Masona Grill is another restaurant not too far from where we live in West Roxbury. Our friends recommended that we check it out, so the four of us got together for dinner there one night. The website describes the food as New American with a South American influence (the chef is from Peru). I was excited to see what this type of food was all about.
If I didn't know any better, I would just walk by Firehouse Subs thinking it's just another fast-food sandwich shop. But after having dinner with co-founder Robin Sorensen, I do know better. Firehouse Subs is a sandwich shop with values, community interest, and high-quality subs. Robin and his brother opened the first shop in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1994, and there are now more than 600 locations. During the dinner Robin shared Firehouse Subs' mission with us.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Flour, Too launch party at Flour Back Bay (aka Flour 4). Most of you know that Flour is near and dear to my heart -- I spent a little over a year working at the bakery. Throughout that time I worked at Flour 1, 2, and 3; learned a ton; and met amazing people, including Joanne Chang. I have so many wonderful memories of my time at the bakery.
The launch party was a great reminder of all of them, as well as an opportunity for me to catch up with old coworkers and get my hands on the newest Flour cookbook -- Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafe's Most Loved Sweets & Savories.
I always say that one of the best parts of blogging is the friends and connections I make. And it's so true. Ilaria, who blogs over at Ilaria's Perfect Recipes, first found my blog when I was recapping our honeymoon in Italy. When I mentioned an amazing chilled coffee drink I'd had in Modena that I wanted to re-create at home, she shared a recipe with me (I still need to try it this summer). After that we were regularly commenting on each other's blogs and exchanging emails as well.
I told her that I had returned home from Italy with a bag of fregola, and though I'd made it before, I wanted to know some of the traditional ways it's prepared or things it's paired with.
Have you ever had any MorningStar Farms products? I used to eat the veggie bites for breakfast all the time. They were easy to make and kept me feeling full for hours. And I've also tried the veggie crumbles. Recently, I was invited to sample the new Mediterranean Chickpea Burger and was sent a gift card (to purchase the burgers), a Greek-inspired grilling apron, a chickpea cookbook, and a chickpea tote bag. I went in search of these new veggie burgers and found them in the freezer section at Hannaford. (They come in packages of four.)
I was recently invited into Grill 23 & Bar for a special dinner to celebrate their partnership with the Brandt family. Grill 23 is part of the Himmel Hospitality group (along with Harvest and Post 390), and all the restaurants in the group serve Brandt Beef. The dinner featured, understandably (and I am not complaining!), a lot of beef, prepared by executive chef Jay Murray, as well as wines from Steve Burgess and Burgess Cellars.
We walked into RumBa, a rum and Champagne bar at the InterContinental Boston, to the sounds of a steel drum, which added to the Caribbean-themed atmosphere. This was all too welcome on a cold, gloomy Thursday evening. Add one of RumBa's signature cocktails and it was like we were instantly transported somewhere warm and tropical. My friend started out with a key lime cooler, a mixture of Cruzan Vanilla Rum, Licor 43, fresh lime juice, and pineapple juice. It was fresh and bright and definitely reminiscent of key lime pie. I was immediately drawn to the Pyrat Passion, which consisted of Pyrat XO Rum, passion fruit nectar, fresh lime juice, and coconut. It was cool, creamy, and heavy on passion fruit flavor.
I was recently flipping through cookbooks looking for some appetizer ideas and came across a recipe for mâche with warm Brie and apples in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, and I realized that it had been a very long time since I'd had mâche or made baked Brie. That was just the push I needed to add some baked Brie to the menu. Since the recipe was for a plated salad course and I wanted more of a shareable appetizer, I made some changes.
I'm back with another great Cinco de Mayo worthy dish: steak tacos with mango guacamole. The National Mango Board recently sent me a box of mangos, and while I ended up eating most of them just cut up and mixed with strawberries, I did use one in a flavorful guacamole, which I put on top of some tasty grilled steak tacos.
Cinco de Mayo is coming up! If you're looking for a fun party recipe, you've come to the right place. I had been seeing pictures all over Pinterest of little taco cups, and while those sounded fun, they were a bit too simple for me. So I took them up a notch by making pork carnitas in the slow cooker and then crafting mini pork carnitas bites.