Tuesday, January 19, 2010

South End's Sustainable Market Changing Hands

Lionette's Market in the South End will be changing hands. Don Otto's Natural and Organic Market will have a grand opening (according to their website as of today) on 'next Saturday,' which I take to mean Saturday, January 23, 2010. Check out their website for up-to-date info.

The following press release is taken directly from their website.


Don Otto and his family are taking over Lionette's at 577 Tremont St in the South End of Boston. Like James Lionette, our main focus will be to bring Local, Clean & Sustainable Food to people who care about our planet and what goes into their bodies. We will feature the same quality prepared foods made by the same Chefs. In addition to keeping the amazing food and Chefs, we will add a few twists of our own guaranteed to please. We also will be working with the same Small Farms in and around New England to provide our Organic Produce, Dairy products, Clean Meats, Delicious Cheeses, and other Local Products. James Lionette was the first person in the city of Boston to offer Grass Fed Beef and other Naturally Raised Meat & Poultry. Don Otto will carry on this legacy, offering only the highest Quality, Local, Clean, & Sustainable Meats and Poultry in New England. At Don Otto's you be guaranteed "Authentic Food". NO MASS PRODUCED potentially harmful food created for PROFIT rather than PEOPLE.

Don Otto will be taking over Lionette's market in a few days. We will be doing business under the name Lionette's until early February, then we will close on a on a Monday for renovations and hopefully re-open for our Grand Opening on the following Saturday. The exact dates are currently tentative so stay tuned


I am excited.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Today, on the Feast of St. Anthony, all of Andorra gathers together in various plazas throughout the country to celebrate what is called L'escudella. Escudella, itself, it the name given to a traditional Catalan stew full of delicious things like Catalan sausages, beans, and various vegetables. Apparently in the early 70s some friends in Andorra got together and prepared plates of escudella for their neighbors and the shopkeepers in the area. They were essentially reviving the centuries-old tradition of distributing food among the poorest in the parish on St. Anthony's day, January 17th. As you might have guessed, this became quite popular and now the entire country participates.

Lucky for us, in Andorra la Vella the festivities were taking place just a 5 minute walk from our apartment in the Plaça de Les Arcades. Basically the whole plaza was set up with the Escudellaires working massive vats of stew and then long rows of tables for people to eat at. The stew, as well as bread, dessert, and wine are all free - provided you bring a bowl. If you don't have a bowl they sell really nice commemorative painted bowls for 7€ with the year engraved on it, or even bowls from years past for a few Euros cheaper. The most popular thing to do, however, seemed to be to bring tupperware from home.

Once you show them you have a bowl, they give you a ticket and then you pass through to where you are served hunks of meat and sausage followed by several ladels-worth of stew. Finally there are nice hunks of bread for dipping. At the tables were also porrons, typical glass wine pitchers that one passes from person to person. As you tip the pitcher the wine comes spewing out in a narrow stream - quite daunting if you've never drank from one before. Once we'd finished our stew, which was of course delicious, particularly the nice fat sausage I had in mine, we got back in line for dessert - delicious hunks of tortell, o-shaped pastries filled with marzipan. It was a perfect (not to mention free!) meal for a chilly January afternoon. I certainly hope there are more delicious food festivals in the months to come!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wild Fish - incredible sushi in the Chicago 'burbs

Every time I'm back home in the Chicago suburbs 'Wild Fish' is a must-go food destination. Luckily my entire family loves stuffing their faces with sushi just as much as I do, so finding someone to go with is never an issue. I've tried many a sushi place in both the city and suburbs and Wild Fish still remains my number one.

For appetizers we typically try to do something other than sushi, given that there is a plethora of it on the way, but sometimes we just can't say no to a new sushi or sashimi appetizer creation. Both the seaweed and normal japanese salads are excellent, and you really can't go wrong with an order of the tempura - vegetable, chicken, shrimp, or whatever combination you'd like. This past time we opted for the soft-shell crab appetizer, which was "lightly floured and fried soft-shell crab served with citrus-soy dipping sauce". It was a nice dish for sharing given the easy-to-pick-apart legs fried to perfection.

For our main dish we split three of the maki rolls. Perhaps the most interesting was the roll on special, the "santa baby roll". This consisted of mozzarella cheese and pico de gallo over spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and shrimp tempura with an eel and wasabi mayo. Our second roll was the "ocean drive", fresh yellowtail, big-eye tuna, cilantro and green pepper wrapped in soybean paper and with a splash of chili oil and lime. Last but not least was the "original dragon" - eel over shrimp tempura with avocado as well.

Unagi, or freshwater eel, is hands down my favorite of any cooked sushi component and is always brushed with an incredible sweet sauce. We also shared a bowl of the chicken fried rice at my sister's request. Though not something I typically enjoy with sushi (rice overload) it did taste very fresh and didn't seem to be laden with half the chemicals and additives, not to mention gallon of grease, that you typically find with take-out fried rice.

Having been in Arlington Heights for a number of years now it seems that Wild Fish is here to stay. Thankfully I have somewhere back home for sushi that never disappoints, someplace I'd highly recommend for anyone who finds themselves in the Northwest Suburbs!

Wildfish on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ham Cocktail 'Biscuits'

Growing up, it seemed that every time my parents would have a party/gathering, we'd make these ham biscuits. They are not biscuits in the traditional Southern sense of the word, but they are surely delicious.

I made them for our New Year's Eve cocktail party, and they seemed to be a hit.

Ham Biscuits

1/4 lb. (100g) butter, softened
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, finely minced
1 package (20-24) party rolls (These are often called 'brown and serve.')
4-5 oz. sliced ham
1, 4-oz. package sliced Swiss cheese (Of course, one can use grated cheese.)

Mix together softened butter, mustard, poppy seeds, Worcestershire sauce,
and onion. Slice open the bread and spread mixture on both sides. Top half
with cheese and half with ham. Close rolls and bake at 350ºF until
cheese is melted. Cut into individual sandwiches and serve warm.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Minim's - Andorra La Vella, Andorra

Despite the food-centered nature of my roommates and I, we somehow hadn't really gone out for a proper Andorran meal in the several months we've been here. Alex's boyfriend's visit gave us the perfect excuse, and so we were off into the evening in search of someplace to dine. The Antic Carrer Major (Old Main Street) had couple of places that appealed to us, and so we settled upon "Minims" based on the reasonable prices and dish selection seen on the menu posted outside.
Walking into the restaurant between 8:30 and 9 we were unsurprisingly the first people there. It seems no matter when we go out to eat it just isn't late enough for us to not seem like foreigners. Though we didn't have a reservation (which we apparently needed?) they quickly seated us at a table in the back. The place itself had maybe a dozen tables and, though not overly decorated, was cute in a way.

We decided we'd each do a starter and an entrée (well, Alex had no entrée) and then split a bottle of wine - bé. Alex and Matt both ordered the "sopa de ceba gratinada" - onion soup, while I opted for the "coca". Coca is somewhat of an umbrella-term for a variety of breads, in this case a flatbread having anchovy, arugula, fig, and parmigiano reggiano. Before this arrived, however, we were brought a nice plate of little bread toasts with a creamy dollop of cheese covered with anchovy and what looked like pea tendrils or watercress. The creamy cheese had a nice light and airy texture and did a good job of balancing the saltiness of the anchovy.

Moving on, soon came the onion soups. While they looked quite akin to French onion soup they really were quite different . The onions were less caramelized but sweet and seemingly of the Spanish variety. The broth was less salty - Alex described it as almost a cross between egg-drop soup and french onion, minus the Asian herbs. The raw egg dropped into it certainly added to that description! My coca was delicious - the fig was incorporated as a deliciously sweet sauce drizzled over everything, and they certainly didn't skip on the nice anchovy filets draped over the flatbread. While the bits of parmesan were tasty enough, I could have done without it. Well, either that or more of it!

For my main dish I was feeling a bit adventurous and settled on the "peus de porc farcits amb bolets i salsifis" - stuffed pig's feet with mushrooms and salsify/oyster plant/goatsbeard (tragopogon porrifolius) The actual feet were used as casing, the stuffing being a blend of primarily pork and rice. The texture of the feet might turn some people off, but it is not unlike that of a slimier mushroom variety - certainly not unpleasant like fat can be at times. The sauce was on the salty side but very savory and rather like a nice thick beef stew. I could have used a few more mushrooms but the ones I had were quite nice. At the time I did not know what "salsifi" was, nor could I really figure out what it was on my plate admidst the stewy goodness, but I now know that it is a plant whose roots and leaves purportedly taste somewhat like oyster.

Matt's entrée was the "costelles de corder servides a la llosa" - lamb chops served on a "paving stone".
We couldn't for the life of us remember what "a la llosa" meant, but seeing as the chops came out sizzling on a stone slab it would seem that "paving stone" is the translation we were looking for, haha. The lamb chops were described as salty but very good. They were accompanied by roasted onions, peppers, what looked like fennel, and some lovely bits of grilled fat. Unfortunately I only had a bite of the grilled fat (shocking), but from what I gather it was a very satisfying dish.

We washed down our meal with a decent bottle of crianza, and by the time we were done there was no room for dessert. We waited the usual half-a-lifetime for the check, as we have done elsewhere in Western Europe, but we weren't in any particular rush. Naturally a bit after 10:30 when we left the place was hopping - when will we learn? Overall we were quite satisfied with our little dining excursion and would very much consider returning for some more reasonably-priced Andorran delights :-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Potato Pierogi

Being half Polish and half Italian our Christmas Eve dinners were always an eclectic mix of cultures; fish for the Italian side and pierogi for the Polish side. My grandparents used to bring pierogi from my great aunt's church group in NJ ( all the old Polish women would make them in the basement and then sell them for 6 bucks a dozen). Now that my grandmother's older and can't make the trip, it's been a sadly missed part of our recent Christmas Eve dinners. However, our friend Jeffrey who comes from a Polish family has recently supplied us with his uncle's pierogi recipe and I must say, they taste just as delicious as the ones I remember.

While our technique is not quite perfected yet, our attempt was well-rewarded with delicious pierogi that we all devoured. Below is Jeff's family's recipe. Enjoy!

Zdzislaw's Pierogi Dough
(Makes about three dozen)

See notes below

4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 egg yolks
1 cup milk
3 tbls. sour cream
3 tbls. melted butter or margarine

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Melt butter (or margarine). Set aside to cool.

Beat egg yolks, milk, and sour cream, add cooled melted butter, then the flour mixture, and mix thoroughly.

Roll dough fairly thin, cut in 4-5 inch circles, fill with approx. 1 tsp. filling, fold over and seal edges by pinching together with a fork.

Boil in salted water (using large pot) about 8 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and arrange on dishtowel to drain. When somewhat dry, place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper and place in freezer for approx. 20-30 minutes or until frozen. Dump into Zip Loc bags for freezer storage.

To serve, thaw and fry in melted butter until lightly browned. You can also add breadcrumbs or fried onions as a topping.

Note 1: Prepare fillings before preparing dough.

Note 2: Equipment: rolling pin, slotted spoon, 3-4" diameter biscuit cutter or drinking glass, large cutting board or marble slab, large stock pot for boiling pierogi, wax paper, a cookie sheet or other flat surface that is freezer safe, 2 or 3 clean dishtowels (flour sack cloths are particularly good but any cotton non-terry towel will work), freezer bags or containers. A heavy duty mixer like Kitchenaid is very helpful. A pasta machine is also helpful but not necessary.


Filling - Potato w Cheese

2 large russet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
3 tablespoons butter
2-3 stalks green onion
1/4 llb dry farmers cheese

Cut the potatoes into quarters and cook in cold water. While potatoes are cooking finely chop the yellow and green onions. Melt the butter and on very low heat sauté the onion mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and mash. Do not add milk or butter. When potatoes are mashed, add the onion mixture. Continue mashing until onions are integrated into the potatoes. Add the farmers cheese and continue mashing until cheese is incorporated into the potato and onion mixture. Cheese doesn't need to melt.