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Quack time: Beacon Hill Bistro

Quack time: Beacon Hill Bistro


  

All about duck

As I looked over the menu at Salts a few weeks ago, it was obvious that I had to order the duck. It was a “festive” occasion, and duck is one of the dishes I associate with celebration. “Ooh, let’s all get the duck!” the four of us chimed. Two ducks arrived, aloft on platter, a courtesy curtsy to us before the server carried them to a small table for carving into four portions of crispy skin and moist meat. In my slightly obsessive way, I began to muse about why I categorize duck as a fancy food. Is it that much more complicated to cook than a chicken? Is its degree of difficulty related to what kind of duck it is —  i.e., is a Long Island duck easier to cook than a Moulard,a Muscovy, or a Pekin? (And what do these names even mean? Do Pekin ducks come from

By Louisa Kasdon  |  December 11, 2008

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A food writer’s favorite culinary indulgences??

?If ever there was a time of year to be a little indulgent, it’s December. After all, isn’t it payback for having to slog through 31 short, dark, chilly days? In that spirit, I’ve put together my personal top 10 of micro, mini, and maxi indulgences for the month. The key to making the most out of these small pleasures is conscious ceremony. You don’t just eat the great, juicy cheeseburger on the run, or slice off cold chunks of artisanal cheese before it comes to room temperature runny-ness. You construct the ambience carefully, hold the bite in your mouth, marvel over it, rhapsodically describe it, and thus transform a small moment of sensual pleasure into a big helping of self-love.?

By Louisa Kasdon  |  November 29, 2008
Moving On Up

Moving On Up




What does it take to transition from cook to chef?


It isn’t automatic, you know. Just because you’ve been working hard, have cooked long hours in a professional kitchen, and maybe even graduated from culinary school doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll ever get to be a “chef.” Actually, I used to make fun of chefs when I was a young kitchen slave. It seemed weirdly hierarchical for all these hotshot cooks to be responding, “Yes, Chef!” to every order barked by some 26-year-old in a tomato- stained white jacket. As if the guy — or girl — were a general, an archbishop, or some other authoritative chieftain. Who was this titanic “chef” figure? Wasn’t he or she simply someone with a slightly better palate, a mildly more refined sense of presentation, or just more seniority on the line? Nope, I learned. Making th
By Louisa Kasdon  |  November 14, 2008

Comfort's in

Comfort's in


 

 

Think there's no place like home? Think again. 

Two minutes after walking through Sofra’s doors for the first time, I found myself straightening the Turkish kilim rugs that line the wooden benches as if I owned the place. As I plopped my bag on a bench and bellied up to the service counter, I was instantly at home. I squinted at the lunch specials and read all the tiny notes that indicated which meze were based on chickpeas and tomatoes, which on whipped feta. I marveled at the idea of a salad with kohlrabi and pickled green tomatoes, and then I contemplated the cookies and stuffed flatbreads. Which sins were worth it today? The cheese borek? The earthquake cookies? The coconut macaroons? Already a regular — at least in my own mind — I warmed up with a bowl of velvety butternut s

By Louisa Kasdon  |  November 03, 2008
Triple Threat

Triple Threat


To the delight of cocktail lovers everywhere, Barbara Lynch opens Drink, the first of three Fort Point ventures

Fresh from the shower after her early-morning boxing workout, her hair damp and loose, chef Barbara Lynch steps into the dust of the construction site that is Drink, her cocktail concept restaurant in Fort Point. Lynch radiates adrenaline, flitting like a butterfly and ready to sting like a bee, marveling earnestly at what she’s put together here in the old 1800sera Wool Market on Congress Street, only blocks from her birthplace in South Boston. By early spring, there will be three new little Lynches: Drink; Sportello, a casual counterservice Italian eatery and takeout joint; and a yet-to-be-named fine-dining restaurant that Lynch calls “aspirationally, a Relais

By Louisa Kasdon  |  October 17, 2008

Feeding Frenzy: October 21, 2008


And so it begins: some local restaurants have started tweaking their menus and price points, and whether or not they say so, you know the failing economy must have something (or everything) to do with it. Over at Sage, chef/owner Anthony Susi has unveiled a new menu concept, what he calls “a more casual and relaxed Italian dining experience.” In addition to antipasti and entrées, an expanded stuzzi (small plates) selection now features inexpensive munchies like pickled eggplant ($4), sliced sopressata ($5), chicken-liver crostini ($6), and marinated mushrooms ($6).

Leave it to the always-whimsical Jake’s Dixie BBQ in Waltham to come up with “Jake’s BBQ Bailout.” From 5 to 9 p.m. every Sunday through Wednesday for the remainder of the month, Jake’s is taking 50 percent off appetizers when ordered with an entrée.

 


By Tamara Wieder  |  October 17, 2008


Feeding Frenzy, October 7, 2008


Good news for public market fans. The Massachusetts Legislature has approved $10 million for a Boston Public Market that will be a hub for locally produced foods from across the region. Governor Deval Patrick, a major foodie himself, signed the bill, which allocates money to plan and build the market. In a simultaneous and supporting development, the Boston Redevelopment Authority funded a companion initiative to locate the market in Boston. My personal thanks to all those private citizens, members of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, and legislators who worked long and hard so Boston will have a year-round indoor farmers’ market.


By Louisa Kasdon  |  October 03, 2008
Third Time's a Charm

Third Time's a Charm


After years of searching for just the right space, Chuck Draghi returns with Erbaluce

Chuck Draghi gets an A for perseverance. Twice he’s come this close to opening a restaurant of his own, only to have the deal fall apart at the eleventh hour. But this time, it’s really happening. This month, chef Draghi and his partner, Joan Johnson, will open Erbaluce, an enoteca and modern Italian restaurant tucked away in Bay Village in the former home of Dedo. It’s a small mom-and-pop restaurant that Draghi intends to be a “little urban oasis, where the chef is behind the stove every night, proving himself and his food.” Draghi says Erbaluce will be “evocative of the Northern Italian region of Piedmont, where the sun comes up every morning, shears off the morning mist, perfumes the

By Louisa Kasdon  |  October 03, 2008
Sea Change: Indian cuisine goes Coastal in Brookline

Sea Change: Indian cuisine goes Coastal in Brookline


 

Indian cuisine goes Coastal in Brookline

When I finally sat down with a map, I didn’t know why I’d been surprised when restaurant entrepreneur Vik Kapoor of Harvard Square’s Tamarind Bay first floated the notion of a new venture specializing in Indian seafood. But it had seemed so odd to me at first. My mind was so firmly attached to a meat-and veggie-based Indian cuisine of goshts and murghs, and my idea of seafood so focused on things from Maine grilled with lemon and butter, that it didn’t compute. What would Kapoor serve, other than really good shrimp curry?


By Louisa Kasdon  |  September 22, 2008

Feeding Frenzy, September 23, 2008


 How about night school for grownups who love to eat and drink? Instead of AP chemistry, sign up for the Boston Wine School’s “WINE 101: Wine Tasting for the Complete Novice,” a fourclass series held on Tuesday nights starting October 7 and taught by Wine Master and educator Jonathon Alsop. “The goal is to help beginning wine drinkers respond with verve to the server’s perennial question: ‘What kind of wine do you like?’ ” Alsop says. The course fee is $200; visit www.bostonwineschool.com for info.

Boston University ramps up its Food & Wine Seminar Series (www.bu.edu/foodandwine) this fall with hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations. On October 6, puzzle through the evolution of Latin and Spanish cuisine with Jose Garces, chef/owner of Amada and Tinto in Philadelphia. For $50, participants will taste dishes paired with wine and take home a copy of Garces’s n
By Louisa Kasdon  |  September 22, 2008

Less and More

Less and More


 

Sometimes you feel like a splurge, and sometimes you don’t. But even when you’re feeling more like Scrooge than a big spender, you still don’t want to settle for crapola for dinner. It just means you have to think a little more creatively about where and how to eat. So here’s something for local newcomers to consider: true, Boston has plenty of worldclass, big-ticket eateries, but it also has more than its share of places to eat where the bill for two can be under $40, excluding the bar tab.

Of course, ethnic restaurants are dependably cheap eats. Good food, fast service, fair prices. But as terrific as the cuisine can be, sometimes the atmosphere at the nearest Indian, Chinese, Thai, or Mexican joint leaves you feeling a little less than festive. If dinner out was only about spending as little as possible
By Louisa Kasdon  |  September 08, 2008



Boston Restaurant news, September 9, 2008


There’s a second location for entrepreneur Scott Herritt. The chefowner of Grotto, at the base of Beacon Hill, has opened Marliave, steps from the Park Street T station. Herritt is pitching Marliave’s menu as “New England–sourced food with Italian and French influences.” What does that mean? “It’s food you know — steaks, rack of lamb, steak frites — but not authentically Italian or French. Like, you don’t find shrimp scampi in Italy,” Herritt says. Upstairs, Marliave will be a finedining, Whitetablecloth space; the downstairs café is a more casual bistro, with a 15-seat marble bar.

There’s at least one more gasp of summer on September 14, when the Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain, along with the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association, hosts a Shellfish Shindig celebrating local mollusks. The event features local chefs and shellfishermen demonstrating preparation and cooking and shucking techniques, plus plenty of local oysters, quahog clams, steamers to eat and Sam Adam
By Louisa Kasdon  |  September 08, 2008

Leaving home

Leaving home


 

 

Why do we eat out? 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asking chefs what they’re doing to convey value to their customers in a deflating economy. Gas prices are high, jobs are shaky, yet still the body needs to be fed. Whether you eat in or out, the cost of basic food is up: everything from corn to milk is more expensive than it was six months ago. You might be wondering if you should trim your dining-out budget. I feel a little like George W. Bush suggesting a shopping spree as the cure-all for the post-9/ 11 blues when I say this, but there’s never been a better time to eat out. Even though some entrée prices have edged up, savvy chefs know that they can’t pass on all their commodity costs to the diner or you’d all stay home and heat up a can of soup. Still, many diners are wary, whic
By Louisa Kasdon  |  August 25, 2008

Good-hearted eats


Want to feel better about yourself and the human race? Volunteer to cook at Community Servings. Like most food-centric Bostonians, I thought I knew all...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  August 24, 2008

Feeding frenzy: Latin faves, Grill 23 saves, Todd English's proteges


Speaking of loving Latin, some of my current favorites: the ribs and grilled corn at Olé Mexican Grill; turkey pastor at La Verdad; carne asada at...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  July 25, 2008
Spanish lessons

Spanish lessons


 Spain comes to Boston — and it’s not your father’s Latin food The South End keeps getting more interesting. Now there’s a corner of Harrison...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  July 25, 2008


Up in smoke

Up in smoke


Demystifying barbecue, one rib at a timeAccording to Redbones pit master Jose Perez, I’ve never been to a barbecue. All those backyard and rooftop parties, with...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  July 11, 2008

Feeding Frenzy: Chowhound.com


Are there real people behind the message boards? I was curious, so I sleuthed out Jacquilynne Schlesier, community manager for Chowhound.com. An avid Chowhound poster...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  June 13, 2008
Asian persuasion: Cocktails look East … Far East

Asian persuasion: Cocktails look East … Far East


 WESTERN CHEFS have long looked to the East for inspiration. The cuisines of China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan are all popular in the United...
By Sara Faith Alterman  |  May 05, 2008
Pho business: In the kitchen with Arnond Sreesuvan

Pho business: In the kitchen with Arnond Sreesuvan


WATCHING PHO Republique chef Arnond "Arnold" Sreesuvan make the broth for his chicken pho is an awe-inspiring lesson in the rewards that come from exquisite...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  May 05, 2008

Jimmy Buffett–Lovers Parrothead Party at Dick’s Last Resort


THURSDAY, MAY 8Oh, Jimmy - if only you could squeeze in a little surprise appearance. Dick's Last Resort (Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, 617.267.8080) and the...
By Heather Bouzan  |  May 05, 2008


Eat, drink, and be preppy

Eat, drink, and be preppy


 Trust us: it's not like we need convincing to jet (or ferry) off to Nantucket for an extended springtime weekend. But the 12th annual Nantucket...
By Heather Bouzan  |  May 05, 2008

Feeding Frenzy: Beehive, West Side Lounge, Café Z, Lumière, and Craigie Street Bistrot


ANOTHER SIGN of spring are softshell crabs, in season for about a month each year. As part of his "30 Days, 30 Ways" promotion, 51...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  April 23, 2008

Feeding Frenzy: Central 27, MKT, and Aura


AFTER SIX years of toiling in basement kitchens at Saint and Domani, chef Rene Michelena is on top of the world - quite literally. He's...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  April 07, 2008
Host of Opportunities: An open letter to a restaurant owner

Host of Opportunities: An open letter to a restaurant owner


DEAR RESTAURANT OWNER: All we wanted was someone to welcome us. It was an early dinner at your chic new neighborhood bistro. We'd heard good...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  April 07, 2008

Girls Night Out at Vinalia


THURSDAY, APRIL 10 & 17We admit that our favorite nights out tend to involve chatting up cute (and, ideally, eligible) boys. But every once in...
By Heather Bouzan  |  April 07, 2008


If it ain't Oak ...

If it ain't Oak ...


You gotta love a wunderkind. Just 20 years old, Keara Sexton is already running her own retail shop in Back Bay. Oak (31 Gloucester Street,...
By Heather Bouzan  |  April 07, 2008
Take me out to the Bristol

Take me out to the Bristol


There's something to be said for the culinary perfection of a hot dog and a cheap beer. But while baseball food has its place in...
By Heather Bouzan  |  April 07, 2008
College, with a side of concerts

College, with a side of concerts


Who says all college students do is drink beer and hook up at parties? Over at Berklee College of Music, the new Café 939 (939...
By Heather Bouzan  |  April 07, 2008

Feeding frenzy: Sofra, Icelandic lamb, the Red Lion Inn, and more


CONSTRUCTION has kicked off for Sofra, a new bakery and retail store on the Cambridge/Watertown line that’s owned by Oleana chef Ana Sortun and pastry...
By Louisa Kasdon  |  March 25, 2008