12.12.12

Some recent snaps of places visited and things eaten in San Francisco.

Of course, there are plenty of things not included. The totopos (chips covered in red chile sauce, cilantro, cheese, and white onion) from Nopalito. The Josey Baker toast of the day from the Mill. The olive bread from Tartine.

Or the sunets at Ocean Beach - there are too many of those. But then there are many scenes that a camera can't capture because the landscape has just too much fog or too much sunshine or just meant for remembering. #SoSF.

my neighborhood breakfast & lunch spot, Cassava, a husband & wife owned happy place in outer Richmond. Their once a week pop dinners are so popular they've been sold out for months.

an americano + donut from Four Barrel on Valencia in the Mission

yogurt + pear + granola at brunch at Nopa

tomato, mozzarella, basil pizza from Pizza del Popolo - a pizza truck on wheels with a wood oven

my first ramen - Hapa Ramen's fried chicken version - Ferry Building on Tuesdays

beverages at Chocolate Lab by Recchiuti:  lillet + soda water + orange and a hot chocolate - liquid dessert

a map of San Francisco inside Trouble Coffee

a PBR, a Polaroid land camera, and a smartphone: Sunday instant camera walking tour by Photobooth

a Dynamo Donut

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.

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.

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.

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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Brunch at Harvard Common Press

Harvard Common Press was the site of Sunday's Boston Brunchers event. Located in the South End on the top floor of a former piano factory, HCP graciously opened its offices to about 40 Boston food enthusiasts.


Bookcases full of books, lots of sunlight, and art made the HCP a pleasant place to learn more about the cookbook publishing business.  Adam Salomone, associate publisher, talked about what a publisher looks for in an author and an idea, the lengthy writing process, and how a food blog could become a book.  A key takeaway for a blogger to get the attention of a publisher is engagement with an audience along with a strong voice.  That blogger's audience will most likely buy the cookbook. 

Nancy Mahoney is responsible for the sales and marketing of the cookbooks.  She spoke about her team's process to sell and market cookbooks.  Blog tours, tweet-ups, and reviews are ways cookbooks garner attention from the media.

It would not be a Boston Brunchers event without food! Attendees enjoyed lots of breads and muffins plus fruit and a savory strata.  There was coffee, wine, and two types of punch.

Thank you Boston Brunchers and Harvard Common Press for an enjoyable event!

Boston Brunchers First Birthday Party at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Its been quite a long time since I have attended a one year old's birthday party; its been even longer since attending TWO first birthdays on the same day.  Such occasion celebrated the first birthdays for Island Creek Oyster Bar and Boston Brunchers. Forty bloggers, brunch enthusiasts, and food folks convened to catch up, meet new friends, and snap pictures of delicious food.  Its always enjoyable to meet the faces that pair with the blogs and Twitter handles.

Oysters await their shucking.
A "regular" bloody mary.
Cocktails before noon. This is brunch.
ICOB's house-made pasteries.

My brunch pick: bagel, smoked salmon, chive cream cheese, pea greens

Special thanks to Renee Hirschberg, founder of Boston Brunchers, for planning the event and converging social media with brunch. And a big thanks to the sponsors for their generosity, especially Island Creek Oyster Bar for hosting.  I look forward to visiting Dorado Tacos & Cemitas to use my winning door prize gift certificate.  Here's a peek into a previous Boston Bruncher's meal at Dorado in February. 


Sunday Brunch at Dorado Tacos

As a former resident of Chicago, a city known for turning out some serious, authentic Mexican food, I searched high and low for a potential substitute for my favorite taquerias in the Windy City.  Located within walking distance of my home, Dorado Tacos & Cemitas fits that bill.  Dorado offers a short roster of tacos, salads, cemitas, and weekend brunch specialities that capture the flavors from the Baja coast and Puebla, Mexico. 

Weekend brunch offers breakfast quesadillas and tacos with scrambled eggs, queso fresco, salsa, and guacamole.  Additional toppings include house-made chorizo (a favorite), grilled steak, vegetables, and chicken.  My pick for the day was a plate of huevos rancheros and black beans with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

Two sunny side up eggs, corn tortillas, salsa ranchera, queso fresco, scallions & cilantro compose the huevos rancheros.  The eggs don't need a splash of hot sauce due to the fiery punch and bright flavors of the ranchera sauce.  The black beans were perfectly simmered and seasoned.  The simple meal paired well with the Ibarra Mexican hot chocolate.  This steaming cup of chocolate was perfect for a cold day. 

Details:

Dorado Tacos & Cemitas
401 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446
11 a.m. - 10 p.m.