Sunday, December 13, 2015

Spots are still running...

Because the response has been so positive, as always, here are some more notes for the current Connoisseurs Corner run...

Crazy Holiday foods

Having been through the first half of the holiday season, there seems to be a trend on the Internet and some food shows-how to make, serve and eat some of the most garish food concoctions around.  Here are just a couple of examples:

Turducken (chicken inside a duck inside a turkey)-a distinctively Cajun delicacy, this has been featured on many food shows and food sites on the Internet.  Really?  Who wouldn’t want to slice into the three main poultry types that have different fat contents and need to cook to different finish temps?  I’m not sure I’d eat this with someone else’s mouth and out of respect for my listeners and readers, I am refraining from posting a picture.

Cherpumple (Huffington Post)
Cherpumple-see on many websites, Facebook feeds and even the Huffington Post, it’s a cherry pie baked into a white cake on top of an apple pie baked into a yellow cake on top of a pumpkin pie baked into a spice cake that has all been frosted together.  I don’t know whether I should be salivating or disgusted…maybe both.

Memory meals

This is the perfect time of year to think back on great memories from family meals.  Personally, my family meal experiences are not the images that Norman Rockwell paintings are made of, but most of my great family memories arise from meals.  Whether it was my Nana’s brisket, or my father’s challah warm from the oven, or being with my grandparents, aunts and uncles on the holidays while my mother prepared a sumptuous repast, ending the days with games of Trivial Pursuit, these are the memories that last a lifetime.  I encourage all the listeners to remember and share these memories, especially at the holiday season.

Holiday gifts:
It’s always nice to show your appreciation or thanks to colleagues and business associates.  Since I’m all about the food, I often look to food-related gifts for the holidays.  Though I have no direct relationship with any of these, here are a few of my favorite food related web sites…these are taste tested, and Critical Palate approved:

Popcornopolis-some of the most exquisite popcorn ever popped, with a strong Internet presence, as well as some brick and mortar shops (the closest to us is in South Deerfield, at the Yankee Candle Factory Store).  With flavors such as Almond Toffee, Birthday cake, Rocky Road and Pecan Caramel, in addition to the traditional favorites, you cannot go wrong with their huge variety of flavors, gift packs, and cases.

Gingerbread Construction Company-A local company with brick and mortar stores on the north shore, you can also order on line.  You can order traditional gingerbread houses with all sorts of decorations, but the real flavor party is in the muffins, muffin loaves, cookies and brownies.  They ship all over, and deliver locally, and you can walk into their stores in Winchester and Wakefield.  You will not be disappointed in these baked goods…and the recipient will be thrilled.

Bostoncoffee cake – who in the office doesn’t like a coffee cake?  I know my colleagues love coming in to find a coffee cake surprise, and who better than Boston Coffee Cake.  Created right here in North Andover and shipping world wide, these are delicious and their website has a bunch of other baked goodies as well, such as whoopie pies!  The recipient will be saying “whoopie” as soon as they open up the box.

Grandma’s chicken soup --we all know that chicken soup is good for you.  Our people refer to it as Jewish penicillin, and a whole series of books has been written on how it’s good for the soul.  Grandma’s chicken soup has been around since 2004 and featured on the Food Network.  Grandma’s Chicken Soup is more than just soup! Soup delivery is a unique get-well gift idea, just choose one of the delicious and nutritious soup combination packages. They also offer delightful deliveries in a wide variety of Gift Packages that include noodles and matzah balls or just noodles. Grandma's get well gift baskets are sure to please.  This is a unique idea.  I’ve eaten a lot of chicken soup in my life, and this is good soup.  Remember, don’t say it with flowers, say it with a matzah ball!

Chococoa-- what can I say about Chococoa that hasn’t been said before?  These are not the hockey puck-sized overly oily pies in cellophane, these are two-bite, delectable, creamy whoopies that will knock your socks off.  From traditional chocolate cake with vanilla buttercreme filling to pumpkin with pumpkin filling and chocolate with salted caramel cream, these stand up to some of the greatest confections ever created.  Located in Newburyport, along with their cafĂ©, they are a tremendous gift for friends, colleagues, business associates, and even yourself.

Stay tuned for more in a few months, but as always, I'll have plenty to say on other topics.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Spots are running...

As we head in to the holiday season, I was once again part of Jordan Rich’s Connoisseurs’ Corner line-up, and the spots have started running on WBZ 1030am (also available at soon).  Among the topics for these fourteen spots were restaurants, both for everyday meals and holidays, “special” holiday foods, burgers with new crazy toppings, family meals and the memories derived from meals of days gone by, and food gifts for the holidays.  As is my practice, here are my notes from the first few recording sessions….more to come, so enjoy.

Some restaurants we talked about:

Shake Shack-if you like Five Guys, you’ll love Shake Shack.  With a couple of locations here in Massachusetts, this NY-based chain has brought their delicious quick-serve burgers and crinkle-cut fries to Chestnut Hill, Newbury Street and Dedham. 

Del Frisco’s Grill-This sister/subsidiary of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse has locations across the country and one in Chestnut Hill and another in Burlington.  With a more eclectic menu than the steakhouse, and a more casual vibe, this is a great choice for a fantastic burger, or fish, or steak.  Check out their local menu here.

Burlington, VT-back in the summer, Mrs. Palate and I took a brief sojourn to Burlington, Vermont.  While only there for a couple of days, we enjoyed a few fantastic meals.

When two people that have no relationship to Burlington tell you that you “must” eat somewhere, you know you have to look into this.  Such was the case with A Single Pebble in downtown Burlington VT.  A quick check of the Internet indicated that Alton Brown of the Food Network calls the “mock eel” at A Single Pebble the best thing he’s ever eaten, so I knew that I had to try it.  I assure you, it did not disappoint.  The mock eel is made from thinly sliced shitake mushrooms and defy description.  Three Pepper Chicken was phenomenal, as was a very spicy tofu dish.  If you like interesting, uncommon and expertly prepared Asian cuisine, a Single Pebble is a must eat.  Check out their beautiful website here.

Farmhouse Tap and Grille-also recommended to me by a graduate of UVM was the Farmhouse Tap and Grille.  Burlington has a great farm to table movement with fresh meats and produce readily available from local farms, and with Vermont being one of the leading states for the craft beer movement, they have definitely hit on a winning combination.  Mrs. Palate calls their turkey burger the best she’s ever had, and my burger was quite excellent; the food was so good, we ate their twice!  The beer could not be fresher, with so many local breweries, and clearly “Heady Topper” is quite popular (check it out at 

Mountain View Station in Center Ossipee, NH-sometimes you go to a place and judge the book by the cover, and when the person taking you says “don’t worry about what it looks like”, you really have to wonder…well, wonder no more about the Mountain View Station…BEST…CHEESEBURGER…EVER.  And the prices are phenomenal.  The burger was $6.99 with fries or onion rings.  Where do you get a burger for that price in today’s world?  And the quality was phenomenal, cooked on a flat top, with just the right amount of crisp from the Mailliard reaction and juiciness from quality meat, and a delicious cluster of onion rings.  There wasn’t one aspect of the meal, from food choices (appetizers and mains), presentation, quality or price that disappointed.  Even though it looks like a place where you go down two steps, sociologically and physically, the meal was great.  Don’t judge a book by its cover and book it to Mountain View Station.

More coming up, after the break...