Tag Archives: sustainable

Memorable Meals of Summer: Boston

Fall has officially arrived in Philly, with temps dropping as low as the 40s over the past few days.  While I’m excited for the season’s arrival, along with fall foliage, apple cider, and pumpkins galore, the cold is certainly making me nostalgic for the warmth of summer.

Thinking of summer made me remember some of the truly great meals I had over the past few months, many of which I still haven’t written about (sorry for the backlog, folks!).  Two of the most memorable meals were during my family vacation to Boston, and they couldn’t be more different from one another.

Bondir

The first was at Bondir, an intimate 28-seat restaurant in Cambridge.  Voted one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants in the country, Bondir is committed to locally farmed, sustainable cuisine that lets the freshness of the ingredients speak for themselves.  The cozy interior matched the cuisine perfectly: rustic yet elegant and whimsical.

The meal started out with a selection of their homemade breads: 9 grain, The Sea, and cranberry walnut.  All were excellent, but The Sea really stood out against the rest.  Though I was initially skeptical of bread made with seaweed and squid ink, the combination was briny and pleasantly salty.

Next came the red norland potato and sweet corn chowder ($10).  Topped with salmon roe and roasted red onions, the soup had a surprisingly sophisticated symphony of flavors.  The intense saltiness from the roe was tempered by the sweetness of the corn and onions, balanced by the creamy broth.

For our entrees, we ordered farmed and foraged summer vegetables roasted and glacé with Teff polenta ($26), wagyu brisket sauerbraten with saffron glazed carrots, sorrell, and black lentils ($30), and pasture raised concord chicken over a white cornmeal cake, cipollini roasted with San Marzano tomatoes, and courgettes saute ($30) (pictured from left to right).

Every dish was absolutely delicious and carefully prepared.  I was struck by how a dish as simple as roasted vegetables was elevated to elegance and refinement, highlighting the quality of the ingredients and skill of Chef Jason Bond.  My favorite dish, however, was the wagyu beef sauerbraten (better photo available here).  Fork tender from a long brining process, and slowly braised in a tangy glaze, the beef was luscious and flavorful, again highlighting the quality of the meat.

Our meal ended on a sweet note: peach trifle with thyme-buttermilk ice cream and meringue brulee ($10) and chocolate panna cotta with seville orange puree, rhubarb jelly, cocoa nibs, and pistacio ($10).  Refined and not overly sweet, these desserts once again showed Chef Bond’s restraint and simple genius.

Complementing Bondir‘s casual-elegant cuisine is its excellent and knowledgeable waitstaff.  Each server was warm and attentive, carefully describing each dish and happily answering any questions or taking any requests we had.  All in all, a brilliant meal.

279A Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 661-0009
Bondir on Urbanspoon

Clam Box

The second most memorable meal of the trip was actually 45 minutes outside of Boston, in the adorable town of Ipswich.  Famous for the gorgeous Crane Estate (pictured above) and Ipswich clams, my family and I managed to experience both on our visit.

After our tour of the Crane Estate, we made our way over to the Clam Box, an Ipswich institution since 1935.  Famous for their fried clams and fresh no-frills seafood, we knew we were in for a treat when we saw the massive line outside the restaurant.

Locals and tourists alike flock to the Clam Box for good reason.  Service is friendly and efficient, and the interior is pleasantly kitschy.  But the real standout at this place is the fresh seafood.  The fried Ipswich clams ($14.25; pictured above)  were the epitome of deep-fried deliciousness.  Addictively crisp on the outside, the only thing that makes these clams better than they already are is the addition of tartar sauce.  Other standouts include the lobster roll ($17), piled high with sweet lobster meat on a toasted white bun.

246 High St.
Ipswich, CA 01938
(978) 356-9707 (call ahead for hours)
Clam Box of Ipswich on Urbanspoon

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Founding Flurries

The White House, covered in white

Like most DCers, I woke up Saturday morning to a wintery surprise: snowpacalypse 2.0! Since I missed snowpacalypse 1.0 back in December, I was more than excited to see the snow falling. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was less than thrilled to be dragged outside to play in the snow, but he grudgingly indulged my requests. Bundled up in our warmest jackets, we decided to walk to the White House (pictured above), which was beautiful and pristine in the freshly fallen snow.

Entrance to Founding Farmers

Needless to say, we were freezing and famished after our trek. Founding Farmers, located just a few blocks from the White House, seemed like an oasis at the time–a warm and welcome respite from the cold. The restaurant occupies a sleek and expansive 2-story space below the IMF building. But even with two levels, the restaurant was packed when we arrived (apparently, lots of people had the same idea). Luckily, we were able to find 2 seats at the bar–complete with flat screen TVs showing the Duke v. Georgetown game, which my boyfriend was ecstatic about.

FF really does mean homemade!

Founding Farmers (FF) is a Certified Green restaurant and DC’s first Certified LEED (Gold) restaurant. Its cuisine is described as “farm-inspired American true food and drink in a modern, casual and eco-friendly setting”–which means homemade products where possible (e.g. breads, pasta, sausage, sauces)  and everything else made from  locally sourced, sustainably farmed ingredients. While all of  these endeavors are quite admirable (and ones that I wholeheartedly support), they sadly did not translate into the high quality, flavorful cuisine I was expecting from FF.

The menu is quite expansive, offering everything from pancakes and bacon lollis to handmade flatbreads and pasta to enchiladas. Honestly, I think the all-encompassing menu is part of the problem. For the life of me, I couldn’t decipher what the restaurant’s specialty was. Was it the handmade pastas? Or one of the many comfort food dishes? Or maybe it was the random steak enchiladas, the lone Tex-Mex item on the menu?

Sausage, mushroom, and spinach scramble

After much debate, my boyfriend and I finally settled on the  sausage, mushroom, and spinach scramble served with leek hash browns and a homemade English muffin ($12) and the southern pan fried chicken served with mac and cheese, gravy, and waffles ($16). When I read the description for the scramble, I was expecting a huge amount of food (and I was ready to eat it all). So you can imagine my disappointment with the small portion of eggs and hash browns which arrived. Nothing on the plate stood out in my mind–the eggs, potatoes, and even the in-house-baked English muffin with homemade strawberry preserves were all just blah (for lack of a better term).

Pan fried chicken

While the scramble was monotonous throughout, the pan fried chicken had more ups and downs. The chicken itself was very good: moist on the inside,with a crisp and flavorful crust on the outside. The creamy white gravy perfectly balanced the saltiness of the chicken. Sadly, everything else on the plate went down hill. The mac and cheese was mediocre at best: the cheese sauce was watery and the pasta overcooked. The waffles would have been fine, if they hadn’t been drowned in a sea of melted butter. And the broccoli that came with the meal seemed to be more of an afterthought than an accompaniment–soggy and flavorless.

Despite the underwhelming food, I wouldn’t write off Founding Farmers completely yet. It has a fun atmosphere, convenient location, admirable mission, and potential for improving given the high quality ingredients it uses (which may help to justify its higher than average prices). Unpaid gourmets looking for a cheap and delicious bite to eat shouldn’t head here, but if you’re caught in the snow and near the White House, Founding Farmers will suffice.

FF interior

Founding Farmers

1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (IMF HQ2)

Washington,DC 20006

202-822-TRUE

Founding Farmers on Urbanspoon