Monthly Archives: June 2012

The End Of PRK As We Know It

Photo: Jon Ashcroft/Flickr

Dear Readers:

I am writing to let you know that this post will be the last at Public Radio Kitchen. We are shuttering the storefront, so to speak, and saying goodbye.

Here is WBUR’s formal statement about the reasons behind this decision:

While PRK won’t be updated as a daily blog, WBUR is committed to keeping the Public Radio Kitchen warm. We’d like to thank Sue McCrory for all her great work building the PRK community. WBUR will continue to bring you the latest food news, trends and dining discoveries in and around the Boston area. You’ll find this coverage on Radio Boston, Morning Edition and All Things Considered and, starting this summer, you’ll find lots of new offerings at wbur.org.

Beginning Monday, July 1, PRK will no longer appear on the homepage of wbur.org. However, all our past content will continue to exist in the digital space — as archived material searchable by you, our readers and fans.

Want to find a post?

  1. Go to wbur.org and search using obvious key words.
  2. Search using the author’s name. Can’t remember who wrote the piece? Google “Public Radio Kitchen,” click on “About Public Radio Kitchen” (in the sidebar to the right) and search through the names of our contributors to jog your memory.
  3. Use our Categories (also to the right) if your most obvious google search techniques fail.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank the many contributors who wrote fascinating and entertaining posts for PRK over the years. Special thanks go to Sarah Kleinman, Alex Loud, Annie Fishel, Kathy Gunst and Susanna Bolle, all of whom contributed for a final time this past week. Warm gratitude, too, to past contributors Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Ilene Bezahler and Meryl LaTronica. You were some of the first voices to enrich this space.

And where would we be without our interns? Jamie Lutz, Anna Thorup, Elizabeth Hathaway and Katie White each wrote some of our most popular items to date. Click on their names to read those posts — or to re-read them, as the case may be.

Speaking of which, what were the most popular posts, ever, at Public Radio Kitchen? Anastacia Marx de Salcedo wrote one: What Not To Get The Cook On Your List. I, Sue McCrory, wrote the other: The Makings Of A Bad Mormon Dessert.

All of this said, I am truly indebted to three of my WBUR colleagues, each of whom innovated, improved and supported Public Radio Kitchen from beginning to end: multimedia producer Jesse Costa, Director of Social Media Robin Lubbock and Radio Boston producer, Jessica Alpert. Kudos to you. This was meaningful, and fun.

As for me, you can reach me @suemccrory on Twitter or via email SueMcooks@gmail.com. Please stay in touch!

The last word: none of us mentioned above would have had a forum in which to think, write and share if it weren’t for you, PRK’s followers. THANK YOU for reading PRK, coming back to it week in and week out, and for showing your interest in food as a topic of critical interest and worth. Even if Public Radio Kitchen isn’t, food news is indeed here to stay.

 

Meet Your Bartender: No. 9 Park’s Tyler Wang

Tyler Wang of No. 9 Park (Photo: Susanna Bolle WBUR/PRK)

Before Tyler Wang became a bartender, he trained to be an actor. In a sense, he never gave up the stage: he simply stepped from one stage to another.

To watch Tyler Wang behind the bar at No. 9 Park is to see an elegant performance, not only of physical technique and artistry (he mixes some truly beautiful drinks), but also in the subtle interpretation of the needs of the people on the other side of the bar.

Wang learned the art of tending bar and making great cocktails at Boston’s bartending mecca, Drink, under the tutelage of John Gertsen. There he worked alongside some of the city’s finest bartenders before making the move to No. 9 Park, where Gertsen himself cut his teeth and whose bar sparked the cocktail renaissance in Boston.

 

Tyler Wang at work (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

“Drink was definitely a very athletic form of bartending,” Wang says, when asked about the differences between the two. “And I feel this is a more intellectual form of bartending. You have more time to spend with people, so you’re always thinking what’s the next thing I can do, and then what’s the next thing I can do three steps down the line to make someone’s night that much better. You really have time to observe.”

And then, of course, there’s the list. Continue reading

Wood-Fired Dreaming: Stone Turtle Baking School

Photo: Kathy Gunst

My kitchen is full of stuff. I’ve got gadgets that peel vegetables and whirl up soups and smooth sauces and mash potatoes and blend pastry. I’ve got a machine that washes my dishes and toasts my bread and foams my coffee and grills my meat. Suffice it to say that there are few things I “need” when it comes to my kitchen.

But I do have a secret desire: I want/lust after a wood-burning oven for making bread and pizza, slow-cooked casseroles and braises.

Last summer I attended a weekend-long Intensive Wood-Fired Oven workshop in Lyman, Maine, at the Stone Turtle Baking and Cooking School. I figured it this way: I would learn how to use a wood-fired oven before I actually owned one. I guess that’s akin to building a doghouse for an animal you don’t yet own or buying clothes for a vacation you can’t afford, but no one can accuse me of being a pessimist.

No, I still don’t have my own wood-burning oven. But I learned all kinds of great baking tips, and made an amazing, crusty authentic baguette, real Italian ciabatta infused with olive oil and fresh rosemary, and created one of the great pizzas of my life. Hey, if a girl doesn’t keep dreaming about something what good is she anyway? Continue reading

The Art Of Dinner Conversation

Photo: cwwycoff1/Flickr

At the heart of a great conversation is the capacity not only to listen, but also to ask great questions.

Here are some tips from Anne Fishel, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at the Harvard Medical School and Director of Family and Couples Therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Anne asks questions for a living.

Anne K. Fishel, Ph.D.
The Family Dinner Project

As a therapist, I find that the asking of questions is my ‘bread and butter.’

I try to ask a broad range of questions because they surely don’t come in one flavor, and variety keeps conversation interesting, lively and meaningful. I ask some questions to figure out what the problem is, and others to try to make new possibilities happen.

For example, when I ask a man, “What’s the problem in your marriage?” I usually hear what he has been rehearsing in his head for weeks. Yet when I ask instead, “What’s it like being married to you?” he has to reorient his perspective and consider himself from his partner’s point of view.

Other times, I ask questions to change the mood, as when I ask an unhappy couple to tell me the story of how they first met. Usually, this question leads to a change in atmosphere from one of tension and conflict to a warmer feeling between them.

In the same way, at mealtimes, it can be fun to experiment with a lot of different opening questions, but it’s also important to know how to sustain and deepen the conversation. After all, a diet of conversation starters is not going to be any more satisfying than a meal composed of only an appetizer.

So, here are some ways to keep a conversation going and to deepen it, plus some sure-fire ways to shut a conversation down. Continue reading

Losing (And Finding) Farmers

Photo: Tom Bech/Flickr

Eloquent words, below, on the historical changes to our food system, and why we need to change back.

Alex Loud
Slow Food Boston 

In the days before WWII, farmers were not particularly difficult to find. Even if you lived deep in the warrens of the biggest cities, the nearest farmer was likely not very far off. (New Jersey, after all, wasn’t called the Garden State for nothin’.) For most of human history, in fact, this was the case: urban centers grew up and fed off a surrounding infrastructure of agriculture. And farmers, as such, were within easy reach.

Since the advent of industrial scale centralized agriculture, however, farmers have become a bit more scarce in all but the rural Midwest and Central Valley of California. Here in eastern Massachusetts, I suspect it is far more likely that your grandpa pushed a desk at Digital Equipment Corp or Wang, rather than a plow in the verdant fields in Marlborough.

Heretofore, this hasn’t really been a problem. Tearing up the old farms and centralizing the country’s food production unlocked extraordinary economic benefits for three generations. There’s no doubt that a middle manager at DEC in Littleton pulled down a larger and far steadier paycheck than any farmer ever did in that town. Furthermore, the promise of limitless ready-bake frozen entrees dulled us into a sense that nothing was really being lost: our supermarkets still featured bushels of apples and tomatoes. Indeed, there were more fruits and vegetables than ever before as notions of seasonality died away with the farms. The tomatoes simply came instead from California or Peru (that they sucked was beyond the point).

These days, as we’ve discussed before in this space, things are changing. Americans of all stripes have begun to realize that maybe food isn’t a purely nutritive input. Maybe there actually are some costs to this relentless push into the warm light of prosperity. And many people would like to do something about it. Continue reading

Boston Eats Heads Out Of Town

Whenever Sarah Kleinman lands at PRK with a new review, she’s local: Boston, Cambridge, JP, Quincy, Dedham.

But Sarah’s been traveling. She went home to Cleveland.

This newest episode of Boston Eats takes us all there, and out to lunch with Sarah and her dad. (If you think Paula, her mom, is a character, meet Jimmy Kleinman.) After watching this review, you’re likely to make Slyman’s THE place to go the next time you’re in Cleveland. Their “real” corned beef sandwich – which Sarah claims you just can’t get in Boston — is where it’s at.

Welcome to the Experience.

Thursday Tidbits: Strawberry Infusion

Photo: Plat/Flickr

LOCAL BITES

Strawberry Fields
Local fields are yielding their fruit, and UpStairs on the Square will be offering strawberry-studded dinners, by reservation, through tomorrow night. A four-course, berry-infused menu, served in the Soirée Room, is $50 ($75 with wine pairings). “Local Buratta with Wild Baby Arugula, Pistachios, Strawberries and Saba” is just for starters.

In the Flesh
Ana Sortun, chef/owner of Sofra and Oleana will be holding cooking demonstrations and sampling her new Chef Sets at 1pm and 3pm this Saturday, June 23, at the Williams-Sonoma in Copley Place. It’s part of their new Artisans’ Markets series, in which local producers bring their wares directly to you to taste, see and experience first-hand. Join other Edible Boston readers there. Call 617.262.3080 for more info.

Tiki Time
The patio at The Hawthorne is open and on Sunday nights things are swizzling. Every Sunday, 6-10pm, The Hawthorne hosts “Swizzle Sundays” – an ode to island cocktails old and new. Tiki Master Scott Marshall works the blenders and hosts the shindig, weather permitting, with a rotating menu of cocktails, including: the Rusty Shackelford (rum, chartreuse, chocolate, coconut) and the Electric Boomerang Banana (crème de banana, rum, blue curacao, coconut).

Thinking Inside the Box
This is cool. BostonInno reports on a pretty clever use for empty shipping containers: hydroponic farming. These guys are thinking green while thinking inside the box with their concept of urban Freight Farms. Read on. Continue reading

Food Therapy From Meal Makeover Moms

Photo: mhiguera/Flickr

Contributed by Casey Rackham, a BU Journalism student and current intern at WBUR.

I’ve never been one for eating breakfast; it’s just not my thing. But before some of you pounce on me for not liking what many call their favorite meal of the day, let it be known that it’s not the food I don’t like. It’s the time of day I have to eat it.

Believe me, I’ll have some blueberry pancakes soaked in maple syrup with a side of scrambled eggs any day – I just don’t have the time to make it and eat it before I go to work. I usually just grab a granola bar or piece of fruit on my way out of the door and save my first meal of the day for lunch.

Janice and Liz over at Meal Makeover Moms understand the need for a fast and easy breakfast. They’ve adapted a recipe for whole grain raspberry breakfast bars from Driscoll’s, a company known for their berries. The bars look like they could be more of dessert than anything, but hey, who am I to go against the word of two registered dieticians?

In an effort to meet them halfway, the raspberry bars seem more like a grown-up version of a Pop Tart rather than a dessert. Made with oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, wheat germ and an egg, and filled with a gooey raspberry filling, these bars are a delicious and fiber-filled way to start your day.

Who knows? This might be the recipe that converts me into a daily breakfast kind of gal.

Thursday Tidbits: Ain’t It Pretty

Photo: timomcd/Flickr

LOCAL BITES

Ain’t it Pretty
Maybe, maybe not. But the beer will be great! Join Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project this Sunday, June 17, 5pm, for their 4th Annual (they think) St. Botolph’s Day Pub Crawl. The games begin at Meadhall, Cambridge.

Love Dad
Remember that saying “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” Well, our friends at how2heroes have, and they’ve hit the nail on the head for Father’s Day this Sunday. Skip the new tie or garden tool, they say, and give the gift of “a well thought-out dinner with the family.” Their trove of recipes and how-to videos will help you prepare the likes of Grilled Red Snapper, Tequila Marinated Skirt Steak and Gooey Butter Cake. Bingo!

By Land and By Sea
Another fabulous food-related gift for dad: take him to Island Creek Oyster Bar’s newest Merroir/Terroir tasting happening this Sunday, 2-3pm. Led by an experienced sommelier and professional oyster farmer, these tastings allow you (and him) to explore various wines and oysters, and the flavor characteristics present as a result of regional origin. Call ICOB for more details – they’re offering a Father’s Day brunch, too.

A Haven for Lovers of Food and Drink
Join Edible Boston and Brooklyn Brewery at The Haven in Jamaica Plain on June 19, 6 – 8pm, for a meet-up of beer lovers, local food producers and Edible readers. Space is extremely limited; RSVP to events@edibleboston.net!

Reminders

Somerville Special
Swirl and Spice, a new, outdoor specialty foods market, opened TONIGHT at Union Square Plaza in Somerville. It continue through the summer as a weekly celebration held each Thursday evening, featuring Massachusetts wines, cheeses, breads, cured meats, jams, pickles and other specialty foods. Get the details.

Call Out: 6-9 Year Olds!
Monday, June 18, 3:30-4:30 pm, kids will have the chance to work spoon to spoon with celebrity chef Rebecca Newell of The Beehive at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), making ham & cheeses and their own French crêpes. This is the BCAE’s Bean City Kids program. $45 Members/Non-Members, $15 Materials. You must register! Continue reading

Food Therapy From A Cambridge Story

Photo: whitneyinchicago/Flickr

Contributed by Casey Rackham, a BU Journalism student and current intern at WBUR.

Whenever Mother Nature gives the gift of sunshine to Boston, I can’t help but spend almost all my time outside in the park near my apartment. It somehow feels like a crime not to soak up all of that juicy Vitamin-D while I can. However, I’ve learned that I’m quite limited as to what I can eat on the grass outside without bringing all of my tableware and utensils. I’m usually left with a bag of chips and some dip. How boring.

Thanks to Emily at A Cambridge Story blog, I can officially put generic ‘park’ snacks back in my pantry and class up my meal with perfectly-sized Tomato and Scallion Frittata Cups. While Emily makes her frittatas with shallots, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, eggs, scallions and some mozzarella cheese, she also notes that you can throw into the mix whatever vegetables and fillers you may have buried away in your refrigerator.

For me, the best part of these colorful breakfast-turned-lunch frittatas is not their flavor, but rather the fact that they’re baked in muffin tins. The muffin tin allows for a portion-controlled meal (unless you live by the “just one more won’t hurt me” philosophy, like I do), plus a delectable dish that can be eaten in the park sans fork and knife.

If you want to find me now, I’ll be out in the sun with a book in one hand and a frittata in the other.