WGBH Local News

Wednesday Wine Itinerary for Boston

By Cathy Huyghe   |   Thursday, August 12, 2010
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Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Wednesdays have become the wine lover’s highlight of the week in Boston.

Here, hypothetically, could be your itinerary on any given Wednesday, should you wish to pursue the pleasures of wine from one part of town to another.

All that’s required: good friends, an open heart, and fare for the T ride home.

Start at 5pm at Federal Wine & Spirits on State Street. The place is cavernous, the steps downstairs to the tasting are treacherous, and the wines they pour are always (always) worth the effort. This week they’re doing wines that taste much more expensive than they cost.

Hungry yet? Head over to the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons and pull up a leather club chair for their Burgers & Burgundy offering. Anytime between 5 and 10:30pm, order their super-special Bristol burger (with truffle fries, housemade pickles, and Vermont cheddar cheese) with two half-glasses of Burgundy, all for $30.

Next it’s time for the live entertainment portion of the evening. That would be at Gordon’s Fine Wine & Culinary Center in Waltham for their Bar Wars series from 7 to 8:30pm. One featured liquor (Jameson whiskey this time around), two of Boston’s best bartenders (reigning champ Ray Guerin of Tuscan Grill versus challenger Sean D’Abbraccio of Solea), with the audience’s votes sending the winner on to the next round.

Then, for a light finish to the evening, try Sel de la Terre‘s Long Wharf location for oysters shucked fresh at $1 each from 10pm to 12:30am. Round those out with a crisp sparkling wine or a clean Sauvignon Blanc, and you’ve got yourself quite a nightcap.

Lunch with the ladies: Swanee Hunt at No. 9 Park

By Cathy Huyghe   |   Thursday, August 12, 2010
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Tune into WGBH on any given day, and you’ll find a lot of amazing ladies.

Ladies taking on the news of the day.

Ladies who know their music.

Even ladies championing “nerd pride.”

And while all this is going on in Brighton, No. 9 Park restaurant on Beacon Hill invited ladies of its own last week with its Ladies Who Lunch series, welcoming Swanee Hunt, former US ambassador to Austria. Hunt was the fourth guest speaker in the series, addressing the professional women who had gathered in No. 9 Park’s dining room to socialize and network.

“It’s hard for us to get out and meet smart, professional women,” said chef-owner Barbara Lynch at the beginning of the lunch, which is why she and her staff initiated the Ladies Who Lunch series last year. The phrase “ladies who lunch” may conjure certain retro images, but this event clearly was not about conservative traditions.

It was about breaking them.

“The United States ranks 85th in the world in terms of women’s representation in Congress,” Hunt said in her address to the audience. ”You have to ask each other to run for Congress. I want every table in this room to nominate one woman to run. Politics is a nasty business, but we will have a different world if we go into a situation where women are affecting public policy.”

As No. 9′s staff served a three-course lunch, Hunt discussed her work: “I work in war zones, in 40 different conflict areas like Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan,” she said. “Women reach across. Women know how much a bag of rice costs, and we know where the unhappy 18-year-old lives who’s sleeping with a machine gun under his bed.”

It was a powerful image from a powerful woman. How many of the women listening will become politically involved as a result of Hunt’s encouragement remains to be seen, but it is difficult to imagine any of us being unmoved by the idea.

Find out more about Swanee Hunt and No. 9 Park.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Lunch (and an excellent one) at Masa in the South End

By Germaine Frechette   |   Thursday, August 12, 2010
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As a change of pace from my standard weekday routine as part of WGBH’s Membership team, last week I paid a visit to Masa, chef-owner Philip Aviles’ South End restaurant. The restaurant’s interior (unlike the dreary Boston weather we slogged through) is warm and inviting; the walls are embellished with wrought-iron tracery featuring chocolate tile centers and mirrors, connoting a feeling of airiness. Tucked in the corners are terracotta jugs filled with daffodils, giving the room a touch of spring.

It was a working lunch, but I indulged and ordered a margarita, with just the right amount of bite. The meal itself overflowed with Southwestern flavors, representative of a menu that offers refreshing twists on traditional Latin favorites.

I started with a bowl of butternut squash chowder topped with crispy lardons, smoked Gouda, chile poblano, and tortilla strips. Then on to the achiote-marinated fish tacos dressed with the relatively mild earthy spiciness of chipotle tartar sauce and the crunch of pickled onions.  But the corn tortillas were the surprise. It was the first time I had eaten freshly made tortillas, and this was the perfect venue – masa means tortilla dough in Spanish — though I’ll never be able to enjoy those hard shells in quite the same way.

I ended the savory portion of lunch with a salad of field greens with prickly pear passion fruit vinaigrette, Spanish cabrales, jicama, and chile walnuts, a mix packed with amazing flavors and textures.

I ended with Masa’s signature chocolate tamale, and our server suggested the key lime pie for complementary flavors. Both desserts had layers of complex richness, co-existing without competing — the perfect ending to my midday feast.

Masa brings an inventive style to Mexican cuisine. Chef Aviles’ inspired menu is chock full of authentic Mexican and Spanish ingredients and prepares them in earthy and elegant ways.

Germaine Frechette is the guest author for today’s Foodie Blog and part of the WGBH Membership team. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, where we explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Dish of the Week at Trident Cafe

By Cathy Huyghe   |   Thursday, August 12, 2010
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These days, in this weather, very few things taste bad.

Partly it’s because we’re editing what we eat, choosing things that are lighter, more refreshing, spring-i-er. It’s fish tacos over Roquefort burgers. Iced tea rather than hot chocolate. Leafy vegetables before root ones. Whatever most jives with our surroundings of sunny, warm days and light-jacket weather.

Partly it’s because we’re shedding the Boston-winter survival tactic of tucking in and tucking under. Off with the layers of clothing. Off, too, with multi-course dinners and mucho-complex taste combinations.

These days we’re liking our food fresh, uncomplicated, and maybe just a little bit sweet.

Perhaps that why ours was just one of at least three tables yesterday within 25 minutes to sit down and ask our servers immediately for the dessert menu. This was at Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street at about five o’clock in the afternoon.

The fresh fruit cobbler with vanilla ice cream seemed to be the most popular choice, and it appeared over and over again, at our table and several others. The cobbler had just been pulled from a reheat in the oven, the pastry crust crackly and sprinkled with sugar and the fruit inside steamy and warm. I poured spoonfuls of sauce from inside the cobbler onto the ice cream, wilting it and bringing both components to a happy medium temperature.

The ice cream was cool, like the mornings and the evenings these days. And the cobbler was warm, like our sunny days. That combo makes this our Dish of the Week.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Music, dancing, and loukaniko: Greek Independence Day in Boston Common

By Cathy Huyghe   |   Thursday, August 12, 2010
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In honor of the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire (and Greek pride in general), the Greek Independence Day festival took over Boston Common on Sunday. The festival gave a hint of the wonderful culture — and food — one might experience on a visit, as with WGBH’s upcoming LearningTour.

Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer: Goodies for a cause

By Cathy Huyghe   |   Thursday, August 12, 2010
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The thing about fundraisers is that you have to give something — cash, normally — in order to get. And what you get is often intangible: a good feeling or the sense that you’ve done something worthwhile.

This week, the “get” is a little more tangible and a lot more tasty.

Starting today and going through Mother’s Day on Sunday, some 150-plus restaurants, bakeries, and cafés all over greater Boston will donate 100% of the proceeds from designated desserts to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

It’s called Boston Bakes for Breast Cancer, and in the past 10 years it’s raised almost $400,000 for the cause.

I suspect its success has a lot to do with the kind of desserts — very tangible, very tasty — that are on offer. The list is heavy on chocolate (souffles, bouchons, tortes), fresh fruits (raspberries, strawberries), cupcakes, cheesecakes, and even whoopie pies (one version crafted with pink filling, another served straight up with milk).

Comfort food galore.

Check out the full list of restaurants and zoom in on one in your neighborhood.

Then stop in. And enjoy the feeling that you’ve done something worthwhile — for breast cancer research, and for your belly, too.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

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