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Food

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waltham Named One of the Top Food Towns in the Country

We head over to nearby Waltham all the time for the authentic Mexican fare at Amuleto, the best pastrami in town at Moody’s Provisions, and to dine at the award-winning Italian restaurant, La Campania. So it came as no surprise that Waltham made the cut in RewardExpert’s ranking of 2017’s Best American Foodie Towns. RewardExpert analyzed 100 cities and towns with populations less than 100,000 and evaluated them on nine key metrics. I also like their other picks such as Portland, Maine, Traverse City, Michigan, and Healdsburg, California. Have a look. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/13/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Adventures in New Brunswick Week—A Bounty of Seafood Leads to Exceptional Dining

I won’t soon forget dining on halibut so tender and sweet at Alma's Parkland Village Inn that, of course, it was just caught that day by the father of the girl working the front desk. It was remarkable to look out over the Bay of Fundy at low tide and see that the entirety of the water from our 2-hour paddle that afternoon was gone, replaced by the ocean floor that reached over a kilometer long. New Brunswick is blessed with some of the finest restaurants in the country thanks to the bevy of seafood caught nearby. St. Andrews Rossmount Inn was once again at the top of its game, serving oysters on the half shell, poached lobster, and halibut ceviche, all more sublime than the last. We ended the trip at another one of my favorite restaurant in the Maritimes, East Coast Bistro in Saint John. Chef Kim was hosting one of her signature cocktail and themed dinners, this time focused on the cuisine of Japan. I was the lucky recipient of just-caught yellowfin tuna, encrusted with black sesame seeds on a bed of soba noodles, and paired with tender asparagus and snap peas. It could easily rival any dish in my hometown of Boston. Other highlights included the wonderful smoked salmon jerky at Oven Head Salmon Smokers and the fish and chips nearby at Ossie’s Lunch in Bethel, the mussels at Saint John Ale House, the Rye IPA on tap and pickled eggs (apparently good for hangovers) at Holy Whale Brewery in Alma, and the tasty strawberry rhubarb cobbler at Calactus in Moncton. It’s the adventure that keeps me coming back to New Brunswick, but once here, it’s hard not to rave about the freshly caught seafood and the talented chefs creating memorable meals. 

I want to thank Heather MacDonald-Bossé of Tourism New Brunswick for designing another fantastic itinerary to the province. I also want to wish all my friends in Canada a Happy 150th birthday! Enjoy the festivities. To my American readers, have a Happy 4th and keep active. I’ll be back on July 6th. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/30/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Boston Pizza Festival Headed to City Hall Plaza July 8th and 9th

If you’re headed to Boston for the 4th of July to see the fireworks and listen to Hamilton alum Leslie Odom sing with the Boston Pops, you might want to stick around town. On July 8th and 9th from noon to 10 pm, the inaugural Boston Pizza Festival will be held at City Hall Plaza. 30 handcrafted pizza ovens will spread across the Plaza as Boston’s best pizza makers, including Regina, Antico Forno, Mast, and Oath, will give you a taste of their wares. Also expect live music, beer, wine, and pizza demos. The Mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, will be here along with Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh to kick off the festivities. Tickets are priced at $15 and kids under 5 are free. Limited-availability VIP tickets ($50) include 1-hour early admission (11am), access to the VIP lounge with private bar, free sample for the first hour, and a VIP gift bag. Tickets can be purchased here

 
In order to dine on as much pizza as I'd like, I'm going to keep active next week biking, hiking, and sea kayaking along the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick. Please follow along! 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/23/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Dining in DC

We had two memorable meals in Washington at Jose Andres restaurants, Zaytinya and Jaleo, both near the National Portrait Gallery. We enjoyed Zaytinya last time in DC and it was just as good on this visit. The restaurant features small plate Mediterranean fare like hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, fresh seafood, and a charred brussel sprouts dish that was wiped clean by our foursome in record time. Jaleo is more standard Spanish tapa fare like chorizo, paella, a tasty ham and cheese sandwich, and perfectly rendered shrimp. On our last night, after the graduation ceremony, we headed to the waterfront in Georgetown for another sublime meal at Farmers Fishers Bakers Restaurant. The eclectic menu features everything from crab dib and mussels served in eight different sauces to sashimi-style tuna, ahi poke salads, and steak frites. Washed down with microbrews and shots of smooth Tequila to celebrate, it was the perfect way to top off the graduation celebration with Ami.
 
Another week, another niece graduating from college! This coming Sunday we’ll be celebrating with Sarah Schechter at Wesleyan University. A talented artist with an insatiable appetite for art history (much to the delight of my art historian wife), Sarah has a future as colorful as her canvases. She’s already had one exhibition in Brooklyn and we look forward to seeing many more shows. Also, ActiveTravels travel consultant, Amy Perry Basseches, has a son, Jake, graduating from Wesleyan on the same day. So big kudos to Jake, especially after completing his 100-page senior honors thesis. You deserve that trip to South America! 
 
After the graduation, we’re headed with my brother to Brooklyn Sunday night to see an artist we love in this family, the British DJ, Leon Vynehall. Then we’re spending two days in the city to see the Chihuly exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden. I’ll be back next Thursday. Thanks for being patient with my sporadic scheduling! 
 
Photo by Melanie Jermanok 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/26/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, March 10, 2017

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Dripping Sap

Maria von Trapp, the woman who inspired The Sound of Music, is no longer with us, but Trapp Family Lodge continues to flourish thanks to one of the finest cross-country networks in the northeast, comfy lodging perched on a hillside in Stowe, Vermont, the launch of their new beer hall and microbrewery, and a restaurant that serves a tasty wiener schnitzel. Mid to late March, during the heart of the maple sugaring season, is my favorite time of year to visit Trapps. When it comes to sugaring, the family does it the old fashion way, picking up the sap in buckets with a horse-drawn sleigh and delivering it to the sugarhouse to boil off the water and create Vermont’s “liquid gold.” The 1200 taps produce 300 gallons of syrup annually and the season lasts from mid-March until mid-April. Join in on the fun each Saturday, when you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, or grab that horse-drawn sleigh to the sugarhouse for a traditional Sugar-on-Snow party. The hot syrup is tossed on the white snow to create a chewy maple taffy, served with donuts and dill pickles. If you’re in the area tomorrow, March 11, Trapp Family Lodge will be offering a Maple Sugar Snowshoe Tour from 10:30 to 12 pm. Enjoy a 1.5-mile snowshoe through the woods, then learn about the process of making maple syrup at their sugarhouse.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/10/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, February 13, 2017

Florence, The City of Chocolate

One of Florence’s best-kept secrets is taking place right now. The annual Fiera Del Cioccolato will be lining Piazza Santa Maria Novella in the Renaissance city from February 10-19. Vendors offer amazing chocolate masterpieces that are unique to the region and allow you to stock up just in time for Valentine’s Day. Offerings range from handmade crepes, waffles, chocolates, cookies, and much more. Along with vendors, the chocolate festival offers cooking shows and parties that allow visitors to truly engage with their love of all things chocolate. The festival’s close proximity to some of Florence’s well-known sights such as the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio make this a perfect place to relax as you take in the best the city has to offer.  
 
Guest Post by Mack Kingman 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/13/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Cape Town’s Rise to Culinary Prominence

It wasn’t so long ago that the signature dinner in Cape Town was a traditional braai, a barbecue featuring copious amounts of meat like boerewors sausages. If that didn’t satiate your carnivorous cravings, you could always stop at the local butcher for a bag of biltong, the popular South African snack of air-dried beef jerky. Then the Apartheid regime ended and the city started to embrace its diversity of cultures, especially when it came to expanding the palate at your nightly meal. The fusion of Dutch, French, Malaysian, Indian, and African cooking has melded to create an exciting new cuisine. 

The latest batch of talented chefs take full advantage of Cape Town’s melting pot and its envied locale, straddling the Atlantic and Indian Oceans as the largest city on the southernmost point of the continent. Everywhere you look is water and thankfully the fresh bounty of the sea now appears on the menu alongside the many types of meat, all washed down with South Africa’s world-class pinotage and sauvignon blanc vintages. You don’t have to step far from your hotel room to find a restaurant that scintillates the taste buds. Fine dining is sprouting up in all parts of the city like the blooming of king proteas, the national flower, at the city’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. So pick a neighborhood, any neighborhood. 

My entire story on the Cape Town dining scene can be found in the February/March 2017 issue of Virtuoso Traveler

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/02/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Arizona Week—Our Fair Share of Excellent Mexican Food

We didn’t skimp on Mexican fare during out time in Arizona. Our first guacamole was made with tender chunks of ribeye at the Mexican-Asian influenced SumoMaya in Scottsdale. The rock shrimp tempura roll and ahi tuna tostada were also big hits at our table. Elote Café in Sedona was our favorite meal of the trip. We arrived when the restaurant opened at 5 pm and already there was a line out the door. A sublime carne asada, topped with a square of blue cheese and served with black beans and rice, was washed down with a perfectly concocted margarita on the rocks. Adding to our bliss was a riveting sunset that enlightened the red rock canyons outside the window. Swanky Café Poca Cosa in Tucson served the finest chicken mole of the trip. We ended the trip at supposedly the oldest Mexican restaurant in America, El Charro Café, which originally opened in Tucson in 1922. We sampled their signature dish, the carne seca. Dried in the Sonoran Desert sun, angus beef is shredded and grilled with green chile, tomatoes, and onions. I’ll be thinking about that hot spicy flavor all winter long in Boston. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/27/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Top 5 Dream Days in 2016, Schooner Mary Day’s Maine Lobster Bake

Spending three days with my daughter in August before she left for her first semester of college is a gift I don’t take for granted. A lobster bake on a deserted Maine island after a day of sailing aboard a historic Maine windjammer is just the icing on the cake. Captain Barry of the Schooner Mary Day anchored near a quiet beach with no other boats in sight and proceeded to row us over to shore. The crew built a fire, and then placed two massive pots brimming over with lobsters, corn on the cob, potatoes, onions, and a healthy top layer of seaweed. When ready, Captain Barry threw off the layer of seaweed and grabbed his tongs to place all the lobsters and fixins in a circular design. We each grabbed our lobster and found a spot on the beach to dine. 

The lobster opened easily without the need for crackers, as large pieces of tender claw meat was soon dipped into the butter, washed down with a nice, dry sauvignon blanc. Sublime. After polishing off the tail and leaving a puddle of water on my shirt and bathing suit, I could start all over again. See, the best part of a lobster bake aboard a Maine windjammer is that you can eat as many lobsters as you want. Captain Barry tells me that his record is a college student who devoured 13 lobsters in one sitting. Content with my big 2-pounder, I was happy to make the first of several s’mores over the hot wood. Quite sated, four of us decided to swim back to the schooner instead of rowing. A wise decision. The water was clean, cool, refreshing. The dinner far more memorable than all those James Beard-award winning restaurants I dined at last year.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/05/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, December 16, 2016

Stocking Stuffer No. 5: A Night at Mystic’s Spicer Mansion

One foot into inside the Rose Salon of the Spicer Mansion and I was smitten. The fresco ceiling, inlaid wood floors, moldings, and original windows had all been lovingly restored to its 1853 origin. But it wasn’t until dinner that evening that I realized why this new 8-room inn perched on a hill overlooking Mystic had achieved Relais & Chateaux status. The meal started with canapés and cocktails in the Rose Salon, before moving past the small kitchen to the intimate dining room for our six-course feast. An East Beach Blonde Oyster spiced with cider and green chile whet my appetite for more to come. Next up was a beautifully presented Nantucket bay scallop ceviche with slices of radishes and sweet potato in a small colorful bowl. The third dish was a stunner, native cod doused in a porcini mushroom and lobster broth and topped with genuine truffles. Then came a tender Vermont quail under a bed of pistachios, pomegranate, and barley, perfectly paired with the Antica Terra “Ceras” pinot noir from Willamette Valley. Dessert was a cinnamon-spiced apple with a dab of maple cream, paired again brilliantly with the sherry-like Marco de Bartoli Superiore Oro from Sicily. Last but not least was a wooden jewel box filled with macarons and homemade goodies created by the staff. 

Remember the name of the chef, Jennifer Backman, because she’s on her way to winning many accolades. Indeed, I would have to say this was my favorite meal of the year and that includes stops at Shaya in New Orleans, the best new restaurant in America according to the James Beard Awards, and Pot Luck Club in Cape Town, often mentioned as the top restaurant on the African continent. Chef Jen's signed menu is now pinned to the wall of my office, next to another memorable dinner, “Paris 1906” at Grant Achatz’s Next in Chicago. The best part of the meal is that we could simply walk upstairs to our room. Want to impress your loved one this Holiday Season? Make the splurge and book a room and dinner at the Spicer Mansion. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/16/16 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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