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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

New Trace and Trust Program Ensures the Quality of Fresh Seafood

The big news out of Boston last week was a Boston Globe report that discovered many seafood restaurants serving mislabeled fish. Pricey red snapper was replaced by far cheaper tilapia in many instances. White tuna was exchanged for a Central American fish called escolar that often causes stomach ailments. These restaurants were often duped by fraudulent wholesalers who made the bait and switch. Good news is that many of the recently opened seafood restaurants in town like Island Creek Oyster Bar and Legal Harborside either employ their own wholesale seafood business or go straight to the source, the fishermen, so they had no problems.

Even better, a new collaboration between fishermen and New England chefs has resulted in Trace and Trust. Fishermen tell chefs where they are going to fish and what they hope to catch. A photo of the catch will then be uploaded on the Trace and Trust website. When the catch is landed, it is assigned a unique ID number and QR code. The fish is then packed on ice and brought to each restaurant. Diners who order the fish receive a card with that same ID number and QR code. They can scan the QR code with their smart phone or enter the ID number on the Trace and Trust website to learn the story of where their fish was caught and by whom. James Beard-nominated chef, Richard Garcia, at 606 Congress, is already using this technique and diners love it. Boston has always taken its seafood seriously. By going straight to the fishermen, the latest round of seafood restaurants ensure that you're getting the finest quality fish.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/01/11 at 01:00 PM
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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Big New York Sandwich Book

I’ve always cherished a good sandwich, from the grilled extra sharp cheddar cheese sandwiches I used to make in my college dorm room at 2 am to a pastrami and rye at Katz’s Deli for lunch. Lately, however, the sandwich has moved out of the midday slot and arrived on dinner menus, a nod to a daring chef’s innovative prowess. New York food writers, Sara Reistad-Long and Jean Tang, have reined in this trend and created a muffaletta of a cookbook, The Big New York Sandwich Book. Culling recipes from the city’s top chefs, Reistad-Long and Tang present such tantalizing fare as a “tartiflette” grilled cheese sandwich created by the Big Cheese himself, Artisanal Fromagerie’s Terrance Brennan. Brennan uses my favorite French cheese, Reblochon, slices of apple-smoked bacon, Yukon gold potatoes, and country bread to design a sandwich that’s not too hard to make, but will blow away my family at dinner time. Chicken of the sea? Throw it back in the water, especially after trying Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s hot and crispy tuna sandwich, served with fresh tuna dipped in extra virgin olive oil on crustless white bread. Daniel Boulud chimes in with his version of a croque monsieur, complete with his recipe of béchamel sauce. My perfect picnic award goes to the Tuscan pear, cheese, and prosciutto panini given to us by Cesare Casella, proprietor of Salumeria Rosi on the Upper West Side. I have a feeling I’ll be devouring this tasty combo sometime this spring next to a bed of tulips.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 04/11/11 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, March 11, 2011

My Favorite Pizza Joint in America

Deep dish pizza is eaten with knife and fork, but contrary to what many folks think, it is not a thick crust pizza. Dough is patted high up the side of a deep dish pizza pan, with ingredients placed in reverse order to a regular pizza. Mozzarella cheese comes first, followed by additional toppings like sausage, pepperoni, or mushrooms, all doused with chunks of fresh plum tomato sauce.  In Chicago, Lou Malnati’s has perfected the art of pizza making. The crust has just enough butter to make it flaky but not soggy. The sausage is a dense layer of meat. The chunky tomatoes in the sauce are both sweet and zesty.  Lou got his start in the business working with his dad in Chicago’s first deep dish pizzeria in the 1940s, before opening his restaurant in a northern suburb, Lincolnwood, in 1971. Getting a table at Lou Malnati’s can try your patience, so follow the advice of the wise Fran Leavitt, my mother-in-law, who happens to be a native Lincolnwooder. Call in advance and ask how long a wait, putting your name down on the list. Then order your pizza and salads on the phone, so when you finally do show up, 10 minutes prior to your approximate wait time, your pizza will already be cooking in the oven.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/11/11 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Favorite Hamburger in America

Strike it up to nostalgia for my youth in upstate New York, but I’ll take a Jackburger at the Jumpin’ Jacks Drive-In in Scotia, New York, over any other burger in the country. Grilled on a large charcoal pit, the double patties are topped with melted cheese, cole slaw, and an option of grilled onions. The addiction is so strong that I drag my family here every summer from Boston, a 3-hour trek to down this mouthwatering stack of meat. Order the Jack with fries, onion rings, and a thick milk shake while waiting in line. When the food is ready, wander over to the picnic tables with views of the Mohawk River. The only problem is that I try to take my time eating the burger, but it’s gone within minutes. Then I get sad knowing that I no longer live in the tri-city area and have to wait another year to down my next Jackburger. Opening on March 31st for their 59th season, I’m already planning my upcoming visit!

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/10/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

My Favorite Hummus in Israel

All it takes is one dinner at Dallal in the Neve Tzedak section of Tel Aviv to understand the exceptional quality of food in Israel. Dine on grilled calamari, hot focaccia bread that’s used to scoop up the babaganoosh, and entrees of red snapper and osso bucco, all washed down with the country’s fabulous lemonade, spiced with fresh mint leaves. At Mehane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, merchants shout out their wares, selling freshly baked challah, chocolate rugelach, dates, figs, pomegranates, the sweet sticky Middle Eastern snack, halvah, nuts, and a bevy of colorful spices. Yet, if you want to taste the best hummus in the country, a creamy concoction of mashed chick peas scooped out with warm pita, then follow the taxi drivers to Abu Hassan in Tel Aviv’s old section of Jaffa. Plop yourself down on one of the plastic chairs and the dishes of hummus soon arrive, some topped with fool, a blend of fava beans. To spice it up, ask for the hot chile sauce. This is the place I dream about when forced to eat falafel with hummus in Boston.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/09/11 at 02:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

My Favorite Lobster-in-the-Rough Joint in Maine

Talk about lobster rolls in Maine and you enter into a territorial catfight where everyone seems to choose their local favorite. I happen to love the affordable rolls at Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport, topped with a full claw, the chockful of meat served in a bun at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, and sitting at the pier at Beal’s, just outside Acadia National Park. But if you ask those same foodies where to find the best lobster roll with a view, the majority of Mainers will point you to the Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth. Not far from where Winslow Homer set up shop on Prouts Neck, the picnic tables overlook that same boulder-strewn coastline Homer loved to paint. Order your food at the window of the rustic shack, wait for your number to be called, and grab a spot with vistas of Casco Bay, framed by two lighthouses. One of those lighthouses is the picturesque Portland Head Light, a favorite subject of artist Edward Hopper. For more information on the Lobster Shack, see the story I wrote for The Boston Globe.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/08/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, March 07, 2011

Sustainable Food at Craigie on Main

Last Wednesday, I was invited to a “Road Less Traveled” dinner at Craigie on Main, one of my favorite restaurants in the Boston area, just over the Charles River in Cambridge. Chef and owner Tony Maws was focusing on sustainability in food, using all parts of the animal so as not to make waste. While this is already being practiced around the globe, especially in countries that can’t afford to throw away precious meat, it’s only slowly gaining traction in America. We started with a tasty trio of crostini that included monkfish liver, lobster roe, and my personal favorite, the white cod milt, otherwise known as cod sperm. Maws, a James Beard-award finalist, could make a telephone book taste good. But as the night progressed, I found the texture of certain body parts to either be agreeable or disagreeable. The duck’s heart, placed on a skewer, was a tantalizing treat along with the pig’s head taco, where half a head was placed on a platter and you dug out the tender meat to roll into the soft tortillas. The duck’s testicle I found too chewy and the lamb’s brain had the consistency of hard string cheese. Then there was cock’s combs, the gelatinous top of a rooster that I feel no need to order again.

Maws is not only a master of using the whole animal, but makes a habit of using the best local and organic produce, fish, and meats that are available during that particular time of year, the reason why I find myself returning to his restaurant as often as possible. Local food and culture is an important part of sustainable travel and are topics I’m going to delve into further as ActiveTravels branches out this year to not only cater to Active Bodies, but Active Minds. This week, I’m going to focus on some of my favorite restaurants around the world.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/07/11 at 02:00 PM
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gourmet India Tour with James Beard-Award Winning Chef, Prasad Chirnomula

If you ever wanted to visit India, see the major sites, stay at the top hotels, and be guided by one of the finest Indian chefs in America, you now have that opportunity. Geringer Global Travel has just announced a “Gourmet India 2011” jaunt led by James Beard-award winning chef, Prasad Chirnomula. Owner of five Thali restaurants in Connecticut, Chirnomula was the first Indian chef to be rated “Excellent” by The New York Times. From January 30 to February 15, Chirnomula will take you to all his favorite haunts in the old country, including the fishing village and market in Koli, the spice market in Cochin, and the fruit and vegetable markets in Colaba. The trip will feature lectures and cooking demonstrations by internationally renowned chefs, including lunch at Philip Kutty Farm, a family-run restaurant featuring Malabar cuisine on its own self-contained island, and a barbecue on a beach in Goa featuring Master Chef Rego. Lodging includes many of Travel & Leisure’s top hotels in the world, including the Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, the Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, and the Mumbai Taj Mahal Palace. Price of the 16-day trip is $12,910 per person, including four internal flights, all hotels, meals, and guides.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/27/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Favorite Restaurant in Vermont

Many people will make their way to Vermont this next month to see the fall foliage. While there, stop at one of my favorite restaurants just outside Woodstock, the Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee. Simon Pearce is best known for his glassware and you can visit his store and see glassblowers at work downstairs in this former mill. But it’s the restaurant, with spectacular views of water tumbling down the rocks in front of a covered bridge, that brings me back almost every time I’m in the state. Reserve one of the tables near the window and get here on the early side for dinner, before it gets too dark, and you’re in for a treat. The food is secondary to the view and the sturdy glassware you’ll use, created by Simon Pearce.

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/22/10 at 01:00 PM
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about us
photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

Adventure Travel Trade Association