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March 2014 Sydney Trip Recap

any better recommendations for cantonese in syndey? and more specifically, any particular dishes, other than the frequently recommended pipis in XO?

country ham

I found some Broadbent's products (bacon and I think packaged country ham slices) at Pemberton Farms in Cambridge; not sure if they would have whole hams though.

Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill

Finally a voice of reason. The LaFrieda blend with brisket is what makes the shake shack burger, compared to a relatively flavorless tasty burger or a too thin flat patties (both of which I enjoy, but not nearly as much as SS). And the completely overindulgent Shack Stack beats any of the fancy burger combos at Tasty Burger. Add a little frozen custard and some Abita root beer and that's a great meal.

If anything, IMO Shake Shack pretty much started the $5 "authentic" burger trend; I can't think of any pre-2004 places to get a burger in Boston outside of McD's or Bartleys, and there was no such thing as a "burger scene" in NYC until Shake Shack. You could make an argument that Five Guys/In & Out also influenced this, but as the former is franchise I find they're in suburbs and not in downtown areas, and thus not as influential; the latter is still west coast only.

That being said, death to crinkle cut fries. I could probably find better in a school cafeteria.

where to buy duck legs around greater Boston area?

Check out Market Basket. Haven't been there in a while but last time I was there I believe they had duck legs as well as breasts from this company:

SF Hound Arriving 4/27 - Would appreciate advice

Personally I would avoid Union Oyster House and Bell in Hand. The former does have notable history but the food is atrocious; you would think oysters would be good but I received a chilled platter of preshucked oysters. As in, shucked, plated, and then stuck in the fridge until ordered; totally unacceptable. As for the Bell in Hand, other than being the oldest bar there's nothing that notable about it, tons of tourists/college kids.

For italian and a drink, consider Sportello and then Drink (same building/owner), both totally worth going to, and walkable from your hotel.

Grill 23 Restaurant Week

Back when they still served strip for lunch i thought it was the best restaurant week deal, and never felt like they were trying to be cheap and provide the full luxury steakhouse experience. However, the last time I was there, servers and foodrunners were dryhumping each other in the main dining room, like they were trying to reenact a scene from Kitchen Confidential. But for RW pricing I can live with childish behavior in exchange for discounted USDA prime.

How does water-main break affect Boston restos?

I'm assuming that most places used the ice they already had, or bought premade ice made well before this occurred from markets and etc. It takes at least an hour to make a load of ice in a commercial ice machine IIRC, so I doubt most places would have contaminated ice made after they switched to backup water supplies.

Could do it poor college student style and use 2 disposable solo cups as shakers.

How does water-main break affect Boston restos?

I'm entertaining out-of-town visitors this weekend so it's pretty awful, especially when you decide to go to Eastern Standard without realizing the implications of a boil water alert. They wouldn't make shaken cocktails since they couldn't wash/rinse shakers without using bottled water. The news has been reporting use of bottled water for cooking, but I'm wondering whether boiling water is sufficient for liability purposes. For brunch I went to Hamersley's, and they would not serve coffee, but would serve I'm hoping they're using bottled or preboiling the water.

I'm not too worried about clean dishes due to the temp of the water (at least 180 IIRC) and the multiple sanitizing agents used in commercial dishwashers. However, I was considering Chinatown seafood tonight (new golden gate or new jumbo or the peach farm), so I'm a little concerned over Chinese sanitizing practice, or the lack thereof. But if everything is cooked and nice and toasty hot, it should be fine right?

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215