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FREE! Winter 2012

Comfort Food Soups, Stews, Quiches & More!

Gluten-Free Comfort Food Creamery Brook Bison Farm Bison; The Original Health Food The Mystique of Game Meats It’s Not Just for Hunters Beacon Grille A Lean, Green, Philanthropy Team


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Located at the corner of Rt. 20 and School Street Sturbridge, MA • 508-347-0100 www.rovezzis.com

Rovezzi’s has always been known as the ultimate in fine Italian dining, but many may not know about our affordable mid-week dining. With our comfortable atmosphere and personal attention, Rovezzi’s is the perfect meeting place for a casual dinner or that important business meeting. If you don’t see exactly what you’re craving on the menu, just ask our chef to customize a dish to satisfy your appetite. Rovezzi’s Restorante - “Buon Appetito Miei Amici”


Winter 2012 Contributors Publisher: Mercury Media & Entertainment, LLC Managing Editor: Domenic Mercurio Contributing Editors: Julie Grady Jodie Lynn Boduch Mariel Kennison Director of Social Media: Jodie Lynn Boduch Much Ado Marketing Writers and Contributors: Matt Webster, Alina Eisenhauer, Ellen Allard, Jeff Haynes, Elaine Pusateri Cowan, Jodie Lynn Boduch, Peggy Bridges, Ryan Maloney, Christina Whipple, Greta Methot, Sandy Lashin-Curewitz, Michelle Collins Professional Photography: Scott Erb & Donna Dufault Erb Photography Art Director: Rick Bridges Richard Bridges Design Website Developer: Jeff Lerman, Cold Spring Design Account Managers: Dianne Potenti, Henry Agudelo, Tina Anderson, Carol Adlestein, Foodies of New England Magazine Box 380 Sturbridge MA 01566 domenic@mercurymediallc.com scott@erbphoto.com jodie@muchadomarketing.com All content Š2012, Mercury Media Entertainment All Rights Reserved Printed in USA Foodies of New England assumes no ďŹ nancial responsibility for errors in advertisements. No portion of Foodies of New England, advertising or editorial, may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. The information contained in this publication is believed to be accurate, however the publisher does not guarantee its accuracy. The opinions expressed by others within this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher or its employees. By accepting advertising neither Foodies of New England nor Mercury Media Entertainment is endorsing or guaranteeing the quality of service or products within those advertisements. Every effort is made to ensure that the advertisements come from reputable companies, however we cannot take responsibility for how an advertiser deals with the public.

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Contents Features

14 Comfort Food The Comfort Pot

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48 Foodie Families Good Nutrition Starts at School

56 Where the Buffalo Roam Creamery Brook Bison Farm in Brooklyn, CT

72 Dining Their Way Through Worcester One Restaurant at aTime

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Foodie Kids

90 Boston’s Red Hot Food Swap

110 Worcester’s Best Chef The Region’s Best Chefs Duke it Out at Mechanics Hall

120 Beacon Grille A Lean, Green, Philanthropy Team

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128 Exploring Boston Step by Step, Bite by Bite

Cover: Bison Chili, recipe on page 63

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Departments

52 History of

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66

Cardamom, the Aromatic Spice

66 Gluten Free Healthy Comfort Foods

76 Food for Thought The Mystique of Game Meat

84 Desserts Caramel Bread Pudding

86 Beer Review Belgian Strong Ale

94 Healthy at Home Duck, Duck, Pamplemousse!

106 Whiskey Water & Ice Are Nice!

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Wines of Distinction Marta’s Malbec

126 Something to Drink Comfort Drinks

106 Foodies of New England

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Escape the Ordinary The Flying Rhino is a unique gathering place offering an eclectic mix of food and drink in a cool, casual atmosphere. Whether it’s through the week or on the weekend, come in and see why we’re the areas favorite watering hole. 278 Shrewsbury Street • Worcester, MA 01604 • 508-757-1450 • www.flyingrhinocafe.com


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LETTER

FROM THE

EDITOR

Welcome to a Winter Wonderland of Comfort Food Recipes! To that end, comfort food is food prepared traditionally that may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal. It also has been known to have ties to heritage or certain ethnic backgrounds, but the most important thing about comfort food is how it makes us feel – you guessed it, comfortable. In this issue, we’ll warm you up with New England’s best comfort food, and give you sought-after recipes that’ll delight your palate and turn you into a culinary superstar at home.

Winter in New England can be cold, wet and, at times, dreary. So what better way to warm up than with your favorite, tastiest, nostalgia-inducing dishes? Yes, indeed, foodies love their comfort food, and we’ve got a load of recipes that’ll keep you busy (and warm!) in your kitchen discovering what great comfort food is all about.

We start with a road map to comfort foods: what they are, how they make us feel, and the most delicious examples we’ve found! Grab your culinary GPS, because we’re taking you all over New England, foodies! We’ll go from the cool, relaxed Cedar Street Grille in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, up to witness the antiquated but dramatic New England flair of Simon Pearce Restaurant in Quechee, Vermont. Then, no matter what time of the day it is, we’ll pass through Worcester and stop in our Chef Al Maykel at EVO for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You probably won’t be very hungry as we head up to The Common Man in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for some uncommonly-good comfort food, but, by the time we reach Beantown, you’ll be a hungry… well, let’s just say that The Hungry Mother in Boston has the answer to that problem. By the time we get to Providence, Rhode Island, you’ll be hankering for Nick’s comfort food delights. After satiating yourself with Nick’s picks, we’ll take off toward the Vanilla Bean in Pomfret, Connecticut, where the countryside comfort attracts foodies from all over New England – and beyond. Up just a ways from Connecticut, we close the loop on our epicurean excursion to Sturbridge for a comfort food experience that will take us from A to Z—or, in this case, Soup to Nuts. But, what about the youngsters? What foods make them feel most comfortable? Fabio Mercurio explores the history and best recipes of Mac & Cheese in Foodies Kids, a new segment that uncovers the tastes and preferences of an up-andcoming generation of foodies. Parents, are you out of time for menu planning and running out of money for good nutrition? Don’t give up hope. Instead, check out our Foodies Families section on Farm to School, where a string of organizations and programs exist to connect school children, college students, and families with the farms that grow their food. In this issue, we also took an in-depth look at the Food Swap, a new “old-fashioned” way of sharing foodie-goodies, where foodies congregate to swap their own homemade goods. We also followed Worcester Foodies, a group of foodies, fanatics, and food bloggers that tour Worcester’s most decadent destinations, to The People’s Kitchen, where ‘unique’ was the best word to describe the evening. We took a ride over to Woburn, Massachusetts and visited with Beacon Grille for some classically-prepared culinary wonders, and we took a look at an environmentally- and philanthropically-responsible culinary establishment that donates all of its proceeds to charity. We also outlined a fantastic recipe you simply must try, not to mention two sensational cocktail recipes that’ll keep you warm all winter! (Continued on page 13)

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Vanilla Bean Tomato Soup

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(Continued from page 10)

In Central Massachusetts, we peer into the northeast region’s largest culinary competition, the Worcester’s Best Chef. Geographically, the event actually hosts the most acclaimed chefs from all of central Massachusetts and Metro West and asks foodies to vote with their palate in the People’s Choice Award, the results of which are announced live that night at Mechanics Hall. Then, we’ll take you to Foodie nirvana as we explore Boston Foodie Tours, a guided walking tour that allowed us to pull up a chair at some of the best tables in Boston and rub elbows with the nation’s best chefs, many of whom being James Beard winners and guests on Food Network, Bravo, and the Cooking Channel. As always, we bring you our regular Foodies departments, including Alina Eisenhauer’s fabulous Desserts feature, showcasing her latest and greatest ‘sweets’, paired with our Grand Chancellor of Beer’s (Matt Webster) winter brew choices, in our Beer Review. In Wines of Distinction, marvel at the meteoric rise of the cultish Malbec varietal and Argentina’s most fascinating and popular wine, as we take you to Marta’s Vinyard (no, that’s not a typo) located at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza. Then, hunker down with a Hot Toddy, as Jeff Haynes shows you how to create this marvelous winter warmer-upper in our Something to Drink? feature. Our own Ryan Maloney, founder of The Loch & K(e)y Society, shows us when, and if, it’s appropriate to add ice to our Whiskey, in Whiskey… Under Loch & Key. If you don’t get to the gym that much this winter, don’t sweat it; you can still stay Healthy at Home with Elaine Pusateri Cowan, as she shows you, step-by-step, just how to put together a most delicious, impressive, and healthy winter recipe. Ellen Allard, our Gluten-Free Diva, keeps you vibrant and vivacious this winter with a selection of tasty, easy-to-make gluten-free dishes in our Gluten Free feature. Speaking of ‘tasty’, check out Food for Thought section, featuring a great article called The Mystique of Game Meat, by Peggy Bridges. Then, read up on and warm up with Cardamom, our winter spice of choice from India, in History Of, with Jodie Lynn Boduch. In our Foodies Farms section, we go the green pastures of Connecticut, as we visit with the fine folks at Creamery Brook Bison Farm, a rustic and fully-functioning buffalo farm that offers a look into early Americana, complete with the most delicious Bison recipes, including “Burnin’ Bridges Bison Chili.” Of course, see our special section of Foodies of New England TV recipe cards, featuring a great line-up of cold-weather comfort food classics, including Spicy Black Beans, Avocado Tuscany, and Gluten-Free Buffalo Wings. Just remember, foodies, if you delve into something enjoyable that you can share with your friends and loved ones, winter can be a great season filled with fun and flavor! Bon Appetit—Buon Appetito—Buen Provecho—Guten Appetit

Domenic Mercurio, Jr. Editor/Publisher

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Soup sampling, courtesy of The Vanilla Bean


Written by Greta Methot Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

“The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlor firesides on winter evenings.” —Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

There’s a battle brewing in my family over a heavy miraculously generates vast quantities of the youngsilver pot. This cherished 60-year-old cooking ves-

est grandchildren’s favorite dish, hamburger stew.

sel belongs to my nearly 90-year-old grandmoth-

Over the years this iron wonder has produced doz-

er and, as she sternly assures those of us who

ens of perfect holiday hams and gallons of healing

covet, it isn’t changing hands anytime soon. Her

chicken soup. Certainly it must have supernatural

well-weathered pot is the magical source of tender properties, this pot, as everything that comes out roast beef and browned potatoes; it supplies the rich filling for her annual French meat pies; and it

of it tastes like pure love. (Continued on page 16)

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(Continued from page 15)

Comfort food is about nostalgia and it’s about relationships. It’s equal parts memory we consume along with those bowls of grandpa’s borscht or auntie’s baked beans. A day spent home sick from elementary school always promised grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup in my house. Today, a head cold is likely to bring on cravings for the same dishes, but of course it’s the associated motherly nurturing my inner child truly seeks. Recent behavioral science research conducted at SUNY Buffalo and UCLA confirms a connection between consuming comfort food and improved emotional affect. It seems the embrace of a familiar sentimental food does, psychologically speaking, soothe our troubled souls. Comfort food restores us, however temporarily, to simpler times; it evokes the warmth and familiarity of home; it connects us through our senses to those early caregivers in our lives. The days of dented bicycles have given way to far more expensive fenderbenders, juvenile playground squabbles have matured into broken hearts, and those hard days at school have evolved into rough days at work. Still, no matter how grown up the ailment, there’s likely a meal from your childhood you can count on to bring some small measure of relief. When the busted economy brings on the blues or the car didn’t start—again—when the kids won’t stop fighting or your boss played the bully, there’s an unwritten rule that says you’re allowed to eat as decadently as you desire. This is the essence of comfort food—when emotion trumps reason in making dining decisions. All diets go out the window; all rational adult preferences for eating organic or avoiding sodium are forgotten. Instead, our sentimental hearts reach for another helping of macaroni and cheese or boldly add a little more gravy to our meatloaf. We choose to ignore that mom’s famous beef stew is made with MSGladen bouillon cubes and her savory tuna casserole is loaded with canned cream of mushroom soup. We don’t even think to ask how much heavy cream went into those mashed potatoes or dare to count the carbohydrates in the spaghetti and meatballs. When it comes to comfort food, it’s the love that nourishes. My family will concede, eventually, that it’s probably not grandma’s ancient pot that holds the secret to her comfort food. Surely it’s grandma herself, the indelible, wonderful image of her ever feisty less than five foot frame peering under the lid and promising with a smile that dinner is almost ready, that makes the food taste so right.

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Wild Boar and More: Simon Pearce Restaurant & Glassblowing Factory Written by Mariel Kennison Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

You know you’re a foodie when you drive two and a half hours to try out a new restaurant. Admittedly, I would go to great lengths for food, but I was pleasantly surprised when even the road trip to Simon Pearce Restaurant was enjoyable thanks to the late foliage and quiet, winding roads. Everything about SPR and its adjoining glassblowing factory captivates the senses and embodies the cliché that is autumn in New England. Located in Quechee, Vermont, the establishment resides in an old wool mill and sits on rushing falls.

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After moving to the U.S. from Ireland in 1980, Simon Pearce knew it was the perfect place to open his glassblowing factory. Once he procured a hydro turbine to utilize the water’s power in 1983 he opened the Glassblower’s Café, a small coffee and pastry store to feed visitors watching him at his craft. The demand for a quality restaurant in the area continued to grow and eventually the café turned into the award-winning restaurant it is today. Even the toll Hurricane Irene took on the area in August couldn’t bring down the people’s spirits. After closing for (Continued on page 20)


Shepard’s Pie Northeast Family Farms’ beef, seasonal green salad

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(Continued from page 18)

several weeks, SPR reopened with an off-site kitchen and limited menu and is now back in full swing and flourishing. It was the devoted staff that cleaned up after the flood, with the help of local farmers and dairies that brought ice cream and cookies to the hard-working employees. Thanks to that inherent Vermont camaraderie SPR has been able to maintain those great relationships that allow the restaurant to keep the quality of food incredibly local and incredibly high—something it has strived to do since its opening. Meals are so exquisite and yet so comforting it might feel like sitting in your best friend’s house if the view of the covered bridge and Ottauquechee River falls from the sunlit dining room wasn’t so undeniable. Though the food is classified as “creative American cuisine,” an understated touch of Ireland endures. Whether it’s a dish of wild boar with pappardelle in a bacon Bolognese sauce, shepherd’s pie or the lamb and pork Mediterranean burger, it’s hard to find anything but mouthwatering offerings on the entire menu. Chef Joshua Duda, a Vermont native, has certainly helped to shape the menu. After traveling the world, Duda has taken the helm at SPR where he’s clearly at home with his surroundings and shares the locals’ respect. Starting off one of his meals with a simple plate of homemade bread, made from imported Irish flour, and a crock of fresh Cabot butter only fueled my hunger. A cup of the Vermont Cheddar soup followed and it was the perfect treat for a November afternoon: cheesy, creamy and so fresh. Using local ingredients whenever possible, SPR and Duda have come together to create dishes people are familiar with and can remember fondly. Whether you go to eat, buy the sparkling glassware that’s synonymous with the Pearce name or both, you can be sure you’ll leave with some warm memories and a full belly.

Simon Pearce Restaurant The Mill 1760 Quechee Main Street Quechee, Vermont 802.295.1470 www.simonpearce.com

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Chef Joshua Duda


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A Quaint

New England Revival Written by Domenic D. Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Meet Cedar Street Grille in Sturbridge, Massachusetts: Eclectic comfort food… in a colonial town… with a contemporary flair. Sound intriguing? Stay tuned. Cozy yet sophisticated, warm yet ‘cool’, familiar yet interesting, Cedar Street Grille offers a steady stream of paradoxes for your visual, tactile, and culinary senses, and you’ll undoubtedly need a thesaurus to describe it to your friends. Set just a stone’s throw from Old Sturbridge Village, Cedar Street Grille was once a destination for fine dining under the expert culinary abilities of then chefowner William Nemeroff. Called Cedar Street Restaurant at the time, it was sold to Table 3 Restaurant Group in July of 2010 and reopened in February of 2011 after significant expansion and remodeling. Now, the rustic town of Sturbridge, boasting many architectural examples of early Americana such as The Publick House, The Whistling Swan, and The Country Inn, flashes a touch of pizzazz to those foodies who would be interested – and they are many.

Revving Up the Revitalization Despite the corporate-sounding name, Table 3 Restaurant Group is actually comprised of some astute local culinary and restaurant professionals who believe deeply in the importance of community enhancement. “Table 3 is all about

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hometown,” says Dan Gonya, General Manager of Table 3 Restaurant Group and resident of Sturbridge since 1994. Gonya’s partners include other locally-grown talents: Kelly Ledger and Chef Enrico Giovanello, both of Sturbridge, Chef Patrick Farrelly of West Brookfield, and President and CEO Mike Lyons, originally of West Brookfield. “We never intended to set up a restaurant group,” Gonya confesses. “Instead, we wanted to open a restaurant and we looked at Sturbridge as a destination, where the demographics and familiarity with the local people in town really made sense for us to open here. For us, success meant getting our feet wet and learning as we go – with humility.” According to Gonya, Table 3, which also owns two other Sturbridge-based restaurants (The Swan, formerly The Whistling Swan, and The Duck, previously The Ugly Duckling), had a very straightforward philosophy right from the beginning: to have specialists in every area of hospitality management. Dan and Mike take care of general management; Chef Giovanello is in charge of menu development and catering; Chef Farrelly works on handles the back of the house (a.k.a. the kitchen); and Kelly takes care of Guest Service and Front of the House (a.k.a. the dining room). (Continued on page 24)


Buffalo Mac and Cheese

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(Continued from page 22)

The Challenge of Cedar Street For Gonya, the principal challenge when looking for the right restaurant was in finding a piece of property that matched the Table 3 philosophy. “The main goal was to appeal to the local citizenry, allowing them to socialize in a comfortable setting.” And, in doing so, Gonya’s team had to ask themselves many questions: What’s the right place? Building style? Size? Which interior layout would give the restaurant that comfortable feel? “Cedar Street Restaurant was a little small for Table 3,” Gonya tells Foodies of New England. “But, because Chef Nemeroff did such a great job here with culinary arts, we were able to rely on the restaurant’s reputation and worked with the town to create what we wanted.” The concept for Cedar Street Grille was to give the community a small-plate option; not a tapas theme, per se, but small-plate dining, creatively allowing guests to taste and enjoy various culinary creations at the same time.

The Transformation Unfolds Chef Nemeroff bought Cedar Street Restaurant from Chef David Vadenais in 2003. At the time, Chef Vadenais’ menu was heavily Mediterranean, offering vegetarian options as well. But, under the direction of Chef Nemeroff, the menu

Patrick Farrelly, Enrico Giovanello & Jolene Parrettie

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began to take on a seasonal appeal, providing locally-grown ingredients. Recipes began to reflect more classic dishes, many with French influence, along with some recreations of great American favorites. Some of Chef Nemeroff’s personal choices were from the fall and summer menus, and included heavily-braised dishes, bouillabaisse, cioppino, and some clean, crisp, brightly-flavored entrées. “A piece of me will always be there,” Nemeroff says. “It was my first ownership experience, and I continue to have an affinity for Sturbridge and love the other restaurants and their owners.” When asked about the decision to sell Cedar Street Restaurant to Table 3, Chef Nemeroff told Foodies of New England, “As a restaurant owner, I was wearing all the hats - accountant, bar manager, chef, Front of the House manager. It was tough to keep sight of the primary goal, which is to take care of my guests. I knew it would be easier to do that by working strictly as executive chef, so I joined Niche Hospitality Group in August of 2010 as the executive chef at The People’s Kitchen in Worcester (see Spring/Summer 2011 edition of Foodies for a feature on Chef Nemeroff and The People’s Kitchen). Today, thanks to a total build-out that includes a large, elegant new bar and a soft, warm ambience accented with dark woods and earth tones, the renamed Cedar Street Grille


only 17 minutes to prepare. (Recipes are included in this issue, and also accompany a full broadcast of the show at www.FoodiesofNewEngland.com).

Sumptuous Sides The sides at Cedar Street Grille are more like a meal, and there’s no shortage of them. In fact, both the Sides and Small Plates menus offer great alternatives to any kid’s menu we’ve seen, with more variety, healthier choices, and more-than-adequate portions. “Kids today are exploring food,” says Gonya. Foodies of New England echoes Gonya’s statement, and encourages our junior foodies to taste new things with their parents (see Foodie Kids in this section). Anything from Lobster Mac & Cheese to Parmesan Risotto to Sweet Potato Fries to Sautéed Spinach (in case you’re in a ‘healthy’ mood), plus seven other choices, are yours for the asking. Cedar Street Grille also offers a full à la carte menu, including Hanger Steak, Filet Mignon, Maple-Brined Pork Chop (again!), New York Strip, Grilled Salmon and Jumbo Shrimp Scampi. And, Chef Patrick (“The Dessert Maestro”, as he’s called around the restaurant) will whip-up nearly anything your sweet tooth craves. (Continued on page 81)

has strongly impressed the local community of foodies. The ambience is punctuated by a creative menu that revolves seasonally to reflect the creative inspirations developed by Chefs Giovanello, Farrelly, and Jolene Parrettie, and boasts intensely-flavored comfort food dishes that accurately reflect Sturbridge’s New England flair. We’re talking about tantalizing items like Maple Glazed Sea Scallops, Fried Goat Cheese, Slow Roasted Pork Taco, Braised Short-Rib Shepherd’s Pie, or Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese (both pictured). Despite the fact that these are listed and priced as ‘small plates’, and would allow you to sample many different items, the portions are very generous and won’t leave you hungry. Casual comfort food is always in style, and Cedar Street has it in spades. How about a Bacon Bleu Cheese (Burger) Slider? If you like them simple and basic, the Beef Burger Slider (pictured) is a delight and always prepared just right, with melted cheese and a perfect accent of pickle. Speaking of real comfort food, we worked with Chef Giovanello on an episode of Foodies of New England TV called, “Brick Oven Boldness,” in which we prepared a full Tuscan meal ‘al forno’ (in the wood-fired brick oven). The whole meal, which was comprised of pizza rustica, dessert pizza, herb-rubbed leg of lamb, and marinated mussels, took Foodies of New England

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Clam Chowder in a bread bowl

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Food Like Mother Made It:

The Vanilla Bean

Written by Jodie Lynn Boduch Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Along a winding northeastern Connecticut road, in a setting as New England as can be, there sits a 19th-century barn. In addition to the immediate sense of history, you’ll notice at least two other things: A sign indicating that this is the Vanilla Bean Café and lot full of cars (no matter when you go). Park your car on the gravel, pass the patio as you walk toward the entrance, and cross the threshold; the rustic interior and smell of home-cooking will strike you with one thought: This is the very definition of cozy.

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servers, then progressed to prep work before being trained as chefs. To Jessurun, learning something new and bringing out the best in people is key to successful staffing.

Owned and operated by the Jessurun family since its opening in 1989, the Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret, CT is a fast-casual restaurant open all but four days per year (Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day). What started out as a 16-seat ice cream, sandwich, and salad place has now become a full-service café offering breakfast, lunch, and light dinners. And that seating capacity? It has expanded to 90 seats inside and over 40 outside. It’s comfort food in a comfortable place. The Jessuruns, a family of 6, always joked about running a restaurant some day. Between the parents, children, and their friends, the dinner table in the Jessurun house was always a full one. Some family members moved to Ireland in the 1970s to try their hand in the restaurant business. That experience didn’t work out, but when the current property became available for purchase in 1987, everything seemed to fall into place: The timing, the location, and the concept. Neither fancy nor akin to fast food, the Vanilla Bean nestled into a sweet spot somewhere in between, filling a niche in the area. Even a longstanding nickname worked out well— Eileen, one of the Jessurun siblings, was called “Vanilla Bean” growing up (and it just seems to fit the place). High-quality sandwiches have always been on the menu, and at one time, the owners even roasted their own turkey for those sandwiches. The idea, says President and General Manager Barry Jessurun, was to be hands-on and make food like you’d have it at home. That’s what comfort food is all about, he says. It’s different for everyone, and it’s something we’ve come to associate with warmth and love. “It’s food that’s easily accessible, something from our past, something your mother made.” Chili, which is among the café’s most popular dishes now, wasn’t on the menu when the Vanilla Bean opened.

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Now, it’s a year-round staple. Moderately spicy, the chili is “for people who don’t like chili,” says Jessurun. It’s not soupy, but the preparation is similar to that of a soup. The veggie and meat components are prepared separately, then combined and topped with cheese, corn chips, and scallions. Each batch weighs 70 pounds, and some weeks they go through 5 batches of chili. Other crowd-pleasing menu items are the soups: tomato Florentine soup, New England clam chowder (loaded with clams, a cross between RI- and MA-style chowders), summer berry gazpacho (this writer’s recommendation), and one of Jessurun’s personal favorites, the split-pea with ham soup (on the menu winters-only). True to his definition of comfort food, this recipe is his mother’s and brings back fond memories of her and her cooking. The recipes are a combination of existing cookbook recipes and Jessurun’s own ideas. Barry, Brian, and Eileen did the cooking for the first decade or so. They still research recipes, but now they hand over the execution of the recipes to their chefs. Chefs are allowed to make their own dishes within the budget and standards of the management. Seasonally appropriate fare is encouraged, producing inspired menu items such as butternut squash and apple soup. Many of the people who cook started off as

The Vanilla Bean hires its staff based on the intangibles. They look for personality; people with a genuine enthusiasm for food and life overall. Turnover is low, with full-time help often staying 6-10 years and part-timers an average of 3. They also encourage staff to bring in family and friends –people who would be a good fit for the team. Jessurun says it’s all about having fun: “If the staff is having fun, the food is good, then customers are having fun and the vibe is great. “ When asked what impression he’d like customers to have when they come in and what he’d like them to conclude as they leave, Jessurun says it’s essentially one and the same: “Come in feeling embraced by the place, and leave feeling taken care of.” Once you’ve been to the Vanilla Bean Café, you’ll likely experience both.

The Vanilla Bean Café Corners of Rt. 44, 169 & 97 Pomfret, CT 06258 860-928-1562 www.thevanillabeancafe.com


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The Comfort Food EVOlution is Here Written by Domenic D. Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Before we begin, let us examine two rudimentary definitions necessary for the full comprehension of our feature story: Comfort Food: Food prepared traditionally that may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal. EVO Restaurant: The one of the best places in Worcester to experience the aforementioned. Now that the semantics are disposed of, we can get down to telling you all about the comfort food greatness that is… EVO Dining. What started as the Sano Café within the Living Earth grocery store has morphed into an exquisitely comfortable, relaxed restaurant with an open kitchen, allowing you to witness Chef Al Maykel, III. and his team smoothly at work preparing your “Phat Albert Burger”, stuffed with cheese and oozing with flavor, or the “Indian Double Dare Burger, with Ghost Chili Pepper” (don’t ask, you truly have to experience this one). “At EVO, we use only the finest in natural and organic ingredients to create amazing dishes for our guests,” comments Celeste Maykel Zack, co-owner with Al Maykel, III. Conceptually, EVO takes the “Have it Your Way” axiom to a supreme level of quality and flavor. If you want vegan, EVO will prepare vegan; if you want organic, EVO will prepare organic; and if you want gluten-free, well, you know by now. The only thing that’s NOT up for grabs is a flavorless meal that doesn’t make your eyes pop out when EVO’s trained and ultra-friendly staff sets it before you. . In fact, getting an undercooked or overcooked meal is virtually impossible at EVO, thanks to their innovative U.S.-made oven with Italian cooking stone. It revolves on high heat so the chef knows exactly how many rotations are needed to cook the meal perfectly.

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An “Evolutionary” Concept The concept for EVO was born in 2008 when the Team Maykel wanted to build on the concept of Sano Café’s organic theme. So, they created an entirely new restaurant with a beautiful bar, complete with “bubble wall”, and a stateof-the-art kitchen. The first menu was more upscale, with fine dining in mind and some pizzas and organic offerings. Then came the larger menu, with vegan, vegetarian, organic, and gluten-free items. But Chef Al wasn’t satisfied there. “I wanted to have more for everyone, so we built a comfort food menu,” says Chef Al. “We compiled the menu and took off most of the entrees, reformatted the selections so customers could have their burgers, quesadillas, gourmet sandwiches, and more of a variety of vegan, organic, and glutenfree choices,” Maykel says.

The Foodie-Turned-Chef “I consider myself a foodie-turned-chef. I love food and I’m all about simplicity. People want comfort foods, like a great burger, that they’re used to eating, but on a higher-end scale. So, what do you do? You use Kobe beef, stuff the burger with a blend of cheeses, and top it with the freshest produce and specialty, gluten-free rolls.” Chef Al makes it sound so easy because he’s a master at comfort food. But he’s really a creative culinary master who “allows himself” to think outside the box. Recently, Chef Al did a Jimmy Fund event, The Mark Unger Golf Tournament, and featured a 5-course dinner with each course representing a different country, including Spain, Italy, Morocco, and, as Chef Al called it, “Home” (America), for which he prepared a classic Surf and Turf filet and marvelous coffee-filled ice cream truffles with shredded chocolate for dessert.


The American Kobe Burger

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But, even though EVO is his restaurant, Chef Al loves to take orders from his guests. “We really listen to our customers,” says Maykel with pride, pointing out that EVO’s sweet potato fries are always a request that he honors. In fact, Maykel sometimes suggests that guests email their dinner requests to him during the day, so he can have their favorite meal ready upon arrival. Not able to get enough of the EVO experience, some customers come three times a day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “It’s so cool to see the same people come in three times a day – very gratifying,” grins Maykel. But, when asked what his favorite meals are to prepare, Maykel says, without hesitating, “I love sauté! Any dish that I can sauté is so much fun for me to prepare.” Maykel specifically likes to make – just for fun – Chicken Fig Marsala with Alfredo sauce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and bacon. When we asked him, “What makes a great chef?” Maykel replies humbly, almost boyishly, “Creativity and innovation.” He reflects on his college days when all he had in the kitchen to make dinner was mustard, honey, and pasta. Somehow, he made it work with those principal ingredients, and it turned out to be one of his favorite dishes by adding Cayenne pepper. Yes, sir, with risk comes reward. Chef Al’s creativity is always peaking, but, as he says, “I’d love to have a seasonal menu with a whole new selection of offerings on it, but customers want to have what they come here for.” And what’s that, exactly? Well, EVO’s menu is brimming with interesting categories of comfort food and unique EVO recipes. Just to get things going, choose from EVO’s menu of Hot Picky Foods, including Crispy Chicken Bites, with panko-crusted chicken tenders served crispy with choice of buffalo, whiskey BBQ, honey mustard, Thai chili teriyaki, blue cheese, or ranch dipping sauces… now, that’s variety! Then, there’s Chef Al’s Spinach Artichoke Dip, a creamy blend of cream cheese, parmesan cheese, sour cream, artichokes, garlic, and spinach, baked and served with fresh pita bread, or the Mini Pesto Arancini, prepared with pesto-flavored risotto mixed with parmesan, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese, breaded with panko crumbs and served bite-sized and crispy with Marinara sauce for dipping. An assortment of intriguing quesadillas will have you saying, “Ole!” including Vegetable, Chicken, Tofu, Buffalo Chicken, or Mexican Black Bird, prepared with black bean Sauce, pepper jack cheese, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, chicken, or tofu. The Sensational Sandwiches section of the menu truly is, well… sensational, with variety and flavor to spare. Dig into

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the Phelan, with grilled Atlantic Salmon, lettuce, tomato, scallion, red onion, and a sriracha aioli, or the Hummus and Veggie, which is vegan and gluten-free, made with local organic Hummus, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, and red onion. If you’re getting that New England feeling, try the Cranberry Apple Turkey (again, gluten-free and can be prepared vegan), with sliced turkey breast, lettuce, Granny Smith apples, red onion, tomato, cheddar cheese, and a cranberry aioli. Then, there’s El Cubano, with Latin-seasoned pulled pork, or the Westermann, the Mediterranean, the Asian Steak Bomb, the BBQ Chicken Ranch, or my favorite, the Italian Grilled Cheese, with sliced cheddar, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, tomato, olive oil, and drizzled with an aged balsamic reduction, served on baked panini bread. You’d be crazy not to, but if you don’t want one of these great sandwiches, you can opt for one of Chef Al’s burgers, ranging from the American Kobe, the Double Stack Beef, the Double Stack Black Bean, or the famous Phat Albert, Worcester’s original stuffed burger made up of a ½ pound of All Natural Adams Farm ground beef, stuffed with a blend of American and cheddar cheese, baked in EVO’s innovative 1600 degree stone hearth oven, sealing in all the flavor, and accompanied by your choice of EVO’s styled toppings. We made this burger on Foodies TV, and it was a phenomenal sight to behold in high-definition.


If you insist on using a knife and a fork, you may delve into the gluten-free Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs, with all-natural chicken tenders seasoned in a Mediterranean lemon-herb marinade, grilled and accompanied by Armenian rice pilaf, grilled onions, and a cucumber yogurt salad. Speaking of Mediterranean, Chef Al turns out the best Port Said this side of the Persian Gulf. This Lebanese comfort food consists of your choice of protein sautéed with mushrooms, lemon juice, allspice, white wine, and served over Armenian pilaf with chicken or tofu. Chef Al will even add shrimp or scallops – what’s your pleasure? Chef Al’s Seared Yellow Fin Tuna is Sushi-grade Yellow Fin Tuna loin crusted with black and white sesame seeds, seared rare, and accompanied by broccoli, whipped potatoes, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, wasabi, and tamari. If you’re a Salmon freak, why not go for the best – EVO’s S&S Salmon, a hand-cut filet of salmon grilled and drizzled with an Asian inspired sweet and spicy glaze, panko crumbs, and accompanied by sautéed sugar snap peas and whipped potatoes.

Foodies Faves If you want our recommendation, however, there’s nothing quite like Chef Al’s Bourbon Bistro Filet. Flavorful and juicy, this all natural grass-fed steak is marinated in a tangy bourbon marinade, grilled to your specifications, sliced and accompanied by whipped potatoes and sugar snap peas. Just bring your pillow and blanket and leave a wake-up call for breakfast, which, by the way, Chef Al can whip up for you in a healthy heartbeat, every Saturday and Sunday, with the vegan Old Faithful. Two eggs any style, EVO home fries, choice of breakfast sausage, bacon, ham, fake bacon or veggie breakfast sausage, and choice of toasted English muffin, 7-grain, or organic white bread. Chef Al will even use tofu scramble, if you prefer, or straight egg whites, no yolk. Go Continental, with the Italian French Toast. “What? How can they be both?” you say? Well, the way Chef Al prepares this luscious, gluten-free gastronomic greatness, it’s easy to see why it’s unforgettable: Two pieces of Italian bread soaked in pumpkin-spiced, whipped eggs, grilled and accompanied by fresh berries, whipped cream and Vermont Maple Syrup. Or, if you like the elegance and sophistication of Eggs Benedict, try these two poached eggs served atop a grilled English muffin, honey ham, and topped with fresh hollandaise, and accompanied by EVO’s famous Home Fries. Of course, Chef Al can make this dish vegan with tofu scramble and veggie sausage. Again, you need only speak. (Continued on page 102) Foodies of New England

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Apple Chicken - a walnut-crusted breast of chicken with cheddar, apple cider glaze

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An Un-Common Success Written by Jodie Lynn Boduch Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

When a comfort food restaurant lasts 40 years, has staff members who stay on for decades, and expands to 18 locations, you know they’re doing something right. To say that The Common Man of New Hampshire is a success story is like saying food can be kind of tasty. What began on Main Street in Ashland with 35 seats has grown into a family of restaurants (ranging from casually upscale dining to family restaurants to diners to delis), a retail store, an inn (with a spa), and a movie house/performance center.

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CEO Jason Lyon, who started his career with the Common Man—also known as the C-Man—as a dishwasher at age 15, says the “honest food at honest prices” philosophy is integral to the brand—and indeed, to his own career trajectory. He washed dishes, left, came back to wait on tables, took a break from school, and had a chance at a management position. With the exception of a brief sabbatical, Lyon has been there ever since. Why? “I bought into the Common Man mission,” he says, “[and] I get my kicks from seeing smiles on people’s faces. “

Also worth noting is the company’s incredible generosity to the community. To celebrate its 40th year in business, the Common Man donated $40,000 to the New Hampshire Food Bank and announced the DO GOOD charity raffle, which will support 20 other nonprofits in New Hampshire. This isn’t a one-shot deal, though. The company is consistently charitable, with the creation of a residential treatment facility and a Haiti Relief campaign among its efforts. The Common Man has received numerous state and national awards over the years, both for its restaurants and for its work in the community.

There are plenty of smiles to be had, considering that by Lyon’s estimate, year-round locals comprise about 80% of the clientele at each of the restaurants. This is indeed a very “New Hampshire” restaurant, and owner Alex Ray has actually turned down offers to open up locations outside the state. Lyon says the work ethic in New Hampshire is secondto-none and that there’s a great deal of loyalty, warmth, and hospitality in the community.

The Common Man is both the embodiment and the antithesis of its name. It has an everyman appeal, a brand that responds to its customer base, and geographic breadth. It also has four decades of accomplishments like no other dining establishment in the Granite State. But that’s New Hampshire for you: hard-working, welcoming, and humble.

Asked to describe The Common Man in three words, Lyon says, “Comfort, value, quality.” Their menu, which has grown to include more comfort food as time goes on, reflects precisely those elements. Best described as traditional American cuisine with a New England flair, the meals are homecooked classics with a creative twist. The Common Man also incorporates local sources and seasonal products as much as possible. For example, they offer three-cheese Mac & Cheese by itself or with lobster, provided by Portsmouth (NE) Lobster Company. They endeavor to include a classically New England flavor profile in most dishes. Two favorites include pot roast and meatloaf (using pork, sirloin, and veal), and another signature dish is apple walnut chicken with a maple glaze and cornbread stuffing. When asked what he’d serve a VIP dining at The Common Man, Lyon says his pick would be either the Portsmouth Pie, a hearty seafood dish along the lines of Lobster Newburgh or the Mac & Cheese. As for drinks, the white chocolate martini is popular, as is the house-made Bloody Mary. The Uncommon Coffee (coffee, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, and homemade whipped cream) has been on the menu for 40 years. If you’re looking for a dessert to have with it, the Uncommon Baked Apple is a great choice. The food, however, is only part of the success story. The Common Man restaurants employ over 800 people (called “stars”)—one of whom has been with the company just two weeks shy of the 40 years it has been open. Lyon says employees are “hired for personality, trained for skill. We want someone with a natural ‘excellence’ reflex, someone who does things the right way simply because that’s the way things should be done.”

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The Common Man 96 State Street Portsmouth, NH 03801 603-334-6225 www.thecman.com


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Corn Chowder with daily Quiche Special

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Everything from

Soup to Nuts Written by Peggy Bridges Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

In the historic town of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, tucked away in a revitalized mill building that houses the Sturbridge Marketplace, there is a small café called Soup to Nuts. As you enter the building on the top level theirs is one of the first signs to capture your attention. Continue around the corner and you are greeted by the sight of happy, relaxed people seated at neatly arranged tables. In an open-air setting, the main dining area of the café offers a view of foot traffic in the marketplace, sitting just inside a handsome wooden railing that echoes all the antique wood floors throughout the building. There’s a distinct feeling that the people dining there are sharing something special. Foodies of New England

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It’s clear that care has been taken in decorating this quaint and inviting hideaway. A few steps ahead there is another sign for the café and a doorway that beckons. Once inside, the feast for the eyes is only surpassed by the heavenly smells of home-cooked foods – everything from soup to nuts. A kindly staff member greets you from behind the busy counter, assuring you that you’ll be seated shortly. No one seems to mind the wait, when there is one. On busy days when there’s a line out into the hallway, customers on their way out assure those in line, “It’s worth the wait!” There is so much to take in everywhere you look. Daily specials are displayed on the board and delicious desserts can be seen in the display case. Looking around you can see pieces of tasteful and thought-provoking artwork carefully placed on walls, shelves, and tables. A framed inspirational poem appears on one table. There is a feeling of coming home that hangs in the air, and one word comes to mind above all -- personal. As you sit down, relax, and enjoy the surroundings, it feels more like a visit with family than eating out in a restaurant. So who is behind all of this unique atmosphere and such a personal approach to the dining experience? His name is John Quinlivan. John has put his heart and soul into Soup to Nuts for 29 years, and he has seen many changes in the town of Sturbridge during that time. We talked about what things might be contributing to his continued success. First and foremost, John gives an enormous amount of credit to his manager, Valerie, who has been with him for ten years. The two of them do everything involved with running the entire 44-seat café, from cooking to cleaning to making sure the room temperature is always just right. An integral part of the business, he says, is Valerie’s positive outlook and drive. John remarked that in addition to being an exceptionally pleasant and trustworthy person, she also has a very special talent for knowing how to put customers at ease and fill special requests without so much as blinking an eye. You won’t get this kind of personalized service at your local chain restaurant. Add to this John’s deliciously prepared soups, chowders, quiches, and their recently expanded dessert selections, and you have a recipe for success. John confesses that he does a lot himself, probably more than he should. He admits that he’s not good at delegating, but part of that is because of the very high standards he sets for himself and the café. John drives 600 miles a week to gather supplies for the business. He even travels to one of his major suppliers himself to pick up and select his own supplies instead of waiting for the delivery.

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The soup making is John’s specialty and what the café is known for most. They have also helped build a longstanding reputation for the café. Soups, chowders, and quiches are the café’s signature menu items, and are prepared by John personally. When I asked him what makes his foods so popular, John said, “Certain menu items have a certain flavor that other establishments have a hard time copying. Plus we’re really not fast food. We’re more like food you prepare at home and come in here and feel at home eating.” The typical customer at Soup to Nuts isn’t typical at all, but rather a mix of retirees, young people, and mothers with children. Some regulars come as often as three or four times a week. During high tourist seasons, other local businesses often recommend Soup to Nuts to out-of-towners who ask, “Where’s a good place to have lunch?” (Continued on page 119)


Vegetable Soup

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Nick’s on Broadway... A Comfort-Food Star is Born

Written by Michelle Collins Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

We all have a favorite restaurant. That comfortable, inviting spot with the friendly staff and consistently delicious food that just keeps us coming back for more. The place where we don’t feel guilty eating at several times a week – it’s worth every penny. Derek Wagner also had a favorite restaurant: Nick’s on Broadway in Providence, RI. Working the night shift at various restaurants, he would frequent his favorite eatery most nights after work. Wagner was there so often, he and the owner, Nick, go to know one another. So well, in fact, that the owner asked Wagner to take over his restaurant after he realized he couldn’t handle it himself anymore.

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SautĂŠed local and season veggie with pouched egg and sourdough

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Since that conversation ten years ago, Wagner has revitalized Nick’s on Broadway while keeping the restaurant’s original neighborhood feel. “Nick and his family became and still are part of my life,” Wagner said. “They are truly a part of the restaurant and its history, and they will always be special to me.” Nick Sr. and his family – most of them also named Nick - have also since switched places with Wagner. Now, they’re regulars at the restaurant they originally founded. “Nick Jr. comes in every morning for coffee, and Nick III comes in for breakfast almost every Saturday morning with Nick Jr.,” Wagner said. Starting out as an 18-seat, breakfast-only establishment, Nick’s on Broadway has blossomed into a 55-seat, full-service restaurant. With a focus on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients and small menus graced with classic fare, Wagner has definitely taken Nick’s to a whole new level. “We lost quite a few of the ‘regulars’ in the beginning, with changes in price, atmosphere, and expectations, but that was intended and expected,” Wagner said. “I knew some people wouldn’t understand or get my vision at first.” Despite the initial loss of regular customers, Wagner eventually saw an increase in a different type of clientele.

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“We did see…a return of many old customers from the diner’s heyday, business professionals who grew up in the neighborhood or remembered it from [their] childhood, and a whole new clientele made up of students, artists, residents, restaurant workers, food lovers and city workers,” Wagner said. The majority of dishes Wagner prepares for his farm-to-table menu are what most of us know as “comfort food.” Cassoulet, polenta, pastas, soups, and stews are just a few of the commonly seen entrees on the menu at Nick’s on Broadway. One-pot dishes or any meal served with a thick piece of crusty, grilled bread is what resonates most with Wagner’s diners. “Many of my dishes are rooted in peasant-style flavor combinations, ingredients and/or origins. That’s the kind of food I grew up with, the kind of food that makes me feel good, and ultimately the kind of food that I think resonates with people authentically,” Wagner said. Wagner is a chef who appreciates rustic interpretations of modern dishes and concepts as well as refined childhood comfort food classics. Wagner’s approach to food meets somewhere in the middle of these two culinary ideas (Schartner Farm blueberry ice cream with warm shortbread bread pudding and caramel is a good example).


Starting with breakfast all the way to dinner, the food at Nick’s on Broadway is sure to warm – and satiate – just about anyone’s belly. Begin with house-made Baffoni Farm chicken sausage or baked parmesan polenta with two eggs, local grape tomatoes, garden herbs, and baby spinach; then, move on to a citrus-roasted Point Judith fluke filet or herbcrusted tofu. Wrap your day up with Nick’s traditional tasting menu at dinner – three or six courses - which could include anything from butter-roasted native sea scallops with Schartner Farm tomatoes to chargrilled Hereford beef sirloin with roasted local baby potatoes, mushrooms, onions, Stoney Hill Farm pork belly, and port wine jus. “Some of my favorites are country style pâatés, seafood stews, braised meats over polentas or grains, and crispy skin on fish dishes served with simple sauces like an aioli or vinaigrette,” Wagner said. No matter what farm-fresh, soul-warming dish Wagner might be preparing tomorrow, one thing’s for certain – Nick Sr., Nick Jr. and Nick III must be gratified.

Nick’s on Broadway 500 Broadway Providence, RI 02909 401-421-0286 www.nicksonbroadway.com

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Attention Foodies!

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$7DVWHRI+RPH For over 65 years, Harry’s Restaurant has been serving up the best in breakfasts, lunches and dinners. With our roadside diner atmosphere, you can expect some of the freshest home cooking anywhere around. From delicious fried clams and onion rings, to lobster rolls, soups and salads, there’s something for everyone. We even have low carb menu options for diabetics. Harry’s Restaurant - family dining since 1946.

149 Turnpike Road Westborough, MA 01581 508-366-8302 www.harrysrestaurant.com

Follow us on Facebook HarrysRestaurantWestborough

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Foodie Families Written by Sandy Lashin-Curewitz Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Food is a character in all of our stories, from the feasts of Rome and Plymouth to our own birthday cakes and holiday hams. The first time I met my husband—party food. The next time, lunch at a classic sandwich place. And the night our relationship took a new turn, it was over kabobs, rice pilaf, hummus and shawarma. We began bonding with our daughter as she sat on our laps, among tables of other new families, seated before lazy susans covered with spicy beef, chicken and vegetables, steamed white rice, some things we couldn’t identify, and the seemingly ubiquitous—even in China—french fry. Our family loves food, but in very different ways. I enjoy food as a multi-sensory experience. I dive into a menu, a recipe, an outdoor market. My three-year-old daughter’s approach is how you might predict—unpredictable. At two, she attacked bread and butter corn on the cob with wild abandon, and now, her tastes can change from one meal to the next, depending on her mood. She refuses to eat sal-

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ad or sandwiches, prefers crunchy over cooked veggies, and the only cheese she will eat is shredded. My husband loves what he loves— steak and ribs, mostly. He succumbs to sporadic burst of hyperbole, like calling his love of meat a religion, dreaming of opening a bacon-themed restaurant, and commenting, “If I had to choose between a cream sauce and jumping into a knife fight, I’d have to pause and think about it.” Like many families, our lives rush back and forth along a frantic spectrum, from our girl’s penchant for slow food (painfully slow), to occasional fast food runs. Neighborhood cookouts have introduced her to the versatility of ketchup, and her ketchup experiments (rice, vegetables), often cause Daddy to lose his appetite. The refrigerator and pantry are a mix of the

processed and the organic. Throughout it all, we attempt to make healthy choices and balance our Plates as the USDA recommends (Did you know the Food Pyramid is out and “My Plate” is in?). My family and I invite you to come along on a delicious, sometimes fractious, sometimes hilarious, journey. In the coming months we’ll explore the dilemma that is eating on the road—with children. We are determined that fast and cheap does not have to win over tasty and healthy. I want to hear from you: What other food dilemmas vex your family most? Do you watch the Food Network? What is your favorite foodie family tradition? Indulgence? How are you raising Foodie Kiddies, and what is your most nefarious foil? Packing lunch for school, perhaps? Contact me at foodiesnefamily@ gmail.com. So, Foodie Families, we are thrilled to welcome you to our table, wherever it may be.


Good Nutrition Starts at School? Bring it Home Written by Sandy Lashin-Curewitz Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Don’t give up hope. A string of organizations and programs exist to connect school children, college students and families with the farms that grow their food and the chefs who can entice them to eat their (affordable) vegetables. The good news is more are cropping up, like the Farm to School Network.

the time to come into the classrooms to visit students. The result—children choosing locally grown apples over cookies. More importantly, kids are cultivating school gardens and eating the results, even if those results include spinach. spinach from school gardens they helped tend, and The Kindergarten Initiative, now in its second year, has even prompted young inquiring minds to ask their parent for new foods, such as cherry tomatoes. Teachers said before this program was in place, children’s thoughts of where food comes from never strayed further than the nearest grocery store.

Farm to School Network

And the Survey Says…

Providing resources for innovative programs (including grant writing assistance), the Farm to School Network keeps hope alive across the country, including more than 1,300 New England Schools.

To prove the value of connecting kids with their local food system, Vermont Farm to School collaborated with Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) to conduct a survey of 630 students, spanning 12 of 200 schools that participate in Farm to School programs across the state.

Parents, what could possibly help us instill a love for fresh, flavorful—and healthy—locally grown foods in our sugarcraving offspring? Are you out of time for menu planning and running out of money for good nutrition?

Worcester was voted the “Healthiest School District in Massachusetts” by the Massachusetts Public Health Council and it’s no wonder why. Urban-area kindergarteners leave the classroom for on-site learning at local farms and chefs even take

Megan Camp of Shelburne Farms, a Farm to School partner, reported some of the survey’s findings in an essay for the Burlington Free Press: “schools with Farm to School (Continued on page 50)

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(Continued from page 49)

What can parents do to be proactive?

programs had double the rates of fruit and vegetable consumption compared with the national average; 68 percent of students surveyed met or exceeded recommended fruit and vegetable consumption; 80 percent reported that they had planted, picked or prepared food from a garden at home or at school; and 79 percent said they had met a farmer in their area.” A student at the Cabot School even went so far as to say, “Conversations at the lunch tables are about how good, really good, the food is.”

Your attitudes and behaviors matter: make healthy choices, and get creative with how you serve them. Parents with small children, don’t get discouraged by those fancy kid’s cookbooks. You may not have the time or dexterity to make butterfly-shaped open-face sandwiches, but you can arrange a veggie face on a plate—celery eyes, carrot stick nose, sliced pepper mouth, and sprouts for hair— and your child will be just as delighted.

Camp called the Vermont movement a “quiet revolution.” There may be no better poster child for that revolution than the FarmToSchool.org cherub who happily posed taking a blissful bite of a fresh-picked broccoli stalk. Ah, from the mouths of babes. Doris Demers, food service director for seven schools in York and Kittery, Maine knows the value of packing cafeteria meals with local produce. Last spring she added grass-fed ground beef to the menu, which she buys from Archer Angus, a farm in Chesterville. Though students said they were not aware that local, grass-fed beef was a healthier choice, they did notice that the burgers tasted better. Archer Angus also supplies beef to schools in Falmouth, Yarmouth, Sanford, Saco and Scarborough.

Enlist in the Food Revolution In another attempt to educate and encourage healthy eating, Food Corps has risen from AmeriCorps. Teaming together Debra Eschmeyer, formerly of the Farm to School Network, Curt Ellis, co-creator of the film “King Corn” and Cecily Upton, former Slow Food USA youth program manager the organization launched last year. New York Times food blogger Mark Bittman even referred to the new Food Corps recruits as “food’s new foot soldiers.” Food Corps has sent 50 service members to 41 sites in 10 states to enhance nutrition education, bring healthy local food into school cafeterias and build or expand school gardens. In New England, Food Corps is working with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and The Food Project in Massachusetts. So Foodies, the trail has been blazed and it’s time to take up arms and raise the volume of this quiet revolution. Perhaps this information is new to you, perhaps you’re a veteran. It doesn’t matter, but these programs are making news and are all the more important. You love food. You love farm-to-table. So what will you do next? In the words of the late historian Howard Zinn, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” So get on and get involved.

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Communicate and educate: talk about food and how it relates to physical and mental health—if kids aren’t wellfed, they are likely to fall behind in school; talk about food systems—where fresh foods come from, versus how nonperishable foods are produced; talk about farmers, cooks and chefs—the people who grow and cook food. Your kids will be especially interested in your experiences. What are your food memories? How have your habits changed over time? Keep healthy snacks within kids’ reach: yogurt, cheese, peanut butter (or a substitute in nut allergy households— sunflower butter and hemp butter are tasty), hard boiled eggs, whole grain tortillas, and sliced fruits and vegetables.

Look online for local resources: Start with www.farmtoschool.org-- there are enough links to keep you clicking until your kids are in college. The “Grow-Cook-Teach” guide is downloadable and full of links to healthy food programs across the country. Amazing search engines www.eatwellguide.org--for farms, markets, and restaurants—and www.sustainabletable.org--for local, sustainable, and organic food—in your area. Get a colorful and comprehensive map of Massachusetts farms, complete with a local produce calendar at www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown. Connecticut residents would do well to visit www.buyctgrown.com/, for “Farm News & Happenings,” to see what’s “In Season,” and where (on Google Maps!) you can get it, and the site has a powerful search tool—locate products at a range of agri-businesses—from fish markets to vineyards, and a lot in between.


Salutes Worcester’s Best Chef 2011 Judges’ Choice Wilson Wang from Baba Sushi Voted A Top 100 Asian Restaurant in America by MenuAsian.com

Scan with your Smartphone to visit our website

Baba Sushi 309 Park Ave. Worcester, MA 01609 508-752-8822 www.babasushi.com Foodies of New England

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“History of”

Written by Jodie Lynn Boduch Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Jodie Lynn Boduch, owner of Much Ado Marketing, serves as Social Media Director and Staff Writer for the Foodies team. She’s an adventurous explorer of the culinary landscape and enjoys writing about food. Educated in both business and history, she has big plans to put the latter to good use for this column.

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The History of

Carda-who? Oh, be careful. This aromatic spice, native to India and Southeast Asia, is wont to twisting the American tongue. Cardamom. As opposed to carda“mon” (Yeah. Don’t be that foodie. And if you’re prone to slipping up? Remind yourself that it’s a spice, not a Jamaican.). While not the most ubiquitous spice across dinner tables in the U.S., cardamom is certainly an intriguing one, both as a flavor and as a medicinal component.

Not From These Parts The cardamom plant has blue-striped white flowers with yellow borders and large leaves. The fruit yields the seeds, which we use as a spice (either in pods or apart from them). Wild cardamom has acquired quite the collection of passport stamps over the years. Until two centuries ago, the bulk of the global supply came from the Western Ghats region of southern India. These monsoon forests, a.k.a. the Cardamom Hills, no longer do all the heavy lifting. The British Empire spread the seeds—and Western exposure to the spice—by establishing plantations throughout its colonies. Keep in mind that the sun never set on the British Empire, which at its geographic peak was almost 21 million miles2. At its population height, the British flag flew over 458 million people. Today, cardamom, which comes in green and black or brown varieties, is grown in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Nepal, China, Tanzania, and in various locations throughout Southeast Asia. Arab traders brought it to Egypt (where they used seeds as a teeth cleaner), Greece (where they used it as a fragrance), and Rome (where it also got the “eau de” treatment). The Vikings tried it out in Constantinople, and it’s been popular in Scandanavian baking ever since. We can’t verify this, but we’re pretty sure cardamom is a platinum-level frequent flier member on some airline or another.

An Ancient Ingredient Cardamom has been called the Queen of Spices. (Any guesses who the King was? Black pepper. Any guesses as to how you determine the gender of a spice? That we simply don’t know.). Used in coffee and tea as well as curry and meats, the spice is noted for its versatility. It’s friendly with sweet foods and pals around with savory dishes, too. Cardamom’s essential oil and oleoresin are useful as preservatives and thus used in processed foods, with the former also being used to flavor meats and as a perfume component. (Continued on page 54)

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(Continued from page 53)

References to the multipurpose spice reach far back into the annals of history: Sanskrit texts from the 4th century BC, an Indian medical compendium written between the 2nd centuries BC and AD, ancient Greek and Roman texts, an ingredient list in an 11th-century Indian text, as well as a sherbert recipe and a rice recipe from a sultan’s court around the early 16th century. By the mid-16th century, cardamom was a player on the international trade stage.

Pharma-Cardamom? In traditional medicine, cardamom has been used to treat skin conditions, particularly for those inflicted with irritated, red skin. Although not used as such in Western medicine, it is often incorporated into soaps and hand creams. The Queen’s better-known medicinal use involves addressing ailments of the stomach. Ayurvedic medicine (a form of traditional medicine native to India) has used it to treat stomach, urinary, respiratory, and cardiac problems. It’s also been employed as a remedy to nasal congestion, sore throats, and indigestion. Also, in contrast to our last “History of…” article on garlic, cardamom is sometimes used as a breath freshener.

OK, But What Does That Have to Do With the Price of Cardamom in India… and Elsewhere? If you’re enticed by this exotic flavor but have yet to add it to your own spice rack, be prepared to pony up the rupees, quetzals, or currency relative to where it’s grown: Cardamom is one of the most expensive spices in the world. At press time, ground cardamom averaged $12 for 2 oz.

Thanks Caitlin-Meghan McGrath, one of our FB fans, for suggesting the article on Simon Pearce.

It might be worth it, though. Legend has it that Cleopatra was enchanted by the fragrance of cardamom, so much so that she had the palace scented with cardamom smoke when loverboy Marc Anthony stopped by the royal digs. Perhaps this is what Shakespeare really meant when he wrote in Antony and Cleopatra, “a morsel for a monarch”?

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Where the

Buffalo Roam Written by Domenic D. Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

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ne of the best things about being a foodie is the innate desire to explore and experiment with new and exciting choices in every food category. The meat category is no different. From beef to pork to game, foodies chase the insatiable need to ďŹ nd something new. Yet, sometimes the best new thing is something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been there all along. 

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B

ut bison—another name for the American buffalo— meat is a whole different animal (sorry). It serves a niche market and is becoming increasingly more popular; so much so, in fact, that demand is pushing up the price of the tasty and tender alternative to beef. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 68,300 head of bison were processed under USDA inspection or in an accredited state-inspected facility in 2009. Last year, there was a jump to 92,000 head being processed. While that may seem like a lot on the surface, consider that it represents less than one day’s production of beef.

Bison meat contains 2.42 grams of fat, 143 calories, and 82 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams of cooked lean meat. Comparatively, beef contains 9.28 grams of fat, 211 calories, and 86 milligrams of cholesterol; while pork has 9.66 grams of fat, 212 calories, 86 milligrams of cholesterol; and skinless chicken offers 7.41 grams of fat, 190 calories, and 89 milligrams of cholesterol.

When Columbus discovered America, an estimated 60 million buffalo inhabited North America, but hunting in the late 1800’s nearly destroyed the huge buffalo herds. In two years, over 3 million buffalo were killed. At the turn of the century, there were only 200 to 1,000 left in the entire United States.

On the New England bison scene are Austin and Deborah Tanner, owners of Creamery Brook Bison Farm in Brooklyn, Connecticut. Austin and Debbi bought Creamery Brook back in 1981 when it was a dairy farm, and they began to buy bison in 1990 thanks to Austin’s fascination with the “majestic buffalo.”

Today, there are over 500,000 head of bison in North America, but the number doesn’t look like it will grow further. A female bison can’t have her first calf until age 3, compared to age 2 for cows. Sounds like a shortcoming, but it could be an incentive in disguise: With bison meat commanding significantly higher prices than beef, all that extra profit goes back to the farmers, giving would-be ranchers the push they need to jump into bison farming. And it’s much needed, given the popularity of bison as a food choice. As prices for bison meat continue to rise, industry insiders expect the public to resist, which led the National Bison Association (NBA) to develop a recruitment effort intended to bring more ranchers into the bison business. And, according to National Public Radio research, they’re coming from diverse backgrounds. Chandler Morton has a master’s degree in accounting and decided he didn’t like sitting behind a desk anymore, so he jumped into his own animal hide tanning store, which he then leveraged to initiate his bison farm. “I think there are several years to go before we can even come close to matching demand. So that’s what’s exciting about it,” he says. “There aren’t too many industries you can look at in 2011 and say, ‘that’s what’s happening’.” So, why is Bison enjoying such a meteoric rise in popularity? Taste is one factor; leanness is the other. According NBA,

While Bison is 67% leaner than even the leanest meat (skinless chicken), it is also slightly sweeter and more tender than beef, making it a desired choice among foodies and those concerned about healthy food choices.

The herd has grown from the original 5 to over 100 today, and the farm plays host to students and other visitors who drop by for private group tours and public wagon tours, which take you right-upclose-and-personal to the mammoth and wooly (not Wooly Mammoth) creatures. The gift shop is loaded with hand-made bison-themed items, and guests can sample delicious bison burgers on Saturdays during the summer. Austin farmed with his and Debbi’s family prior to buying Creamery Brook in 1981. Now, both Austin and Debbi take good care of their herd. “We don’t feed our buffalo any grain; it puts fat on them,” says Debbi. “The major benefit of bison meat is [that] it’s low in fat, so why give them anything in their diet to compromise that?” Creamery Brook uses no pressure-treated lumber, antibiotics, or growth hormones, so the herd is exposed to an allnatural environment. Austin and Debbi tell Foodies of New England that they sell 99% of their bison meat to the public (their biggest client) right out of their store. “And that’s after we bring the herd to Massachusetts for inspection and slaughter,” says Debbi. “We also sell to some area chefs who believe strongly in farmto-table culinary practices.” (Continued on page 62)

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(Continued on page 59)

Tips for Cooking Bison

“We slaughter about 15 bison per season,” Austin points out, which isn’t much when you consider the slow birth cycle. Debbi tells us about the ‘social structure’ of bison herds: “When a bison is calving, two others will ‘guard’ her from other animals. They even play what appears to be a round of duck-duck-goose, where they take turns guarding the calving bison.”

We took the following tips right from Creamery Brook Bison Farm’s website… Enjoy, foodies!

Our team joined Austin and Debbi for a private ride through the bison farm, and it’s truly endearing to witness how enveloped they are in the care and maintenance of their bison and the entire Creamery Brook Bison Farm. Creamery Brook hosts and participates in numerous events throughout the year, including Walktober, Pumpkin Tours, Turkey Time, and Take a Break (see descriptions of these events on their website at www.CreameryBrookBison.net.). Private group tours are also available. Call for dates and reservations for private groups. The Creamery Brook Bison Farm store hours for winter are Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and by appointment. Call 860-779-0837 for more information. -FNE

What a Long Strange Trip it Has Been According to the National Bison Association, during the Pleistocene Ice Age, the ancestors of today’s bison-bison, the bison priscus, crossed from Siberia into Alaska. Bison priscus evolved into bison-latifrons, and lived in North America for 300,000 years. 22,000 years ago, bison-latifrons evolved into bison-antiquus, and 10,000 years ago, bison antiquus evolved into today’s bison-bison. Austin and Debbi point out that the buffalo was fully used by the Native American populations from the plains. “They depended on the buffalo for survival and honored it in sacred ceremonies. The entire buffalo was put to use. For the Native Americans, the buffalo could be described as an ‘all-purpose supply store’,” says Austin. “Those parts not used for food were still used - they became clothing, tools, furnishings, ceremonial objects and weapons.”

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Bison Cookery General Cooking Tips • Use buffalo in any recipe that calls for beef. Buffalo can be seasoned the same way as beef and cooked using the same methods. However, caution must be used to make certain that the buffalo is not over-cooked. • To broil buffalo, set the broiler rack a notch lower than for broiling beef. Buffalo will cook much faster, so keep an eye on it! Try sprinkling lemon juice, garlic powder, or salt and pepper on your favorite steak. • For an oven roast, set the thermostat at 275º. Baste with your favorite marinade. The roast will be done in the same amount of time that beef would be at higher temperatures. A meat thermometer is useful. Cook your roast to a temperature of 170º (medium). • For a pot roast use an oven bag or cook it in foil. Pot roasts are also excellent in a crockpot or in an oven at 175º for the entire day. When cooking with moisture the roast can be cooked to the well-done stage. • Stews are also great in crock pots and slow cookers. Use your favorite recipe and cook until the meat is tender. • To cook burgers, leave the patties partially frozen, then cook until the juices start to bubble. Flip the burger and brown the other side. Do not cook until the meat is well done.


National Bison Association “Best Buffalo Soup” Winner :

Bison & Baby Brown Mushroom Soup With Quinoa and Kale Submitted by LeeAnn Trynoski, Colorado Buffalo Grill Inc. /RL Bison Ranch Ingredients: 2 lb Ground Bison 2 lb baby brown mushrooms (sliced) 2 tablespoons Olive Oil 1 large onion chopped 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine 2 whole fresh jalapeno pepper chopped fine (seeds removed) 1 bunch of parsley chopped 48 oz of vegetable stock 48 oz of water Quinoa 1 big bunch of kale chopped (veins removed) 8 oz cream cheese 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes Chopped scallions (for garnish) DIRECTIONS 1. Prepare Quinoa; bring four cups of water to a boil, add two cups quinoa, return to boil, cover and turn off heat and set aside.

“Burnin’ Bridges” Bison Chili Our esteemed Art Director and consummate foodie, Rick Bridges, has been so kind as to offer his sensational Bison Chili recipe. Have at it, foodies! Ingredients: 1 lb Ground Bison 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 to 1 1/2 cups diced onion 1 to 1 1/2 cups diced green pepper 2 to 3 jalapeño peppers (depending on how hot you like it) 2 cans (16 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained 1 can (16 ounces) dark red kidney beans, drained 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies 2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper DIRECTIONS 1. In a large kettle or Dutch Oven, brown meat in oil, drain. 2. Saute onion and pepper for 5 minutes. 3. Stir in ground bison and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. 4. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 5. Serve with shredded cheese and/or sour cream. For added hotness, sprinkle with Tobasco® sauce. Serves 6.

2. Sautee onion, garlic, jalapeno, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in olive oil. 3. Add Ground Bison and Mushrooms cook through. 4. Add vegetable stock and water, simmer. 5. Add cream cheese. 6. Simmer. 7. Right before serving, stir in Kale. 8. To serve put ½ cup of the reserved quinoa in each soup bowl. 9. Add soup. 10. Garnish with chopped scallions. 11. Makes about 10 to 12 cups soup. Note: Keep quinoa separate for leftovers, Enjoy!

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Southwest Bison Burger/Sausage From Bruce Aidells, Founder of Aidell’s Sausage The only thing that separates a burger from a sausage mixture is that sausage is a mixture of spices and other flavorings and ground meat, while a burger is ground meat sprinkled with salt and sometimes spices. If you want to turn this mixture into a full-blown sausage then consider stuffing it into a sausage casing and twisting it into links. This is easily accomplished by slipping a sausage casing over the broad tip of a pastry bag. If you are the proud owner of a meat grinder, then use it to stuff the sausage mixture by purchasing a sausage horn that fits over the end of the grinder. For cooking links on the grill, follow the instructions for grilling patties, turning the links frequently over medium heat. It should take 10-12 minutes to cook the links to the medium well stage. This burger/sausage sandwich is inspired by Mexican sandwiches called tortas. Tortas are usually made from roasted meats or chicken, but what makes these sandwiches really special are the layers of condiments including avocado or guacamole, salsa, chile mayonnaise and shredded lettuce or cabbage. Yes, they are messy to eat, but worth every stain on your shirt, blouse or pants!

Bison Burger/Sausage Sandwiches Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds ground bison burger 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup chopped cilantro 1/4 cup diced fire-roasted mild green chile, canned or fresh, about 1 whole (see note) 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1 teaspoon grated lime zest 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion 1 pickled jalapeño chile, finely chopped (optional) 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced 4 slices Jack cheese (optional) 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced 4 slices red onion 4 sweet Italian rolls – 6 inches long or Mexican bolillo rolls 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage

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Jalapeño Lime Mayonnaise Ingredients: 1/2 cup mayonnaise 2 tablespoons freshly squeeze lime juice 2 teaspoons grated lime zest 1 tablespoon finely chopped pickled jalapeño chile DIRECTIONS 1. In a medium bowl combine bison with salt, chili powder, black pepper, cilantro, green chile, garlic, lime zest, green onions and optional jalapeño. Form into four oval patties roughly the size of the rolls and about 3/4-inch thick. Set aside. 2. Make Jalapeno-Lime Mayonnaise by whisking together all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. 3. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium high heat and grill burgers for four minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a warm plate and lay Jack cheese on top of each patty. 4. To assemble the sandwiches, spread mayonnaise blend over the top and bottom half of each roll. Place burger cheese side up on bottom half of roll. Layer slices of avocado over each burger and then slices of tomato and red onion. Cover with a thin layer of shredded lettuce or cabbage and add top half of roll. Cut each sandwich into halves and serve at once. Note: To fire roast green chilies, place under a broiler or directly over a gas flame and cook until the skin is charred, turning frequently. Place in a plastic bag for 15 minutes to steam. Scrape off the charred skin and seed, stem, and chop.


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Gluten Free

Gluten-Free & Healthy Comfort Foods Are Yours For The Asking

Written by Ellen Allard Gluten Free Diva www.glutenfreediva.com Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Ellen Allard, Gluten Free Diva (www.glutenfreediva.com) is a recipe developer, food writer, food photographer and food videographer who frequently posts on her upbeat blog about gluten free and dairy free recipes. She is completing her training as a Holistic Health & Wellness Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC. Ellen is passionately dedicated to helping others achieve optimal health through informed gluten free and dairy free food choices as well as a whole foods approach to eating. She loves all things food and is happy to talk to you about the same!

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Mention comfort foods and I immediately get a stick-to-the ribs satisfied deep down in my belly kind of feeling. Here in New England, as the new year unfolds, it’s not uncommon to want to hunker down, stay warm, and eat comfort foods like stews and mashed potatoes and chocolate chip cookies (or anything with chocolate!). But does this allow us to keep our new years’ resolutions, full of all good intentions to eat well and exercise? That’s where I come in! As the Gluten Free Diva and a Certified Health & Wellness Coach, my job is to help my clients learn how to make educated food and lifestyle choices that promote optimal health and happy lives. And that includes eating comfort foods! Let’s dive right in! I’m going to ask you to consider these three words: “color”, “perimeter” and “list”. What do these three words have to do with healthy comfort foods? The next time you go to the supermarket, start in the produce section. Stand in one place and allow your eyes to scan the shelves of fruits and vegetables. The colors will astound you, no matter what the time of year. Every color of the rainbow is represented. Even in the winter, the colors are intense, vibrant and dazzling. There are ruby red beets and green bosc pears and and jeweled orange yams and carrots and golden delicious apples and snowy white cauliflower and dark green kale and orange hued butternut squash. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you plan your meals, become an artist. Think of your plate as a canvas upon which to paint beautiful hues. And know that these fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and fiber and folate. Your body will thank you! Buying and serving fresh foods is one of the best ways to ensure that your comfort food choices will be healthy. The freshest and healthiest foods in your supermarket are located in the perimeter of the store. In fact, you don’t have to visit every single aisle in your supermarket. Instead, make it a habit to stick to the perimeter of the store for the bulk of your groceries and dip into the aisles for the staples you know you need that week. Always shop with a list. Plan your meals before heading out to the supermarket. Whether you jot down your grocery list on the back of an envelope or use a smartphone app like “Grocery Gadjet” (www.grocerygadjets.com), your best bet for healthy eating is to plan to shop and shop your plan! When your comfort foods menu includes healthy choices, this gluten free diva says it’s ok to splurge on a Molten Lava Cake. Paired up with a glass of red wine and voila, you’re in comfort food heaven!


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Roasted Rosemary Confetti Potatoes Ingredients 28 oz multi-colored new potatoes, chopped into ½ cubes (can use all one color) 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary ½ tsp sea salt freshly ground black pepper 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Place all ingredients in large bowl. Mix well. Pour onto rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes and then remove pan from oven and use spatula to redistribute the potatoes in the pan. Roast for another 25 minutes or until done.

Turkey Meatloaf with Caramelized Onion & Mushrooms Ingredients 1 lb. ground turkey ½ c. gluten free breadcrumbs 1 large egg ½ tsp. sea salt freshly ground pepper ½ medium onion, sliced 5 button mushrooms, sliced ½ c. Ketchup 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce 2 – 4 tbsp water Preheat oven to 350°. Mix turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper just until thoroughly blended. Put in 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf pan pressing until it conforms to the pan. Place onions and mushrooms on top of turkey. Blend Ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and water in a small cup. Pour over turkey, mushrooms and onions. Place in preheated oven and cook for about 1 hr. 15 minutes or until onions and mushrooms are caramelized to your liking.

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Asian Broccoli Salad Ingredients 5 c. steamed broccoli florets and stems 3 scallions, chopped ½ c. dried cranberries 2 tbsp pine nuts ½ c. grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil) ¼ c. apple cider vinegar ¼ c. agave (or other sweetener) 3 tbsp wheat-free tamari 2 tbsp sesame oil Combine broccoli, scallions, cranberries and pine nuts in a medium bowl. Chill until ready to use. In a measuring cup, combine oil, vinegar, agave, tamari and sesame oil. Whisk until thoroughly combined. About 5 minutes before serving, pour over broccoli mixture and toss to combine.

Mashed Butternut Squash Ingredients 1 butternut squash (2 lbs.) 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted 3 tbsp brown sugar ½ tsp. sea salt Freshly ground black pepper ¼ c. coconut milk Preheat oven to 400°. Cut off the ends of the squash, peel and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Dice the squash into ½” cubes. Toss in a bowl with the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, sea salt and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet (the kind with edges) and roast for 15 minutes. Use a metal spatula to move the squash around on the pan to keep it from sticking. Roast for another 15 minutes or until tender. Check periodically to make sure it doesn’t burn. Put the roasted squash and coconut milk into a food processor and mix until blended. Reheat as needed before serving.

2 Bonus Gluten-Free Recipes @ foodiesofnewengland.com: Gluten Free Walnut Cranberry Artisan Bread Molten Lava Cakes

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Dining Their Way Through Worcester, One Restaurant at a Time Written by Jodie Lynn Boduch Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Who? The Worcester Foodies, an offshoot of WorcesterScene.com (a website endorsing the Worcester business community). The group, which consists of approximately 20 people, was founded by Luke Vallaincourt and Joe Giacobbe. What? Food lovers who live in and around Worcester and who gather together once a month to dine. The Worcester Foodies are not professionals in the food industry; group members come from a variety of backgrounds and professions and have one thing in common: An appreciation for good food and drink. In addition to trying new restaurants and enjoying an evening together, Foodies are asked to write thoughtful reviews on each dish. Why? Here one is tempted to ask instead…why not? Who doesn’t love a night out on the town and meeting new people? Beyond that, however, Vallaincourt and Giacobbe started Worcester Foodies with two goals in mind: First, to introduce new restaurant options to people so they have the opportunity to break from their typical dining-out routine. Second, to support and promote Worcester restaurants. Where? A different Worcester-area restaurant each month, chosen by a group member. The People’s Kitchen, Zorba’s Taverna, Shiraz Armenian Cuisine, and Hirosaki Prime are some of the recent spots the group has tried. Vallaincourt explains that when the group was initially formed, members were seeking out the well-known highlights among Worcester restaurants. Since then, the objective has evolved into finding a hidden gem. “Often when we go to the small restaurant that no one has heard of,” Vallaincourt says, “we have an experience that exceeds our expectations.” (Continued on page 74)

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(Continued from page 73)

When? Tuesday night, once a month. Tuesday is traditionally one of the slowest nights for restaurants. How? Although the Worcester Foodies notify restaurants about their attendance and purpose in advance, meals are not comped. Group members pay for their own meals, thus supporting the restaurants financially and endorsing them via word-of-mouth and the Internet. The Experience: We had a chance to join the Worcester Foodies in October at The People’s Kitchen (a Niche Hospitality Group restaurant) in Worcester. The prix fixe menu included an optional wine pairing, and diners were also welcome to order off the cocktail menu or regular wine list. Ah, where to begin? With the appetizer, of course. Rather than review each (delectable) course here, we’ll just share the menu with you…and let your imagination do the rest. (The Foodies’ reports on these dishes as well as those from other outings are available at http://worcesterscene.com/ category/eat/ and the Worcester Foodies Facebook page). The first course was a roasted root vegetable panzanella (beet, butternut, parsnip, and maple vinaigrette) paired with Huber Grüner Veltliner.

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Next was the intermezzo, an apricot sorbet with fresh tarragon accompanied by a glass of Poema Cava. The main course, served with Pedroncelli ‘Mother Clone’ Zinfandel, was a Tahitian vanilla & Valrhona cocoa-brined double-bone pork chop. The sides included Grafton cheddar mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. Dessert—for those who had room (some opted to take their dessert to go)—was “Almond Joy” bread pudding with a coco puff streusel, capped with Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry. Though most Foodie Nights are more informal and consist of members trying as many different dishes as possible, this event was so well-received that the group plans to have more functions at Niche restaurants in the coming year, owing in part to co-owner Michael Covino’s enthusiasm and support for the Worcester Foodies.

William Nemeroff came out of the kitchen to talk to the group and to explain each dish. “It’s incredible to understand the reason behind pairings of foods—it offers a quick glimpse of the complexity of the flavors and textures and how they play their roles within the overall dish,” says Vallaincourt. As for this foodie…well, she was so enamored with the group’s purpose and dynamics that she and her husband are now among the newest members of the Worcester Foodies. The motto of WorcesterScene.com is “Where It’s Happening.” When asked what the tagline for the Worcester Foodies might be, Vallaincourt says, “Eat everything and report it.” And he isn’t kidding about the everything part—the group hopes to try every meal at every restaurant. Hmm…that’s a bucket list item for just about any foodie.

For Vallaincourt, this was a particularly memorable night, given that Chef

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Food for Thought

The

Mystique of

Game Meat

It’s not just for hunters

W Written by Peggy Bridges Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Peggy Bridges is a high school Business and Graphic Arts teacher. She is Editor-in-Chief of a school newspaper, and her writing has also been published in a national educator’s magazine. Peggy is a firm believer in healthy living and an active lifestyle. She enjoys many outdoor activities with her husband and children. Her recipe for a perfect afternoon is a hike with her family and lunch on a blanket served from a picnic basket packed with great food and bottle of good wine.

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hen you think of game meat, what comes to mind? Do you think of exotic pheasant under glass? Or images of hunters gathered around the table in a log cabin feasting on venison and bear meat? Game meat has recently increased in popularity because of its delicious flavor and low fat content. Today there are many sources for obtaining game meat both in stores and online, and venison (deer) and bison (buffalo) are popping up on restaurant menus more and more. For many, there is a certain stigma that accompanies the idea of game meat and, for the most part, it gets a bad rap. What is game meat, really? It is simply meat that has been procured through means of harvesting an animal in the wild, as opposed to one slaughtered in captivity. In North America, some of the most common game meats are venison, moose, elk, bear, duck, pheasant, wild turkey, quail, wild boar, and rabbit. Bison is also considered a game meat, but is only available in New England from farms that raise the animals and sell the meat as they would beef or chicken. Common cuts of meat yielded by some of the larger animals are roasts, steaks, sausages and ground meat. If we look at the comparison of game meat versus domesticated meat found in our supermarkets, many may be surprised at what they find. Wild animals only eat the foods nature makes available to them and have to remain active as a means of survival. These factors influence the qualities of game meat in two ways. First, the clean feed they have eaten also makes their meat clean, uncontaminated and richer in flavor. Second, because they have lived an active life, their muscle tissue is well developed and their overall body mass is much more lean than cattle beef and other domesticated livestock. This makes game meat a very healthy food choice. Consider the alternative. The conventional meats we find in our local supermarket come from animals that are often treated with antibiotics and hormones, and have eaten feeds which contain pesticides and other undesirable chemicals. These animals have also been raised in captivity purely for the purpose of being slaughtered for their meat. They have not lived a life of normal activity, so their meat tends to be much higher in fat.


Grilled Venison Steaks Wrapped in Bacon with Red Wine Sauce Ingredients: 4 venison steaks ¾ - 1” thick 4-8 strips of bacon (depending on size of steaks) 4 tablespoons butter Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning For Sauce: ¾ cup of bold red wine 4 tablespoons of red currant jelly 1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules DIRECTIONS 1. Wrap venison steaks with bacon strips; secure with toothpicks. 2. Melt butter in a saucepan and sprinkle with Cavendar’s Seasoning. 3. Drizzle steaks liberally with the seasoned butter.

So if game meat is beginning to sound more appealing, the next question for many becomes, “What do I do with it?” One of the biggest dilemmas the average household cook faces when it comes to game meat is a lack of knowledge about how to cook it or what foods are good accompaniments. If this is the case, cooks can obtain some guidance from hunters, men and women alike, who often have favorite recipes for preparing the game they harvest. Game meat can usually be cooked in ways very similar to conventional recipes with only a few minor adjustments. For example, venison, moose, elk, bear, and bison can be cooked in ways similar to preparing beef. The primary difference with these meats is that allowances need to be made for the lower fat content, enhancing the flavor with other ingredients such as bacon and additional seasonings. Game meat can also sometimes be tougher, so slow cooking is a good way to tenderize the meat. Some popular preparations for these meats include chilis, stews, and hors d’oeuvres. Because many game meats, especially venison and bison, have such a bold flavor, they are delicious when accompanied by a full-bodied red wine or red wine sauce.

4. In a saucepan, bring red wine, red currant jelly, and bouillon to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally while steaks are grilling. Mixture will thicken as it cooks down. 5. Grill steaks over medium-high heat approximately 3 minutes per side with grill cover open. (Caution: Monitor the cooking process closely. Bacon drippings cause flames to flare up and can easily burn the steaks.) Remove steaks to plates and drizzle with red wine sauce. Serve immediately. Suggested accompaniments: Asparagus Roasted potatoes Remainder of the bold red wine used for the sauce

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Meat from most fowl can be prepared as you would prepare chicken, but again with some adjustments in seasoning to enhance the slightly different flavor of the meat. Simple pot pie recipes are a common way to use meats from fowl. Once you get over your apprehension of cooking an unfamiliar type of meat, you may enjoy the whole new array of foods and recipes you have to choose from. If you’re not quite sure you’ll like game meat, a good way to try a variety of meats is to attend a game supper, many of which are typically sponsored by local sportsman’s clubs. Such events are often held toward the end of the hunting seasons sometime in January, so if you’re interested it may be worth inquiring at a local club in your area. Several local hunters and their families were happy to share some of their favorite recipes for using the game meat they bring home each season. All of these recipes are fairly easy to prepare, so don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be a professional chef to cook with game meat. Go ahead. Take the plunge! Try cooking some game meat with one of these favorite recipes. You just might get hooked. Source: www.wisegeek.com

Venison Meat Pies These make great hors d’oeuvres for a party or snacks while watching a football game. Recipe courtesy of Barbara A. Burtt Leicester, MA Ingredients: 1 pound ground venison 1 roll Jimmy Dean pork sausage 12 ounces Velveeta cheese 4 packages Crescent Rolls 4 shots Worcestershire (or to cook’s taste) Black pepper to taste Flour for rolling out dough Nonstick cooking spray DIRECTIONS 1. In a large skillet, scramble and brown ground venison and sausage, adding Worcestershire and pepper. Drain off any fat. 2. Cut cheese into chunks and add to hot mixture. Cover and allow to melt. Stir to distribute cheese throughout the meat mixture. Cool. 3. Remove Crescent Rolls from packages and unroll. Flour counter and rolling pin and roll out each crescent roll to make them a little larger and thinner, then cut in half crosswise to make two meat pies from each. 4. Put a heaping tablespoonful of mixture into middle of each half of roll. Wrap corners upward, criss-crossing the filling to cover as much as possible. Pinch roll together to make a pocket. 5. Place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. 6. Bake at 350 degrees for approx 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

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Venison Meat Pies

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Modern Comfort The concept of comfortable dining has evolved over the years. Once referring to the atmosphere or ambience of a dining establishment, “comfort” now reflects the food; in particular, it suggests a place where quality of the ingredients and execution of the recipes are paramount.

Cedar Street Grille Menu Guide

Presentation must also be creative and appealing, but never formal; after all, comfort food is food prepared in a traditional way that may have a nostalgic or sentimental appeal. Setting up the dining experience as one of relaxation and informality is a big goal, and when the food tastes great and isn’t a chore to eat, foodies come back again.

Try the tuna tataki: thinly-sliced, rare tuna with sesame seeds, cucumber wasabi and teriyaki drizzle.

And so it is at Cedar Street Grille. In fact, Cedar Street takes comfort food a step further; no, more like a long stride further. True, great comfort food is abundant and comes in many varieties at Cedar Street, but it’s also offered in reasonablypriced, small-plate portions; great for sharing and embarking on new culinary paths. You see, foodies, the folks at Cedar Street Grille speak our language – variety, quality, and taste. That’s the essence of great comfort food.

For the Comfort-Foodies

Even the wait on a busy Saturday night is ‘comfortable’ at Cedar Street Grille. From the minute you call in your reservation to the time you leave, it’s a relaxing experience; valet parking, a spacious bar at which to unwind before dinner, friendly and knowledgeable staff at your table, and, in many cases, the chef just may drop by your table to say hello, just to complete the experience. See you in Sturbridge. FNE.

Craving some Cedar Street, but don’t know what to order? Here are some of Foodies of New England’s favorites.

For the SeaFoodies

Feeling hungry? Go for the frutta di mare, a fragrant, warming experience, full of meaty shrimp, tender scallops, calamari, mussels, spicy red sauce, tossed with a flat, wide linguine to capture all the juices.

If you prefer good-old hometown comfort food, you’ll want to pull-up a chair by the Cedar Street fireside and dig into the maple-brined “Tomahawk” pork chop with mac & cheese and wild mushroom sauté. The locals (including Domenic) really love it. Still not sure? There’s always the grilled steak frites: a 12-oz. hanger steak with hand-cut fries, blue cheese and balsamic salad.

For the Junior Foodies A perfect choice for the junior foodie at your table can be found in Cedar Street Grille’s Sides menu or the Small Plates menu, and all of them are great alternatives to any kid’s menu we’ve seen, with more variety, healthier choices, and more-than-adequate portions. (See Foodies Kids, this issue).

Cedar Street Grille 12 Cedar Street Sturbridge, MA 01566 508-347-5800 www.cedarstreetgrille.com

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Written by Fabio D. Mercurio Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Hey kids! Let me tell you about one of my favorite local restaurants – Cedar Street Grille in Sturbridge. I love it because they have something they call a “Small Plate” menu. You can all try a bunch of different things in small amounts, instead of just one choice. They also have a “Sides” menu with all kinds of tasty things on it.

than falling off.

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It’s also fun to eat because it feels dense and makes a cool sound when you dig in with your fork, and there’s no aftertaste either.

My favorite is the Mac & Cheese. They use a tangy cheddar cheese; Chef Rico from Cedar Street says it tastes tangy because it’s sharp cheddar. It seems like they use mozzarella cheese, too, because it’s stringy when you pick some up with your fork. But, Chef Rico says it’s really Asiago cheese, and that sometimes they use Gruyere cheese with the sharp cheddar. Another thing I like is the texture; that’s a big deal to me. It feels soft and creamy, hot and smooth. The macaroni sticks together on the fork when you lift it, which is better

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Cedar Street’s Mac & Cheese is much better than big brands you get in a supermarket or some other restaurants, because it’s creamier and it doesn’t fall off of your fork. Also, they use better cheese and that turns into a stronger, tastier, cheesier flavor.

$&RRO3ODFHWR(DW Sometimes, my mom and dad like to sit in the dining room, but one time, we sat in the bar area and I got to watch the Patriots on the plasma TVs. We sat at the high-top tables, which have tall stools. I like the high-top tables because you’re higher up and it feels like you’re hanging out with the grown-ups.


The dining room has booths, which are really soft and comfortable. I like the booths better because theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re more comfortable. The servers put brown paper (that looks like the kind paper bags are made of) on the tables in case you spill something. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never seen that in any other restaurant.

:KHUH'LG0DFDURQL &KHHVH &RPH)URP$Q\ZD\" Did you know that macaroni & cheese probably originated during the late 13th Century in Southern Italy? It was made like lasagna sheets cut into two-inch squares, cooked in water, and mixed with grated cheese (probably Parmigiano). But Americans have two different stories. Some say it got its beginnings here in New England! A casserole was served at a church supper in southeastern Connecticut, only it was called macaroni pudding. The other story is that Thomas Jefferson went to Italy and came back to Virginia with a pasta making device. His daughter, Mary Randolph, used it to make macaroni with Parmigiano cheese. I think Thomas Jefferson had a lot to do with the American Mac & Cheese. Just like Marco Polo brought pasta back from China and made it better by introducing different shapes, Thomas Jefferson brought the pasta machine, and his daughter made the pasta and added tasty Parmigiano cheese. Cheddar cheese, by the way, was used later on to replace the Parmigiano cheese. Anyway, Mac & Cheese with Parmigiano, cheddar, Asiago, Gruyere cheese, or all four, is all good to me! By the way, in case youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re wondering, a Foodie Kid is a kid that loves to try different types of tasty food. Mr. Gonya, who manages Cedar Street Grille, says that more and more kids are exploring food these days. Are you a Foodie Kid? Share with us on Facebook your favorite dish! It can be something from your favorite restaurant, or something your mom or dad makes! FNE.

,I<RX/LNH%XIIDOR:LQJV <RX¡OO/29(7KLV *BUFFALO CHICKEN MAC & CHEESE Same recipe as above plus: 1. Fold in 1 cup of your favorite buffalo wing sauce and 2 cups diced grilled chicken. 2. Top with blue cheese before baking.

+H\*X\V+DYH<RXU0RPRU'DG 0DNH&HGDU6WUHHW¡V)DPRXV0DF &KHHVHDW+RPH Ingredients: 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces 5 1/2 cups milk 1/2 cup all-purpose ďŹ&#x201A;our 2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces) 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces) 1 pound elbow macaroni (use Barilla elbows with ridges) DIRECTIONS 1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside. 2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add ďŹ&#x201A;our. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. 3. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. 4. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside. 5. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce 6. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot. Foodies of New England

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Desserts

Caramel Bread Pudding When I think of comfort food and dessert, it’s hard to find anything that fits the bill more than good old fashion bread pudding which is probably why it continues to be a best seller on my menu at Sweet, has won us awards against some pretty stiff competition and has been written about more than any other dessert I make.

Written by Alina Eisenhauer Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Alina opened Sweet Pastry Shop and Dessert Bar in the summer of 2008 and has been winning awards and critical acclaim ever since, including the 2008, 2009 & 2010 Worcester Living Magazine “Best Dessert”, the 2008 City Living Magazine “Best Bakery” and the 2010 Worcester Magazine “Best Dessert.” Sweet was also featured on TV

As far as desserts go, bread pudding is probably the easiest, most forgiving and versatile out there. You have endless options at every step of the process beginning with what type of bread you use and ending with what temperature you serve it at. Bread pudding can be made with any type of bread you have on hand and actually works best with day old or stale bread. The “secret” to my bread pudding is that I always include some cake or pastry along with the bread. I prefer my bread pudding warm but I also like a firmer texture which lead me to create this recipe, which calls for baking the pudding, letting it cool and then slicing it and sautéing it in butter to warm it up. I also always like to have some type of sauce for my bread pudding- in this case caramel which pairs beautifully with beer for the ultimate comfort dessert. The caramel in the sauce picks up on, and enhances, themalty caramel notes in the beer and the slight bitter notes in the beer are the perfect thing to balance the sweetness of the dessert. In fact, the pairing of this caramel bread pudding with Dog Fish Head Raison D’tre is so good that the first time we tried it, Matt Webster and I, declared it a culinary “O” and it is affectionately referred to as such to this day.

Diner and Phantom Gourmet and Alina has appeared on season one of Food Network’s Chopped and was featured on season two of the network’s Cupcake Wars. Her recipes have even been featured in The National Culinary Review. Sweet 305 Shrewsbury Street Worcester MA 01604 508-373-2248 www.sweetworcester.com

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Ingredients 9x13” pan enough cubed white bread (or leftover pastry cinnamon rolls, Danish) to fill the pan 9 eggs 12 oz sugar 3 1/2 cups whole milk 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 of 1 whole nutmeg, grated 1 tbsp butter (optional) Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 350º. 2. Tear or cut bread into 1” chunks into a 9x13” baking pan and set aside. 3. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs, then whisk in the milk. 4. Add vanilla extract and nutmeg and stir, making sure to get all the sugar off the bottom. 5. Pour custard mixture over bread and with your hands, push the bread down to get it submerged in the custard. 6. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Check at 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for last 15 minutes uncovered. Make sure custard is set before removing from the oven. 7. Let cool before serving. Optional: Warm slices of bread pudding in a saute pan with 1 tbsp of butter until bread is just browned. Add caramel sauce and warm both sides to bread with caramel. Plate & serve with whipped cream.

Caramel Bread Pudding

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Beer Review

Major Beer Category: Ale Major Style Category: Belgian Strong Ale Sub Style Category: Belgian Strong Dark Ale What is a Belgian Strong Ale? As defined by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), this category of beer includes Belgian Blonde Ales, Belgian Dubbels, Belgian Tripels, Belgian Golden Strong Ales and Belgian Strong Dark Ales. The color spectrum for each of these respective styles ranges from deep to medium yellow, deep gold, dark amber and deep copper. Each hue also signifies distinct aroma and flavor qualities. Blonde Ales are smooth and spicy with subtle hoppy bitterness. Dubbels feature raisins, plums and dried cherries on the palate. Tripels and both Strong Ales have similar flavors of spice, dried fruits and malt sweetness. The alcohol contents range from 6% to 11% ABV and are traditionally bottle conditioned.

Written by Matt Webster Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

What is a Bavarian Weissbier? Brewed to suite the characteristics of individual brewers, these beers are complex with a rich, malty, full-bodied sweetness and showcases pronounced alcohol esters and a moderate spiciness. A deep amber color differentiates this ale from its counterparts in the Belgian Strong Ale family and pours a dense cream- to tan-colored head. When pouring this beer, fill the glass only three quarters of the way. With the remaining brew, agitate the yeast by holding the bottom of the bottle and swirling. Then dispense the remaining liquid into the glass. Serve at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Our Choice: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Raison D’Etre.

Matt Webster is a craft beer enthusiast, educator, event goer, blogger, restaurant adviser, private dinner consultant, celebrity video show host and above all, proudly passionate about all things beer.

Why did we choose this beer? The complexity of this beer comes from the kitchen with the addition of green raisins and beet sugar. The sweetness of the raisins, coupled with the higher alcohol content do wonders when paired the bread pudding. “The caramel in the sauce picks up on and enhances the malty caramel notes in the beer. And, the slight bitter notes in the beer are the perfect thing to balance the sweetness of the dessert,” says Chef Alina. The combination of both flavors in your mouth is something we like to call the culinary O. Where can you find it in a 6-pack or 16.9 oz. bottle? KJ Baarons, Mass Liquors, Austin Liquors, Julio’s Liquors, Marlborough Wine & Spirits and Wine Nation. Where Can You Find It On Draft or In The Bottle*: The Dive Bar, The Boynton, The Horseshoe Pub, The Armsby Abbey, Sweet and The Texas Barbeque Company. ***Note: This beer may not always be available at the above locations at all times.

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Start Your Day Right with our Freshly Baked Pastries We offer our signature danishes in a variety of flavors, using authentic European recipes and methods. We also offer fresh fruit scones, muffins, coffee cakes, and sweet breads. You’ll also want to try our biscotti, assorted butter pound cakes (classic and combination of spices), Parisian macaroons, individual desserts and gourmet cookies.

FUN FACT Did you know?

Pistachio mousse cake

Vanilla mousse and passion fruit

Milk and white chocolate mousse glass

Voted Best Bakery 46 Times! Serving Worcester for over 50 Years! Wedding Cake Specialists Best of Worcester 2011!

133 Gold Star Blvd. Worcester, MA 508-852-0746 www.thecrownbakery.com

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That according to a recent survey by Esquire Magazine, 93% of Americans pick up and read magazines an average of 43 minutes a day. Still think you can get that much exposure from a billboard or the web? Try advertising with us and savor the rewards! Foodies of New England


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Boston’s Red Hot Food Swap Written by Julie Grady Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Imagine: a room filled with tables layered in the most delectable confections, the freshest pasta, endless jars of jam, backyard eggs, local produce… and this list is endless and always varied. No, it isn’t foodie heaven; it’s just your typical food swap.

Essentially people congregate to swap their own homemade goods in a style similar to that of a silent auction, except you don’t pay in cash, you swap.

swap—besides

Yet the beauty of such an event isn’t only in the delicacies adorning the tables, it’s in the community surrounding it, even if it is typically fostered via those pesky social networks.

As reported by the New York Times in March 2011, food swapping has always been around (you might remember the ancient art of bartering), but it appeared again in New York City that spring.

“There are a lot of complaints about social networking,” affirms Lyn Huckabee, the creator of the Boston Food Swap, “but it would be almost impossible to do something like this without it. If you know how to use the technology, it’s basically the perfect way to find like-minded people.”

So what exactly unbearably alluring?

is

a

food

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So, lone foodies, fear not. You can find your community. Anyone can participate and the event is free, it’s just one click away. Although, there is one general rule made clear by the BFS: all items to be swapped must “be homemade, homegrown or foraged by you.” Even though the BFS is still relatively new, each meeting boasts different items. To date, some of the best were homemade tortillas and homemade goat cheese (yes, someone owns goats and made the cheese from scratch). Nervous? Not to worry, Lyn assures that there’s no reason to be deterred. “I’m not afraid of a little labor in the kitchen and even I was a little intimidated by the homemade tortillas. I’ve also had some of the best pesto I’ve ever tasted in my life. Someone even made some donut muffins—they had the texture of and taste of donut, but were in the shape of a muffin. People certainly do a good job of tapping into their creative juices.” Each meeting is filled with like-minded epicures and generally lasts about two hours. It doesn’t matter if you want to meet new people or show off your skills or have 10 extra jars of honey and refuse to trash them in order to free up some space in the cupboard. Food swapping is based in community and delight, so why not put all that time spent in the kitchen into expanding your foodie community. BFS meetings are currently held at Space With a Soul (281 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210). To register, go to http://www. bostonfoodswap.com/. To stay up to date, follow BOSswappers on twitter.

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Healthy at Home

Recipes by Elaine Pusateri Cowan Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

www.elaine-domesticbydesign.com Elaine strives to create beauty everyday. Whether she’s designing web pages or interiors, preparing appetizers or entrees and even refinishing furniture or making art, she always looks to satiate her appetite for all things artistic. As an artist, foodie, interior designer and amateur photographer, Elaine believes in the quality of a sustainable life, not just living well. Her strong sense of duty to integrate such sustainability into every aspect of domestic life begins with perhaps the most basic of all elements: diet. She believes eating well to be fundamental to well being and with a stocked pantry filled with local produce, anyone can whip up quick, fresh and delicious meals every night.

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Duck, Duck, Pamplemousse! Fresh, pan-seared Magret duck breasts over an Amarone mango puree, served with grilled grapefruit and honey and steamed asparagus. This has got to be one of my favorite dishes. So simple, so few ingredients, so little time, but so much flavor! Not to mention it is a visual knock out. When I initially decided to cook duck for this issue, I was leaning toward my comfort zone duck dish: duck a l’orange. But saying the name actually made me yawn, so I decided to make things sizzle with pan-seared duck. Each time I shoot for Foodies,the photographers always ask, “How is this healthy?” I usually reply to Scott and Donna with something including the words “fresh ingredients” and “the absence of processed food.“ Then I distract them with a forkfull of what we’re shooting. But this time, my answer was different: duck is a really great source of iron and since most of the fat is in the skin, the meat is actually very lean. However, that won’t stop me from eating the skin. I will savor every last morsel and I’m not ashamed to ask anyone at the table, “Are you going to eat that?” Mangoes are loaded with health benefits too. They improve digestion and are a good source of fiber and vitamin E. Plus they contain glutamine acid, which is good to boost memory and keep cells active. Grapefruit and Asparagus? Forget about it! Too many to list. Instead of using sugar to sweeten things up, I substistue honey from the local beekeeper Tinkertoy Apiary. The added bonus there is if you suffer from seasonal allergies, honey is an immune system booster. After consulting with Foodies’ resident Wine Guy Domenic, I decided to use Amarone in the mango puree. You can even pair it with meal - pure harmony.

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Pan-Seared Duck Breast serves 4 Ingredients: 2 fresh Magret duck breast 1 teaspoon sea salt fresh cracked pepper olive oil (a couple drops is all you need because the duck fat renders quite generously) DIRECTIONS 1. Take duck breasts out of refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to allow to come to room temperature. 2. Rinse under cold water and run ďŹ ngers over the skin to ensure all feather quills have been removed. If you come across a quill, pull it out. Blot dry. 3. Skin-side up, cut 1/4 inch diagonal slits into the skin 1/2 inch apart. 4. Season both sides with salt and pepper and rub into skin side. 5. Heat skillet over medium heat. 6. Add olive oil. 7. Place duck breast skin-side down in skillet for 5 minutes and cover with spatter screen. Leave it be! Do not try and turn it, move it, or shake the pan. 8. Flip it and cook for 2 additional minutes. No more, no less. 9. Turn off heat, remove from pan, wrap in foil pouch and set aside. 10. Do not wash the pan, (you will need it for the puree) but pour off rendered fat.

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Amarone Wine and Mango Puree Ingredients: 2 mangoes rendered duck fat 2-3 tablespoons Amarone wine pinch of salt DIRECTIONS 1. Peel, chop and puree 2 mangoes in food processor until smooth (approx 2 minutes). 2. Return same pan used to cook duck to medium heat. 3. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Amarone wine to deglaze drippings and anything else stuck to pan. 4. Add mango puree and whisk to combine. 5. Add salt.

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Steamed Asparagus Ingredients: 16 oz fresh asparagus pinch salt DIRECTIONS 1. Snap off flat ends of asparagus spears. 2. Fill steaming pot with 4 inches water and bring to a boil. Add salt. 3. Cook standing tips up, in a steaming basket sitting in boiling water. (For small spears like the ones I used 4 minutes should suffice.) 4. Drizzle tiny amount of olive oil and add pinch kosher salt.

Grilled Pamplemousse Ingredients: 2 pink grapefruit Few drops oil Few tablespoons honey DIRECTIONS 1. Heat griddle until super hot, (1.5 minutes should do the trick). 2. Drizzle oil on griddle and brush to coat evenly. 3. Cut grapefruit in half. 4. Place grapefruit flesh-side down on griddle and weigh down with a cutting board or plate. Cook 4 minutes. 5. I like to serve it as is, in the yellow bowl the grapefruit conveniently comes in, so I cut around the outside edges. (I serve with a grapefruit spoon). 6. Drizzle with honey.

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Fluffy whole-grain pancakes with blueberries, strawberries, walnuts or chocolate chips (hey, vegans gotta’ live, too), or Chef Al’s 3-egg omelets, cooked to order with choice of feta, American, Cheddar, pepper jack, soy, Swiss, goat, or EVO blend cheeses, is just a necessity. Feeling REALLY hungry? How about the Breakfast Burrito, with choice of white or whole wheat wrap stuffed with peppers, onions, eggs, EVO blend cheese and salsa? Served with EVO home fries, too!

“Shish! Now That’s a Ba-Rakin’ Meal!”

Chef Al’s Shish Barak Ingredients: For the Shish Barak dumplings: 2 cups flour 500 g coarsely ground lamb 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 tablespoon allspice 1/2 cup chopped parcely 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon white pepper 1 pinch of cinnamon

One of Chef Al’s most memorable moments in the kitchen involved making a Middle Eastern dish called Shish Barak (a traditional Lebanese dish of tiny meat dumplings cooked in a plain yogurt stew) with his grandmother and mother, Maggie. “I used to help them by rolling out the pasta dumplings while I listened to stories about the family going back and forth between my mother and grandmother.”

For the Sauce 3 quarts yogurt 3 tablespoons starch, dissolved in ½ cup water 3 cloves garlic, crushed 1 cup ground coriander 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to taste salt cayenne to taste

Maykel came into his own, of course, and began to experiment with food without fear. One day, he added what he calls “The ‘X’ Factor” to the Shish Barak: Allspice. “The recipe didn’t call for it, but it enhanced all the other flavors that I was looking for.” Now, there’s an innovative foodie-turned-chef!

DIRECTIONS 1. To prepare the dough: sift the flour in a bowl with some salt. Gradually add water and knead to obtain a soft dough. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 30 min.

EVO sources ingredients from local farms, including Living Earth Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts, which the family owns. “We bring fresh, in-season produce right to the restaurant and to the Living Earth,” says Maykel. The Living Earth is in the same complex at 234 Chandler Street and offers a wide-range of organic, vegan, and gluten-free items, along with expert guidance and advice (including recipes) from Living Earth staff.

2. To prepare the filling: add chopped onion, ground meat, allspice, parcely, cinnamon, pepper and salt and mix until encorporated.

EVO even offers a full-service catering operation called, “EVO Anywhere,” featuring platters, salads, hot foods, and entrees for business events and other groups, with an array of choices that are also gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. So, foodies, it’s easy to see just how EVO has set the benchmark for comfort food in New England, and, in fact, has set a culinary trend for an ongoing Evolution in Dining. -FNE.

EVO 234 Chandler Street Worcester, MA 01609 508-459-4240 www.evodining.com

3. Preheat the oven to 325 F. 4. To make the shish barak dumplings: on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough using a rolling pin. Cut the dough into 4 cm circles. 5. Place 1 teaspoon of filling at the centre of each circle and fold in half. Press edges together then bring both corners together to obtain a dumpling. Seal well. 6. Put all the meat dumplings in a well-greased baking tray and bake for 10 min or until blushed. Remove from oven and set aside. 7. To prepare the sauce: strain the yogurt into a pot, add the dissolved starch and place over medium heat. Stir continuously in a circular movement until yogurt thickens then reduce the heat. It is very important to stir continuously for the yogurt not to stick to the pot. 8. In a small skillet, fry the minced garlic and fresh coriander with the vegetable oil and add them to the yogurt. Mix well and turn off the heat. 9. Once your sauce is complete add the dumplings and cook on low heat for 10 minutes stirring carefully the whole time. 10. Place in serving bowl and accompany by rice.

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ɄɄȇȨȐɕȨɕѻLɜȨȃȰɴѼ “Did

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From The Kitchens of... Gluten Free Buffalo Fingers Recipe by Al Maykel, EVO Photography by Pete Lapriore Ingredients 12 oz chicken tenders cut into bite sized pieces 1/8 cup white wine ¼ cup Franks Red Hot Cornstarch 2 T Canola Oil Coat chicken pieces with cornstarch and shake off any access cornstarch. In a hot sauté pan add canola oil. Add chicken to pan and brown both sides. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add buffalo sauce and allow chicken to simmer until chicken is fully cooked and sauce reduces.

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Avocado Tuscany Recipe by Al Maykel, EVO Photography by Pete Lapriore Ingredients 1 avocado halved 1 t chopped garlic 1 T olive oil ¼ cup fire roasted tomatoes ¼ lb fresh baby spinach Salt and pepper to taste Balsamic glaze Half an avocado removing the pit and skin and place in a 375 degree oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for 5-8 minutes. In a medium hot sauté pant add olive oil. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Add roasted tomatoes Salt, Pepper and baby spinach. Cook till spinach is half wilted. Plate your spinach, tomato, garlic mixture on a plate. Top with baked avocado and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

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Foodies T V ’s Master Chefs Margarita Marinated Pork Tenderloin Recipe by Al Maykel, EVO Photography by Pete Lapriore Ingredients 2 Pork Tenderloins Marinade: 5 oz tequila 3 oz triple sec 2 oz roses lime juice ¼ cup honey 2 T A1 steak sauce 1 cup orange juice ¼ cup BBQ sauce In a mixing bowl combine all of the marinade ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Clean the Pork Tenderloins by removing the silver skin and any extra fat (not all fat…remember fat = flavor) Place cleaned tenderloins in the marinade and be sure that they are fully submerged. Refrigerate in the marinade for 24 hours Remove after 24 hours and allow tenderloins to come to room temperature Once pork is at room temperature, sear the pork on all sides in a hot sauté pan and bake in oven at 375 degrees for 15 min or until an internal temperature of 135 degrees is achieved. Slice and serve

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Spicy Black Beans Recipe by Al Maykel, EVO Photography by Pete Lapriore Ingredients ¼ cup diced onions ¼ cup diced tomatoes ¼ cup diced peppers ¼ cup diced plantains 1 T chopped garlic 16 oz Black beans 1 T chili powder and Cajun seasoning mix (50-50 mix) Salt to taste 1 T chopped cilantro (fresh) Pin head of ghost chili paste (any chili pepper or hot sauce will work…just depends how hot you want it) 2 T canola oil Bring a sauté pan to a high temperature; add canola oil, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic and sauté until onions become translucent. Add the black beans and seasonings to the vegetable mixture. Continue to cook on a med heat until beans are almost tender. If additional liquid is needed I recommend using some type of stock (beef or chicken) Once beans are almost tender add your chopped plantains and cilantro and cook until beans are tender Adjust any seasonings, serve and enjoy

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Whiskey

Written by Ryan Maloney Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Ryan Maloney has over twenty five years experience in the spirits industry. He has appeared in and on the cover of several international whisk(e)y and trade publications. He is the “go to” guy for all things alcohol related for the Phantom Gourmet T.V. and radio show. He has done consulting work for major players in the beverage field. He is the founder of The Loch & K(e)y Society and the creator of www.lochandkey.com a forum based whisk(e)y website. However, Ryan is most recognized as the owner of Julio’s Liquors in Westborough MA, where amongst other accolades he has been twice awarded “Retailer of the Year”.

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\ȣȨɕȰȐɴ TȽȇȐɑ0Ʉȃȣ Ƚȇ,Ȑɴ

Water & Ice are Nice! “Son, I never add water to my Whiskey!” That’s usually how the conversation starts when I suggest a couple of drops of water should be add to whiskey to release some of the aromas and flavors locked inside. Now, here is the tricky part. Without sounding like a wisea** I say, “So, you let someone else add water for you.” Then the guy gives me a puzzled look and I explain, “Well, the whiskey came out of the barrel at about 120 proof but your bottle says it is 80 proof. How do you think it went from 120 down to 80? I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t magic, it was WATER.” The thing to remember is that water is a five-letter word not four and there is nothing wrong with adding it to whiskey.

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Despite what you will inevitably hear from some of the staunch traditionalists, water can be a helpful tool for enjoying whiskey. Try this experiment to help prove this point: Order a whiskey “straight up” (no water, no ice) and a “water back” (this is water in a separate glass). Trust me, you’re going to sound cool ordering your drink! “Excuse me, Barkeep! May I please have a (name your whiskey) straight up, water back and pour it like you hate the owner!” Sorry, I digress. Ok, you now have your whiskey and your water. Smell the whiskey. Open your mouth a little when you sniff-- trust me on this. Also, don’t swirl the whiskey. Swirling works for wine, not whiskey. Now, taste the whiskey by holding it in your mouth for about five seconds before you swallow. Try to remember all the smells and flavors you can. Enter sixth grade science! Grab one of those straw stirrers and stick it in your water, then put your finger on the top of the straw. Remove the straw from the water, position it over your whiskey glass, and release your finger! Ta Dah! You now have a small amount of water in your whiskey. Now, repeat the smelling and tasting steps from above. This time you should notice more aromas and a broader range of flavors from your whiskey. You can now add more water if you like and find the amount that is right for you. Adding water can even be necessary these days since more distillers are releasing barrel-strength

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whiskies. Some of these whiskies are over 130 proof--that is over 65% alcohol! The distiller wants you to add water until the proof is right for you. Drinking these whiskies without some dilution only serves to anesthetize your mouth and you will not taste the full flavors of the spirit. Now onto water’s solid phase-- ICE! Here is the problem with ice: the cold shuts off some of the flavors of the whiskey; however, as it melts, other flavors reveal themselves. In Japan they are using Banshaku ice balls to chill whiskey. The two-inch spherical ice melts more slowly, allowing for better balance between the cold, the water, and the whiskey. I like ice in certain whiskies and a friend of mine, Jimmy Russell, fills his glass to the brim with ice then pours in bourbon or rye to the top! Jimmy has been the Master Distiller at Wild Turkey for over the last fifty years and has forgotten more about whiskey than most people will ever learn. So, if it is O.K. for Jimmy, I think you or I can add a couple of cubes of ice. That brings us back to the basic point: drink your whiskey how you like it. Add water or ice and don’t let anyone tell you how you should drink whiskey. There is one caveat I will add: use good water to add to your whiskey or to make ice. I use a good bottled soft water like Voss or Fiji, but never straight tap water. So, enjoy and remember, there is never a bad day to drink good whiskey!


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Simply the Best

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The Region’s Best Chefs Duke it Out at Mechanics Hall

Written by Domenic Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

O

n January 29, 2012, Mechanics Hall will be filled to the gorgeous, historic ceilings, as 1,000 “foodies” gather to taste the creations of some of the very best culinary experts in the Central Mass and Metro West regions, the Worcester’s Best Chef culinary competition. Last year, the event occupied all levels and rooms of Mechanics Hall, featuring nearly two dozen culinary experts and their teams as they competed for the top three spots in the Judges’ Choice Awards. Those finalists then competed live on stage in a timed final round – Iron Chef-style - using Thermador kitchen equipment and a full pantry of ingredients. The crowd was attentive and engaged as Wilson Wang from Baba Sushi, Jared Calderone from Feng Asian Bistro, and Timothy Quinn from The Oliver Wight Tavern at Old Sturbridge Village brought their “A” game in front of TV cameras and a live crowd. The People’s Choice Award winners included Mark Hawley of Flying Rhino in Worcester, Wilson Wang of BABA Sushi in Worcester, and Brian Treitman of BT’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge. (Continued on page 112)

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Ultimately, Chef Quinn took the top honor and was congratulated by the all-star judges’ panel, which included Barry Sexton from Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible; Alina Eisenhauer from Sweet, who appeared on Food Network’s Chopped and Cupcake Wars; Paul Wilson, initiator of the Central Massachusetts Chapter of the American Culinary Federation and former executive chef of Pepper’s Fine Foods; Christopher Liazos, a local culinary icon and former owner of the Webster House Restaurant; Barbara Houle, food columnist and writer of the Telegram & Gazette’s “Table Hoppin’” feature; Christina Andrianopolous, host of Innovacion TV and City Vibes; and Stanley Nicas, owner of the Castle Restaurant and Founder and President of Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of New England, National Chapter Chairman - Les Amis d’Escoffier Society, Foundation Founder and Chairman - In-

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ternational Wine and Food Society of Central Massachusetts, Founder and Chairman - American Culinary Federation of Professional Chefs/Massachusetts Culinary Association, and the Regional Director - American Academy of Chefs, just to name a few. Pepper’s Fine Catering is managing the chefs’ needs in the kitchens and on stage, as well as judges’ requirements. John Lawrence, Executive Chef and owner of Pepper’s Fine Catering and a WBC judge, said, “This event has quickly become the premier event for local chefs to ‘put it on the plate’ for 1,000 potential future customers. WBC attracts foodies from all of central MA and is a sure way to garner exposure for chefs and bring them in the door at their restaurants.” “The Iron Chef final round was really exciting – it looked like something we would pull off on the Dinner: Impossible show,” commented Judge Barry

Sexton. “All the competitors were worthy, but I thought Chef Tim Quinn [who will be joining the judges’ panel for this year’s event] was clean, neat, and organized to a high level. Judge Alina Eisenhauer thought that Chef Quinn, “…had a really strong sense of calm and professional decorum in front of the crowd. He had his ducks in a row.” The final round was kicked off by TV Diner’s Billy Costa, the event host, and Jen & Steve from the WXLO Morning Show, who were co-Masters of Ceremonies. “The Iron Chef final round is really exciting, and you can feel the stress that the chefs are under,” commented WXLO’s Jen Carter. “The fact that they have no idea what they’re going to prepare or what ingredients they’ll use until they open the Mystery Basket is really unnerving.” (Continued on page 114)


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The Worcester’s Best Chef Competition also offers an International Wine, Whiskey, and Beer tasting, a champagne sabering demonstration, therapeutic massage, one-on-one recipe consultation with competing chefs, “paparazzi” guest photography on entrance, and valet parking. While the purpose of the event is to showcase the region’s culinary talent in live competition, the Worcester’s Best Chef competition also raised $4,000 last year for the Worcester Technical High School’s Culinary Arts Program, which helps to continue higher culinary education for inner-city high school students. To date, the event raised nearly $20,000 for that program and Veteran’s Inc.’s efforts to feed veterans in need, as well as provide shadowing opportunities for culinary students who assist chefs during the competition, which has led to employment. Don’t miss the opportunity to vote your palate this year, as two dozen chefs vie for the three final spots in the Iron Chef round and compete for the title of Worcester’s Best Chef 2012. Put a WBC reservation confirmation your favorite foodie’s stocking for Christmas this year! They make a great gift! Reserve your attendance online at www.WorcestersBestChef.com. Early Admission (4-5 p.m.) VIP tickets: $60, General Admission at 5 p.m.: $40. Please see a full list of sponsors, including 104.5 FM WXLO, 100 FM The Pike, WORC 98.9 FM, Worcester Telegram, Austin Liquors, Thermador, Pepper’s Fine Catering, WorcesterScene.com, Much Ado Marketing, Lapriore Videography, Image Boosters, Polar Beverages, Sysco and many more!

Thanks John Preves, one of our FB fans, for suggesting the article on The Vanilla Bean.

Five years ago, the Worcester’s Best Chef competition declared that it would highlight Central Massachusetts as a culinary destination by promoting the area’s finest epicureans, and it succeeded. Worcester’s Best Chef has come be known as the event to attend when one wants to seek the Best of the Best Chefs all in one night, all in one place. Bring your appetite. -FNE.

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Wines of Distinction

The

Marvelous

Meteoric Maturation of Marta’s Malbec Written by Domenic Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

A

s far as we know, Martha’s Vineyard is an island exclusive to the Massachusetts seacoast, but, regarding well-made, robust red wines, it begins and ends in Mendoza, Argentina… and it’s spelled a little differently - Marta’s Vinyard (no, there are not typos). Winemaker Marta Lunardi is of Italian descent but a native of Argentina. She set up shop in Mendoza, growing classic examples of the Malbec varietal for her distinctive and elegantly crafted wines.

Known in restaurant circles as The Wine Guy, Domenic is focused on food and wine education. Domenic’s enthusiasm and passion for food and wine, propelled him into a local TV wine education series, The Wine Guy, in which he took viewers on a tour of California and Italy’s wine regions and historic destinations. In addition to being the editor and publisher of Foodies of New England magazine, Dom is the host of Foodies of New England, a dynamic and educational TV show. The show features New England’s best, award-winning chefs, and their signature recipes.

Named and led by Lunardi, Marta’s Vinyard is a family business with longestablished wineries. As a family, they work together sharing our diverse knowledge and complementary expertise producing single varietal wines of exceptional quality. “Our families of farmers, enologists, and winemakers, together with our production team, design, and logistics experts, form the expertise that is the heart of Marta’s Vinyard,” says Marta. “Within the company, this partnership of skills and capabilities ensures that Marta’s Vinyard delivers on our promise of creating wines of the very highest quality and consistency.” Foodies of New England found the 2010 Marta’s Vinyard Malbec Reserva to be most consistent with this philosophy. The wine is truly an intenselyflavored and bold red, marking the reserva class of the very popular Malbec varietal with style, finesse, and generous bramble fruit. Marta refines her Malbec Reserva with 6 months of oak ageing, but not just any oak ageing. Marta could use a variety of less-expensive oak barrels, but she opts for new French oak, which has a tighter grain than most oak from other origins, thereby capturing more volatile, astringent tannins away from the wine and imparting a subtle oaky aroma into the wine. Also, unlike American oak, which can be overly-fragrant and sometimes impart aggressive aromas of sweet vanilla into an otherwise balanced and fruit-focused wine, use of French oak results in a slightly toasted, tobacco essence, complementing the berry flavors rather than fighting them. Marta’s Vinyard locations are in Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu regions of the province of Mendoza in the spectacular pollution-free ecosystem of the South American Andes Mountains in Argentina. This region incorporates a multitude of microclimates, creating perfect natural habitat for the development and growth of many grape varieties.

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The Malbec Reserva is harvested by hand and transported to the winery in small containers to minimize any bruising. This 100% Malbec is a beautiful example of harmony between succulent ripe fruits and velvet smooth tannins. Also, these sub regions are irrigated in a fashion not very different from that of Bordeaux, France, where the world’s finest and most complex red wines are crafted. Throughout the world, most vineyards have the advantage of irrigation systems that are installed in the ground to ensure proper hydration of the soil and the vines. In Bordeaux, however, vines rely on the earth’s natural water resources for their hydration, and, to get it, the roots of the vines usually have to dig deep and far through layers of soil, extracting the complex influences of the earth’s minerals. In a similar fashion, Marta’s Vinyard relies on hydration directly from mountain streams of melted glaciers and mountain snow, or by underground mineralinfused water tables,water so pure that it is bottled and served in Buenos Aires’ best restaurants. This mineral water contributes to the 2010 Malbec Reserva’s mineral quality complex earthy notes. “Marta’s Vinyard is about long-term attention and obligation to our land and our farmers, and quality and commitment to our customers,” says Lunardi. “We offer the very best handpicked harvests and Estate Bottled wines. Each individual wine is made from one individual grape variety, so you will be able to experience exactly what each particular grape variety should taste like,” she adds. To that end, Marta’s Malbec Reserva and her other reds, including her 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva and 2009 Tempranillo Reserva, are also barreled for 6 months in French oak casks. With each of the three wines aged in the same way, it’s easy to discern the flavors and uniqueness of one (Continued on page 118)

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varietal versus another without the discrepancies created by differences in ageing techniques, and this was Marta’s mission.

The Emergence of Malbec Malbec is a variety of purple grape used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins. Long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine, the French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in the southwest region of France region. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine and is being grown around the world. Called Auxerrois or Côt Noir in Cahors, called Malbec in Bordeaux and Pressac in other places, the grape became less popular in Bordeaux after 1956 when frost killed off 75% of the crop. Despite Cahors being hit by the same frost, which devastated the vineyards, Malbec was replanted and continued to be popular in that area where it was mixed with Merlot and Tannat to make dark, full-bodied wines. In fact, the most famous grape in Mendoza is the Malbec. Why the grape is so much more successful in Argentina than in Bordeaux is not completely understood, but the Malbec from Mendoza does have an unmistakable grip, structure, and density not often found in its French counterpart. For this reason, the percentage of Malbec used in Bordeaux wines is small, usually under 10% in most cases, while in Argentina, the grape is now used to craft singlevineyard (100%) Malbec wines. In some cases, fine producers like Marta Lunardi create Reserva-status Malbecs because the grape, with the help of a savvy winemaker, yields such a wonderfully powerful, tannic wine, that it warrants resting in expensive, French oak casks.

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Now, Argentina is the 5th largest wine producer in the world, and many of the country’s Malbecs make it to America and other countries for consumption. However, Argentina’s highest-quality wines are rarely experienced outside the country, since the best quality wines are reserved to grace the tables of Buenos Aires’ restaurants and wine bars. Until recently, now that Marta’s Vinyard brings this reserva-quality to America at very affordable prices. The 2010 Malbec Reserva retails around $17.99, which is a bargain. Compare it to barrel-aged wines like Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany. At $2 to $12 less per bottle, Marta’s Vinyard Malbec Reserva has more decadence, richer layers of black fruit, and spicy, toasty oak nuances that pair with a wider variety of food.

Marta’s Mantra “We grow the vines, hand-pick the grapes, and select the very best for our wineries. Our expert enologists make the wine under the watchful ‘nose’ of Marta and her team,” said Malcolm Falconer, Marta’s husband and business manager. He adds, “We cellar and bottle it. Only when we agree that is sufficiently developed and balanced for its place on your palate do we release it from the wineries. It’s a simple philosophy, a complete range of excel-

lent wines of great value, available in a convenient method that is accessible to all people of discerning palates.” Marta’s Vinyard wines have won several medals in the prestigious Decanter World Wines Awards. Marta points out, “Adding to our 2006, 2007, and 2008 Decanter Awards, I am honored that we have maintained our reputation for delivering high quality wines. We will continue to work hard to ensure we maintain these high standards in future harvests.” Marta’s Vinyard have also been provisioned on board the UK’s Spirit of Adventure and the Saga Ruby cruise ships out of the port of Buenos Aires for their return journeys to the UK via Antarctica, the Pacific Ocean, Panama Canal, and back to England. Marta’s Vinyard wines are available through Massachusetts importer Global Wines, Inc. Retail locations may be found at www.GlobalWinesInc.com. Marta’s Vinyard has offices in Buenos Aires, London, and Randalstown Ireland). -FNE Marta’s Vinyard Malbec aReserva 2010 is foodies approved at 89 points. No typos here.


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During my visit with John and Valerie, it was easy to see why Soup to Nuts is such a popular luncheon spot. Every customer left with a smile on their face, complimenting the food and the service, and promising to come back. It was no surprise when Valerie began sharing some stories of customers, their comments, and their “like-family” attitude toward Valerie and John. One group of four women had left that day saying how much they had enjoyed the experience and told them, “This is a real find. We ate everything from soup to nuts.” Another couple paused at our table on their way out to say, “We come all the way from Connecticut. We go between there and the Cape, and we try to time all of our visits so we can eat here.” Even better is the story of a woman whose mother used to allow her to skip school once a year so that the two of them could share a special day of shopping in Sturbridge, and the highlight of the day was always having lunch at Soup to Nuts. Customer comfort is a primary concern for John, which is evident from the ambiance he has created in the café. “The pictures and prints throughout the café are there for thought as well as a sense of calmness to make the customer calm in the very harried world I see out there today,” he says. “We’re very much into atmosphere.” The café is impeccably decorated by Thomas Trapp, who does theme décor to follow the seasons. At the time of my visit the café was adorned with beautiful holiday touches deserving of the finest restaurants, while lending a cozy feeling of coming home to those who enter. As I said my goodbyes and thanked John and Valerie for the delicious corn chowder I had sampled, I assured them that I, too, would be back. I almost didn’t want to leave. It occurred to me as I made my way out the door that, in a social and economic time when we often hear “No” in response to our special requests, it’s nice to know there’s a place where the answer will be “Yes.” And that “Yes” will be accompanied by a warm, sincere smile. Now that makes it worth coming back.

Soup to Nuts 559 Main Street Sturbridge, MA 01566 508-347-9771

Thanks Kerrie Elizabeth Smith, one of our FB fans, for suggesting the article on The Common Man.

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Beacon Grille: A Lean, Green, Philanthropy Team Written by Domenic D. Mercurio, Jr. Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Philanthropy (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary): 2a : an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes. Going Green (ehow.com): Going green is a popular term used to describe the process of changing one’s lifestyle for the safety and benefit of the environment. Chances are, foodies, if you’ve read these definitions someplace, they didn’t have much to do with a classy, metropolitan-style restaurant serving the very finest meats, freshest seafood, and choicest game, until now. Welcome to Beacon Grille in Woburn, Massachusetts. From A to Z, Beacon Grille is an impressive establishment, starting with its ‘curb-appeal’ and easy access directly off of Rt. 128, to its contemporary, sleek façade), and its professional and warm greeters, its wine list, which took the 2011 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, and Chef David Fitzgerald’s and Sous Chef Michael Libby’s tantalizing menu, 75 percent of which is either vegan, gluten-free or organic, and the balance can be augmented as such upon request.

The Green Machine But, Beacon Grille not only accomplishes its culinary tasks in spades, it’s also a great community partner and a business

that operates in the green, with an infrastructure of 1,020 solar panels mounted on its 1,000-car parking garage, allowing Beacon Grille and the entire complex at 400 Trade Center to operate independent of external energy sources. It doesn’t end there. One hundred and seventy-five ultra new LED lights have been installed in the lounge ceiling, and over all Beacon Grille tables. These super-saver lights use only five watts per fixture. Many of The Beacon Grille’s kitchen appliances, including refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens are Energy Star rated, and the cooking grease is recycled and converted into green biodiesel fuel. Further, Beacon Grille recycles all glass bottles and aluminum cans, and the rain water collected underground in a 7,000 gallon tank is used for occasionally watering trees and shrubs. There are no areas of lawn grass requiring underground sprinklers. Beacon Grille even has its own on-site bus stop, accessing MBTA service via Woburn, Winchester and Medford Square to Wellington Station. And, with dedicated indoor and outdoor bicycle racks, storage, and preferred parking for lowemission vehicles, Beacon Grille is doing its part to reduce automotive emissions. (Continued on page 122)

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With continuous glass curtain walls and ribbon windows, the restaurant and most client suites are awash in sunlight throughout the workday, reducing the need for electricity. All of Beacon Grille’s walk-in refrigerators have water cooled compressors. These compressors are directly connected to the building’s central heating system, and they help heat the entire building in season. Also, operable windows, plus upper floor balconies and energy recovery fresh-air ventilators provide improved air quality. During the construction process, Cummings Properties, which owns Beacon Grille, used recycled steel. “That played a major role in the superstructure framework for the entire building,” said Joyce Vyriotes, Communications Director for Beacon Grille. Cummings properties paid close attention to recycling principles, which ultimately led to the reprocessing of more than 1,000 tons each of scrap metals, wood, and plasterboard throughout the construction of TradeCenter 128. Also, the technology built into the complex is state-of-the-art. “Our HVAC units throughout the complex utilize the very latest technology to reduce the carbon foot print of this truly extraordinary energy-saving building,” commented Bill Cummings, founder of Cummings Properties. “Our high-performance tinted and reflective glass plays a major role in conserving power throughout the complex,” Cummings concluded.

Doing Well by Doing Good Moreover, 100 percent of all Beacon Grille profits support the Cummings/Hillel Holocaust and Genocide Initiative at Tufts University. Since its establishment in 1986, Cummings Foundation has been primarily funded by Joyce and Bill Cummings, owners of Beacon Grille. The Foundation has grown to become one of the largest charitable foundations in New England, now with more than $900 million in net assets, and owns and operates two large not-for-profit and affordable independent and assisted living facilities with abundant activities, gourmet dining, and delightful surroundings. New Horizons at Choate and New Horizons at Marlborough, collectively serve more than 500 senior residents. In 2005, the Foundation finalized a $50 million collaboration with the newly renamed Cummings School of Veterinary

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Medicine at Tufts University. Through this innovative partnership, the Foundation offers support and financial resources to help enable the Cummings School to sustain its global reputation for excellence in veterinary medicine. In 2011 the Foundation established a fourth major operating entity, the Institute for World Justice (IWJ), which expects to expand the Cummings/Hillel Program for Holocaust and Genocide Education from Tufts University to a minimum of 10 other college campuses. Another of Cummings Foundation’s charitable programs is the McKeown Scholars Program, through which the foundation annually awards college scholarships to high school seniors in Woburn and Winchester Massachusetts. The program is designed to encourage improvement in citizenship and writing ability among college bound students. Since 1996, more than $1.5 million in direct scholarship aid has been awarded in communities where Cummings Properties does business. In May 2011, Bill and Joyce Cummings joined a new national organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, called “The Giving Pledge.” Currently comprised of about 70 individuals or couples, all members have publicly pledged to donate at least half of their assets for philanthropic purposes, either during their lifetime or upon their death. All members either are billionaires or would be if they had not already donated most of their wealth. Many, including the Cummings, have pledged that they will donate (or in their case already have donated) 90 percent or more of their assets. So, it’s very clear, foodies, that Beacon Grille a very unique type of restaurant that believes strongly in paying it forward (information courtesy of www.CummingsFoundation.org). While philanthropy and community-consciousness is very important, they’re not out-shadowed by Beacon Grille’s fabulous menu, which stole the show during our visit. Simple, yet delectable, the menu features haut-cuisine selections reminiscent of the best steakhouses in New England. “We’ve been told that Beacon Grille reflects a downtown Boston dining experience without parking cost or the hassle of downtown traffic,” comments Sean Patrick Sullivan, Beacon Grille’s General Manager.


A Boston experience, indeed, complete with numerous original giclee paintings of Boston’s most famous attractions and points of interest, all of which for sale in the restaurant and created by non-other-than Kevin Cummings, son of owner Bill Cummings. “One evening, I was called out to the dining room by our staff to meet with a guest, who was moving to China the next day and insisted on purchasing Kevin’s paintings of Boston’s Zakim Bridge and the Citgo sign at Kenmore Square, right off of the walls of the bar area. We were left with bare walls for the rest of the night because he couldn’t wait for us to forward them to his new address in China. One way or another, we aim to please,” chuckles Sullivan. On all fronts, Beacon Grille is responsive. “We opened big,” Says Sullivan, who has a 15-year background with Outback Steakhouse as an owner in both Seattle and here in Massachusetts, as well as a 5-year stint with Legal Seafoods as a General Manager. Sullivan came on board about 6 months after Beacon Grille opened and listened to the owners to find out what they wanted out of this project. He then found Executive Chef David Fitzgerald to head up the kitchen. “We’re making it work. There’s more autonomy and empowerment in this organization and it shows in the product and the service. We’re here day and night, and we ask for feedback from our patrons and Cummings clients. We’re nimble, maximize efficiencies, and respond to clients’ wants quickly because the staff is encouraged and motivated to fix a problem right away,” Sullivan informs. (Continued on page 124)

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Beacon Grille creates impromptu committees to deal with any type of client issue that may arise, and many of their staff are actually former managers. “Fifty percent of our staff have been here a year or longer,” Sullivan points out.

Le Menu de Cuisine We talked to Chef Fitzgerald about his menu and frequency with which it changes. “Our proteins don’t change as much as our sides,” Fitzgerald points out. “We do test all of our features before they go onto the menu, just to get feedback from the guests, allowing us to make any changes that we think may appeal to our customers.” Besides being a professional chef, Fitzgerald is a real foodie. “I cooked in the kitchen at a young age, and actually lied about my age at 13 in order to get behind the grill at the local burger joint.” Now that’s an incorrigible foodie, if you asked us. Fitzgerald’s philosophy transcends food: “Music and food are the same to me; what I like now and then depends on my mood.” Fitzgerald is a big steak fan, and loves his lobster and scallops, too. “But,” he’ll be the first to tell you, “Sometimes I just love a great burger.” With weekly features accompanied by a perfect wine pairing, Beacon Grille’s menu is loaded with fascinating and delicious soups (try the Classic French Onion, with three onions – Spanish, red, and leeks, topped with croutons and melted Gruyère cheese), chowders (the Clam Chowder, with clams, diced chef potatoes, onions, bacon and celery, finished with cream, salads (the Balsamic –Roasted Beet Salad, with roasted beets, sliced and layered with arugula, crispy goat cheese, and topped with pistachios and roasted shallot dressing, is a must), appetizers (with true love for comfort food, we recommend Chef Dave’s Shumai – four steamed dumplings filled with shredded short rib and ground beef, in a savory broth), entrées (the Bacon-Wrapped Chateaubriand for Two – panroasted 20 ounce chateaubriand, mushroom duxelle-stuffed and bacon-wrapped, with mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and Cabernet demi glace), and, finally, desserts (let the Chef surprise you!). What’s that? You can’t take it anymore of this epicurean teasing? Well, to curb your culinary anxiety, get to your kitchen and whip up Chef Fitzgerald’s tantalizing Asparagus Fritti:

Asparagus Fritti Ingredients: Medium-size asparagus spears Tempura batter (see below) Seasoned flour (see below) Shaved Parmesan Tomato Basil Sauce Tempura Batter 1½ cups of all-purpose flour ½ cup yellow corn flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 Tablespoon cornstarch 2 cups seltzer water 1/8 teaspoon salt Seasoned Flour 1/4 cup all purpose flour ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 Tablespoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper DIRECTIONS 1. Prepare tempura batter by whisking ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. 2. Prepare seasoned flour by combining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 3. Dredge medium-sized asparagus spears through the flour. 4. Remove spears from flour, shaking off excess, and sink into tempura batter. 5. With the fryer basket in the oil, momentarily float the individual spears in the oil to cook the batter enough to prevent it from sticking to the fryer baskets. 6. When the batter is cooked to a golden brown, remove fried asparagus and allow oil to drain. 7. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan and serve with your favorite marinara sauce.

Beacon Grille 400 TradeCenter 128 Woburn, MA 01801 781-933-3333 www.thebeacongrille.com

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Beacon Grille has been embracing comfort food in an “old school right up to modern day style,” Fitzgerald points out. “We prepare our Chateaubriand in a real comfort food style, using a 20-ounce filet mignon seared rare, cut open, and stuffed with a mushroom reduction sauce, then cut into 5 ounce medallions and garnished with bacon,” says Fitzgerald, who, as mentioned earlier, ensures that about 75% of the menu is gluten-free. The remaining 25% can be made gluten-free upon request. “We use no food modifiers,” Sullivan chimes, “And you’ll see symbols on our menu indicating categories of importance to guests, such as “V” for vegan, “GF” for gluten-free, and “O”, which you’ll commonly see on Beacon Grille’s Wine Spectator award-winning wine list, reflecting those wines made from organically-grown grapes. Regarding wines, Beacon Grille “Found our identity and now we’re making our wine list a value with fair prices,” Sullivan says. “If I bought that wine somewhere else, it would’ve been a lot more,” one guest tells Sullivan, referring to a bottle of Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Valley wine which combines the harmony typical of traditional Bordeaux winemaking techniques with the voluptuousness of a great Napa Valley fruit, specifically 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. The wine was featured on Beacon Grille’s wine list by the glass at $17. While $17 may seem like a steep price to pay for a glass of wine, it’s actually Beacon Grille’s way of expanding the offerings of fine wine to guests; wines that are typically not even available by the bottle in most restaurants. To put the value into perspective, this wine is available for purchase directly from the vineyard at $50 per bottle, or $14.28 per glass. So, for just $2.72 more, you can enjoy a generous pouring of Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon in front of your favorite meal, prepared exactly to your liking, surrounded by your dearest friends and family, and have the most expertlytrained servers at your table. Were this wine available in other fine restaurants, it would only be available by the bottle, and would surely cost a considerable amount. Incredible quality, service, variety, and convenience… it doesn’t get any better than that, foodies. As wonderful as it is, it’s logical to presume that Beacon Grille’s wine list wasn’t created overnight. “I worked together with a former colleague collecting wines over time,” Sullivan points out. Because of Beacon Grille’s buying power, the wine staff is able to rotate and change the menu more frequently, which is also true of the dinner and lunch menus. “Our wines sell quickly because they’re priced reasonably, and our guests know the comparisons out there,” remarks Janet Urban, Beacon Grille’s assistant general manager and beverage director.

Hills, Washington State, 2008, while a very unique offering is the Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru (Chardonnay), Burgundy, France, 2009. And if it’s fine cordials and artisan cocktails you’re looking for, Beacon Grille offers house-made limoncello, as well as its famous Cleopatra’s Demise, made by Melissa Filgerleski, Beacon Grille’s exuberant craft bartender. She shared her recipe with Foodies of New England:

Cleopatra’s Demise Bison Grass (Zubrówka) Vodka, House Made Fig Syrup, Lime, Decanter Bitters An original cocktail created by Mel, this is a simple drink that combines Zubrówka, a Polish vodka, with a house made fig syrup, lime, and bitters – think of it as a twist on a Cosmopolitian or even a lime rickey served straight up. So what’s with the name? Remember the ancient Egyptian queen who Elizabeth Taylor once played in the movies? Well, Cleopatra was a real person, whose favorite fruit happened to be the fig. During her reign, Cleopatra created a few enemies; one (who is unknown to this day) decided to murder her by hiding a python in a basket of figs. Long story short, the figs were delivered, Cleopatra took the figs into her chamber, and was bitten by the python. Zubrówka Vodka (zhoo-BRAHV-ka): A take on a traditional style of Polish vodka created for the U.S. market, this is lightly flavored with herbs and vanilla. Fig Syrup: A house made simple syrup infused with figs – ever have a Fig Newton? Almost a raisin/apple/pear type flavor. Glass: Martini Garnish: Dried apple chip 1.5 oz. Bison Grass Vodka (zubrowka) 1 oz. House Made Fig Syrup 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice Dash of Fig Bitters Vigorously shake all ingredients and strain into a cocktail glass. The other artisan of sultry spirits and lead bartender, Kevin Kelly, crafts a fantastic Apple Shrub Swizzle that must be experienced. So, as you can plainly see, foodies, when it comes to culinary capabilities, crafting luscious libations, and corporate responsibility, Beacon Grille is a ‘seasoned’ player in the fine dining industry. In fact, in a day when comfort food dominates the restaurant scene, Beacon Grille maintains a unique balance between fine dining and comfort food, and also shines its bright light on what it means to be a green business and a very community-minded (and appetite inducing) corporate citizen. FNE.

Another incredible value by the glass is the Mercer, Dead Canyon Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, from Horse Heaven Foodies of New England

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Something to Drink?

You’re trapped. Your car is buried in snow, just like your driveway and the entrance to the shed where you keep your snowblower. You might be able to see all of this if snow wasn’t caked up on your window screens, obscuring everything in sight. Even if you could somehow tunnel yourself outside, where would you go? Where could you go? Power has been out for days in your town (and countless others). The local bar has no power; and finding an open liquor store means four hours of shoveling, followed by six hours of driving just to find that one glorious, glowing electric sign that reads “OPEN.” Finding an open liquor store means four hours of shoveling, followed by six hours of driving just to find that one glorious, glowing electric sign that reads “OPEN.” Is there a way to prepare for being snowbound that doesn’t require buying out an entire liquor store at the first sign of flurries? A little research revealed a potential solution: brandy. A rather versatile drink, brandy is good for a variety of hot beverages that can shake off the chill.

Written by Jeff Haynes Photography by Jeff Haynes

Jeff has been writing and photographing for a variety of publications since 1995. His work has covered a wide range of topics such as art, sports, politics, real estate, human interest, business and the environment. In addition, his photography

I decided to try three different brandy-based drinks: Hot Toddy, Hot Brandy Flip and Hot Chocolate with Brandy. My wife Kim (who is infinitely better than I am at preparing all things edible) kindly volunteered to help with the brandy experiments. Luckily our house has a gas stove, so its heat isn’t dependent on the power grid. Of course, in a power outage the stove has to be lit manually—it may not be advisable, but it can be done. Matches, gas and drinking: what could possibly go wrong?

Experiment #1: Hot Toddy I nominated myself to prepare this because it’s the easiest of the three (look to the side bar for the full recipe).

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Just add sugar, boiling water and two ounces of brandy in a mug and stir.

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According to Kim, the drink was “very nice...a little bit of a bite from the brandy, but smooth.” As for the brandy flavor itself, “It’s slightly oaky, with a little bit of fruit.”

art imagery seen in shows around New England. He is also a fan of all good things to eat and drink. It’s a habit -addiction, perhaps -- that he attempts to feed daily.

Feeling the need to contribute to her analysis, I added “Yeah.”

Experiment #2: Hot Brandy Flip The Hot Brandy Flip consists of powdered sugar, a raw egg, milk and 1.5 ounces of brandy. In theory, it should remind the tastebuds of eggnog.

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Comfort Drinks with a Kick Hot Toddy Ingredients: 1 teaspoon of sugar 6 ounces of boiling water 2 ounces of brandy DIRECTIONS 1. Put a teaspoon of sugar in a mug. 2. Pour the boiling water into the mug along with the brandy. Stir and sprinkle on some freshly grated nutmeg. Presto! The Hot Toddy is ready.

Hot Brandy Flip Ingredients:

Experiment #3: Hot Chocolate Brandy Two down, one to go. And truth be told, even before we started this experiment, both Kim and I were sure this drink would be the clear-cut winner. Even the name—simple, classic and to the point—makes it tempting: Hot Chocolate with Brandy. Labor intensive, the recipe begins with melting bittersweet chocolate chips. Then slowly mix in some milk and just as slowly, whisk in some heavy cream and half a teaspoon of cornstarch. (The cornstarch thickens the mixture, particularly when it is slowly brought to a boil.) Finally, when the consistency is just right, stir in two tablespoons of brandy. Kim’s first reaction: “Wow.” Mine: “I feel like I’m swimming in that river in Willy Wonka. No. I feel like I’m drowning in that river in Willy Wonka.” It was extraordinarily rich, and we are still convinced it’s the best hot chocolate we’ve ever had, but for brandy enthusiasts the Hot Toddy is a better choice, as the full flavor of brandy is much more evident. In our final experiment, the brandy was hardly noticeable. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Not for Kim. “With or without the brandy, that is one heck of a hot chocolate!” she said. “This [hot chocolate] is what I would make for people. This is what you’d want if you wanted a real comfort drink, but with a little extra kick.”

1 raw egg 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar 6 ounces of warm milk 1.5 ounces of brandy DIRECTIONS 1. Add the egg, powdered sugar and brandy together in a bowl and whisk. The mixture should begin to turn yellow. 2. Warm the milk. 3. Pour the mixture into a mug and top with the warm milk. Stir and top with freshly grated nutmeg.

Hot Chocolate with Brandy Ingredients: 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips 1.5 cups of milk 1/4 cup of heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch (to thicken the mixture) 2 tablespoons of brandy (you may want more depending on your taste) DIRECTIONS 1. Over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips. (It’s labor intensive: constantly stir to avoid scalding.) 2. Very slowly, mix in the milk. (Do not add all the milk at once; otherwise the chocolate will not blend evenly throughout the mixture.) 3. Just as slowly, whisk in the heavy cream and cornstarch. 4. Slowly bring to a boil until you find your preferred consistency. Then, add the brandy.

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At ďŹ rst glance, it sounds like some sort of foodie nirvana: a guided walking tour in which you experience the fare of James Beard winners, chefs who have appeared on the Food Network (or Bravo, or the Cooking Channel), Best of Boston winners, 4-star restaurants, gourmet food trucks, and delightful specialty food shops.

Lobster Pizza

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Exploring Boston Step by Step, Bite by Bite Written by Jodie Lynn Boduch Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

But the only transcendence one needs to achieve this blissful state is simply that which brings you to the point of decision-making. Should I go on the Beacon Hill/ Back Bay Tour or the Greenway/Wharf District Tour? Standard or premium tour? Private or with a small group? Don’t fret over the choices. With Boston Foodie Tours, you can’t possibly make a wrong one. Every tour, every stop, and every sample—oh, there will be lots of sampling on this stroll—rewards the palate. Audrey Giannattasio, founder of Boston Foodies Tours, earned a culinary certificate from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts over a decade ago. Although she knew at the time that she wanted to use it in a non-cooking role, she wasn’t sure where the best fit would be. Inspiration struck, however, as a result of her travel experiences. “During the past few years,” she says, “I began to add food tours to my travel itineraries, which I enjoyed immensely. I was hopeful that I could bring the best of what I had experienced to Boston.” And that she has. As a lucky tour guest not once, not twice, but three times (the Greenway/Wharf District tour and two variations of the Beacon Hill/Back Bay tour), this particular foodie is simply enamored with these tours, which unfold like a perfectly executed recipe. The list of places and sample items reads like a Who’s Who on the Boston food scene (and indeed, it is). First, the Beacon Hill/Back Bay tours: On one trip to Lydia Shire’s Scampo at the Liberty Hotel, we were presented with prosciutto- and arugula-covered naan; a second trip yielded a treat to lobster pizza. The summer tour brought us next to Savenor’s specialty food shop, where we sampled deli sandwiches (yak or wild boar? Take your pick). (Continued on page 131)

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Executive Chef Simon Restrepo

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Audrey Giannattasio, founder of Boston Foodieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tours


(Continued from page 129)

Both versions of the tour appeased the sweet tooth with a stop at Beacon Hill Chocolates, where we sampled chocolate and gelato. On the summer route, the Copley Square Farmers Market came next, with samples of fresh pasta from Nella’s Pasta and produce from Siena Farms (co-owned by chef Ana Sortun of Oleana). The fall route led us instead to Bacco’s Wine and Cheese, where we did a wine tasting, as well as to Sabatino’s for olive oil and flavorful spreads. Both tours then sauntered to Turner Fisheries for some Hall of Fame clam chowder, and from there we had cupcakes for dessert at Sweet on Newbury Street. Feeling hungry just reading about it? Understandable. And there’s more. The other part of town where we experienced a tour, the Greenway/Wharf District, was equally decadent. Kicking off at Blue Inc., owned by Hell’s Kitchen runner-up Jason Santos, we had milkshakes…chilled with a little help from liquid nitrogen. Silk Road BBQ followed, with a hearty selection of meats and coleslaw, then a gourmet selection at the Grilled Cheese Nation food truck. Lobster roll-lovers reveled in the J. Hook stop next, and nut-lovers delighted in the selection at the Q’s Nuts stall in the Dewey Square Farmers Market. From there we headed to a Clover food truck, trying beet-and-feta salad and hibiscus tea, and for dessert, we settled in for a tasting dish of confections at Radius. As you can imagine, the tours involve a great deal of coordination between Giannattasio and her tour partners. Flexibility is essential, and variations of the tours exist depending on the partners’ ability to accommodate on a given day, the season, and the needs of the group (gluten-free guests, for example). There are also different versions of the tours in terms of “standard” versus “premium.” The latter are standard tours plus a stop

at a 4-star restaurant (e.g., L’Espalier, Radius), a 5-star hotel (e.g., Mandarin Oriental Hotel), and/or the restaurant of a James Beard Award winner. The premium tours also include a small gift bag of local food artisan products. Giannattasio puts a lot of thought into the prospective partners she approaches for the tour: “First and foremost, they must welcome our guests enthusiastically and warmly, and service them well. In addition, they must truly represent the best of what Boston’s food industry has to offer, and be recognized accordingly, or, if new, be on the cusp of being recognized as such.” To the superb treatment of guests, we can attest. Follow-up dinners to Scampo and Blue Inc. had us treated like VIPs at the mere mention of having been introduced to the restaurant via Boston Foodie Tours. In both instances, the on-site manager greeted us and treated us to something special from the kitchen (“Elephant’s Ear,” a naan and marinara appetizer from Scampo, and grape sorbet and an extra-generous pair of milkshakes from Blue Inc.). Asked what the biggest surprise tour guests have ever had, Giannattasio answers without hesitation. “Each tour ends with a dessert stop. I recently surprised a large tour group [on the standard tour] with dessert at L’Espalier. To say that they were shocked would be an understatement. They were incredulous. The Pastry Chef, Jiho Kim, presented a wide selection of his desserts to the group to sample. Each one was a work of art. The group didn’t break up until 7:00 p.m. that evening, nearly SIX HOURS after the tour began. They simply didn’t want to leave!” (Neither would we).

hood tours, cookbook author meetand-greets, afternoon teas, and other special events. Most people might think the food is the best part about leading the tours, but Giannattasio says in fact, it’s the people she meets. “Our guests are fascinating,” she says. “I love learning from them, and find it very rewarding to introduce locals to best eats that they might have never discovered on their own, and to showcase the best of what Boston has to offer food-wise to tourists.” We couldn’t resist asking one last question. Rubbing elbows with Boston’s best chefs and having a seat at some of the best tables in town, we just had to know: If Giannattasio had to have one last meal, what would it be and who would be cooking it? The answer might surprise you. “While I enjoy all of the wonderful food on our tours, and often think I’d like some of them to be my last meal, at the end of the day, nothing satisfies me more than some of the Italian peasant dishes I was raised on, such as Pasta e Fagioli. I’m the cook, and, if the truth be told, I don’t like to share!” Maybe so, but we’re certainly glad she’s sharing her love for food with the rest of us.

For more information, contact Boston Foodie Tours, www.bostonfoodietours.com 617.461.5772 audrey@bostonfoodietours.com.

Giannattasio has only just begun. She has a Harvard Square tour slated to launch in early 2012 and a fourth, Fanueil Hall-area tour in the works. She’s also brimming with ideas for neighbor-

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Foodies of New England Winter 2012  

Comfort Food. Gluten Free Comfort Food. The Mystique of Game Meats. Beacon Grille.

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