Sunday, July 26, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Drink Times Ten

My husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I checked out Drink earlier this month and had such a great time (see earlier post about where we ate afterwards here). I wanted to share the experience of Drink with some of my friends. Nine friends actually.

As a member of the Foodbuzz blogging community, I had the opportunity to propose an idea for the July edition of Foodbuzz’s 24, 24, 24 project. And luckily, my proposal got picked. Thus Drink Times Ten came to fruition on a Saturday night.

We were greeted by the manager, John, with a complimentary food and cocktail pairing which consisted of a drink called the ‘Bamboo’ and a garnish of three house-pickled almonds. It’s made with Amontillado sherry, dry vermouth, and some orange bitters. We learned that they do a lot of their own pickling at Drink including lychee in tequila and cherries in liqueur.

It was quite a strong drink upon first sip and I think about half the group liked it more than the other half. The funny thing is that all of our glasses were somehow empty, so as one of my friends, JW, said, “After the fifth sip, it grew on me.”

Our bartenders that night were Sam and Cali - two very sweet, patient, and accommodating people. Although some people might get the impression that it is a pretentious place because of it’s dim mood-lighting and sveltely dressed staff, most of my friends thought it was rather laid back and low key. As one of them commented, “You know, I don’t usually feel comfortable ordering liquor drinks at a bar because I don’t know what to order. But here, it’s nice because you can actually have a conversation with the bartender and they don’t talk down to you.” I was tickled when the bartenders got excited describing the ingredients of a cocktail, and things like the origin or history of a liqueur.

So the premise of the evening’s event was that each person in our group would order an item from their bar menu, and then the bartender would suggest a drink to go along with the dish based on each person’s tastes. With eleven items currently being offered on the food menu, there are countless possibilities of drink and food pairings. In total, we had seven of the different dishes and had approximately nineteen different drinks (a couple were non-alcoholic) in the course of roughly three hours. Now that is my idea of a fun night with friends!

Speaking of friends, listed below are the participants of my 24, 24, 24 project, all ever-so-willing to give up a couple of hours in the name of liqueur research. Next to their names are the dish they ordered and the drinks that were made for them. Click on each name to see a full description of what they had that night (with pictures!) along with some of their feedback. Be sure to click on each photo to see the details.

I asked them to answer a few food-related questions before the event to give readers an idea of each person's food tastes. See if you share some of the same likes or dislikes - it may help you decide what to order when you visit Drink! Be warned: looking at these photos will probably make you hungry.

Tony: pork terrine with a Vieux Carre cocktail; Sazerac cocktail

JW: grilled cheese with a Maximillian Affair cocktail; Tennessee cocktail

Laura: prosciutto di Parma with a 20th Century cocktail; Left Bank cocktail

Stephanie: pork terrine with a Blood and Sand cocktail; Agony and Ecstasy cocktail

Friend #5: prosciutto di Parma with a Whiskey Smash cocktail; Lawhill cocktail; Rye Flip cocktail

Renee: buttermilk biscuits with a Bone cocktail; Aviator cocktail

Allen: chorizo appetizer with a Champs Elysee cocktail; gougeres with a Cucumber non-alcoholic; Mock non-alcoholic

Patty: grilled cheese with a Blueberry Mojito

Jess: prosciutto di Parma with an Aviation cocktail; nameless cocktail

Candice (that’s me): steak tartare with a Greenpoint cocktail; gougeres with rose wine

Overall, most of the group thought that the pairings went well with each other. There were gaps in between the time when one would order a drink before the appetizer would arrive, but that gave time to savor the cocktail in the meantime. We sat on one side of the bar but it wasn’t too long before it filled up completely (it was a Saturday night after all).

Thank you to Foodbuzz for approving my 24, 24, 24 project proposal and giving me and nine friends the opportunity to experience the creativity and passion for tasty libations offered by Drink. Thanks to Sarah at the Barbara Lynch Group for approving our reservation at Drink on a Saturday night. Thanks to John, Sam, Cali, and Aaron for an educating, exciting, and fun experience. And a special thank you to my nine friends for joining me in my food adventures, taking diligent notes throughout the evening (I made them work for their food and drinks!), and for providing such great company.

And now, I’ll return to daydreaming about eating gougeres all day long. P.S. They are so worth the wait!

One of our bartenders, Cali, pouring a drink.

A close up of the chorizo dish.

One of our bartenders, Sam, with a completed cocktail.

Two kids in the window passing by. They were just jealous of all the good stuff we were enjoying.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

world salsa sundays at the beehive

The downside to taking naps in the middle of the day on Sundays is that your chances of falling asleep later that night at a regular bedtime are pretty shot. Rewind to last Sunday: lazy and cranky me, took a nap (maybe 2 that day? hmmm ... can't seem to remember). 8:30 pm rolls around and I'm no where near being tired or sleepy. Luckily, Tony also took a nap that day so we decided to head out for a drink at the Beehive.

I know I've said it in posts before, but we just love the Beehive. I love the stage area, the bar, the atmosphere, and the food. We happened to stroll in on one of their World Salsa Sundays with a band, Cincoson, playiing some kick-ass salsa music on stage.

And of course, there's nothing nicer than a carafe of wine, sage frites, and a Sunday night out with your honey.

Salsa Sundays will go on through the rest of the year according to the events page on their website, so definitely stop in one night if you're in the area.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

sportello in boston, ma

If you're looking for delicious Italian food in a hip and off-the-beaten-path location, Sportello is your place. It's not too far outside of Downtown Boston in the Fort Point vicinity. You may think it's more of a deli or diner when you first walk in and see the white counters, counter stools, open kitchen, and large round balls of light dangling from the ceiling. But that's what makes this casually sleek restaurant so fun and appealing.

The artichoke appetizer ($9) was two halves of a roasted artichoke served with a deliciously salty anchovy aioli, breadcrumbs, and lemon. We managed to split it nicely among three adults. It went well with the complimentary bread that was served with a mixture of whipped ricotta cheese, olive oil, and a berry jam type of spread.

The spicy tomato soup ($10) was served with a savory caraway grilled cheese accompaniment. It was the perfect consistency and full of wonderful flavors.

There were four of us in our party that evening and each ordered a different pasta dish. The potato gnocchi ($20) are normally served with porcini mushrooms and peas in a cream sauce, however since I am allergic to them I asked for the peas to be omitted. The waitress was extremely considerate of my food allergies and the dish was superb. The gnocchi were so light and the mushrooms were cooked perfectly. The cream sauce that it is served in had a slight hint of wine, and was simply divine. I think I could eat this everyday - it was that good.

The bigoli ($20) dish is made with peas, haricot verts, and garlic with a mint pesto sauce. It is then topped with whipped ricotta. Lots of fresh flavors are incorporated into this dish.

The mustard leaf agnolotti ($21) is served with lamb that is so tender that it can barely withstand itself on fork tines. It is served with fresh fava beans and rapini. The agnolotti were cooked perfectly al dente.

The papardelle ($22) is served in a nice, rich bolognese sauce and topped with fried basil. It, too, is one of those dishes where you know you shouldn't eat the entire bowl full but it's too good to not enjoy in one sitting.

We were quite full from the appetizers, a shared bottle of wine, and our entrees so we skipped dessert. Dessert options include gelato, semi-freddo, and chocolate rice pudding as well as the ability to pick pastry items from their bakery counter (which can be added to your dining tab).

Sportello also offers breakfast and lunch daily (closed on Sunday), as well as Italian-inspired breads and sweet and savory pastries which are baked fresh daily at their bakery counter.

Be sure to stop by Drink, Sportello's sister bar, which is located right beneath the restaurant for a one-of-a-kind experience. Ask for a "DLB" if you like a gimlet - it's been described as a "gimlet on acid". Awesome. More on Drink in the near future. Stay tuned.


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