Archive for June, 2010

Cookshop

June 25, 2010

“American Bistro” is a term that instills fear in a vegetarian only slightly less than the words, “French Bistro.” So when my friends and I settled on Cookshop for brunch, I definitely felt a wave of panic wash over me. I mean, when the website proclaims that the butcher was the original chef, one can’t help but be worried. But being one to face a culinary challenge head-on, I made my way over to check it out. Outdoor seating helped to assuage my anxiety by occupying my attention as a fashionable and rather good-looking crowd walked by or joined the wait to be seated. When I could finally turn my attention to the menu, I was pleasantly surprised at my options. On the sweet side, there were the usual choices of French toast and pancakes, however, there were also more interesting treats such as sticky buns, beignets with pineapple compote, and a stuffed croissant with banana and chocolate that is out-of-this-world.

To my amazement and pleasure, almost all of the egg options were also easily converted to vegetarian-friendly fare. Though the scramble with caramelized onions, crème fraiche and chives looked interesting, I opted for the poached eggs with white cheddar grits (minus the sausage). I loved the creaminess of the grits paired with the salty bite of the cheddar. And adding the mild flavor of two perfectly poached eggs was a stroke of genius. The only thing I felt missing was something with a bit more crunch – maybe next time I’ll get a side of crispy toast. Other items included huevos rancheros, a frittata, skillet eggs, a hearty-looking salad, porridge and a plethora of breakfast sides (biscuits, fruit, granola, etc). If you are in Chelsea and would like to enjoy your breakfast along with a glamorous crowd without the pretention of some of the joints a few blocks south, then Cookshop is definitely worth a visit.

Cookshop
156 10th Ave (near 20th St.)
212-924-4440

Clover Food Lab

June 15, 2010

The inception of the Clover Food Lab brought with it two important contributions to the Boston food scene. The first is its addition to the slow and steady rise of food trucks in this city. While L.A., San Francisco, and New York have been quick to embrace the benefits of this medium, Boston has been lagging behind. What makes this trend so great, anyway? I think it can be summed up as: great food brought closer to customers at a faster rate and for lower cost. While brick-and-mortar restaurants will not be going anywhere, the lower cost food trucks allow chefs to distribute their culinary ideas without the time and investment need for a full-scale restaurant. Additionally, food trucks provide a better option when a customer does not need ambience or table service as part of their dining experience. Let’s face it: if you’re eating at a desk, ambiance is not going to matter much. But convenience, price and flavor probably will matter. What’s secondary but also important is that food trucks have greater flexibility to experiment and change their menus with relatively little cost to their reputation and business. Since food trucks are usually run by small start-ups types (few big financers and restaurant groups), consumers have come to expect constant change and for this change to be communicated via online and social media.  The increased flexibility for the food trucks allows you, the consumer, to try new and different foodie experiments that have the potential to blow your tastes buds away without completely damaging the food business if the experiment fails. If you’ve ever read their blog, you’d know that this is something that the folks at Clover Food Lab can attest to. The other important contribution Clover is making to Boston is that it serves 100% vegetarian fare that is delicious and not too “hippie-ish.” While Boston is mainly known as a meat and potatoes kind of town, the crazy lines at Clover Food Lab are a testament to a growing market that is currently underserved.

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I popped over there recently and tried out their seasonal sandwich: the pimento. It was mouth-watering. A soft pita was filled with pickled celery, spicy marinated cucumbers and pimento cheese spread. It’s a perfect combination of spicy, creamy and crunchy. The spread was so good I was inspired to try making my own at home. While this was ideal for a light lunch, they also have heartier options like the popular egg and eggplant sandwich. If you’re interested to try one of their creations, I suggest getting there on the earlier side of breakfast or lunch since they tend to run out of their top selling items quickly.

Boston Truck
Dewey Square (South Station T stop)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
7  a.m. – 3 p.m.

MIT Truck
Carleton St. (off the Kendall/MIT stop)
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Meet a Locaveg: Danielle D.

June 10, 2010

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Welcome to a bit I call: Meet a Locaveg. What is a Locaveg? A locaveg is a vegetarian/vegan in your town or community who’s got the download on all the best places to eat and resources for recipes. Wait, did I just make that up? Why, yes I did! My first subject for this project is Danielle (see photo below). Danielle is a vibrant and very plugged-in student at Newbury College. She grew up in Swampscott, MA within a meat-loving family and spends a lot of time among Albanians who think chicken is vegetarian.

But this girl’s got the willpower of steel to stick to her vegetarian (well, actually pescatarian – but I forgive her for having great taste) diet. She’s even got enough energy to wake-up and do some Insanity ® workouts before her job and classes. So what does she eat that gives her this amazing energy? She swears by snacking on nuts (she recommends Ellie Krieger’s maple walnuts if you want to mix it up) and eating plenty of beans and lentils instead of gorging on carbs. Below are her top three picks for places to get some of the best vegetarian grub:

3) Sabor Deminas

“It’s organic and has really good polenta with vegetables. I also love their cous cous with fresh vegetables.”

Sabor Deminas
89 Broadway
Sommerville, MA
617-776-0032

2) Tapas Corner

“I recommend their vegetable chili – I think the secret ingredient is cinnamon sticks. They also have other great options like stir fry with their specialty Tapas sauce, babaghanoush and burritos.”

Tapas Corner
6 Wallis St.
Beverly, MA
978-927-9983

1) Arrows

Though this pick might not be strictly in Massachusetts, it’s only a two-hour drive from the city and completely worth it. You know Danielle has great taste when she names Arrows as her all-time favorite restaurant. It’s been nominated for the James Beard’s best chefs of the Northeast award six times previously and finally won for 2010. She recommends hitting it up on one of their bistro nights or their Arrows classic nights where they do 1980’s dish for 1980’s prices. But be sure to make a reservation in advance.

Arrows
41 Berwick Rd,
Ogunquit, ME
207-361-1100

Thanks for the great tips, Danielle! If any one of you want to be the next one profiled, leave a comment with your email and I’ll be in touch with you soon.

Drink Boston

June 8, 2010

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I’m making this place my official new spot in Boston. While there are plenty of places to get a great cocktail in Beantown, Drink is the only place in this city dedicated to the craft. Submerged beneath Barbarba Lynch’s Italian “counter” Sportello, Drink is far from a dark and dingy speakeasy. Its street level windows add an airiness and openness to the feel.  And while there’s plenty of space to accommodate groups, the bar manages to get pretty full. Use the time to ponder what you’ll be drinking when you do get inside. There are no menus so the possibilities are limitless. Personally, I’ll be using this time to come up with challenges like “I’d like a drink that tastes like sunrise in Mykonos” or “Could you make me something that Lady Gaga might order?” If you can’t decide on what you would like, no worries – the personable and knowledgeable staff will help you figure it out while bringing you bottles of water and fresh bar snacks.

Drink
348 Congress St.
617-695-1806

Late-night Chinese…Mmmm

June 2, 2010

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Some of the best Indian Chinese I’ve ever had comes from the Motherland, of course! It’s served from a nameless stall near Shivaji Park and is open late for all those that need some greasy Chinese to stabilize an over-indulgence of Kingfisher Premiums. Like you might expect from street food, it is nothing glamorous – my party was eating on the street corner – though you still get “table” service and the food is unbelievably good. Next time you are partying in the northwest burbs of Mumbai be sure to stop by this place on your way home