Foodie Heaven

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On Saturday afternoon we went to see Aran Goyoaga, author of Small Plates and Sweet Treats as well as the beautiful and inspiring blog Cannelle et Vanille. She was doing a book signing at Tatte Bakery (the folks who supply the wild looking nut tarts to Williams-Sonoma) in Cambridge, along with a talk and demonstration of her food styling and cooking. Aran is sweet, kind and remarkably genuine. We walked away feeling inspired about her journey into gluten free cooking after having been a professional pastry chef. And we’re excited about her beautiful new book!

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A little break, and then we zipped over to Craigie on Main for an eight-course tasting menu. We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this restaurant for ages and it’s been on our short list for what seems like forever. Chef Tony Maws won the James Beard award for Best Chef of the NorthEast last year. So let’s put it this way. We didn’t have a dinner, we had an experience.

There is no set menu at this restaurant. There are three choices. A three-course fixed price menu, a six-course tasting menu, and an eight-course tasting menu. You can view a list of items available on the fixed price menu, but the tasting menus are a surprise. We couldn’t even get the waiter to slip us a hint because the plates change so frequently.

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Craigie on Main has an open kitchen with a bazillion chefs running around like whirling dervishes. Better than television this place. Oh, did we mention the food is sublime? This rather extended event called a meal was definitely in our top three favorite happenings for the Boston area (along with a La Rioja Alta wine tasting lunch at Ken Oringer’s Clio and a Vega Sicilia dinner in the private library at L’Espalier). Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Have to mention the pastry chef. She deserves every single accolade being hurled at her. Oh, and Tony Maws himself came out to our table to present the final savory dish. Nice marketing!

And just because we know you’ll ask, we had Albarino with the fish courses and a half carafe of Brunello with the meat courses.

Sunday mornings wandering around Boston. Yes, please. Too early for brunch, we went to Ana Sortun’s Sofra bakery in the morning to pick up some treats (preserved lemons, labheh, parsnip skordalia, spicy nuts, etc). BTW – Ana’s labneh is brilliant, like a tangy and savory whipped cream dollop rather than what we think of as cheese. Oleana you are on the short list. We’ve been cooking from Ana’s book Spice and loving it (her chickpea crepes are lovely).

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A quick drive over to Ihsan Gurdal’s Formaggio Kitchen. A few years back we sat in a cheese seminar with Ihsan at BU. We had life envy. He travels the globe looking for delicious treats to import into his stores. Sign me up! While we have ordered cheese and charcuterie from Ihsan’s online, we had yet to visit his stores. It was hard to resist shooting a massive wad. We restrained ourselves and picked out 24-month aged prosciutto, a hunk of house-cured pancetta, Banyuls vinegar in small bottles (both red and white), Piquillo peppers and Piquillo pepper marmalade (welcome to our new addiction). Chickpea crepe + labneh + Piquillo pepper marmalade = joy.

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While we were entertaining the idea of popping over to pay homage to Savenor’s, we hadn’t eaten breakfast yet so we ditched that idea and instead skirted across the Charles to grab brunch at Ken Oringer’s Toro. First of all, where in the world do people park when they go here? No parking garages. Driving around and around. Nearly leaving. Finding a spot in a distinctly questionable neighborhood. Success at the very last minute.

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This hipster hotspot was jammed, but we were granted one of the last two-tops in the place before the chaos really ensued.

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The patatas bravas with aioli and spicy tomato sauce was wonderful. The Maiz Asado con Aioli y Queso Cotija (aka, grilled corn dish) was stupidly delicious. Dates stuffed with almonds and blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano and served hot — a good and uncomplicated idea for home. And finally the oh-so-tender hanger steak with red onion marmalade and cabrales butter. All lovely.

Time to return home. Happy.

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