Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bravo at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is a sexy work of art...

One of the wonderful things about our recent museum experiences has been the presence of a wonderful restaurant as part of visiting say the Museum of Modern Art. Recently, while in Boston, we had a truly transcendent experience in Bravo, the brilliant restaurant tucked neatly into the architecture of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The first thing noticed was the design of the place; perhaps comparisons to Mad Men are overdone, but it is easy to imagine spotting Don Draper gliding through the dining room and tucking into a booth with a female client for a mid-afternoon drink.
The decor was apparently done by the very fine restaurant designer Peter Neimitz and in case the message is not lost I will spell it out: Bravo is a work of art within a work of art.

As for the food, it was simply perfection. We had Market Fish (Cod) layered in an intoxicating broth of red onions, cabbage, mussels, and chirizo. Typically, I don't love Cod but this particular Cod had the expert touch of a superlative chef. The simple greens we had for an appetizer had wonderful texture like frill or lace; the mozzarella seemed as delicate and creamy as vanilla ice-cream. Speaking of that, for dessert, Lynn had pink macaroons that were perfect in the mouth besides looking like some kind of jewelry.

Our server, Kenneth combined smooth urbanity, crisp advice and a relaxed presence to help make the experience not only worthwhile, but very soothing. This was especially welcome since the New England Nor'easter of '10 had battered us to a bedraggled state at that point.

Superstar chef Patrick Gilmartin has put together what must be one of Boston's best kept culinary secrets with Bravo. Just don't tell anyone and ruin it for us ok?

M & L

Monday, March 15, 2010

Serafina at Dream Hotel NYC makes a lovely ginger martini...

Lynn and I had had it traipsing around NY late one recent Saturday afternoon and we were in a particularly receptive mood for a drink. We were staying at the Dream Hotel in NYC (see posts below) and felt like it was simple enough to get a drink at our hotel. There was a lounge in the Penthouse that was not open yet, but on the first floor near the entrance was Serafina where we got a nice Manhattan (me) and a truly memorable ginger martini (Lynn). This martini had large chunks of ginger which counterbalanced the tiny flecks of ice in her drink. The chunks of ginger gave the drink a (predictably) great ginger flavor and the coldness of the glass and ice helped maximize the pleasure of the drink.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Dream Hotel has a seedy glamour that (finally) wins over Mark and Lynn...

The Boutique style Dream Hotel in New York seemed to us to have a kind of split personality. One of jet setter Vikram Chatwal's group of hotels, the Dream Hotel, at first glance, seemed odd and empty and a little bit lifeless and nearly uninhabited. At night, it seemed to have a hum that was fun and decadent. Our room really came alive as the night fell with neon lighting under the bed and the thump of the disco several floors up in the Ava Lounge (for Ava Gardner). .

It seems (and this is only a guess) that the place was an old hotel that had been renovated to a point. There was still the patina of wear and tear at the place which was, again, I am guessing, probably left intact to give the hotel a kind of seedy glamour. Mission Accomplished!

The decor was a kind of mish mash with taxidermy, giant oriental sculpture and a showstopping aquarium in the lobby that was two floors tall. There was a subterranean world of spa offerings (The Deepak Chopra Center and Spa) where you can indulge in any number of yoga classes, spa treatments and Wellness Consultations. The Ava Lounge, on the 14Th Floor Penthouse seems an odd, but enticing combination of 50's Mad Men style retro and some European influences with vintage nudes on the wall.

Lynn and I enjoyed our short stay and we would no doubt go back again. The mix of styles and moods takes a little getting used to and perhaps there is a sense that the place tries too hard to be hip. However, it is one of the few major hotels in mid-town that does not have an overly commercial vibe...We will be back....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cafe 2 at Museum of Modern Art...

Lynn and I celebrated our tenth anniversary over the weekend with a trip to Manhattan. As usual, Lynn wanted to do and see everything. At the top of our list was going to the Museum of Modern Art to take in the Tim Burton Retrospective. We had not been there together in nearly three years, but we remembered the nice array of restaurants there and figured that we could get a better than average lunch there.

The Burton exhibit was packed and by the time we had navigated through the ephemera and memorabilia packed exhibit we were ready to eat and have a glass of wine. We had eaten at the MoMA's Terrace 5 in years past but had never tried the more modest Cafe 2.

Cafe 2 was bustling on this Saturday, but with good servers and staff we were seated fairly quickly. The menu was definitely exceptional for a cafeteria style eatery. I was able to get air dried bresaola as well as dry cured wild boar cacciatorini. Lynn had shaved fennel salad and a cured tuna bruschetta. Lynn had a nice Italian white wine and I had an equally fine chianti. For more on MoMA's restaraunts click here; for more about the museum itself click here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mark and Lynn Take a look inside Elana's Pantry...

Lynn was looking for gluten free recipes for our grandson when she came upon the elana's pantry site.

Recipes and information on this site led Lynn to take a strong interest in Elana's cookbook The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Ten Speed Press). Elana (Amersterdam) was nice enough to do a short, email interview with Mark and Lynn...

M & L: Relatively speaking, how much flexibility is there in these kind of recipes?

E: "They're a great base and I encourage adventurous folks to experiment with them --there are wonderful examples of this all over the forums section of my website elanaspantry.com, as well as in the comment sections of various recipes."

M & L: Do you think that gluten has gone mainstream? (If not, what will it take for it to go mainstream?)

E: "I think gluten free is much more common than it was 10 years ago when I was diagnosed. People thought I was in some sort of cult back then and did not have any conception that this was a real health issue."

M & L: Do you have a favorite non-gluten meal?

E: "I love the smoked salmon leek tart from my book The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook, served alongside a huge salad."

Bonus #1 Elana Shares her (Gluten Free) Chocolate Chip Scones for Mark and Lynn readers...

From Elana Amersterdam's Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Ten Speed Press)

Chocolate Chip Scones
Makes 16 scones
Sweetness: medium

In college, I used to pretend chocolate chip scones were a breakfast food instead of a dessert, devouring one nearly every morning. Using agave nectar to lower the glycemic index of this scone makes my unique categorization less of a stretch. Rich in antioxidants and low in sugar, organic dark chocolate makes these decadent-looking scones a healthy indulgence.

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 large eggs
1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (73% cacao)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined, then fold in the chocolate. Drop the batter, in scant 1/4 cups 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12 to 17 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Let the scones cool for 30 minutes on the baking sheets, then serve.

(Images and Text Courtesy of Ten Speed Press)

Bonus # 2 Elana's Pantry shares her Pear Crisp (Gluten Free) Recipe with readers of Mark and Lynn...

From the Gluten Free and Almond Flour Cookbook (Ten Speed Press)

From Elana Amersterdam's The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook (Ten Speed Press)

Pear Crisp
Serves 8
Sweetness: medium

Looking for a healthy yet tasty dessert? Look no further. With nutrient-dense almond flour and pears, a fruit particularly high in vitamin C, this dish is a great choice. This refreshing crisp is simple, easy to make, and full of warmth and comfort on a chilly fall day. I like to make it with soft, fully ripened pears—Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc work very well.

1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 medium pears, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set aside an 8-inch square baking dish.

To make the filling, whisk together the apple juice, lemon juice, arrowroot powder, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Place the pears in a bowl, toss with the apple juice mixture, then transfer to the baking dish.

To make the topping, combine the almond flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture, until coarsely blended and crumbly.

Sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the top of the crisp is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Let the crisp cool for 30 minutes, then serve warm.

Bonus # 3 Elana's Pantry shares her Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies (Gluten Free) Recipe with readers of Mark and Lynn...

From The Gluten Free and Almond Flour Cookbook (Ten Speed Press)

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies
These chocolaty cookies are a favorite in my household and vanish from my countertop in no time flat. The double dose of dark antioxidant-rich chocolate along with almond flour (rich in cholesterol-lowering omega fatty acids) makes these cookies a heart-healthy treat.

2 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (73% cacao)
1 cup dried fruit-juice-sweetened cherries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Fold in the chocolate and cherries. Spoon the dough 1 heaping tablespoon at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops of the cookies look dry and start to crack—be careful not to overcook. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then serve warm.

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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