Food

How To BBQ, Four-Seasons Style

By Toni Waterman   |   Friday, August 5, 2011
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Aug. 8, 2011



BOSTON — It’s not often you get the chance to share the kitchen with a five-star chef, but once a month, Four Seasons Executive Chef Brooke Vosika opens his doors and recipe book to the public with a cooking class.

“Tonight we’ve got a BBQ class. It’s probably one of our most popular classes,” said Vosika. “We’re going to touch on gas barbeque verses charcoal barbeque, we’re going to touch on the different varieties of barbeque, whether it be a southern style, it can also be a Kansas City style, Texas style, North Carolina style.”

For $150, these eight students get a personal lesson on the art of barbequing. It's a lesson student Sarah Donovan said can’t come soon enough.

“I just got married and someone gave me a grill and it’s sitting on the deck. I haven’t even taken the tarp off,” Donovan said as she put on her apron. “So I’m here to learn how to grill.”

The classes are held in the middle of the Four Seasons Aujourd’hui kitchen. Everyone quickly finds their place around a square table, butcher blocks in front them and a glass of wine in hand.

First up, a lesson on Vosika’s self-described “volcano” sauce. For the past two weeks, Vosika has kept the chilies buried under mounds of salt. He says the salt draws the moisture out of the chilies while at the same time adding some saltiness to them.

“The process then is to wash off as much of the salt as possible, pick the stems off and then we’re going to blend it,” Vosika explained.

Everyone pitches in, in between sips of wine, pinching stems before the chilies are blended with vinegar and water.

Next up, the main course is the ever-daunting ribs. The first thing Vosika shows are baby-back ribs.

“The difference between the baby-back and the regular ribs is that it’s a smaller animal they come from,” he says. “And also they’ve been trimmed down so it’s the center of the rib. You’re not leaving that fat portion on the bottom.”

Vosika boils his ribs for 40 minutes before throwing them on the grill, giving him just enough time to get his Kansas-City-style barbeque sauce together. He starts by chopping some garlic.

Ketchup is the next one and that’s our base,” he says while pouring it all into a mixing bowl. “Adding our vinegar, chili powder, paprika, olive oil which is important for coating and of course, our volcano sauce,” Voskia says, laughing.

Now it's time to hit the grill. Vosika says this is the point when people make their biggest mistake, using either too much heat or too little heat.

“There’s a fine line between burning something and char-grilling it, really making something so charred that that flavor takes over everything,” Vosika said.

Student Ernie Jones says he's definitely made that mistake. “Not paying attention to the grill when I was doing a low, slow cook and it just got way past the point of when it was done,” Johnson said.

After dousing the ribs with sauce, Vosika grabs them with tongs, demonstrating perfect technique.

“So I’m going to take this side, the side that we’ve done that has the BBQ sauce on it. We’ll lay that right on top. While that’s there, we’ll take some more barbeque sauce.”

After a few minutes sizzling on the grill, it’s time for the best part of the class. Chef stands at the table, doling out the goods: Baby back ribs-regular ribs, wings, homemade potato chips and good conversation.

At the end of the night, students say they’re taking home a lot more than just leftovers. “It was really easy to see how to make different things and with recipes I will actually be able to follow,” says Kara Silvia.

“I loved it,” adds her sister, Kristina. “It was so good, but we’re so full at this point,” she adds, laughing.

Full with a meal that’s finger lickin’ good.

Revolutionary Health Plan

Monday, June 6, 2011
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Union Oyster House Turns 185

By Adam Reilly   |   Wednesday, August 3, 2011
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Aug. 3, 2011



BOSTON — After nearly two centuries of existence, Union Oyster House has its own unique body of lore: From JFK’s favorite booth to a plaque honoring Boston’s first female waitress. And as the restaurant celebrates its 185th anniversary Wednesday, business remains brisk.

Danny Martinez is a teacher visiting from San Diego. During Tuesday’s lunch hour, he enjoyed oysters, cherrystones and a beer. 

Mussels are served at the Union Oyster House. (avhell via Flickr)

“I did my homework because I’m a teacher,” said Martinez. “I did a lot of yelping, go to Yelp.com, and this definitely came up as one of the top one to two (seafood restaurants) in the Boston area.”
 
Sitting a few yards away, Joe King of County Galway, Ireland was wrapping up a meal of his own — his first since arriving in Boston earlier today. King gives the Union Oyster House’s namesake specialties his stamp of approval, but adds that the legendary oysters from his hometown are even better.
 
“Well, they’re good here,” King said. “But I think we have better oysters in Clarinbridge.”
 
With customers from as far away as the West Coast and Europe, it’s no wonder the Union Oyster House has a bit of a reputation as a tourist magnet. Its amply stocked gift shop indicates the restaurant is happy to play the part.

Still, after 185 years in business, there are a few regulars with strong local ties.
 
“I’m from Charlestown, Mass., originally,” said Tom Roche, as he sat at the Union Oyster House’s legenday U-shaped oyster bar. “I live in California now. Came here for the oysters clams and scallops today... I come back here every year, and this is the place I come to.”
 
On August 3, the Union Oyster House will celebrate its 185th year of existence with a special menu featuring thirty dollars worth of food for just $1.85. That price is only good from 11 AM to 3 PM, but if you miss it,  take heart. This isn’t the Union Oyster House’s first anniversary special, and chances are it won’t be its last. 

Summer Food Spectacular

By Emily Rooney   |   Thursday, July 14, 2011
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Jul. 14, 2011

LobsterIt's the middle of July: 'Tis the season for grilling, lobster, fresh produce and more. Senior Atlantic Editor Corby Kummer joined WGBH's Emily Rooney for a rollicking romp through summer cuisine.

The two talked shore food with Boston’s renowned seafood chef Jasper White. They also discuss that summer staple, the tomato, and how modern industrial agriculture is robbing them of any flavor. And finally, in a Bastille Day nod to our allies in democracy, the French, we offer up some suggestions for eating in and eating out, French style.

Summer Shore Food With The Man Behind The Summer Shack

Perhaps nobody knows New England shore food like Jasper White. In May 2000, White surprised people who thought he was inextricably linked to fine dining when he opened Jasper White's Summer Shack in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A loud, energetic clam shack with lobster tanks and steam kettles as a focal point in a central big, open space. Lobsters, clams, oysters and many other varieties of seafood dominate the menu that features everything from corn dogs and fried clams to traditional favorites like cod cakes and baked beans. The success of the Cambridge restaurant has spawned two more Summer Shacks and the Summer Shack Cookbook, which Jasper joined Emily and Corby to discuss.

 Listen to this segment here.

The Tomato’s Fall From Grace

Second only to lettuce in produce popularity, the tomato is one of our most alluring fruits - not to mention one of the most profitable. In 2009, Americans spent $5 billion on commercially-grown fresh tomatoes. But of all the fruits and vegetables we eat, none suffers at the hand of factory farming more than a tomato grown in the winter fields of Florida. And if you bite into a tomato between the months of October and June, chances are it hails from the Sunshine state, which accounts for one-third of the fresh tomatoes grown in the United States.

Modern agribusiness can’t deliver a decent-tasting tomato in large part because it’s essentially against the law: Regulations set by the Florida Tomato Committee determine what a tomato should look like, and the older, tasty varieties don’t conform to the rules of color and shape. In his new book "Tomatoland," based on his James Beard-Award-winning article, investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals how industrial agriculture has ruined the tomato in all ways–gastronomic, environmental, and in terms of labor abuse.

 Listen to this segment here.

Check out Barry Easterbrook's blog, Politics of the Plate

 Read an excerpt from Tomatoland

Le Summer: Picnicking, French-Style

The French Revolution began with one infamous act: The storming of the Bastille. The historic revolt at the Parisian prison sparked the chain of events that dissolved the French monarchy and led to the evolution of the French republic. In France, “La Fête Nationale,” is celebrated with parades, dances, parties, fireworks and, of course, food. On le quatorze juillet (July 14th), the French and Francophiles the world over celebrate freedom by taking the party outside and picnicking, anywhere and everywhere. Others attempt their favorite French treats in their own kitchens at home. Others still leave the cooking and the wine pairing to professionals and hit up their favorite French restaurants. Whatever your plaisir (pleasure), Chris Campbell has you covered. Chris is a sommelier and part owner of Troquet,  located on Boyston St. right off the Boston Common. This classic French-inspired restaurant has been named one of Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wine Restaurants in the nation.

 Listen to this segment here.

  Check out Chris's recipe for grilled radicchio salad

  Want to go out and celebrate Bastille Day? There are plenty of options around town


The Emily Rooney Show is hosted by WGBH's Emily Rooney and produced by Frannie Carr, Edgar Herwick and Jeff Keating.

Dragon Fruit Makes its Culinary Journey to US Farms and Kitchens

Thursday, June 16, 2011
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Best Of Nantucket 2011

By Cathy Huyghe   |   Thursday, June 2, 2011
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We've said it before and we'll say it again. The Nantucket Wine Festival is THE place to kick off the summer season of wine. Now that it's come and gone, we can put on our hindsight-is-20-20 sunglasses and review the Festival's best highlights. Last weekend's highlights, fortunately, will be there all summer long. Consider this your hit list for the island.

meatloaf sandwich
The meatloaf sandwich pictured here can be had at American Seasons on Nantucket

KIDS MENU AT AMERICAN SEASONS. This secret is so hidden that it literally doesn't exist. American Seasons restaurant, with arguably the best chef on an island of very, very good chefs, does not have a kids' menu. But take some kids in there, and they will not be "cooked down to." No chicken fingers with French fries here. The kitchen will prepare anything from their menu in a plain-ish, kid-friendly style — Wild King salmon, say, but cooked all the way through and minimally seasoned — that wind up being so pure that they may just make the adults at the table jealous.

Website:
http://www.americanseasons.com/

FRANZ HILL VINEYARD WINE AT CURRENTVINTAGE. Price inflation is the immediate effect for most wines that receive a 90+ rating from uber-critic Robert Parker. Except if your wine is Zinfandel from Franz Hill Vineyard in Napa— despite a stellar score of 93 from Parker for their 2005 vintage, this Zin stays at a very earth-bound price of $30 a bottle. Production is extremely, extremely limited but currentVintage on Easy Street has a direct line to the producer. Find it there. Show it off. Whether you tell your guests what a bargain it is is completely up to you.

Websites:
http://www.currentvintage.com/
http://www.franzhillvineyard.com/index.html

BEST NANTUCKET STORY. The tagline for Donelan wines is "Wine is a Journey Not a Destination." For founder Joe Donelan, that journey's gone from college at Holy Cross in Worcester to supplying paper for LL Bean catalogs in Maine to trailing one of Nantucket's greatest sommeliers around the world. Donelan is old-school (he hand-writes some 3000 thank you notes every year) which, in addition to some incredible winemaking, add up to a super-high ratio of customer loyalty. Today Donelan splits his time between his vineyards in California and a kitted-out (for wine lovers, that is) home close to his roots on Nantucket. Look for his wines in shops and restaurants on the island and all over Massachusetts.

Website:
http://www.donelanwines.com/index2.html

BEST BOOKSTORE. There are two, actually— Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner. Both are excellent because both are oozing with personality. These are not corporations. These are people. They have literally read the books and will gladly share their opinions. But even if you don't actually engage in conversation with anyone working in the shops, you'll feel invited to browse until you find Just The Right Book for your Nantucket getaway.

Websites:
http://www.mitchellsbookcorner.com
http://www.nantucketbookworks.com/

BEST GUEST SERVICE. It's the high season now and Nantucket's service in dustry has officially shifted into gear. The standard-bearer for guest service is, hands down, the White Elephant hotel and residences. Sure there are the things they offer every guest, like van service to the ferries or into town or to a partner restaurant. But come to them with a particular request or problem and they kick it into overdrive. They take it personal. Call it Humane Hospitality. Or just call it whatever it takes to get you one heck of a restful night's sleep.

Website:
http://www.whiteelephanthotel.com/

MUST-DO ACTIVITIES. Rent a bike, or bring your own. Take a Pilates workshop. Visit the Whaling Museum. Take a walking tour with the Nantucket Preservation Trust. Try ice cream flavors you've never had before. Cake batter, anyone?

Websites:
http://www.nantucketpreservation.org/index.html
http://www.easyridersbikerentals.com/
http://www.nha.org/sites/
http://nantucketicecream.com/

About the Authors
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.

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