Thursday, December 25, 2014

Connoisseur’s Corner December 2014

Thanks to Jordan Rich for having me be part of the Connoisseur’s Corner stable.  For those of you unfamiliar, CC runs every day at 11:58am on WBZ 1030AM or on (where podcasts are also available).  Each stable member has an area of specialty in the food or beverage realm.  Me?  I'm just happy to be able to talk about food and food related issues.  I had some minor technical difficulties with the website, but here's a recap of things we chatted about and are currently running on the air:

1.         There are certain things people do on Christmas and certain food that we all eat.  Certainly, my people, the Jews, love their Chinese food and movies.  To that end, there are a couple of Chinese places that I particularly like:

Sichuan Gourmet, with locations in Framingham, Brookline, Sharon and Billerica.  I like my food spicy and Sichuan Gourmet does not disappoint.  Food is fresh, place is always busy, but it’s my go-to spot for decent Chinese food.

2.         I have recently discovered Chinese Mirch, with two locations:  route 9 in Framingham and Mass Ave. in Boston.  Their’s is a unique spin on Chinese cuisine, merging Indian spices and flavors with the cooking style of Chinese cuisine.  I’ve been there a few times lately, for lunch, and have been really impressed with their delicious food and presentation.  These spots, with their multiple locations, seem like perfect places to grab Chinese on Christmas day.

3.         Similar to Thanksgiving, sometimes you just don’t feel like hosting a huge dinner and having your family come over and trash your house.  So why not eat out on Christmas?  There are many places both in the city and suburbs hosting a Christmas dinner.  Bar Bouloud at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Boylston Street, a highly respected and regarded restaurant with locations also in London and NY is offering a prix fixe meal.  Buca Di Peppo in Shrewsbury, MA is also offering a set menu of Christmas foods.

Most Legal Seafoods are open for Christmas, and I’ve eaten at a Metrowest location  on Christmas day.  Everyone knows Legal, and there’s nothing wrong with a nice seafood dinner on Christmas day.  Just remember to treat your waitstaff right, because they’re working on your holiday.

4.         Tipping on the holidays:

This is a time of year where we really should show our appreciation for our service providers…people that provide us service throughout the year and who really are the unsung heroes of our daily life.  For me, I like to leave something for our postal employee, our UPS of FedEx delivery person at the office, or our Poland Springs delivery guy, my Starbucks barista.  These, among many other people, make my life easier and work hard all year-round.

5.         When customers begin pounding on your front door weekend mornings, begging you to open up, you know that it’s time to offer brunch.  And, with football and hockey seasons in full swing, Menotomy Grill & Tavern has bowed to popular demand and now offers a weekly-changing blackboard menu of brunch items, served every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM.  Proprietor Billy Lyons has lined up some cool live jazz to complement the Tavern's warm stone fireplace and coppery bar. 

Executive Chef Mark Thomson (formerly of CHEZ HENRI) offers:
 The Monte Cristo: The ultimate hangover reliever. Challah French toast filled with smoked pork shoulder and ham, gruyere, apples and onions – jpeg available
 * Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast with Mixed Berry Compote – jpeg available
 * Southern Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuit, Sausage Gravy – jpeg available
 * Seasonally-inspired Omelets and Quiches
 * Classic Eggs Benedict
 * Huevos Rancheros
Menotomy Grill also pours its “secret family recipe” Bloody Mary, along with hefty 20-ounce draught beers from its list of 40 varieties, including Battle Road 1776 Tavern Ale … Slumbrew Attic & Eaves … Wormtown Be Hoppy IPA … and Allagash White.
Menotomy Grill & Tavern
25 Massachusetts Avenue
Arlington, Massachusetts   02472
781-468-1775 /

6. No one complains about getting gourmet food as a gift

Why go nuts shopping for the perfect gift when a call to either of FRUIT CENTER MARKETPLACE’s two South Shore locations can almost instantly result in an impressive and imaginative gift basket, tailor-made to foodies’ interests ?

In addition to its ever-popular deli, fruit  and dessert platters, FRUIT CENTER MARKETPLACE this year offers a wide variety of well-priced, customizable gift baskets. 

See the baskets and platters at

Fruit Center Marketplace
10 Basset Street, Milton and at 79 Water Street, Hingham

7.   For a unique holiday gift for the foodie in the house, how about a cooking class, offered at local restaurants, or cookware stores like Sur La Table, with locations in upscale malls all across Massachusetts.  There are many selections of classes, from knife skills, Italian and Chinese cuisine, to classes on how to use cast iron or La Creuset cookware.  Or How about a food tour of the local area.  Boston Food Tours ( tasting tours of the North End or Chinatown, with stops at shops for instructional shopping and discussions with the shopkeepers.

9.  While people in the United States have their favorite holiday dishes, such as Christmas Ham and figgy pudding or fruitcake, many other countries have their own traditional foods.  Our friends to the north, in Canada, celebrate with a meat pie; in Puerto Rico, roast pork shoulder is the celebratory food, Lebkuchen in Germany are soft, deeply spiced an sweet cookies; Herring and beet salad in Sweden; In Hungary, stuffed cabbage rolls heavily seasoned with paprika, a perfect deep red, for Christmas, is the celebratory food.  Perhaps for the next holiday, the listeners can try to incorporate some holiday dishes from foreign lands and try something new.  For a collection of recipes, check our Saveur Magazine.

10.  Potato latke recipe.

People of our heritage celebrate Hanukah and with that, comes greasy, fried foods to celebrate the miracle of oil lasting 8 days.  Here’s my tried and true recipe.

4 large potatoes
2 medium onions
4 tablespoons of flour
1 vitamin c tablet dissolved
salt and pepper

hand shred the potatoes and onions, and mix all ingredients together (the vitamin c keeps the potatoes from turning brown).  Heat vegetable oil in a pan (for a real traditional method, use olive oil), and drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil, and cook until they look done.  Put on a paper bag to absorb the excess oil and eat.  Or freeze and reheat in a 300 degree oven.

11.       While not necessarily a food event, on December 24, 2014, Sean Altman of Rockapella fame will be performing at Club Passim in Harvard Square at 6:00pm and 8:30pm.  Sean has written and sings several Jewish parody songs, from benign to slightly bawdy.  I will be performing in one song, as I have the past several years.  While the kitchen at Veggie Planet is being renovated, there will be snacks and beverages available.  More information at Club  Check out a previous performance here: