M3 Brunch in Davis Square

Pickles, fried chicken, and chocolate bacon.

I spent a recent Sunday visiting a brand new restaurant in Davis Square (Somerville, MA) called M3. This Southern style spot gets it's name from the meat and three (vegetables or sides) plates popular on restaurant menus south of the Mason Dixon line.  Given my Tennessee roots, this brunch outing was of particular interest. There's a lot of culinary interest in down home cooking and Southern popular culture. How much would the menu deviate from authentic menu items and methods? What aspects would be hyped? Cutting to the chase: I would definitely return.

Two tables of Boston Brunchers were greeted with small plates of a watermelon, cucumber and fresh goat cheese salad. Refreshing, cool, and crisp, this salad was the lightweight among the rest of the brunch dishes. I would have eaten this course halfway through or at end of the meal, as a palate cleanser of sorts.
Next came a variety of pickles: green beans, carrots, onions, and broccoli. Crunchy, tangy, and sour vegetables were a nice foil to the Scotch eggs - quail eggs wrapped in sausage covered in bread crumbs and deep fried.

A chicken biscuit covered in gravy can be found on the "vittles" section of the menu. We learned that the chicken nugget is made at M3; this juicy piece of meat shouldn't be modified, exceptional only to be made better with gravy and a homemade biscuit. The light coating of gravy nappes the sandwich ever so slightly.

One dish that needs a touch of seasoning is the fried chicken and waffles. The chicken breading needed some salt and pepper. I'm not sure if the intention of the breading was a sweet application to match with the sweet waffle and fruit, but without the salt and pepper, the breading tasted like funnel cake batter. The pieces of chicken were golden brown and delicious. I happily tore apart the meat with my hands.

Next on the list of carb-heavy brunch dishes was a plate of blueberry and lemon ricotta pancakes.  Because of the seating arrangements at the table, fellow blogger Erin and I got to split a plate of these cakes. Caught between feeling stuffed and "just have one bite", we took a few bites and agreed it was a solid breakfast stand-by.

Last but not least, we wondered what would end the meal. Plates of French toast and chocolate dipped bacon appeared on the tables. The thick pieces of toast were coated in cinnamon bran, dipped in an egg wash, and cooked on a griddle. Apple butter syrup, fresh berries, and big pieces of chocolate covered bacon topped the toast. It's breakfast and dessert on one plate. I tasted the bacon and could taste more chocolate than salty pork. Not for me, but I would imagine its a popular dish for the enthusiastic bacon lovers of the world.
And what is brunch without beverages: I was triple-fisting with a Mickey Mouse mug of coffee, a mini Bloody Mary (pickles, M3 tomato mix, and aquavit), and a mimosa (Prosecco, pomegranate, orange juice, and a cube of pickled watermelon).

M3's dinner menu offers frog legs, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and catfish. Main entrees include three sides; the sides that sound most appealing to me are peach cornbread and the pimento cheese fries.

Y'all come back now.
*Thank you to M3 for providing the food and drinks at no charge to the Boston Brunchers.*

B Street Newton Brunch

In March I visited B Street Newton with Renee and Lara. The best thing we ate was B Street's turkey chili as noted in Renee's review. Because it was featured on the winter menu, I crossed my fingers in hopes that it would be featured on the recent Boston Brunchers tasting menu.
Alas, the chili was absent from the menu, but that meant trying many other items.  Eight brunchers were treated to a variety of summer menu tastes. Rose sangria (lots of fruit, but the rose was not punched up enough) and bloody Mary's (slightly spicy) kicked off the brunch. 

First courses were shared and included a potato flatbread pizza with fried eggs and bacon; hanger steak and scrambled egg quesadilla; feta and spinach phyllo tart; challah French toast with apples. All of these courses were well prepared, tasted delicious, but did not leave me overly impressed.   
Feeling like we could stopped eating after the first courses, I split the hangover burger with Liz from Eating Places; similar to other restaurant menus, the burger came on a grilled English muffin with bacon and a fried egg and roasted potato wedges on the side. We slid the egg off the burger due to previous first courses involving eggs. Might just be a personal preference, but I think the fried egg and bacon combo on everything has run its course. 
As a surprise to the group, the pastry chef made several seasonal fruit desserts. The strawberry rhubarb crumble with ice cream was a hit at the table. Sweet and sour flavors prove how this combination is a favorite. 
B Street Newton prefers to adjust it's menu with the season. Having an ever-changing menu keeps customers interested and curious about what is coming next.  

neighborhood destination, I would recommend dining at B Street if in the Newton area; its convenient to the Green D line (Newton Centre stop).

The brunch was provided free of charge, and the opinions are my own. Thanks to Boston Brunchers and B Street Newton's owner and staff for the meal.

Breakfast Sandwich with Avocado

The breakfast sandwich is a hot item these days. Cafes, restaurants, and food trucks have one on their menus and each claims to be the best. While I have my favorites (here's looking at you Cutty's, Clover, and Area Four), I like the lazy freedom of making one at home whenever I want.

This sandwich comes together fast, so be prepared. Get your coffee, tea, OJ, or Diet Coke (hey, no judgement) ready, toast the bread, slice the cheese and avocado. While the eggs cook, don't leave the kitchen to check your email or send a tweet (except to say you are making a breakfast sandwich at home) because the eggs will overcook faster than you can say "Instagram isn't working! How will I capture this gastronomic moment?"

Breakfast Sandwich

inspired/adapted by Deb/Smitten Kitchen
yield: 1

1 sliced Brioche roll, English muffin, or 2 pieces of bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg
Black pepper and Kosher salt
1 tsp water
thin slices of avocado and white cheddar cheese
dashes of hot sauce (optional)

Get your breakfast drink of choice in progress.

Heat your broiler or toaster. Place the pieces of bread under the broiler (or in the toaster) until lightly toasted. Watch the bread carefully to avoid burning.

Heat a 9 inch nonstick skillet on medium low heat. Break the egg into a small dish and using a fork, beat the egg with the water and season with a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper.

Melt butter in the pan. Pour in the egg and roll it around so the egg covers the pan like a crepe. The egg will cook in about 60-90 seconds; the edge will be firm when prodded with a fork or small spatula.

Fold the "side" of the egg nearest to you (similar to folding a letter). Repeat this action on the three remaining egg "sides"; you should end up with something resembling a square.

Leave the folded egg square in the skillet to cook for another 30 seconds, then slide onto one piece of bread. Add slices of avocado and cheese. Before topping with the other piece of bread, add a few dashes of hot sauce.

Eat immediately.

Cricket Creek Farm

In continuing the tour of Massachusetts farms, last Sunday I visited Cricket Creek Farm with my friend Elizabeth and her four legged companion, Jackson. Our friend, Jenni, is spending the rest of this year as a cheese-maker at CC, and we wanted to check out her new home. From Boston, the drive is all of three hours, but it's a scenic drive on Route 2. 

Located near Williamstown, Cricket Creek is a small, grass fed dairy with a herd of 40 Brown Swiss and Jersey cows.  Pigs, chickens, and guinea hens also roam the farm, and Cricket Creek is one of the few Massachusetts farms licensed to sell raw milk.  It is very delicious and unlike any milk found in the grocery store. Thick, smooth, and fresh. 

piglets hang out under the a-frame

afternoon nap from the sun


The farm includes a store stocked with bread, eggs, beef, pork, milk, and other condiments. Customers use the honor system when paying for their items.  A CSA (community support agriculture) program allows customers to receive weekly shares of meat, eggs, and dairy products. Boston cheese fans can purchase the award winning cheeses at Formaggio Kitchen. Central Bottle, and City Feed and Supply.  

a cat named creamy on watch in front of the store

Bacon + Brunch at Common Ground

Bacon. Bacon. Who's got the bacon?

Common Ground would be the answer.

Boston Brunchers visited Common Ground, a bar and grill located in Allston on Harvard Avenue, on a sleepy Mother's Day morning. CG has a new owner, new chef, and new menu. The group was greeted by a very enthusiastic owner, Bob O'Guin. After loading up our plates at the breakfast buffet, he brought each table plates of smoked and satisfyingly salty pork belly. Across the street from Common Ground is a building called "Bacon Chambers". Coincidence? Bob and his front of house managers just laughed. Special thanks to Bob, Nancy, and the CG for making our brunch enjoyable and "on the house". Your hospitality and generosity is appreciated.

Dim Sum Brunch with Herbivoracious

As a spring semester social media intern for the Harvard Common Press, I was paired with one of HCP's blogger authors, Michael Natkin. Last week, I along with a small group of Boston Brunchers had a chance to chat with Michael about his new book Herbivoracious and enjoy dim sum brunch at Moksa.  Boston was one of Michael's stops on the Herbivoracious book tour. A Seattle cook, writer, blogger, and now author, Michael wrote a globally inspired book of recipes full of unique flavors.  After spending several months "socializing" Michael's book, Herbivoracious, with vegetarian and food enthusiastic audiences, it was a treat to see the newly released book, especially seeing the color photos.  Michael shot all the photos in the book, all 80 of them. Herbivoracious contains vegetarian recipes with some conversions for gluten free or vegan options.  This conversation with Michael at Moksa, a two and a half month old restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge, proved to be a great setting to enjoy a Sunday dim sum brunch.
Moksa's dim sum brunch menu has a range of small plates and larger plates for sharing.  Chef Patricia Yeo (owner of Om Restaurant & Lounge) opened Moksa as Boston’s first Pan Asian Izakaya. Small plates are divided into Asian bbq meats, pan fried, steamed, and fried. Larger plates for sharing are noodles, rice, pancakes, and eggs. The dessert menu rotates on a daily basis. Moksa was very quiet during our Sunday brunch. The space has the feeling of a nightclub driven by a cocktail list.  Even though our group was the only party in the restaurant, our server explained every detail of the menu. We ordered a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes that the chef thought would be appropriate for the group.  Thanks to Moksa for the warm hospitality and the complimentary brunch. Special thanks to Adam Salamone and Bruce Shaw of Harvard Common Press for the fantastic internship experience.

A Day on the Farm

Today was spent visiting Stillmans at the Turkey Farm in Hardwick, MA. A few of us farmer's market assistants spent the afternoon at the farm.

Kate, the owner/farm girl/mom of an almost four year old, is in the middle of lamb-ing season. 

He is cute baby ram. Horns to come.

Baby lambs are born every day and at all hours of the day.  

The barn and house are just shy of 300 years old.

Adult rams - one is named Bernie, and he likes to misbehave.

Brunch at Bakers' Best

What's a little brunch before watching the Academy Awards?  A group of Boston Brunchers visited the catering machine known as Bakers' Best, a catering company located in Needham. Michael Baker, founder and owner, started his business due to a poorly constructed turkey sandwich eaten during a business trip.  That was 28 years ago.

Today, Bakers' Best focuses it's business on corporate accounts, special events, charities, and schools.  The company has nearly 120 employees; the hallmark of the culture is their people. Many employees stay with the company for five, ten, or even 15 years. Diane Wilson, director of sales, leads a team of 13 who work seven days a week. During the brunch, a sales member was at her desk taking orders.  In the catering world, work never sleeps.

Chef Phyllis Kaplowitz (graduate of Johnson & Wales who cooked at the James Beard House and member of Les Dames d'Escoffier) and her culinary team prepared a feast with beverages, passed appetizers, amuse, and buffet. As we toured the office, kitchen, storage, and delivery areas, Michael explained each area's role. The entire place was humming with activity; Bakers' makes 100+ deliveries each day. A team of overnight bakers prepares breads, pastries, and baked goods.  The company makes an effort to source some ingredients from local farms and purveyors.

pastry basket: Meyer lemon blueberry scones, jelly donut muffins, cinnamon buns, sweet potato biscuits, and lavender butter

Here is the menu Chef Phyllis created for the group:

typical scene at a food blogger event! citrus cured gravlax with pickled onions, lemon crème fraiche and frissee in "everything" bagel cup
maple brown sugar bacon cup with sweet potato hash
bite size waffle egg sandwich with house made turkey sausage, tomato jelly and Camembert
mini bloody mary shots with jumbo poached shrimp, green beans, and celery salt dusting
spicy tuna tartare in miso sesame cup with spicy mayo and soy pearls
baby seasonal quiches: spinach/mushroom/leek & goat cheese, bacon/potato/onion, tomato/asparagus/feta “beet ravioli” with field greens, shaved fennel, citrus and Spanish vinaigrette

challah french toast • assorted toppings and Vermont maple syrup

A special thanks to Michael Baker, Adam Klein, Erin, and Boston Brunchers for putting this complimentary event together.

Lunch at Ducali with Cookbook Author Crescent Dragonwagon

I recently joined a small group of Boston Bruncher bloggers to have lunch and conversation with the noted and published author Crescent Dragonwagon.  The setting was Ducali, a casual Italian restaurant in the North End. Crescent's publisher, Workman, graciously sent each blogger a copy of her latest cookbook, Bean by Bean.  The book is divided into chapters by season and includes everything from appetizers to desserts (yes, beans can be used in sweet preparations).  She gives helpful hints for bean storage, soaking, and the always interesting historical background of bean varieties.  Conversation with Crescent and her husband, David (an accomplished writer and photographer) ranged from her thoughts on creative writing to starting a writer's colony in Arkansas to her favorite beans,

Bean by Bean was a book four years in the making.  Crescent is no stranger to the lengthy writing process as she has published 50 books in her career.  She has a children's book called All the Awake Animals coming out in the Fall of 2012.  To Crescent, "the best part of writing is the writing". She encouraged writers (especially young writers) to write across genres, Another key takeaway was to find your voice in every story.  Crescent leads creative writing workshops that encourages writers to do just that.

All of the bloggers commented on Crescent's warmth, perspective, and humor. She can be reached via Twitter as @cdragonwagon

All this talk about the cookbook and writing was served up alongside pizzas and salad.

Our first course was carciofi (broiled artichoke) served with homemade garlic aioli.

The baby spinach salad with goat cheese and dried cranberries was enjoyed by all, as evidenced by these almost clean plates.

We tried three pizzas, all vegetarian.

Spinaci fresh mozzarella, garlic and spinach, topped with black pepper and Romano cheese.

The rugola, a mozzarella topped with arugula, drizzled with truffle oil and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese. The chunks of cheese were salty and irresistible especially with the drops of truffle oil.

Grilled eggplant, mushroom, zucchini and mozzarella topped with fresh goat cheese.

Ducali (@ducali on Twitter) is located along the northern border of the North End out of the fray of Hanover Street.  The restaurant's name comes from the nickname of a soccer team in Parma.
Blogger's note: Lunch was provided free of charge by Ducali and the cookbook was also provided by Workman Publishing.

Ceia Kitchen & Bar: Boston Brunchers visit Newburyport

Spending a Monday morning at brunch isn't a typical occurrence, but when a holiday falls on a Monday, making brunch plans is a nice option.  Boston Brunchers organized a day time road trip to Ceia Kitchen and Bar in Newburyport, MA.  Ceia opened in the summer of 2011 and has received high praise from local and national media. 

Located in this charming Northshore town, Ceia garnered the attention of the Boston Globe and earned a mention on the newspaper's list of "best new restaurants of 2011".  Wine Spectator also named Ceia in its issue featuring the "2011 best restaurant wine lists in the world".  With a list featuring 120 bottles, the owner, Nancy Batista-Caswell, knows the importance of training her staff on the finer points of wine service.  Nancy recently spoke about her management practices in the January 2012 issue of Restaurant Management Magazine.

The word Ceia means “supper” in Portuguese, and the restaurant's menu reflects flavors from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. The brunch menu featured four courses with a cocktail with the first course and dessert wine to conclude. 
St. Germain 75
Oyster escabeche
Cold smoked asparagus with mache and mozzarella
Poached eggs, linguica and potato hash with Bernaise
Raspberry and Coconut Pain Perdu with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca, Chile

Thank you to Nancy and her team for opening the restaurant early for the group.  This enjoyable meal was provided to Boston Brunchers free of charge by Ceia; writing a review was not a requirement to attend.

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