Archive for January, 2012

Foodie Survival Kit – Gary, IN

Monday, January 30th, 2012

In case you missed my earlier post on Fresno, CA kicking off a series devoted to helping stranded foodies eat well in far –off U.S. lands – I’ve got another installment here on the birthplace of Michael Jackson and the deathbed of American manufacturing  – good old Gary, Indiana.

This is a town that has clearly struggled on many levels – read miles of boarded-up housing, high unemployment, and financial woes. Along with that comes a commercial food scene dominated by KFC, Whitecastle, and Seven Eleven.

After much searching, there is one shiny establishment that offers an alternative to large fast food and that is Big Daddy’s BBQ.

A local husband-and-wife team brought their flea-market meat-smoking business up a notch and opened a full-scale eatery with several large “pits” out back churning out pulled pork, chicken, brisket and all sorts of goodness. They use a light, sweeter, tangy red sauce and the pulled pork sandwich I devoured was moist and truly beautiful.

So next time you’re in Gary (if you ever find yourself there), get your eat on with good BBQ from Big Daddy, who says: “The meat is the boss, then the sauce.”

Radius – “The Burger” That Will Mesmerize You [CLOSED AS OF 6.26.13 R.I.P.]

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

[Radius Restaurant is Closed as of 6.26.13]

http://radiusrestaurant.com/

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

In my last post I admitted a dirty habit of getting into flings with gourmet burgers. My brief 10-minute affair with the Radius Burger was about as amazing as these encounters get.

First of all, the interior of this restaurant really gets you in the mood for culinary love-making. Classy, modern, upscale, dimly-lit – and the service really is exceptional. All I needed was a little Barry White or Al Green to complete the experience…

Weighing in at $20 – the Radius Burger is a force to be reckoned with. Here is a detailed account of each voluptuous feature, if you were to check her out from top to bottom:

  • Thick, soft, nice buns, slightly toasted
  • Mounds of lightly battered fried onion strings packed in on top
  • Perfectly melted VT cheddar wrapping the burger in all its goodness
  • A lovely, dense, incredibly juicy and well-cooked burger that is right on with flavor. The burger patty is thick and probably made from tenderloin it was so luscious.
  • All of the above is caressed by the most amazingly light, creamy, horseradish sauce that really “makes” the burger and ties everything together.

I complemented my meal with a couple Duvels and loved every minute of the experience. A truly exceptional night of burger romance that will definitely have me coming back for more.

Could this fling turn into something more? Time will tell…

R.F.O’Sullivan & Son Pub – All Hail Boston’s Best Burger

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

http://rf-osullivan.com/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Hey, you come here often?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like political views, sexual fantasies, and spiritual orientations, burgers are a personal thing.

They mean something different to each individual, and one’s definition of the “best” is often a matter of debate. So let me tell you what a truly amazing burger means to me, and why RFO is in the know.

Hell, I definitely get hot for specialty gourmet balls of prime beef that sell for up to $20 – throw some marrow in your burger, top it with a fried oyster, kick it up with some nice aioli or unique sauce, rock the double-patty with slaw, or top it with VT Cheddar – and I’m game.

But in the world of burgers, the gourmet funky fling is my mistress and the down-home quality comfort is my life partner.

For me – the truly transcendent burger is a simple thing. It is selfless, it is generous, it is kind. It is the Buggha.  The all-knowing, reincarnate, most comforting comfort food that holds the power to soothe and ease and make anything warm.

What R.F. O’Sullivan’s has that none other has matched for me is the feeling. There is something about their towering, ball-shaped, high-quality burgers that makes them a little more juicy, a little better seasoned, a little more comforting than any other. That secret lies with O’Sullivan himself (if there is such a man).

Walk into O’Sullivans and peruse a menu that is clearly focused on the art of the burger. A whole single page of variations on the theme screams out to you while a separate page of special renditions strikes your fancy. My ultimate favorite order is the Blackjack (a very well seasoned patty topped with a spicy Creole mojo sauce, cheese, and the usuals) cooked medium-rare with onion rings on the side and a good pint of Guinness….

Essentially the meaning of life boiled down to a bun. And that’s why RFOS is my top of the top in the Boston area. Anyone who says differently – read another blog.

 

3 Little Figs – Once Upon Some Thyme…

Monday, January 16th, 2012

http://www.3littlefigs.com/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll pull a mean espresso shot while placing an amazing pastry on your table.

A new little cottage with walls made of muffins, a roof made of scones, and a door made of spinach pies is luring hansel and gretels off highland ave. for amazing baked goods and legit coffee. You’ll have to leave a trail of pebbles to find your way back to a subway station from their location, but it’s totally worth the hike.

For one, 3 Little Figs produces a fig and pear scone that tastes like something Snow White would have worked up if she owned a bakery. The thing is so good I wouldn’t be surprised if seven dwarfs were hidden in the back room churning butter and manning the kitchen.

In fact, their tiny location is charming enough that it looks like Snow White may have done the decorating (with a little help from goldilocks and little red of course).

And this little gem cooks up more than just little baked “beauties” – they’ve also got some “beast” on their menu – rock the egg and feta sandwich, have them slip prosciutto in there, and break a curse while getting a food buzz.

All fairy tales aside – this new bakery justifies all the hype they’ve received and is a nice addition to the ‘ville.  Spend a morning meal here and live happily ever after.

The Top 5 of ‘11

Friday, January 6th, 2012

It’s yer lucky day.

After much reflection on the past year of eating, Nick the Foodie has selected his best five meals in the Boston area of 2011. A soon-to-be-coveted list of near-and-dear best-in-class restaurants that are sure to blow up on the national scene any moment. You are one of the first to see it, so count yourself among the fortunate few.

The list spans Japanese, French, South American/Caribbean, and Contemporary American cuisine, but one common thread weaves these culinary treasures together: their ability to give eaters something they’ve never experienced before. New flavors, new combinations, never-seen-before dishes that just work. For me – all these restaurants have provided my taste buds with something they’ve never noshed – read sea snails and smoked milk foam, thyme and buttermilk ice cream, REAL wagyu beef, “veal popcorn”, a dessert called “scotch and cigars,” octopus and chorizo, baby goat (AKA cabri), Puerto Rican “doughnuts,” ceviche three ways, kumamoto oyster with aioli and squid ink bubbles…This type of unique cooking is a tough feat that requires both creativity and talent.

If you eat anywhere in the next year – try at least one of these world-class spots and consider yourself among the enlightened.

  1. O Ya
  2. Bondir
  3. T.W. Food
  4. Casa B
  5. Craigie on Main

O Ya – Straight-up Food Porn

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

http://www.oyarestaurantboston.com

Location: Boston

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

There’s every other sushi restaurant you’ve eaten at in your life, and then there’s O Ya.

Yeah, that’s right. This underground citizen food blogger just ate at a restaurant that received an unheard-of 29 Food Rating from Zagat, was named one of the Top 10 Sushi restaurants in the country by Bon Appétit, and frequently makes it into various “Best of Boston” rankings. New York Times food critic Frank Bruni himself gushed over these guys.

I’ve written in past food prose that sushi lends itself to being categorized in tiers. Well, O Ya just created their own freaking level of classification.

Given that the entire United States food rating machine has already raved about this spot since the five years after it opened, this humble critic will just describe it as food porn and let the following full-size pictures from my 16-course Omakase tasting menu tell the rest. After this I’ll have to purchase a “dot xxx” domain. Happy food lust:

View of the huge sauce line-up from the sushi bar

 

Fish is way more beautiful on a plate than in the sea...

 

Scottish salmon, spicy sesame ponzu, yuzu kosho, scallion oil

 

Fried kumamoto oyster + yuzu kosho aioli + squid ink bubbles = mouthgasm

 

Shima aji & santa barbara sea urchin, ceviche vinaigrette, cilantro

 

Real seared wagyu beef petit strip loin. Two words: life-changing.

 

Thank you. Come again.

Casa B – A Great New Somerville Food Story

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

http://www.facebook.com/CasaBRestaurant?sk=info

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

 

In a few words: Caribbean and Colombian tapas that may just change your life

Casa B is a story about Albert and Angelina.

It’s a story about two former architecture students who decided to design the structure of amazing cuisines instead.

It’s a story about a small catering business that was destined to become something so much more.

It’s a story about Puerto Rican and Colombian culinary influences inspiring small plates in three formats:

  • Pinchos (served on bread, sized to split amongst two)
  • Tapas (plates sized to split amongst two)
  • Tablas (larger portions sized to split with the whole table)

It’s  a story of a beautiful, modern restaurant on both street front and sub-levels.

It’s a story of simply astounding food that leans more towards the sea. Forget your Spanish tapas joint and travel to South America and the Caribbean with me for a moment:

  • Albondigas in amazing tomato-based sauce
  • Trio of fresh Ceviche that included lobster and salmon incorporated with peas and corn.
  • Seared sesame-crusted tuna “bites”
  • Cod fritters that were perfectly fried
  • Salted plantain chips and creamy asparagus spread
  • Jamon. Jamon. Jamon.
  • Crazy lightly-fried chorizo and melted goat cheese creation (the flavor overshadows the name in my memory)
  • More sliced chorizo with some nice yucca
  • Thin seared steak, sauce and caramelized onions on grilled toasts
  • Puerto Rican “doughnuts” – Mmmmmm.
  • Great bottles of Rioja that were reasonably-priced and most under $30
  • A proper Caipirinha.

It’s a story about one of the best meals I’ve eaten in the Boston area in 2011 and about a great new addition to Union Square.

It’s about you trying these guys out in the new year to contribute to the story. Enjoy.