Archive for June, 2012

Water Avenue Coffee – So Good Its WAC

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

So I wanted to take a brief second to gush over a new coffee company that one of my fave cafes Voltage recently turned me on to.

These guys call themselves Water Avenue, and are imported from their West Coast roasting operation in Portland – an area that is becoming remarkably good at producing liquids (read pinot gris and pinot noir).

Since Voltage started pouring WAC’s Peru Kikira I have been sleeping in a box outside their shop begging passerby for change to get another fix. It is that good.

As described on the back of the bag I recently purchased:

“This offering comes from the Quechua and Aymara Peoples of the Puno Region of Southern Peru. Grown at 1500 meters, this cup is wonderfully complex, featuring sweet melon and berry balanced by lively acidity and spice, finishing with a silky smooth body.”

If coffee is anything like wine – the more specific the information about where the raw materials (coffee beans) come from, and the more details about the people who grew them – the better.

Though the description of the flavors sounds more like one of my past one-night stands than the mouthing of a swig o’ Joe, I can dig it. All I know is that from Sip #1 of this stuff I knew something was special – and I drink a boatload of coffee from lots of micro-roasters.

Grind on Water Ave., and please bring more of your goods to a coffee shop near me.

 

West Bridge – Pure Magic.

Friday, June 15th, 2012

http://www.facebook.com/westbridgerestaurant

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Watch out David Blaine, David Copperfield, and Michael Caine in The Prestige – there’s a new illusionist in town, and they rolled in with chef’s knives instead of a deck of playing cards.

Having opened their doors just a few weeks ago, West Bridge (which takes its moniker from the former name for the Longfellow Bridge) is really on top of their game right out of the gate without any smoke and mirrors.

I went into their sleek, modern, hip [insert another superlative from the food blogger’s dictionary] locale on a weeknight with a certain set of preconceived notions about another Cambridge spot serving up modern French cuisine with “a twist.” I had no idea what I was in for…sort of like when a magician says “I’ll need a volunteer from the audience.”

Here’s how West Bridge had me asking “How the f*ck did they do that?”

  • Crispy fried chicken skins with aioli were the first item to hit our wooden table…at first glance you think some yuppie thought like “ooohhh, some new type of flatbread?” but in reality nicely-seasoned, crispy and (amazingly) flat thick crunchy slices of chicken sheath.
  • Appetizer of red quinoa, favas, goat cheese, and what you’d think is bacon essence (but in reality soy-treated crispy shitake mushroom bits that will blow your mind). The vegetarian dish every meat-lover has always wanted.
  • Radish Toast. If the quinoa was the meat-lovers vegetarian dish, this appetizer is the vegan’s prelude to hell. Just think…some unassuming leaf-eater orders this dish without realizing what “lardo” is. They bite into really nice sourdough toasts topped with baller butter, thin-sliced radish, wild mushrooms, some electron-sized greens, and this nice herby richness they can’t quite put their finger on…that’s right – you just sank your teeth into a nice layer of kingly pig fat.
  • A Sancerre that was…get this…RED. Forget that crisp seafood-friendly white you gulp down with your fruits de mer…this was a pinot noir from the same region. Absolutely delicious.
  • Duck liver terrine that was smooth as hell with a nice chutney and what I thought were chickpeas done in a way I’d never tasted before – salty and nicely crispy.
  • Duck breast with hibiscus beet vinaigrette, black rice, and rainbow carrots. This sumptuous entree was like when you think you know how David Blaine did that card trick before he pulled your card out of his ass cheeks. Duck was nicely scored and treated very simply with just high-quality salt and pepper…perfectly succulent. But then carrots the color of the rainbow? Rice that was neither white nor brown? “Hibiscus beet vinaigrette?” Where am I? Outstanding dish.

The menu at West Bridge is sorta structured as follows:

  • Hey, we know you’re probably coming here to get plastered on great beer and wine after work…but while you’re at it choose from at least ten amazing and generous-portioned appetizers to share amongst your project team.
  • But if you’re here with your honey and want to bring some game – we’ve got four solid mains to choose from (plus a special of the evening)…whether you need veal, fish, or duck…we’ve got you covered.
  • And if you just got a raise, announced your engagement, or lost your virginity, we’ve got some humungo “share-for-two” plates like cote de bouef, lamb shank, and (what’d I’d assume is) whole roasted chicken.

The staff at West Bridge has trained with the greats and learned from the masters. Co-owner Alexis Gelburd-Kimler was a former GM for Tony Maws at the old Craigie Street and the Exec Chef/Co-owner Matthew Gaudet learned his chops in NYC. Both hail more recently from Aquitaine Bistro, another excellent restaurant. The service was of course stellar – so good that you’d think our waiter (James) went to culinary school himself.

All these forces came together to give us the show of our lives. A fanstastical crew, a superb evening, a magical experience.

P.S. My duck breast levitated before I ate it.

JM Curley – “Say Hello to my Lille Fren”

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

http://www.jmcurleyboston.com/

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

The quest for the Top 10 Burgers in Boston continues – and JM Curley just made the list.

Curley, marked by a black top hat, is an approachable and understated bar/restaurant serving-up a limited but very well-executed  menu.

Any unassuming Bostonian innocently walking in here for a post-desk-jockeying-bevvy will be simply blown away with the food. I mean – Curley really is a hidden gem that I imagine hasn’t been largely discovered outside the realm of us local dining geeks and food blog dweebs.

HERE’S WHY JM NEEDS TO BE ON YOUR RADAR:

The Burger. As unassuming as JM Curley itself, this thing is a simple affair hidden under a nice coating of melted cheddar cheese that features:

  • Nice-sized thick baller quality beef patty
  • Griddled onions
  • Nice slather of russian dressing and pickles
  • Sesame-seeded soft burger bun

But with the first bite you immediately notice something special. As if that melted coating of cheddar parted and said “Say hello to my lille fren”

  • So tantalizing juicy the savory meat liquid will practically knock your face off.
  • The Russian flair, soft bun, pickles and cheddar are a nice complement to the meat but do not overpower the true star in any way
  • The Curley Kitchen pulls this baby off without the slightest hint of pretentiousness. They stay true to what a burger really is – a comforting cuddly hunk of joy that you tuck into with glee.

OBSERVE:

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

As if the burger wasn’t enough. Curley floored me again during the appetizer round with something I had never seen before – Cast Iron Cornbread. This dish comes out served in a little mini skillet and literally must be grabbed from the oven by the servers on their way to the floor. So amazingly soft and topped with melty butter, honey and black pepper.  My head was spinning.

OBSERVE AGAIN:

When Corn and Bread Get Tantric

In other news, Curley presents a respectable beer menu and features regular specials including burgers (the night we ate there they were touting a lamb burger).

Curley was so full of surprises that they rocked my worldview, changed my religious orientation, and had me questioning the meaning of life by the time I wandered back out onto Temple Place bewildered.

Hats off to you Curley, hats off.