Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vacation food bites - Boston & Nantucket

Travel food bites – Boston & Nantucket

I visited a Boston & Nantucket for a short holiday – this area is known for its seafood (clam chowder, lobster rolls and oysters). On this trip, I was determined to find the best clam chowder – you may be surprised, it wasn’t in a fancy restaurant! Here are some of my travel “food bites”

Day One - Boston
We got a table at “Top of the Hub” a restaurant on the 52nd floor of one of the tallest buildings in Boston. It has one of the most incredible views of Boston and the ocean!
We started the meal with crispy batter calamari and an ahi tuna app served with plantain chips. These were both excellent! The ahi tuna was served with plantain chips – I would have preferred something a little less flavourful to showcase the tuna.

On my search for the best clam chowder, I ordered the prix fixed menu which included clam chowder, spicy shrimp arrabbiata and dessert of fresh baked cookies. I prefer a thicker clam chowder and I found the Top of the Hub version a watery and not very flavourful – I was a little disappointed.

The pasta was fine, not spicy or enough flavour either.

Moving onto dessert – it made up for the rest of the meal – the fresh baked cookies came with Chantilly cream (because I guess 6 large fresh cookies were not decadent enough). They were incredible – the pistachio (neon green) cookies were so flavourful and tasty!

The evening finished off at “Liberty Hotel” for drinks. The Liberty is luxury hotel in a refurbished jail and has several areas with themed names “Clink, Alibi and Scampo”. The inside is of the hotel is just incredible - the lobby area you can see all of the floors with hallways on the outside. You can just imagine the inmates walking from their cells down these halls! We got drinks upstairs and got a seat in “The Yard” and enjoyed a beautiful summer evening. Note : "The Yard" is quieter than the patio out front. I ordered a martini with passion fruit which was delish – for the life of me cannot remember the name. This venue is a MUST VISIT for anyone who is going to Boston.

Day two – trip to Nantucket
We had a wonderful meal at “the Pearl” an award winning modern coastal cuisine (read coastal Asian fusion). The dish presentation was beautiful and service great! The atmosphere is modern and hip with good lounge music. We started off with an Ahi Tuna app with crème fraîche (great flavour, but the crème fraîche could have used a little heat like a touch of wasabi) We also got Thai lettuce wraps which were pork spring rolls wrapped in lettuce with a Vietnamese-type fish dipping sauce – great flavour and served piping hot!

The Nantucket Salt & Pepper Wok Fried Lobster, is considered to be the Island’s best lobster dish and Travel & Leisure magazine gave it a World’s Best Award – we had to order it. The lobster is battered and deep fried served over some of the best lo mein I’ve ever had. The lobster was cooked to perfection – just cooked so it is still a little tender and not tough. The portions were not large but I was satisfied after the meal and actually sad it was over. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences!

For dessert, we went to “The Juice Bar” which is known for its ice-cream – be prepared for at least a 15 minute wait during peak times. They have all sorts of homemade ice-cream and waffle cones but the blackberry flavour seems to be one of the most popular.

We were little piggies and ended up getting Oreo, blackberry, coconut and mint chocolate chip. I enjoyed the Oreo and blackberry the most! I don’t like blackberries, but the flavour of the blackberry ice-cream was sweet, not tart and fresh tasting – amazing!

Day 3 - Nantucket Brewery

The next day we rented bikes and biked about 8km out to Cisco Brewery for a wine and beer tasting. For $10 for the beer tasting, you get about 8 different types of beer (and souvenir mini stein) and $10 will get you about 8 wines as well. Some of the more interesting beers were a pumpkin beer (which had a hint of pumpkin, but not as much as I liked), a cherry beer (which is a beer brewed in a Merlot barrel + cherries – delish) and a Porter which had hints of coffee and chocolate!
We were a little buzzed by 11:30 in the morning – I wonder if biking under the influence (BUI) is an offense in Nantucket?

For lunch, we had fried clams, a New England specialty and a cup of clam chowder. The clams are battered and deep fried with a mayonnaise base sauce. I loved the clams – deep fried anything is the way to go! The chowder was good – thick chowder with lots of clams – definitely up there on the clam chowder list.

That evening, back in Boston, we went to B&G Oysters for fresh oysters and another New England staple – lobster roll. It's a small, busy restaurant with an open concept kitchen so you can see the chefs at work. Reservations definitely needed! We ordered 3 types of Oysters, the Island Creek, Tree Island and one other one I don’t remember. The oysters were fresh and briny (taste like the sea!) and my favourite was the Island Creek – a smooth briny flavour, clean after taste.

The lobster roll was good – overflowing with fresh lobster and super filling! Near the end I gave up on the roll and ate the lobster only.

Day 4 - Last day in Boston
The last day in Boston I head to Newbury street to do some retail therapy and ended up at the Prudential Center food court for chowder from “Boston Chowda” as recommended by a co-worker. The BEST chowder in town in my opinion! The chowder is rich and creamy, lots of clams and the right amount of seasoning. You know it’s good chowder when the soup dribbles down the side of the cup and can’t make it down the side because it’s too thick!

It was a great vacation and Boston a must visit for any seafood lovers!

Bon appétit!

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