Rollin’ in Dough: Flatbread’s latest spot in Brighton brings New Balance to food and fun (and vice versa) (Originally posted 12/17)

Though Lanes & Games and Sacco’s in Davis Square may be memories, bowling seems to be making a resurgence in the land of the candlepin. For proof, look no further than the burgeoning development Boston Landing, home of WGBH, New Balance, the Bruins, Celtics, and the biggest hockey stick this side of Paul Bunyan, which is now also the home of the latest Flatbread Company. pizzeria (www.flatbreadcompany.com), an organic eatery with many locations that also features bowing in the Brighton base.

 

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A Great Place to Get Social: Chef Justin Rexroad does over a famous overpass (Originally posted 11/17)

Every day, thousands of people pass under the two lone buildings that tunnel the Mass Turnpike. One is a supermarket; the other a hotel. And while the former may have more options, the latter is surely a more pleasant place to dine, especially now that Chef Justin Rexroad has come to town!

A finalist in the recent Culinary Fight Club event that took place at another deservedly popular hotel restaurant (i.e., Bokx 109 a the Hotel Indigo), Chef Rexroad is now commuting from Portsmouth, NH (home of the locally legendary Clipper Tavern) to Newton to bring a new flavor and vibe to Social Restaurant and Bar (www.socialrestaurantandbar.com), the dining establishment that is tucked into the Crown Plaza Hotel in Newton. In so doing, he has transformed the room service kitchen into a place worth driving too, even if it means enduring the backup on Exit 17!

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All in Good Taste: Boston Magazine event at Children’s Museum offers fun and funds (Originally posted 11/17)

While the legendary George Carlin (who I quote openly and often) once poked fun at the questionable taste of charity events that offer free food as a way to encourage donations for the hungry, there was no question regarding the good taste of Boston Magazine’s latest Taste event, which raised funds for the Greater Boston Food Bank (www.gbfb.org) through an all-night smorgasbord of Boston’s best bites that took place November 14 at the Children’s Museum.

From apps to desserts to beverages, Taste offered charitably minded diners a little bit of everything and all they could eat of their favorites. Among the participating purveyors were such local legends as Michael’s Deli, Top of the Hub, Bistro Du Midi, Chris Coombs’ Boston Chops, Jason Santos’ Buttermilk and Bourbon (which will soon be paired with Citrus and Salt), Jeremy Sewell’s Les Sablons, and Andy Husbands’ The Smoke Shop (which will soon be opening its first satellite across the street from the Museum). There was also a wide array of rising stars, including Frenchie (the subterranean South End bistro which is helmed by part of the team from Jackie Robert’s well-established empire), Pabu Izikaya, Benedetto (which has more than filled the space left by Jody Adams’ Rialto at the Charles Hotel), and Mario Batali’s dynamic duo of Babbo Pizzeria and Terra at Eataly Boston. To ash it all down, there were offerings from Stella Artois, Bombay Sapphire, Ketel One, Dark Knight wine, Virginia Distillery, and a provocative pairing featuring our own Polar Beverages and Blue Fire Coffee, who released their new Holiday Blend at the event to rave reviews. And while many of these offerings were of the adult variety, the venue kept the kid inside alive as guests played with bubbles and dinosaur bones as they drank bubbly and dug into ribs.

As DJ Ryan Brown spun reminiscent tunes, generous ticket holders could also try on the latest releases from Cadillac, participating in an interactive display that encouraged them to envision themselves living the highlife even more completely while enjoying the best of what American labor can provide. Speaking of providing, the beneficiary of the night provides meals for millions in Eastern MA and is always looking for more support. That is why events like Taste are so important and why they remain so popular among the cooking and dining sets alike.

 

What, no Matzah?: International food book tells (most of it) like it is

In her new book, Food Around the World (which is part of BookLIfe’s Around the World series for early readers and their families), British author Joanna Brundle takes readers on a delicious voyage to see how people in many other countries and cultures eat.

After explaining why we eat by likening an energy source like food to “petrol,” she presents a menu of traditional favorites that range from her native fish and chips to Asian noodles and sushi, Italian gelato, Russian borscht, and Indian curry before introducing the “Big Three” crops that make up most of the international diet- corn (“maize”), rice, and wheat. After setting the table, Brundle takes time to look at special times on the cultural calendar and the foods that are often related to them, such as Christmas pudding and post-Ramadan fast foods. She then shows how various peoples procure their foods, offering beautiful images of African fruit markets and Sri Lankan fishermen balancing on poles in the water while they attempt to spear fish with long poles.

Before saying “bon appetit,” Brundle takes a moment to note how many people do not have enough food and to encourage readers to participate at food banks and to do what they can to share their bounty. Such generosity is a message that is truly universal and nutritious.

 

 

(www.ipgbook.com)

Pucker Up, Film Fans!

And the Winner REALLY Is…: The definitive ranking of the greatest actors and actresses in Oscar history

By Ken Grout

Lemon Yellow Books

http://lemonyellowbooks.com

While my readers and listeners may wonder why a review of a book about the Academy Awards is on my food-related blog, older fans will remember that, before I was talking about food with Jordan Rich as part of “Connoisseur’s Corner” (weekdays at 11:55 AM on WBZ AM 1030), I was a film reviewer for multiple publications and have always been a fan. Also, in addition to the fact that the publisher of this book is LEMON Yellow Books, it is just a DARN FINE BOOK- so there!

As an actor, teacher, and bon vivant, Ken Grout knows how to communicate ideas and engage audiences. And that is proven in this book as much as it is in any of his classes or performances. While there still may be uncomfortable giggles about the “La La Land” / “Moonlight” fiasco, Grout uses his encyclopedic knowledge of film along with a tiebreaking scheme that is the stuff of “Good Will Hunting” or “A Beautiful Mind” to establish a series of lists that serve as the mic-dropping ends to the “who is better?” conversations all film fans have.

Whether you want to know who has the most nominations in which categories 9and so “rank” higher in Grout’s impressive and comprehensive system), the gender, last name, or even the first initial of the most winners, or who dominated the silver screen decade by decade, Grout’s slim and bright (inside and out) volume has the answers. In addition to providing this information (in a way that admittedly hearkens to “Rain Man”), the book is also a great way to find out more about favorite stars and films and also to discover new ones, compete with recommendations for “must see” roles for each winner. There is even a section on film stars who crossed over to TV (and vice versa). So whether you like the big or small screen (or waiting for big screen pics to be available on the small one), this Lemon Yellow Book is absolutely sweet!

Make a Bee-line for Red Stripe (Originally posted 8/17)

While we wait the triumphant return of Boston-based Chef Rachel Klein, it is good to know that she has landed so well…and so close!

Only a 20-minute ride on the Commuter Rail (who wants to drive 95?), the dynamic duo of Red Stripe restaurants (http://redstriperestaurants.com) in Providence and East Greenwich are perfect places for a family meal (including Parents’ Weekend at Brown or RISD), a special night out, or anything else you can think of. Continue reading

More Than Just Roosters: RI food tour offers the world in one city (Originally posted 8/17)

Living in the Boston area, I am more amazed (and frankly more spoiled) by the diversity and quality of the booming food scene. Many is the time when I have been enjoying a meal in my home state and felt there really could be nothing better.

It’s amazing what a $6 train ride can do to one’s perspective!

Recently, my mom asked to take our beloved twins for a weekend. Eager to get away but not keen of dealing with airports, etc., we hopped on the commuter rail and headed south to Providence. As a Brown kid born and bred and a perennial Newport Jazz goer, I had been to the smallest state before, but usually just for day trips that involved a quick bite and maybe a Del’s frozen lemonade. This time, we had the opportunity to take in all the great food and culture Providence had to offer, and we took full advantage of it!

While the Gondola Tour (www.gondolari.com) and the nostalgic visit to Dave & Busters (www.daveandbusters.com) were great, the highlight of the trip had to be the food! We started the weekend with dinner at Al Forno (www.alforno.com) and ended it with a visit to our neighbor Chef Rachel Klein at one of her appropriately-famed Red Stripe restaurants (www.redstriperestaurants.com), In the middle- like the delicious filling in a Boston Cream pie donut from Knead Donuts (www.kneaddoughnuts.com) was the Rhode Island Red Food Tour (www.rhodeislandredfoodtours.com).

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It’s Famous For You: Rhode Island is a GREAT small trip (Originally posted 8/17)

This piece also appeared in The Homesteader

While it may take longer to say “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” (which is the state’s official name) than it is to drive through it. Rhode Island punches well above its weight class in many divisions. In addition to being the world HQ for such international juggernauts as CVS, GTECH, Hasbro (see sidebar), Narragansett Brewing Co. (and over a dozen other breweries), and Textron, it is also the home of Brown University, RI School of Design (aka, RISD) and the original campus of Johnson & Wales University, all of which add to the breadth and depth of intellectual, creative, and culinary clout of the first state to declare independence and still one of the most independent states in the union.

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