This past weekend, my friend L came up for a reprieve from her busy life as a law student in NYC. Friday’s petulant weather gave way to a beautiful Saturday, which we enjoyed to the fullest. We had a lovely lunch spread courtesy of the Boston Local Food Festival, where we also sampled local cheeses, meats (sniffed out the bacon from five stalls over), and baked goods, and caught some cheese-making action and the beginnings of a seafood throwdown. Here’s a rundown of what we ate/saw:
Scones hanging out, looking pretty tasty, if a bit unconventionally shaped:
Cooks doing their thing:
A very healthy selection of plates: “winter squash pasta” (my response: “uh, that’s not pasta”); tacos with cauliflower as the star ingredient; and a lentil salad with pita chips. These we did not eat.
What we had instead, clockwise from top L: pulled pork taco; pork ribs; grilled pork sandwich from Sportello; mini beef brisket sandwich; and collards. The BBQ stuff was all from M&M Ribs. Unfortunately I don’t remember where the taco was from, but I blame L for not giving me the 411 when she went to buy it.
Grilled pork sandwich, heirloom tomatoes, herb aioli. The homemade bread on this baby was outstanding–noticeably milky with lots of oregano. It reminded me a bit of the really soft and sweet breads that populate the bakeries in China and Hong Kong. I didn’t dig it so much while I was abroad, but then again, they weren’t using it to bookend a really porky slab of meat and fresh tomatoes. My one complaint is that every other bite I took contained a wad of fat that I couldn’t bring myself to swallow. I’m not sure if we just got a particularly fatty part of the pig but it became an unwelcome nuisance, especially since the meat itself was so darn fine. I am excited to try Sportello–some of their brunch dishes sound uh-mazing.
The pulled pork taco was surprisingly light. There was a very acidic salsa with a strong vinegar base beneath the meat, which cut it nicely.
The mini beef brisket sandwich was my favorite dish of the afternoon. It goes without saying that the meat was tender. It wasn’t at all stringy, and the bbq sauce was a well-balanced mix of sweet, tang, and smoke. And the bread roll had good chew while still retaining that pleasant textbook pliancy.
Pork riblets: fat-tastic for sure, but not in the irritating way that the sandwich was, since the fat was dispersed so that each bite contained a bit of that lushness along with some muscle meat. I’m a fan of char but I’m not an end-rib kind of girl.
We meandered over to the North End and walked through Haymarket’s crazy crowded Saturday food market, where you can get 2 boxes of strawberries for $3, a $1 avocado, $0.99 bag of grapes, along with some FOB fish or freshly butchered meat should you be so inclined. If you plan on cooking for a crowd, this is definitely your place for one-stop food shopping. A caveat: check the produce, since the quality varies.
For dinner, I demanded that L eat seafood and took her to Legal. There was a sexy amount of garlic in her shrimp and garlic pasta, which was so good I gobbled up what she couldn’t finish. I ordered the lobster roll, as well as the lobster bisque, which was especially delicious that night. I asked for light on the mayo with the lobster roll, and ended up with a mayo-less one. That is better than having too much white gunk, but I should have asked for some melted butter on the side for dipping. In any case, props for their wait service–my impression from multiple experiences at Legal is that they take customer special requests seriously, no questions asked.
In other news, I’ve set a goal of eating only home-cooked meals (lunch/dinner) until this Thursday night. I’ve been eating out way too much and much too elaborately, a pattern indicative of my general uber-indulgence in recent weeks. It’s not that I feel guilty about it but I definitely want to take a step back, do a bit of reflecting and self-evaluating, and move forward from there. Plus, cooking for oneself is a good habit to cultivate; as much as I dislike it now, I believe there’s something restorative in the act of cooking and partaking of the food one prepares by oneself, for oneself. A post on tonight’s dinner (stir-fried noodles) is forthcoming.