Sunday, November 27, 2011

It is that Good

I love being surprised and shocked by a restaurant meal. And I love it even more when that meal is an impromptu double date with good friends.

This past weekend we randomly called up some friends and met at Tosca in Hingham for dinner. With great reviews and a "Best of South Shore" rating we knew it would at least be a well-deserved night out. I'm always very skeptical of those restaurants that get great reviews, finding that the food is second thought to everything else happening in the restaurant. However, Tosca has changed my mind. It fulfilled my need for a city dinner close to home.
Image from Tosca

I love how when we first entered Tosca, Chef Brian Hennebury greeted us at the door. No this isn't his usual position, but chefs that come out of the kitchen to check things out put a smile on my face. We ordered a bottle of wine (holy deliciousness) and took in the rustic dining room that was neither a scene nor an event. It was just a cozy, "feels-like-home" type of place. And then we ate..and I then fell in love with the South Shore.

Tosca offers northern-Italian inspired cuisine with New England's local flavors and ingredients - you know me and local ingredients, big fan. But the food was right, really right. There were dishes that took a risk (Wild Boar Bolognese) and classics that were just done right (Angus Sirloin Medallions) all that made me realize, this is what dinner should be. Silky textures, rustic vegetables, rich meat and delicate pasta.
Image from Tosca

There was lots of sharing and tasting and an overall amazement and sentiment shared amongst the table - Tosca really is "that good". And we moved on to dessert. Something that I've told you before is not high on my restaurant love list. Until I tried Chef Kristin Beaupre's ricotta creme brulee. I don't even like creme brulee and two days later here I am dreaming about this dessert. For a chocolate lover to say this about a non-chocolate treat is rare, but it tells you something. The creamy texture, sweetened cheese and caramelized torched top came together to create a perfect surprise for my tastebuds.

I rarely rave about restaurants as a whole. I tend to love a concept, a dish, a chef - but when they all come together, it's truly worth writing about!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Savor those Sides

It's less than 24 hours and counting to the most wonderful, delicious holiday of the year. Whether traditional, modern or a little bit of both you're guaranteed to have some happy tastebuds by tomorrow night. Now I know this holiday focuses around the one and only turkey, but I'm a side girl myself that truly believes each appetizer, each side and each dessert deserve a prominent spot on your plate.

Having hosted "Friends Thanksgiving" for a group of 18 two weeks ago, here are my list of savory additions and the tips that help them take center stage.

Gravy - you must, must, must make your own with homemade chicken stock. Now, this doesn't mean it must be your homemade stock - I'm a fan and a purchaser of buying homemade stock. For those of you who have one oven and a tiny kitchen (that's me!), don't be afraid to pre-make the gravy and save the stress for the bird.

Potatoes - go modern classic here with garlic mashed potatoes. I always gently heat my cream/milk and throw in some whole garlic cloves to up the ante. Also, this side really comes out better when made right as the turkey is cooling down. I love fluffly mashed potatoes - they make my world happier.

Stuffing - I've been perfecting this side for the past couple of years and I think my favorite is sage with caramelized onion stuffing. This side is the perfect palette to go with what you love - try sausage and dried fruits, new breads and various spices. Just remember to use day old bread and feel free to make this one in advance.

Veggie - you can go with green beans for classic or brussel sprouts for a more adventurous crowd. However I think the key here is to make these greens stand out. Try them wrapped with prosciutto or topped homemade toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Have a little fun here!

Dessert - Do what you know and love. Remember those carrot cupcakes, they're back for Thanksgiving!

Whatever you choose, take each step in stride, take help where you can and just enjoy your time in the kitchen and around the table. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things I DON'T Cook

I can't make coffee...this is a fact. I tried yet again today and it was a failed operation. I'm not embarrassed by this, I don't think I'll try over and over to get it right because I believe there are certain little treats you should let the experts handle. My partner-in-crime makes great coffee, the bakery down the road creates great iced coffee and I love finding new coffee geniuses -  and I'm okay with this

This is my little indulgence that I'll let others manage...only took 10 years to come to that conclusion!