The dark(roast) side

Posted by Anita on 07.28.06 11:46 PM


I feel like a corporate whore, but at least I am a *local* corporate whore: The Scharffen-Berger Mocha Freddo is my new guilty pleasure. That’s not grainy cocoa, oh no… it’s ground espresso. Oh dear god…

coffee & tea, dessert
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Plenty to drink

Posted by Anita on 07.25.06 6:19 PM

booze on kitchen counter This morning we moved everything breakable — which is to say, nearly everything — out of the dining room in preparation for painting. I don’t think I understood how much booze and glassware we had in there until I saw it all covering every square inch of counter space.

drinks
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Sí of Cortez

Posted by Anita on 07.14.06 9:33 AM

After our first dinner at Cortez few months back, we were pleasantly surprised. The food was creative without being avant-garde, the cocktails were both well-planned and well-executed, and the service was warm but professional. We’ve gone back a couple of times for drinks at the bar. We love the rosemary popcorn, and the house Manhattan — made with Hirsch bourbon and brandied cherries — is one of my favorite drinks in town.

When we had dinner there last night, the food didn’t seem as inspired (maybe the novelty’s worn off?), but everything was at least good. The hanger steak was a little liver-y for my taste, but the accompanying onion rings remained truly divine. Other standouts included lemon verbena ice cream (which was an accompaniment to a lackluster apricot dessert), and a salad garnished with wafer-thin slices of manchego and serrano ham. The katafi-crusted crab cake was fairly pedestrian and a little heavy, and exterior of the lobster ravioli a bit chewy — although they put the hockey-pucks we had at Mamma Maria to shame. On the positive side, the service was just as wonderful as we remembered.

The decor manages to be modern-contemporary without feeling the slightest bit sterile. The light fixtures are works of art, and the noise is subdued by beautiful cork wallcoverings on the structural columns and doors leading into a private dining room.

All in all, a fabulous pre-theater option, and a great place to have a cocktail.

Cortez Restaurant
550 Geary Street (inside the Hotel Adagio)
San Francisco, CA 94102
415.292.6360

downtown SF, restaurants
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Steeped in tradition

Posted by Anita on 07.09.06 6:18 PM

Nocino (c)2006 AECOn Saturday, we harvested our first bergamot from the new tree. It was very light and probably overripe, so I didn’t think it’d be worth juicing it, and frankly we have plenty of bergamocello (from commercial bergamots) this year, so no need for the zest. I decided to make a quarter-batch of Lucy’s belle-mere’s Vin d’Orange with it.

I also found green walnuts at the Alemany Farmers Market, and bought 4 pounds of them to make nocino. It turned out I had a few extras, so I also made a small batch of Paula Wolfert’s vin de noix.

Now I just have to wait 40 days to find out how they come out.

drinks, farmers markets, preserving & infusing, recipes
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The raw and the cooked

Posted by Anita on 07.02.06 9:17 AM

On the advice of some friends from MouthfulsFood, we made the trek over to the Somerville/Cambridge border for dinner at East Coast Grill and Raw Bar.

Two minor quibbles: First, it's difficult to get to without a car — the nearest T stop is about 3/4 of a mile away, and when it's 90° and 90% humidity, you will feel every one of those 3,960 feet. The other downside is that the place is practically legendary for having lines out the door, but still they manage to have no room to wait in the bar. Those two things — and those alone — are the only barriers between this place and restaurant perfection.

We loved the great white-wine sangria, justifiably famous tuna tacos and "wet bone" ribs; other barbecue items aren't nearly as impressive. The meat in my brisket sandwich was a touch dry, and the sauce was too-sweet and unremarkable. The wet bones have a slightly Asian taste to them, and are much, much better. We were told that the striped bass was a must-order dish if it was available. It was, and it was!

I thought the prices were really a good value for the quality. The decor is a little 80s-dated — Nagel called, and he wants his wall sconces back — but the atmosphere is so funky and friendly that you can't help but be won over.

East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
1271 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617.491.6568

Boston, food boards, restaurants, travel
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Mamma mia!

Posted by Anita on 07.01.06 9:09 AM

A bit of backstory: Cameron and I went to Mamma Maria on our first serious date, 10 years ago. We've eaten there a few times over the years, and found the food to be as good as we remembered. But, after eating here last month for our 10th anniversary, I have to say that this place seems to have taken a serious turn for the worse.

All of the food was at least a level below the quality you'd expect for the price. In particular, my lobster ravioli were terrible: the pasta was pasty and gluey, the filling was badly seasoned, and the size of them made them feel more like empanadas than anything italian — too huge by an order of magnitude.

 

The service was utterly terrible: Our waiter ignored us for part of the meal, brought Cameron the wrong glass of wine (and then sneered at us when we pointed out his error, insinuating that we couldn't tell one wine from another by taste alone), and didn't do anything at all other than take our order and bring our food — at this level, the server should be an active part of making the dining experience pleasant, which he certainly was not.

We left without ordering dessert, sad to see such a sentimental favorite fall so far.

Mamma Maria
3 North Square
Boston, MA 02113
617.523.0077

Boston, restaurants, travel
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