Category Archives: drinkin’

I’M BAAAAAAACK! Also, espresso dusted seared sea scallops with a burnt orange cream sauce

so, i’ve taken waaaay too much time off from this blog. not that anyone reads it (it’s secret, so if you know about it, you’re one of like, 2 that do). after commencement happened in may, i lost my will to do ANYTHING at all that resembled work. i’ve often said i like the schedule of academia, but they do try to cram so much junk into 1 weekend – hence 14 events during two days. i guess i took the summer off people, and what of it? that’s what i thought. sit down. i was initially going to try and recap commencement weekend with a bunch of pics and posts, but i never got around to it. perhaps i still will at some point. and then, you will be able to see one of my crowning achievements: a catered luncheon for the prime minister of Belgium, yves letermeImage. well, have you ever served lunch to a Belgian PM? no, you have not. once again, sit down. however, an outsider nudged me about this blog, so here i am to revitalize it to it’s once former glory. eh..or something. short story: worked a 4am shift last sunday, so i hunkered down with some netflix and seafood for an early night in. i had this really super awesome stonewall kitchen espresso dry rub that i picked up at their store in portland, ME a year ago that i’ve been really meaning to try out, however the opportunity never arose. well, last night it did. whilst internetting, i saw a side sauce for a burnt orange sauceImage and it struck me that coffee and oranges are perfectly opposite on the color wheel of taste. it seemed perfect. oh, and it was. i picked up about 6 “meh” sized sea scallops from the store down the street and a can of OJ concentrate. the rest, per usual is winged. sauteed some shallot and garlic then i took half the can of concentrate, added savory herbs like oregano, bay leaf, parsley and let simmer for an hour. you want this to reduce, so get it on the gas and let it go.Image however, i also wanted to build this over a risotto base, which is equally time consuming. being in the restaurant industry, we have some wicked good shortcuts for a lot of menu items. one that i will totally stand by is uncle bens instant risotto. this stuff is already cooked off in a sealed foil pouch and actually makes a great risotto. alas, i had no UB’s instant, so i made mine the hard way. NB: making risotto is a bitch. straight up bitch, fo’ realz. step 1.) agonize over the fact that you are about to launch a 2 hour process that you cannot step away from (go pee now!). step 2.) put some butter (2tblsp) or EVO into a heavy sauce pot and heat on a medium flame. step 3.) say goodbye to everything for the next 2 hours. step 4.) toast your aborio rice for about 2 minutes. I add shallot/onion and garlic at this point. let it get translucent and add your stock.Image Oh wait! yeah, you need stock! i use a base i get through a supplier, but you can find a really good base on the shelves out there. keep that quart of stock warm, otherwise it will slow down the absorption process. step 5.) painstakingly add 4-6oz of stock to the rice as quickly as it can absorb it. you can see that when you draw a spoon through the rice, it leaves a clear trail. that is the time to add more stock. also, i like to toss in a cup of dry white wine and a squirt or two of lemon juice. also, i add a few dashes of orange bitters. there are numerous brands, so don’t stress about that. this is also a perfect moment to throw together an old fashioned, seeing as you have the bitters out and all. Imagemy holy grail recipe is stolen straight from the menu of the citizen wine, chocolate and cheese bar. dash of OJ bitters, cube of sugar, three drops of lemon oil. ice and your rye of choice. hold the salad. ok, so we have our risotto and sauce simmering. time to multitask. sip your old fashioned and get your scallops out and smear with the espresso rub. fire up a heavy pan (cast iron if you have it) and add a couple tblsp of EVO. let the pan get to smoking and then place your scallops in the pan. if you don”t get smoke and spitting oil, you’re doing it wrong. Imagesear those little mollusks!!! i would say about 1 minute per side (yeah, gotta flip ’em) and then they’re done. at this point, your risotto should be all set and the sauce as well. 5 minutes before you plate, add a couple oz of heavy cream to the OJ sauce. it will thicken it and add a creamy texture to boot. spoon the rice and place your scallops, then drizzle the sauce. and ya know what? that’s it peeps.

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crucifixion cookies, anyone?

my good friend, T, is spending her last few months in RI. she’s headed down south to tampa, FL (god knows why) after accepting a position as catering director at a university in the sunshine state. YES! i’ve tried to dissuade her from leaving, but she seems intent on following through with the move. maybe it’s because here in the northeast, there’s a conservative undertone in collegiate culinary operations, as best witnessed by this example.

crucifixion cookies

yes, our baker decided to make CRUCIFIXION sugar cookies for easter this year. i will be going through his cookie cutter collection come monday. but back to her move; i’ve expressed to her that it’s a bunch of old people, and jewish people, and old jewish people. at the end of the day, it will be a good move for her professionally. also, her family is in the area, so that’s a major plus as well. however, we will be sad to see her leave lil’ rhody. no more backyard tiki bar soirees. no more cornhole tourneys. no more hanging out at the avery or getting kicked out of luxe burger. and most definitely, no more drunken brunches at downcity 😦

for the last 4-5 years, T has been hosting easter dinner at her place, and this year was no exception and extra special ‘cus it’s the last one she’ll spend with the pvd crew. she’s such a perfectionist; everything has to be done correctly, including the food and booze. when you walk in, the table is set, flowers are in vases, the drinks are chilled and the ham roasting in the oven smells divine.

most of her guests are foodies, if not full out chefs, so the menu is key in this setting. we all bring a dish to accompany the main course, and i have to say that all comers are delish. this year i made a roasted tomato and mozzarella panzanella salad. yeah, i know what you’re thinking; “wait, no tastymeaty dish?” knowing that there was going to be a rockin’ ham, i leaned towards the health zone my friends. it was pretty damn good.

I took some yellow and red grape tomatoes, halved them, added a bit of diced jalapeno for some fire,

tomahts

and tossed it with some evo, s&p, green onion, and added some ripped dandelion greens that i had bought on a whim during my last shopping excursion (you never know when you may need dandelion greens). in retrospect, the greens were a bit bitter (and i like bitter) so maybe using something like a baby spinach or arugula would’ve worked better. I roasted it uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. at the same time, i took a day-old baguette and cut it into roughly 1″ chunks, spread it out on a cookie sheet and drizzled with evo. finish with some sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, then throw it in the oven for the remaining 15 minutes so your tomatoes and bread end up coming out at the same time. i packed everything up in a thermal bag and made the trip to pvd. on arrival, i added bocconcini and the bread cubes, and gave it a quick toss. i really liked the warm tomatoes and the cool mozz combination. the crusty bread offered a really hearty feel to what is a relatively light dish. i’m going to have to say that it went over well as none of the salad made the return trip with me.

easter dinner at T’s was yet again another phenomenal gastro experience. from zucchini pie, to the oven baked ham, to the kick ass roasted tomato salad, we all left sated and just a bit bigger. i’m sad to see my friend host her last pvd easter dinner, but i wish her the best of luck in all of her upcoming adventures. 

ralph’s rockstar diner

ralph’s is a major institution, known not only to the woostah locals, but as a hidden new england gem to many in…well, rhode island. that’s about it. so they’ve got central MA and lil’ rhody, which could be worse. however, as the providence natives know, there are few, and ever dwindling, live music venues left in pvd compared to just 5 years ago. well, ralph’s chadwick square diner (which isn’t in chadwick square, make sure you mention  that to your gps) is still here! and i would argue that you need to at least make one trip and experience it’s awesomeness. built out of an old dining car, attached to an ancient firehouse, it’s the perfect eclectic mix of awesome food, great atmosphere and some really good bands. as you enter (beware the mob of cynical hipster smokers out front; don’t get any cynical on you…or hipster for that matter), turning left will bring you into the dining car. behind the counter, running the length of the car, some dude is grilling burgers and the slight smokey char of tasty meat wafts all throughout. my first visit, i plunked down on a counter seat and asked for a menu. i think the jukebox actually stopped. there are no menus! this is ralph’s! i was informed that they serve: burgers, veggie burgers, chili. there’s no special cheese selection, you can’t add applewood smoked slab bacon for $2, and there are definitely no crostini for the chili. you will get your cheeseburger and bag of chips and you will like it! so, stfu, sit, and get a burger. they are one of the best i’ve had since moving here. there is something to be said for doing just a few things and doing them really well. oh, and at the counter, full bar service. it’s like you don’t even need to move! however, you might miss out on all the other stuff going on at ralph’s.  if you were to turn right upon entering, you would head into a more typical bar area. rough wood, vintage signs, more hipsters, etc. a year or so ago, i actually went on a first date to ralphs, way before i actually knew very much about the place. it was an internet thing, and the girl was just getting back from an early wedding reception on a saturday evening. she had texted me, “hey, let’s meet up at ralph’s for a bit”. then she texted immediately after, “wait, i might be too drunk to go out – call me first so i know you’re not some psycho”. this, of course should have set off all kinds of alarm bells on my end. however, for those of you who actually know me, you know that we were at ralph’s within the next 30 minutes. and we were. we proceeded into the bar section and i quickly realized that it was karaoke night. she apparently knew and had actually intended on going to sing karaoke, because she made a beeline for the sign up table. we stood, awkwardly sipping beers till it was her turn. when they called her name, she rushed up to the mic and sang, “buffalo stance“. yes, that one. then she calmly replaced the mic, stepped off the stage, and came back and grabbed her beer. we never spoke about what had just happened. needless to say, i’m sure it goes without saying that nothing ever came of that first date travesty. continuing on, if you venture upstairs, that’s where all of the live music takes place. it’s a pretty much open floor plan with a good sized stage at the end and another full bar. motorcycles hang from the ceiling, your little brother’s highschool band sticker is on the wall and the hipsters have somehow figured out how to navigate the stairs. of course it depends who’s playing, but the atmosphere is really good and you could end up spending your saturday night at much worse places

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new year’s at bocado

this is the second year in a row that we’ve done new years eve flamenco wine dinner at bocado. if you haven’t been, go. the only, and therefore obviously, best tapas place in the woo. owned by niche hospitality, bocado is a smashup of class, style, wine, more class, and tasty meaty things.

the flamenco dancer was beautiful, but in this candid, she's a bit creepy looking. in a "im a creepy gypsy looking over your shoulder" kinda way.

this year, tickets were only $75 ( i think last year they were $100) which gets you a seat in an intimate private dining room of about 40 guests. it also gets you 5 courses of tapas & platos, sangria, mucho wine, and 2 flamenco sets.

i’d love to rehash the menu with you, but after 5 courses of wine, i have no idea exactly what i ate. there was a pig involved though. definitely a pig. i do remember taking a menu card for this

very reason, but my briefly logical self forgot to tell NYE self where said card was stashed for safe keeping. the good news is that bocado runs a flamenco dinner, albeit not as zomg-all out-NYEish, every third friday of the month. i suggest you check it out. no, seriously. go. now.

cava toast from the porron. pretty much all downhill after this.

tasty meat

this is how the night ended. i was in a tommy girl kinda mood. in retrospect, this makes me think i was in the wrong bathroom...

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greetings from the woo, sort of

so, i set out to put together a worcester-centric food blog, only to make my first post from the wilds of rural new jersey. yes, there are wilds in dirty jerz. like wild wood, and swedesboro *shudder*. i’m not saying i’d never go to swedesboro, but i would NEVER go to swedesboro. have you seen those people?!? but it’s the day after chistmas, my birthday. yes, my birthday is the day after christmas, and yes it blows. i’ve never had a friends party (too close to the holiday), never got to bring cupcakes into school when i was little (school is out of session) never get to go out to a bar with anyone (nothing is open), etc, etc, blahblahblah. not that i’m complaining of course. i mean, i get to spend every birthday at my parent’s house, with my family, in the wilds of rural new jersey…EVERY. BIRTHDAY. EVERY. but, i digress. so, since i’m stuck in the middle of nowhere for the day, i’ve started a most enjoyable tradition: i cook the eff out of something and drink bourbon. and for the last two years, that’s been working out pretty well. i’m all about the pork. sausage, is god’s gift to me – a peace offering for being born the day after his frakking son.  and one of my favorite dishes with sausage is cassoulet. i’ve sort of forgotten the first recipe i found and used for cassoulet (i don’t really ever use a recipe), so i just winged it again. plus, this allows for an ever-evolving dish, which is awesome.  my mom had some great thick cut slab bacon from the local farmers market and some really nice pork sausages to start with. sauteed that up in the le creuset,

snausages

removed the bacon when browned (don’t drain!!) and let the sausages go at a medium flame. add some mirepoix, sweat, then added stock, wine, water just to cover the pork shoulders and let that simmer away for a while. i cheat and use canned white beans, but there are plenty of peeps who think the dried produce a better final product. i guess it has something to do with the dried bean soaking in ALL THE FAT that this dish has. if you have the time, sure, soak some cannelloni overnight and incorporate. didn’t have duck legs (well, i could get them, but at $35 for the entire duck…meh) so i used chicken thighs. browned and reserved for the final pot. some say there should be no tomato in this dish at all, but i always throw in a bit of tomato paste, just to thicken and give it a nice reddish hue. so, basically, once all your meats are browned, toss them into the stock mix and let that simmer for 2 hours at about 250 (times and temps are not fixed due to amount of bourbon consumption at this point). once everything gets in the le creuset dutch oven and braises for a couple of hours, pull it and top with a mix of breadcrumbs and shredded parmesan cheese. you want a nice, thick crust on this so put an ample amount. throw it back in the oven and hit high on the broiler. keep an eye on it because you don’t want to burn all that parmesan goodness, but you want it to crisp up. at this point, it’s either gonna’ rock or it’s gonna’ be crap. hope it’s not crap. and if it is, you can’t really blame me, now can you? merry christmas and happy effing birthday.

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