Pop Up Restaurant

I was invited to a pop up restaurant and just couldn’t pass on the opportunity. I hadn’t ever really heard of one up close and was psyched.

It wasn’t what I expected but it was a great night. I had fun meeting some new folks and I was so glad Ms. M came with me. She’s such a good sport and we were both happy to be fed.

The chef Wheeler del Torro hosts a few of these occasionally. This was all I knew before joining, Wheeler’s email said: “I am hosting an intimate group of invited guests for a sneak peek at Pharmacie’s new fall menu celebrating classic Southern dishes with an Asian flair. Pharmacie is my latest food venture: an experimental fusion test kitchen to explore flavors, textures, and sensations.”

I left to meet Ms. M with a warning from Mr. J not to enter if this was in some guy’s basement. I was thinking the whole time what happens when you mix Asian and Southern? General Tzo’s Chicken & Waffles?

The pop up was held in an ice cream shoppe in my old ‘hood. The name of the hosting venue would have been helpful. We showed up for the third sitting and they were running late. We squeezed in and were served promptly. Introductions got us going at communal tables as we began munching.

The first dish was watermelon with blue cheese. I was expecting feta and honestly thought the freshness of the watermelon didn’t pair well with the moldy cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
We had a salad too.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
Next was a tomato bruschetta. I loved the tomatoes but wasn’t into the caviar.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
Our next dish was pumpkin ravioli with tomato sauce. Again, I think the flavors didn’t mix. I would have liked brown butter, or really good olive oil, or a light cream. The tomato sauce was super acidic to me.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up RestaurantThe Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
Then they served lasagna. I couldn’t eat it because it was beef. I was asked dietary restrictions before the meal (where I emailed) then I was asked again before we sat down. They were super sweet to offer me a sundae instead of the ice cream cup served afterwards, but I declined. It kind of annoyed me. Don’t ask if you’re not going to do anything. I felt like an imposition. I might have passed on the dinner if I knew what I’d be eating. I would have been happy with a double serving of raviolis instead.

We got a cup of ice cream which was good, but the meal was so long that I had one foot out of the door.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
The food was fine and I’m sure some people enjoyed it more than me. I thought it should wow me. I thought I should be shouting from the rooftops. I thought this meal would rock my world and make me their unofficial spokesperson when a restaurant opened. I was underwhelmed.

I wasn’t impressed with the how the event was run since I showed an email chain to get us in, they didn’t include the venue name, there wasn’t any explanation about what they were serving, and the dietary restrictions info wasn’t passed along. I also think they should have done 2 sittings if the food was going to be reheated and if they weren’t going to be able to accommodate the overlapping crowd three times that day.

Did you notice this has absolutely nothing to reference Asian or Southern? Yeah, me too.

Sometimes I’m brutally honest and I feel badly, but I owe you the good, the bad, and the ugly. This was a disappointing dinner. Maybe I was too hyped about it. It makes me glad we hadn’t bought a ticket to it. My invitation with a guest was complimentary but if I liked it I would have raved about it so it only seemed appropriate to be so harshly honest.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My invitation for myself and a guest  was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own. 

Sauce

More vacation fun! I wanted to get this amazing meal recap out before I spill the beans of my next vacays scheduled! :D You can check out what else I loved eating on vacation here.

I eat at this restaurant (Sauce) every year when I travel to San Fran for work and I fell in love the first time. They had me at mushroom jenga.
Sauce sign
Sauce serves this ap of lightly breaded mushroom “fries” stacked like jenga or lincoln logs. It comes with ranch dipping sauce. Even people who don’t like mushrooms like these.

mushroom jenga
After another crazy-filled day of sightseeing Mr. J and I were starving (as in this was the day we didn’t have Ghirardelli sundaes for lunch). We also had endured a somewhat impromptu hike. I don’t mean the regular crazy hills, I mean up the side of a peak.

I mentioned this spot and the menu caught Mr. J’s eye too. Sold! It was near our hotel and I was pretty jazzed at the prospect of splitting a bunch of small plates.

Needless to say, I got the portabello fries. Mr. J got bacon wrapped mini meatloaves served on mashed potatoes with gravy. What a fun idea for a potluck or dinner party?! Then we split everything else. Put your fat pants on, there was a lot of food.
mini meatloaf
We got Dungeness crab rangoons. It was pretty much all crab, no filler. Swoon. They were really good. I kind of changed my tune when we calculated the cost per Rangoon. Whatever, we were on vacation.
wontons
Next up was a side of Mac & Cheese. It was baked with a delightful cheese and cracker topping. I’m pretty sure the deliciousness came from a good quantity of butter.
Mac & cheese baked
And then the server asked us about dessert. Mr. J felt like we had to get the mini doughnut holes with vanilla bourbon dipping sauce. I wasn’t impressed with them earlier in the week because they weren’t warm and soft. Same story this time. Womp womp. We did a good job at them nonetheless.
mini donut holes
I was really interested in the PB&J cake with strawberry perserves, chunky peanut butter layer, and vanilla ice cream center.
pb & jelly cake
That’s when it went downhill. There was a sampler and we went for it. You can see above that it had the doughnuts, the PB&J cake. It also came with rum raisin cookie dough ice cream sandwiches.
cookie dough ice cream sandwich
They put some strawberries dipped in whipped cream and brown sugar on for good measure too. Why? Probably because these are full servings and intended for 4 people.

Mr. J was adamant that we finish. We were laughing so hard about how stuffed we were that we gave it a good shot but it was a doozy. I had a serious case of the giggles and Mr. J was doing some Lamaze breathing. Our waitress kind of thought we were insane.

It was such a fun meal. I kind of love the last night of vacation. Do you? I means it is almost time to go home and by the end I’m ready. It was such a fun dinner of sharing and there was PLENTY of food. Mr. J and I truly got to just enjoy ourselves and relish the moments.

source: Sauce

Pizza Rumble Recap

It is almost too late to post this now that it is August, but hey, I make the rules so here you go! Ms. L and I went to a pizza rumble. SO good!

The rumble was a taste-off amongst 4 pizza places hosted by Parlor Sports. We paid for the tickets and then got to taste all 4 and vote for our favorite. There wasn’t any criteria but we heard from each pizza joint about what they were serving us.

Emma’s Pizza in Kendall Square gave us what the kitchen staff most often make when they themselves are hungry. It had a paper thin crust topped with, in their words, “crispy smoked bacon/scallions/gorgonzola/house roasted tomatoes/garlic olive oil/light mozzarella”. Wow, right? Well, I was underwhelmed. The toppings weren’t evenly distributed. I was thankful that the toppings were sparse given that gorgonzola isn’t my fav.
Emma's Pizza

Eat at Jumbo’s cracked me up. I lived across the street for years and don’t remember eating their pizza. Mr. J thinks we didn’t love the pizza…who knows. Their pizza seems MIA from the menu but from what I remember, it was Jamaican Jerk chicken, roma tomatoes, bacon?, and banana peppers. This one was really good. It had the right amount of cheese and was so flavorful.
Jumbo's Jerk Chicken

Easy Pie served us Mac Daddy pizza. I could have this one because there was beef on it, but what a great idea?! Everyone loved this one! It was ground beef, special sauce, onions, pickles, and shredded lettuce. Spoiler alert: I recreated this one at home. Quite Tasty!
Mac Daddy Pizza

We rounded out our sampling was All Star Pizza Bar. I was psyched to see them there since I hadn’t made it to the famous sandwich bar’s latest pizza shop. They gave us a dessert one which was welcomed after our savory pizzas. It had hazlenuts, banana puree, roasted plantains, chocolate covered bacon. I don’t know what happened after chocolate covered bacon. It was amazing. Ms. L and I both thought it was going to have too much banana but we loved it.
All Star Dessert Pizza

I asked if Parlor Sports knew what the next rumble would be. They’ve done nachos, hot dogs, and something else. I suggested wings, or bar food, or cookies. Pizza was a good one and now I have lots of pizza ideas to add to my collection…watch out!

Best Fries of My Life

Want to hear all about my vacay? Ok, great!

I feel like I’ve been traveling non-stop for work. Luckily, I get to go to pretty great places (love Chicago, and San Fran x2) but it definitely makes me focused on maintaining my everyday life when I am home (seeing my people, going to the gym, cooking real food, blogging, etc).

As much as I was tiring of living out of my suitcase every other week, I stayed after one of my trips and Mr. J came to meet me. I was really tempted to opt for a more relaxed getaway but I do truly love San Fran and I was psyched to share it with Mr. J for the first time.

You might think that spending time in a city I’ve been to about 5x might be relaxing, but he and I are like sightseers on speed. We literally race around a city to see all the sites, learn the history, do as the locals do, all while capturing the best photography light (for him) and eating fun local finds (for me- as seen here) . This is precisely why our honeymoon cruise through Europe was so appealing to mix up the relaxing I-don’t-have-to-think (as in I’ll just show up for dinner after lounging by the pool) with how-to-see-Rome-in-a-day.

I have a few meals to share with you from this trip. They are actually both restaurants I’ve been to before. I know that might not seem exciting, but I’m telling you. After running up & down hills for about 7 hours a day without stopping for lunch meant that by dinner time we were starved and trying to regroup after a busy day. Even I don’t want to browse reviews and price ranges at that point. Our hotel did have homemade cookies all the time and that’s quite the treat when choosing a dinner location ;)

With that long winded recap, I give you Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen!
Jasper's
I ate here after working a 24-hour event. We work for a million hours through the night, sleep for a few hours then everyone is up and ready for food. A group of us ended up here and I thought it was just so charming. They have this crazy-good side of brussels sprouts pedals with bacon and filberts…sooo good and definitely I want to attempt to recreate. This time I brought Mr. J back and he loved it too.

I was sad that they don’t have a veggie, turkey, or chicken burger since I can’t eat red meat, but I do get that chefs are sometimes quite against fake-burgers. It’s not really a burger-joint per se, but that’s what I had in mind. I did 100% get on board with a grilled cheese with pork belly.
Jaspers Pork Belly Grilled Cheese
Seriously best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. It was perfectly grilled on some quality bread. This was a substantial sandwich served piping hot. There’s not much worse than a limp, tepid grilled cheese. I liked the tomato and onion relish on a few bites too.

Mr. J got the “J Burger” how appropriate?! It had blue cheese, bacon onion marmalade…after that topping, need I say more? I’m sure it tasted better than my fuzzy-low-light photo makes it look!
Jasper's burger
Now, one of the best parts: the fries. This restaurant has a French. Fry. menu. The fries are seriously good enough to deserve their own menu. We splurged and got a side of fries to share in addition to the fries that came with his burger.
Jasper's fries
We had the regular thin fries and thick cut truffle parmesan. I was so impressed that Jasper’s really knows what they are doing with the fries and does it really well. These suckers are seriously addicting. I couldn’t stop reaching for more.

Needless to say we were wayyy too stuffed for any dessert. I learned a lot about their desserts from an obnoxiously loud table nearby who our sweet server humored and unfortunately the owner seemed to dote on. Chocolate cake with toffee ice cream dipped in chocolate does sound delicious now though.

Our server was from MA too and was so full of personality. She was great and I was FLOORED that she remembered the work group when I mentioned I’d been there a month ago. She remembered where we had been sitting. This gal was so great, attentive, and made us feel at home. Speaking of feeling at home, the fries didn’t hurt either.

Beantown’s Food Truck Fun

Way back when, I saw that Boston’s Rose Kennedy was having a food truck gathering. Unfortunately Occupy Boston meant that the food truck festival has to be postponed. Something like 150 protesters were camping out (I’d have a real stat if Occupy Boston’s own website actually worked).

My beef with this was that they were not only vague with their mission, but they destroyed the park, lived in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, spent taxpayer dollars on police details, and refuse to recognize altering views. I feared when I attempted to obtain a permit for the park at work (by following the regulation, paying the fee, and leaving the park in perfect condition) that Occupy Boston would have ruined it for everyone. Thankfully I got my permit.

Ok, I’m off my soap box. The food truck gathering was rescheduled and I just happened to be working in my office that Saturday. It was perfect timing and Ms. M met me for some lunch.
food_truck_techie
It was better than other food truck festivals I’ve been to. It was great to see so many out I hadn’t had before AND there wasn’t an entrance fee. We scoped ‘em all out and then chose randomly.
food_truck_staff_menu_590_390
I saw Staff Meal and was psyched to try it. I was pretty drawn to the bacon jam and the truck made chorizo. These two items were dictating my choice. I couldn’t pass on the bacon jam.

I got the chicken paprikash taco with bacon jam and French’s onions. It was the most interesting taco I’ve ever had. I loved the tender chicken with the paprika. The salty bacon jam was to-die-for. It had a lime to squeeze on top for freshness and crunchy onions.
food_truck_paprikosh_590_390
Ms. M got the truck made chorizo taco with lime crema, radish, and lettuce. It looked really good too. I just didn’t want to spend $10 on just 2 tacos. They were pretty special and significant but still a touch pricey.
food_truck_chorizo_taco_590_390
Then we were onto the sides. I saw the menu at Mei Mei Street Kitchen. They had some fun looking items and I hadn’t heard of their truck before.
food_truck_fiddle_menu_390_590
I got the fiddleheads. They were really lightly battered and fried. I looooved that they weren’t greasy and the freshness really came through. I wasn’t into the wasabi mayo though.
food_truck_fiddlehead_390_590
The Greenway is expanding their mobile eats in a big way…and I’ll be there!

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese Food Truck Fun

In honor of my Momma’s birthday I thought I should be sure to post something she’d think was fun and festive. Happy birthday Momma R!

Good thing we’re up on our social media at work because otherwise we wouldn’t have known Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food truck was in the neighborhood at work! It was a few weeks ago during that almost-spring not-really-still-winter and a walk down the street for a freshly made grilled cheese was JUST what was in order.

roxy_truck_logo_390_590
I’ve watched the Great American Food Truck Race and loved the boys of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese from Boston. I really wanted them to win! I get faux-star struck and thought it was fun to see them in action.

I got the Mac & Chorizo. Grilled cheese with mac & cheese and chorizo…how can you go wrong? I was tempted by the truffle fries but abstained. I was glad I did once I saw the size and heft to my sandwich.
roxy_truck_sand_590_390
It was really good, very gooey, and buttery. I think I would have liked more varied textures. The bread really held up to the fillings but it was too soft and gooey.
roxy_truck_menu_590_390
I should have gotten the Rookie Melt with cheddar and tomato. I just couldn’t go to the truck and not get the mac & cheese one. Now, I’ve tried it and can move on.

Happy Birthday to my Mum!

 

Old Stove

Antico Forno: this restaurant named for the “old stove” warmed my heart. I love the North End in Boston and I love improptu date nights even more! We had a deal gift certificate that was on the verge of expiring and it was such a treat to have such a fun dinner on a weeknight! Mr. J had heard their pizza was pretty authentically Neopolitan and ever since the honeymoon pizza he’s been as obsessed about pizza as I always have been!

We started by sharing a salad. It was awesome and plenty to share. It had field greens, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, grilled zucchini stuffed with goat cheese, and a crispy flat bread…kind of like flattened focaccia.
antico_forno_salad_590_390
I can take or leave goat cheese so I didn’t think the zucchini needed to be stuffed with it since it was crumbled on top too, but the salad was good. The zucchini was a great addition to make this salad a bit more special.

Then we split 2 pizzas…and took a lot home. I blame the addicting flattened focaccia for filling us up.

We got one margahrita. We had to compare it to pizzas of Italy.
antico_forno_marg2_590_390
The other was called Vesuvio. This pizza had homemade mozzarella, roasted peppers, ricotta, tomatoes, and sliced prosciutto.
antico_forno_pros_590_390
Check out the good stuff under this to-die-for-pizza. The ricotta was sweet and creamy. The prosciutto was perfectly salty and not tough at all.
antico_forno_pros_in_590_390
We ended the evening with a race to the train. Literally. We began realizing that since we had hurried over there, we were actually ending the meal basically in time for the earlier train. The later train would mean we needed to kill some time with a drink or whatever.

Somehow we made it. We ran outside to cross the street and enthusiastically hailed a cab. Theoretically we shouldn’t have made it in time but the red lights our cab ran through became a blur and we were on our train home. Whew.

Boston Brunchers Benedict

What seems like forever ago, I went to a brunch hosted by the Boston Brunchers at Landsdowne Pub. I left in a food coma so maybe that’s what’s taken me so long to post this! Hope this brunch is just in time for the weekend.
blogbrunch_sign_390_590
I arrived and was warmly welcomed as other attendees showed up. We had already perused the menu but began by ordering drinks. I had a coffee and a liquid caramel coffee that was delectable.
blogbrunch_menu_590_390
Their breakfast menu had a good assortment of traditional brunch items…many of which had an Irish twist. The buttermilk pancakes with strawberries and Bailey’s whipped cream caught my eye. I think it was the booze in the whipped cream that had me at hello.
blogbrunch_drink_590_390
I went with the crabcake benedict. It was so good and I was really glad I got something I wouldn’t be making at home.
blogbrunch_crabcake_590_390
The crabcake was flavorful with big crab chunks- not completely filler. I might have liked the hollandaise to be more lemony but it was good, and rich. The eggs were cooked perfectly!
blogbrunch_yolk_590_390
A few folks at the table got the Lansdowne Pie (Irish Ham, eggs, potatoes, spinach onions and cheddar served w/ home fries). It looked even better than it sounded. It was piled high and stayed together. Yum.
blogbrunch_pie_590_390
One of the best moments for me, besides the fun conversations, was that when the food arrived everyone at the table started snapping photos. There were no “pardon-while-I-reach-over-your-food-to-take-a-picture” moments. Everyone snapped away. There were even iphones for additional light. It was ahhhhmazing.
blogbrunch_irish_590_390
Our server was a gem. Serving a group is never easy, especially since we ordered drinks every time she came back to check on us. What a trooper.

There was live music and they were ready to serve the crowds. I wouldn’t think of Fenway as an area to head to for brunch, but if you’re in that ‘hood, you should!

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Brunch was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

As Southern as Fried Chicken

I went to Charleston, SC to celebrate my favorite sister’s 30th birthday. These posts are wayy overdue but you know how it is. One day it’s a beautiful early fall day and the next a turkey is on the table!
jestines_outside_590_390
I did my research before we went as in I perused menus and took a gander at historical sites. I actually included a list of foods we had to eat in the south including: fried chicken, fried pickles, grits, fried green tomatoes, dirty rice, and bbq. I have to say we did a pretty good job.For her birthday we enjoyed a totally memorable meal of fried chicken. Finger lickin’ good. We went to Jestine’s Kitchen and loved every bite.

They brought some homemade pickles to get us started. Yum! Totally tart and crunchy. I love when people give me pickles!
jestines_pickles_390_590
Then we got an order of corn fritters. They were more filler than corn but they were good…especially with the spicy compote.
jestines_cornfritter_590_390
I got the fried chicken basket which meant I got 2 pieces of chicken, a side, and slaw. I chose fried okra because fried + fried = delicious. It was so good! I’ve only ever had pickled okra but even that is rare and not something you see in the north.
jestines_chick_basket_590_390This was the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.

Sis got the fried chicken plate with collards and mac & cheese. It was all really good and was wayyy too much.
jestines_chick_plate_590_390
The atmosphere was really nice. I liked how casual it was. It felt homey and friendly. There was a line around the corner when we left.Pssst! I have some tastes of the south coming up as well so stay tuned!

Blue Ribbon Wins In My Book

Mr. J and I squeaked in on cashing a discount deal we’d purchased to Blue Ribbon Barbecue and loved it! We went the last night before it expired and saw a few other with the deal in line behind us too.Blue Ribbon has 2 locations and I realized I’d been to the Newton, MA one way back when with my sis. Mr. J and I went to the Arlington one.
blueribbon_outside_590_390
I got pulled pork, collard greens, cole slaw, and I couldn’t resist a side of corn bread. I love pulled pork.
blueribbon_myplate_590_390
The pulled pork was super tender and just begging for one of their many sauces. I couldn’t get over the collards. Sometimes they’re severely overcooked but they were fresh and leafy. I think they cook them with a ham hock…as if there’s any other way.
blueribbon_sauces_590_390
I liked the cole slaw, but wasn’t wowed. Same with the corn bread. The corn bread was very crumbly, as it should be, but I thought it was too dry.
blueribbon_cornbread_590_390
Mr. J got ribs, baked beans, cole slaw. He liked everything and had been there before.
blueribbon_justplate_590_390
They do catering and take out but we plopped down with our plates along their window counter. The outside seats were full since the season to eat outside was nearing an end.

Dare I say it? I think I like Blue Ribbon Barbecue BETTER than Red Bones. I’m not sure but it might be so.

blueribbon_sandwichboard_390_590