the first time in my life. All of that is exciting, right? I should be thrilled!

But I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. You know, maybe I’ve learned all I can from school. But sometimes I wonder what else Boston has to teach me.

Growing up as I did around New York, I developed a certain snobbishness toward other cities. When I decided to study at Boston University, I was worried that I’d find Boston boring. It wasn’t big. It didn’t have record-breaking skyscrapers. It had old churches and colonial history and lots of colleges. It was “charming.” It had the Red Sox, duck tours, The Departed, “tonic.” It was outdated old money clashing with horrible poverty. It was New England. Most of all, I sensed a total lack of importance. New York is the center of everything – a genuine hub. Boston, to me, seemed like an afterthought, a distant second among the three great northeastern cities (sorry, Philly).

I was such an idiot. Continue reading

PRK On The Air: Chef Barton Seaver and Abby Goodnough

Oysters (photo: dominic bartolini/Flickr)

Lots of buzz about seafood this week. And the weekend has only just begun.

Listen to Radio Boston’s interview with journalist/Boston bureau chief Abby Goodnough in the wake of the controversial story she reported in Sunday’s NY Times “A Ban on Seafood Has Some Fishermen Fuming.” The ban comes from Whole Foods, and the fuming fishermen fish our New England waters. It’s a high-profile stand by Whole Foods that has serious local repercussions.

Radio Boston also spent time talking with Chef Barton Seaver, gleaning from him the culinary miracles of fresh fish and the importance of our behavior as consumers of fish.

Both Goodnough and Seaver will participate in the Let’s Talk About Food New England Sustainable Seafood Teach-In this Sunday at Harvard. Tickets are available at the LTAF website.

YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City

YUM in action Wednesday night (all photos: Katie White/PRK)

On Wednesday night, The Welcome Project of Somerville hosted YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City at the Center for the Arts at the Armory. This was a fundraising dinner featuring ten immigrant-founded restaurants, with YUM profits benefiting The Welcome Project’s educational and cultural programs for Somerville’s immigrant community.

While attendees sampled spreads of warm goat cheese, roasted red pepper, garlic and eggplant sauce from Sabur, or kukhara ko chhoyia (Nepali dried chicken with chili and lime) from Masala, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone spoke about the importance of preserving ethnic food traditions in the battle against childhood obesity. Critical to reducing reliance on fast food, Curtatone explained, is careful attention to and appreciation of the “craftsmanship” that goes into many ethnic dishes. Curtatone cited his own Italian-American upbringing as formative in helping him to appreciate distinctive food cultures.

YUM attracted a cross-section of guests, ranging from Welcome Project corporate sponsors to its own ESL students. Live music and an open bar made the evening festive and fun.

As for me, I munched on warm tortilla chips from Maya Sol, pitted olives and small squares of feta from Istanbul, and helped myself to thirds on a steaming rice dish from Yaki & Yeti with carrots, onions, green bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro and turmeric. During all this I dreamed of emigrating, if only for a short while, to one of these cuisine-rich countries myself.

For a full list of the delicious restaurants featured at YUM, visit their blog.

Thursday Tidbits: 7 Days of Bacon and Beer

Photo: Ben Husmann/Flickr


Bacon/Brew Week 
Hale and hearty, Boston’s 3rd annual Bacon and Beer Fest has grown into a week-long celebration, beginning this Sunday, April 29, and ending next Saturday. Lots of restaurants are creating their own savory take on this favorite pairing. Grab all the information here.

The Health of New England’s Seafood
This Sunday, April 29, is a great chance to learn about the health of our region’s fish stock and fishing industry. Let’s Talk About Food (LTAF) has organized another Teach-In — this time at Harvard University — with a line-up of impressive seafood-related professionals from all walks of the industry. Tickets are $10 for the 1-5pm program; there is a free, related event Sunday evening at the Museum of Science. Read more and order tickets at the LTAF site.

Spring Flavors
Massachusetts Horticulture Society is holding its The Flavors of Spring Gala on Friday, May 4, at 6:30 pm in Wellesley. This fundraiser, benefiting the “Garden to Table” program, will feature tastings from local chefs, local distillers and craft beers. The Garden to Table program helps people of all ages and all levels of gardening experience learn how to grow, cook, preserve and enjoy healthy local food. Tickets are $125 per person and may be reserved at or by calling Maureen Horn at 617-933-4912.

The History of Japan’s Coffee Craze
Next up in the Pépin Lecture Series offered by BU’s Food and Wine program is Coffee Life in Japan, presented by BU Anthropology Professor Merry White. White will trace Japan’s vibrant café society and its impact on urban space, notions of modernity and gender-based behavior. The lecture takes place on May 9, 6pm. Continue reading

Talking Sustainability and Fish with Paul Greenberg


Photo: Avia Venefica/Flickr

In the run-up to the New England Sustainable Seafood Teach-In this Sunday at Harvard, PRK speaks below with Paul Greenberg.

Paul is the author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, published in 2010. He won a James Beard Award in Writing last year for the book, which is now a NY Times bestseller, and he lectures widely on the topic of sustainable seafood. Paul’s keynote address will open the Teach-In this weekend.

To continue getting our head around the issues– particularly complex for New England — we asked Paul a few questions upfront. Continue reading

‘X’ Ales From Pretty Things

Photo: walknboston/Flickr

Lovers of micro-brews and history buffs will equally dig the two newest historical ales being turned out by Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project of Cambridge. The latest offerings from Somerville-based brewery Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project will take you back – way back. Specifically, to 1838 and 1945.

The two “X Ales” – one like an IPA, the other a mild brown – were released in March and are the fourth and fifth installments in Pretty Things’ Once Upon a Time project. They hail from old London brewery Barclay Perkins and are brewed from recipes for the same beer, made 107 years apart, using historically accurate conditions. That could account for anything from wartime grain shortages to antiquated manufacturing processes.

Pretty Things co-owner Dann Paquette said in a recent telephone interview that the project aims to explore the history of beer – and to show just how fluid it really is.

“We always assume what our grandfathers drank was equivalent to what their grandfathers drank, but that’s totally not true,” he said.

Pretty Things, already known for creativity in modern brews (e.g., Jack D’Or and Baby Tree), has been working with Amsterdam-based beer historian Ron Pattinson to recreate the right brewing conditions as faithfully as possible in order to turn out their X Ales. Continue reading

Talking Fish With Roger Berkowitz Of Legal Sea Foods

Photo: izik/Flickr

Fish. We’re encouraged to eat more of it. We’re encouraged to eat local. Heck, we’ve even been warned that if any imported food is going to make us sick, it’s likely to be seafood. Still, over 75% of the fish Americans consume comes from abroad.

Now, a high-profile grocery chain — Whole Foods –has announced it will no longer carry seafood from New England waters unless it’s caught in what Whole Foods considers a sustainable manner. This means no more gray sole, no more skate, and Atlantic cod only if brought in by gillnets or hook and line.

The new policy reported in Sunday’s New York Times is controversial, not the least with some of our region’s fishermen struggling to turn a profit in a difficult industry. US Senator Scott Brown has also weighed in.

So, where does it all leave us, the consumer? Whose opinions should we trust? Where does it leave our region’s fishermen and the health of our local fishing industry? And what about the health, in numbers, of New England’s prized fish stocks?

Some of these questions will be answered this Sunday — or at least grappled with in a substantive way — at the New England Sustainable Seafood Teach-In organized by locally-based Let’s Talk About Food. Collaborators are the New England Aquarium, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, the Museum of Science, Chefs Collaborative and the Cambridge Science Festival. Notably, Whole Foods is one of the event sponsors.

Public Radio Kitchen will be present on Sunday to report on the Teach-In. But we’re also anticipating the tangle of issues which undoubtedly will be raised during the panel discussions and keynote speeches.

Today, we publish a series of questions posed to Roger Berkowitz, President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, who will participate on one of Sunday’s panels. Legal’s is an institution here in the Boston area (“If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!”), and growing gangbusters along the East Coast. It’s a restaurant business and a fish company. What does its CEO have to say about the state of New England seafood? Continue reading

Celery And Celeriac Soup From Bondir

Chef Jason Bond of Bondir, Cambridge (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

Though the leaves on the trees and the pollenated air tells us in no uncertain terms that spring is here, it’s still too early for much in the way of spring produce here in New England. What we do have in abundance is hearty root vegetables. This recipe for Celery and Celeriac Soup from Chef Jason Bond of Bondir in Cambridge makes good use of them.

Bond knows his roots. He grew up on a farm out west (we’re talking Wyoming, not the Berkshires) where his family kept a well-stocked root cellar. His recipe shines a spotlight on celery, a vegetable that Bond says doesn’t get nearly enough respect.

While the soup is hearty, the flavors are subtle and sophisticated. Add some cream if you want to make it a little richer and more decadent. Add fresh herbs, if you like. It’s versatile recipe with room for lots of improvisation.

Here’s the basic plan. Continue reading