A dinner worthy of waxing poetry, an Urban Hearth review

Well, no.  I’m not actually going to write poetry about dinner.  But I am happy to report that I finally got to eat dinner at Urban Hearth, a cute little restaurant found in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  *does a happy dance*

I was there back in the winter for the first time to try out their breakfast/lunch menu, and really enjoyed it.  I meant to attend dinner there for my birthday some time ago, but I had trouble planning it when one of my friends headed off to Europe for vacation.  Instead of another food-truck-adventure-staycation this summer, my sister suggested that we meet up and have dinner at Urban Hearth.

While Urban Hearth is a cafe with an a la carte menu during the day, it is a fixed price multi-course restaurant when the evening rolls around.  You have your choice between 3 course and 5 courses, and you can add a wine option as well.  We just did the 3 courses without wine.

Supper club dinner at #urbanhearth

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Our meal started with an aperol spritz aperitif.  Their version of aperol spritz had cava instead of prosecco.  I don’t drink much at all, but I did like this cocktail.

Then, the starters came out.  Technically, the starters are complimentary bites not listed on the menu.  Both my sister and I should have gotten the same starter, but my sister has trouble digesting corn products, so she got an heirloom tomato and mozzarella plate.  My plate was a tostada, it was really good and sign of the food to come:  elegant and seasonal, but familiar.  It had sweet corn kernels, avocado cream, zucchini, tomatoes, cheese, bell peppers, a natursium leaf, and probably cilantro too but very little.  (For which I am grateful for as I am anti-cilantro.  Sorry, cilantro fans.)

Aperol and cava aperitif #aperitif #aperolspritz

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Tostada for a starter #urbanhearth #tostada

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

My sister's starter #urbanhearth #heirloomtomatoes

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

For our official first course, I went with the peach panzanella with seared halloumi, fresh greens, and olive emulsion.  It wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  It was well styled, and the halloumi was easily my favorite part of the plate, but the peaches weren’t as sweet as I had hoped, and the olive emulsion tasted like a puckerish vinaigrette.  The bread part of the panzanella was really torn pieces from a nice loaf of bread that still tasted fresh.  I guess I’m more accustomed to toasting cubes of old bread when I make panzanella.

My sister had the seared pork belly with English peas, kimchi, and radish.  It was really gorgeous, and the pork had an amazingly dark sear that was probably just seconds away from being burnt.  If I hadn’t chosen a meat heavy dish for my main course, I would have picked the pork belly for myself too.  I will say that I don’t know where the kimchi was.  Looking at the photo now, it looks like the plate had fresh and pickled radish.  I guess the pickled radish was the kimchi.

Peach panzanella with halloumi #peaches #halloumi

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Roasted pork belly with pea puree #porkbelly

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

When the first course was done, my sister and I were just chatting and sipping on our aperol spritz (we’re very slow drinkers when it comes to booze as our entire family just really isn’t inclined to any variety of alcohol in general).  And then, the kitchen whipped out some steaming shishito peppers that had been seared in generous amounts of oil and topped with salt.  Normally, I’m not wowed by shishito peppers (meanwhile my friends love them lots) but these were pretty good.

By the time the entree dish came to the table, I was already nearly full of good food, but I was determined to see the evening to the end.  My second course was the beef tenderloin with chanterelles, kohlrabi dumplings, creme fraiche, greens, and blueberry sauce.  I wouldn’t have thought to pair beef with creme fraiche and blueberries, but it doesn’t seem strange to me at all.  I just never thought to do it.  It was fabulous.  And the kohrabi dumplings?  I loved that too.  The dumplings were basically like a potato gnudi except made from kohlrabi.  I’m very tempted to try making it at home.

Meanwhile, my sister had the pan seared striped bass with grilled shrimp.  She was also supposed to get spoonbread, but since that had cornmeal in it, the kitchen replaced it with kohlrabi dumplings (she also loved them).  Not a bad word was had about the dish.

After the entree, we got our last palate cleanser:  a little digestive/sugar cookie with elderberry jam fruit.  This delicious.  The cookie portion was a little sweeter than I personally like but not disgustingly so.  I guess the only bad thing about this palate cleanser was that I couldn’t really savor it.  It was the size of a two bite cookie, but you really had to one-shot it because the cookie crumbled the minute you bit into it.  (Not that I speaking from experience or anything…)

But the dessert plate?  That was something I got to savor as slowly as I wanted to.

Starting with my sister’s dessert, she got the chocolate bark.  Visually, it was beautiful.  I didn’t get to taste the chocolate, but I’m sure that it was good.  I did get to taste the olive oil sorbetto, on the other hand.  It was a little jarring at how savory it was, especially after the digestive cookie.  It was made with a good quality oil, but extra virgin olive oil is a very distinctive flavor.  My sister was confused when she first ate it because she forgot that it was listed as olive oil on the menu.

Chocolate bark and olive oil sorbetto #chocolate #oliveoil

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

My sister may have picked the better first course, but we agreed that my dessert was the better of the two, which was the huckleberry pie with ginger whipped cream and basil oil garnish.

It was less elegant looking dessert, but the huckleberry mini pie tasted amazing with the ginger hints in the cream.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about the basil oil but I eventually found myself wanting a bit more of it on my plate.  Right now, I want to try infusing some ginger into some heavy cream (oooh, and I can too, I have some heavy cream in the fridge this very moment), just so that I can whip it up and served it on a pie.  Or a galette.  Whatever you want to call it, I don’t care.  (puts ginger whipped cream on the to-do-list)

If you are in the area, or ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend stopping by Urban Hearth.  Whether you just want to stop for coffee and breakfast, or whether you’ve got plans to spoil yourself for dinner.  My sister and I are already planning our next visit.

https://www.urbanhearth.net/

Advertisements

Nüssli118° day tote unboxing and review

First of all, what?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re asking yourself right now.

Nüssli118° is a raw foods store in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They sell a variety of snacks, smoothies, and juices.  It’s not fancy shmancy (or is the correct description “celebrity hip”?) like Sakara Life.  Their website isn’t filled with slick sounding product descriptions like Splendid Spoon (which I might try some day because they do make their soups sound very tasty!).

Now, I’m not vegan or a raw foodist (I’m not even vegetarian) in any way, but I do get curious about the raw food culture.   I guess it’s because I do like diversity in my meals, and healthy is always appreciated.

I’ve had a some Nüssli118° products in the past.   There was some sort of ginger round, chocolate pecan squares, and their chocolate cashew smoothie.  All of which were delicious.  So, I’ve been really curious about the Nüssli118° day tote for a few months now.

From their website:

The Nüssli118° Kitchen Share Day Tote is a day’s worth of delicious meals, drinks, and snacks delivered to your home or office once a week.  The products are ready-to-eat right out of the mason jar or to be gently warmed, served, and savored.  Either way, they will nourish, satisfy, and energize you throughout your day.  Each Kitchen Share Day Tote includes 2 drinks, 3 meals, 1 savory, and 2 sweets.  We look at what’s in season, combine fresh, great tasting, high quality ingredients, and create delicious nutrient-dense meals.  They are all organic, plant-based, and ready-to-eat, just enjoy!

Oooooh

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

Note, you can save money on the delivery fee by picking up the tote yourself.  The tote I picked up was this:

Week of April 10, 2017  Kitchen Share Day Tote:

Pineapple Turmeric Fresca
Vanilla Chai Smoothie
Chia Pudding Topped with Kiwi, Orange, and Apple
Butternut Squash Soup
Taco Salad
Garlic & Herb Crackers
Super Dark Chocolate Rounds
Lemon Ginger Square

Unboxing

A post shared by @ awesomesauceeats on

If you go through my photos, you’ll notice that I didn’t get the taco salad.  That’s because I’m allergic to raw celery and raw carrots.  So, the store provided their mango kale salad as a substitute.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Overall, I liked this salad.  I just wished that there had been a bit more of it.  Besides kale and mango, there was jicama, lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup and red pepper flakes.  And since I was still hungry, I went ahead and had the soup.  (Afterward, I remembered that each jar in my tote was technically a meal. Oh well.)

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

You can have the soup hot or cold.  It was a really nice warm spring day in Boston, so I went for it cold.  I liked this meal too.  The cranberries and parsley helped to jazz up the otherwise plain tasting squash soup.  I might have forgotten that cashews were in the soup and topped it with a tablespoon of hemp seed from my pantry.

Regarding the snacks, this is where Nüssli118° really shines.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

No surprise, the super dark chocolate rounds were my favorite from the tote.  The rosemary crackers were a close second.  The lemon ginger squares were my least favorite only because it’s a little too sweet for my personal preference.  But the texture is great.  It’s got crunch from the nuts but it’s not hard on the teeth.  The brightness of the lemon flavor shines through, but I’m not sure I could taste ginger much.  At the end of the day though, I’m always pro-chocolate.  The rounds are quite dense, but the chocolate flavor satisfies quite nicely.

Finally, I had the chia pudding for breakfast the morning after I picked up the tote.  I was unsure if I was going to like it.  Generally, I stay away from chia seeds because they get stuck in my teeth too easily.  Maybe because I had let the chia pudding sit for so long, I didn’t really have an issue.  It would have been boring if it hadn’t been for the fruit topping – apples, kiwi, and oranges – even though the pudding says it was spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg.  I could tell that the pudding wasn’t just chia, cashews, and water.  However, the spices were really muted.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

As for the drinks?  The cashew vanilla smoothie was good.  Not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly not the worst.  It’s just a basic cashew smoothie.  The tote list says vanilla chai, but the bottle I had was just vanilla.  The ingredients were water, cashews, dates, coconut oil, vanilla, and Himalayan salt.  The pineapple turmeric was probably my least favorite thing in the whole tote, and that’s just personal preference.  I found the turmeric flavor to overpower every other flavor.  The ingredient list is pineapple, water, mango, orange, lemon, maple syrup, turmeric, and cayenne.  I could barely taste the pineapple.  I really couldn’t taste any mango or orange.

So, would I do this again?  Quite possibly.  It’s not cheap.  It’s $65 and then there’s a $10 deposit for the tote and the mason jars.  If you return the tote and mason jars, you can get a $10 credit toward your next purchase.  I like that the packaging is reusable, and am not against the deposit.  Overall, the quality of everything is great.  (And it had better be!  Everything is organic, and some ingredients have been sprouted.)  The experience has definitely given me ideas on things to make at home.  It also makes me want to work on snack recipes.  But chances are pretty high that I’ll probably be lazy and swing by Nüssli118° when I’m hankering for healthy crisps and sweets.  (^_^)

Links:
http://nussli118.com/

Disclaimer – This post was not sponsored in any way.  A family member purchased the tote for me as a gift.  I just wanted to share my excitement.

The Table at Season to Taste, restaurant/catering review

I had an amazing and lovely dinner recently.

I was invited to a nine course dinner in North Cambridge at Season to Taste catering.  The catering company has a large table with chairs set up in the front part of the store to allow for dine-in guests (max number of guests is 12; min number is 8) – reservations and a deposit are required to sit at “The Table.”

The Table at Season to Taste espouses a locavore menu.  Our dishes were beautifully prepared by Chef Paul Trombly based on our food preferences, the season, and what ingredients were available from local farms.

Here’s a picture of the menu my dinner party found on the table when we entered:

DSC00882

Since some readers might find the image hard to read, here are the dishes retyped:

English pea veloute, yogurt panna cotta, trout roe
Scallop, uni butter, watercress, nori
Spring dug parsnips, fiddleheads, oyster mushrooms, sunchokes, speck
Spinach “pakora”, cauliflower, fennel, beets
Soft shell crab, spring succotash, lobster cream, micro greens
Duck, foie gras ravioli, consomme, snap peas, breakfast radish
Beef, chimichurri, pommes puree, red onion jam
Bonne bouch, blueberry jam, crisps
White chocolate, strawberry sorbet, basil ice cream, creme fraiche

Not on the menu was a clam with truffle oil (I think) and a piece of stuffed zucchini – our amuse bouche plate.

Some of the wines were different than what was printed on the menu.  The ones I know were served were:

Domaine J. Laurens Cremant De Limoux “La Rose No 7” NV, La Digne D’aval, France
Domaine Des Grandes Perries, Sancerre 2011, Sury-En-VAux, France
Mystic Saison, Chelsea, MA (this is actually a beer)

All of the wines were introduced /explained to us by Assistant General Manager George, who was also serving us our dinner.

Impressions?

I was really impressed by the trout roe.  It was very unexpected!  The pairing with the pea soup and the yogurt panna cotta was sublime.  The scallop was perfectly seared (something I still can’t do well), and the duck was crispy but not overcooked.  The consomme (made of duck and chorizo – yum!) was poured into our bowls at the time of serving which kept the texture perfect.  I thought the pakora was addictive.  It wasn’t a real pakora, but it had the Indian flavors and it was extremely soft and tender inside.  I loved putting bits of red onion jam on the beef, and was sad when it was all gone.  The cheese plate (the bonne bouche) was a goat cheese from Vermont which everyone seemed to enjoy.

DSC00884

DSC00885

The dessert course was my other favorite plate of the night.  The basil ice cream was just “wow”… so much so that I’m tempted to make some this weekend.  I don’t really remember where the white chocolate was.  I *think* it was smeared on the left side of my plate.  There was a sort of small cake-like thing under the ice cream that, flavor-wise, took a back seat to the rest of the plate but it was another great pairing.  (I suppose I shouldn’t call it a cake-like thing.  Cakelet?  It kind of reminded me of a baked pancake than cake, to be honest.  Maybe it had white chocolate in it as well?)  And the atmosphere of The Table is cozy enough that if one of the guests, who is a former pastry chef, decides to help the chef shape the ice cream into quinelles, it’s definitely ok.

If there is any downside to eating at The Table, then it’s the bill at the end of the night.  The six course dinner is $100 without tax, tip, and drink.  The nine course is $125.  Our table had opted for the wine pairing, so that’s nine glasses of alcohol per person.  And I’m not talking about half-glasses here, The Table was generous when pouring.  Our bill came  close to $250 per person after tax, tip, and drink.  You don’t have to do the wine pairing, though.  You can order a la carte.

I’m just sad that I can’t eat here more often.  I don’t make that much money!  Although, I wish I did.  (^_^)

A huge thank you to George, Paul, and Elana (it might have been Elena – oops?) for a wonderful dinner.

Reference:

http://seasontotastecatering.com/the_table.html

(Yeaaaah… I gave up taking pictures early on.  The lighting was not in my favor, and I didn’t want to be *that* person.)