Monday, August 31, 2020
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Second Course: Vichyssoise- chilled potato-leek soup, dill oil, fried garlic, smoked bay scallops
Main Course: Beef Bourguignon- Slow braised beef, glazed baby vegetables, bacon lardons
Side: Pommes Gratin- gruyere, yukon gold, crispy onions
Dessert: Chocolate Mousse Stuffed Crepes- strawberry, crème fraîche, almond
Optional Wine Pairing for 2:
Chardonnay Blend nv Old Westminster Winery "Farm Fizz" Maryland (12oz can)
Pinot Noir Blend nv West + Wilder Rosé California (250mL can)
Syrah Blend '18 Lubanzi Wines Coastal Region, South Africa (12oz can)
Vin Doux Naturel ’09 Gayral & Gallet Maury “Le Passage” Roussillon, France
For more information and to place orders, please call (617)-615-6195
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
On the nose, this Rye has that spicy edge you seek if you love Rye, accompanied by more subtle elements of herbs and toasted notes. On the palate, the spicy aspect is bold, with plenty of peppery notes as well as baking spices. There is some complexity to its flavors though, with intriguing herbal notes, berry flavors, and a hint of chocolate. Each sip seems to bring something new, though subtle, to your palate. It has a bit of heat to it, a fairly lengthy finish, and some bitter notes on the finish.
It's definitely a young whiskey, and it could probably benefit from more aging. As such, I think it's best used in cocktails, rather than sipped on its own, and would make a fine Manhattan, one of my favorite Rye Whiskey cocktails.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Last month, I reviewed Việt Citron, a new Vietnamese restaurant in Burlington. I previously stated, "Overall, it's an impressive restaurant with very fresh and delicious Vietnamese food, and I highly recommend it." Since that time, I've been dining there regularly, generally at least once a week, and sometimes more. During that time, I've tasted some of their seasonal specialities, and ordered one of their Pound/Bulk Order products. So, I felt an update was warranted, especially considering this is a new restaurant, worthy of attention.
Monday, August 24, 2020
In recent months, I've seen a few chefs on social media allege that 85%-95% of chefs are basically "bad" employers. However, those chefs didn't provide any evidence to support their allegations, and, to the best of my knowledge, have failed to specifically identify any offenders. Without proof and specificity, their statements are essentially meaningless. Why won't they provide more information? Why be so vague yet derogatory to so many of their colleagues?
Is there an unwritten rule among chefs that you don't specifically call out each other?
Last week, a local chef, who eventually was identified on social media as Michael Scelfo, of Alden & Harlow, the Longfellow Bar, and Waypoint, was accused of years of bad behavior. However, specifics were scant, and despite the alleged length of this offensive behavior, none of the mainstream/traditional media has previously written about this matter. It's alleged that one such article was in the works, but that still means that years have passed without any such coverage. Why has the media failed to cover these long-term accusations for so many years? Or have they already investigated the matter and found the accusations to have no merit?
Much of the information on social media about this chef is still just insinuation and allegation. And the average consumer has probably never heard anything about this chef's alleged bad behavior. If the chef has actually engaged in this bad behavior, then why has the chef been allowed to get away with it for so long? Why hasn't anyone come forward with specific evidence against this chef? Again, it must be questioned whether there is any merit to the allegations.
I've also seen insinuations and vague allegations of bad behavior of other specific chefs, yet once again, there is a clear lack of proof offered to support any of it. Even when asked, those making the allegations generally fail to provide proof of their claims, despite their vehemence against the chef's alleged bad behavior to inform the public? Or were reports actually made to various authorities, but they lead to no action being taken?
If any of these allegations were true, evidence would likely exist yet why hasn't it seemingly been offered up? Do the victims fear retribution, such as being blacklisted in the industry? I suspect, especially now, that there would be a significant number of restaurants which would hire these individuals for taking such a courageous stand against an offending chef.
Why is the mainstream/traditional media not writing about these matters? Why are others chefs reluctant to specifically call out their offending colleagues? Shouldn't they want to help clean up their industry? Without such proof, these offending chefs can continue their bad behavior for years without consequence. Some even receive very positive press and accolades despite their bad behavior.
I don't know whether Scelfo is guilty or not of the accusations which have been made against him. I haven't seen sufficient proof to convince me either way. However, there is definitely a potential story there which the mainstream/traditional media appears to have ignored for years. And if they have investigated the matter, and found no merit, then maybe that should have been a story as well.
There are other chefs out there as well where vague accusations of wrongdoing have been made, yet no one is investigating and writing about them either. It seems that it is the rare local chef who actually is brought to task for his bad behavior, like Todd English, whose bad behavior has been written about in multiple publications. He is the exception though and other offenders escape public scrutiny.
Is there a fear of legal recourse if specific allegations and evidence are offered? That is certainly possible, but making unsubstantiated allegations could also possibly lead to legal action, such as a defamation action. And such a threat of potential legal action isn't stopping these unsubstantiated allegations from being made. However, the presentation of sufficient evidence about a chef's bad behavior could provide an excellent defense against legal action. The mainstream/traditional media generally have legal counsel which could assist in crafting articles about such bad behavior and avoid legal issues.
Are there unwritten rules in the restaurant industry which prevent chefs and other restaurant employees from providing proof of a chef's bad behavior? If so, maybe those rules need to vanish, so that the industry can become better. Every industry has bad apples and they need to be eliminated. Their offending behavior needs to be exposed and curtailed. Vague allegations and insinuations are insufficient to prevent bad behavior.
Who shall step forward and make a stand? Who shall take the lead and expose bad behavior, helping to make a better industry? Will the mainstream/traditional media delve into these issues? Or is this a matter which independent bloggers and other writers can or should address?
Bloggers definitely could write such articles, though I expect many would be wary of doing so, especially over legal concerns. Few bloggers have attorneys on call to defend them in case litigation is brought against them for such articles. And the financial cost of such a legal defense would be a strong deterrent. On a more practical side, these types of articles require lengthy research, including the interviewing of multiple witnesses, and many bloggers don't have sufficient free time to dedicate to such matters. Some bloggers might also fear retribution from other chefs.
In the end, will anyone write about the accusations against these chefs, or will people continue to whisper in the shadows, accomplishing nothing, allowing bad behavior to thrive?
Friday, August 21, 2020
As I mentioned previously, I have a new writing gig, contributing to Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England. I've previously written seven articles for Sampan, including:
My newest article, Mary Yick: A Chinatown Pioneer Who Fought Discrimination, is now available in the new issue of Sampan. From restaurant owner to blackjack dealer, Mary Yick, like Ruby Foo and Anita Chue, was another pioneering women in the Chinatown restaurant industry, owning the Tiki Hut restaurant on Tyler Street. Like the other two women, Mary Yick was very popular, especially with the theatrical industry, and was affectionately as "The Dragon Lady."
Check out my new article in the Sampan for more information on Mary Yick. I'm currently working on a new article for the next issue of Sampan, which will be published next month.
What is a "sampan?" The newspaper's site states, "A sampan is a popular river boat in traditional China. This small but useful vessel, by transporting cargo from large boats to the village ports, creates a channel of communication among villages." And like that type of boat, Sampan delivers news and information all across New England, and "acts a bridge between Asian American community organizations and individuals in the Greater Boston area."
Sampan, which was founded in 1972, is published by the nonprofit Asian American Civic Association, "The newspaper covers topics that are usually overlooked by the mainstream press, such as key immigration legislation, civil rights, housing, education, day-care services and union activities. These issues are crucial to the well-being of Asian immigrants, refugees, low-income families as well as individuals who are not proficient in the English language."
There is plenty of interest in Sampan which will appeal to all types of readers, from restaurant reviews to historical articles, from vital news stories to travel items. In these current days when racism and prejudice against Asians and their restaurants is high, it's more important than ever that accurate information about the Asian community is disseminated and promoted. We need to combat the irrational prejudices that some possess, and support our Asian communities just as we would support any other element of our overall community. We are all important aspects of a whole, and we need to stand together.
Thursday, August 20, 2020
1) Ball Square Fine Wines has opened its third location, Malden Center Fine Wines, at 220 Pleasant Street, part of the new construction in that area. The new shop sells beer, wine and spirits, and a significant portion of their inventory can be found on their website. Their website also states they have Free Weekly tastings, including Beer on Friday, 5pm-7pm, Wine on Friday 4:30pm-7:30pm, and Spirits on Saturday 4pm-6pm. I'm not sure how these tastings are conducted considering necessary safety precautions. I haven't visited the store yet but plan to do so soon. Ball Square is an excellent wine shop so I expect their new Malden location will be a worthy destination. I'll report back once I've checked it out.
Note, for those in the US, because Japan is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time (NYC time), the dates for the US will be Saturday, October 3, Friday & Saturday October 9 and 10, and Friday and Saturday October 16 and 17, from 8:00pm to 11:30pm Eastern Time. Zoom recordings will be made available to those that miss or cannot participate in a session.
The content of this intensive sake live online course will be identical to that of the Sake Professional Course held across the US and in Japan, with the exception of extensive sake tastings, and sake brewery visits. The goal of this course is that “no sake stone remains left unturned,” and Gauntner's motto is “exceed expectations for the course.” Every conceivable sake-related topic will be covered across the five three-hour sessions.
Each of the five three-and-a-half-hour sessions will include a 20-minute break in the middle, a thorough question and answer period, and a tasting exercise of one to three sake (to be procured by each student based on to-be-provided list) held at the end of the session. (Participation in the tasting session is optional!)
The course is recognized by the Sake Education Council, and those that complete it will be qualified to take an exam for Certified Sake Professional certification, which will be offered online on Saturday, October 24, via Classmate. Those that pass the exam will be receive a certificate, and be recognized on the Sake Education Council website as a Certified Sake Professional.
The tuition for the five-session course, including all materials and certification testing is US$350. Also, participants can apply a portion of this amount as a discount to the tuition of the live in-person Sake Professional Course at any time in the future.
Participation is limited and reservations can be made now to secure a seat; full payment will be requested by Friday, September 25th. For reservations or inquiries, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You download a document with the syllabus here. I've taken this course before and I give it my unqualified recommendation for anyone who wants to learn more about Sake. John Gauntner is an excellent instructor and he really covers a ton of material.
The Guest Chefs & their Charities include:
Tony Messina & Andres Carmona, Uni / Jimmy Fund
Justin Walker, Walkers Maine / York Food Pantry
Ilma Lopez, Chaval / Full Plates Full Potential
Daniel Bojorquez, La Brasa / Lovin’ Spoonfuls
David Vargas & Michael Famico, Vida Cantina / CASA-Community Advocates for All Date:
PEI MUSSELS ($12): Steamed mussels, white wine, garlic, parsley, thyme
FRIED CLAM ROLL ($18): Fried whole belly clams, grilled bun, lemon, house tartar sauce, fries
LOBSTER ROLL ($21): Maine lobster, mayo + lemon + herbs, bibb lettuce, grilled brioche roll, served with fries
FISH + CHIPS ($16): Beer battered haddock, coleslaw, lemon, house tartar sauce, served with fries
WHOLE BELLY PLATE ($19): Fried whole belly clams, cole slaw, lemon, house tartar sauce, served with fries
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Monday, August 17, 2020
The Pandemic has struck so many of us hard, from financially to emotionally, physically to psychologically. With so many of us sharing these problems, you would think that we would also respect each other, having a regard for what we are going through together. There certainly are people doing so, and they make the world a better place, and elevate our positivity. However, there's a number of people, and unfortunately its a significant number, who fail to show such regard, who act entitled and thus bring all of us down.
If you work anywhere a mask is required, such as a restaurant, grocery store, wine shop, and more, you have witnessed people either failing to wear a mask, or failing to wear it properly, such as having it below their nose. It's a state mandated rule, yet some want to ignore it, feeling it shouldn't apply to them. And if you dare say something to them, you might even be physically attacked. At the very least, they may argue with you, rather than follow the simple rule. What ignorance and entitlement!
There have been many other examples of this lack of respect during these last months as well. For example, some people make restaurant reservations but fail to show up, and don't call to cancel either. That's rude no matter when it occurs, but during this pandemic, when restaurants must limit the number of diners to conform to social distancing requirements, it's even worse. You are costing that restaurant potential income, at a time when they need every dollar. Where is your regard for that restaurant and their employees?
Another example is how some consumers handle a complaint with a restaurant or shop. First, some people complain about really nothing, simply because an employee is following the law or rules and the guest thinks they are entitled to special treatment, that they are not bound by the law and rules. They should simply follow the law or rule and keep their mouths shut. Second, those guests may also lie about their actual encounter, to make themselves look better and the employee look worse. Fortunately, video cameras can sometimes help show the truth. Other times, the employer has to try to discern the truth.
Third, these entitled guests might attempt to blackmail the restaurant or shop, claiming how they will get many other people to no longer patronize the place because of their alleged complaint. And this blackmail may be over a relatively minor issue! Fourth, sometimes the guest won't complaint to the restaurant or shop at all, and simply trash them on social media, without giving the place a chance to remedy the situation. There's a complete lack of respect, and clear indication of the sense of entitlement of that guest.
Unfortunately, some employers give into these guests, trying to appease them despite the fact the guests are wrong. Yes, guests are not always right. This appeasement only serves to validate the lack of respect and entitlement of these people, worsening the overall situation, and ensuring those people will continue to be terrible guests.
It costs nothing to show others respect and have a proper regard for the laws and rules of our society. The employees at these restaurants and shops didn't make those laws or rules. They have no control over them. So, show them the respect they deserve and just follow the rules. Everyone is having troubles during this time, and we need to be there for each other, rather than become antagonistic. We can get through this pandemic if we work together, with mutual respect.
Friday, August 14, 2020
Thursday, August 13, 2020
At The Painted Burro, youll find: Buffalo Cauliflower Taco, Chicken Tinga Taco, Short Rib Double Stack Taco, Swordfish Al Pastor Taco, Crispy “Baja Style” Fish Taco, Grilled Zucchini Taco, Pork Carnitas Taco, and Gulf Shrimp Taco. At the Burro Bar Brookline &
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
The Clam Box in Ipswich, as their fried clams are consistently delicious. In addition, The Clam Box has other excellent fried seafoods, from scallops to lobster. It remains very popular, and with good reason. During this pandemic, you should still consider it as a potential destination for some tasty seafood.