Friday, September 5, 2014

Can You Ask The Chef Please?

The Pier Patio Pub – Old Orchard Beach, ME

Old Orchard Beach. The pier Patio Pub was at the end. 
     But really…who builds a waterpark in Maine? Finally… a Sunday in Maine that didn’t have rain in the forcast. Meagan and I had been waiting forever for this day because it meant we could try out Splashtown Funtown. I bought this groupon for the waterpark eons ago because… well, who doesn’t like waterparks? We really had no idea what to expect. It was a beautiful drive up, but after about an hour and a half in the tiny park in cloudy, cool and windy conditions, we called it and headed to the beach. Old Orchard Beach. Similar to Salisbury Beach in that it’s a super long beach and the surrounding area kind of reminds me of the Jersey Shore. There were tons of restaurants, arcades, ice cream shops and even a ferris wheel. One thing that was kind of funny was that the beach was packed! It was not a warm day, it was not sunny, and the water had reached Arctic proportions. These people were crazy… or just confused.
My lobster roll and rings :]
     Either way, we had warmed up a bit, so we walked out on this long pier that was full of shops and food stops and happened upon The Pier Patio Pub. It wasn’t anything fancy by any means, but it was perfect and exactly what we had in mind. We sat on the very end of the pier looking out into the ocean with waves crashing under our feet. It was beautiful. The oldest Hanson brother (in my opinion) was our waiter.
     To start we both ordered a Seadog Sunfish beer which, we both agree, was quite possibly the best beer we have ever had. It had grapefruit and peach flavors in it, but didn’t have the sweetness that some fruity beers sometimes seems to have. It was so refreshing and delicious. For dinner I ordered the lobster roll (when in Maine…) and onion rings. Everyone had the rings. I needed them. They were so good too. Medium sized slices, battered and fried to oblivion. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten something that took that many years off my life, and it was worth it. The lobster roll may have been the best one I’ve ever had too (not that I’ve had many). It wasn’t loaded up with mayo like most are and it was served with lettuce in the bottom of the bun. While the lettuce may seem insignificant, I think that’s what put it above the other lobster rolls I’ve had before. It made the roll complete. It made me complete.


Gingerbread Construction Company – Winchester, MA

Look at all the varieties!
     So now that I’m not rowing anymore, I’m finding fun ways to still stay active. One way I make them more fun is by including delicious rewards at the end (or the middle in this case). Zack had mentioned that Gingerbread Construction Company in Winchester was deadly and not too bad of a bike ride if I wanted to make a trip out of it. Genius idea. So I did it a couple days after he told me about it. I hopped on my bike with the intention of biking up to the Middlesex Fells reservation, tooling around a bit, grabbing a muffin and heading home. A 2 hour round trip I’d guess. Well… thanks to Google Maps thinking I could ride my road bike on hiking trails, I got a little lost, made some wrong turns, and finally made it to Gingerbread Construction Company two hours after departure. In all honesty, it was a great ride, I had great tunes, so all was well. I was just hungry and thirsty.
Look at all this fruit
Stupid good, stupid looking

Raspberry Blueberry muffin, Double Chocolate Chunk
Cookie and Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookie

     I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground when I walked in because I was blown away with the kajillion different varieties of muffins staring me in the face. Some with crumbles, some stuffed, some with icing. The line only got longer and longer the more time I spent debating and asking the lady behind the counter a million questions. In the end I chose the raspberry blueberry muffin and two cookies. This muffin wasn’t even a muffin. Of all the muffins I’ve had before, there has never been anything like this. It was super soft and moist inside, but not sticky or tacky on the outside. It had an awesome crust on top and was loaded with fresh juicy berries. I wanted another. I wanted 5 more.           
     Thankfully I had the world’s best cookies left to eat. I’m not kidding. Gingerbread Construction Company had the best cookies I have ever had in my life, and I’ve had a lot of cookies in my time. What was so good about them? I’m sure they were loaded with butter, and they literally melted in your mouth. The flavor of the oatmeal raisin pecan was so rich and nutty. I love the flavor pecans give to cookies. This was the one I could really feel melt in my mouth. Oatmeal cookies. I can’t get enough. The double chocolate chunk cookie had these enormous chocolate chunks in it as well as big white chocolate chunks. It was just oozing love. The 2 types of chocolate chunks plus the cocoa in the cookie itself all had different flavors and made each bite unique.


Bella Vista – Boston, MA

It's grainy, but there were basically no lights on in the
restaurant, so I had to make do. This was my Chicken Villanese
     These posts aren’t in order, but I do not care. I forgot to write about the Italian place we went to when Marissa and Jess visited! It’s hard to pick a place to eat in the North End because they all seem the same. I mean… I guess they kind of are. Anyway, Bella Vista looked promising, and we’re easy to please. The place was really dark, tiny and cute (minus the party bathroom Marissa accidentally discovered in the basement). The walls had your typical fake ivy hanging from them and catholic pictures and statues sat situated all around you. Our waitress was an old Italian lady who I’m sure has worked there since the dawn of time. I always like seeing that because it makes me feel like the place is more authentic. I’m sure that’s what they aim for though.

     My main meal was great, but my favorite
The first of two incredible, warm bread baskets. 
part may have been the rolls with butter. The rolls were big and football shaped and came to the table nice and hot. They were soft on the outside, but had a thinner crust that you could easily tear. I had at least 3 … maybe 4.
     For my main course I ordered the Chicken Villanese because I didn't feel like eating a ton of pasta. It did come with a side of spaghetti and tomato sauce though, which was a bonus. That was a little bland though. The Chicken Villanese was two flattened chicken breasts with shrimp, mushrooms and clams in a white wine sauce. Normally I’m hesitant to order things in a wine sauce, but I was feeling adventurous this day. Oh and it was such a great choice! The bite that I normally associate with wine wasn’t prominent at all. The white wine sauce was light and thin, but gave all of the seafood and the chicken a powerful flavor. It almost had the sharpness of wine, but not that rotten taste I dread so much. I was so pleased that it went well. I was nervous. The mushrooms were another unique element of the dish. They were a couple different varieties of wild and meaty mushrooms with a hearty chewiness. They were like sponges for that sauce. Bella Vista did not disappoint :]


Grafton Street – Cambridge, MA

BBQ American Lamb Pizza

     Jimmy and I can’t help it. When we get a butter dish that has a unique flavor and little red specks in it, we will look like morons trying to assess the flavors. And we will not hesitate to ask the waitress to ask the chef what’s in the butter. Grafton Street in Harvard Square had some tasty butter with lemon, red pepper and cumin to go with their awesome sliced chewy and sticky bread. After a big upset about not making it to Veggie Planet before they closed on their last day of existence, Jimmy, Meagan, Liz and I headed to Grafton Street to take advantage of their really nice outdoor seating area. To start we got a pitcher of Sangria which was one of the best red sangrias I’ve had. Since I’m not a big fan of red wine, sangria made with it often makes me want to hurl. I think this had more juice in it or something… or whatever else they put in sangria that isn’t wine.

     For my main meal, I stuck with the pizza idea since that was what I had set my mind on when Veggie Planet was in my future. Grafton Street had a awesome sounding BBQ American Lamb Pizza. This was completely different than I expected. I thought I was getting a normal thick crust pizza with tons of cheese and bonus shredded lamb on top. Instead, this crust had a light smear of tomato sauce and was sprinkled with smaller sized lamb chunks, equally sized chunks of feta cheese, and cilantro. So each bite you took had to have some strategy for fear of not getting a little bit of each topping and of them tumbling off. It was served on a beautiful, thick wooden cutting board and was quite pretty. I loved the savory and salty flavors of the lamb and feta balanced by the fresh cilantro. That cilantro was essential. Parsley would've been good too. It was very simple and tasty, but not filling. I love lamb, so there wasn't really going to be any way I would've been dissatisfied, but I would've liked some more meat and cheese.


No Name Restaurant - Boston, MA

     After spending the day out on Spectacle Island in the Boston harbor, Meagan, Madalyn, Jimmy and I were in the seafood mood. I had heard about No Name before, so I thought we might as well give it a try. It’s in a super odd location though on a wharf amongst what looks like a bunch of other fishing loading docks within a brick building. It wasn't quite the waterfront, open air dining experience we were looking for, but it was apparently the first restaurant in Boston to start serving seafood back in 1917. The inside resembled an old seaside restaurant with sea-worthy wooden furniture and art.
Sauteed Seafood Plate

     To start, they sent over a garlic bread basket. I was starving so it tasted good, but it honestly was just like the pre-made garlic bread you can get in the store that already has the garlic paste spread over it.
     For dinner, I went with the seafood platter with sautéed veggies. I was so happy with that choice. I wasn’t ready to feel the post-meal misery of a fried seafood plate, and I really enjoyed being able taste the simple flavors of the sautéed scallops, shrimp, swordfish and calamari. The swordfish was my favorite part of the dish. So simple and tender.  This also came with a heaping side of great coleslaw that I couldn’t finish.
Look at that coleslaw mountain
     I shared Jimmy’s seafood chowder and it was excellent. With a bunch of different types of seafood in the chowder, it had tons of different flavors, and it was the perfect consistency. I’m not a huge fan of runny chowders, nor am I fond of the super thick ones. This was right in the middle and allowed for a rich flavor without being overbearing in consistency. Jimmy’s broiled Scrod was simple and delicious because of the light buttery flavor and slightly crisped up edges of the fish. They cooked it perfectly without drying it out at all. Overall, a decent place, but not one of the better seafood experiences I’ve had here in the city.

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