Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Clynelish Distillers Edition 1997/2012

Nose: Dried orange peel, vanilla creme, sweet almond, dusty bookcase, sauna wood
Palate: Dried dates, charred oak, cherry candies, spice cake, beeswax, bittersweet malt
Finish: Ginger powder, Italian parsley, spicy astringency, maltose/honey

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I went to the newly opened Bronwyn in Somerville's Union Square this past Saturday. After the Champions League final, my friend and I found the idea of celebrating the newly crowned champions, Bayern Munich, with a Teutonic feast to be irresistible.

We arrived at 5:30 because we wanted to beat the crowd. Thankfully, we were seated immediately, but unfortunately, we were finished with dinner by 6:30. We had a huge issue with pacing, as all of our dishes more or less arrived simultaneously. When the last dish to be served had arrived, there was literally no space on our table to accomodate, so the waiter took it back and forth from the kitchen until we had only just finished one dish to immediately replace it. I definitely prefer to dine with a bit more leisure.

Szigeti, Grüner Veltliner Brut, Burgenland, NV
Prieler, Blaufränkisch Johanneshöhe, Burgenland, 2009

Anyhow, as one might expect the beer list did indeed look fantastic, and something Bavarian like Paulaner would have been perfect. Alas, my physician has advised me against consuming beer, and I chose a glass of blaufränkisch instead. My friend had a glass of a sparkling grüner veltliner, which our waiter had practically chosen for him, such was the waiter's enthusiasm. Both were decent wines, but admittedly, a beer really would have hit the spot.

Pierogi with smoked kale and knödel with fiddlehead

For dinner, we started with the pierogi filled with smoked kale. It was an interesting interpretation of the iconic Eastern European dumplings, the smoked kale pleasantly replacing the usual meat filling without losing any of the usual heft. The knödel came next, which were like sliced bread pudding rather than dense dumplings I was expecting. With the bits of bacon interspersed, it reminded me a bit of dim sum turnip cakes, except with a different texture. The taste of fiddleheads was a bit lost in the dish.

Jägerschnitzel with walnuts and zungenblutwurst

The zungenblutwurst had a richly spiced flavor that was quite nice, but it lacked textural contrast as the filling seemed homogenously ground. The "zunge" part was a bit lost as nothing could be easily identifiable with tongue. The jägerschnitzel was excellent: tender veal scallops with sautéed shimeji and maitake mushrooms, honeyed walnuts. I found this version much more delicate and refined than the jägerschnitzel I have come to expect, which is slathered in a rich gravy of button mushrooms. The spätzle consisted of large, irregular blobs of dough, but the emmentaler and onions made it quite reminiscent of käsespätzle. However, the mint and asparagus were nice touches to lighten the dish. We also had a side of sauerkraut that was altogether too acidic and made me wonder if additional acid was added beyond the natural fermentation.

Käsespäzle with emmentaler, mint, and asparagus

All in all, I thought the food generally had good flavor and were interesting twists on German classics. Its probably the best German food I can think of in Boston (Jacob Wirth isn't exactly strong competition). I would go back if I were in the area, but its so far out of my way that I can't imagine making the trip specifically to go back just to eat there. To me, its on the level of good neighborhood restaurant, but not destination dining.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Makings of a home cook, take 2

After the success of my first formal dinner party, I caught the proverbial bug. I simply was itching for another adventure and could not stop thinking about future possibilities. Thus, after a particularly long day, I found myself jotting notes down on the back of a Cell paper (Zhu J, et al. Reactivation of latent HIV-1 by Inhibition of BRD4. Cell Reports 2, 807-816 (2012) to be exact). My partner in crime, who had helped out with the previous dinner, ended up joining me at the Hawthorne for a drink and a brainstorm session. We took the core of his idea for a pasta themed dinner and put a winter seasonal spin on it. A couple months later, the plan finally bore fruit.

All photos courtesy of R. Cossar
Ready to be seated
Pickled persimmons, scallion, shiso, sesame and olive oils
Eiko Fuji, Ban Ryu Honjozo
Duck broth, mung bean vermicelli, napa cabbage, threadfin surimi
Bodegas Grant, Fino "La Garrocha"
Bucatini being made à la minute
Bucatini al nero di seppia, diver scallop, coconut milk, Thai basil
I Clivi, Collio Malvasia 2011
Agnolotti of beets and walnuts, orange purée, beet greens, ricotta salata
Mas de la Dame, Rosé du Mas 2011
Chestnut tagliatelle, boar ragù, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms
Il Secondo di Pacina, Toscana 2011
Seared venison loin, gnocchi, sunchoke purée, lacinato kale
Lindes de Remelluri, Rioja 2009
[Not pictured]
Manchester, Consider Bardwell, VT; Dragon's Breath, Den Hoek, NS
Farnum Hill Cider, Extra Dry
Confit tangerine peel, honey semifreddo, cognac, candied citruses
Fifteen cocktail - cognac, quince honey, Ramazotti, lemon

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bogart would have approved

Last week I had the privilege of dining at Bogie's Place, a tiny steakhouse hidden away inside a downtown bar called JM Curley.  I was there on the invitation of a friend, who was herself invited by the hosting couple.  Although I had arrived a few minutes early, I ran into Fred at the bar, and not seeing the rest of my dining companions to be, stopped a moment to catch up.  A little while later, the rest of the group arrived, at which time, we promptly launched into the first round of martinis - 3:1 with Plymouth gin, orange bitters, orange twist.

I must apologise in advance for the lack of photographs of the night due to the "No cell phone use" rule (how civilised!) displayed so clearly at the door.  Or perhaps I should say curtain, a heavy velvet curtain to be precise, reminiscent of that velvet rope of exclusivity.  Behind the curtain was indeed another world entirely.  After finishing the first pre-prandial cocktail, we were directed from the main bar to this curtained-off back room.  In a sense Bogie's Place is a reverse speakeasy, a restaurant hidden within a bar.

The change in surroundings was as marked as it was sudden.  Whereas JM Curley sports exposed brick for a polished industrial feel, Bogie's Place was dressed in red velvet, dimly lit by wall sconces.  Dave Matthews Band versus Ella Fitzgerald; burger versus dry-aged steak (although admittedly, JM Curley's burger is excellent).

If the ambiance was not clue enough, the menu proved with one glance that the evening would have a midcentury, Draper-esque theme.  As we settled into our seats, another round of cocktails was clearly in order - Rittenhouse rye manhattan for me, champagne cocktails, an old-fashioned, and a sidecar for the rest.  As the gentlemen conversed on all matter of things from musical talents to reminiscences of distant lands, the ladies launched into one of many conspiratorial sidebars.  However, I was certainly not going to complain as they proceeded to order both the dinner spread and the wine for the table.  My only decision was what cut of steak and its doneness.

As we finished the last drops of our pre-prandial cocktails, the appetisers began to appear in earnest.  Clams casino dressed to richly with toasted breadcrumbs providing crunch and bacon lending an unmistakable smokiness.  A fabulous macaroni and cheese topped with steak tartare, an unexpected combination that was at once both comforting and titillating.  Decadent seared foie gras best considered when at its simplest.  The beer and cheese soup's luscious texture belied a sharpness on the palate.  Perhaps most surprising was the fact that I ate any of the wedge salad at all, given my disinclination for lettuce.  A bottle of Gentil Hugel was the first wine to be enjoyed.

At some point after the dishes from the first course were cleared, shots of fernet appeared on the table, and who would really argue with the value of a mid-meal digestivo.  After all, the steaks were shortly forthcoming.  Not only was I quite pleased by the 30 day dry aged New York strip that I ordered, but the accoutrements, including roasted Brussels sprouts, bone marrow, and a foie gras compound butter, were also quite delightful.  Moreover, one of the gentlemen at the table had ordered a "side" of petit filet to be shared.  The steaks were excellently paired with a bottle each of Domaine Joseph Voillot Bourgogne Rouge and of Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Perhaps surprising no one, the steaks were concluded with yet another round of fernet.  A bottle of Gaston Chiquet Special Club champagne found its way to the table for dessert.  While the consequence of the bubbles may have been some mental loss of focus, I do have a vague recollection of being employed on drums in an improvised jazz trio air band.  Needless to say, I soon took my leave and stumbled off through the snow in search of a single malt nightcap, being exceedingly thankful for an evening of excellent food and even more charming company.