Restaurant Review ~ Foundry on Elm

Foundry on Elm is the latest addition to a swell community of restaurants in Davis Square Somerville, MA. It joins heavyweights such as Redbones, Diva, Orleans, Johnny D's and Flatbread. I had been wanting to visit them for a while but since I mostly frequent Davis Square restaurants for lunch and their soft opening only included dinner hours, I put it off until another time. Then a group of co-workers and my beau Carlos got together and we visited this Pub/Restaurant for some good booze and some salty food.


Foundry on Elm was quite abuzz with some company or industry event. Lots of free appetizers were floating about.


They were offering $5 '80s cocktails that night including this one: Sex on the Beach. I really wish I had gotten this one instead of what I had.


I got a Rapscallion Honey Pale, an ale from Holyoke, Massachusetts. It's an ale also served at Flatbread which is known for supporting local businesses so I was happy that Foundry on Elm was doing the same. My friend Lisa recommended the drink from when she had it at Flatbread so I gave it a try. It was delicious but I just can't have beer on a full stomach. Hence why I should have gotten the Sex on the Beach. If your stomach is not as sensitive as mine, then I would highly recommend getting this.


Lana got the Steak Frites which came with caramelized shallots, herb butter, fries and a green salad. It was the most normal thing on the menu for her considering she's a picky eater. She said she didn't care for the onions and the fries were salty but otherwise enjoyed it.



Carlos got the Foundry Burger with Swiss cheese and a salad as a side. He loved it so much that when I turned to look at his plate the burger was completely gone. He washed it down with his favorite local beer, Allagash White.


Carter got the Croque Monsieur (Neuske's ham & Gruyere) which came with salty fries and a pickle. I was eyeing this one but have been watching my calories so I skipped it. Carter said he enjoyed his meal.


Lisa got this work of art: a flatbread pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, balsamic reduction, scallions and goat cheese. She gave me a piece and I have to say it was nom-alicious!


I ordered an appetizer and a salad as a combined meal. Above is the fried calamari. You can't tell but buried underneath the mound of calamari to the left was a serving of basil aoili. At first I didn't see it, but discovered eventually by accident. I do not like eating fried calamari without some kind of dipping sauce so it was a welcome surprise. The calamari was delicious and super crispy but I had a few issues with it. They went heavy with the salt (a recurring theme at this restaurant) and they served it with fried basil leaves and fried lemon slices. Really? I already don't like it when restaurants fry cherry peppers to serve with their calamari but this was just ridiculous. I wanted some fresh lemon to squeeze over the top. Oh well. I would get this again regardless.


 Along with the Fried Calamari, I had a Caesar salad that came with parmesan crisp. It was a delicious salad and the crisps, albeit very salty, were still delicious and a great addition to the salad. However, the bottom of the salad was lined with three large pieces of romaine lettuce. It made the salad difficult to eat. Otherwise I would recommend it because it was light on the dressing and had a generous helping of croutons.

If you are in the Davis Square area, make sure to stop by Foundry on Elm to try out their unique variety of dishes and big selection of beer and drinks. Just ask them to hold the salt.

Birthday Dinner at Casa Portugal

Carlos treated me to a birthday dinner at Casa Portugal. It's one of my favorite restaurants in the area simply because they serve authentic and delicious Portuguese food. Stepping inside the restaurant feels like you just skipped off the continent and into Portugal. The restaurant is decorated with ornamental tile and china work, just like a proper Portuguese restaurant wood. They have an extensive collection of wines, including Vinho Verde (Portuguese Green Wine). I would come to Casa Portugal on weekdays I had free. It would be great to come have an inexpensive and authentic Portuguese lunch and it made me feel good to support a local business. However, this was a special occasion and Carlos said I could order anything I wanted, no matter the price. I already knew what I wanted even before I got there.





Can't you tell I'm really excited for my food?


And here it is! Arroz con Marisco (Rice with Seafood). It's a big pot of rice in a spicy tomato broth and filled to the brim with lots of seafood. It was a treasure trove of delights from the sea. Lobsters, shrimp, clams, mussels, squid and scallops. Oh what a delight. Whenever my parents and I would travel to Portugal, we'd always visit the same restaurant in Aveiro and get a family-sized pot of Arroz con Marisco to share. It's such a part of my childhood that eating this meal brought back lots of happy memories. However, it was quite a lot for little ole me but I made as big of a dent as I possibly could.



Before the meal, we were served a basket of Portuguese Bread, Broa and marinated olives. Broa is one of my favorite breads. It's a white cornbread, very thick and chewy and perfect for dunking in some olive oil or in a bit pot of Arroz con Marisco. The couple behind us got a plate of flaming (literally on fire) chorizo links. They smelled so good that Carlos and I plan to come back again to Casa Portugal to get those.



Carlos ordered Bife Grehlado (Grilled Steak) with came with Portuguese rice, the restaurant's style of potatoes as well as some vegetables. His steak was more rare than medium-well but he enjoyed it nonetheless. My meal was super messy as I tried to fish (pun intended) the meat out of the half-lobster as well as the clams and mussels. It was well worth the mess.

It was a great way to celebrate my birthday. Thank you so much Carlos. You are the best boyfriend in the world.

Thoughtful Eating Thanksgiving

Here are some pictures from my dual-Thanksgiving. Next year, I'm abstaining from Turkey altogether and going to go with a Dominican/Portuguese spread for lunch rather than having two traditional Thanksgiving meals back-to-back. Hope you had a nice holiday.















Oh it was my birthday too. And I got two birthday cakes!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow?!


What's in store for your Thanksgiving? Tomorrow, Carlos and I travel to my parents house, super early in the morning to have a Thanksgiving lunch. My mom and I will be preparing the following:

Turkey
Green Bean Casserole
Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Peas
Pumpkin Pie Cookies (pre-made, recipe care of Scathingly Brilliant)

Carlos is presenting them with the above gift basket from Wilson Farm which I chose. It's all fruit (apples, pears, grapes, oranges) as well as one jar of jam. I'm presenting my parents with a 200-photo album filled with pictures of Carlos and I taken during our adventures. My parents are giving him Heineken beer.

While at my parents, I'll be making a Leek, Artichoke & Potato Gratin for Thanksgiving dinner.


Then Carlos and I are heading to his extended family's home for Thanksgiving dinner. I'll be bringing the gratin and extra Pumpkin Pie Cookies. I feel this is a good balance. I'm not overworking myself, I'm allowing my mom to help me more and we are all still in the spirit of giving.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Progresso Lemon-Pepper Panko Giveaway Winner

And the winner, chosen at random is...


Megan shared a recipe from Michael Chiarello's cookbook that she made herself. Red Zinfandel Spaghetti. It looks amazing!

Thank you to those who participated!

Garbanzo con Chorizo y Arroz con Fideo


I was looking through the recipe collection on Latina.com (Latina Magazine's website) and I saw a very delicious looking photo for Cocido de Garbanzos. However, the recipe associated with the photo didn't seem to quite match up. I noticed in the photo that I didn't see any chorizo or any crumbled fried pancetta on the top. It also had sliced carrots which wasn't an ingredient at all in the recipe. Confused, I decided to change the recipe into my own. I took the elements I liked from both the picture and the recipe and made it my own dish. I paired it with some Arroz con Fideo (rice with noodles) and then made some tropical fruit salad with Kiwi, Papaya and Mango. Perfect Latin meal! I hope you'll try it.


Garbanzo con Chorizo

29 oz. can of Goya Garbanzo Beans/Chick Peas
2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 ounces of chopped pancetta
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 link of chorizo, casing removed, sliced in half
     and sliced into half moons
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
pepper (salt if you must, but I would skip)
cilantro for garnish

In a pot, add your Garbanzos, water, bay leaf and cloves of garlic. Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes or until most of the water is gone.

In the mean time, add chopped pancetta to a small sautee pan and fry in its own fat until crispy. Set aside on a paper towel to dry. In that same pan, add the carrots and chorizo. Cook until the carrots start to get a little soft but still hold their structure. Around 5 minutes. Add carrot and chorizo as well as the red wine vinegar to Garbanzos and season with paprika and pepper. Top with cilantro for garnish.

Arroz con Fideos

1/2 cup of crushed Goya Fidelini Pasta
(or Angel hair pasta)
2 cups of white rice (rinsed)
3 cups of boiling water
salt to taste

Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a big pot and heat up. Add the crushed fidelini (fideos) to the pot and cook until they start to get golden brown. Be careful not to let them burn. Then add your 2 cups of rinsed rice and stir. Add the 3 cups of boiling water and salt to taste. Heat uncovered at medium-high until most of the water is evaporated. Turn the heat to very low and cover with a sheet of aluminum foil and the pot cover over that. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir the rice. Cover again with both aluminum and pot cover and cook again for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Apple-Pear-Raisin Crisp


It's official. Carlos and I are on a diet. We've gained quite a bit in the past year or so and it's time for us to slim down. It'll be especially important for us to stick with a good diet and exercise plan through the holiday season and the winter time. Because as you know, it's the time for eating lots of rich foods high in fat and calories. I'm going to start incorporating a lot more vegetables and fruits into our diet as well as reducing the amount of carbohydrates and fat we intake. I'll be baking more low-calorie desserts including this one. Apple-Pear-Raisin Crisp. Slices of Granny Smith apple and Bosc pears alongside plump, juicy raisins. It's quite heaven. And I replaced the butter in traditional crisp recipes with extra light olive oil. I also nixed the flour altogether. The result, quite delicious and refreshing!

Ingredients:

3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Bosc Pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup of raisins
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

for topping:
1 cup of oats
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of extra light olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the apples, pears and raisin in a bowl and toss with the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Toss again with the cornstarch. Usually, I sugar the fruit and let it sit so that some of the excess juice comes out and then I drain. However, during the cooking process the raisins will soak up some of that juice. I did add the cornstarch just to make sure that the result wasn't a watery mess.

In a separate bowl, add the oats, brown sugar and olive oil. Add the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the texture you want (a bit clumpy and not dry). You can substitute canola oil for the olive oil if you prefer.

Add the fruit mixture to a 9" round pie dish. Make sure the mixture is even by spreading it in the dish with your hands. Sprinkle the topping over the mixture so it's evenly covered on top. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes and let cool. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Progresso's Lemon-Pepper Panko Recipes & a Giveaway


MyBlogSpark recently gave me an opportunity to try out Progresso's new Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs. I was really excited because it would be a great way to familiarize myself with Panko breadcrumbs (I had never used them before) and to get myself out of the Market Basket Golden Breadcrumb rut I was in. The Lemon-Pepper Panko was the perfect combination of spicy and sour. Just enough to give what dish you use it in a nice kick. They also sent me a copy of Michael Chiarello's new cookbook: Bottega: Bold Italian Flavors from the Heart of California's Wine Country. You know how they call people who read books about far away and exotic places "armchair travelers"? Well, I would be considered an "armchair cook" reading this beautiful volume of recipes and stories because it is a bit too advanced for my culinary skills. However, it's nice to imagine I can make all the lovely dishes in the book.



I developed three different recipes using Progresso's Lemon-Pepper Breadcrumbs. You can see all three results in the picture above. I don't recommend making this all into one meal as I did. You will suffer from a Panko-overdose which may result in a carb headache. Try them separately please! Consider yourself warned.

Clam and Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumb Pasta

1 can of chopped clams
3 tablespoons of extra light olive oil
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 a box of linguine cooked
1/3 cup of Progresso's Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs

In large skillet, heat up the oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the chopped clams and cook for a couple of minutes. Lower the temperature a bit so that the garlic doesn't burn. You basically just want the oil to be infused with the flavor of the red pepper flakes and garlic and for the chopped clams to be heated. Add the linguine and toss well. Then sprinkle the Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs on top. I like to toss it a second time so that the breadcrumbs are incorporated well. Serve and enjoy.

Baked Lemon-Pepper Panko Ravioli
2 cups of cooked plain cheese ravioli, patted dry
2 eggs beaten with a teaspoon of water added
1-2 cups of Progresso's Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs

(see instructions below)

Lemon-Pepper Panko Mozzarella Sticks

1 package of Mozzarella String Cheese
2 eggs beaten with a teaspoon of water added
1-2 cups of Progresso's Lemon-Pepper Panko Breadcrumbs

(for both the Ravioli and Mozzarella Sticks)
Heat up your oven to 375 degrees. Set up a station with the beaten eggs in one bowl and Panko Breadcrumbs. Dip the cheese sticks/ravioli in the egg mixture and then toss in the Panko. Place each cheese stick/ravioli on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Once you've coated all of the cheese sticks/raviolis, place in the oven and bake until the outside is crispy. This will be about 10 minutes. If you notice the cheese sticks start to melt, pull them out of the oven and let them cool. Serve both the Mozzarella Sticks and the Baked Raviolis with a bowl of hot marinara sauce for dipping.

Giveaway has ended.

Restaurant Review ~ Lendy's

Back when Carlos used to work in Saugus, MA, he would frequent Lendy's, a New York Style deli. Lendy's is run by Leonard and Linda and I'm assuming the name is an amalgamation of both of their names. Lendy's is known for their homemade Chicken Soup (with noodles and you can get a Matzo ball in their too) as well as their Rueben. So when Carlos took me here recently, I went all out and tried Lendy's signature dishes.


Here is the chicken soup. I could tell that the noodles were homemade. The broth was light and not very flavorful. It's really all about the noodles and chunks of chicken. A cup of this soup was a great way to start the meal.


And here is the Rueben! You can customize your plate a few ways. You have a choice of bread, corned beef or pastrami and a side of either fries, potato salad, coleslaw or macaroni salad. I got a Pastrami Rueben on Light Rye with Macaroni Salad and a pickle. The Rueben was delicious. The light rye bread was perfect and there wasn't too much sauerkraut or pastrami and there was just the right amount of Swiss cheese and russian dressing to make it delicious. My only complaint was that the pastrami was on the fatty side. I like my pastrami super lean. The macaroni salad was interesting. Heavy on mayo but it also had cucumber, carrots and Spanish olives which made for a very tasty salad. The pickle was great. When Carlos comes here, he usually gets an Egg Salad sandwich on toasted Wheat Bread, a bowl of chicken soup (with extra crackers) and a side of pickles. The pickles are homemade, not as good as the ones from The Restaurant in Woburn, MA, but still delicious.

If you are in the Saugus area, make sure you skip over the Panera Bread next door and visit Lendy's for some chicken soup and a classic Rueben.

Restaurant Review ~ La Casa de Pedro or Pedro's


Not exactly sure what to call it. The website says La Casa de Pedro  but the sign reads Pedro's: Fine Latine Cuisine


Pedro's is a new restaurant that opened up in the old Naked Fish location in Billerica, MA. It features Venezuelan cuisine in a very posh yet down-to-earth setting. As you drive into the parking lot, you are met with a bright neon sign and a pair of fake palm trees. I really want to see what those trees look like covered in snow when the winter comes, as it inevitably will.

The interior of the restaurant is spectacular. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.








Going to Pedro's was Carlos' idea. He wanted to take me out as a thank you for all the cooking (and grocery shopping!) I do for the both of us. I thought that was very sweet of him.



From the menu online, the decor and the fact that this was a Venezuelan restaurant and not another Mexican one, I was sure I was going to like it. But I had a very mixed experience. Carlos enjoyed it much more than I did. One of the problems was the waitress focused almost all of her attention on Carlos and I barely existed in her world. Okay, yes he has a penis but I should some service too.


We started the dinner off with an order of Tapas. Calamari de Pedro is fried calamari rings served over some greens with Jalapeno and Poblano sauce. They even topped it off with some Cancha, which is a toasted crunchy corn which is very traditional in Peru. This plate was absolutely delicious. The sauce was perfect and the calamari was perfectly seasoned and breaded. I would have had another plate for dinner if I could.


Carlos always orders Tabasco sauce and lemon wedges with his fried calamari. He asked for some on the side and they brought it to us in a great presentation!



Before we went to the restaurant, I had checked out Pedro's menu online and I saw that there was a salad called "La de Raquel". A salad named after me? I just had to have it. La de Raquel has roasted chicken on a bed of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and red onions served with a side of cilantro dressing. Sounds good right? It was total and utter crap. I could have made the same thing with a Rotisserie chicken from Market basket and some produce from Wilson Farm. I should have read the description more carefully before I ordered. A few things: I'm not a salad person, I don't like cold Rotisserie chicken and I was really hungry that night considering we had dinner at 9 pm. Everything was against me.


On the other hand, Carlos had the most amazing dish which I kept picking at out of curiosity and hunger. Parrillada CaraqueĊˆa  consists of grilled chicken, beef and chorizo sausage with a sides of tomato and cilantro rice, fried yuca with cilantro dressing and sweet plantains. Oh my goodness. This was heaven on a plate. This is what I should have ordered. If only it had more vegetables and wasn't so laden with salt! Indulgence indeed. The fried yuca? Heavenly. Crispy, delicious and perfect. I wanted a side of that too.


I was still super hungry so we ordered a dessert. Pedro's has a few types of flan including chocolate, coconut and milk and they have rice pudding. I asked the waitress for a recommendation because I had a difficult time deciding and she pointed out that the rice pudding was really good. Sounds good right? It was crap. Cold rice pudding. I'm the daughter of a Dominican woman who always served me rice pudding piping hot. What is this cold business? I don't get it. If you eat cold rice pudding, you are doing yourself a disservice. I almost contemplated asking them to heat it up for me but I didn't. 

I think next time I go to Pedro's, and go I will, it will be a different experience. I will know what to expect and what to avoid. If you are in the Billerica area, or want to venture out for some Venezuelan food, check Pedro's out!

Regular Haunts ~ Wilson Farm


I'm a little tired of all the newbies talking about Wilson Farm. While I'm glad that these people are discovering (and liking) Wilson Farm, I wish I heard more from people who are devoted to this place. The newbies think they found a diamond in the rough but what they don't realize is that there are hundreds of locals who travel in all kinds of weather all throughout the year to go to Wilson Farm once, or twice, or three times a week. One of those devotees is me. I've been shopping for produce at Wilson Farm, religiously, every week for the past 4-1/2 years. Now that's devotion indeed!

 And now, this is MY time to talk about my love for Wilson Farm. Let me take you on a tour...



This is the Weekly Specials Tent. The old farm building isn't big enough to carry all the produce and various goods that Wilson Farm sells and the Weekly Specials Tent is a good way to expand their real estate and provide more product to customers. It's also a good way to highlight seasonal goods, specialty items, impulse buys and discounted produce.

Behind the Weekly Specials Tent is Wilson Farm's Garden Center. They sell potted plants, seeds, gardening equipment, mulch, you name it they got it. The tent and the Garden Center are open year round. When the weather gets colder the tent is more enclosed and they set up special space heaters to keep customers warm. Come summer time, the tent comes off completely and it's transformed into an open air market.



During the autumn months, the Weekly Specials tent has a table set up with hot Apple Cider Donuts and freshly dipped Caramel Apples with toppings. You can buy them right on the spot. The donuts are divine. Their $0.50 each and they are piping hot. I like buying one and munching on it while I wander through the tent looking at all the other goodies.


Wilson Farm goes all out every season and they are big on the holidays. Here is their Halloween/Fall set up. Lots of fun decorations, pumpkins and other goods to buy.


Once you go inside the actual store, you find yourself in a totally different setting. This old barn with high-ceilings and wood beams has been remodeled into a foodie paradise. While the Weekly Special Tents will have produce, all the vegetables and fruits can be found inside the barn. I have a mental map of the store and I know where everything is and I plan my shopping list accordingly.



One of the great things about Wilson Farm is that they try sell locally grown produce whenever possible. Some of their produce comes right from their own fields. They'll proudly label it "Our Own" in those instances. I love Wilson Farm green beans especially. Although the ones in the picture are from Georgia (they label all produce with the state or country it came from), most of the time the Green Beans are from   the farm. I love this big bin. I stick my hand in and just start grabbing beans. It's so much fun.

Wilson Farm grows a lot of their own produce year round. They also have chickens on the farm and sell their own eggs. You can order your Thanksgiving Turkey or your Christmas Ham from them. They have a huge variety of prepared foods and have two chefs on staff who create and develop recipes. They host a lot of events. Last time I went they were having their last Hayride. They also have Tomato, Strawberry and Corn festivals. In the Weekly Special Tents, they'll serve samples of produce or prepared foods. There is no way your local supermarket does any of this.


Something else I love about Wilson Farm is their staff. I've been going there for so long a few of the staff members know me by name. In the blurry picture above, towards the left is Juan. He's my buddy. I stop and talk to him every time I visit. He's always got my back. There is also Bill. He's an expert on fruit and I always trust his opinion. He got me hooked on Cara-Cara oranges! Then there is Pat. He's a super-friendly guy who is very helpful. He does all the signage for the store because his handwriting is just that good. Ask any of the staff members for help and they'll go out of their way to be of service to you. 


Wilson Farm also has the most amazing array of flowers I've ever seen. You'll find quite a variety here.


In the back, is the prepared goods section. This is also the area where you'll find most of the fruit. They utilize space very well here. The barn also has a meat section with some selections you won't find at your  regular supermarket.


Wilson Farm also has a fantastic Cheese shop with tons of variety of cheese from all around the world. And a couple for sampling. They also have a great bakery with breads, desserts, coffee, cakes, cookies, etc.


The biggest complaint about Wilson Farm is that it gets super busy. The customers are not very nice. They'll push at your cart, block an aisle and won't think twice about cutting you off. I highly recommend going during the week or later in the afternoon on the weekends when the hussle and bussle dies down. The busiest part of the store with the most traffic congestion has to be the Packaged Foods section (as seen above). This is where the non-cooks or short-order cooks gather to stock up on ready-made lunches, dinners and sides for meals. These goods are a tad expensive so I usually steer clear of this area. But sometimes I like to look at the different items to get ideas for meals. And on occasion I'll pick up a package of their delicious Shrimp Scampi with Mixed Peppers and Linguine.


Isn't this place gorgeous?


As I left the store last week, I was greeted by a huge display of pumpkins. There is always something else that will make you linger just a little bit more before you leave the store and head home.


Hope you enjoyed my tour of Wilson Farm! And if you are ever in the Lexington, MA area make sure you stop by Wilson Farm.

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