Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The meal at Bresca was a lovely one. I know I will go back. I know the menu will shift. And I look forward to the chance to try it again. Before next year.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Portland is quickly becoming my respite, where I can leave life behind and dream of the day I can live here full time. This is the third time I have arrived. Chapter 1, in late spring meant the discovery of the Rabelais Bookstore, Hugo's, the Standard Baking Company and the Farmer's Market. My abode? The Higgins Inn in Cape Elizabeth was simple and inexpensive. The compromise of thin walls was being feet from the beach. I day-tripped it in late August and was treated to heirloom potatoes and fall tones of squash at the Market.
This time I indulged in a pie from Two Fat Cats. The mixed berry (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) was pretty close to homemade perfection. At Standard, the counterperson encouraged me to try their whole rye bread. Thick and dense, it is perfect with slices of cheddar. Meanwhile, I returned to 158 Pickett for a delicious pimento cheese spread slathered on their homemade bagels. Eaten at the beach, it was a pretty wonderful breakfast.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The meal starts with a roll. Sure, sounds common enough. Except that these rolls are made each day with Lisa Sewall’s own brioche recipe. Topped with sea salt they are served warm with the incredible butter. Those rolls and a salad could make for a perfect meal. And, in fact, it was clear that some people were doing just that at the bar.
However, this was my birthday meal, so my lovely guest (my mom) and I indulged. I started with a unique drink, the Cornucopia. It was created by Bartender and Bar Manager Ryan Lotz for the Pie in the Sky Cocktail Challenge. He starts by grinding roasted pecans to a powder. He then simmered them in a simple syrup with vanilla, cloves, allspice and ginger. This syrup is blended with Maker’s Mark to create a beverage that was reminiscent of spiked warm cider. It was perfect on a chilly fall night.
I had to start with the Island Creek Oysters. Owner Jeremy Sewall just opened the Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square. Farmed in Duxbury, a recent Boston Magazine article pointed out that chefs prize the oysters for their…However, I was taken with their plumpness and pure taste.
My mom and I both raved about our salads. We typically order dressing on the side, but here we let Lineage make the call. And both were perfectly topped. I had a salad with Scott’s Farm Honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced endive and radicchio, Marcona almonds and candied ginger. My mother chose the Equinox Farm’s Filed greens, local radishes and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. However, she asked them to substitute roasted beets for the candied walnuts that were listed on the menu. Not only were they happy to oblige, but, my mother’s instinct was right-it was a lovely combination.
For her main dish, mom ordered the Rosemary and Garlic Marinated Flat Iron Steak. It was served with crimini mushrooms, baby spinach, parsnips, caramelized onions and red wine sauce. We both loved our first tastes. The steak was cooked medium rare and was seasoned perfectly. The vegetables were wonderful. However, the meat was plated on a creamy sauce (parsnips perhaps), that made the dish, ultimately, too rich. And, in fact, the dish didn’t need such a heavy sauce to enhance the simplicity of the produce.
My dish, however, was spot-on. I had the panko crusted Gulf of Maine Cod. It was served with Baby Beluga Lentils, chunks of lobster, celery root puree and lobster roe oil. The Cod was as moist and tender as possible. The oil played up the sweetness of the lobster, without dominating the dish. And the tiny lentils, reminiscent of caviar, added a nutty and earthy texture to the dish.
For desserts, we ordered their classic: Butterscotch pudding, made from scratch, of course, and served with candied pecans and whipped cream. Remarkably, it wasn’t too sweet and despite being full, we couldn’t stop digging in our spoons and licking them clean. We also tried the cranberry sorbet. It was luscious, smooth and refreshing. Bizarrely it tasted of grapefruit, even though our waiter informed us that it was pure cranberry. In any case it was a tart respite from the weight of the other dishes.
Both times my visits were characterized by wonderful wait service. The waiters were informative and friendly, but never hovering or obsequious. Somehow that seems to be a hard balance to find in most restaurants.
Perhaps it is my circle of friends, but when I mentioned Lineage as my dinner locale of choice, most replied, “Really? Never been? How is it?” That being said, they were also honored as one of Boston Magazine’s top 50 restaurants. All I know is this: I will be back, even if it is just for those rolls!
Lineage, 242 Harvard Street, Brookline
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The Har Gao:
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup oil (either mild olive or vegetable)
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (I prefer Biazzi brand low-fat as it is very creamy)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (almond extract, lemon oil or lemon juice)
- 1 orange, zested (or 2 lemons)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan or a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Mix the oil, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and blend until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and orange zest. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. This will take about 45 to 50 minutes for the loaf or about 20 to 25 minutes for the muffins. Let the loaf or muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When it is cool, wrap loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The dough worked up beautifully. Using both powdered milk and shortening makes them incredibly tender. But once we divided the dough into 50, our first buns were more like steam flats. We made them thicker. We let them rise more. We cooked them different ways. They never got close to resembling bun perfection. Whatever-no matter how they look they are ridiculously good. I could eat these for breakfast. And, ironically, after steaming the frozen (already cooked) buns, they steamed up even fuller.