Sunday, June 28, 2009

Taste of Cambridge 2009

By: Paola Mesadieu

On Thursday, June 25th, the rain gods took a break from dousing New England with unrelenting rain showers just in time for the 7th Annual Taste of Cambridge food festival. With cuisines from India to Ireland, the Taste of Cambridge “celebrates the diverse dining scene of one MA’s most historic cities”. Held in the court yard of the classically chic, Charles Hotel, Thursday’s savory food bazaar was jammed packed with food aficionados and curious tasters alike. Proceeds from this event benefited Youth on Fire, a care center for homeless / street-involved youth, and Club Passim’s Culture for Kids/Music Speaks, a free, monthly, multicultural program whose goals are to provide children with exposure to other cultures and peoples.

Starting off with something familiar

I ventured into the festive melee of food, music, and laughter for my first sampling. As the fates would have it, I stumbled upon Koreana, Cambridge’s premier Korean restaurant (and my shameless addiction). I sampled their kimchee (pickled cabbage with spicy seasoning), Gal bi (grilled, marinated beef), and chapchae (stir-fried cellophane noodles). The serving size was just enough to leave me with room to move on to the next food station.

Trying to stay cool

I will admit, the warm weather did play somewhat of a role in my sampling choices. Due to the humidity, I gravitated to any table that offered a cool and refreshing treat. Therefore, I found myself enjoying a creamy summer gazpacho from Small Plates and a flavorful shrimp gazpacho from Legal Seafoods. I topped off my night with a scoop of delicious homemade Black Raspberry ice cream from Lizzy’s Ice Cream.

Want to see some of my highlights for TOC, check out the following clip

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Free 12 oz Drink at Borders!

Welcome to Finance Foodie’s new series: Fiscally Fun Freebies. Working in the finance field has taught me a lot about hardwork, the value of a dollar, and the importance of saving for a rainy day. This series will bring you the scoop on all the free food and product offerings from around the nation – because who doesn’t love a truly free lunch!

The Finance Foodie knows that in this tough economy, every dollar (or in this case $4.00) counts. Therefore, for this installment of my "Fiscally Fun Freebies"

Free 12 oz Drink at any Borders' Seattle's Best Cafe!

From June 26-July 2nd, with a Borders Card (application is free and easy in stores)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Birthday Bonanza at O Ya Boston

By: Finance Foodie

This past Saturday, I had my two-week belated birthday dinner at O Ya, the Japanese restaurant located in Boston’s Leather District. I had already heard the rave reviews about the wonderful and innovative the dishes at this place, so I was uber excited to actually see/ taste the food for myself. A recap of the night as follows:

Arrive at O Ya, 10 minutes early for our 6pm reservation. Decide to wander around the neighborhood for bit. Stop by the bookstore nearby hoping to catch up on the latest gossip from . No luck, but the rainbow flag displayed prominently outside the door should have tipped me off that this wasn’t your local Borders.

5:55pm: Walk inside the restaurant. Notice that O Ya is really tiny and seats
about 30 people max. Also, the place was already half full. Bostonians eat really early compared to New Yorkers!

6:00pm: We sit at the “chef’s table”, so we get to watch the sushi chefs prepare each dish. How entertaining! Also, noticed I am completely overdressed in pearls
and heels compared to the rest of the patrons. Was told later that O Ya’s dress code is “come as you are”. So that explains all the jeans and basketball shorts (!) I saw.

6:30pm: The plates at O Ya are served tapas style, which means small plates at entrée prices. First dish of sushi is out: salmon with unfiltered wheat soy moromi and yuzu. Very flavorful but nothing too special.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Arty Party: MFA Summer Masquerade Party Boston

By: Finance Foodie

I have gotten the opportunity to attend a plethora of eclectic parties in Boston - from the star studded fabulosity (RoxComp) to the awesomely over the top (GPOE) to the just plain delicious (Taste of South End, Taste of Beacon Hill). All these events have shown me that Boston is definitely not the sleepy city I assumed it to be, but yet I still wondered, “What is the must attend party of the year here?” This past Saturday, I found my answer: The Museum of Fine Arts Summer Party. Over 400 of Boston's most social, esteemed, and beautiful young professionals attended this sold out event, which was organized by the Museum Council and held to benefit the Museum's Artist in Residency Program.

Below is my “pseudo twitter” of the night. Note that I do not actually have a “Twitter” (pro-blogging!), but this was what would have appeared if I did twitter.

9:00pm: I arrive on site at Museum of Fine Arts. Two lovely sopranos are outside serenading the guests as they enter the building. Classy.

10:10pm: Head up the grand winding staircase. Enter the cavernous main hall where the festivities are already in full swing. This was my first time visiting the MFA in Boston and I was completely blown away by the sheer beauty of the place. Felt like I had just walked into a party at the Palace at Versailles.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Taking the Tasty Off Beaten Path to Spiga

By: Jessica Cickay

Some of my friends may say that I’m a creature of habit—and by some, I mean most, and by most I clearly mean all. Either way, last night I surely shed my predictability and shocked them with my impromptu trip to Southern Italy after work—and by Italy, I mean Needham, and by Needham, I mean the all new Spiga Trattoria Italiana. With a well-seasoned chef, a fresh menu and an inspired décor, the new Spiga with its old name treated my taste buds and me to a fabulous evening of food and drink.

Apparently blogs are the new black nowadays, and Chris Lyons of Lyons PR got that email. Instead of relying on the traditional restaurant reporter to critique her clients, Chris celebrated the art of the blog with a lovely tasting dinner—bloggers only—to spread the word about the restaurant’s revamp. Executive chef Marisa Iocco entered Spiga in April 2009 and since then, the warm glow she naturally brought with her has only seemed to burn brighter. This “name brand chef” is responsible for the critically acclaimed menus of Mare, Umbria and Bricco, and now she’s the proud Italian mother of this latest venue. Her demeanor was humble, her look a bit funky and her food was, well…

We began the evening with a toast, our glasses filled with a crisp pinot grigio, and some homemade foccacia and cannellini bean “hummus.” In retrospect, the delicate bread and smooth, garlicky bean paste were omens of good things to come.The table decided to order antipasti, primi and secondi family style and I can’t lie—I was a little scared. I have this problem come 6pm where I become hangry—or the perfect combination of hungry and angry—and I cry like a three year old if I don’t get what I want to eat or enough of it. However, in a way I never could have predicted, Chef Iocco’s creations and their layers of flavor and genius ingredient combinations, quelled even my body’s most torrid attempts at becoming hangry. Her insalata of octopus was a mix of tender baby octopus atop a bed of shaved celery and potato sticks, all drizzled with the faintest reminder of a lemony olive oil.

An array of sea scallops came next, accompanied by sweet red and yellow peppers that truly lived up to their sugary name, and then a plate of buttery shrimp, which leaned against a creamy mountain of avocado and farro. Somehow, the coating-less shrimp maintained an all-natural crunch, and they were piqued with a tart hint of citrus.

Chef Iocco and her endearing family of wait staff then brought us free-form scallop lasagna and hand-made pappardelle Bolognese. Persnickety eater that I am, the Bolognese aspect of the Bolognese didn’t tempt me, but I made a dent in the delicate broth-bathed layers of crepe that formed the cheese-less lasagna. The flavor was light and oceanic, with its minimal flavor still somehow allowing for maximum satisfaction.

In this blogger’s opinion, seafood swam into the spotlight at Spiga. The black and white sesame seeds encrusting the flaky filet of trout were countered with a colorful kiwi and striped beet salad. It was crunchy—yet tender—and it was sweet—yet aromatic—but somehow the flavors didn’t fight.

To accompany our main dishes, Chris requested Chef Iocco bring out her inventive tray of parmigiano Oreo cookies, or thin tuile’s of melted parmigiano cheese bookending a pillowy cloud of rich mashed potatoes.

Thick cuts of sockeye salmon arrived from the kitchen perfectly seasoned with a one-two punch of fresh herbs. Chef Iocco shredded zucchini and red onions into shoestrings and kissed the spongy “noodles” with a roasted garlic ragu. I pretty much hoarded the plate of salmon—my bad—because I just couldn’t get enough of the veggie pasta that cradled the coral fish.

Although our table of bloggers requested that we eat dessert first (my type of eaters!), we followed directions and saved the sweets for last. The chef’s streamlined trio of chocolate delights was comprised of a gentle and rich cocoa gelato resting on a platform of silken chocolate flan and a dense, hazelnut cake dipped in a bittersweet chocolate cloak.

The final scoop of my spoon was into Chef Iocco’s signature vanilla bread pudding. A simple dessert with complex flavors, this baked beauty was soft on the inside and toasty on the outside, compliments of removing the brioche’s crusts. A drizzle of vanilla caramel and garnish of minted strawberries topped off both the bread pudding and my belly’s ability to indulge any further.

Today’s Spiga is definitely off the beaten path in Needham, but with a menu as varied and interesting as Chef Iocco’s, choosing the road less traveled is the tastiest decision you’ll ever make.

Spiga Trattoria Italiana
18 Highland Cir
Needham, MA 02494

Spiga on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Free Iced Coffee at Au Bon Pain on June 3!

Welcome to Finance Foodie’s new series: Fiscally Fun Freebies. Working in the finance field has taught me a lot about hardwork, the value of a dollar, and the importance of saving for a rainy day. This series will bring you the scoop on all the free food and product offerings from around the nation – because who doesn’t love a truly free lunch!?!

Nothing cures the afternoon slump better than a ice cold cup of caffeine...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beautiful Sounds at Share the Beat 2009 Boston

By: Finance Foodie

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the star studded Share the Beat fundraiser featuring legendary Boston Pops conductor John Williams, Nashville piano man Phil Vassar, award winning director James Redford, and hunky plumber James Denton. Share the Beat is a longstanding event held to benefit the American Society of Transplantation (AST), an organization dedicated to supporting transplant research and the training of transplant professionals and the Redford AnimAction Project: It's a Rap, an educational outreach program geared toward youth and dedicated to raising organ transplant awareness.

First up was an introduction by the night’s emcee James Denton (aka Mike the hottie plumber from Desperate Housewives), who has been a long time supporter of organ transplant research.

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