Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

For me, no dining experience is complete without a great cocktail. If all they’ve got to offer is a martini straight-up with olives, I’ll drink it alright–but I’ll be disappointed there’s nothing more.

Coppa is a wonderful small enoteca in Boston’s South End, featuring small plates by award-winning chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette. (They’re also the 2 creative forces behind Toro in Boston and NYC.)

The food was incredible, and this drink, called “Hey, Neon,” was inspired. The glass was rimmed with dehydrated and finely chopped kalamata olives. I tried to recreate that at home, and couldn’t get the texture or the size right. And I could never get it to stick to the glass, either! Ultimately, I simply skewered a few kalamatas and placed them on the glass!

The original “Hey Neon” at Coppa.

 

 

“HEY NEON”

1 1/2 oz. Aalborg aquavit
3/4 oz. Punt e Mes
1/2 oz. Cynar
1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse

Add ice to a cocktail shaker and then add the ingredients. Stir well, until very cold. Strain into a martini glass. Add the skewer of kalamata olives.

 

Aalborg is a brand of aquavit (or akvavit), a clear alcohol similar to vodka but usually infused with other flavors, mainly caraway or dill, popular in Scandinavia.

Punt e Mes is a sweet vermouth, the so-called “little brother” of the granddaddy of all sweet vermouths: Carpano Antica Formula.

Cynar is an Italian bitter and digestif made from herbs, plants and artichokes. Strong in flavor, but delicious!

Chartruese is a French liqueur made by Carthusian monks since 1737, using a recipe that dates back to 1605. It contains 130 herbs and plants. It’s also one of the few liqueurs that ages in the bottle, changing over time. Green Chartreuse is 110 proof, and naturally colored from the maceration of its ingredients. Yellow Chartreuse, at 80 proof, is a milder and sweeter version.

My version of the “Hey Neon.”

 

 

Every major city in the United states has a Capital Grille, and it’s a great place to grab a solid dinner if you’re traveling. Although the Capital Grille in my town of Providence, RI has recently moved from its original location, we can still boast that we had the very first one in the USA.

They don’t do crazy-fancy drinks at the Capital Grille. They keep a very well-stocked bar with high-end booze and make solid cocktails. But there is one signature drink you can find there, and that’s the Stoli Doli. A Stoli Doli is simply Stoli vodka that has been infused with fresh pineapple. If you sit at the bar at the Capital Grille, you won’t be able to miss the very large jar of freshly-cut pineapple pieces swimming in vodka. They literally pour it “from the tap,” and serve it straight up, like a martini, or on the rocks. It’s delicious, and I’ve certainly had my share of them over time.

I decided to make my own at home one day, to serve to my friends at an upcoming party. But to my disappointment, I didn’t have any Stoli vodka in the house. I found a bottle of Stoli Vanil, the vanilla-flavored vodka, and it was a real game-changer! I used that instead of regular Stoli and I came up with a sweeter, smoother drink that is legendary among my friends to this day. I called it…

VELVET ELVIS

2 pineapples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1.75ml Stoli Vanil

Find a gallon-sized glass jar with a lid. Peel, core and slice the pineapples and drop the pieces in the jar. Pour the vodka in, mix well, and seal the jar. Keep it at room temperature for a week, giving it a gentle shake every day.

After one week, strain it, squeezing the pineapple pieces to get every bit of liquid out. Keep the Velvet Elvis refrigerated. Serve over ice.

It’s interesting how we sometimes stumble upon great food finds. After taking our daughter to the Boston Museum of Science on a recent Saturday, we decided to eat at a small family run Italian restaurant in a blue-collar neighborhood in East Boston, one that was featured a few years ago on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. It’s called Rino’s Place, and we’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try the food there for a long time.

Rino’s Place opens at 3PM. We got there at 3PM. The line was out the door and down the street, with a 3-hour wait. (They don’t take reservations for parties smaller than 6.) I don’t care how good the food is supposed to be…I’m not going to wait 3 hours to eat pasta. So, disappointed, we drove off, hoping to perhaps visit Rino’s on a less popular weekday some other time.

Meanwhile,  my wife, the artist, was scanning the neighborhood and found an interesting art gallery, Atlantic Works, nearby. We decided to check it out. There wasn’t much to see, but the ladies that ran the joint told us that Rino’s, in their opinion, was good but overrated. The exposure Rino’s got from DDD was so huge that they even bought the convenience store across the street from the restaurant and converted it into a bar for those that chose to wait for their tables. Total cash cow.

Just down the road from the Atlantic works, the ladies told us, was a funky little joint that made authentic Australian meat pies. That sounded good. They said it was tucked away inside a funky old marina that featured bizarre metal sculptures on the roofs of the buildings. That sounded intriguing. Off we went.

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A few lefts and rights…a little loss of GPS at one moment…and we arrived at the Boston Harbor Marina. Definitely the slow season, as many of the boats were still shrink-wrapped, but you could see this place had potential in the summertime, with huge metal sculptures of fish and mermaids on the property. And sure, enough, tucked away in a far corner was KO Catering and Pies, our Aussie meat pie joint.

pie2

It was cold and windy outside, but some brave souls were sitting at the picnic tables outside, enjoying their meals. We chose to buy a bunch of frozen pies and take them home to re-heat.

They were awesome: beef with cheese, braised lamb shank, beef stew…all surrounded by some of the most delicious and flakiest pie crusts you ever bit into.

more pie

KO has another location in south Boston as well. Either one is worth a visit. Start here: http://www.kocateringandpies.com

M.C.Spiedo is a new Italian restaurant in the Renaissance Hotel by the Boston waterfront. It’s a massive, over-the-top (as in a bit gaudy) establishment that features rustic food from Italy’s historic past, dating back to the Renaissance period of the 1400’s. You’ll find no tomato dishes here: tomatoes were introduced into Italy in the 1500’s. What you will find are rustic, flavorful spit-roasted meats, pastas with rich sauces, and robust flavors.

MCSpiedo

This is a huge departure for chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, who come from acclaimed Maine restaurants Arrows (which just celebrated its 25th anniversary)and MC Perkins Cove in Ogunquit. (They just announced that they are selling Arrows for $1.2 million.)

What’s in the name? The M.C. is from Marc and Clark, and Spiedo means a spit or skewer in Italian. Considering this is still a new restaurant, I was surprised that the two chefs were nowhere to be found on a recent Saturday night. Nonetheless, the staff seems to be knowledgeable, and our server, Daniel ,was eager to guide us through the many menu choices.

The Leonardo's Notebook Salad

The Leonardo’s Notebook Salad

Leonardo’s Notebook Salad, with garlic, fennel, lettuces and herbs was delightfully fresh and thoroughly enjoyable. The house made burrata: fantastic…just not enough of it. The duck rillette was good, but unseasoned. However, the accompanying house made mustard and pickles remedied that. The Grand Tortellini and Meat Torta, a mile-high meat pie featuring more meat than you can imagine, is a must. It sells out every night. The spit-roasted pig with sausage and shelling bean macaroni would have been delicious had it not been for a VERY heavy amount of salt…so much that I had to mention it to our server, who promptly whisked it away, tasted it, agreed with us, consulted management, and returned with an apology and did not charge us for the dish.

Grand Tortellini and Meat Torta

Grand Tortellini and Meat Torta

Thankfully, there are 2 parts of M.C.Spiedo that don’t stick to the rules of only serving ingredients from Italy’s Renaissance period: the bar, where you can find many wonderful house specialty cocktails as well as a wine list with only Italian wines…and the kids menu, which is a welcome surprise to find in this kind of restaurant. My daughter loved the meatballs and the grilled cheese.

Duck rillette with house made pickles, mustard, and Fiore Sardo cheese

Duck rillette with house made pickles, mustard, and Fiore Sardo cheese

There are a few kinks to work out, but that’s to be expected from a new restaurant. And they’ve got to lighten up on the SALT. But I can see myself coming back to M.C. Spiedo for another enjoyable dining experience.

MC4