So I swam across the Boston Harbor for an event called Sharkfest. It was wavy, salty, nearly a mile across and therefore exhausting, especially after not having swam more than 30 minutes all year. David and his mah, pah and sister came to watch (which was super sweet of them), so naturally, the next course of action post-race was an afternoon feeding. Babbo opened back in 2015 and is owned and operated by world renowned chef Mario Batali. As soon as it opened I put it on my food bucket list. It was finally time.
After the race we all headed over to Babbo. It is a very large space on the main floor of one of the brand new skyscrapers down in the seaport. With bright lighting, marble countertops, and crystal wine glasses on all the tables, Babbo had a very vibrant atmosphere that was on the fancy side. We were maybe a little underdressed but no one seemed to mind. There were two small open kitchen areas where people were making pizzas, slicing meats and roasting things. I had never seen bar chairs and place settings surrounding the open kitchens anyplace except sushi restaurants, so this seemed to add a little bit more of a casual element.
I was so excited for pizza and a little nervous that it might be on the smaller side because it was more upscale, but I was proved wrong. First we ordered the chopped salad to split, which was surprisingly amazing. It was full of different ingredients including "Bibb, Radicchio, Mortadella, Prosciutto Cotto, Castelveltrano, Ceci, Montasio" or in other words bibb lettuce, radicchio (a purple leafy vegetable), Italian sausage, Italian cooked ham, olives, chickpeas and Montasio cheese. It was lightly and evenly dressed and was full of goodies rather than mostly greens. Everyone loved it.
Now for the pizzas. We got the Margherita pizza which was phenomenal. It was very light and fresh, and I loved the sauce. Because Margherita pizza is only tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, the sauce really needs to be on point, and it sure was. It wasn't sweet but was full of fresh tomato flavor. I also loved that they put full basil leaves on it rather than the little strips that seem to be the norm. The second pizza was the Quattro Formaggi which had four types of cheese including mozzarella, gorgonzola, smoked mozzarella, and grana (an Italian hard cheese similar to parmesian-reggiano). I honestly couldn't say I could detect more than three different cheeses. I definitely could taste the mozzarella, and the smoked mozzarella seemed to be a little overpowering, but perhaps because I'm not a big fan of the smoked flavor. I couldn't find the gorgonzola, but I definitely could taste some sort of other nutty flavor that I'd guess was the grana. Either way, the cheeses brought such a rich flavor to the pizza, and went perfectly with the eggplant and summer squash.
Then came the Salsiccia (or "Salchicha" as David called it because he says everything with a Spanish accent). The third pizza was my favorite mostly because of the fennel sausage. You can always tell my sausage is homemade because it's done right. It's more like little sausage exploded balls on top of a pizza, and it's not greasy. It has a very simple flavor and a simple feeling in your mouth. This sausage was amazing and was nestled atop buffalo mozzarella (yes... apparently "Mozzarelle di Bufala" is made from an Italian water buffalo...haha), basil leaves and fennel pollen. You could see the pollen sprinkled on top, but I didn't notice its flavor. Either way, this pizza was amazing. All of the pizzas were amazing. I loved the organic wheat crust. It was thin on the bottom but the edges had a little chewiness to them that was awesome. It seemed to have a little bit of the sourdough zing. I don't think I was making that up, and I hope they do that on purpose because it was great.
Everyone left not feeling gross after four slices of pizza, but rather feeling satisfied and enriched with a new culinary experience. Definitely try out Babbo if you're down in the Seaport. Mario won't disappoint.
Grass Fed - Jamaica Plain, MA
|Strange looking, but delicious - The Cali|
Every time I do a job down in Jamaica Plain I get real excited because I think maybe we might get to stop for lunch, and I can go to one of the kajillion amazing looking restaurants down on that side of town. This day was my lucky day because the house we were moving was right near Grass Fed, a burger joint that uses 100% grass fed meat from Walden Local Meat Co in Carlisle, MA. Happy cows, happy planet.
The restaurant itself is rather small with only a few tables and bar stools along the windows, and they have a chalkboard menu with doodles everywhere. I knew right away I wanted the Cali, which had a grass fed beef patty, spicy avocado spread, mesclun, pepperjack cheese, red onion, and cilantro-lime mayo. I asked them to keep mine a little pink, and they did just that. It was perfect. The burger was a little small (as I anticipated) but it had that homemade, hand pressed burger feel. The meat was juicy, not greasy, and rich with flavor. The best part about the patty was the crispy edges. Sometimes when you grill a burger at home, the juices and fats come out and form little crispy nubs around the edges of the burger that melt in your mouth when you eat them. This burger had a little skirt of these nubs. It was fabulous. And my two favorite elements to compliment the patty? The red onions and the cilantro-lime mayo. That mayo was sooooo good and light and delicious. I don't know what it was about the red onions but I loved them. Maybe because they were really thinly sliced, and I wasn't pulling huge onion chunks out? The mesclun was a cool deviation from the normal lettuce too. I liked that. Oh and let's not forget the bun. I have never had a burger bun like this before. It was a little bit sweeter than most (not nearly dessert-like), but its texture was so different. It was compressible kind of like a croissant, and chewy and moist almost like those Hawaiian sweet rolls (again not nearly as sweet). It was delicious. The whole thing was exceptional and left me feeling not gross (unlike the burger I ate at TGIFridays a couple weeks ago. Big mistake).
Blue Ribbon Barbeque - Arlington MA
|The kind of beautiful presentation you get when you|
order take out. Pulled pork, mashed taters and cornbread.
I'm not sure if I should write about Blue Ribbon yet because I didn't get the full experience. But for Karl's post birthday celebrations, Kevin ordered some Blue Ribbon as take out and we all got together and ate it. It was delicious. I was starving. Maybe those two things are related. Either way, we got some pulled pork which was some of the juiciest pulled pork I've ever had. With our take out orders they gave us three little bottles of different vinegar-based sauces for the meat (apparently these sauces are more typical of those found in North Carolina). These were definitely my kind of sauce because they had powerful flavor but weren't sweet, thick or syrupy. I hate those store brand types of bbq sauce. Get out of here with that. These were much thinner, and my favorite sauce was the Blue Ribbon Gold which had a subtle hint of heat. We also got a tub of mashed red potatoes (the one and only best kind of potato to use) which definitely had the dairy and the butter one always wants in some good quality mashed potatoes. And the cornbread. I've got a new #2 best cornbread I've ever had. Dave, your cornbread has now slipped to #3 on my list. Sorry. This cornbread had great moisture preventing it from crumbling to pieces, and it had the perfect amount of sweetness. Amazing with butter. Amazing without.
I feel like I'm doing Blue Ribbon a little bit of an injustice simply because I can't write about their physical restaurant and because I didn't have full exposure to the menu and options, but this will have to do until now. Until next time...