The Future of Junk Food: Part two with Chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary

If ever there was a pop up dinner that would be in my wheel house, The Future of Junk Food, a six-part pop-up put together by Chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary, would be it. When thinking about my eating habits as a kid, it brings to mind an intriguing question: What if junk food wasn’t junk? It’s the question that Monsour and O’Leary are aiming to answer.

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If ever there was a pop up dinner that would be in my wheel house, The Future of Junk Food, a six-part pop-up put together by Chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary, would be it. As a child and teen growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I was a part of the junk food generation. We’d gladly stuff our faces with cheeseburgers made with meat of highly questionable, and sometimes unidentifiable, origins. Carcinogenic coloring to make those reds über red? Hell yes! So what if one of the ingredients has 18 syllables? I just bought 5 tacos for a nickle! Continue reading “The Future of Junk Food: Part two with Chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary”

An evening with Chef Kristen Kish: The autumn preview dinner at Menton

It’s funny how plans can change some times. Originally, I was set to attend the 1st Annual Blizzard Bash presented by the Barbara Lynch Foundation. In a monumental display of irony, the Blizzard Bash was cancelled thanks to, of all things, a blizzard.

It’s funny how plans can change some times. Originally, I was set to attend the 1st Annual Blizzard Bash presented by the Barbara Lynch Foundation. In a monumental display of irony, the Blizzard Bash was cancelled thanks to, of all things, a blizzard.

One of three compensatory options for Blizzard Bash ticket holders was to attend a special dinner at Menton, Barbara Lynch’s youngest brain child and Boston’s only Relais & Châteaux, AAA Five-Diamond, and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property.

Kind of a no-brainer. 

So, I would attend the Autumn Preview Dinner with Chef Kristen Kish. No write up. After all, I’m not a reviewer or critic by any stretch (and have no interest in being such). Just going to sit back and enjoy! No notes. No photos… just enjoy.

Like I said. It’s funny how plans can change sometimes. 

The singular expectation I had walking through the door of Menton was that I was going to have an exceptional meal. But, as anyone who enjoys an evening out will tell you, it’s about more than “just food”. It’s about the whole experience, and on this night I enjoyed an experience that forced my hand. How could I not write something about it?

I know that, for many, hearing the term “fine dining” evokes thoughts of the stuffy and uptight, making them feel intimidated or out of place. Menton is not that. From the moment you walk through the door, you are made to feel at home and comfortable. The dining rooms are impeccable and inviting – the staff friendly and accommodating.

A big part of any dining experience is who we end up dining with, and events like this are no different. I had the pleasure of sharing a table with John and Christine Williams (John is president and CEO of an early stage medical device company called NanElute, and Christine works as Regional Sales & Marketing Coordinator for All-Clad), Vivien Li (President of The Boston Harbor Association), and Chef Susan Regis. Comfortable conversation goes a long way to making a night fly. Before even realizing it, four hours had come and gone!

In those four hours, we were treated to course after course of delicious, seasonal fare expertly paired with wines by Executive Wine Director, Cat Silirie. The winners on the night, for me at least:

  • The lobster served with caviar, lychee and candied hibiscus (the wine pairing for this one was out of this freakin’ world, a 2012 Alois Lageder Moscato Giallo “Vogelmaier”);
  • A perfectly cooked beef sirloin alongside a 3-day beef tongue, beef cheek and a crispy rösti (paired with a 2009 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Riserva, of which I couldn’t help getting a 2nd glass);
  • Dessert. … Now, I’m a fan of chocolate. Like, obsessed. Seriously. I should call someone about it. This dessert had no chocolate. And yet… this may have been the best dessert I’ve ever had. Period. Pecan sandies with crème fraîche, coffee and muscovado. I want this at the end of every meal. Every day. Forever.

The only thing that shined brighter than the 5-course menu was Chef Kristin (this being her debut menu since becoming Chef de Cuisine at Menton). You could feel the pride emanating from her as she introduced each course. These were her  dishes. This was her  show. Her moment. And she absolutely slayed it.

Menton is located at 354 Congress Street in Boston Fort Point neighborhood.

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Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine: Celebrating 25 years of memories

So many of us measure our years by the memories we make. Love and loss. Successes and failures. Whether good or bad, our memories are the best mile markers along the road from where we were to where we are. 

“How do you measure a year?” – Jonathan Larson

Many of us measure our years by the memories we make. Love and loss. Successes and failures. Whether with a smile or a tear, our memories are the best mile markers along the road from where we were to where we are. 

A year alone can bring with it a gentle rain of memories. Now imagine the deluge that one might make over 25 years of running “a world class destination restaurant” the likes of Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine.

Opened in April of 1988 by chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, Arrows rapidly established itself in the culinary world in spite of its somewhat remote location. About those early days Frasier says,  “I remember being asked when we were first opening the restaurant in Maine, ‘What kind of fried clams are you going to serve?’ People didn’t expect a fine dining restaurant, but that’s what we wanted to do.” 

It’s not only what Frasier and Gaeir wanted to do, but in actuality it is what they accomplished. And, they did it well, garnering a plethora of accolades and awards. They would receive multiple glowing reviews from then Boston Globe food critic Robert Levey, something few restaurants at the time could boast. Gene Burns, who hosted ‘Dining Around’ on Boston talk radio station WRKO, declared when Arrows first open that it wasn’t only a great new restaurant, but that it would “change the New England dining scene.” Arrows would be included in a variety of “Best Restaurant” lists compiled by Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetit Magazine, and Chefs Frasier and Gaier would go on to win the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chefs Northeast in 2010.

Industry recognition is always a source of pride. It creates buzz and interest for a restaurant and a chef, or in this case chefs. But, what has mattered above all things has been the memories that have been created here.

In July, as we walked through the Arrows garden, a garden established in 1992 by Frasier, Gaier and head gardener Robin Barnard, Chef Frasier reminisced, “We were just looking at photos the other day from those early years, and there is a shot of the back of the restaurant right from where we’re standing. There was no garden. Now look at it!” The garden at Arrows is now over an acre and provides the vast majority of produce used at Arrows and its sister restaurant MC Perkins Cove.

In speaking with Chef Frasier about the memories that have come from running Arrows, he mentioned how much he has enjoyed the opportunity to cook for many, both chefs and friends alike, over the years. One in particular warranted being recalled specifically: The first time Julia Child came to dinner.

It was 1991, and Arrows had just reopened for the season. Leading up to that night, the staff knew that Julia was on the books to dine there. Chef Frasier recalls how Lucia Velasco Evans, who had just started working for the restaurant as a pastry assistant, reacted to the news. Frasier said,  “Depite having heard the others chattering about Julia dining at Arrows, she wouldn’t believe it. ‘Why would Julia Child come out here?’”

Without fail, the night arrived. As did Julia Child. 

Her first stop upon arrival was the kitchen. Ever a proponent of women in restaurant kitchens, Julia was glad to see women hard at work in preparation for service. She made a bee line for Lucia and, in that singular voice, asked, “How long have you worked here?” Very little can make a memory stick quite like surprise. No doubt Lucia can atest to that fact!

Yes. Measuring a year, or 25 even, can be done most easily through the memories that were made along the way. Those found here are just a couple of the many for Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, and the men and women who have both worked and dined at Arrows. Even this 25th anniversary will itself serve as a memory some time down the road, undoubtedly with many other mile markers along the way.

Photos: Then and now 

 On Sunday, September 22nd, Arrows will host a special 25th Anniversary Dinner. They will be joined by Jeremiah Tower, Barbara Fairchild, and fellow chefs who competed alongside Clark and Mark on season 4 of Top Chef: Masters. Reservations are still available by contacting Arrows directly at 207-361-1100. The cost of the dinner will be $149 ($195 w/ wine pairing).

 

Breaking bread: The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Slow Supper with Brasstacks Boston

The setting for the Brooklyn Brewery Mash Slow Supper, a collaborative beer dinner with Boston pop-up kings Brasstacks, was picture perfect. Makeshift dining table and seating made of black locust and white cedar set up along a Merrimack River filled with boats, all products of our hosts for the evening, the Lowell Boat House in Amesbury, MA.

The setting for the Brooklyn Brewery Mash Slow Supper, a collaborative beer dinner with Boston pop-up kings Brasstacks which took place July 13th, was picture perfect. Makeshift dining table and seating made of black locust and white cedar set up along a Merrimack River filled with boats, all products of our hosts for the evening, the Lowell Boat Shop in Amesbury, MA.

Matching the picturesque New England summer backdrop would be a tough task, but it  was easily met by Chef Andrew Gerson (Brooklyn Brewery) and Chef Marc Sheehan (Brasstacks). Inspired by the region and the history of the centuries old boat shop, the menu focused on just that; historical New England fare. Paired with each course was a Brooklyn Brewery beer proving, to me at least, that there are libations worthy of pairing besides wine.

The menu start to finish was exceptional, though there were several standouts. My favorite pairing of the night was a caveach of herring paired with a Crochet rouge Sauvignon Blanc. A caveach is a fillet of fish pickled in vinegar, and this take was served with zucchini, rye berry and egg yolk.. The Crochet rouge paired perfectly cutting through the acidity of the pickled herring with its sweet, floral notes thanks to being stored in old Sauvignon Blanc casks.

One of the courses that followed was every bread lover’s dream; a bread board. As a reminder to us all that there was a time when dinning was the pinnacle of social interaction (since replaced by, of all things, Twitter), Chef Marc pointed out that ‘breaking bread’ isn’t just an expression, but an actual physical act done to share bread amongst diners. We were all glad to follow tradition and break bread together. My bread board favorites were the homemade sourdough pretzel, and a sourdough loaf made with quahog and pork.

Coming in a very close second for “favorite pairing” of the night was the dessert; A vinegar curd with oatmeal, gooseberry and currants paired with the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. The curd was not overly sweet, and the coffee notes from the stout was spot on. Plus, I’m a sucker for currants.

It was a memorable night to be sure, taking a glimpse at the past through cuisine with the Brooklyn Brewery and Brasstacks Boston. It was special. A chance to see what food was like then, and to remember that, no matter how fast-paced our lives can be these days, sometimes taking things slow can be a good thing. 

Brooklyn Brewery is located at 79 North 11th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 11249 between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue. All proceeds from the Boston event went to Slow Food Bostonfighting the good fight for fair, sustainable food. Find out more about the Brooklyn Brewery Mash.

To learn more about Brasstacks Boston, check out their Facebook page. 

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Gracious Grub NYC: Raising funds and awareness for Food Bank for New York City June 17 – 27

The first ever Gracious Grub NYC is a series of seven unique food and drinks events to help raise funds and awareness for Food Bank for New York City. From June 17 to June 27, local food and drinks talent will cook up high quality events around the city with ticket proceeds donated to Food Bank NYC.

The first ever Gracious Grub NYC is a series of seven unique food and drinks events to help raise funds and awareness for Food Bank for New York City. From June 17 to June 27, local food and drinks talent will cook up high quality events around the city with ticket proceeds donated to Food Bank NYC.

Schedule of Events:

Monday, June 17: Homemade Pasta workshop with Taste Buds Kitchen. Learn to knead, roll, and cut pasta to make fettucini and to shape and fill perfect raviolis. Get inside tips and tricks on a delicious pasta dough recipe, and how to make shapes you love to eat. To top it off, learn to make delicious fresh tomato & basil sauce! 7 pm – 9 pm. Cost: $65/person

Tuesday, June 18 and Thursday, June 27: Sex on the Table aphrodisiac cooking class with Chef Fed. Learn to work with unique aphrodisiacs that not only seduce your palate but also your nose, eyes, ears, hands, and most importantly, your mind. Prepare and savour a three-course meal using spring and summer flavours, BYOB. 6:30 pm-9:30 pm. Cost: $99/person

Wednesday, June 19: Brewshop 101: Homebrewing Essentials with Douglas Amport and John La Polla from Bitter & Esters-the city’s first do-it-yourself brewery! Learn all the basics to get you up and running while brewing a batch of beer. You’ll learn about extract brewing, malts, grains, yeasts and how to avoid or troubleshoot the most common problems. 6:30pm-8:30pm. Cost: $55/person

Saturday, June 22: Outdoor Tapas and Dessert Class with Healthy Lifestye Chef Juan Pablo Chavez. Learn tasty recipes for healthy and vegan tapas appetizers and desserts that you can make at your next party. 6 pm – 8 pm. Cost: $40/person

Sunday, June 23: Food Styling and Photography Workshop with Julia Cawley, featuring Chef Fed. Attend this intensive workshop to learn the fundamentals of food plating, styling, and photography. 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. Cost: $350/person

Monday, June 24: NYC Chinatown Dumpling Tour with Mark. Explore the history of Chinatown, learn all about Chinese cuisine, and feast on a variety of Chinese dumplings. 6 pm – 9 pm. Cost: $30/person

Locations: Various locations around the city. Each event at a different venue. Check out the Gracious Grub NYC website for full details.

 

The epic-ness that was Cochon 555 Boston

Cochon 555 in Boston went down on March 24th. A fantastic evening filled with porky goodness saw Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern was crowned the Boston King of Porc.​ This year was also the first year for “Punch Kings”, a cocktail competition featuring Breckenridge Bourbon. Taking the Punch King win was Kevin Mabry from jm Curley.

I’m a little late to the party on posting a follow up to the Cochon 555 event held on March 24th at the Revere Hotel Boston Common. But, when an event turns out such incredible food from some of the most talented chefs in the city of Boston… better late than never.

The over 500 attendees were privy to all sorts of porky goodness from Chefs Colin Lynch, Jody Adams, Michael LaScola, Michael Scelfo, and Brian Young. Only one of the chefs, though, would be crowned King (or Queen) of Porc. That honor went to Michael Scelfo of Russell House Tavern (full menus from all the participating chefs can be found just below the photos).

This year was also the first year for “Punch Kings”, a cocktail competition featuring Breckenridge Bourbon. Taking the Punch King win was Kevin Mabry from jm Curley.

One of the additional takeaways from the event, for me at least, was the impressive amount of culinary volunteers, mostly culinary students coming from Cambridge Culinary and Johnson & Wales. Through a raffle that was held, the winners walking away with a variety of pig parts butchered on site by Michael Dulock of M.F. Dulock, Cochon 555 was able to raise $1,000 which would be donated to the culinary schools in attendance. 

Chef Scelfo will go on to represent Boston at Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16th. 

If you like the photos and care to use any of them, please just give me a shout!

Michael Scelfo (WINNER) – Russell House Tavern

Liverwurst
Golden raisin & apricot mostarda, rye
Pig’s Face Pierogi
Smoked apple butter, home made yogurt, caraway shallot pickles
Crispy Earl Grey Pork Belly
Smoked Anson Mills grits, cherries
Charcuterie Duo
Morcilla, romesco, preserved lemon & Mortadella, pistachio butter, gremolata
Chicken Fried Trotter & Kidney Steak
Pork fat ranch, sweet pickled ramps
Candied Pig’s Neck Bread Pudding
Brown sugar & bacon crumble, maple


Jody Adams – Rialto

Braised Pork Shoulder & Sausage Lasagna
Eggplant, sun choke, spinach, ricotta, harissa tomato sauce, rosemary
Bacon & Oysters
Crispy pork belly lardon, IC oyster, macadamia nut, pickled cabbage, mint
Date & Almond Porchetta
Belly, shoulder, spring onion, jus, fennel fronds
Spicy Zampone
Grapefruit, Aleppo, pecorino, salsa verde
“Fifth Quarter” Bruschetta
Liver, kidney, heart confit, tongue, artichoke, roasted peppers, olives, parsley
Tortello di Lastra
Cured smoked loin, mortadella, ginger fig chutney, pig’s head fritter, dijon aioli, chives


Colin Lynch – Menton

Blood Sausage and Onion Macaroon
Dijon mustard
Chicharon and Jowl
Pad thai, peanuts, cuttlefish
90% Horse Ikea Meat Balls
Huckleberry, crème fraiche
Carnitas Taco
“al pastor”
Pastrami Reuben
Our Ode to McMillan and Morin’s Ode to KFC


Michael LaScola – American Seasons

Pork & Liver Meatloaf Sandwich
Smoked tomato & blood ketchup, onion marmalade
Pig Head Pastrami
Rye soil, Russian dressing
Boudin Noir Perogi
Smoked pig confit, mustard & pork broth, pickled apple
Breakfast Pork Sausage
Maple ham, cinnamon toast, cracklins 
Lardo Carrot Cake
Candied pig crunchies


Brian Young – Citizens Public House & Oysters

Jello Shot
Gordon & Macphail 1999 Caol Ila Single Malt Scotch The Citizen’s Single Barrel, natural gelatin, maple
Fried Bologna Sandwich
Mortadella, brioche, kumquat mostarda
Nose to Tail Terrine
Sweet & hot pickle relish
Rice Crispy Treats
Chicharones, blood, bacon caramel
Inside Out Pig’s Head
Chocolate, head cheese mousseline, luxardo cherries, citrus

East End House: Cooking for a Cause 2013 on Friday April 12th

East End House is a fixture in the Boston area. It is an organization that has been in existence for well over a century, supporting their community by reaching out to those in need, young and old. On Friday, April 12th, the East End House will be holding it’s 10th Annual Cooking for a Cause event. 

East End House is a fixture in the Boston area. It is an organization that has been in existence for well over a century, supporting their community by reaching out to those in need, young and old. On Friday, April 12th, the East End House will be holding it’s 10th Annual Cooking for a Cause event. It’s a great opportunity for any one that considers themselves to be a fan of delicious food to support a brilliant organization! I checked in with Rebecca Gallo, Senior Director of Evaluation and Development, to get to know a little more about the organization and the upcoming event.

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Foodie Journal: Can
you tell me a bit about East End House and what the mission of the organization
is?
Rebecca Gallo: Our
focus is really on children, youth, and families although we do have some
services for seniors, as well as a food pantry that serves all low income folks
in the community, but our core programs are really our childcare program for
kids from 15 months through 5 years, and our after-school programs for grade
school students. Overall, though, we really try to holistically support our families
and help them to get to the next level.

FJ: Are
there any special plans for this year’s Cooking for a Cause since it is a
milestone 10-year anniversary?

RG: Yes.
We are holding it in Cambridge for the first time, which is huge. We are
honoring one of sponsors at the event. We’re also excited to have William Koval
as our honorary chair from Catalyst Restaurant. 
He’s been wonderful, and had a bunch of classes with the kids, taking
them over to Catalyst, and showing them more about food, about food preparation
and where food comes from.
FJ: That’s
really cool. Seems important to get kids to understand where food actually
comes from these days.

RG: Yeah,
definitely.

FJ: Now,
you’ve been around the organization a few years now. Is there a particular
moment that stands out to you from a previous event that you’d like to share?

RG: I’m
trying to remember some of the actual food, because I’m usually just running
around.
FJ: [Laughing]
RG: I
will say one of the unique things about the events is that all the chefs
actually come to the event. So it really are the top chefs from the restaurants
that will be there representing their food, so people at the event have the opportunity
to really talk to them and have that back and forth. I think it’s kind of
unique!


The proceeds from this years Cooking for a Cause will be used to help East End House expand youth science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming; Offer a skill-building service
learning initiative for high school students; Launch a social-emotional health
program for middle school youth; Support more than 3,000 children,
youth, adults and seniors with a continuum of need-responsive programs and
services that nurture families and draw together a vibrant community.

To see the full list of participating restaurants and chefs, and of course to buy tickets, visit the East End House Cooking for a Cause event page. Support a great cause. Your tastebuds will thank you for it!