Friday Lunch at Toro

Last week my roommate and I decided to hit up one of our favorite spots for lunch. Toro is located in Boston’s South End neighborhood and is arguably one of the hottest restaurants in town.

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We were shocked when we arrived at almost 2pm on a Friday how crowded it was.

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Since the restaurant doesn’t take reservations there is a chance you may have to wait upwards of two hours for a table. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Luckily they have great cocktails to sip on while you wait and if any seats open up at the bar grab them because you can order from the whole menu while sitting there. We lucked out and snagged two seats at the bar within 5 minutes of walking in the door, otherwise we would have been waiting at least and hour.
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As we looked over the menu we decided to treat ourselves to some day time cocktails.

My roommate got the Chupacabra made with tequila, lime, and spicy mango simple syrup. I like spicy foods and drinks but this one was really SPICY! Order with caution because your mouth will be on fire throughout the meal.

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Chupacabra

My cocktail choice was the Gypsy made with gin, elderflower, yellow chartreuse and lime. I liked how light and refreshing it was. I could definitely sip down a few of these in one sitting but restrained myself to just one as it was a Friday afternoon.

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Toro’s menu is broken down into Pinchos, Tapas and Calientes as well as Bocadillos Y Ensaladas and Paella’s.

For our first Pincho (small snack) we chose a Pan con Tomate which is a toasted bread with tomato, garlic, Spanish olive oil and sea salt. It was like eating a really fresh bruschetta.

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Pan con Tomate

Our second Pincho was the Datiles con Jamon. These Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese are one of my favorite items on the menu. Oh, they are wrapped in Jamon Serrano. Anything wrapped in bacon or ham is a win in my book!

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Datiles con Jamon

Now for the Tapas. Another favorite of mine is the Pato con Membrillo, or the Smoked duck drumettes with quince glaze. These sticky and sweet drumettes are finger-licking good and have a ton of meat on them.

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Pato con Membrillo

They were so good I had to take two pictures of them!

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Pato con Membrillo

The Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija is a house special. I get this dish EVERY time I go to Toro and if you look around you will find and order at every table. This grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cotija cheese is a little taste of heaven. There are many restaurants that try to recreate this dish but none will ever be as good as this. EVER.

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Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija

A special dish on the menu was the Mejillones otherwise known as mussels with chorizo and basque cider. I loved how big the mussels were and the broth was flavorful with just the right amount of spice from the chorizo. Make sure to get extra bread to sop up the additional broth.

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Mejillones

Another special on the menu was the Empanada de Carne de Res y Patatas. This spicy curry beef and potato empanada was served with a cucumber, yogurt and clianto sauce. I am not a huge curry fan but I liked this dish because the curry was very faint. The dish is slighly spicy but if you dip it in the yogurt sauce it has a nice cooling effect.

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Empanada de Carne de Res y Patatas

Our last tapa dish was another menu special and a little on the adventurous side for me. The Pate de Cerdo, or bacon wrapped rabbit and pork pate with basque cider and rhubarb mostarda, had a lot of flavor and I loved the rhubarb and mustard.

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Pate de Cerdo

You can’t go to Toro and not get the Churros con Chocolate for dessert. These are some of the best churros I have had – nice and crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside and served warm. You get a nice portion of chocolate on the side so you can dip each and every last bite!

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Churros con Chocolate

If you live in Boston and haven’t been to Toro yet make sure to get in there ASAP. The menu is constantly changing so no matter how many times you go back there will always be something new to try!

Toro Boston
1704 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118

617.536.4300

If you are living in the NYC area you are in luck! Toro NYC opened in September 2013 in the former Nabisco Factory in Chelsea.

Toro NYC
85 10TH AVENUE
Entrance on 15th Street and 11th Avenue
NEW YORK NY 10011

212.691.2360

United for Boston’s Own

I can’t stop thinking about the two brave firefighter’s who lost their lives last week. Lt. Edward J. Walsh and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were true Boston hero’s putting their lives on the line to save others during the tragic Back Bay fire on March 26th.

The city has coming together in true #BostonStrong fashion over the past few days with many ways to show your support. One way is an chef-inspired dining event on Monday, April 14th taking place at Mike’s City Diner in Boston’s South End. The event is called United for Boston’s Own and will be benefiting the Walsh-Kennedy Memorial Fund.

There are only 60 seats available and tickets are $500. 100% of the money raised will go to Walsh-Kennedy Fund to support the families of Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy.

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Boston chef’s including Ken Oringer, Ming Tsai, Jay Hajj, Michael Schlow, Mike Smith, Ting Yen, Jamie Bissonnette, Michael Scelfo and Monica Glass will each create one course in a 9-course collaborative dinner.

Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite. If you cannot attend but would still like to donate to the Walsh-Kennedy Fund you can donate at this link as well:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/united-for-bostons-own-tickets-11155906617

Mike’s City Diner
1714 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118

617.267.9393

A Taste of Spring at Sweet Cupcakes

Last winter I was invited to Sweet Cupcakes to check out their newly debuted winter cupcake flavors. Taste testing cupcakes was so much fun and I was thrilled when Spring finally sprung in Boston and I got asked back for a second round!

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All of Sweet’s cupcakes are baked fresh daily with fun and original flavors making their debut every season. If you don’t have time to pop into one of their FOUR locations you can order their delicious treats online or by phone (617.247.2253). Sweet also offers cookies and cakes as well as gluten free options.

Talk about variety.

For those of you who haven’t tried a Sweet cupcake yet let me tell you about their frosting. They have the BEST frosting and each cupcake they serve gets a nice large dollop on top. Their frosting is so popular they sell “Frosting Shots” in each of their locations.

I love their clean and simple packaging wrapped like a present to be opened:

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How pretty are these cupcakes??

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Now to look at each one on it’s own…

SWEET CONFETTI CAKEA party in a cake! Delectable Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean cake bursting with bright bits of Belgian white chocolate. Finished with classic vanilla bean buttercream frosting and a confetti of colored sprinkles.

If you love vanilla this cupcake is for you! I am always drawn to anything with sprinkles so I was really excited about this one. The sprinkles are even baked into the cupcake batter so each bite is bursting with color.

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CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL The Sweet and savory cupcake just in time for spring. Delectable chocolate cake with homemade chocolate buttercream, dipped in pretzel crumbs and finished with a miniature chocolate dipped pretzel.

This cupcakes gives you that perfect mix of salty and sweet! I love the crunch from the pretzels mixed into that 2nd layer of frosting.

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CHOCOLATE CARAMEL - Moist Belgian chocolate cake stuffed with homemade chocolate pudding and topped with Sweet’s chocolate buttercream and a melted caramel drizzle.

Who doesn’t love the combination of chocolate and caramel? The pudding center keeps the cake nice and moist. This cupcake is a must for a chocolate lover!

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PEEPS(offered through Easter) Sweet’s famous vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and signature handcrafted buttercreams dipped in vibrant colored sanding sugars and topped off with the famous marshmallow candy.

I liked this traditional chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream. Adding the Peep makes for an extra special touch and a perfect treat to celebrate Easter with.

Peeps Collage

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE –  Flourless dark chocolate cake with a hint of espresso and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

This one was a surprise for me because in my mind cupcakes always have frosting. I do love flourless chocolate cake and this cupcake version was one of the best I’ve had. The top was nice and flaky and the inside was so rich and chocolate-y.

Flourless Collage

MINT CHIPCreamy mint chips baked into a rich, moist dark brownie cupcake. Topped with mint infused buttercream frosting and finished with a dark chocolate ganache drizzle.

I liked this cupcake because the mint was not over powering. The chocolate ganache mixed with the mint infused frosting was like eating and Andes Mint in frosting form!

Mint collage

After taste testing each of them it was hard to pick a favorite – they were all so good! However…if I had to pick just one it would have to be the Chocolate Caramel. While the Flourless Chocolate was right up there I have to be honest – Sweet Cupcakes are all about the frosting! And the winning cupcake HAS to have frosting. I also liked that the Chocolate Caramel had the pudding filling on the inside. A little added surprise!

A full list of the Spring Menu is available on their website.

Stop by any of the four Sweet locations below to try them out for yourself and let me know your favorite flavor!

Sweet – Downtown
11 School Street
Boston, MA 02108

Sweet – Back Bay
49 Massachusetts Ave
Boston, MA 02115

Sweet – Newbury Street
225 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115

Sweet – Harvard Square
Zero Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

617.247.CAKE (2253)

 

Poached eggs over Shredded Hashbrown Cups

Hash browns are the best kind of breakfast potatoes.

Well in my opinion they are. But only if they are nice and crispy on the outside. YUM.

I have tried to shred my own hash browns before only to find the finished product comes out soggy. I’m probably not drying them out enough because I am just too anxious to cook with them! Which is why I like taking the shortcut of using Simply Potatoes shredded hash browns. Pre-shredded hash browns make process of cooking potatoes like this at home so much quicker. You also get that perfectly crispy outside and fully cooked and soft inside.

Simply Potatoes

Through Pinterest I found a great recipe for individual Parmesan Hash Brown cups from The Yummy Life. I’ve held this recipe in the back of my mind for a while now and I could not be happier with my recipe’s end result.

I made my hash brown cups the night before and stored them in the refrigerator overnight. You could also freeze them to use at a later date. For my version I didn’t have scallions in the house so I just omitted them but I’m sure they would have just enchanted the dish. This recipe makes 12 cups.

Poaching eggs is something I have tried a few times now – I am definitely getting better at this technique of cooking but definitely not quite there yet. However, the recipe I found on She Wears Many Hats has given me my best batch yet. Check out that post for great photos and egg poaching tips!

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Recipe will make 12 hash brown cups

  • 1 bag of shredded hash brown potatoes (I used Simply Potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 eggs, cracked individually into small bowls
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • Cracked fresh pepper

For the hash brown cups…

Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.

Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the shredded hash browns, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix with a fork until combined.

Evenly place the mixture in each of the 12 cups in the tin. Bake for 75 minutes until the edges are browned.

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Next time I will try to shape them more like cups using the back of a spoon…

Cool completely on a cooling rack.

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For the poached eggs…

Use a shallow pan (such as a 10″ fry pan) filled with 2″ of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar to the water and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.

Crack your eggs individually into small ramekins and gently slide them into the boiling water. Using a spoon gently nudge the egg whites back over the yolk. Cook for 3 minutes.

Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and rest them on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Gently place the egg on top of the hash brown cup and top with a crack o fresh ground pepper.

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Not has hard as it looks right?

Dim Sum Brunch at Myers + Chang

A few weeks ago my roommate and I decided to head over to Myers + Chang to check out their Dim Sum Brunch.

Chef/Owner Joanne Chang along with her husband Christopher Meyers opened the restaurant in 2007. Along with current Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz (a fellow UMASS Amherst alum!) they have created a menu that encompasses dishes from Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese styles of cooking that Joanne grew up eating. They consider their space funky with an indie diner flair and they are all about fresh product, exotic herbs, redolent spices.

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For those who don’t know Chef Joanne Chang was the Pastry Chef at Rialto but in 2000 she opened the first Flour Bakery in the South End. After much success she opened additional locations in Fort Point in 2007, Central Square in 2010 and Back Bay in 2013. At Flour you can find breakfast pastries, breads, cakes, cookies, and tarts as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads.

Joanne has also written the cookbooks Flour: A Baker’s Collection of Spectacular Recipes and Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafe’s Most Loved Sweets & Savories.

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While we looked over the menu my roommate sipped on the Shanghai Sangria. Unlike traditional sangrias, this one is made with mango, blood orange, saki and red wine. I asked my roommate her thoughts and she said “The saki cuts down on the sweetness that can sometimes overwhelms a sangria. Plus, more booze = more fun, you know?”

I tasted a sip and completely agreed with her!

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Shanghai Sangria

Our first plate was the ‘Mama Chang’s Pork Dumplings’. As the name states, this recipe comes from Joanna Chang’s mother’s and were stuffed with pork and chives. The dumpling wrapper was that perfect consistency that you can only attain by making it from scratch.

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Mama Chang’s Pork Dumplings

Next was the Pork Belly Bao. Don’t make the mistake we did and order only one. Order at least two of these braised pork on a steamed bun with hoisin and pickles because you will NOT want to share.

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Pork Belly Bao

If you like spicy dishes try the Dan Dan Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce. This is actually a cold dish but the spice is hot! The noodles are nice and thick and I liked the large pieces of cucumber that acted as a cooling agent in comparison to the spiciness.

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Dan Dan Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

We were intrigued when we saw the Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice) on the menu. The bowl of rice, pork, shrimp, pineapple, and farm fresh egg arrives at the table with the egg intact and beautifully presented on top of the dish. You then get to mix all the tasty ingredients together yourself and enjoy.

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Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)

We were already getting full but had a few more items to try including the Crispy Spring Rolls. I love how light the wrapper was and it was fried to perfection.

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Crispy Spring Rolls

Last but definitely not least were the Tea Smoked Ribs. The meat on this dish just fell off the bone.

Yum.

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Tea Smoked Ribs

I know I will be heading back to Myers + Chang soon to check out more of the menu along with some of the tasty cocktail options. While it will be hard not to order these exact same dishes I am looking forward to trying some new ones as well!

Myers + Chang

1145 Washington Street Boston, MA 02118

617.542.5200