Archive for November, 2011

Voltage Coffee & Art – Avant-Garde Espresso Meets Modern Art

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

It’s been a few days…I’ve been shaking from too much coffee lately. But I’m back, with an art history lesson…

We can be certain that all the paint-slinging greats sipped their share of good beans. I mean – how else could Picasso deconstruct the world into cubist shapes? How could Monet blur any scene into an impression? How could Seurat dissect any landscape into 1,000 individual points? And all the neo-uber-modern stuff out there these days – they’ve got to be riding high on Colombian roast to fuel their inspiration, right?

Voltage has discovered this well-known artistic muse and married lover and love-drug under one roof in a bright wide-open Kendall Square storefront. Observe:









Their latte would make a good Van Gogh, and they’ve really nailed down a few other factors that make them unique:

  • All brewed coffee is produced via the pour-over method. Takes longer. Tastes better.
  • Featuring “exotic flavored lattes” with cool names like Devil May Care (Molasses and lemon zest), Beyond the Sea (Homemade caramel & salt), and Atticus Finch (vanilla with burnt sugar).
  • Walls decked-out with really talented works by featured artists – fun to take in as you wait for your “Thieving Magpie” almond rapture latte.

For a taste of Brancusi’s brain, Van Gogh’s vision, Pollock’s perceptions, hit Voltage – and get a zap of arts appreciation.

The Best in Class – Cafés – Simon’s

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

As the self-proclaimed consummate foodie, I have rarely been a “regular” anywhere, people.

At Simon’s, they know me as the “Friday triple medium latte guy,” I’ve spent enough to put one of Simon’s kids through college, and I’ve become buddies with many a barista.

Nick the Foodie rarely gets all sentimental on the personal aspect of dining out (I’m really first and foremost a food guy) but Simon’s and I have a close relationship spanning three different apartments, multiple women, and several jobs. That’s devotion folks.

The one thing that remained constant was the loving touch with which the espresso drinks here are produced.

Sure, they use a La Marzocco machine and some of the best roasters (think Barismo and Terroir), but the transcendent quality here is the care and attention unrivaled by anyone else.  I swear the lattes are just a little sweeter, slightly smoother, a bit more refined than anywhere else.

Call it brand affinity, call it loyalty, call it a coffee-crush, but Simon’s delivers something special.

I’ve spent the last 6+ years enjoying primarily the following few drinks and loved every minute of it:

  1. Triple medium latte (my signature bev)
  2. Cappuccino (si)
  3. Espresso (bold, ballsy, beautiful)
  4. Yerba Maté Latte (beautiful grassy herby flavor sweetened with a little honey)

…And I keep discovering more with my friend Simon. Take my recent eureka about the fabled “Gibraltar.” They serve espresso with a bit of milk and foam in a small glass suitable more for a shot of whiskey than a glug of caffeine. A perfect afternoon portioning of espresso with a nice balance and great overall flavor.

I can go on and on about the goods, but Simon’s is one of the few neighborhood spots left where you can look people in the eyes and connect on a personal level…where they’ll remember your birthday, your upcoming vacation to France, the fact you’re getting married, and that you’re embarking on a new step in life. They actually care.

As someone recently said to me, “good coffee isn’t magic.” Good people are not magic, they’re real, and they’re rare.

Simon’s  – thanks for being there for six years and making my mornings better.

Darwins – Survival of the Tastiest

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends







Sandwich shops are like mammals – you either eat, or you get eaten.

…and Darwins has been high up on the food chain for several years now feeding much of Cambridge during breakfast and lunch hours. They’re pimpin’ some great sammies coined and inspired by local streets and squares, such as:

  • The Inman (Burritos Eggis) – Breakfast Burrito. You know,  beans, eggs, salsa…if that carnitas roll-up wasn’t enough for you the night before – this guy will satisfy your craving.
  • The Felton (yuppieus sammicha) – Eggs scrambled, spinach, swiss, bacon. A delightfully sinful and refined breakfast creation.
  • The Irving (Genus pastramius) – Slaw, Swiss, Russian dressing, and pastrami. A hearty handful of pleasure.

Beyond some of these reg’lar menu items, I like bringing in the hand of Foodie to craft wild beasts of my own. The favorite being my breakfast sandwich, which I’d lobby for Darwin’s to call Foodie Street:

  • Ham, eggs, grilled asparagus and melted havarti on sourdough (grandus bellyus)

Plus, they’re always bringing in some daily specials that’ll blow your mind more than Animal Planet. So if you’re looking for the cromagnon warrior of sandwich shops in the Cambridge area, hit Darwins to experience food evolution.

Beer Reflection – Slumbrew

Thursday, November 10th, 2011









In this first installment of what Nick is calling the “Beer Reflection” segment, we’re going to be going OM over Somerville’s newest brewer – Slumbrew. You’re busy, so here’s the quick breakdown:

  • Launched last Friday, November 4th with a bash at the Independent  (lovingly known as the Indo) in Union Square
  • Local brew team bringing their craft tradition to the mainstream Somervillain by testing out recipes at a small scale “brew lab” in the ‘ville ‘hood and then smartly producing large scale by utilizing space at Mercury Brewing Company in Ipswich, MA
  • Currently offering an IPA and a Hefeweizen with a soon-to-be-born Porter. The IPA is well-balanced, crisp and ripe in citrus with lots of galaxy hops and a refreshing, home-brew feel to it. The Hefe is famously brewed with 1,000 blood oranges. Tasty, but lagging behind a beer snob’s German fav’s. Can’t wait to try the Porter with Taza choco nibs.
  • Slumbrew can be purchased in bottles at Pemberton Farms, Liquor World, Somerville Wine & Spirits, Kappy’s Medford and Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont.

Give these guys a try – they clearly know their beer game and are brewing some good “home-cooked” shit.



Drink – Redefining Drinking

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

This post really should be all photo-blog style ’cause drink really isn’t about words. They’re just about banging out the best mixed drinks in town on the reg. But I’ll give them a few pithy lines before cutting to the visuals.

I’m not generally a cocktail guy, but Drink inspires. Most real drinkers in town already know about this spot but I felt they warranted a fresh review after a recent trip here (see below).  The only con I see about Drink is the occasionally douche-y crowd however if you’re willing to brave that, the following joys abound:

  • A very chill, well-designed modern feng-shui interior
  • Bartenders that redefine bartender. These guys are true mixologists and real gentlemen.
  • The allure of no menu. Just tell them what you’re in the mood for and they’ll accommodate your wildest desires. Examples that I’ve heard here include: “Girly Drink,” “Something with Bourbon in it,” and “Absinthe.”  “Your wish is granted” the drink genies said.
  • Superb Margaritas and Moscow Mules (vodka, muddled lime juice, homemade ginger beer in a copper comrade mug)

That’s it, let the pic of my awesome Moscow Mule tell the rest:

Hello, Comrade.

Eataly – Nick Communicates from the Pasta Rings of Hell

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Location: New York, NY

The Foodie: Recommends

Kids – In one of our previous installments from the foodie, we talked about visions of a glorious afterlife lush with lobster rolls. But if I go down below dear friends, I’m going for gluttony.

…and if there’s one place that may have just put me over the edge from a severe epicure to an outright glutton, it was probably Eataly. I’ll now proceed to tell you why this devilish enterprise created by celebrity chefs with last names like Batali and Bastianich pushed me into the fiery depths (of a brick oven).


  • WARNING: Ingenious Store Layout Meant to Trap Foodies. Enter at your own risk and prepare for the prospect of never leaving. Be assaulted by a diverse range of fresh fruits and veggies, some of which you may have never seen before (can you say witch finger grapes?). Hit a huge circular room where you’ll be encircled by bread, antipasti and wine. Just try to resist at this point. Explore a little further and you’ll see Il Pesce restaurant serving amazing fruit of the sea, a selection of rare Italian and imported bottled beers for purchase,  a butcher shop, pizza and pasta eateries, and a breath-taking selection of dried pastas, jarred goods, and, yes, more wines.
  • DANGER: Rooftop Biergarterrini Called Birreria Will Be Your Last Glimpse of Heaven. If you ever leave the first floor, make it to level 15 to sample the excellent beer and wine selection and hearty fare on the rooftop restaurant Birreria. Prepare to eat Italian-style sausages you may not have heard of before in German fashion complete with fresh bread and ‘kraute. Sip on amazing local beers like Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold. Holy shit that brew was good. But wait, there are also cask beers brewed in-house by a collab-o of brewers including meisters from Dogfish Head.  Sample from an impressive selection of salumi, formaggi and more. Your head will be spinning.
  • ATTENTION: They Have Every Meal Covered So Don’t Think You Can Weasel Out After Dinner. As if all that wasn’t enough people, there’s also a coffee bar and gelateria back down on floor uno that will keep you caffeinated enough to stick around and continue your gluttonous ways. You may be enticed to combine these two elements into the ultimate Italian treat: Affogato.

That concludes my final communication from my (donut) ring of hell…my “phone call” so to speak…with the rest of the gluttons down here. I see Yelpers, Homer Simpson, and Julia Child down here people. Don’t think you’re safe too.

Enter Eataly if you’re the kind of person who thinks that limbo isn’t living dangerously enough.