The Butcher Shop

Despite my obvious bias, The Butcher Shop is one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. There’s just something about the bold red wines, rare meats, and the deep red and black interior that make me feel at home. Andrew and I shared this spectacular charcuterie platter this past afternoon. Nothing is more perfect than a chilly, windy fall day, charcuterie, and lambrusco. I guess that’s why I live in Boston.

Our charcuterie included mortadella, prosciutto di parma, spicy sopressata, rosette de lyon (our favorite), pâté de campagne, lamb rillettes, duck liver en croute. These types of meat may seem intimidating, but the next time you go somewhere with a charcuterie offering, ask for a mixed board. I promise once you try them you won’t shy away from ordering them ever again.

http://www.thebutchershopboston.com

facebook.com/thebutchershopboston

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If you’re afraid of butter, use cream…

As I’ve alluded to recently, I started a new job. My dream job. I’m the PR & Marketing Assistant for the Barbara Lynch Gruppo.  Barbara Lynch owns numerous restaurants and companies in Boston, including No. 9 Park, Menton, Sportello, Drink, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, 9 at Home, and Stir. Needless to say, I have been eating well lately (as has Andrew).

Last night I had the privilege of attending one of the most special, moving events I’ve been to in my life – a birthday celebration for Julia Child at Menton, who would have been 100 years old yesterday.

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Border Grill

It’s been almost a month since I last posted, and let me tell you – life has been crazy. Work has been hectic, I went back home to California on vacation, and I recently put in two-weeks notice so I can start the job of my dreams in a few weeks. Life could not be more exciting, but also could not be busier.

Seeing as to how I was back in California, I obviously had to get my fill of Mexican cuisine. It’s been a while since I’ve done a restaurant review, but there are a couple of places definitely worthy of reviews. First and foremost: Border Grill

cocktail napkin at border grill

I went to Border Grill (Downtown LA location) because I see Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken all over TV – on Bravo, on Food Network, everywhere. I love their personalities and I’ve seen their food, but I just had to try for myself.

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Review: Cutty’s

I like sandwiches. Simple sandwiches. Fancy sandwiches. But one thing every sandwich must be is delicious. There’s no compromising that.

Andrew and I found Cutty’s in Brookline, MA off of Boston.com and decided we wanted to give it a try. Their sandwiches sounded a little more gourmet than we usually eat, and a little pricier than we normally eat, but we wanted to give it a shot.

All I can say is this: Cutty’s is amazingly delicious, and worth every penny.

The sandwich I ordered for myself was the “Greens Bacon” sandwich. It was crisp ciabatta bread topped with sauteed swiss chard, bacon, and a touch of spicy mayonnaise. This seemingly simple sandwich had a complexity and depth of flavor I’ve never experienced before in a sandwich. The sweet taste of the swiss chard paired better than I could have imagined with the salty, thick cut bacon, and the spicy mayo cut through both flavors perfectly. This sandwich is worth every cent of its $7.95 price tag.

Andrew ordered the “Roast Beef 1000” (which I, of course, sampled). This sandwich came on brioche topped with roast beef, crispy shallots, 1000 island dressing, and sharp cheddar. This sandwich had a smooth sweetness brought by the 1000 island dressing that paired well with the sharp cheddar and roast beef. Andrew was slightly disappointed with the size of the sandwich, but he is a bigger man than your average human being, so in my estimation this sandwich is the perfect size.

With our sandwiches, Andrew and I split an order of Cutty’s homemade potato chips. Simple and delicious, these chips are thinly sliced potatoes, fried, with kosher salt. Perfection in simplicity.

Cutty’s is a great place for lunchtime foods, which is convenient seeing as to how it’s only open for breakfast and lunch.

Main takeaway: Go to Cutty’s if it’s lunchtime and you’re in the mood for a GREAT sandwich. You’ll be glad you did.

Cutty’s online: http://www.cuttyfoods.com/

Cutty’s on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cuttyfoods

Cutty’s on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Cuttys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: El Pelon Taqueria

Thank you, El Pelon, for allowing this West Coast girl to find authentic Mexican food on the East Coast.

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El Pelon Taqueria is one of those places you drive by a thousand times a day, each time saying “I really want to try that place.” Well this weekend, I tried it. I’m sure glad I did.

Andrew and I went to El Pelon after a long day of errand-running and apartment cleaning and all we wanted was Mexican food. Andrew wanted delicious. I wanted authentic. We got both.

Walking into El Pelon must be quite an experience for east-coasters who do not really have much experience in the way of Mexican culture, but for me I felt like I was stepping back into Los Angeles. The walls of the restaurant are covered in authentic Mexican decor reflecting both the popular luchadores of Mexican wrestling and Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.

Impressed with the decor, I was hoping to also be impressed with the food. Needless to say, I was. El Pelon is the first place I’ve found where my West Coast self can be happy with Mexican food on the East Coast. I have been looking for a great, casual fish taco for the entirety of my time in Boston (5 years) and I finally found one in El Pelon’s pescado taco. The fish (cod) in El Pelon’s tacos is very lightly breaded and fried and results in an absolutely delicious meal. The tacos are topped with pickled cabbage and limed onions which really bring out the full flavor of the fish. There is also an Arbol chile mayonnaise that provided heat, but not heaviness, to the overall taste of the taco. The tortillas used for the tacos (and I’m sure for all of their other dishes) are authentic and homemade and are not store bought. I spoke with who I believed to be the owner or manager and he told me that the tortillas come partially cooked from a local family who delivers them every morning in their family car. No fancy trucks. No factories. No mass production. Just a family making tortillas every day and delivering them fresh to a local Mexican taqueria. That truly made me smile as I thought back to my life in Los Angeles watching family establishments thrive off the great taste of fresh, homemade tortillas and other Mexican foods.

My favorite part about El Pelon was the hot sauce. The owner/manager gave Andrew and me two different types of hot sauce, a green one and a red one. Both had exceptional kick, but did not compromise on flavor at all. The flavor profiles were deep and complex, bringing not only heat but great pepper flavor to the dishes overall. I even saved a little of both hot sauces to give to our friend, who prides himself on being a hot-sauce connoisseur, and I have no doubt he will love them as much as we do.

Main takeaway: I love El Pelon and will absolutely be going back. Make sure you get the pescado tacos, and ask for plently of their delicious hot sauce.

El Pelon website: http://www.elpelon.com/

El Pelon on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Pelon-Taqueria/139365939446896

El Pelon on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ElPelonTaqueria

 

Review: [Breaking up with] Naked Pizza

Dear Naked Pizza,

I’m sorry it has to end this way. It’s not you, it’s me.

Sincerely,

Lauren

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Last night I took the plunge and ordered Naked Pizza for the first time. My boyfriend and I drove over to the store to look at the menu in person and order from there. Inside was bright, crisp, clean, green, and awesome. We checked out the menu, ordered the “Cajun” pizza and a salad on the side. They only had one type of salad to order, which I was slightly disappointed by, but my disappointment was tempered by the fact that, Hey! We spent more then $20, and so get a free medium 2-topping pizza. Yay for (free) pizza. They also had iPads for us to fiddle with while we waited for our food which definitely made the wait go faster.

So we brought the pizza home, opened it up, and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. I paid $16.99 for the large Cajun thin crust pizza and the pizza was pretty small. It definitely wasn’t what I think of when I think of a “normal” large pizza. I understand that all of their ingredients are super fresh, no preservatives, etc, which probably increases their operating costs which raises the price for me as a customer, but I was still a little taken aback by what I saw.

BUT, what does not make sense to me is that with the salad, they gave us a packet of Ken’s dressing (like so). I feel like giving out these packets of dressing REALLY goes against their whole brand identity and everything they say about only serving fresh, natural products with no preservatives or chemicals. I feel like it would not be very hard for them to make a homemade vinaigrette to serve with their salads. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, maybe a hint of lemon juice. Not to mention the absurd amount of calories in those packets when they pride themselves on the low calorie, natural crust of their pizzas.

The Cajun pizza was delicious, however small it might have been. [To really give you a sense of how small these pizzas were, my boyfriend and I finished all but three tiny slices of BOTH the large and medium sized pizzas.] The medium pizza that we got for free was a regular crust with pepperoni and garlic. I really enjoyed the way they prepared the garlic, almost burned and crisp, but still tasty.

Overall, the thin crust was MUCH better than the regular crust. These pizzas have great flavor but are not pizzas you want to order when you’re in a “typical” pizza mood, or if you want to get a cheap pizza. These pizzas are light, airy, and leave you wanting to eat 10 slices. They are not the average saucy, cheesy pizza that you might find at any of a number of the local pizza shops I’ve been to around Brighton (and even in New York and LA).

Main takeaway from Naked Pizza: It did not leave me with a food coma (which was good), but it did leave me with a much emptier wallet and guilt over eating probably 7 slices because I could not get full off these teeny tiny pizzas. 

And that’s why I have to break up with you, Naked Pizza.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Now, where’s the number for Pino’s?

Why is my pizza naked?

Well, why is my pizza going to be naked?

My pizza will be naked because it’s all-natural, and because I’m getting it tonight from a place called Naked Pizza.

The concept of Naked Pizza is that everything is made with all natural ingredients. No chemicals or preservatives. I like that. I don’t consider myself to be one of those nuts that won’t eat anything from the grocery store unless it’s organic and free range and whatever-whatever-free. I just feel better knowing that what I’m eating is natural, and if I can avoid chemicals and preservatives that’s great.

Naked Za (yeah we have nicknames now) has many different options for you to choose from: type of crust, crust thickness, type of cheese, type of sauce.

One cool thing they have is their Ancestral Blend crust which contains 10 different grains, prebiotic agave fiber and probiotics. Pretty cool huh?

I’m debating between choosing one of Naked Pizza’s many great offerings tonight, or just building my own–

The Ragin Cajun: sausage, chicken, garlic, bell pepper, onion

The Pima: black beans, jalapeno (make that habanero and you got yourself a deal), cheddar cheese

The Farmvil (sad name): pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, ham

What’s even funnier is the logos they use to depict the ingredients of the pizza. All the animals are cute and colorful. They don’t look at all like they’re about to be sliced up and put on a pizza for me to nom. Maybe no one’s told them yet.

Definitely check them out:

Naked Pizza

 

 

I’ll update this post after I actually eat my pizza from there tonight. 🙂