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Mise En Place – Italy 2010

14 Feb

Market in Rome

Fruit in a market in Rome

Prosciutto de Parma hanging in the window in Rome

The large indoor market in Florence

A little over a year go our family spent two weeks in the Tuscan region of Italy.   We visited Rome, Siena and Florence and had an amazing time.  These are a few images from that trip.  Enjoy.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

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Sportello

28 Jan

Last night our family celebrated a Christmas present by catching PSY at the Majestic Theatre.   PSY is an amazing show by a performance troupe from Montreal, Québec.  We figured since we would be downtown already, that we would get dinner prior to the show.  We are eating at The Butcher Shop next week, so we picked Sportello in the Fort Point Channel part of Boston, and as always, it was wonderful.

Kuri squash soup with pork belly

We started by sharing two appetizers, a kuri squash soup with pork belly and lamb tartare with artichoke.   The sweetness of the squash was balanced by the savory flavor that the pork belly brought to the dish, and the pumpkin seed oil added just the right amount of unctuous luxury.

Lamb tartare with artichoke

The tartare was slightly saltier than I expected, but the fresh lamb and artichoke was delicious spread on the croutons.  For our entrees Marina, our daughter, chose braised lamb colletto in jus, which was tender and came with the most wonderful carrot puree. Susan had day boat scallops with brussel sprouts and pancetta, and I chose trenette with braised rabbit and picholine olives and rosemary.

Braised lamb colletto

Day boat scallops with brussel sprouts and pancetta

Braised rabbit with trenette pasta

Dinner was amazing, and we all enjoyed our entrees.  The carrot puree that came with the braised lamb was sweet and wonderful, and the lamb was so tender that no knife was needed. My braised rabbit and pasta was perfect for a cold evening and the olives together with the rabbit and a touch of rosemary brought an earthy flavor to the dish that I love.   On top was shaved parmesan, which brought everything together.  Susan’s scallops were seared to perfection with a crisp crust on the outside that gave way to an inside that melted in your mouth.

Buttermilk tart, maple custard and roasted bananas

We ordered three desserts, but I only had a chance to photograph one before they were gone!  I had the buttermilk tart with maple custard, roasted bananas and cashews, shown above, but what wasn’t photographed was the orange mascarpone gelato sandwich and a banana cake and nutella frosting cupcake.  Needless to say, they were all amazing.

Dinner was great and our service the same.   As we were leaving we ran into Chef Barbara** and had a chance to chat with her.  It was great to see her and for her to see how much Marina has grown.

When you have a chance take a stroll down to the Fort Point Channel area and sit at the counter at Sportello and enjoy a great night.   After dinner head downstairs to Drink for a nightcap to top off your evening.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

** Full disclosure – I work for Barbara Lynch Gruppo as a freelance photographer, but that doesn’t change how good her food is!

Fly Away with An Aviation Cocktail

27 Jan

The Aviation was first documented in 1916

Working with the Barbara Lynch Gruppo in the past few years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different food items that I never imaged before now. I’ve also had my palate exposed to numerous new drink combinations from none other than John Gertsen, the great bartender  who is the “man behind the woman,” and manager at Drink. One of the creations that I’ve recently become fond of, is the Aviation, a traditional gin cocktail from the early 1900’s.

All the basic ingredients minus one

The original Aviation is attributed to Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick, located  on the South East corner of Broadway and 43rd Street, New York.  The first published recipe appeared in Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks, and called for El Bart gin, lemon juice, maraschino, and crème de violette, a violet liqueur which gives the cocktail a pale sky-blue color.

Créme de Violette

Many places today don’t include the Creme de Violette in the drink, but Adam a bartender at The Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square turned me on to that aspect of the drink, and I think it is a critical part of making a correct Aviation.

Fresh Lemon juice is critical ... stay away from the plastic lemons!

As I’ve said in the past, one of the most important elements in anything you do is to use real ingredients.  You can get lemon juice in a bottle or in a plastic lemon, but take the extra time to simply get the juice from an actual lemon and you’ll be happy you did it.  The last element that puts this drink over the top is the inclusion of Luxardo Maraschino cherries.  These cherries, The Original, are not your regular, neon red ones you get at most bars. I got my jar of them at The Boston Shaker in Somerville, and they are well worth the trip to Davis Square.

Luxardo Cherries from The Boston Shaker

For my Aviation I use 2 oz of Gin, 1/2 oz of lemon juice, 1/2 oz of maraschino and a 1/4  oz of Créme de Violette.   Add the all of the ingredients to a shaker half full with ice, and shake for 30 seconds or so, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Finally add one of the Luxardo Cherries and enjoy!

Bottoms Up

So next time you are out and frequenting some place like Drink, Eastern Standard or The Russell House Tavern, ask for an Aviation and let this classic cocktail take you away.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin