Friday Faves – A Boston Food Diary

Well it’s Friday again! Here comes the weekend. But first, another one of my Friday Favs. I can’t remember when I first met Fiona of A Boston Food Diary. It was definitely at a Boston blogger event. Then, after we got to talking, I found out that she lives literally three blocks from me. How awesome is that? I love hearing about upcoming Boston restaurant events and reviews from Fiona as well as hanging out, trying new things (like Tibetan food and spin class!), and even running into her while Hubby and I are out and about! If you haven’t seen her blog yet, definitely check it out.

Food has always been my passion. I remember, as a small child, I would spend hours planning the restaurant I would some day own. I had everything picked out- the floors, the drapery, the china, the silver…of course I imagined myself to be executive chef, owner and front of the house manager as well. I had big dreams as a kid. Making it worse, one Christmas my parents surprised me with a make believe restaurant game. The kit included menu mock ups, order forms, chefs hats, etc- everything you would need to set up a restaurant in the comfort of your own home as a 6 year old child. My poor family, and countless stuffed animals I’m sure, dealt with make believe dinner after dinner of me taking their orders and then running off somewhere only to bring back plates full of air. Ahhhh childhood. As time moved on, I moved into different career paths, but my heart has always been in the food scene, both in cooking and in dining out. Of course after “owning” my own restaurant as a child, I now have tons of opinions on the real ones of today. Three years ago I started A Boston Food Diary as an outlet of my opinions (because they are awesome) and as a place for me to document my own culinary adventures.

When Jen asked me to write a post for Beantown Baker, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to concentrate on for her readers. After much deliberation, I thought I’d introduce you to the Boston restaurant scene, at least from my point of view.

Top Five Boston Restaurants:

Coppa, South End, Boston: Coppa opened a bit over a year ago by chefs Jamie Bissonette and Ken Oringer. It specializes in Italian small plates, or Tapas, but each done with finesse and skill. I find that often when you say “Italian”, it conjures images of chicken Parmesan, spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread and the like, however Coppa debunks these ideas and serves inventive dishes, either twisting the classics, or showcasing the side of Italian cuisine too often forgotten. The beauty here is that so much of their menu is made in house, meaning fresh pasta, delicious cured meats, and ultimately the best flavors possible. Dishes executed to perfection at Coppa- Arancini (best in Boston), Duck Proscuitto (cured in house), Cavatelli di Pollo, and the Bistecca ai Ferri. Also of note, Coda di Maiale, pigs tail. ( or )

Villa Mexico, Beacon Hill, Boston: Villa Mexico is the true definition of a “hidden gem”. It is located inside Grampy’s gas station market, a tiny little building which has dedicated one whole wall to the efforts of Julietta King. King moved to Massachusetts in 1999 from Mexico and shortly thereafter began her life in the culinary world to serve her own cravings. The result is quite possibly the best Mexican food in a 100 mile radius being made to order, as half the city walks right on by. King makes, by far, the best salsa in the city- charred ingredients contribute to the smoky flavor and color. Her burritos are killer, and the tacos incredible. Beyond her food though, King is a friend to all who visit her, which makes it a “must stop” whenever I’m in that area! ( or )

James Hook Lobster Co., Financial District, Boston: One of the best parts about living in Boston is living on the ocean. The ocean, of course, means delicious seafood (am I the only one who attributes everything to food?), and the king of all- lobster!!! One of my favorite places to go for a fresh, plentiful dose of lobster is the James Hook Lobster Co. Lobster Roll. It is chock full of fresh meat, very lightly dressed and stuffed into a fresh hot dog roll- just the way it should be! The best part: walking along the beautiful Harbor Walk enjoying the roll on a hot summer day. Fun “did you know”: Lobster was once served to Boston prisoners with such regularity that they refused to eat it anymore. ( or )

75 Chestnut, Beacon Hill, Boston: One of the most popular pop culture references for Boston is the 1980’s sitcom Cheers. Tourists flock to the site pictured in the opening credits, and we all pine for a spot where “everybody knows your name”. What I’ve found though is that a spot featuring that homey atmosphere, a friendly bartender, AND delicious food lies right around the corner from the Cheers landmark- it lies in the heart of Beacon Hill, and is called 75 Chestnut. Each time I sit inside its warm and inviting dining room, or belly up to it’s bar with a staff who remembers me from perhaps too many visits, I immediately feel at home. Dipping my fork into a bowl of their delicious mussels, slicing my way through a tender and juicy pork chop or even spearing a piece of Boston Bibb Lettuce in a salad, I feel comfort with every bite. They also, make some mean seasonal cocktails! ( or )

No. 9 Park, Beacon Hill, Boston: I have a not so secret chef crush on Barbara Lynch. I sit in adoration of her style, her imagination, and her dedication to local ingredients. Honestly I should combine the rest of her empire- B&G Oyster, The Butcher Shop, Sportello, Drink and of course the newest addition- Menton – into the list. Each restaurant takes unique spins on classic dishes and each is executed to perfection. Flavors and texture combine in perfect harmony, ingredients showcased at the height of their season- each element to every dish is thought of. Barbara Lynch’s restaurants are absolutely pricey, but for a splurge, I feel that they are worth the expense. ( or )

So there you have it- my round up of some favorite local restaurants. The best part about the Boston scene though? Every day it seems a new spot opens, and new favorites are born. Boston chefs are committed to high quality ingredients, playful combinations, and gorgeous presentation. Get out and explore- you wont be disappointed!

Be sure to check out all of my favorite bloggers as they are featured on Friday Favs!

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17 Responses to “Friday Faves – The Small Boston Kitchen makes Cranberry Risotto Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms”

  1. #
    Lauren — January 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I’m not a huge mushroom fan, but the cranberry risotto sounds absolutely fantastic! Thanks for the idea, Katie :).

  2. #
    Fun and Fearless in Beantown — January 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    What a great recipe Katie!

  3. #
    Daisy — January 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I am in awe of your description of mushrooms. that recipe is awesome and so is the idea to cook them in butter and red wine! if non mushroom lovers are not converted after this post, there is no help for them!!

  4. #
    Erica — January 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. #
    Jennifer — January 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I am a huge mushroom lover. This recipe sounds wonderful!

  6. #
    In and Around Town — January 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I am a HUGE fan of mushrooms, I put them in everything! This will probably be dinner tonight!

  7. #
    Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes — January 7, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I’m definitely with you in the first camp, though I will tell you – I’ve converted the boyfriend into a semi-mushroom lover, so maybe there is a person who lies a bit in between after all! This looks heavenly.

  8. #
    Smitten Sugar — January 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I am definitely not a mushroom lover but this recipe looks amazing!

  9. #
    Megan — January 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Katie can make these for me anytime! Great recipe and great guest post!

  10. #
    Josie — January 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    OMG this combines so many of my favorite things into one dish! I’ve already added it to next week’s menu. Thanks so much for introducing me to a fun new blog!

  11. #
    Melissa — January 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I’m on the verge of being a mushroom lover – when raw the texture creeps me out but I’ve discovered I love the flavor and like them when cooked. I would love to eat this dish!

  12. #
    kitchenmisfit — January 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    It is bad that I thought the sneak peak picture looked like mashed potatoes? That can only mean the risotto must be extra creamy!

  13. #
    kitchenmisfit — January 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    It is bad that I thought the sneak peak picture looked like mashed potatoes? I think that just means this risotto must be extra creamy!

  14. #
    The Small Boston Kitchen — January 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks Jen for including me in your Friday Faves and for saying such nice things about my writing! This dish was fun to make and was really good on a cold winter night. Thanks all for the comments! Even those from the mushroom haters 🙂

  15. #
    Maris (In Good Taste) — January 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Aren’t portobello mushrooms the best? So many different things you can do with them!

  16. #
    John at BOS — January 9, 2011 at 2:14 am

    What more Can I say, a combination of my favorite ingredients… Mushroom and risotto! It’s nice to see a lot of mushroom recipe’s this past few days.

  17. #
    Kerstin — January 10, 2011 at 5:03 am

    What a creative recipe, I love it! Definitely the perfect way to kick off your cool Friday Favs feature 🙂

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