So remember how I told you I already found and picked a zucchini from my garden? I was so excited about it that I had to cook it and eat it right away. I had some boiled potatoes in the fridge and decided to make a zucchini hash and top it with some soft-cooked eggs. With zucchini from my garden, potatoes from Siena Farms, and eggs from Silverbrook Farm, I had a super-local meal that was summery and satisfying. It makes a great breakfast or breakfast for dinner.
Right now, our yard is the ideal candidate for Yard Crashers. There's a huge area of it covered with gravel where a swing set used to be and a smaller area filled with sand where a shed used to be. And because the house was built with the garage behind it (no longer functional but not unusual for houses in West Roxbury), there's a lot of cracked, broken asphalt where it doesn't belong -- mainly where I'd like to put in a patio. There's also an oversize rundown deck that I would love to knock down and rebuild on a smaller scale. It's going to be at least another year (if not longer) before we can afford to make some real changes to the yard, but we are making the most of it in the meantime and making small changes to slowly improve it.
Last Friday night we finally headed to Belly Wine Bar with a couple of friends. I had been wanting to check it out since it opened since I love The Blue Room, and when I found out about the family-style fried chicken dinner, I easily convinced Jeff and our friends to head over there with me.
Every time I get a new issue of one of the (too) many food magazines I subscribe to in the mail, I immediately flip through it and dog-ear the pages with all the recipes I want to make. I never end up making everything I flag, but I turn back to the recipes often and eventually get to some of them. Sometimes I follow the recipes exactly, and other times I use them for inspiration.
I made skirt steak tacos with a mango guacamole inspired by the Smoked-Chile-and-Mango Guacamole in the May issue of Food & Wine (I still need to make the Silky Tortilla Soup in that issue). I made a fabulous punch by swapping out brandy for rum in the Strawberry-Ginger Punch in the June issue of Bon Appetit. And most recently my friend and I whipped up the Soba Noodle Salad with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant from the July issue of Food & Wine.
Have you guys heard of Apothic wine? I hadn't heard of it until my friends gave me a bottle of Apothic Red last Christmas. It's a full-bodied blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet, and Merlot and has these wonderful chocolaty undertones, as well as black cherry and vanilla notes. I'm so glad my friends introduced me to it, and I've definitely had a few more bottles since that first one.
Recently I was invited to meet the winemaker, Boyd Morrison, and to try the new Apothic Rose, as well as Apothic Red and Apothic White, at a dinner at Tavern Road. I happily accepted the invitation since I knew I already loved Apothic Red and couldn't wait to try the rose and white as well. And I brought along my friend who's a big fan of Apothic Red too.
I have another neighborhood restaurant to share with you guys. I might even go so far as to call it my new favorite. Last week we went with a couple of friends to Sophia's Grotto in Roslindale. We walked down Birch Street looking for the restaurant, turned down a small alley, and found ourselves standing in a cute little brick courtyard tucked behind one of my other favorite spots, Boston Cheese Cellar. Outside were plenty of patio tables, but it started sprinkling just before we walked up so we chose to sit inside for this visit.
On our last night in Paris, we decided to see if we could get into the wine bar at Verjus. Verjus is (from what I've read) a popular Paris restaurant run by an American couple, and you need to make reservations in advance. We didn't really feel like being chained to being somewhere at a particular time so we skipped making reservations, but it turned out that we were able to head over to that area for a late dinner anyway. The wine bar, Verjus Bar à Vins, doesn't take reservations so we just walked up (after we walked by it a couple of times since there's really no signage) and got in line. We soon learned the reason for the line was a private party that was supposed to be ending at 8:30. We checked the time and it was already 8:45. The party wound down about 20 minutes later and we were able to snag two seats at the bar. While we waited outside, we got to know some other people in line and met some wine students at Le Cordon Bleu who were from Seattle, California, and, of all places, Brookline. (Small world.) It was fun chatting with them and getting some recommendations on what to order once we got inside. (The wine bar is one of their go-to spots for its interesting wine list and amazing food.)
Instead of wedding cake we had an array of mini desserts at our wedding. Everyone raved about the adorable s'mores tartlets. I know there are so many takes on the s'more out there, but I have an obsession with tartlets, so the idea to combine the two in a small, compact package was right up my alley.
If you're anything like me, you're thinking, "Ugh. Not potato salad." But don't click away. I promise you this is not the sort of potato salad that sits untouched at a picnic, warming its mayonnaise-drenched parts in the sun and attracting flies. This is the sort of potato salad that features still-warm grilled potatoes and bursting sweet tomatoes, salty bits of bacon, and sensational grilled romaine. It's the sort of potato salad you eat as soon as it's ready, savoring each bite, appreciating the contrast in flavors, the carefully chosen ingredients, and the lack of mayonnaise.
We have a grill! And we are so excited about it. We broke it in right away with steaks, peppers, asparagus, and corn on the cob. It was quite a feast. Since then we've grilled pork, potatoes (with which we made an amazing potato salad), chicken, and, of course, some hot dogs. For the most part, I've done the prepping and Jeff has done the grilling, but last week as he was heading out to a softball game, I fired up the grill to make a grilled vegetable salad for my friend and me to have for a little girls' night dinner.