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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Drunk times!

Last night we had just turned the light off to go to bed at about 11:30 when I heard a big bang out on the square.  Our apartment is generally soundproof from the average weekend noise, so to hear something that loud is pretty rare.  The last time I got out of bed right away for a noise like that was when someone punched through our front window.  I got Julie up and we went and looked out the windows and saw that someone had driven his car through the middle of the square, taking out 3 or 4 bollards, bouncing off the Christmas tree, and coming to rest with a really badly damaged car at the other side of the square.  Luckily no one was hurt, including the driver.  The police were there by the time we got to the window (less than 30 seconds), and they quickly grabbed the driver and threw him in the back of their car.  They dragged him out a little later for a field sobriety test that he didn’t seem to pass.  The planners who put the tree up had foresight to make a tree stand out of 3 feet of concrete, so the tree remained standing, although it didn’t help the car much.  Last week someone was arrested for peeing on the tree, so it’s had an exciting couple of weeks since they put it up.

 

He started on the right, bounced off a few things and ended on the other side

 

The car didn't make it.

 

Parts of his car were everywhere

 

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Justin

 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was all about family.  We went up to Wausau and visited both our families pretty much all day Thursday and Friday.

My mom and cousin Beth, recovering from dinner

My dad, Aunt Jessie, and cousins Claire, and Lucy

My Aunt Maggie - celebrating her birthday on Thanksgiving

Paul and Cody

Paul, Maria, and Heath

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Justin

 

Holiday parade

The holiday parade went through downtown a couple of weeks ago.  We got some good pictures from the roof, but didn’t stay out long enough to take pictures of everything.  It went on a long time.

 

Kids dressed as presents

Rocky Rococo!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Boston Walkathon – Mall Edition

The Marriott at Copley Place is linked to several other hotels and a convention center through a series of “arcades,” or hallways lined with super high end stores.  People are flowing through these skywalks and hallways at a pretty steady pace all day, and it is easy to get around.  We’re also getting our escalator fix, as they are everywhere in the arcade system.  Here’s just a smattering of a stores available (though I didn’t set foot in ANY of these!):

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Boston, Julie, Travel

 

O Ya = Booyah!

Last night Julie and I dined at O Ya, regarded as one of the top restaurants in Boston, and one of the best sushi restaurants around. Their accolades are pretty ridiculous.  After the last two dinners, this meal was a much different experience, but in a lot of ways better than the two dinners at No. 9 Park and Menton, which is pretty amazing, considering how good those two restaurants are.

We got a cab to the correct address, which is kind of a bunch of alleys away from a main road.  The door is super understated, and it took us a second to find the entry.

The service and ambiance was much more laid back than Menton or No. 9 Park, which is more of our style.  A lot of the credit for how good this dinner was can be given to our server, who was approachable, really knowledgeable, and just super friendly.  She did a really good job explaining all the different dishes and helping ensure we knew what we were eating.  She also made sure we got a copy of the menu with all the dishes we had checked off of it so we could remember everything later.

There weren’t any non-alcoholic pairings tonight, but we did enjoy a sip of sake with the last set of dishes.  Julie didn’t like it as much as I did – I could totally get behind expensive sake 🙂

We opt’ed for a smaller tasting menu over their “grand” tasting menu, but still received 19 individual dishes.  The grand tasting menu focuses more on super high end ingredients like waygu beef, foie gras, truffles, caviar, etc… and it also weighs in at about 25 dishes.

Dish 1 was a Kuramoto oyster, with watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette.  It was super clean and refreshing.

Dish 2 was Hamachi with spicy banana pepper mousse.  A little spicy, and just absolutely flavorful.  I remembered one of my favorite dishes at Alinea was a fried Hamachi and banana bite, served on a vanilla bean.

Dish 3 was Salmon Tataki, with torched tomato, smoked salt, and onion aioli.  We have this one starred as one of our favorites.  Just great flavors, with a bunch of different layers.

Dish 4 was warm eel with thai basil, kabayaki, and fresh kyoto sansho.  Julie doesn’t normally like eel, but this one was really good – maybe good enough to turn her into a convert.

Dish 5 was Homemade Russian fingerling potato chip, with burgundy truffle.  This one was like eating an entire bowl of Christian’s truffle chips in one bite.  The texture differences between the creamy sauce, rice, and crispy chip made the dish.

Dish 6 was really interesting – Fried Kumamoto oyster with yuzu kosho aioli and squid ink bubbles.  Tons of different flavors, temperatures and textures in this one.  We could easily have polished off a bunch more of these.

Dish 7 was wild Santa Barbara spot prawn, with garlic butter, white soy, and preserved yuzu.  The garlic butter just melted from the prawn when you bit into it – a perfect little bite.

Dish 8 was Shima Aji and Santa Barbara sea urchin with ceviche vinaigrette and cilantro.  That was easily the best sea urchin I’ve had – not too over powering, just a mellow sea water flavor, with a great creamy texture that balanced out the fish really well.  My chopstick skills were not good enough for this one – I broke out the fork.

Dish 9 was Bluefin Marguro with a Republic of Georgia herb sauce.  The herb blend was a really, really unique flavor that went well with the fish and lingered until the next course.

Dish 10 was Scottish salmon with a spicy sesame ponzu, yuzu kosho, and scallion oil.  This one was good, fresh, and tasty, but it wasn’t out-of-this-world good like the others.

Dish 11 was Hamachi, viet mignonette, thai basil, and shallot.  This one knocked our socks off.  Flavor wise it was perfect – smoky, fresh, and spicy.  This was easily the spiciest dish of the night, but in a really good way that lingered and paired great with the fish.

Dish 12 was bluefin tuna tataki, with smoky pickled onion, and truffle oil.  For this one the tuna really stood out, which I liked a lot.  Tuna is one of my favorite fishes and it worked really well here.

Dish 13 was a chilled Maine lobster salad, with avacado, creamy yuzu dressing, peppercress, and a cucumber gelee.  It was very light, refreshing and packed full of lobster.

Dish 14 was scary to me because I am not a huge mushroom eater, but this one won me over.  Grilled Chanterelle and Shitaki mushroom sashimi, with rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, and soy.  The mushrooms didn’t taste like mushrooms, and all the flavors gelled nicely, so I ate my half of the dish just fine.

Dish 15 was incredible.  I’m not sure either of us have ever had beef quite this good.  Seared Waygu petit strip loin, with potato confit, sea salt, and white truffle oil.  The beef was perfect and seasoned perfectly, and the thin little potato slices with the truffle oil were again reminiscent of Christian’s truffle chips.

Dish 16 and 17 came out together, as our “finale”.  We had seen foie gras gyoza on the menu and asked that they be added to our tasting menu, so the chefs paired those with the foie gras nigiri and an 8 year old sake.  The gyoza had kyoto sansho and pink peppercorns and were absolutely perfect.  They were the perfect temperature, and when you bit into them, the foie gras just melted.  We gobbled these up quick.

Dish 17 was foie gras, with balsalmic chocolate kabayaki, Claudio Corallo raisin cocoa pulp and a sip of aged sake.  What a way to finish the savory dishes – perfect foie gras and a sauce that made us want to lick the plate.  I thought the sake was great and went well with the dishes.  Julie, not so much 🙂

After the savory dishes, we ordered two desserts.  Dish 18 was raw coconut and almond gelato, with espresso bubbles.  This one was still bubbling when it was brought to the table and it had a great pairing of the bitter, warm espresso with the cold, creamy gelato.

Dish 19 was our first Boston creme pie.  We had to order it just for that fact alone.  This was Tres Leche Boston creme pie, with chocolate and sesame.  The cake was perfect, the chocolate was obviously very high end and tasty, and the sesame added an additional layer to the entire dish.

There’s a ton on this menu, so if we’re ever back in Boston, we’ll be back at O Ya in a heartbeat.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Boston, Food, Justin, Restaurant Reviews

 

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Boston Walkathon – Day 3

Each day here I think that I couldn’t possibly walk anymore than the day before.  And then I walk some more!  Today my day started in the fitness center as usual, and then shifted outdoors.  Although it was a bit cloudier, the temperatures still made it over 60 and it was very comfortable walking around.

I spent some time exploring the inside of the Boston Public Library.  It was just so interesting, and so many unique and extravagant features that only can be found in such old buildings!

I loved the reading room and spent a bit of time reading and texting with Jenn as we switched personalities for a day – her taking some time to bake snickerdoodles and me exploring libraries!

While the fountain of the courtyard was obviously emptied and prepared for winter, there were still lots of people enjoying the outdoor space.

A farmers market set up in Copley Square across from the library, so we stopped and picked up some ham and cheese sandwiches on freshly baked baguettes from one of the vendors.  So so so delicious.  And the ham was real slices of real ham, not just deli ham.

Justin headed back to work after lunch, so I decided to walk in a new and different direction and came across Commonwealth Mall, a stretch of green space about a mile long.  A very peaceful place to stroll, despite being in the middle of Boston!

And the houses that lined the mall? Wowsa!  They were some of the quintessential row houses seen in movies.  Justin later looked up some of the prices of these babies – in the 5 to 10 Million dollar range!

I also happened across a little cupcake shop called Sweet.  It was very cute inside, though even I was hit with a bit of sticker shock here – $3.25 for each cupcake (plus 50¢ for a box!).  I settled on my favorite combination – white cake with chocolate frosting to try (which I had been planning to take back to the hotel to share with Justin, but not if it was going to cost extra!).  I really enjoyed the cake, but didn’t care of the frosting, ended up just scraping it off and enjoying the cake without it!

It started sprinkling as I was walking back, so I grabbed a quick shot of this fun tortoise statue (the hare was just behind it!) and finally headed back to do some reading at the hotel.

 

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Boston, Julie, Travel

 

Menton (the restaurant where I ate a pigeon head)

Last night Julie and I went to the second restaurant in our food tour of Boston, stopping at Menton.  This is the sister restaurant to No. 9 Park, where we ate at last night.

When we got to the restaurant, we noticed that the interior was a little more spacious and comfortable than the night before, which was nice.  We were seated, spoke to the waiter about including a non-alcoholic drink pairing menu, and we were off!

We’re finding our iPhone cameras don’t do the best in low light, so sorry for the slightly blurry pictures.

The amuse bouche was a tiny little serving of oyster mushroom, micro greens, a marigold petal and a touch of a spicy sauce.  Nice, clean, and a good way to start.

The first course was a Langoustine Crudo, with apple, creme fraiches and sturgeon caviar.  The langoustine had a great texture and paired really well with the sweetness of the apple and creme fraiche.  The first drink they brought us was pretty much exactly the same as the night before at No. 9 Park – a light grapefruit and elderberry syrup concoction.  Very good and heavier on the elderberry syrup, which I liked better.  Julie liked it better yesterday.  They also brought out the most amazing croissants to go with this one – super flaky, buttery, and sweet.  They obviously had someone making those that knew what they were doing.

The second course was skate, with lettuce, sour dough croutons and a caper sauce.  The skate had a flat bone in it that had to be removed first, and true to form, Julie removed hers in one clean piece and I had some additional issues, basically butchering the dumb thing.  The dish worked well, but it didn’t quite have the punch of later dishes.

With this dish they paired a really nice cocktail of cucumber, lime, simple syrup, and mint, with a forest of mint leaves in the top.

The third course was two different types of shrimp, over a tomato sauce, and puffed wild rice.  There was a perfectly cooked large shrimp, covered in a bunch of tiny, tiny other shrimp, over the puffed rice.  The shrimp and tiny shrimp worked surprisingly well together, although I did think of the King’s and their turtle treats when I was eating the tiny shrimp.  The puffed rice was slightly crunchy and added a good additional texture to balance out the soft texture of the shrimp.

The fourth course was where things really started to take off.  This course was easily one of the two favorites of the night: a stinging nettle “nudi”, with a brown butter sauce.  These were 3 perfect little spheres of a stinging nettle ravioli filling, just without the actual pasta, covered in an amazing sauce.  There were piping hot and just melted in our mouths as we ate them, and they went amazingly well with a ridiculously good sauce.  This was just an “extra” course for the night, not on the menu, but it easily should be a regular dish.

The fifth course was foie gras.  Julie’s was a seared piece, with pear and pecans and and mine was a cold rabbit and foie gras terrine, with a caramelized fig and some raisin toast to eat with the terrine slice.    Both were amazing.  The terrine was my favorite of the night and it worked really well with a bite of toast, a slice of fig and a piece of the terrine.  Julie’s seared piece was also excellent – cooked to the perfect melt-in-your-mouth doneness, and went really well with the pear and pecans.  Paired with this course was a maple, apple beer.  It was maple syrup and an apple reduction mixed with some non-alcoholic beer.  The beer flavor was subtle, letting the richness of the maple and apple through.  A really good fall drink.

The sixth course was the infamous pigeon.  It was pigeon 4 ways – a seared breast, confit’ed leg, one I can’t remember, and the head.  It was served with a bit of blood sausage and some roast onions.  I didn’t notice the split pigeon head right away, but in the picture below, I’ve highlighted the little beak sticking up.  I asked the server what we were supposed to do with the head, and they explained that we were to take a tiny spoon they provided and scoop out the insides and eat it.  It was a tiny bit that had a really good flavor.  It had a creamy texture, but without the oiliness of bone marrow.  Definitely not something I would normally order, but that’s the genius of a chef’s tasting menu – you’re going to get what they bring out, whether or not you think you’re ready for it 🙂

It was paired with a sweet julep with a pickled onion syrup.  I didn’t care for the drink – the pickled flavor didn’t really agree with me, but Julie liked hers a lot, so she graciously finished mine.

The seventh course was lamb, with a chestnut puree and cauliflower.  I thought it was really good – perfectly cooked lamb that went really well with the chestnut, but Julie didn’t care for it.  I finished hers for her.  It was paired with an orange, ginger, spice drink with a whipped egg foam on top.  This was my favorite drink of the night.  It had a really good spicy citrus flavor and the creaminess of the egg foam went really well with it.  I could have chugged a Big Gulp full of it.

Finally, we hit the dessert stage, starting with the “intermezzo” of a mango, mojito sorbet, over a graham crumble, topped with lime pearls.  This was a really nice palette cleanser, but with a little more flavor than usual.  Julie had tea and I had an espresso.  (Don’t tell any of my coffee drinking friends, but I have been known to enjoy an espresso with dessert at nice restaurants)

The final drink was a sweet, citrusy, foamy concoction.  It had egg whites whipped through it – giving the whole drink a silky texture.  It was sweet and not too overpowering, going well with the dessert course.

The final large course was the dessert of a warm apple cider donut, Earl Gray ice cream and a cheddar crisp.  Julie and I can be pretty discerning when it comes to high end desserts, and this one was easily one of the best we’ve ever had.  The warm donut was amazing flavorful, and they obviously didn’t skimp on the cinnamon used – it had a great full flavor that paired well with everything on the plate.  This one was gone far too quickly.

With they check, they brought out this little dish full of teeny, tiny macarons.  Each was smaller than a dime, and there were four flavors – coffe, apple crisp, pumpkin pie, and basil.  Each tasted exactly as advertised, and we can only imagine the hard work that went into making them.  Regular macarons are hard enough, but to make and fill them when they are that small, without collapsing them has got to be tough.

The food tour continues tonight…



		
 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Boston, Food, Justin, Restaurant Reviews

 

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