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Casual Dinner in Newton Lower Falls

Thanks to all for the recs! We went to Cook in Newton. It was a fairly painless drive, took us about 10 minutes (better than getting on 128 North at that time!).

It was good - a beautiful room and an interesting menu. We sat at the bar and ordered drinks and some of their spicy sweet peanuts. The bartender completely forgot about the peanuts and was not behind the bar very much. We ordered a flatbread (yummy) and the lamb wrap (not great - the meat was flavorless and could have been beef). A second bartender showed up and paid even less attention to us (and the bar isn't that big). To get a second glass of wine, we had to wave our arms to get served.

All that being said, we liked the vibe of the place and will give it another try sometime.

Apr 04, 2014
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Casual Dinner in Newton Lower Falls

No need to take me quite so literally. Anywhere within a 10-15 minute drive from there would work.

Apr 02, 2014
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Casual Dinner in Newton Lower Falls

I'll be in Newton Lower Falls for an appointment late in the day and will want to stay down there for dinner to let the traffic thin out before heading north.

I'm not at all familiar with that area - can I get a couple of recs for casual places for dinner, middle-of-the-road prices? We're omnivores.

Thanks!

Apr 02, 2014
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Turkey White Bean Stew

I am working my way through frozen stuff, and have a one-pound chunk of cooked turkey breast (actually I have three, but I wrapped them on one-pound sizes). I don't particularly want turkey chili, but I came across a reference to a turkey white bean stew with pancetta that sounds really promising.

Anybody make something like this? If so, I'd love to hear suggestions/comments/advice.

Thanks ever so!

Feb 23, 2014
Valyn in Home Cooking

Your tried and true Cook's illustrated Best recipes.

Pasta with butternut squash and sage.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recip...

I printed this out in December 2008, and made it again tonight for the nth time. Easily made in 45-60 minutes, it's tasty and flexible. It can be 'de-fatted' by leaving out the bacon (but really, why would you do that?), substitutions can be made (sautéed onions for scallions) but what makes the recipe is the nutmeg and parmesan and lemon.

Plus it's a lot easier than their butternut squash risotto, which is sublime if you have a couple of hours.

My only complaint - almonds as garnish. Excuse me? Pecans are a wonderful accompaniment to sage and butternut squash. But that could just be my southern bias...

Jan 28, 2014
Valyn in Home Cooking

Why does the Acton/Concord area have NO GOOD RESTAURANTS?

We went to Red Raven on Saturday at about 4pm (I had a concert to sing in that evening and needed an early supper). The upstairs bar was closed, and they weren't seating in the dining room, but the bar was hopping and several of the high-tops were open.

Generally the experience was fine, surprising given some of the reviews here. We started with some marinated olives, which were quite good (we love olives and always order them if they're on the menu. These were better than what's offered at 80 Thoreau). I had the steak frites, and both the steak and the fries were tasty and cooked correctly. A blob of what tasted like roasted tomatoes was on top of the steak; they didn't add anything to the dish but weren't bad. The aioli with the frites was good and garlicky but tasted like something out of a jar, not homemade.

My husband had a burger, and he said it was good. The wine-by-the-glass menu had some decent stuff on it (although the best wines were by the bottle only), and the wines themselves were handled well - the glasses of red were even ever so slightly chilled.

The service was okay. Our waitress was young and helpful but confessed she "doesn't know anything about wine" which is pretty weird in a bar-server. They ought to train their servers better and take advantage of upselling opportunities. Plus it just sounds dumb when a server at a 'gastropub' doesn't know anything about alcohol. She mixed up the glass of malbec with the glass of claret, even after (we suspect) checking back with the bartender before she approached our table.

We'll go back, but it's different experience than 80 Thoreau. Much less formal, and the food and service is not as high-end. I would hesitate to go on a Friday or Saturday night, seeing as how that's when a lot of the bad reviews tend to come in. Maybe they just don't know how to run a high-occupancy space during peak times.

Jan 27, 2014
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Boston Christmas Dinner Suggestions?

Spouse and I are on our own this Christmas and are thinking about driving into town from the 'burbs for a nice late afternoon/early evening dinner.

All suggestions welcome!

Dec 08, 2013
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Good eats in the Marina District? [San Francisco]

Thanks, all!

I've made reservations at the Tipsy Pig for Friday and A16 for Monday. Depending on what we find in the galleries (and our energy levels), if we find ourselves still on Geary at 6pm, we may stay in that area for dinner.

Nov 07, 2013
Valyn in San Francisco Bay Area

Good eats in the Marina District? [San Francisco]

On Saturday night, we'll be dragging after flying in from Boston and doing a speed tour through the galleries on Geary. We're staying at an apartment in the Marina district, so I'd love a couple of recs for a low-key dinner.

Good breakfast places/bakery suggestions would be welcome, as well as some for good local markets.

Thanks ever so!

Nov 06, 2013
Valyn in San Francisco Bay Area

Best winter squash to put in risotto?

I currently have delicata, acorn and kabocha squashes hanging around and am considering a risotto. Which one would you use, and why, and how?

Oct 05, 2013
Valyn in Home Cooking

Leftover wild rice

I'm roasting some venison tenderloins tomorrow night, and I've got some leftover wild rice. Can I cook that up in a casserole somehow?

All ideas welcome, and thanks!

Mar 22, 2013
Valyn in Home Cooking

Fantastic meal at Journeyman in Somerville

We got to Journeyman, finally, last night. We had dinner with the owners when they were running their previous place privately, and had been following their progress.

We did the seven-course and it was just too much for me. The portions were appropriately small, as one would expect when plowing through seven courses, but I do wish we had gone for the fiver. Also, it takes awhile to get through seven courses!

But the food was fabulous. There was confit pork heart, maine shrimp, hake with sea urchin, SUBLIME agnolotti with lamb liver, the best duck I've ever had in the States, and a very clever presentation of foie gras. The carrot ice cream was in there somewhere and my husband, who's not a huge carrot fan, gave it a thumbs up - it was really lovely.

The sweet potato custardy dessert was very nice too. We opted for the alcoholic pairing by the glass, which included wine and beer and which hit the mark all times but one.

It's a bear getting to this place from the western burbs - Somerville traffic is torture, but we'll make sure we go back.

Feb 16, 2013
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Boring turkey soup

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas. At lunch today, I added fleur de del, pepper and a splash of rice wine vinegar and it was 100X better.

I like the idea of crispy pancetta, fresh herbs and some hot sauce (not all at once). I've got several more servings of this in the freezer so I can try them out over the next month.

Jan 21, 2013
Valyn in Home Cooking

Boring turkey soup

Help! I made some turkey soup with leftover white meat, barley, kale, homemade chicken stock and various veggies - carrots, onion, celery, the usual. And it's BORING!

Any suggestions on how to liven things up?

Thanks ever so.

Jan 21, 2013
Valyn in Home Cooking

Sweet Bites Cafe in Acton

An update - a new place has opened in that location called Spruce Street Cafe. I didn't know Sweet Bites was gone and only when I walked in the door did I realize the transition. So since I was there already, I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich for $7.50.

It's okay, good ham and decent cheese on toasted white bread (out of wheat), but no mustard or mayo, even though it was supposed to come with mustard. It was nothing special and nothing like the good stuff Sweet Bites had. Too bad all around.

Nov 09, 2012
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Le Creuset Repair - Any Experiences?

I have two large Le Creuset dutch ovens, and in one of them, the finish on the interior surface has deteriorated. The smooth enamel finish is no longer smooth, and the base of the interior stains no matter what I cook. There are no scratches, just a uniform lack of finish.

My other Le Creusets look fine, and I've had them just as long. I treat them all the same, and well - no metal utensils, no abrasive cleaners, no steel wool, etc.

Anyone else run into this problem?

And has anyone ever sent a pot back to Le Creuset for repair? They have a lifetime guarantee, but I'm wondering if the process is painful or gratifying.

Thanks for any comments!

Oct 22, 2012
Valyn in Cookware

Dinners this weekend

Thanks for all the recs - we went to Maryann's in Tribeca, Capsuoto Freres and Gentleman Farmer.

MaryAnn's and Gentleman Farmer were just great, although the stuffed quail at GF was a little too precious - quail stuffed with venison sausage, goat cheese and a proscuitto wrapped fig. Sort of like a turducken - too many good things smashed together for no good reason. But the ostrich steak and our apps were lovely, and the service was great. I was psychologically prepared for the small space so that wasn't much of an issue.

Maryann's was noisy and fun, with really nice food - the carne asada with hangar steak and a cheese enchilada covered in mole - yummy!

Capsuoto Freres was good French food but was eerily empty, as was its neighborhood. But the escargot, duck confit and cassoulet was really good.

Apr 01, 2012
Valyn in Manhattan

Dinners this weekend

We are regular New York visitors (from Boston) who've decided to go to NYC this weekend on a whim. I'm looking for some new or off-the-beaten-path places to go. We're looking for:

* Friday and Saturday nights
* In Manhattan
* French, Mexican, Spanish, Italian, game
* No high-end please
* Have to be able to get in this weekend
* Money isn't a big issue but I'm not looking for Per Se prices either
* We're packing light so we'll be smart casual (no jackets)

I'd appreciate any and all recs.

Thanks ever so,
Valyn

Mar 28, 2012
Valyn in Manhattan

Par boiled and frozen carrots and parsnips - now what?

I belong to a CSA and was awash in carrots and parsnips. I kept some fresh in the fridge, but just didn't have room for all of them. So after a bit of research, I cut them into chunks (two-bite size, roughly), parboiled them and froze them in baggies.

I pulled some out and roasted them last night with a bit of butter, honey and rosemary and was truly unimpressed with the results. The parsnips were mushy (I added them to the carrots after the carrots had been in the pot for about 10 minutes then cooked another 15 minutes on 400), and the carrots were cooked through but tasted boiled. There was no caramelization on the outside of either vegetable as there usually is.

So what am I doing wrong? Is this the wrong way to cook parboiled root veggies? Would appreciate any feedback, suggestions or commiseration.

Thanks!

Feb 01, 2012
Valyn in Home Cooking

Group Dinner Recs in Miami

Thanks everyone for the recs. We ended up at Altamare in South Beach and were very pleased. They took care of us, and the food was very nice. The vegetarian was pleased (the vegan was a no-show).

Valyn

Jan 11, 2012
Valyn in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Group Dinner Recs in Miami

My board of directors is having a meeting at the InterContinental in Miami, and I need a rec for a group dinner on a Monday night.

There will be 10 of us, and we all work in the travel industry so everyone is a pretty sophisticated eater. But we do have at least one vegetarian (no meat or fish) and one vegan so it will have to be a place with a decent choice of menu items for them.

Price isn't too much of an issue, and I'd favor restaurants that cater to professionals rather than tourists - we'll all be in business casual wear.

We can cab it anywhere within about five miles.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Jan 03, 2012
Valyn in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

North End on a Thursday night?

birdy30, thanks for the Bruins info (I'm not a hockey fan so don't keep up with them).

Fortunately, we're going Thursday Dec 15 and there is not a Bruins game in town that night!

I have a res at Marco, and we'll decide Mikes v. Modern after dinner.

Thanks to all for the recs!

Dec 09, 2011
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

North End on a Thursday night?

A couple friends are coming into town next week and want to eat in the North End. We're in the burbs so only make it into the North End every now and again, so I need a couple of recs.

Cost is a factor - I don't want to blow them out of the water at Mamma Maria or Prezza, but they're both pretty sophisticated foodies so I don't to go too down market either.

They will eat anything but are devoted carnivores and big eaters, so dinner will include apps, entrees and desserts (although I might just take them to Mike's for cannoli for the full north end experience), plus wine.

Any suggestions appreciated.

Thanks!

Dec 06, 2011
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Where to find an unseasoned cast iron skillet?

parkerxt, seems to me you got what you paid for - junk. Sueatmo is right - lots of old unseasoned Lodge pans on ebay for not much money.

Nov 10, 2011
Valyn in Cookware

Sunday dinner rec in Hollywood

A group of us will be in town this weekend for a conference and need a place to eat on Sunday night. There will probably be six to eight of us.

We are staying at the Westin Diplomat and Crown Plaza and would like something close, preferably walkable, and on the water, as we're all coming from landlocked (and colder) places.

We have one vegetarian and all others will eat anything. Some in the party are not overly adventurous, but the food should be good quality with a decent wine list.

Any recs would be gratefully received.

Thanks!

Nov 10, 2011
Valyn in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

La Voile

We were just there last night, and had a great meal - foie gras, cassoulet, l'entrecote, chocolate fondant. Nice wine by the glass menu, and good service.

In the winter when the patio is closed, it can get a bit claustrophobic in there, but the staff manages the tight space pretty well.

We will definitely go back.

Oct 30, 2011
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Dinner near Berklee Performance Center?

Thanks all for the recs. We had dinner at La Voile on Newbury, and it was great. The night's special was cassoulet, perfect for the snowy weather last night.

And Zucchero was just fantastic!

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La Voile
261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

Oct 30, 2011
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Restaurants near Berklee College of Music

Thanks for all the recs! My partner loves French so I've made us a reservation at La Voile, and will report back.

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La Voile
261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

Oct 28, 2011
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Rosa Mexicano coming to Boston

I am SO excited! When I lived in NYC, we ate at the original Rosa on 1st Ave and 60th again and again and again. Whenever we visit NYC, we go back and the food is still great, service is still polished and the tableside guac is yummy and the frozen pomegranite margaritas are killer. I can't wait to visit the place in Boston.

My only comment about Rosa is that the original in NYC is very homey and comfortable, unlike the newer stores that are much more modern. The waterfall in the DC store is just odd, and the store on Columbus Circle in NYC is impossibly loud. I'm guessing the Boston location will be of the latter variety; too bad, but the food will still be good.

Oct 27, 2011
Valyn in Greater Boston Area

Where to find an unseasoned cast iron skillet?

Ritcheyd, I'm the OP for this thread and my experience with eBay buying cast iron pans (I'm partial to old Lodges) have been fine. Here are some things you can do to ease your angst:
* check the sellers reviews from previous buyers
* ask for more pictures of the pan, including close-ups. If you're concerned about pitting, say so and ask for photo proof. If the seller won't accommodate you, find another seller who will.
* I found sellers generally didn't know factory pre-seasoned from originally unseasoned pans, and they generally have no idea of the age of the pan.
* don't overpay. There are some ridiculous prices on ebay for cast iron. Set up some saved searches for "Griswold" and "cast iron" and see what shows up. I bought three old Lodge cast iron pans in great shape, each for under $20.
* do your research on those numbers you list (Google them) then be very specific about what you want or you'll be disappointed. Sellers can't read your mind.

No matter what you buy, any used cast iron pan should be sanded, scrubbed and re-seasoned by you. There are other posts in this board about how to do that.

Good luck!

Oct 27, 2011
Valyn in Cookware