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Whether you live in Boston, plan to visit Boston, or you are moving to Boston; we'll help you locate great food, fun events, and reliable resources.
The prospect of evening thunderstorms (with a dog who is upset by them) turned today from a dinner-out-evening to a brunch-somewhere-afternoon.
A conversation with a neighbor while walking said dog, followed by a quick search on Chowhound.com put Lineage in Brookline at the top of our brunch list. We've been there for dinner and lunch but never for brunch and Michael's Deli is only a couple of doors away. So supper was also planned in one swoop.
The Lineage Brunch menu is well balanced between breakfast and lunch foods. They offer breakfast breads, eggs, crepes, salads, whole grain French toast, a burger, local halibut "fish & chips," crab cakes, and fruit plates. Today we both leaned towards the lunch menu.
We shared a Roasted beet salad with bibb lettuce, horseradish and brioche croutons. I followed with an appetizer portion of lobster tacos with avocado mousse and mango salsa and Ed had the grilled salmon with a sweet 100 tomato and cous cous salad. Finally, we shared a butterscotch pudding.
Service was outstanding from the moment we walked through the door until we headed out and our waitress Renee tried to drop what she was doing to open the door for our exit.
I've loved Lineage from the start and with today's meal; Ed is really warming to it. He said he hasn't had a better plate of salmon and complemented the espresso.
Oh, and he is interested in a return trip some evening between 5 and 7 PM to try the Island Creek Oysters for $1.
What do you do when your delicious, but delicate, earthquake cookies from Siena Farms crumble on the way home from the farmers' market?
BostonZest pastry maven, Eileen, says, "I love the Chocolate Earthquake cookies; the chocolate is dark and rich and the cookies are the perfect size. They seem to be very fragile, and I don't know if the humidity has an effect on them, but they've often broken into bits by the time I get home. When that happens, I just sprinkle them on vanilla ice cream and enjoy them that way."
Samples of the goodies for the soon-to-open, Sofra Bakery & Cafe have been on sale at the Siena Farms market stands this summer.
It's a matter of keeping the family businesses working together. Farmer Chris Kurth is married to Ana Sortum who will soon cut the ribbon at Sofra Bakery & Cafe. Sofra is a joint venture with Maura Kilpatrick, the pastry chef at Ana's Oleana Restaurant.
And, how do you store delicate items that need protection from air and humidity? I recommend the OXO line of containers.
Garlic seemed to be in vogue at local farmers' markets. I saw green garlic in Brookline when I went there for their opening.
Today, at Siena Farms, I bought garlic scrapes to use in salads and on taco trays. And, I found my first, fresh garlic – just formed into cloves – at Keown orchards at the Copley Square Market.
Fresh local garlic is one of those things, like fresh strawberries, that you have to accept as a totally different product if you are ever going to be able to eat the commercial version again.
Local fresh garlic is HOT! It bursts with flavor. It's essence of garlic. It's not dry, brown, uncertain in taste or any of the mild unmemorable descriptions I now lay on commercial garlic all winter long.
I have to admit that I find myself cooking with less and less garlic in the off season. I tend to roast what I do use to intensify the mild flavor that is present.
But, this week I will make garlic bread, garlic spread and garlic chicken. I have real garlic again.
Time to celebrate the bounty of New England.
Here is one of my favorite cookbooks for using that bounty.
Environmentalist love trees. Right? Well, not all trees. There are trees that even environmentalists are willing to cut down and dig up. One of those is the Ailanthus tree, also known as Stink Tree, Tree-of-heaven, China-sumac, and Varnishtree.
Ailanthus trees are in bloom in Boston right now. The male trees produce an aroma that has been compared to cat urine. The female trees cover gardens, alleys, cars, and sidewalks with seed droppings and debris. If you enter the search term "stink tree" into Google™, you'll come up with entries for the Ailanthus.
There are those who defend the trees saying that at least they do grow under harsh urban conditions. However, many of those who live, walk, or play near an ailanthus are concerned about the smell, the damage to foundations and plumbing and the mess they create.
At Architectural Commission hearings around the city, homeowners frequently petition to remove an Ailanthus. While these requests are sometimes an effort to create additional parking space, problems they are having with the trees are often cited as the reason for removal.
Fortunately, since trees and maintaining green spaces is important in the city; homeowners who are allowed to remove one tree are often required to replace it with a more suitable specimen.
One interesting article on replacing these trees is available from EarthWorks Boston. Author, Joel Gerwein, says, "Ailanthus trees did not grow in North America until they were brought here by people. Since their arrival, they have spread rapidly, invading natural habitats and displacing the native trees that grew here before them. In North America, Ailanthus trees are free of many of the constraints they face in their native China. The insects that specialize in eating Ailanthus leaves and the fungi that infect the tree are largely absent from this continent. Our native animals did not evolve to eat Ailanthus seeds, and our native plants did not evolve to tolerate the toxins Ailanthus trees release into the soil to discourage competition."
Update: 7/14/10-- We had lots of questions about Linden trees. Because they are fragrant, some readers thought they were the stink trees we were talking about. Lindens are great trees, perfect for the city. We did a profile on those here.
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Last Thursday I tasted a few of the Smith's Farmstead Cheeses at the Brookline Farmers' Market. Their Extra Sharp Cheddar won a spot in our weekly cheese selection and I'm happy to report that when that cheese comes to room temperature it's just fabulous.
We love good cheddars and think they are often overlooked because there are so many terrible, mass-produced food products that use that name.
A good cheddar is a crumbly, creamy, melting, thing of beauty and this one fits the bill.
I did put a dab of local honey on the board but after a few bites, we both ate the cheese neat-- no honey -- no bread-- just nibbles of cheese with a nice glass of wine.
From this eating team, that is a sign of a great cheese.
I may have to take another trip to Brookline for more samples of the cheese produced by the Smith family. The extra sharp is aged for 18 months. I now want to try their 4-year-old Rat Cheddar.
This may even call for a roadtrip to check out the source and learn more about this cheesemaker.
Here are a couple of our favorite cheese books. (Details for Smith's are below.)
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