Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Boston makes way for Bits and Morsels

Romanesco cauliflower from The Hungry Mother.

Boston makes way for Bits and Morsels. The weekend before last I made my way to Boston to celebrate Halloween and pick up that extra hour.  On October 29th I went to the W hotel in Boston to celebrate its grand opening and Jean-Georges Vongerichten's latest brainchild, Market, handsomely housed in the W at 100 Stuart located in the Theater district.

Jean-Georges is a frenetically busy (but somehow plays it oh-so cool) chef, constantly opening restaurants in hotels all over the world. It was a treat to meet him at Market and see him in action. He has a lovely disposition and I was impressed with his zen-like and hands-on approach to his opening.
Outside and inside the brand new W 100.
Clockwise from top left: Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten; Market's main dining room; The table decor -- stone vases and daisies; The menu.
The menu at Market is reasonably priced and, lucky for the neighborhood, one of those great menus that has something for everyone: from pizza and juicy burgers to squash soup, slowly cooked salmon, scrumptious French fries. The dining room is also smartly designed; comfy, hip, and modern. I have been to a smorgasbord of restaurant openings and no one opens a restaurant quite like Jean-Georges.

100 Stuart Street
French fries. Slowly cooked salmon with mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and a truffle vinaigrette.
Clockwise from top left: Pouring the squash soup over the mushrooms; Plated squash soup with mushroom and chives; Pizza Margherita with sundried tomatoes; Pavlova with basil.
Molten chocolate cake. Apple crisp.
Boston is a favorite destination of mine and whenever  I go to the unofficial "Capital of New England" it is always breathtakingly beautiful and sprawling with new additions. The best way to explore Boston like any great city, is by hoofing it. The Public Garden is a park located in the middle of Boston, recognized as the inspiration for the famous children’s book, “Make Way for Ducklings,” by Robert McCloskey. The public garden is enchanting throughout the year but it’s especially worth a visit in the fall.
The Public Garden in all its autumn glory.
Spending the day in the Public Garden under a willow tree with a good book in hand is one of my cherished activities. This is especially true after visiting the Globe Corner Bookstore in Harvard Square. The GCB (as I like to call it) has been in business for over 20 years and contains one of the largest selections of maps and books for travelers. Harriet B. Carrier is one of the owners and she is familiar with just about every travel book in print. And her passion is contagious.

The books are organized by destination so in the Italy section you will find not only guidebooks, but also reading material spanning a wide range of information on the subject. Whether you are planning a trip or an armchair traveler, you will find something to stimulate the senses.

The Globe Corner Bookstores
90 Mt. Auburn St., Harvard Sq.

Harriet B. Carrier, an owner of The Globe Corner Bookstore.
Inside the The Globe Corner Bookstore. Postcards of original maps of NYC and Fenway Park.
Books are organized by destination.
A few blocks away from the Public Garden is a charming sandwich shop called Mike & Patty’s, serving up delicious items for breakfast and lunch. Mike & Patty’s is a tiny space with only a few seats available. Add to that a line out the door, so it’s best to get your sandwiches to go or call in your order. If you do time it right and get a seat near the window, treat yourself to a cup of locally roasted coffee and a grilled banana sandwich. All of the sandwiches are made to order and composed with the freshest of ingredients. Their signature sandwich is the fancy, which comprises bacon, egg, avocado, onion, cheddar, and house mayo on toasted multigrain bread. If Mike & Patty’s were near my apartment in New York, I would be there every morning.

Mike & Patty's

12 Church Street
Mike & Patty's is located on a charming corner. Mike and Patty.
The wall menu. Small but efficient.
Mike & Patty’s - bacon and egg, fancy - with cheddar, avocado, red onion and house mayo on toasted multigrain--- in the making Grilled banana sandwich with cinnamon honey butter on pain de mie.
Egg white and cheese on a roll. Grilled cheese, gruyere, and american with collard greens and tomato on pain de mie.
The Hungry Mother and o ya are two recent culinary additions to Boston since I last visited. I suggest both are worth including in your visit. I was curious about o ya because The New York Times named it the best new restaurant outside of New York. o ya's interior is peaceful and dimly lit and encompasses a massive sushi bar on display throughout the restaurant. And that's a good thing: Part of the fun is eating at the sushi bar eyeing the chef's masterful creations.
Salmon Tataki with torched tomato, smoked salt, onion aioli.
This is not your average neighborhood sushi shop, so don't expect California rolls on the menu. The portions are teeny tiny, yielding no more than one or two bites per dish. teeny tiny, yes, but delicious. With that said, o ya, as expected, is very pricey and you might just leave hungry (not necessarily a bad thing). Still, o ya is an experience that is worth the price of admission. If you want a taste of that o ya experience but don’t want to commit to a full meal, go early, order a few dishes, and then head over to The Hungry Mother for dinner.

o ya
9 East Street
O Ya from the street and from inside the sushi bar ...
Salmon Tataki with torched tomato, smoked salt, onion aioli. Kumamoto Oyster watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette.
Clockwise from top left: Grilled salmon skin nigiri smoked aioli, dill, kizami nori; Wild bluefin maguro tuna topped with garlic and micro greens; Scottish Salmon, spicy sesame ponzu, yuzu kosho, scallion oil; Silken Tofu Tempura with morel mushrooms.
The Hungry Mother was named one of 2009’s Top Ten best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit and chef Barry Maiden was named one of the best new chefs according to Food & Wine.

Located on a quiet little street in Cambridge, The Hungry Mother is named after Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia. The name is an appropriate one as they not only practice sustainability by utilizing seasonal and local ingredients, but compost and recycle 80% of their waste. The food is unmistakably southern but the chef is classically trained, so it is a refined and polished version of everyone's favorites.
The Hungry Mother on Cardinal Medeiros Avenue. The Hungry Mother owners Alon and Rachel Munzer with their daughter Mira.
Champions of recycling. The menu and water glass; jar, rather.
In addition to the appetizer and entrée portions of the menu, there is a category called “to tide you over,” which includes homemade spicy pimento cheese with celery and toast. The side dishes also deliver and they are usually accompanied by a vegetable and cornbread.

The vegetable special on this particular night was a quirky-looking romanesco cauliflower, roasted to the point of divine nuttiness. The homemade cornbread (southern style, so not sweet) was served warm with sorghum butter. Sorghum is a species of grass that is sweet like sugar, so it was akin to serving maple syrup on the cornbread. For dessert I ordered the cranberry upside-down cake with candied orange peel and Grand Marnier chantilly. I love cranberries and I loved this cake. Already can’t wait to go to back to Boston to dine here again.

The Hungry Mother
233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue
Southern-style cornbread with sorghum butter. Spicy pimiento cheese.
Clockwise from top left: Romanesco cauliflower; French gnocchi with chanterelles, escarole and delicata squash; Cranberry upside down cake, photographed just in the nick of time; Coffee with milk.
If you don’t feel like spending Thanksgiving at home stuck in the kitchen and trapped with your family ... check out this list of restaurants that will be serving Thanksgiving dinner. It's tempting knowing Daniel and Mesa Grill will be roasting your turkey. Better make your reservations early because they will fill up. [Zagat]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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