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Top Chef Boston – Ep. #9 – 12/17/14 (spoilers)

To make some fake drama I assume. Even if he were a Jets or Colts fan, I'd think he'd keep his mouth shut til after the judging.

I was thinking how slow the comments are this season too. I don't feel like the chefs are *that* much different, and certainly the judges seem super happy with most of their dishes. Maybe they've shot the Top Chef wad after all this time.

Dec 18, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News
1

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #9 – 12/17/14 (spoilers)

It was nice to have guests with some personality. Gronk was his big doofusy adorable self. Tony Maws didn't have a lot to do but seemed more animated than many who have been on. I wish Gronk had been at the dinner too.

I'm not sure I saw the stories people were trying to portray all that well in any of their dishes, except for Katsuji.

Maybe I can knock off some of those movies on my DVR since everything is on break, except Tiny House Hunters.

Dec 18, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News
1

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

Here's some behind the scenes stuff from Jasper and Tony Maws. Didn't read it yet.

http://bostonchefs.com/news/tag/top-c...

Dec 17, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

I didn't want to be so brutal but yes, that's kind of what I was thinking about JW. Hope all is well with him. And I miss Denis Leary. Hope his new show is as fun as Rescue Me.

http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/fx-de...

With Sons ending, The Bridge not getting renewed and Justified in its last season, FX needs some good shows.

Dec 17, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News
1

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

I gave up on "all stars" (Really? half of you lost in the first few weeks), but was thinking Alysa sure ain't as attractive and/or put together as she used to be. Pregnant or not.

Dec 15, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

He was bugging me in the early episodes but I thought he was really fun in this ep. He definitely brought a good energy to the shopping. More Hugh.

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

Wardrobe is casual, not sure it's an improvement with that weird denim jumpsuit she had on. That probably cost a fortune but looks like it came from Tello's.

Dec 12, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News
1

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

Well he's from the area, not sure where he lives now. NYC?

Dec 11, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #8 – 12/10/14 (spoilers)

I think Padma was just surprised that 'cute' was used to describe a pantry of food. Not that she was being called cute, right?

I thought Melissa was going home since Adam's dish was popular with the diners and it seemed to be a toss up. I agree, he's much more memorable and it was 'cute' when he said you can tell how much this all means to him for him to break down on national TV. And yeah, Melissa's great knife cuts, who gives a flying F?

I know it's been a while since Jasper lost all the weight, but he doesn't look so healthy. I'm afraid our Boston guests have been fairly dull, until next week at least. Maybe they should have gotten Lenny Clark or Dennis Leary.

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #7 – 12/03/14 (spoilers)

That's a real disservice if they purposely did that to make her look like "slackjawed milquetoast" (good expression). Eh, they were all kind of a mess no matter how you look at it.

Dec 08, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #7 – 12/03/14 (spoilers)

"Keriann asks down in the kitchen why they were hot, and Katie just looks at her. Keriann says “What?” Katsuji says “That was the decision.” And Keriann said “To make it hot?” He replies “It wasn't my decision!”

I thought Katie looked like an idiot at this point and am surprised more people weren't upset by her lack of any control or balls or whatever. I suppose it could be the way they edited it but she just had this blank stare when she should have answered the freaking question.

Poor Doug must get so sick of the short jokes.

Portland (and some Portsmouth) weekend report

Fun trip as always starting with Fri. breakfast at the Roundabout Diner in Portsmouth. We ended up in the back room with the bar where the waitress mixed a pretty good Bloody Mary for my friend and we split some corned beef eggs benedict ($9.99). I thought it was quite good, larger than usual English muffins (with nooks and crannies), good hash and eggs, hollandaise wasn't so flavorful. We were going to split a side of cornbread French toast but they brought out grilled cornbread instead so we just had that, it was fine. After driving scenic Rt. 1 route and a stop at the Adidas outlet, we got to Blue Spoon just past 4:00 but were told they didn't open til 4:30. That was too bad, no time to wait around so we went to North Point for their HH which has $4 wines and drafts and a $5 special cocktail. There was a large choice of wine so I got a Gewurtztraminer and A. got a draft. We split a plate of hot sausage w/ kielbasa, duck and pheasant which was tasty but way overpriced at $15 for about 20 discs of sausage and nothing else. Nice bartender. We actually drove into town that nite cuz it was cold and navigating the roads/snow under the highway by the Clarion was a pain. Left the car on State St. and made our way first to Emilitsa for a snack at the bar. They gave us a tasty complimentary chickpea spread. A. enjoyed the Scottish draft, I had some nice dry Greek white wine and we split a rabbit phyllo app. Nice gal working the bar. Then we walked down to Infiniti where A. enjoyed some $2.50 tastes of beers and we split a pretzel and an apple dessert (both $5). I was waiting for late happy hour but their cocktails looked great there, esp. with that big round custom ice cube they make. We got to Hunt & Alpine for happy hour that starts at 11, but it's just a few lower priced apps, not drinks. I got some jalapeno tequila drink, another draft for A. Another nice bartender bringing the nite to a close.

Sat. we walked from the Clarion to Bunker Brewery with a stop at Holy Donut for a good maple frosted (but coffee brandy was kind of boring). Since we passed Maine Craft Distillers on the way, we stopped in but I could only take so many tastes of straight alcohol, they really should put out some oyster crackers. A. took home a bottle of the Fifty Stone. Nice folks working there, then more nice folks at Bunker where you could get 3 tastes for $3 (I'm just watching the drinking at this pointi). We walked around and hit a few stores before getting a late brunch at East Ender. It was scrambled eggs w/ pulled pork over a green onion/cheese johnnycake ($12). Unfortunately, the johnnycake got lost in the mix and I don't think the side of hash browns was needed (why are hash browns so hard for people to get right?). Their cocktails looked good but I wasn't in the mood. Walked back after hitting the Scandinavian store and a few record shops as is the tradition. That nite, we had an 8:45 res at Piccolo and started w/ a drink at the Armory Lounge in the Regency first. I thought I was in that bar last year when I was really in the Harbor Hotel but think I prefer the Harbor now that I've tried both. The service was good but it's much more relaxing at the Harbor and while it doesn't have as many cocktail combos, that's ok. Sat at the bar of Piccolo and split a great dinner of grilled octopus then cavatelli w/ lamb (along w/ great bread and olive oil). Yet another great server, she had me taste all three whites by the glass. A pretty good value (about $52 for two drinks, app and entrée). Afterwards, A. got a draft at the busy Bramhall. I've always wondered what that space was like the many times I've walked by.

Got a few donuts at Tony's on Sun. morning to take home and lunch was at the Beach Plum in Portsmouth. Split a cheeseburger w/ onion ringers and a fried clam plate. The clams were decent but could have stayed in the fryolator another minute, good sized plate. Burger was a frozen pattie, yawn. With two drinks it was $36. Curious about the BBQ place in that plaza.

Thanks for your thoughts on happy hours, have some more to try next time and will update my list with this new info from the weekend.

Dec 01, 2014
Joanie in Northern New England
1

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #6 – 11/19/14 (spoilers)

Am I the only one who thought Melissa was going home? It seemed like they thought the dish was too simple and not all that flavorful whereas Stacy had some interesting things going on. When she said she made Boston proud, I thought, hmm.. being in the bottom most of the episodes isn't anything to brag about. Not to dump on her, I thought her dishes sounded better than the judges did most of the time she ended up in the bottom.

Can't wait for Gronk, I'm sure he'll say the same thing over and over, just changing the order of things (we have to play hard and physical, go out there and be physical and play hard).

Nov 21, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News
1

Happy hour in Portland

Hey Sultan, you say "out of the places you listed I love Timber and Northpoint" then go on to give new info on Timber. Did you mean to say you love something else I mentioned in the original post? Thx.

Nov 18, 2014
Joanie in Northern New England

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #5 – 11/12/14 (spoilers)

I was surprised Aaron didn't even grin when Hugh made that comment. Yes it was a criticism but it was funny. I'm not sure why Hugh wouldn't put Stacy's dish on his own menu (and still don't know why James' dishes were considered so anachronistic). I feel like they weren't overly psyched with the choc cake but it seemed likely that Aaron was probably losing.

A Day in the Bite: Whose dishes did you like?

Nov 13, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Happy hour in Portland

Thanks we'll be passing that constantly as we walk back and forth from the Clarion.

Also meant to ask about a place for an upscale cocktail. Last year we had one by the fireplace in the lounge at the Portland Regency which was nice. Also have gone to Grace and the top of the hotel whose name begins with E, it's been a while tho. Any other great cocktails at a comfy spot?

Nov 12, 2014
Joanie in Northern New England

Happy hour in Portland

We'll be able to take advantage of a Fri. happy hour at the end of the month and I'm wondering what's available. I've been to Zapoteca and enjoyed it a lot, also like the atmosphere. Have also hit Three Dollar Dewey's which is fine but not so exciting. I'm curious about MJ's Wine Bar at One City Center, still haven't gone there. I had had Plush and Gingko Blue on Fore St on my list but both have closed, anything good in their place?

Are these others still in existence/any good? Anything I'm missing? Thanks.

Blue Spoon: 89 Congress St., bluespoonme.com/ HH 4-6 wine and small plates
Boone's Fish House: 86 Commercial St., boonesfishhouse.com; HH 4-6, 10-midnite
North Point: 35 Silver St., northpointportland.com, HH 4-6 M-F, $5 wine $6 cocktails
Shay's: 18 Monument Sq, $5 martini, $1 off drafts

Nov 12, 2014
Joanie in Northern New England

Portland report

Thanks for mentioning those places, my beer loving friend will be psyched to try one or both when we go after Tgiving. In'finiti (what's with the apostrophe?) seems to get less great reviews but has the size advantage. I've had Emilitsa on my list for a while. I already bought the "If loving donuts is wrong I don't want to be right" shirt from Holy Donuts so may skip them for a return to old school Tony's. Also hope to leave the tourists for Fisherman's Grill, Ernie's Pool and Great Lost Bear again. Any ideas about happy hours? I'll start a separate thread since we'll have time on Fri. Thanks.

Nov 12, 2014
Joanie in Northern New England

However (Bourdain Continued)

He could have talked about the problem then kind of turned to a "not all things are bad" and gone to that guy taking over the diner and how popular the People's Pint is. Whatever, it was interesting and the first of these CNN shows of his I've seen. Do they not have a bit more of a non food angle than his other shows in general?

Nov 12, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

However (Bourdain Continued)

I think it went a *tad* too far but overall I liked it. I feel like if he'd just mixed in one or two more real food items, it wouldn't have been such a downer.

Nov 11, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #4 – 11/05/14 (spoilers)

"JAMES: Chilled Wild Shrimp, Mussels & Clams with Arugula, Navel Orange & Capers. Padma said it looks very pretty, and Richard said it looks better than it sounds. Tom isn't liking the dish. Richard said it's from a different era."

Why is that from a different era? It doesn't seem so dated or out of place to me but maybe I'm from a different era too. I thought James seemed like a decent guy and was sad to see him go. They seem to be doing lots of double eliminations this season.

I thought Stacy kind of lied when she defended her vegetables which she knew were way too roasted.

I didn't realize the name wasn't Bull & Finch anymore either. I seem to come upon Cheers when I'm in random foreign countries and it hasn't stood the test of time for me.

Nov 10, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Report for Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Brugge

Writing up a report of my trip to Amsterdam, Brugge and Rotterdam to help folks with questions like mine that didn't really get answered. Started with one of the best items of the trip, a super fresh doner kebab at Turks Fruit Lunch Room by Oosterpark, good stuff for only 3.50€. Went to the Resistance Museum then that nite we wandered around Spuistraat, skipped all the Argentine restaurants (are they any good?), and ended up at Luden for a decent meal. Bitterballen to start (awfully mushy) then split a salmon dish w/ mustard sauce (15€). A. thought it was overcooked, seemed fine to me. We had nice service and some interesting beers. Ended up at The Minds for loud music and a beer. Sat. morning we started at the Waterlooplein market where we got pancakes from a cart there then I was psyched to discover that Coffee Company served iced coffee (not a big thing in Europe). Looked at Rembrandt's house then walked to Leisdeplein where we got a horrible hot dog from a cart but good fries from some joint. We were back in the Spuisstraat area that nite and ended up at Van Harte on Hartenstraat which was a cute place where we got 3 course meals for 25€. Too bad we had not great service and a hair in the crawfish cake. That was a bummer. My duck was actually pretty good (with a better bitterballen) but the crème brulee was kind of weird. Neither of our credit cards worked (we swiped but I guess since no chp, we were SOL) and that was a pain. (Same problem buying a 4 day tram ticket. And at the train station in Rotterdam, we didn't even have the option to swipe at the counter, so keep that in mind while traveling.) Went to the bar Vrankrijk around the corner for some live music then our friend was doing a soul nite at De Badcuyp so ended up there.

Sun. there was too long a line at Anne Frank House so we took a canal ride then made the obligatory coffee shop stop at Funky Monkey on Marnixstraat where you could play pool then later a nice cream of celery soup at Cafe Buiten by a canal. Later was a nice dinner to thank our hosts. We started with drinks at Het Badhuis in Javaplein close to their house where the drink menu isn't too exciting but I was happy with a fancy cocktail at this point. More bitterballen, these were the best. They picked Wilde Zwijnen over Speijkervet for dinner and it was very nice (see photo). Good lively ambiance, nice service. We decided on the three-course chef's choice (30€ for 3 courses) which started with a delicious app of dorado, then a decent rib eye and dessert was spice cake with ice cream and fruit, more exciting than it sounds. Mon. we used our friends' museum cards and packed in a lot. Also hit the Noordermarkt and got the famous apple pie at Winkel (see photo) with a great cappuccino (had to wait about 15 min or so) then walked thru Albert Cuypmarkt where A. got delicious octopus. That nite we tried Surinam food at New Draver by the Wibautstraat stop. We split chicken roti and fried rice w/ chicken, with a beer and a soda it was 21€ and good enough. We made it to the Anne Frank house about 7:30 and only had to wait 20 min so so. Ended the nite at the bar on the top of the Volkshotel where they had some interesting cocktails and a nice view.

Took the bus to Bruges, arrived around 2PM and got a waffle immediately on our way to the hotel. What a beautiful city but it's jammed with tourists and gets to be too fairytale like after a while. (These tons of tourists are less rowdy than Amsterdam's tons of tourists who also get to be too much after a while.) Our hotel Buc de Bourgogne had a great location (and nice breakfast) and we immediately went out to climb the 366 stairs in the Belfry then to a record store on Langestraat and a beer at Bauhaus café/hostel down the street. The weather quieted down later for us to walk to the craft cocktail bar Groot Vlaenderen. Wouldn't you know they're closed Tues. and Wed., the only nites we were in town. Bruges has a lot of odd closing days for various restaurants including Wed. and Thurs. for the place we had dinner at, Gruthushof. We went there after a stop at the bar of Cafedraal hoping for a good cocktail (which the hype leads you to believe) but my martini was served in a big wine glass. Whatever, we were seated immediately at Gruthushof and had a great meal even tho I was worried after reading some nasty responses from the manager on Trip Advisor (dude needs a class on customer service). Things went well for us starting with shrimp croquettes that A. liked better than I did. But my Dover sole was amazing and A. loved his stew. Profiteroles for dessert completed a very nice evening. On Wed. we saw the Picasso and Warhol exhibits at the St. John's museum then a snack at Jacob's bakery then dinner at Poule Moules cuz we had to have mussels w/ frites. They were decent, in a beer broth and quite a few but kind of pricey at 23€. And they wouldn't serve tap water. Hit some other good bars on Langestraat after.

Saw the Dali museum Thurs. morning then took the train to Rotterdam. It was nice to be in a non-tourist city and the modern architecture was fun after all those old buildings. Had a snack of flammkuchen at Cafe Boudewijn then later grabbed an ok doner kebab on Witte de Withstraat, a fun street, and stopped at dive bar De Oude Binnenweg for a slice of local life. Ended the nite at Bar 3 across from our Hotel Emma where they played good music and had a friendly bartender. Had no idea I booked us so close to the record stores and bars on Nieuwe Binnenweg when I decided on this hotel. Fri. was miserable so after hitting the big Markthal with its amazing choices of food (had an awesome apple pastry), we walked by the Erasmus bridge but didn't walk over cuz it was raw out. We saw the Bond exhibit at the Kunsthal then I hit the Architecture museum and the cool 1930's Sonneveld house. Ate dinner at a place called Ciao on Nieuwe Binnenweg for decent pasta and a great caprese salad then ended up at Bar 3 to finish the nite. Went to the big Sat. market where A. got a waffle and I had a Berliner donut, wandered thru the Markthal again then took the train to Amsterdam for our last day before flying back to Boston.

We checked into the beautiful Hotel Estherea on Singel and grabbed a nice panini and cappuccino at Cafe Het Paleis. Later we took advantage of the hotel's cute little bar and had fun cocktails then our first rijsttafel at Aneka Rasa on Warmoesstraat (photos) which was a fun experience. It's on a crazy busy street but we only had to wait 10 min on a Sat. They were good about explaining the dishes and the Aneka rice table was a good amount of food. The bar we liked, The Minds, was too crowded and smoky so we ended the nite at Cafe de Koningshut which was like a neighborhood joint. Coincidentally around the corner from the hotel, lucked out in that booking too. Sun. morning we got nice baked goods from Hans Egstorf and a surprisingly decent Irish breakfast from the pub in the airport and that was that.

Damn, I try to make it quick but it's always too long. Hopefully people will find some useful info. Thanks to Tom and Klary for your comments.

Nov 05, 2014
Joanie in Europe

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #3 - 10/29/14 (spoilers)

So many shows do that, super annoying. But if you set to record a series or just want to record quickly, you get screwed out of those last 30-60 seconds. Seems like it should be easy for them to figure out but alas...

Got nothing else about TC other than I was curious what the red mark on Ron's face was. And "Norm" seems to get a couple good one liners in on the next episode.

Nov 03, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #3 - 10/29/14 (spoilers)

But it's a little different picking one item to be incorporated into a dish isn't it? I mean, peanuts would seem to be able to be used by tons of people and lots of interesting items came out of the popcorn.

Oct 31, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #3 - 10/29/14 (spoilers)

I seldom watch in real time but yeah, the extra 15 min was unnecessary. (Any Sons of Anarchy fans here? That show is ALWAYS 15-30 longer.) There's something about the guy w/ the Swayze tattoo that I like, hoping he can get his shit together. I also like Adam and the Asian gal who did the soup. I really thought Katsuji was going home with his badly done pork belly and overwrought dish.

Oct 31, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Portland report

Where are Novare and Infiniti? Don't have them on my long list of standby Portland info and they sound interesting. Too bad about Fore St. My first time was amazing, 2nd time was quite good but it's been a while.

Oct 30, 2014
Joanie in Northern New England

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #2 - 10/22/14 (spoilers)

Mei's grimaces and hair pulling when her team gathered was really unprofessional. And I agree w/ whoever said she should shut up about Voltaggio. I'm also sick of her swearing all the time. I'd like to see her knocked down a notch. Right now I'm liking the tall dude whose mother survived 9/11 and the short guy/Patrick Swayze team.

Oct 29, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News

Top Chef Boston - Ep. #1 - 10/15/14 (spoilers)

Totally agree about Richard, I want Hugh or Tony Bourdain (I know AB isn't coming back with any regularity). And also agree about not knowing who the weakest chef would be when you first walk in. I felt very bad for George and thought maybe he'd win just to start the show off nice.

The thing with the show being in Boston is I have to pay more attention to see if I come across any familiar faces. Probably not but you never know. And damn that Hugh for never getting in touch to come chat on my radio show after sounding so positive. Oh well. (I will be rocking in 45 min)

Oct 16, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News
1

Amsterdam Trip Report September 2014

Thanks for the wrap up. I only had one response to my AMS, Rotterdam and Bruges questions. Have found some good stuff but will research these too.

Oct 14, 2014
Joanie in Europe

Top Chef Duel Kevin vs. Art

Haha, I cry all the time too. An old Staples ad where the teacher had to buy supplies for the kids and runs into her husband buying some for her after complaining about the costs. Don't get me started on NFL pregame and all those moving stories. Heck, the team banding together is enough. Cry pretty much every week on Parenthood (and Fri Nite Lights before that). So odd that I was so skeptical of that.

Oct 09, 2014
Joanie in Food Media & News