Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Boston's Got Breweries

I've made recent discovery about myself these last few years as a result of my beer consumption—My favorite beers are those that prove hard to see through or that allow little light to pass through it. Recently that list has been known to include your wheat beers with their hazy, cloudy appearances and stouts and porters. Mmmmm, I do thoroughly enjoy a nicely done stout or porter. 

Last week, I had a day off so I took the opportunity to head north to Santa Fe to visit my  boyfriend John. He took me out to play some Frisbee golf for the first time and brought along some awesome local brews. Santa Fe Brewing Company has this awesome Java Stout that I fell in love with at the first side-sip (I like to drink my brews out of the side of my mouth). We're actually going to make some cake with that same stout tomorrow. I'll let you know how that goes. Coffee and chocolate pair well together–throw some great beer in there and I am positive that it will be phenomenal. 

Ahem. Back to the subject at hand, yeah? So in my attempt to devise a plan for this little trip of mine I looked up some of Boston's breweries. I don't know why I didn't think about it sooner, but of course Samuel Adams–brought to us by the Boston Beer Company– is a big company that has a brewery there.  Their brewery offers tours that show the entire process of brewing their craft beers. You can taste the malts, smell the hops and test some brews. How could I pass that up, I can't. According to their website under the 'extreme beers' they have more than just the usual variety of beers worth trying. Among the handful of special brews, two caught my eye for sure: the Chocolate Bock and the Triple Bock. 

The Chocolate Bock (just the sound of it rocks my world–I love chocolate and I love bocks) is a special brew that incorporates chocolate nibs into the brewing process, which add a subtle sweetness to the beer. I'm stoked about that. The Triple Bock is a brew that is compared to 'a vintage port, sherry or a cognac. I actually bought me and John a bottle of port for a sweet close to a nice night of good food and good company a few weeks ago for a date and I dug it a lot. He likes cognac so I bought us a Tawny Port, though the name of the bottle escapes me. Perhaps I'll pick one up to bring home to share with him. 

Harpoon Brewery is another brewery on my list of places to visit if time permits. I had the pleasure of enjoying some Harpoon brews this summer. During my Vineyard internship, the editor planned a catamaran party for us and bought all the booze and brews to go along with us when we left the Edgartown Harbor. Equipped with some pizzas, a few six-packs of the Harpoon IPA and grip of Bud Light–the Harpoons were the first to meet the bottom the trash cans. It was obviously a horrible brew. From the looks of their website, they have a few year-round,seasonal and limited edition brews that sound awesome too. I hope they still have some of their Island Creek Oyster Stout, which is a part of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series–it sounds exciting. 

I hope I can fit them into my trip. I know its only two breweries, but I will be flying solo in a place I've never been, so I could get lost in that big city. I can already feel the cold, refrigerated air of the processing rooms, taste the bitterness and the malty flavors of the brews and the sound of glasses clinking in the tasting room. I'm in for a truly, tasty treat next week–great beer, great food and a great experience. Mmmmmm. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mexican Food in Boston?

Hmmmm? That sounds interesting.

In my search of things to do– and of course, places to eat– in Boston, I came across The Best of Boston 2009 list from It had a variety of categories from best restaurants & food to best of shopping and even homes (designers, contractors, etc.). Under the heading of restaurants & food, I was intrigued to find the category: Mexican. Granted I may be acting a bit close-minded, but I must say that during my stay on Martha's Vineyard– just a few hours south of Boston– I had the opportunity to partake in sampling some 'Mexican food'. 

Perhaps the cartoon shark on the building should have been some sort of indication to how serious this place was going to take their Mexican food– he was wearing a sombrero, a pair of shades and holding a margarita with a giant grin on his face– but I didn't think anything of it at the time. Sharky's Cantina, as it was so justly named, was one of the two places on the Vineyard that claimed stake in offering Mexican food to its visitors. While the menu announced its 'world famous house made salsa', otherwise known as pico de gallo, to be an award-winner,  I was hardly impressed. If I remember correctly (as I do remember the disappointment vividly) it was a whole bunch of tomatoes with just a few specs of what I think, and hope, were jalapenos. If this is what Mexican food is on the East coast, I'm going to in for quite a letdown. 

However, after perusing the menu of The Best of Boston 2009 Mexican winner, Olé, seems to know what's up. Not that I am an expert in all things that are Mexican, or for that matter New Mexican, I've had my share of both and liked what I read. I have always been a fan of Molé, before I even tasted it to the plates to had in Zacatecas, Mexico, and Olé has just that– but with some flair. 

Chef Erwin Ramos has created a Molé substituting chicken with roast duck served with garlic spinach and cilantro rice. Mmmmm, sounds delectable. Among other items on the menu, are pozole (yes, with a 'z' instead of an 's' as it is spelled here), chiles rellenos (yes, with an 's' at the end of chile), enchiladas served with Mexican rice and black beans and more. I'm excited to give them a try– I may only be in Boston a few days, but its possible I could get homesick... and by homesick, I mean missing Las Cruces and the eats there versus the Filipino eats I get at the homestead. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Week: Anything Boston

In an attempt to pump myself up for my trip to Boston next week, I am going to dedicate my next few posts to anything Boston-related. I'm not entirely certain what that will consist of, but I am certain that eating a Boston Cream Pie from Flying Star would be a nice place to start.

Despite what the name entails, Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake. The original recipe, also known as "American Pudding Cake", was often cooked in pie tins as cake pans were not so common in kitchens of the mid 1800's.

The Flying Star version of the alleged 'pie' consists of three layers of soft spongecake separated by velvety, vanilla custard, coated in chocolate icing and decorated with mini cream puffs filled with the vanilla custard and covered in caramel. It's a tall slice of cake and I'm afraid it may take me two sittings to tackle it. I'm surviving this economy on a sushi server's wage, so I'm not used to all this 'richness'. For me, it is a very rich cake, but for others, it's probably not too rich.
Its a dessert that is perfect for enjoying an afternoon at a cafe watching the cars drive by on an adjacent street or in the kind of company that doesn't require endless conversation and encourages pauses of silence long enough to take a small bite and let the cake dissolve in your mouth.

Boston Cream Pie has the same kind of consistency of Tres Leches Cake, it's light and fluffy and has a very delicate flavor. Aside from the ganache on the 'pie', it has similar flavors–the cool cream has an easy-going vanilla flavor and the cake has a mellow taste. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of enjoying this cake, it is truly a delectable dessert. Tres Leches translates from Spanish to "three milks", as the original recipe is made with three kinds of milk– evaporated milk, sweetened-condensed milk and heavy cream. Though it may sound like a heavy dessert, the cake itself is usually a sponge cake or butter cake. The frosting is often made with the same milks used for soaking the cake. I'll have to make sure that I put some time aside to visit some places that have Massachusetts' state dessert.