Friday, September 28, 2012

Tilapia Burgers - Home Cooked Burger Alternative

Remember when I actually cooked here at In and Around Town?  It's been a while since I have talked about some of the recipes I have been making in the kitchen.  The reasons for the lack of home-cooked posts?  Because I have been trying to keep up with all the restaurants I have been going to (they add up quick!), and because we have been taking advantage of the weather and our new George Foreman Outdoor Grill and grilling up loads of veggies (delicious, but not exactly thrilling blog material).  So, this recipe gets back to the kitchen and is dedicated to my friend A in San Francisco, who has been looking for some more home cooking from In and Around Town.

I happened to stumble upon this recipe for tilapia burgers with watermelon salsa and avocado and knew it would have to be made quickly!  This recipe definitely takes a fish sandwich and makes it worthy of a the title of "burger!"

Tilapia Burgers

Monday, September 24, 2012

San Francisco - a Visit to Alcatraz

Its hard to believe that we have already been home from our amazing trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley for over a week!  We had a such an amazing time and I have so much to share with everyone.  To begin, I figured I would cover a major San Francisco attraction: Alcatraz Island.  On my first visit to San Francisco, I chose to skip this stop, but after taking a ferry by the island, I realized that I should have made the trip.  However, you have to book your tickets ahead of time because they sell out quickly, sometimes weeks in advance.  Knowing this and not wanting to miss out, I bought out tickets two months before our trip!

It was a beautiful day for our expedition to the Island.  After a short ferry ride, we arrived and gathered around a park ranger who told us a little bit about what to expect and where things were, and then we were off to explore.  We first checked out a video that gave a great overview of the history of Alcatraz Island and then caught up with another park ranger giving a a more in-depth tour, so we decided to follow him and were so happy we did!  These park ranger tours take you into places of the Island you otherwise could not go.  The rangers have such a love for Alcatraz and enjoy sharing their knowledge.  Following the tour we headed up to the cell block where we did the guided audio tour.  Normally I avoid these, but here it is a must.  The tour is narrated/directed by Correctional Officers and prisoners from when Alcatraz was a Federal Prison and gives such a unique, in-depth view of life on the Island.  We ended up spending about three hours on the Island and it was such a fantastic, touristy thing to do!  Needless to say, I got plenty of photos - get ready!

View from the ferry: Coit Tower and the Trans America Building

Friday, September 21, 2012

Maki-rrito (aka, the Sushi Burrito!)

When word started spreading that a San Francisco mainstay, the Maki-rrito, was coming to Boston's new Avery Provision, I was excited and knew I would have to check it out.  A Maki-rrito takes the best parts of a burrito and sushi and combines them!  On a Saturday afternoon soon after they opened, Nick and I headed over for some lunch ordered two of the Maki-rritos, made with tuna, cucumber and spicy mayo, all wrapped up in white sushi rice and seaweed.  Each one is made by hand right in front of your eyes.

This was definitely a different experience, but in a good way.  The roll is more sushi than burrito - think a REALLY big hand roll - but it works.  This is an easy and simple way to have some sushi without worrying about the pieces from falling apart!  Fresh ingredients and the fun idea will make me stop in again for sure.

Ingredients for Maki-rrito and sushi!
In addition to the sushi bar, there are tons of other prepared options available, like grilled chicken , a variety of noodles, fish and a full deli counter to make the most perfect sandwiches.

Deli Counter
Having worked in the area previously, I am a bit sad that I can't make a quick stop in for lunch during the week!  However, this isn't far off from Nick's commute and could definitely make for some easy dinner options.  Regardless, there are plenty of items for you to choose from at Avery Provision, but the Maki-rrito is definitely a good place to start!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dessert at Oak Long Bar and Kitchen

After entirely enjoying our meal at Coppa, Nick and I decided to move on to somewhere new for dessert. We wandered down Dartmouth Street back to Newbury when Nick came up with the genius idea of drinks and dessert at Oak Long Bar + Kitchen!  Having not been there since the massive renovation, I was excited for our next stop.  Upon walking in, I was totally turned around because there is an entrance in the spot where I used to sit in the big comfy chairs, and the space is about three times the size of the old Oak Room with combined dining and bar areas.  Dominated by a long, centrally located bar (go figure) the space is light and airy, but still has the imposing high ceilings to remind you of the history and opulence of the Fairmont.

The New Oak Long Bar and Kitchen
Although the space was packed, Nick and I were able to grab a table for 2 and the server had no problems with our drinks and dessert plan.  While we were looking over the menu we enjoyed a sampling of savory biscuits with a smoky bacon (we think?) dip.  I mean, the 10 minute walk from Coppa took a lot out of us!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coppa - South End Italian Perfection

Like many people (or I assume many people), Nick and I have a list of restuarants we want to sample.  However, our Type A personalities required a list in Google docs sorted by restaurants "to try" and "completed."  Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissionnette's Coppa has long been on the "to try" side, and finally, on a recent Saturday night date night, Coppa got moved to the "completed" column.  With stellar reviews and amazing personal experiences at Toro and Clio I am not sure why it took us so long to get to this intimate Italian restaurant.  Not to give away the ending, but I am sure it won't be nearly as long for us to make a return trip.

Even though it was a Saturday night, we managed to take advantage of one of the last summer weekends when city dwellers head out of town and were seated right away outside on their lovely patio at the quiet intersection of Shawmut and Milford streets.  Without the hustle surrounding the more frequented patio spaces, the setting was welcoming and relaxed.  This evening was one of the first cooler nights we had, but I was prepared with jacket in hand and knew with a couple of cocktails I would be feeling nice and warm!

The Setting...
After perusing the drink list, Nick started with a glass of their featured wine that evening, which happened to be a Chianti - his favorite! I dove in with a cocktail, but, er, can't remember what it was (bad blogger!)  I DO, however, remember enjoying it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Warren Tavern - History in Charlestown

A week without posts?!  I promise it was for a good reason...I was off in San Francisco and Napa Valley for the week.  There will be plenty of posts to catch you up on many of the amazing things we did, including Alcatraz, restaurants, views, and lots and lots of wine!  However, while I am getting those photos organized, this post brings us a bit closer to home.

Nick and I were out exploring in Charlestown recently and were hungry (walking over 6 miles around the city will do that to you!).  Conveniently located in the historic streets of the gas light district, The Warren Tavern is known to tourists and locals alike as a good place for a drink and some pub food.  Walking through the front door of the Tavern you feel like you are taking a bit of a step back in time with its dark interior and vaulted beam ceilings.  The warm and cozy feeling was the perfect cure for our hunger.

After looking over the lunch menu, I decided on the burger (shocking, I know!).  Specifically, the Cottage Burger, which is topped with Cheddar, bacon and a fried organic egg.  This was a big burger, the cheese was fully melted and the bun was toasted.  While the burger was a bit over-cooked, all the toppings helped keep this burger nice and tasty.

The Cottage Burger

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ashmont Grill - a Trip to the South Shore (According to This North Shore Girl)

If you have lived in or grew up in Massachusettes, you know that Route 90 is more than the Mass Pike.  To many of us it is the division between the North Shore and South Shore of the state, and there is a rivalry between the two that starts some heated debates.  I grew up on the North Shore, and before moving to Boston I had crossed over "the line" no more than 5 times - to me, the South End is the South Shore (I mean, you DO cross Rout 90!)  Nick grew up on the North Shore as well, but one side of his family lives throughout the South Shore, so I have become a BIT more used to heading down there, but whenever I do I can't help but feel turned around.

Needless to say, restaurants nestled in Peabody Square in Dorchester were part of my regular rotation.  However, when I was contacted about having dinner at Ashmont Grill, I knew I had to go - the reviews just looked too good.  One night last week Nick and I jumped on the Red Line and headed down to the Ashmont stop, and upon exiting the T were pleasantly surprised by the quaint feeling of Peabody Square.  We immediately spotted Ashmont Grill a short distance away and made our way over.

Walking up to the front door I noticed they actually had made great use of some of the space in the parking lot (yes, you can PARK!), and they were growing some veggies - how fun!  After taking a look around, we walked into the restaurant and were greeted by a lofty space that had a unique decor while maintaining a welcoming feeling with the wood and brick accents.  The lighting and other decorations stuck with the food theme by cleverly using utensils or food items themselves (see the light shades below).

Scenes from Ashmont Grill
After getting settled, we ordered a couple of drinks.  I got the special pear sangria.  The pear added a lovely flavor that sort of cut the sweetness that comes with a lot of sangrias.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oleana - a Turkish Delight

In my pre-blog life, Nick and I went to Oleana for dinner once and had one our best meals in Boston.  Since then we have been looking to go back and indulge in Ana Sortun's delicious Mediterranean/Turkish inspired menu with desserts from Maura Kilpatrick.

On a recent Saturday this summer, Nick and I decided it was finally time to head back and made reservations for 9:00pm.  Since these were on the later end of the evening, we decided to make a stop at Lord Hobo for a couple of delicious beers.  At Lord Hobo we actually were able to sit at a table and just enjoy ourselves rather than stand around at the crowded bar.  With their extensive menu of beers, both domestic and imported, there was plenty to choose from.

Shortly before 9:00, we walked into Oleana and grabbed a drink while we waited for our table to clear.  I switched gears from beer to a lovely white Sangria loaded with fruit.  Shortly thereafter, our table in the bar area was ready, and when we sat down we almost immediately placed an order for the Warm Buttered Hummus with Basturma and Tomato.  When you think of hummus, you (or at least I) think of it being cool and from the fridge.  Warm hummus does not sound like it should work, but wow!  Based on this version, I would almost never go back to cool hummus again.  This is a must order.

Warm Buttered Hummus
Breads, Olive Oil and the Hummus
Of course, being somewhat obsessed with haloumi, that was another appetizer we ordered without hesitation.  This Grilled Haloumi is served with peaches and a chard rib salad with sundried olives and sweet pepper broth.  Served in a skillet, the haloumi had a nice grilled outside and lovely texture.  The chard rib salad was interesting since I usually discard the ribs when I cook it at home!  But everything here worked well together, and the flavors of all the ingredients were prominent but complemented each other.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cooperstown, NY - Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Prior to heading to Brewery Ommegang we spent about 24 hours in Cooperstown taking in the sites.  We stayed at the Inn at Cooperstown, which we booked based purely on their website and Trip Advisor rating.  So when we arrived and saw this beautiful mansion, we were excited.  The Inn was lovely and quaint, but still felt like a hotel rather than an dodgy motel.  While we were probably the youngest guests there, we loved their cookies and lemonade on the front veranda and the continental breakfast.  The front desk workers were friendly and helpful, offering up helpful suggestions for our time in town.  I would highly recommend staying here if you find yourself in Cooperstown.
Inn at Cooperstown
After arriving in the late afternoon, we settled into our room and then headed out to see Cooperstown.  Our first stop was Doubleday Field, where we actually caught a game!
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