In the streets of Boston, once upon a time, roamed plenty o’ beings with curious, hungry minds.
And as seasons turned — ’tis true, my friends —
they had cravings and ravings of infinite kinds.
Come inside, where roasted hazelnuts teem,
and pumpkins are not always what they seem …
A is for apple, Ms. White’s fatal fruit,
but with cider or pie, that whole death thing is moot.
Let’s not beat around the bush, people. Apple pies taste good, and that’s pretty much our philosophy on that. The French also happen to do a pretty bangin’ job putting fruit to pastry, and the heirloom apple tart tatin ($8.95) at Sel de la Terre [255 State St., Boston. 617.720.1300. seldelaterre.com] puts us right in the mood for leaf-pile jumping. Topped with honey-thyme ice cream and caramel sauce, a buttery slice of this puts it all in perspective.
Lest we forget the humble crêpe, the thin, sweet stuffed pancake of our dreams: Get your quick autumn fix at Crispy Crêpes Café [512A Park Dr., Boston. 617.859.9585 crispycrepescafe.com], with the apple crêpe ($5.25), irresistibly nestled within a generous sprinkling of brown sugar, cinnamon and caramel. The French win again, sorry.
And we really didn’t plan this, but three’s certainly the charm: French brasserie Gaslight [560 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston. 617.422.0224. gaslight560.com] puts an interpretive spin on the traditional French 75 cocktail with the addition of Normandy’s apple brandy Calvados. The Du Coin 75 ($8.50) employs gin, Calvados, fresh lemon juice, sugar and champagne in the glass, with the brandy adding an intriguing layer of depth. This tribute to the fruit would make Eve certainly proud.
B’s for seared meat that’s simmered to braise,
and delicious to all: the straight and the gays.
Soy duck ($11)
Boneless braised duck + tofu
Best Little Restaurant [13A Hudson St., Chinatown. Boston. 617.338.4988]
Gnocchi di yuca al ragú verde stile secco peruviano ($24.95):
Cassava root gnocchi + braised “Chicha de Jora” green lamb ragu + shaved parmesan
Taranta [210 Hanover St., North End, Boston. 617.720.0052. tarantarist.com]
THE PULP FICTION:
Braised short rib cannelloni ($14)
Smoked bacon + veggies
Troquet [140 Boylston St., Theater District, Boston. 617.695.9463. troquetboston.com]
C is for cheese, milk’s curds from the whey,
it’s stinky and creamy, a cheesemonger’s prey.
Cheese is certainly delicious all year round, but there’s certain cozy comfort in the packing-in of the dense, creamy stuff with lusty abandon. (Oh, who, me?) Throw in some crusty bread and a generous pour, and things will be warming up in no time. Linda Brown, cheese and specialty foods buyer at the Wine and Cheese Cask [407 Washington St., Somerville. 617.623.8656. thewineandcheesecask.com] rallies some customer favorites and personal fall-tinged picks. Says Brown:
“We have a Spanish blue called Valdeón. It’s a great cold-weather cheese, a hearty blue from Spain that’s a mix of goat and cow. It’s very pretty, wrapped in chestnut leaves. Try it with Marcona Spanish almonds. They’re white almonds, and kind of oily and salty. Valdeón would always go well with a Spanish red.
“You can also do Stilton: an authentic blue, rich and complex. It also looks kind of cool; it’s naturally aged — cave-aged — and has a really nice rind. Stilton is always good with port.
“You could do a couple triple-crèmes. We have Délice de Bourgogne, a dense, buttery, rich cheese. It’s from the Burgundy region of France. It pairs well with Champagne.
“Here’s one from the United States: Torta Mascarpone, layered with basil and sun-dried tomatoes. It has a neat blend of sweet, salty and tangy from its ingredients.
“A staff favorite around here is Piave, an Italian that’s been aged 120 days. It’s full-bodied, sharp and kind of dry. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like Piave! It’s a nice cheese for snacking, or try drizzling a little olive oil with it on a good baguette.”
D is for Dante, inferno or not,
with adventurous eaters who make a chef hot.
DANTE DE MAGISTRIS | OWNER/CHEF, DANTE
BY SARAH LEECH-BLACK
What’s on the horizon for the fall menu?
I’m taking a trip to Italy, so I’m sure I’ll get more inspiration there. It’s all about utilizing what’s in front of you: That’s the way Italians cook.
Italians probably have nicer things in front of them, though. What do Bostonians have?
Root vegetables, pumpkins and all sorts of squash.
Do you have a favorite squash?
Blue Hubbard. I make a dish with that, homemade ricotta, toasted almonds and amaretto.
Gnocchi, spaghetti or ravioli?
Spaghetti. I can make it a new way every week. Gnocchi is more of a struggle; I get sick of it more easily so it’s more of a love/hate relationship.
What dish would a girl order off your menu to impress you?
The ostriche, which are oysters with a spicy cucumber and tomato sorbetto. It’s so good but people are scared of it. Nothing is more attractive than a girl who eats up what makes others squeamish.
Totally sexy. Given the success of your place, any deals with the devil or soul-signing along the way?
No, no deals.
Are you the devil?
[40 Edwin H. Land Blvd. 617.497.4200. restaurantdante.com]
E is for Eastie, a punchy new scene.
(Just call it E-Bo and see what we mean.)
Eating Eastie could take eons. The staggering density of terrific — and frequently cheap — eateries makes the Blue Line trip to that corner of the world well worth bearing.
The pupusas to beat ($1.40 for an ample disc of tortilla stuffed with cheese or beans) are found at Topacio [120 Meridian St., 617.567.9523], a friendly El Salvadoran restaurant. Rumor has it a competitor made off with uncooked pupusas to use as a prototype. Topacio cooks promise these are bigger and more delicious, and either it’s the staggeringly hot pepper they served me talking, or I must agree. An order of Carne a la Vinagreta ($10.75) gets you tender marinated shrimp perched atop grilled flank steak in a piquant, citrusy sauce.
Next door, the bartender at Cafe Italia [150 Meridian St., 617.569.1800] pronounces “ricotta” the right way (Italian-American trivia fans know this means with a “g”). We sit up on the marble bar for not only a bowl of home style chicken escarole soup ($5.25) laden with tender chicken in its rich broth, but also the mammoth Melanzane alla Donna ($7.95): A leaning tower of breaded eggplant, marinara and plenty of fresh chopped basil, with the whole thing swimming in a pool of pesto cream. A Brigham Circle location debuts soon.
Tacos at Taquería Jalisco [293 Bennington St., 617.567.6367] were sensational. We tried a trio of chicken, beef and pork tacos ($1.75 each or $6.99 for three plus rice and beans), each warm corn tortilla piled high with deeply-fragrant marinated meats, crisp onions and fresh cilantro.
Victor’s Restaurant [82 Bennington St., 617.568.1900] serves rotisserie chicken until 10pm nightly, and their traditional Peruvian fare includes big bowls of sopa de mariscos for $13.95.
Even for a late night, Karen Market [41 Bennington St., 617.569.7382] presents a wide array of produce for sale out front, but step inside to grab a frozen, chocolate-dipped banana on a stick ($1).
F is for the dark, voluptuous fig,
a fruit of the gods, and often the Dig.
It’s not often that you find a beverage, much less a boozy one, featuring the rich, seedy, fleshy fruit of the fig. However, Sabur [212 Holland St., Teele Sq., Somerville. 617.776.7890. saburrestaurant.com], a tucked-away spot for any righteous sort of Mediterranean feast, hosts an eclectic cocktail menu which includes the Smokva martini ($8.50), a mixture of fig-infused vodka with a touch of pomegranate juice. And hey, while you’re perched on those lounge pillows, you can indulge in the figgy baklava ($6) complete with lemon rosewater syrup or a Macedonian wild fig sundae ($7) stacking vanilla gelato, almond frangipane and pomegranate caramel.
Ligurian hotspot Rocca [500 Harrison Ave., Boston. 617.451.5151. roccaboston.com] also satisfies your sugar weakness with a sumptuous Walnut Fig Torta ($7). The fruity ending (we’d prefer to linger over drooly bites at the circular bar) is further sweetened by the accompanying vin santo.
But probably the most familiar face of the fig — for better or worse — is in the “it’s a cake, not a cookie” form of Nabisco Fig Newtons. Hey, at least they’re local. Kinda. You can get the crumbly suckers blended into a cup of chocolate or vanilla frozen yogurt ($2.95) at Angora Café [1024 Comm. Ave., Boston. 617.232.1757. angoracafe.com].
G is for ways you can dine yourself green,
not on vegetables, silly; eco-friendly, we mean!
You know the drill: local, sustainable, recyclable.
In the 28° organic martini ($11.50), Square One organic vodka distilled from good old American rye makes a cocktail as healthy (well, you do feel good, don’t you?) as one might hope. Delightful little salty cornichons grace this crystal clear cleansing elixir at 28 Degrees [1 Appleton St., South End, Boston. 617.728.0728. 28degrees-boston.com]. And speaking of cleansing, the underwater boudoir/bathroom design concept rocks.
Though you can chomp through a signature burger ($5.95) as effortlessly as any, it goes down easier knowing that the Grille Zone [1022 Comm. Ave., Packard’s Corner, Boston. 617.566.9663. grillezone.com] is an establishment serious about the whole saving-the-environment thing. It’s certified by the Green Restaurant Association on 20 counts for practices like fully compostable dishware, nontoxic cleaning methods and energy-efficient kitchen design. The goal — a zero-waste stream — sets an impressive standard for any eatery, from bistrot to burger joint.
H is for nut — the hazel for sure,
on meat and for sweets and best drunk as liqueur.
From its notable flavor and versatility — from Italian Baci chocolates to a fetching salad topper — the humble hazelnut puts an addictively nutty spin on delights both sweet and savory. It’s not just for Nutella anymore, although we are quite fond of that stuff schmeared on pretty much anything. Anything.
You may know your Wagyu from your Kobe beef, but Kurobuta (otherwise known as Berkshire) pork is the luxurious Japanese version of pig. Bricco [241 Hanover St., North End, Boston. 617.248.6800. bricco.com] slaps a dusting of hazelnut praline onto a Kurobuta pork tenderloin ($32), dressed accordingly for the occasion with red onion compote and the creaminess of white polenta gnocchetti al gorgonzola. Wiener schnitzel, eat your heart out.
Frangelico, the liqueur heady with sweet, intense hazelnut, is one of our weaknesses — the lovingly designed but nonetheless creepy monk-shaped bottle doesn’t hurt, either. Although it’s easily taken straight up, or tenderly stirred into our caffeine at Caffé Vittoria [290-296 Hanover St., North End, Boston. 617.227.7606. vittoriacaffe.com], there are worthy cocktails to seek out. Among the 101 martinis on the menu at Julien Bar & Lounge [250 Franklin St., Langham Hotel, Boston. 617.451.1900. langhamhotels.com], four include the nutty stuff, but if you’re wary of dessert cocktail concoctions the Angel Martini ($14) seems the purest way to go, mixing Frangelico only with supersmooth Ketel One. Though sometimes you need a wallop of cream and sugar in your glass, and that’s where the #5 ($9) at Union Bar and Grille [1357 Washington St., South End, Boston. 617.423.0555. unionrestaurant.com] comes into the fray. That, indeed, would be the five flavor players — Baileys, Godiva White Chocolate, Licor 43, Tia Maria and Frangelico — going down the hatch all too easy.
But while you’re in the neighborhood, the sweetest ending of all may befall you at Picco [513 Tremont St., South End, Boston. 617.927.0066. piccorestaurant.com], where all the drool-worthy (empirically speaking) homemade ice cream and sorbet desserts (two scoops, $5.95) can be doused underneath a cloak of house hazelnut topping. Now if that isn’t heaven, God’s got some serious splainin’ to do.
I is for dining the Icarus way,
“With local ingredients,” Chef Douglass would say.
CHRIS DOUGLASS | CHEF/OWNER, ICARUS
BY LINDSAY CRUDELE
Icarus has soared since Chris Douglass opened the swank South End spot in 1978, with Dorchester’s cozy Ashmont Grill as its follow-up and Tavolo projected for next spring. “Keep an eye on that — I don’t want it to scorch!” he cautions a cook, as I interrupt to ask him about homegrown food and home cooking.
As the weather cools down, what are some ways you plan to incorporate seasonal harvesttime produce into your menus?
I think the fall is always a good time to lay it on: People are ready to eat again. My menu always tracks the seasons, anyway, but fall is a great time. I’m sad to see tomatoes and corn and zucchini and peppers go away, but I’m really happy to see pumpkins, squashes and apples.
You’re known for your commitment to supporting local food — why do you consider this important?
Number one, I think it’s the flavor. That drives the choices. Getting really fresh ingredients is number one for me. Something I get locally is just hands down way more flavorful than the stuff that gets shipped from halfway around the world. It’s really important that Massachusetts and New England have a strong agricultural heritage. If it’s not supported, it’ll just go away. If I’m making purchasing decisions that influence whether it stays in agriculture or not, I put my dollars there.
Your Dorchester restaurant, the Ashmont Grill, is known for its comfort food — what’s your favorite comfort dish?
For me, not something I serve in the restaurant, but when I get home, and I just want something quick, I love a fried egg sandwich.
[3 Appleton St., South End, Boston. 617.426.1790. icarusrestaurant.com]
J is for sweet and spreadable jam,
scrumptious on muffins, cookies and lamb.
Summer’s lush harvests are fading, so let’s get on with the fruit picking, peeling and preserving!
Loup de mer ($29) at Om [92 Winthrop St., Harvard Sq., Cambridge. 617.576.2800. omrestaurant.com]
Herb-marinated whole grilled fish + roasted baby vegetables + lemon marmalade + marjoram
The Gobbler ($8.95) at All-Star Sandwich Bar [1245 Cambridge St., Inman Sq., Cambridge. 617.868.3065. allstarsandwichbar.com]
House roasted turkey + apple-sausage stuffing + orange-cranberry relish + mayo + gravy + rustic white bread
Raspberry crumb bars ($2.50) at Flour [12 Farnsworth St., Fort Point, Boston. 617.338.4333. flourbakery.com]
Buttery base + sweet raspberry jam + streusel crumb topping
Confiture de Mûres de Raphaël ($9.95) at Formaggio Kitchen [244 Huron Ave., Cambridge. 617.354.4750. formaggiokitchen.com]
Wild blackberries + sugar + plenty of French swagger
K is for Kobe, cows pampered like poodles
until they are slaughtered and eaten with noodles.
We don’t take beef from anyone, except it may be an easier sell if it’s from a cow that’s been fed sake and thoroughly coddled until its final moments in bloody, blissful destiny. Mmmmrph.
Though you could very well head to a steakhouse to spend a pretty penny on such buttery luxury, you can also fork it over for smaller, choicer presentations. Graze prettily on the Butcher Shop’s [552 Tremont St., South End, Boston. 617.423.4800. thebutchershopboston.com] resplendent Kobe Steak Salad ($24), the meat nestled within tangles of wild arugula, radish and Great Hill blue cheese; or nibble carefully through the Kobe mini burgers ($12) at tapas tavern Toro [1704 Washington St., Boston. 617.536.4300]. Mind those meaty juices, cowboy.
If you really want to test your gastronomic mettle, visit the butchers at Savenor’s [160 Charles St., Boston. 617.723.6328. savenorsmarket.com] and take home a raw cut of expensive, fine beef. The prices given are per pound: ground ($6.99), steak tips ($19.99), rib-eye ($46.99), tenderloin ($56.99) and strip steak ($63.99). Though it takes some balls to cook something so precious, there’s something very exhilarating about proclaiming, “Kobe taco niiiiight!”
L is for lounges, all cozy and plush,
with comforts aplenty for all stripes of lush.
Come out of the cold and cozy up.
B-Side [92 Hampshire St., Cambridge. 617.354.0766. bsidelounge.com]
Vintage cocktails + hard-boiled eggs + plenty of Pabst
City Bar [61 Exeter St., Lenox Hotel, Boston. 617.933.4800. citybarboston.com]
Padded walls + supernatural glowing bar + fruit- and ginger-infused rum
Lucky’s [355 Congress St., Seaport, Boston. 617.357.5825. luckyslounge.com]
Red glass votives + honkin’ burgers + Rat Pack retromania
Middlesex [315 Mass. Ave., Central Sq., Cambridge. 617.868.6739. middlesexlounge.com]
Ten tiny tacos + Hearthrob throngs + wheeeeely sofas
Toast [70 Union Sq., Somerville. 617.623.9211. toastlounge.com]
Funky couches + mad dance skills + dyke night
M is for mushrooms: shiitakes, morels,
criminis and oysters and “whoa, what the hell?”s.
The fungus king of the forest: We love our ‘shrooms.
We’re not one to be nostalgic, but the turkey and portobello meatloaf ($13) at Coda [329 Columbus Ave., Back Bay, Boston. 617.536.2632. codaboston.com] makes us weepy for the comforts of mommy’s kitchen. It has its grown-up moments, with a sweet red onion marmalade and a pile of whipped potatoes (no lumps as far as we can tell), but the generous portions and the cozy setting make us forget our woes for a spell. (Then it all comes back. Shit.)
Although there’s plates aplenty at Via Matta [79 Park Plaza, Boston. 617.422.0008. viamattarestaurant.com], the fresh burrata with shaved mushrooms and umbrian summer truffles ($23) is an ooey-gooey extravagance for the table. Creamy, white bundles of Burrata cheese lie under the pungent earthy dusting, oozing richness you can spread on bread or in pure forkfuls. Pokepokepoke.
If we were to die tonight, Japanese O Ya [9 East St., Leather District, Boston. 617.654.9900] will be setting our table, with grilled sashimi of chanterelles and shiitake mushrooms with sesame froth ($15) unquestionably on the last supper’s menu. The long, dramatic platter frames the elegant tangle of wild mushrooms, so deliciously seasoned with soy and sesame as if Jesus himself was in the kitchen. Wait … Jesus, is that you?
N is natural, as in “natural meat”:
cows, pigs and chickens who watch what they eat.
It’s no surprise that natural meat — livestock raised sustainably with no antibiotics, hormones or confinement — is a better alternative to the chemical-injected flesh sold from industrial feedlots. Not only does it increase meat quality and taste, it also provides a humane approach to looking out for the environment, the animals and the farmers. At the very least, the creatures deserve to die for our dinner in dignity.
If you want to go straight to the source, River Rock Farm [81 Five Bridge Rd., Brimfield. 413.245.0249. riverrockfarm.com] in Brimfield raises steers on their farm to produce natural beef “raised in pastures, not feedlots, without the use of artificial growth hormones or feed additives,” which is then aged between 2 and 4 weeks. They have a comprehensive selection of cuts, from Flanken-style short ribs ($7.75/lb) to ground beef patties ($7/lb) to tenderloin ($23/lb). River Rock offers delivery service for orders, as well as provides meats for City Feed and Supply [66 Boylston St., Jamaica Plain. 617.524.1657. cityfeedandsupply.com] and Lionette’s Market [577 Tremont St., Boston. 617.778.0360. lionettesmarket.com].
Speaking of Lionette’s, it’s truly the mother lode for natural meat and foodstuffs. For autumn they’ll feature a slew of game birds (quails, guinea hens, pheasants) and duck breasts and legs. Their year-round selection also includes naturally raised pork from Ferrisburg, Vermont (they buy the entire pig), chickens and natural beef from three farms in almost every cut you can think of. Don’t think too hard, though.
Especially for a neighborhood jazz/blues joint, Johnny D’s Uptown [17 Holland St., Davis Sq., Somerville. 617.776.2004. johnnyds.com] ambitiously serves the majority of its menu with natural meat. A number of dishes employ beef and chicken from natural farms like Coleman and Bell & Evans. There are the usual comfort food suspects — chili fries ($4.95), Southern fried chicken ($13.99), a signature cheeseburger ($9.95) — which makes it almost too easy to chow down conscientiously.
O’s Oleana, a sweet tooth’s delight,
with Maura Kilpatrick overseeing each bite.
MAURA KILPATRICK | PASTRY CHEF, OLEANA
BY SARAH LEECH-BLACK
Any special desserts this fall?
Currently we have corn ice cream and a corn soufflé, which not a lot of places do. It goes nicely with blackberries.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put in your homemade ice cream?
I’ve been working with this stuff from Turkey called salep, which are ground orchid roots. We use it instead of eggs and it can make the ice cream stretchy.
Yep, that is weird. Do you have a favorite dessert?
I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth. I must have at some point, but when you work with pastries full time, you get sick of it.
Do you catch a lot of heat from your dentist working with sweets all the time?
He definitely doesn’t let much slide.
And I assume you floss regularly, right?
Hey, no biggie, I don’t trust people who do anyway. If you were a dessert what would you be?
Something simple, like a cookie that could make someone instantly happy.
Sounds like a special cookie. Are you as sweet as the desserts you make?
Yes. I have my moods, but I’m a pretty cheerful person.
Apple pie or pumpkin?
With or without ice cream?
Just something straightforward. Vanilla.
Keep it real.
[134 Hampshire St., Inman Sq., Cambridge. 617.661.0505. oleanarestaurant.com]
P is for pumpkin, the girthiest gourd;
carve one up pretty and hail your Dark Lord.
We can’t get enough of this hefty, orange juggernaut, one whose flavor truly captures the spirit of the season when mixed with sweetness, spices or cream. They also make spectacular sounds when pushed pell-mell off the roof of Dig HQ. As we assume, of course.
For the utmost comfort food in a cozy refuge, the Kaddo ($4.95) at Helmand [143 1st St., Cambridge. 617.492.4646. helmandrestaurantcambridge.com] takes the cake. Pieces of baby pumpkin are panfried and baked for a deliciously smooth texture, and then served with yogurt garlic sauce and ground beef sauce. You can also sup the Kaddo and Banjan Challow ($10.95), which includes the same prepared gourd along with eggplant and fresh tomato sauce with baked challow rice, or the vegetarian house special ($11.95) which piles on panfried eggplant and sautéed spinach, and okra to baked pumpkin atop spice-infused pallow rice.
If you’re still in a DIY mode after scraping the carcass out of your jack-o’-lantern, cook up your own dinner around a package of fresh pumpkin ravioli ($6.95) from Capone Foods [14 Bow St., Union Sq., Somerville 617.629.2296. caponefoods.com]. This family-owned purveyor of made-from-scratch Italian foodstuffs offers a lemon-flavored ravioli with roasted pumpkin that’s cooked with butter, shallots, Marsala wine and Italian spices aplenty. If you’re more “I’ll just buy” than DIY, Capone also has a selection of sauces (try the Alfredo with shallots, $3.95) that’ll save your stove-stirrin’ ass.
And though we’ve been known to put away many times our share of pumpkin pie, other pumpkin-flavored desserts are usually only produced this time of the year. Which, of course, gives us liberty to hoard things like pints of homemade pumpkin ice cream ($4.65) at Christina’s [1255 Cambridge St., Inman Sq., Cambridge. 617.492.7021. christinasicecream.com]. Sweet, complex and made fresh with the high-quality ingredients from Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods next door, this treat is worthy of year-round tenure.
Q is a classic: The Quiet Man Pub,
where bus drivers and yuppies unite for their grub.
Somehow, when the weather starts turning, we’d prefer hunkering down with brews within the lair of a dive. Perhaps there aren’t many true ones left, but mark our words: The Quiet Man is the real deal. Perched right on the MBTA Broadway crux and framed by “America, love it or leave it!” on the façade, the dim townie pub hosts white-haired regulars, unwinds a younger after-work crowd and fosters camaraderie among an assortment of horse-racing aficionados. The spot is cash only, with Golden Tee glowing in the corner, and a Pop Warner flyer and photos from a recent golf tourney adorning the community bulletin board. The pub is cozy but certainly not charming and you better damn well like it.
And if you’ve ever been within 50 yards of Broadway station, you’ve smelled the Quiet Man. We’re not necessarily talking about drifts of secondhand smoke or the collective musk of Southie tenacity, but rather the sumptuous, meaty tinge of deliciously cooked beef. The waft is a good sign you’ll be fed well at this watering hole, which serves basic bottles like Sam Adams or Corona, served efficiently with plastic cups. Graze no-frills nachos or cheese sticks if you please, but be sure to sup the hearty portion of plump, charred sirloin steak tips ($12.75) served with minimal fanfare, a bottle of A1 at your disposal and game-related shouts aplenty from the bar. To get a good head start on your winter padding, clear off room on the table as well as in your stomach for the John Wayne Platter ($19.25), a two-person (a two-person army! — Ed.) carnivore smorgasbord of steak tips, chicken, sausage and half-rack of ribs with sides of rice pilaf and fresh salad. Or, alternatively, stop in on Wednesdays for “Boston’s biggest prime rib.” Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
[11 W. Broadway, Boston. 617.269.9878]
R is for sinew and spuds you can roast
for their hot, dripping juices we covet the most.
Because our ultimate autumn craving is for blistered, crisp skins.
The fried bone marrow or organic Australian sirloin steak at the Metropolitan Club [1210 Boylston St., Chestnut Hill. 617.731.0600. metclubandbar.com] will feel less naked alongside a pile of roasted asparagus ($8), your favorite green sprout dressed appropriately for the season.
Though we lament the last few days of patio weather, we’re easily appeased with a plateful of roasted chicken ($21) at Eastern Standard [528 Comm. Ave., Kenmore Sq., Boston. 617.532.9100. easternstandardboston.com], richly resplendent with mushrooms, foie gras and spaetzle.
For the ultimate Peking duck experience, call up King Fung Garden [74 Kneeland St., Chinatown, Boston. 617.357.5262] and put in your order (they require 24 hours’ notice) for the three-course spectacular ($34). The feast at this tiny hole-in-the-wall commences with the crackly, salty skin and pancakes for wrapping; duck meat with mixed vegetables for the second course; and a conclusion of duck bones simmered in a flavorful, belly-soothing soup.
S is for stew, which sticks to the pot,
as well as your ribs, you poor freezin’ sot.
It’s best not to risk the unctuous rib-sticking richness of cassoulet until it gets really drafty. But once the sun and wind cooperate, hunker down with the $26 rendition of the French favorite at Bouchée [159 Newbury St., Boston. 617.450.4343. boucheebrasserie.com], which pits confit duck, lamb sausage and braised bacon with plenty of beans and a decent dose of hibernation fodder.
Or jump over to Pho Hoa [1356 Dorchester Ave., Fields Corner, Dorchester. 617.287.9746. phohoa.com], not only home to the “Seven Courses of Beef,” but also to a tasty bowl of Phở Bò Kho ($6.95), a generous helping of carrot beef stew served with chewy rice noodles for a most steamy slurpage.
T is for terrine, which is some kind of loaf,
made of foie gras or chocolate, and maybe an oeuf.
A three-step trajectory for a terrific terrine time:
At Sibling Rivalry [525 Tremont St., South End, Boston. 617.338.5338. siblingrivalryboston.com], tap into David Kinkead’s side of the menu (sorry, Bob) for the duo of terrines ($17): foie gras with a Beaumes de Venise gastrique (we asked, it’s wine sauce), and country-style duck and pistachio. Ah, a bird and its liver reunited at long last.
For a vegetable interlude, plant yourself in front of the eggplant terrine ($12) at Pigalle [75 Charles St. South, Theater District, Boston. 617.423.4944. pigalleboston.com]. The savory app gets deserving sidekicks of roasted red peppers and goat cheese cream.
Then jump on the #39 and head into JP to tuck into dessert at one of Ten Tables [597 Centre St., Jamaica Plain. 617.524.8810. tentables.net]. You won’t know what hit you, but we will: The chocolate terrine ($6) woos with a dark sweetness, bracingly refreshing homemade mint ice cream and peanut brittle for crunch.
U is for Allston’s dear Union Square,
where vegans and chowhounds are not wont to err.
Heralded spectacularly by the retro signage at Twin Donuts [501 Cambridge St., Allston. 617.254.9421. myspace.com/twindonuts], Allston’s Union Square — the crossroads between Cambridge and North Beacon streets and down a stretch of Brighton Avenue — is one starting point for a belly-busting eating crawl that would put any foodie under the table. The block’s dense with international hole-in-the-walls, quick bites for burritos or hot dogs and pretty much a safe bet for delicious cheap eats.
YoMa [5 North Beacon St., 617.783.1372] is a prime example, a tucked-away Burmese restaurant with no frills and a bare-bones interior, nonetheless boasting earnest, authentic dishes from the kitchen. On the menu are examples of traditional fare, like fresh piquant salads (tha yet yhee yhot, $5.75, is addictive and crunchy with fresh green mango, shredded cabbage, cilantro, shallots, ground peanuts and salted shrimp), curries with potato (try the aromatic goat curry, $8.75) and tangy savory soups (a bowl of Burmese hot and sour soup, $4.75, floats shrimp and fresh mushrooms in a lemongrass-tinged coconut milk broth). Mission of Burma, indeed.
For more traditional ethnic eateries, tread a bit down to Allston Village and be overwhelmed. Amongst our favorite standbys are the Korean classics at Buk Kyung [151 Brighton Ave., 617.254.2775], including the ultra comfort food of yookgejang ($7.95), a spicy sinus-clearing soup with shredded beef and scallions, and the Khmer specialties at Suvarnabhumi Kiri [90-92 Harvard Ave., 617.562.8888], especially the pungent curry pickled fish mixed with ground pork and coconut milk in parhok katee ($12.95).
And yes, even the vegans can eat: feeding the throes of the hungry are Grasshopper [1 North Beacon St., 617.254.8883. grasshoppervegan.com] and TJ Scallywaggle’s [487 Cambridge St., 617.787.9884. scallywaggles.com]. Go to the former for Asian-inspired dishes that sometimes feature mock-meat — spicy black peppers and garlic beef-style seitan ($9), stir-fried ginger and scallion vegi-squid ($8) — in addition to naturally vegan dishes like Japanese edamame ($3.50) or sautéed kale with black mushrooms ($9). Scallywaggle’s extensive pizza-subs-pasta menu purveys hearty meals studded with chikhin, sauhsage and meetbahlss.
V is for tender, succulent veal,
for those who don’t mind baby cow for their meal.
When it comes to lamb, veal and other baby-type things, springtime may be for weaning, but fall season’s for the eating. Especially smothered in thick, hearty sauces and served with a generous hand, veal meals can be especially comforting for a warm tuck-in.
Any fettuccine Alfredo worth its cholesterol has nothing on the veal valdostana ($23) at Salvatore’s [225 Northern Ave., Seaport, Boston. 617.737.5454. salvatoresboston.com]. For the strong-hearted, the indulgent or the extremely cold, the valdostana (harkening the mountainous Val d’Aosta region of northern Italy) blankets a prosciutto- and sage-adorned veal chop under a white wine cream sauce. Continuing the theme is a gorgonzola mascarpone cream sauce clinging onto ribbons of mafaldine pasta, with the whole mess topped with Fontina cheese. Whew.
And for those who still think eating veal is too cruel, perhaps you can be convinced with the prospect of free-range meat. (Frolic ’til you’re ripe!) The Metropolis Café [584 Tremont St., South End, Boston. 617.247.2931] employs the better kind of meat in their veal scallopini ($19.95), served with caper-hazelnut butter and a cauliflower leek gratin. Aww … coochie coochie coo.
W is for the pleasures of wine,
be it Spanish or sparkling or some German Rhine.
As the season changes so do our palates, yearning for richer foods and deeper flavors. And not to be left behind, wines should adapt accordingly. Some nuggets of insight from John Raeder, wine consultant at Gordon’s Fine Wines [894 Main St., Waltham. 781.893.1900. gordonswine.com]:
Suggestions for seasonal pairings?
I would definitely concentrate on juicier reds, things like Côtes du Rhône, some Australian Shiraz, some new world Merlot, some Malbecs. Pinot Noir or Burgundies are pretty safe bets anytime of year. That’s the advantage of Pinot Noir — it’s so versatile. You have fat ones for a big steak or light, crisp, fresh ones that can even handle a chill.
What makes Côtes du Rhône so awesome for fall?
Côtes du Rhône are fairly big wines that generally have pretty good acidity and have flavors that are generally a little earthier than some of other styles of wines. That earthiness — it really lends itself to roasted foods, root vegetables, all that stuff.
How about whites?
As for whites, Sauvignon Blanc is a very crisp wine that we may think of as summery. When you have that high acidity like you have in the Sauvignon Blanc, it really screams out crisp and bright, very refreshing. But when you have some of the big Italian whites in particular, or some Spanish ones as well, there’s not as much acidity or that crispness. There’s more body and weight to them that makes it nicer for fall and winter.
Port sales start to skyrocket this time of year. The higher sugar content tends to give you a little syrupy coating of the mouth. Really young port can be a little bitter; it can be a little harsh on the mouth, which kind of retracts from the warm homey feel. That said, there are ports that are made and designed to be drunk young so they don’t have the tannin feeling that dries your mouth out. Generally with port, the older it is, the better it is. It’s doesn’t really go bad with the additional bit of alcohol and sugar. If you have the money, go nuts. If you really want to keep warm in the winter, that stuff’s going to do it for you.
Mmmm, port. So, last call for wisdom.
There’s an occasion for every single wine. Nobody can tell you what you like except you.
2005 Domaine d’Andezon Côtes du Rhône ($9.99), full-bodied and approachable, could break anyone out of the Australia habit. It’s a fruit-forward wine that doesn’t go over the top and has just the right acidity to stand up to any fall food: braised spareribs, anyone? 2005 Domaine Castan ($12.99) is a bit spicier, with baker’s hints that may make you think of Grandma’s pumpkin pie.
2004 Domaine Réméjeanne, Les Genévriers ($19.99): This silky smooth wine lingers and finishes with a satiny elegance. Try it with roast pork shoulder and root vegetables.
Chardonnay is certainly more fall than Sauvignon Blanc, but try some full-bodied Italian whites instead. 2004 Bucci Verdichio ($19.99) has a brief tang of summery brightness before warming your mouth with herbal notes and a rich finish. Soaves not made by Bolla can also be big whites. Try one with a couple of years of bottle age for a rounder mouthfeel like Suavia 2004 ($14.99).
Cool nights by the fire scream out for port, the brandy-fortified wine of Portugal, but you don’t have to necessarily pay big bucks. Jonesy Tawny ($9.99) is young and Australian but drinks like many older ports. For double the pleasure and double the money, try Sandeman’s Founders Reserve ($19.99), made from select lots and aged for 5 years. And if you’re feeling flush, try an old vintage port: the 1977 Dow’s ($180) is a real winner that could still stand another 30 years.
X is for Mackeson’s XXX Stout,
a dark, creamy brew for a fall drinkin’ bout.
There’s nothing more natural than busting out the stout and Scotch when climes get cooler and skies get darker, but this particular bottle proves particularly solid. (Thank God, since we don’t have any xylophones or xenophobes worth mentioning in a dining context.) Brewed by the Boston Beer Company for Yanks (or Whitbread for the British version), Mackeson’s XXX Stout pours thick and pitch-black. It’s a fine example of milk stout, with creamy sweetness and dark chocolate and coffee flavors. Think of it as a grown-up milkshake, minus the ice cream and with (4.9 percent, to be exact) alcohol.
Grab a six-pack ($8.45) for the road at Downtown Wine and Spirits [225 Elm St., Davis Sq., Somerville. 617.625.7777. downtownwineandspirits.com] and try it sometime as an after dinner treat. Or if you want to try it cocktail style, head to Green Street Grill [280 Green St., Central Sq., Cambridge. 617.876.1655. greenstreetgrill.com] for the darkly smooth Black Velvet ($7.50). Mixing sparkly cava with the milk stout renders a drink that’ll take you gently into that good night.
Y is for yam, a tuber so sweet
it makes for our levels of beta-carotene complete.
OK, we sort of cheated. The orange starchy things we may call yams are officially sweet potatoes, but as far as anyone’s concerned, the terms are interchangeable. And anyway, “candied yams” are that much more fun to say.
On to the ways you can temper the beastly tuber!
A side of candied yams ($3) to your groaning plateful of fried chicken or meatloaf at Coast Café [233 River St., Cambridge. 617.354.7644]
A greasy basket of sweet potato fries ($6) at brew-centric Bukowski’s [50 Dalton St., Boston. 617.437.9999. myspace.com/bukowskitavern]
A triple stack of New Orleans sweet potato pancakes ($6.50), with pecans if you please, at the Deluxe Town Diner [627 Mount Auburn St., Watertown. 617.926.8400. deluxetowndiner.com]
Z is for Zygomates, Les if you will,
whose French food and drink make all days Bastille.
GEOFFREY FALLON | WINE DIRECTOR, LES ZYGOMATES
BY LINDSAY CRUDELE
Geoffrey Fallon wants you to know that rosé goes with everything, not just your ladies’ book group. The Chelsea-based sommelier has figured out how to fill glasses for gastronomes at Les Zyg since 1999, and as wine director since 2001. He reflects on holiday pairings and drinking well on the cheap.
What to pair with turkey?
Probably dry rosé or Pinot Noir. Dry rosé because it tends to go with everything on the table and has the acidity of a white wine with the depth of a red. Personally I think rosé is one of the best food wines you can come across. Pinot Noir also has that ability. It has a brooding, savory element, what the French would call terroir, which is essentially that the wine doesn’t just taste like grapes, it tastes like the earth it comes from.
Name the biggest mistake a wine amateur can make.
That price is an automatic determination of quality; that the more money a wine costs, the better it’s going to be. Why does a $1,000 bottle of wine cost more than a $10 bottle of wine? Certainly it is a quality wine, but does it taste 100 times better? Probably not. It’s about how much is produced, what’s on the label, who made it, and it’s not always about what’s in the bottle. Instead of buying Barolo from Piedmont, buy Nebbiolo from the general area, and get a wine that’s extremely good at a fraction of the price.