Friday, July 11, 2014

Fourth of July! errr, the Third of July!

Setup went as planned on Monday...


....but thanks to Hurricane Arthur, the fireworks and Boston Pops concert were moved to Thursday night, July 3rd.

I was a total grump about the whole thing...currently my long experiment days are Wednesdays and Thursdays, and I was in lab until 7:30 pm, and I had to be back in lab the next morning for analysis that had to get to my advisor by Friday afternoon - so I couldn't really enjoy the party as much as I would have been able to if it had been on a Friday.  But!  It was a wonderful show, and ended just as front came in - the sky opened up and boy, did it ever pour. 







The sound, the feel, the colors...there's just something about a live fireworks show.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Midsommarfest 2014!

The solstice saw me hosting my fifth annual Midsommarfest.  With 52 guests in attendance, it was a total success!  Friends old and new, food, laughter...there's not a better way to spend a summer night.




36 pounds of pork and beef for meatballs.

Pureed onions and spices for meatballs.


With so many people coming, we had to lose the long table in favor of smaller ones, but hey, everyone fit!


McCormick friends!



Special thanks to Deepak for the fabulous photos of the event, seen below. 


On aquavit duty.


















The first real live Swede-from-Sweden in attendance!  And she brought sandwich cake.  A total winner.
















One cannot get enough cardamom aquavit.








Ben getting more meatballs after ensuring everyone else was able to have some.


Skål!








Monday, July 7, 2014

Boston Eats: Brunch at Commonwealth and Area Four

Things I like: brunch. 

Not shown: the wonderful biscuits and gravy.  So, so, so good. 



Eric was also bested by the biscuits, sausage gravy, fried chicken, fried eggs, bacon, and gym membership special.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Boston Eats: Alive and Kicking Lobsters

The best lobster roll I've ever had was up at a gas station in Maine.  It was incredible. 

But here in town, I haven't really explored lobster roll options.  Partially because lobsters are a bit pricy, I only have so much money in my budget for food.  But the other part is that the lobster roll up in Maine was so good that I can't imagine having it anywhere else but up in Maine, on the beach, with a beer.  It just can't be beat. 

But.  For the time when you have a sibling in town and it's gorgeous out and you can't get up to Maine, Alive and Kicking is a very worthwhile choice. 

Across the street from the River Street Whole Foods in Cambridgeport, it's nestled among the three story multi-family homes, with a shed in the back for the lobsters, and a lovely little shaded porch for customers to enjoy their seafood. 


Perfectly weathered tables. 

The soda is worth it. 

Instead of the traditional roll, they serve the lobster on toasted and buttered white bread. 

$18 for a lobster roll, chips, and soda...it's a little steep.  But hey, for a once-in-awhile treat, totally worth it.  



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boston Eats - Chef's Tasting at Menton

Last year, Eric and I went to Craigie on Main to celebrate our birthdays, as well as our love of the experience of good food.  We grew up watching the early days of the Food Network and the original Iron Chef, set in Japan - and while I don't think we'll ever have a chance to eat Morimoto's food, well, the chance to be spoiled by new tastes and combinations is worth the price to us. 

For our second annual fancy birthday dinner, Eric and I went to Menton in Fort Point.  One of Barbara Lynch's restaurants, Menton is located in the same building as Sportello and Drink.



Menton Mai Tai - St Germain, Bully Boy Boston Rum, Citrus, Orgeat

The first amuse bouche: cucumber wrapped in nori with smoked salmon, caviar, and chives.

Instead of a traditional "hey we're just going to bring you lots of food" chef's tasting, Menton centers their meal around a set of flavors and ingredients.  I wish they provided a full menu after the fact, for those who want to really remember combinations and ideas.  While there is no way I would ever be able to make a deep fried Moroccan pastry with snails, there are other ways to adapt formal kitchen dishes to the world of a much less formal home cook.  It's also a very dark restaurant, so the photos you take result in much squinting (besides the fact that frequent camera usage isn't appropriate in this setting). 

Here's our set of ingredients:

royal white sturgeon caviar
celery
pei mussel
granola
fennel
artichoke
escargot (yes, snails)
wild mushroom
grano arso (a burnt flour pasta)
foie gras de canard (duck foie gras)
chili pepper
lamb
ginger
peach
strawberry
chocolate

My least favorite bite was a hibiscus geleé inside a piece of celery.  It look me right back to the world of Minnesotan jello salads...the kind with cottage cheese, apples, marshmallows, and then for some reason, celery.  And even better, they added a cilantro leaf.  Because why not, I guess?

But other than that, the rest of the night was great to extraordinary.  Noteworthy bites:
(my favorite five are bolded)

-Foie gras transformed to have the texture of a chocolate truffle, on top of a savory granola crust. 
-honey sea salt croissant
-escargot and lobster served atop the lobster shell
-earl gray dashi broth with fresh mushrooms (though oddly, my first taste of truffle just did not wow me at all)
-perfectly cooked halibut
-deep fried Middle Eastern pasty (a brik) filled with corn puree, caramelized onions, and chopped escargot
-sorrel and cucumber puree
-mushroom risotto
-seared bluefish
-foie gras plum cake with pickled plums and a bacon rillette-wrapped slice of foie gras
-poached chicken with calamari
-seared foie gras
-lamb tenderloin
-lamb belly (bacon) with poached quail egg
-Olympus tea (a citrus-y chamomile)
-carrot sorbet and ginger soda
-tarragon macaron


-chocolate mousse with balsamic glaze

Happy Birthday to us!


I can hardly wait til next year!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park!

The perfect day dawned....sunny, not too hot, and not too humid.  It was time for baseball!

The Citgo Sign, one side of the river.

Eric has only been to Boston in the dreary days of March, so this year, he thought we'd do something different...and lo and behold, the Twins were playing the week of Midsommar!  Obviously, a trip had to happen.


Green Monstah.


Our seats were awesome. 

Things I did not know before this game:  Joe Mauer now plays first base. 

It only cost $14.50!  (kidding.  More like $9.50....which is still crazy).


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We were so close...we got a home run!  ...and then so did David Ortiz.  Womp-womp.  We were still happy. 

Walk-off!  We went into extra innings, and then they hit a home run (again) --- so it was over! 




Citgo sign, the other side of the river

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Favorites from Kyla's Visit!

Us busy ladies finally got to trading photos from our trip, and there were so many good ones!  Some favorites are below, what a fun time to relive. 

Christina's Ice Cream

Marathon photo (I was in lab)

The Infinite!

Drinks!

The Tiki Special at Drink in Fort Point.

Afternoon Tea! 

Marathon ephemera exhibit at the library

Love this, so many smiles.


Wine in a beaker, so fun!

For brunch, I will have all the things.

Lab work!


Fabulous cocktails at Backbar (I'm the far right, milk punch!)

Dinner at Kirkland Tap and Trotter


Did I mention we love brunch?  Cause we love brunch.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Graduation!

(not mine, not quite yet, ha)

A well-deserved celebration for hard-working graduate!



Our first grade teacher!

Brother, and my mom and her three brothers! 

My dad's side of the family.

My grandmother's cousin Collette, her husband, and son...who, by the way, threw my mom into the lake when they were younger.  I don't remember who told me the story when I was about five, but for years afterwards, whenever I'd see him, I'd cross my arms and scowl at "the mean guy who threw my mom in a lake."  I was apparently quite frustrated at the seeming lack of justice in that whole chain of events.   

The cousins!


Christmas photo 2014!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Minnesota, 46 hours style

My younger brother's high school graduation meant a surprise visit home to spend 46 hours celebrating! 


Puppy!

Trees in our front yard


Having Dairy Queen twice in two months?  Amazing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Boston Eats: Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Battery Wharf

One of the newest additions to the afternoon tea scene in Boston is the tea service at the Fairmont Battery Wharf up in the North End. 


While I do love their well-designed and pretty menu, they could have used a copy editor ("macaroon," "sandwhiches," and "smolked").



A glass of sparkling rose was the perfect way to start the meal! 

Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Battery Wharf
Ambiance - There are two types of seating; lower to the ground lounge chairs and couches, and then higher stools.  If you have a preference, I would be sure to mention it when you make your reservation.  Same with sitting near a window, I did miss the view a bit in my seat.  Like tea at the Langham, this service is also in the lobby, though they do a much better job of separating it from the incoming hotel guests.  The music was also a little strange for afternoon tea, in an indie top 40 sort of way.  It was raining on the day we went, so we didn't have the pleasure of having tea outside on the wharf, but I think that would be a simply splendid way to spend an afternoon.  They also offer three different iced teas for the summer (though hot tea is still offered). 

Waitstaff - Attentive and pleasant; upon seeing our Italian macarons and being curious as to the difference between Italian and French macarons, we queried our waiter, who had no idea.  He went back and asked the chef, and returned to explain the difference (it all has to do with how you prepare the meringue, see here for an explanation).

Savory - The cucumber and creme fraiche was my favorite, although the long cut of the cucumber made it a bit tricky to eat neatly.  The bread edges were a bit on the stale side, but not unforgivably so.  The watermelon salad was a nice and different inclusion, but the shrimp was anything but afternoon tea dainty (it was tasty, though, to be fair). 
Sweet - The macarons were fabulous.  As good as or better than I've had in Paris. 

Scones, clotted cream, and jam - The scones were tasty but crumbly.  I almost pulled a frugal-great-aunt-Marge and stole the adorable miniature jar of Bonne Maman strawberry jam.  The clotted cream was easy to spread and rich. 

Tea quality -The breakfast blend was fine, nothing outstanding.  However, I would comment on the quick cooling that happens in the French press style method of serving.  The second cup was simply lukewarm.  Especially if two people order the same tea, a more attentive method would be to serve the tea hot as it is requested. 

Cost - $39 per person

Overall - If I was doing the freedom trail and looking for an afternoon stopover, this would be a definite contender!  Everything was tasty, but a tad more grace and refinement wouldn't go amiss in the actual presentation of the savory course.  If you like macarons, run, don't walk.  They're that good.