Boston

hallie ephron
 buy_now_button.jpg

hallie ephronOne of the first things you discover early on, dating someone new, is whether your stars align. If you're a serious foodie like me, the key question always involves food. 

Mine: Shall we go out for steak or soup dumplings. 

Knowing the answer early on eliminates a lot of futile hope and wasted time.

Evie Ferrante in my new book THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN has my passion for Chinese soup dumplings. I order rack of those succulent babies just for me. Anyone who encroaches on my share gets stabbed with a chopstick.

For my money, the best soup dumplings in Boston these days are in Chinatown at the (cramped, noisy, worth the wait no matter how long) Gourmet Dumpling House.

On the menu they are the Mini juicy pork dumplings. The woman in that kitchen -- once, when we were the first customers in the door, she came out to take a bow wearing a black dress and pearls and an apron -- really knows what she's doing.

Read more ...

SteelRyeInteriorIt's Thursday, it's late and we parked blocks away because the lot is full at Steel & Rye. We're good though; one of us thought to make a reservation so we're seated right away. The room, formerly a warehouse with 20-foot ceilings and huge windows in 7,000 square feet, is noisy and fun. This is a light supper night in an eclectic American setting and we're casual, having come from dance classes, but it doesn't matter at all.

Hungry as hippos after a big tap-out, now we have our menu and we're breaking out the flashlights. It's weird because you can't call it dark exactly and you better not call us old. I should have taken the menu because what's online is a "sampling of our offerings" since the selections change nightly.

We start with Domaine Pichot Vouvray. It's light and raisin-y with a tart apple finish. Good choice because now we're digging into cream-based squash soup with pomegranate. I'm finding ginger, maybe pumpkin, and apples. No clue what's making it so light and fluffy. (You'll see mushroom soup with duck and eggs for $11). We use brown bread to mop up; it's what they call in New England anadama bread which usually means wheat flour, cornmeal and molasses. Anadama bread turned up in Rockport, MA in the mid-1800s. Smooshed along the steel plate, the butter's filled with salt crystals and from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Steel & Rye for no olive oil, no honeyed spread and no hummus - it's just butter.

Read more ...

AquitaineOutsideAquitaine's clever. They've got photographic food diaries on all their front pages. Even Twitter is crowded with savvy bartenders, one of whom reminds me of Ben Affleck in Argo; smart servers, one of whom has cool pink hair; the bar lit in warm golden tones, snazzy cocktails, shrimp with heads, gooey onion soup, bunches of greens and my shrimp sandwich. You can preview nearly everything but where are the waffles?

Today we've come over from the antiques show on Tremont Street at Cyclorama's Boston Center for the Arts. It's brunch and everyone in the South End's got the same idea. Since 1998 Aquitaine's been on a roll in a semi-converted industrial space that once housed a video store. Tables are close so watch what you say; even though it's busy know that everyone can hear. Cozy banquettes are backed with mirrors and your server will pull out your table so you can get in. All small children are well behaved, as in very.

Read more ...

coppalogo.jpgThere are people who, when on vacation, go wherever the road takes them. I am not one of them. If I'm going somewhere new and only have a few days to explore a place, I'm going to find the best it has to offer, especially when it comes to food. I'm not exactly a foodie – though I've become way more adventurous in the last several years – but I am an eater. Which means I have a lot of meals to plan and thanks to the Internet, my planning compulsion is fueled to even greater heights. Why settle for second best?

I'm not really sure how I found Coppa though it was probably through Twitter. I don't usually follow restaurants outside of Los Angeles, why torture yourself, but since I was going to be in town this summer, I placed them on my radar for a possible dining choice. In the months leading up to our stay, they became the front runner. Everything they tweeted about sounded amazing. Their menu focuses on small plates with an Italian bent – they had me at arancini – fresh pasta, wood-fired pizza and plenty of cheese and charcuterie. The latter two things are irresistible to me.

Read more ...

snappyintI love the city of Boston. I spent my college years living there and enjoyed myself immensely. My family is from Massachusetts (not Boston, there is a BIG difference) so I get to visit once a year, though my time in the City is usually quite short. This recent trip I had mere hours - after landing and before take-off - to get my food on. I follow as many Beantown restaurants on Twitter as I do LA ones and had hoped to visit a few on my Hit List but timing and opening hours conspired against me. That's how we found Snappy Patty's.

I had wanted to stop in Cambridge at Catalyst for our last East Coast lunch, but driving into and around Cambridge is a nightmare on a good day, even if you know how to navigate the tiny, one-ways streets. I won't even discuss the parking situation. No, we were out of our element, hungry and pressed for time. Getting lost was not an option. (Yes, that's still possible in the Smart-Phone Age.)

So, as we barreled down the highway, I choose a nearby northerly suburb - Medford - guaranteed to have street parking and plugged the town into Yelp. I know, people are hating them right now, but sometimes you just need the best info you can immediately get your hands on. Nothing really stuck out except Snappy Patty's. Clever name, 4 stars, right off the highway? Burgers, beers, a nice little wine selection - we were still on vacation - it was just the type of neighborhood joint I was looking for.

Read more ...