MichaelB's Profile

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Pepes Pizza coming to Boston

I've been to that Manchester location twice recently and both times the pizza was equal to what I had at the New Haven original. I didn't have the clam pie - iffy clams are definitely a Bad Thing so I understand how that experience wouldn't instill confidence, but my experiences have been great.

I'm pretty excited that they're opening here - I love Regina's but it'll be great to have a New Haven style pie available.

Jul 29, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

If you love strawberries...

Thanks for this tip - I got some this weekend and they really are great. A little step below local berries but leaps and bounds above Driscoll etc.

May 27, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Awesome burgers: new thread

+1 on this. I tried it a few weeks ago for lunch and it was delicious - tasty and juicy. The bacon, caramelized onion, and pickle sauce put the richness a little over the top for me - I might leave off the bacon and onion next time - but overall it was great. When I had it the fries were a bit tough and not very hot, but that may have been a good thing since the burger plus a scottish cider put me into a partial food coma for the rest of the afternoon anyway - eating all the fries might have done me in!

It's about a half-block from the 39 bus stop and I think a half-mile from either Stonybrook or Jackson Square T is about right, but I'm happy to have it in walking distance. Very friendly service and mellow vibe as well.

May 22, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Late May Farmers' Markets, Farm Stands, CSA updates

Central Square market on monday didn't have much produce, although I did get some excellent fat asparagus from Hutchins Farm.

Two new vendors there - Union Square Donuts (surprisingly great donut holes!) and a new hard cider maker called Far from the Tree. They were sampling two ciders, both very crisp and dry. One was straight apple and the other one was fermented with hops and mint, which was unusual and refreshing, although I preferred the straight apple version.

May 22, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

indian mango?

Late reply, but I was at Waltham India last sunday (the 18th) and they said they would be getting some Kesars in on monday. I went for the sure thing and got a case at Patel Bros. 34.99 for 11 mangos but they're ripening nicely.

Not the same thing, but Patel Bros. also had about a zillion cases of beautiful looking Ataulfo mangos for 11-12 dollars, which is a great deal.

May 22, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Who has great tart raspberry lime rickeys?

I've always had excellent ones at Richardson's ice cream in Middleton. They do a nice job of squeezing and muddling so you get lots of lime juice and a bit of lime oil to offset the sweetness of the raspberry syrup. Haven't been yet this year so I have no idea if they are affected by the Great Lime Crisis of 2014.

Apr 27, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

H Mart Open in Central Square!

LOTS of misting! I noticed it several times while I was walking around the produce section.

They've used the space really well. It's MUCH nicer than the Burlington store, although of course it's only day one; hopefully it stays relatively clean.

Harvest downsized so much when they moved across the street that there's not as much overlap in products as there would have been before. I think their real target is Whole Foods, especially re the meat/fish/produce sections. I looked at the fish counter and it was MUCH better looking than at Whole Foods, and the meat selections looked excellent too.

I tried a sandwich and a canele from Paris Baguette. Both were good; neither made me swoon. I'll definitely be back for the other food court stops.

Apr 23, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Apricot Kernals in bulk bins?

I've seen these in the past at Trader Joe's (bagged), but it was a while ago and I don't know if they still have them. I think it was at the Coolidge Corner store, which usually has a wide selection of nuts and dried fruits; some of the smaller stores stock fewer selections.

Mar 24, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Canadian foods sold anywhere?

I don't know specifically if they have Canadian foods, but it's probably worth trying Cardullo's in Harvard Square - they have lots of international candies and cookies, etc.

Mar 24, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Quattro North End?

Too late to make suggestions for your dinner, but I've been twice and both times it's been good, though not great. I've had the roasted chicken, which was nicely cooked: well-seasoned, with nicely rendered skin (not especially crisp, though), and mostly moist meat. It came with grilled vegetables, which were fine if not especially exciting (or seasonal - asparagus in January?). More recently we tried the pizza, which was definitely Neapolitan - from the charred puffy rim to the somewhat soggy middle - but again, good not great. The meatballs ("meatball madness"!) were just okay - I wouldn't get them again.

It's definitely got a more modern vibe than many North End places, and a less trapped-in-amber menu - I'd go back to try other dishes. The service has been friendly but kinda nervous and amateur - not a problem but not a strength either.

btw the proper Neapolitan pizza has arrived in the neighborhood since Slim posted - up the street at Locale. If I were just going for pizza, I'd go there, but Quattro has a much broader menu. I'd be curious to hear other people's impressions since I've only tried a few things so far.

Mar 07, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Large format dinners in Boston

Anh Hong does 7 courses of fish as well - also delicious.

Feb 20, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Tenoch Mexican in the North End....mini report

I didn't see any beer or wine when I was there; don't know if they're planning to try for a license or not.

Feb 14, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Bondir Concord Just Okay

Ditto - Domenic's was one of my favorite things about working in Waltham. It was a happy day when I discovered a side route that shaved about 10 minutes off the round trip there by avoiding Main St. traffic. I could eat an eggplant panino right about now!

Feb 14, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Tenoch Mexican in the North End....mini report

Just tried this tonight - thumbs up! I'm excited to have this as a more T-friendly option than the one in Medford.

We shared a torta (carnitas and chorizo - I forget the spanish name for this), an order of chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, and a pork mole tamal. The torta was fantastic, just as good as in Medford, and better than any others I've had since Tacos Lupita in Porter Square changed names and went downhill. Nice mixture of flavors from the shoulder meat and sausage.

The enchiladas were very tasty although we had actually ordered them with green sauce rather than mole, but they were pretty busy and it seemed silly to have them redo a whole plate. I chose the chicken to match with the green sauce - it was a little overwhelmed by the flavor of the mole but perfectly fine. Good rice and black beans alongside.

The tamal was good, and a little different from ones I've had - it was steamed in a banana leaf (rather than a corn husk) and the masa was *very* tender and had a bit of sweetness in the mix. Very comforting on a cold night; I might try it with green or red sauce next time to balance out the sweetness. The mole itself was a bit sweeter than I expected (but I am no expert in mole) but was velvety smooth and rich.

It's a nice little space - not fancy but modern-looking and comfortable. I think there are just 22 seats, but they were already doing a lot of takeout. The owner was at the register and was incredibly friendly and gracious. I got the impression that the kitchen was still working its way into shape (not surprising on their 3rd day open) - the owner said he was getting used to not being right next to the line as he is in Medford - but overall everything was really solid. I look forward to working my way through the menu, especially all the different tacos and tortas.

Feb 12, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Best in Watertown?

Yes to those (especially the walnut macaroons), and I'd add the persian baklava - sweet and flaky, with lots of crushed pistachios and a strong cardamom flavor. I don't love most baklava but I really like these.

Jan 27, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Roland Demerara Sugar Cubes -- anyone know a (cheap) local source?

I've seen them, very intermittently, at Ocean State Job Lot stores.

Dec 16, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Canary Square seafood dish + scallop guts question

Oh, this was *definitely* not roe. Roe would have been cool. This was just connective tissue - digestive tract, membrane, etc. As Bob Dobalina suggested above, I did kind of think, "hmm, steamers?" Or as a co-worker commented when I told her, it's "nose-to-tail!"

I can get over the skeevy factor but I definitely think the sweetness of the scallop meat got lost in all the other stuff. Although some of that may have been the prep - the strong flavor of preserved lemon is an interesting idea but might go better with a sea scallop.

Dec 09, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Canary Square seafood dish + scallop guts question

I was at Canary Square this weekend and had one of their special appetizers: cream-poached oysters with tarragon and cape scallops on the shell with preserved lemon and olive oil. 3 of each nicely presented on individual beds of salt. The oysters were fantastic. My question is about the scallops. They were simply steamed open and served guts and all. (By "guts" I mean the connective material that is usually removed to leave behind just the muscle.) I tried one, guts and all, and it was … fine, then i abandoned manners for a minute and forcibly separated the muscle from another one and it was sweet and delicious.

So, is this a thing now? Scallops served with all the innards? My tablemates thought it was fine. I have two objections: 1) All that connective stuff obscures the sweet delicate taste of a very delicious little scallop meat. 2) It's skeevy!

Am I being too squeamish about the guts? (Entirely possible.) I know it's technically fine to eat as long as the scallop is fresh. Do other places serve them this way? Does anyone prefer it?

Dec 08, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

White Clam Pizza

I believe there's one on the menu at Locale in the North End. I haven't tried it, but their other pizzas are fantastic. Neapolitan style, not New Haven style, but very likely worth trying.

Dec 08, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Clementines that actually taste good

Not exactly clementines, but Whole Foods has been stocking satsuma mandarins for several weeks and they're very good. More sweet and tart than super-sweet, but much more flavorful and juicy than most clementines. Russo's has had them in the past as well, almost certainly at a lower price than WF, but I haven't looked there lately.

Less shelf life than most clementines, so check them for soft spots, and note that the attached stems (which look very nice) sometimes poke holes in their neighbors in the bin.

Also not a bargain source, but Formaggio Kitchen usually has a really excellent supply of unusual and frequently delicious citrus fruits in the winter months.

Dec 05, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Star Fish Market, Egleston Square - home of the $3 fish sandwich

The last thread about this place was about 7 years ago so I think it's time for a new one. It's located right in Egleston Square in JP, on Washington St. just before the intersection with Columbus Ave.

There's a fresh fish counter, but most of the action is at the fried fish counter, where they sell various takeout platters of fried seafood and french fries. I haven't tried those yet (though I plan to); what I have tried are the ridiculously cheap fish sandwiches. The whiting sandwich is about $2.75; the luxury option, haddock, is $4.00. (Plus 30 cents for cheese, which I tried just to confirm that American cheese does not improve fried fish. Indeed it does not.)

It's a pretty damn good sandwich! Served on "whole wheat" Sunbeam-esque bread, which does not interfere with the fried-to-order fish. I've tried both the whiting (aka pollock, I think) and the haddock, and without having them side-by-side I'd be hard-pressed to state a preference - both are freshly fried, nice and crisp, and go nicely with the tartar sauce and hot sauce they provide at the counter. The fry job is excellent and just thinking about it is making me eager to try the full seafood platter.

The fish market side has had a very limited but fresh-looking selection when I've looked - usually some salmon, haddock, pollock, and porgy, which they'll cut/filet/etc. to order.

Hot Dog hole-in-the-wall's in Boston Metro?

Ditto on Casey's. I've never been inside but I love stopping at the side window when I'm nearby. Not a super-snappy dog but great flavor. I love the big copper cauldron just inside the window where they cook the dogs and steam the buns.

Nov 17, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Nantucket / Cape Scallops

This is south of the city rather than west, but I saw some at the Fruit Center marketplace in Milton a few days ago. (I think the seafood counter there is run by Rocky Neck seafood?) Price in the mid-twenties I believe.

Nov 17, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Locale - North End

I've been meaning to post about this place - glad you put up a review. I've been twice and I think it's great - some of the best Naples-style pizzas I've had in Boston (meaning *actual* Neapolitan - cooked quickly, puffy high crust, plenty of char), with the major caveat that I still haven't tried Gran Gusto (i know, i know).

Pretty short menu - about 5 or 6 pizzas, salads, antipasti, and a few other items. We tried the meatballs right after they opened and they were just so-so: nice texture but kinda weak-tasting. I think they were beef-only and some pork and more seasonings would have livened them up. Perfectly fine tomato sauce on top though. I'd try them one more time to see if they've improved since then. The meat antipasto was solid - good selection and good quality (and quite a lot of it), though nothing to make you forget Coppa.

Short, focused list of wines by the glass and some interesting-sounding beers which are lost on me since I'm not a beer lover. Friendly, quick service - I think it's always been the owner (big guy) who's waited on us. The main story is definitely the pizza - which is really really great.

We've eaten in both times, so it's good to know that takeout is solid as well.

Nov 08, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Donuts!

I tried it too and while the experience was fun, I agree that the donuts themselves weren't great. I thought the cake flavors in particular seemed over-fried - they were a bit dry and tough and had absorbed a lot of extra oil. The yeasted varieties (the tarragon-lemon and another glazed one - coconut?) were better but also a bit too dark and greasy. The mexican chocolate one was just lame all around - barely chocolately, no spice flavors to speak of, and unpleasantly dense.

But the glazes were excellent - mai-tai very mai-tai-esque and boozy, the maple bacon would be GREAT if the basic donut had been better, and that lemon-tarragon was nicely bitter/sweet. Hopefully fryer-execution and their basic recipes will improve with practice (their tweets during the morning were entertaining but a bit frantic). I don't think it's a matter of frying on-site - a hot donut is best but a good one can certainly have good taste and texture several hours after frying.

Oct 20, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Steel and Rye report

I just tried it tonight and really enjoyed it. I lived in Lower Mills for 7 years and I would have killed for a place like this when I was in the neighborhood. The space itself is pretty stunning - spacious but not too cavernous, with several distinct seating areas (as well as a private dining area that apparently can open up to add capacity to the main restaurant when needed).

We started with two excellent cocktails - a Maritime Out for her (rhum agricole, fresh lime juice, sugar, bonal gentiane-quina) and a Blinker for me (whiskey, fresh grapefruit, house-made pomegranate grenadine) - mine looked pinker but tasted drier, hers was more sweet/sour but still nicely balanced.

Nice anadama bread and butter on the table. We split a half dozen RI oysters - very cleanly shucked - and the special "snack" of salmon rillettes. This was slow-cooked salmon mixed with smoked salmon, "a lot of butter," olive oil, and served slightly chunky and sprinkled with some chili pepper and herbs. The waitress (who was excellent throughout) wasn't kidding about the butter - very rich but then they are rillettes. Delicious on the "homemade bagel chips" - not something I've ever imagined with rillettes but they made an excellent cracker.

For mains she had the roasted chicken with spring vegetables and I had the "giuntatelli" with confit chicken, oyster mushrooms, pancetta, arugula pesto. Giuntatelli turn out to be a fresh pasta about the width of fettucine but with slightly ruffly edges. Very tasty, with good resilient texture. The confit chicken was excellent - very rich and moist. Her roast chicken was a juicy breast with very crisp skin. The vegetables alongside were chard, tiny potatoes, a poached tomato, artichoke, and some fiddleheads. I snagged a fiddlehead and it was fresh and green, especially with some of the garlic cream that came alongside.

We managed to save room for dessert and tried the forbidden rice pudding and the chocolate-hazelnut dacquoise. We both really liked the rice pudding - which came with mango sorbet (whose tartness complemented the pudding although it was a little icy), vanishingly tiny diced mango, some guava puree, and a confounding drizzle of curry oil. For some reason neither of us could place the curry until the waitress identified it for us - it's odd but we both liked the way it complemented the mango flavor. Probably they should mention it on the menu (I see that sallyt hated the flavor) just so people know there will be a rather assertively non-dessert flavor in the mix, but I did enjoy it.

I'm no expert on dacqoise, and this seemed more like a rich multi-layered chocolate dessert with a crunchy middle section, but that was fine by me. The candied lemon bits in the cake and the sliced candied lemon on top were delicious and a nice respite from the chocolate onslaught.

Total was about 115 before tip - not cheap but we both felt the food, service, and overall experience justified the price. We had no problem parking in a space out front but it was a monday night - I can see how it would be tighter on weekends. I'd absolutely go back to try more of the menu.

Group dinner in Boston/Cambridge on a Saturday night - with some specific requirements

How about Abigail's in Kendall Square? I had a nice dinner there a few weeks ago - excellent oysters, bone marrow, very good cocktails (can't remember which ones); I had the excellent fried pork chop sandwich, my dc had the steak salad which she liked a lot. Dinner entrees are mostly over $20 but everything else - sandwiches, burgers, pastas, appetizers - is well below. Owners and staff have links to East Coast Grill and B-side, both apparent in the food and drink menus. And it's just a few blocks from the Kendall T. It was completely off my radar until I noticed it searching for new Kendall places, but I'd definitely go again.

Apr 10, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Went to WIlson Farms for 1st time. It was great! What are some of your favorite things there?

You mentioned the honeydew - their cut melons (honeydew and cantaloupe) are almost always great regardless of season, and much better than the ones at Whole Foods, Russo's, etc. In general I find that their out-of-season fruits are better than the ones elsewhere. I got some blueberries there recently that were more than passable for something shipped 4000 miles.

Their fresh-squeezed juices are great as well - actually squeezed on the premises and they taste like it. I like their cider donuts -- I usually get them in the fall when they're frying them fresh outside, but they're not bad even in the packages they sell inside.

Feb 06, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Edwards mangalitsa smoked ham at Formaggio

Holy woolly hog heaven! This stuff is amazing. It's on the wall with the prosciutto, serrano ham, etc. Each slice is about 1/3 fat and 2/3 meat. The fat is tender and gently smoky; the meat is dark, intensely salty, smoky and nearly crisp. 34 bucks a pound for a peak pork experience. (They'll slice any amount you like.)

Jan 31, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

ISO Callebaut Mini Chips

Try Marty's Liquors in Newton. They usually have a wide selection of Callebaut - both blocks and chips. Not sure specifically about the mini-chips but it's worth giving them a call.

Jan 31, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area