Monday, October 21, 2013

Boston in September

 I think it's time to talk about my trip to Boston in September. Because I'm pretty sure it's my dream city and maybe I want to live there forever and ever. It was one of my all-time favorite trips, and it conveniently knocked off one of my New Years resolutions.

The reason I was in Boston is in this picture. My beautiful friend, Megan, got married! She freaking glowed the whole weekend I was there. It was a wonderful thing to see.

Mimosas with Laura!
I also met up with my friend, Laura. We grabbed brunch a few blocks from our hotel at Metropolis Cafe. Our waiter totally thought I was someone else and greeted me like he knew me. My thoroughly confused face must've tipped him off. Oh well, mimosas! I had the grapefruit.

And the huevos rancheros. Good LORD did I have heuvos rancheros.

I'm kind of in love with Boston already
I spent most of my first day walking around downtown and the South End. I probably walked a few miles then and more the next day with Laura. Which is good because of the aforementioned brunch and  everything else we ate.
     Cannoli in the North End
Like cannoli from Mike's Pastry. We would've stopped at Modern too to compare but we didn't have the patience to wait in that kind of line again. Next time!

But let's not act like I didn't have the best cannoli of my life. Does it make me pretentious that I wanted to write "cannolo" because that's what the singular form is even though I speak not a lick of Italian and no one really cares if I use the plural? Whatever, I'll just hold it like a Marx brother holds a cigar.

You have not lived until you've had the sticky bun from Flour. Fact.
Let's pause a moment and consider this sticky bun. If you know anything about Boston's baked goods, you've probably heard of Flour Bakery and its outrageous sticky bun. Toasty pecans. Copious amounts of caramel. Buttery brioche dough. I. Died.

We had a picnic over by the Esplanade. The Charles River sported super-puffy clouds.

For some reason, the one thing I wanted to be sure to see was the Old North Church. Look, a lantern! It's really a neat landmark. Instead of pews, the church has boxes because it got so dang cold in the winter that they needed to hold in the body heat. And it's still an active church!

My next house better have wrought iron gates. 

Arancini at Coppa
The last night I was there I had dinner by myself at Coppa, a little place a few blocks (again) from my hotel. Boston is so freaking walkable and I swear there's good food on every corner. This crispy, cheesy arancini inspired me to make my own at home from mushroom risotto. Bomb.

I saw burrata on the menu. That was all it took.

Pretty wedding flowers :)
I adored the flowers at Megan's wedding. The purples and greens were simply...gorgeous. 

I'll leave you with a picture of the happy couple. And truly, I've never seen two people more clearly in love.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Muscadine Syrup

We are solidly in fall and, more importantly, fall TV. Scandal turned me inside out, The Mindy Project  and New Girl make me giggle, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is pleasantly surprising me. I should probably be a little ashamed of how much TV programming I watch, but I'm just gonna own it. I'm much more apt to binge-watch a new show than watch a couple of movies, even if they take the same amount of my time. I just... I like short-form media. Is that a thing or did I just make it up? (I totally made it up.)

I did not make up muscadines. They are beautiful Southern grapes. With very large seeds. And they make some sweet, sweet wine. Not that I know anything about that.

I do know about the beautiful syrup they make. 

It couldn't be easier. Muscadines, a little sugar, and some allspice. 

Break down the muscadines in a pot with a little water. I used a hefty wooden spoon and a potato masher alternately. I think they both work just fine. The skins are thicker than on your average grocery store grape, so it can take a little work. Bring the muscadines and water to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer for 10 or 15 minutes.

Strain the juice from the solids with a fine mesh strainer. This is a good time to use that wooden spoon or potato masher to get all the grape-y goodness.

It's a beautiful, fragrant juice, and you could stop here if juice is all you want.

But me? I want syrup. So in goes the little bit of sugar and the allspice. The allspice isn't strictly necessary, but I love the warm feeling it gives me. Return the juice mixture to the pot you used earlier. Bring it to a boil then turn the heat down and let it reduce by about half. 

It thickens a little as it cools, and you're left with a sweet, fruity syrup.

It's pretty divine over bleu cheese. I think you can use this just about anywhere you'd use fig preserves. If you made a crostini with goat cheese and walnuts with a drizzle of muscadine syrup...well I could never be mad at that.


Muscadine Syrup (makes about 1/4 cup)

1 lb muscadine grapes
1/3 c water
1 tbs sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp allspice
  • In a medium saucepan, break up muscadines with a wooden spoon. Make sure all the skins are broken. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it go for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Strain the liquid into a bowl with a fine mesh strainer. Get all that juice! 
  • Return the juice to the pot and add the sugar and allspice. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mixture reduce by about half. Pour into a heat-proof glass or dish to cool.
  • Drizzle over cheeses and serve with crackers. Or heck, mix it into a cocktail!