Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I love sushi. Raw salmon is probably one of my favorite foods, whether it be prepared in a tartare or in a piece of sashimi. There is even a cartoon with sushi fighting crime.

Sushi Pack!

There are a number of good places to get sushi in Boston, thankfully. The obvious favorite is Fugakyu, in Brookline. While expensive, Fugakyu's creativity is unrivaled. The fish is always fresh and the atmosphere is always fitting, but plan on bringing a full wallet. It is definitely not cheap.

I also love Maluken in Kenmore Square. While it used to be the site of much pre-legal age drinking in the city, the new ownership has changed it into much less of a sketchy place. The karaoke is always fun, and the sushi always fresh. They have my favorite spicy salmon rolls in the city. And at around $5 a roll, the prices are great. The service is cheerful and the sake bombs are plentiful. Plan on seeing a lot of college age kids belting out bad Journey covers, but if you avoid Friday and Saturday after 9, you'll be fine.

My favorite non-city sushi place would be Fuji Steak House in Needham. The prices are unbeatable, while the sushi is always fresh. While they aren't great in terms of creativity -- everything is pretty standard -- the lunch specials are unbelievably cheap. I'm talking $9.95 for two sets of fancy rolls, including soup and salad. My favorite combo is the America maki (shrimp tempura, avocado and roe) and the Alaskan maki (salmon, avocado and cucumber).

I personally avoid the Sushi Express places. The one on Beacon St. has amateur sushi chefs who often cut the fish badly. I've had mealy fish there with a weird texture. The price certainly reflects the quality. The one on Newbury St. isn't too bad, but I find it's hit or miss. When it comes to things like sushi though, I would rather pay the cash for good quality fish. I've had food poisoning too many times to have a different philosophy.

There are some great sushi places in Somerville as well, such as in Porter or in Davis. What are some of your favorite sushi places?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bacon hors d'oeuvres: Bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed dates

It's clear that I love bacon. But bacon is more than a standalone food. I love combining it with different flavors and textures, and the recipe below is one of my favorite bacon combos.

To start, I almost never cook bacon on the stove top, unless I'm making bacon bits and I've chopped the bacon into little pieces. Then, I can kind of cook it more like I would a stirfry and I have the lovely bacon grease still in the pan to cook with a bit more. I hate dealing with splattering grease. I am a big fan of making bacon in the oven -- I feel the flavor/texture is unrivaled, and it's much easier. I preheat the oven to 375 and put the bacon on a cookie sheet. Be careful not to stretch the bacon when pulling it from the package, or it will curl when baking. Let it sit for 15 minutes in the oven, and take it out when you're ready. I like my bacon crisp all the way through.

This is one of my favorite bacon hors d'oeuvres: bacon-wrapped cheese-stuffed dates.

Bacon strips
Whole pitted dried dates
Extra sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the bacon strips into thirds so that each piece wraps around the date only once or twice (anymore than that and it won't crisp). Slice slivers of the cheddar cheese and stuff into the dates. You can really use any kind of cheese here, I recommend goat cheese or feta as well, but I like the chewiness of the cheddar. Make sure you kind of seal the cheese by molding the end of the dates with your fingers. Wrap in a piece of bacon, toothpick it, and bake a sheet of them for 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is cooked.

Serve up! Your guests will love them, I promise. The sweetness of the dates plus the salty savoriness of the bacon plus the chewiness of the cheese... absolutely perfect. For the dairy-challenged, it's still delicious if you skip the cheese step. A dusting from a pepper grinder over the tray before serving is also a good touch, depending on the kind of bacon you're using. If using peppered bacon, obviously it's unnecessary, but with a hickory or a maple bacon, the pepper adds a nice bite to them. While better to serve hot, they is still delicious cold. This is a great appetizer for a party or a barbecue.

Friday, March 27, 2009


As you know, bacon is the most perfect food in the world. Don't even try to disagree. For those worried about being kosher, turkey bacon is a decent alternative. I wouldn't prefer it, but if you can't eat the real stuff, it does okay.

I could go on and on about how much I love bacon, but I won't. I know a lot of vegetarians (and I respect that) who miss the taste of bacon. Well, behold: BACON SALT.

I am a fan of the "natural" one. It's low in sodium and has no gluten, but is packed with flavor. Bacon salt is the vegetarian alternative to making your food have that nice bacon edge. There is NO meat in the product, although there is dairy, so beware, those with allergies.

I'm not going to pretend it tastes like you put a crisp piece of bacon on whatever you're shakin' this stuff on. However, it does provide that nice smoky flavor that bacon has to whatever you're adding it to. I personally enjoy it on eggs and baked potatoes. I also recommend adding it to meatloaves/meatballs/hand-formed burger patties.

I plan on doing a weekly feature on bacon, featuring bacon recipes. But for you vegetarians out there, I will also be including bacon salt in that feature, as I have created a ton of recipes for that as well. I could really talk about bacon for hours, so I leave you with the link to the company who makes bacon salt (in all kinds of flavors), and I encourage you to buy. I love mine! (And no, they are not paying me in any way or even know who I am!)

Bacon Salt!

Restaurant Week Boston -- Lumiere

Last night, some friends and I headed to Lumiere in West Newton. I had attended their Restaurant Week before, last year, and was pleasantly surprised by this gem of a French restaurant in the 'burbs. This was before I realized that Lumiere was headed by renowned chef Michael Leviton.

The food last night was no exception. The desserts were actually the same as they were last year (and the mango sorbet in coconut broth with peppered cashews was no less delicious), and the menu was not quite as creative as Sibling Rivalry's. However, the portions were significantly bigger and I left feeling stuffed.

I started with the brandade fritters -- absolutely phenomenal. I have to say, I'm biased to all things seafood, especially deep fried seafood, and I love brandade. The creamy cod filling was not too salty, as brandade can go, but accompanied nicely by a garlic aioli and seasoned tomatoes and kalamata olives.

As for my entree, I opted for some good home cookin' with the meatloaf. I find it very hard to resist meatloaf when given the option to order it. The rich grass-fed beef had a lot of flavor, although it was a bit too salty, in my opinion, when paired with the rich mushroom gravy. The sweet carrots and mashed potatoes were good, although nothing special.

The real winner was my boyfriend's Gulf of Maine pollock. The chorizo/mussel broth was flavorful, although one of our friends commented that the chorizo tasted like chopped up Slim Jims (not necessarily a diss). The mussels were tender and delicious. The pollock's paprika crust provided just enough pop to make it interesting but not overly spicy.

The only thing lacking at Lumiere was the service. Our server often forgot our drinks, and didn't come by our table to take our orders until 7:15, after we had arrived at 6:50. It was obvious that she was busy and felt bad, and she brought a free plate of cookies at the end to make amends. Bring me cookies, and the past becomes the past -- she was immediately forgiven. It was a more satisfying meal than Sibling Rivalry's, but the stumbles in the service and the lack of creativity/fewer options gives SR the edge.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Restaurant Week Boston -- Sibling Rivalry

I have mixed feelings about Restaurant Week. I know it's a great deal -- a three-course meal for $33.09 at a fancy restaurant is nothing to sneeze at. But for the most part, I find that many restaurants dole out food that they would never put on the regular menu. As a result, I do my best to find a restaurant that is serving the caliber of food they'd serve on any Saturday night in the summer. RestaurantWeekBoston.com provides menus so you can see ahead of time what you will get.

Last night, I headed to Sibling Rivalry with some friends, and really had a wonderful time. As it is, the South End has a lot to offer in terms of restaurants, and I think Sibling Rivalry is one of the best concepts in the area. In case you aren't familiar with it, Sibling Rivalry is owned by two chefs who happen to be brothers. Each creates a separate menu per night, and the guest is allowed to choose from either menu.

Both menus looked fabulous. I started with Chef David's tuna tartare on a bed of sushi rice and my boyfriend had Chef Bob's Vietnamese crispy squid. The tuna tartare was well-seasoned, although the portion was not more than a few bites. It came with a stripe of wasabi mayo and spicy mayo, neither of which was particularly needed, and then a dab of sriracha and a dab of soy glaze. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't too different from any other tuna tartare I'd had.

The Vietnamese crispy squid was the real star of the appetizers. The fresh squid was neither rubbery nor chewy -- the texture was perfect. The seasoning was similar to Chinese salt and white pepper squid, so it took me back to my childhood days. The ginger-lime-chili dipping sauce (although it was more of a juice than a sauce) complemented the squid perfectly. The portion was bigger than the tuna tartare and felt more filling.

For the entree, I tried the special: Alaskan black cod with a miso glaze, pea tendrils and wilted spinach. The black cod was cooked perfectly -- not an easy feat with the mass production of Restaurant Week. The flaky flesh was a bit more buttery than regular cod, and had a texture closer to halibut than to cod. Pea tendrils are quite possibly one of my favorite vegetables -- all of the flavor of peas, but none of the mushy texture.

My boyfriend's scallops were also good. While the scallops weren't quite cooked perfectly (I felt they could have used another minute of searing), the cilantro sauce added the perfect zest and zing that made up for it. Dessert was nothing special -- I enjoyed my bread pudding and he enjoyed his mousse.

The service was wonderful -- the courteous waiter kept an eye out for stray crumbs and answered all of our asinine questions. We were 45 mins late for our reservation due to an emergency, but the gracious hostess never faltered in her smile and sat us immediately upon arrival.

I will say that I left Sibling Rivalry still a little bit hungry. While none of the portions were extremely small, I definitely was not full at the end of it and considered stopping somewhere for ice cream. All in all, a good time.


Wow, my first blog post. I'm not going to lie, this is pretty exciting for me. As both a journalist and a foodie, the idea of combining what I'm paid to do plus what I love to do makes me really happy. The idea for this blog came about when I was waxing poetic on the delicate intricacies of bacon (yet again) with my friend, and she told me, "Why don't you just start a food blog?!"

And here we are. Just so you understand, I'm not just some chick who likes to eat. While yes, that is true, I also worked in the restaurant industry for seven years, working everywhere from front-of-house to the kitchen as a prep cook. I worked in a variety of restaurants, from Chinese to nouveau American to seafood to French, from takeout places to luxury dining. Most importantly, I worked with some of the best people in the industry in Boston, and what I learned about food, I learned from them. (So for those former coworkers of mine reading this, thank you.) I left the food industry to pursue my career as a journalist, and this is my way of combining my two passions.

I do love to eat in restaurants, from cheap to high end, but I also love to cook. The goal of this blog isn't just to review restaurants and either encourage or discourage people from eating at certain places, but also to further people's knowledge of food by sharing my love of it. I plan on sharing some of the best recipes I've come up with over the past few years. And there will be a running feature on bacon, quite possibly the most perfect food ever created.

Thank you for taking the time to visit -- if you share even a fraction of the amount of love I have for food, I think you'll really enjoy my blog.

In the wise words of Jasper White of Summer Shack fame, "FOOD IS LOVE."