About Traveling Foodie

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I am a clinical veterinarian in New England.  I absolutely love to travel and experience new cultures, mainly through cuisine. My reviews cover a multitude of different food & cocktail related events from food trucks to philanthropic food-related events and festivals. I like to think of myself as: Veterinarian by day Foodie by night! This blog was launched October 2011. I'm a huge advocate of the nose-to-tail movement and an avid enthusiast of prohibition era and craft cocktails! Sit back and enjoy...I hope this blog encourages you to try something new like book a ticket, pack a bag, and eat to your heart's desire in a new place! How I'd describe myself in a few words/phrases: Food+Travel Blogger, Freelance Food Writer (Past regular contributor on The Bay State Banner newspaper's blog Turn It Up Boston dot com), Jersey Girl (born and raised), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc Woman, Veterinarian, Surgery Lover,Travel Addict, Devoted Gourmand, Proud 2 time Tuskegee University Graduate, Social Butterfly, Girly Dress Hoarder, Stiletto Addict, Classic Cocktail Enthusiast "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO ― Bill McKenna

Friday, August 1, 2014

Once Upon a Dinner @ Kitchen, South End, Boston, MA

"Once Upon a..." is a new series created to feature my forgotten meal shares.  I will write about meals that I have neglected to blog about whether good, bad, or indifferent.  Hope you enjoy some of my long lost culinary memories, whether I did or not!

For those of you who follow this food+cocktail+travel blog, you are most familiar with my ravings about the fantastic foods and drinks I've enjoyed the most.  Most of you may not be aware that I have literally not owned a pot or pan in well over a year and I'm an avid kitchen dodger.  Even when my kitchen was fully stocked with tools, I just did not have much interest in cooking regularly.  I do get inspired at times to whip up simple things like this, or this, or even this, featured on the "Home Cooking: The Rare Moments" section of this blog.

I write all of this to express that I have almost never written an entirely negative review of a restaurant, especially one that I've enjoyed immensely in the past and one that is owned by the same chef as an all time favorite place of mine (Marliave) where I always enjoy phenomenal dishes.
I dined at Kitchen not too long after its opening in 2012.  You can find that dinner review, here.

On the slushy February evening in question, I met up with a friend with whom I was eager to share a meal because we consider ourselves well-traveled in the world of culinary arts and in the actual world- though he definitely trumps me on a number of countries!  I decided, after offering the then-relatively new Alden&Harlow (reviewed, here), yet, we decided to meet up at Kitchen and we were both sorely disappointed with our meals.  Jimmy, an old friend and the bartender there at the time was my only saving grace for the evening.  
After my arrival, I spoke to Chef Scott Herritt, which I usually do if I see him at one of his establishments (including Grotto and Marliave).  You can perform this, universally polite gesture a million times and only receive a semi-snarky, shallow, who-the-hell-are-you "hey" or barely any response at all.  It's silly, a bit ridiculous and almost humorous.  
He was finishing up at the pass and clearly about to make his way out of the door well before we ordered out meals.  Now, I've not experienced or had any hint that once he's gone, the quality of the food would decline.  This has not been my experience at Marliave for sure.  
I can only chock up our experience to that fact that there was no secondary check of food quality before it left the kitchen on this particular evening, or the remaining staff was disinterested in serving up their best.  Either way, it was simply unacceptable.  There was no one person to express our complaints to at the time, so we simply focused on enjoying what was salvageable from the plates in front of us, but more focused on the glasses before us as we explored a few things with Jimmy. 

This cocktail was featured on the Tipples of the Month Series Jan/Feb 2014

One dish that stood out as equally inadequate for the both of us was the duck breast.  A soggy excuse for a lovely piece of poultry, its fat lacked rendering and the texture of its skin was insulting at best.  The lackluster, watery mash serving as its base did very little to revive this flimsy, rubbery corpse and the Brussels sprouts received very little attention.

The saddest duck breasts in Boston.

The miniscule roasted marrow bone, served with duck liver and anchovy pate and toast points, somewhat elevated the experience with its complex flavors and textures. The fattiness that makes bone marrow so intriguing and addictive -  the smoothness in texture, richness, and salinity of the pate, were both mellowed by the crispy toast triangle.

On this roller coaster of emotion we called dinner, the "Under glass", a dish from circa 1903 made of wild mushroom over toasts and topped with housemade ricotta was confusing and all around deflating. I could not figure out why the blandest ingredients were proposed to one another.  The ricotta would have benefited from an uplifting ingredient, perhaps with one featuring some hint of seasoning.  The wild mushrooms were lame in their presentation and flavor...a bit of acid or salt would have made all the difference.  
Perhaps its previous incarnation, written about by Boston Globe's food writer Devra First was more palatable - wild mushrooms served with cheddar and a side of oxtail.  Read it here.

Wild mushroom and housemade ricotta over griddled brioche toast under a belljar.

Sans glass

The sparse bacon-wrapped scallops were plump and sweet, but again, its accompaniment were DOA.

There are still a number of dishes I'd like to try at Kitchen, especially brunch.  I'm not giving up just yet.  
Again, you can read my first review, here.
Have you had a meal at Kitchen?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

4th of July Week 2014 @ Hingham Beach house with the Girls

Beach house
4th of July Week with my Girlfriends
Hingham, MA

Our sunset view from one of the balconies.

Because I love them dearly, I decided to cook for my girlfriends on our first evening in the beach house during the week of 4th of July 2014.  I modified a recipe for summer seafood stew that I heard about on NPR just days before.

Once we were over the shock and awe of the beautiful, all white interior (reads intimidating) home on the water that one of my lovely clients loaned me for the week, we hit Trader Joe's and Ralph's Wine & Spirits Shop to prepare for the week of eating, imbibing, and enjoying each others' company to the max!

After a bite at Wahlburgers Hingham
Who can resist a man in a uniform???  Not I!

I purchased all the seafood (mahi, jumbo shrimp, scallops, and steamers), veg (heirloom potatoes, tomatoes, corn, shallots, garlic, summer squash, and asparagus), chicken sausage, and herbs (dill and basil) from Trader Joe's.  The white wine for the base (along with veggie broth) I purchased from Ralph's.  The shopkeeper helped me pick a pretty nice Pinot Grigio for my stew.

My Summer Seafood Stew


Shallots and purple potato

For the days leading up to 4th of July, we ate and drank extremely well!

Everyone else in the house took turns with breakfasts and grilled dinners.  We laughed and bonded over delicious food and the sound of high tide.  We sunbathed in peace and went out on the water on a neighbor's boat.  It couldn't have been a better week to relax and enjoy your girlfriends!

Here are a few shots of the week:

We focused a lot on breakfast, snacks, booze, and sun!

Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coffee was quite amazing.  I am a bitter-palated girl all the way and eventually drank mine without adding water to the concentrate...just ice and soy creamer!

So, agave syrup turns into candy in iced coffee...this should not be a surprise, but it was pretty

Time in the sun and on the water in a neighbor's boat was priceless!

Bulleit bourbon...it doesn't get more "Merica that that!

My version of "Lunch atop a Skyscraper"- the iconic photo of ironworkers lunching on a steel beam of the unfinished RCA building (now the GE tower) at Rockefeller Center, NY, NY.  Mine is the 'staycation version'.
 The Original

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

Some of us were too adventurous with combining land and sea...I'd make a fab "paparazzi in a bush"
More yummy pics...Grilling on the 4th...Rain? What rain?  Let's just roll out the awning on the lower balcony...

Michelle's prep for the pasta salad,
Summer squash with coarse black pepper and smoked Spanish paprika

Final product:  grilled squash "steaks"

Imagine whiskey-soaked grilled peaches!  Never got around to placing them on the grill, but it will go down one of these days!

Finished product: bbq chicken marinated overnight, pasta salad with tuna and summer veggies, grilled salmon, grilled summer squash
Great times with great friends!  Can't wait to do it again!

Monday, July 21, 2014

El Oriental de Cuba, Jamaica Plain, MA

El Oriental de Cuba has been a staple Latin restaurant in Jamaica Plain near Hyde Square for a number of years. Restaurateur, Nobel Garcia moved his family to Jamaica Plain in 1955.  The space is cozy but vibrant in color, music, energy, and fragrance from the open kitchen. There's a palpable family and community vibe with a diverse circle of patrons including the neighborhoods deeply rooted Hispanic residents.

The food here is farm and sea fresh presenting familiar Latin flavors cumin, garlic, pepper, and flecks of cilantro and abundant tomato-based sauces.  
The menu boasts classic Cuban dishes like ropa vieja and the Cuban sandwich, culturally-shared dishes such as pernil asado, and Puerto Rican dishes like mofongo.

Mofongo (Mashed, unripened plaintain with pork rinds.  I've also had it with chicken and shrimp substituted for pork)

With typical pork and beef heavy dishes, on this particular night we sampled a couple of seafood dishes and the must have ropa vieja.

Loved their mixed ceviche and the fact that it included mussels, which was a new experience for me as an interesting component.

Mixed ceviche

A few Side dishes:Tostones (twice-fried plantain), crisp plaintain strips,  red beans and rice

Cuban pork tamale
Anyone who knows me personally or reads this blog knows how excited I am when my protein comes with it's head and body intact!  There's no flavor or level of moisture that can be added post cooking to fish, poultry or even pork for that matter, than when cooked intact.  Check out my previous heads-on raves at Suya Joint (Nigerian Restaurant) , a day in Chinatown Boston on a Foodie Tour , and of course prawns should never lose their heads and if you stuff them with delicious leek and liver mousse, like Chef Carey Dobies at Savvor, they're magic!

I've tried the whole snapper fried with tostones, arroz congri (Cuban rice & black beans) and mofongo as take out prior to ever eating there and was happy there are no corners cut when not dining in the restaurant.  

Whole fried red snapper with arroz congri, mofongo, and tostones

You can also order it with garlic sauce as below or coconut.
The meat is so tender, juicy, and abundant, it seems you can eat from the same dish for days!

The ropa vieja (a succulent slow-cooked shredded beef dish) was fantastic.  Its balanced flavors of onion, pepper, tomato, and garlic was made all the more great by the fall apart strips of beef and tender veg.  Even still, my favorite ropa vieja was in Vero Beach, Florida at The Wave.

Check out El Oriental de Cuba on your next visit to JP!

Sunday, June 22, 2014