Small Plates And Pizza At Pastoral

Wood-fired knot with fennel sausage and ricotta at Pastoral, Boston, Mass.

Pastoral is one of the many new additions to the Fort Point area, and seeing that the menu featured primarily pizza and lots of small plates, as well as wine and interesting-sounding cocktails, my friend and I made plans to meet there for dinner. I got down to the area a little earlier than she did and sat by the water for a few minutes soaking up some sun before heading into the restaurant. We were seated at a two-top near the open front windows -- perfect for people watching -- in the dining room area, where we could see most of the restaurant and even catch a glimpse of the action in the open kitchen.


Scenes From Dinner In The Field At Volante Farms, Needham, Mass.

Dinner in the Field at Volante Farms, Needham, Mass.

On July 10, guests gathered at Volante Farms for their first Dinner in the Field of 2014. Below are scenes from the dinner, with dishes prepared by chef Todd Heberlein and staff using farm-grown produce.


Pasta With Summer Squash, Garlic, And Basil

Pasta with summer squash, garlic, and basil

I am in full-on summer vegetable mode now. I run over to my tomato garden every day after work to see if my assortment of cherry and pear tomatoes are ripe enough to pick. I spy on my cubanelle peppers, hoping that they'll finally be big enough to pick and grill. I imagine stockpiling corn on the cob, giving it a quick dip in some boiling water, and slathering it with butter. And I crave summer squash, as much summer squash as I can get my hands on.


Orzo Salad With Chicken Sausage, Spinach, And Feta

Orzo salad with chicken sausage, spinach, and feta

It's hot out these days! When it's so hot outside, turning on the oven isn't high on anyone's priority list. That's where this simple orzo salad comes in. After boiling some pasta and browning a couple of chicken sausages, you can turn off the stove, stir in the other components, and sit down to a cool summer meal.


Dinner At La Brasa, Somerville, Mass.

Bar at La Brasa, Somerville, Mass.

I've been making some great progress on my must-try restaurant list lately -- with visits to Sycamore, Parla, Bronwyn, Sarma, and Bondir, among others -- which is a good thing because I seem to keep adding to the list faster than I can check things off. One restaurant to recently hit the list that I have already made my way over to is La Brasa. From former L'Espalier chef Daniel Bojorquez and L'Espalier chef and owner Frank McClelland, La Brasa is a stunning new restaurant in an unexpected location -- on Broadway in Somerville.

The space has an industrial feel to it, with lots of metal and wood and exposed duct work. An open bar and kitchen sit side by side and provide plenty of activity to watch throughout dinner.

Some friends and I recently got together there for drinks and food.