Mamma Maria, Boston

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a wine tasting tour of the North End. My whole family ended the tour with a spectacular dinner at Mamma Maria, which is one of my parent’s favorite restaurants. This was my first visit and from the impeccable service, to the fabulous food, I can’t wait to go back. We were seated in a private dining room, since my mom had called earlier that week requesting a table near the window. They ended up seating us in a small room with just a four-person table–an awesome surprise.

The bread was fresh, and the pesto homemade:

We ordered the Antipasto Tower, which was a hefty $56, but oh-so-worth it. I tasted my first oysters ever, which were mind-blowing. The mozzarella is imported from a farm in Italy. The cheese was the creamiest, most delectable piece of mozzarella I’ve ever eaten.

Scallops cooked with blood orange were also a favorite part of the “antipasto tower.” Perfectly cooked, with a little crunch and citrus flavor.

My entrée was wild-mushroom ravioli:

My parents both ordered the Clam and Crab pasta:

The take-away message: wow.

If you are in the North End (and are willing to spend some dough on a meal), eat here. You will not regret it.

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Puerto Vallarta (and some unbelievable food)

ImageAs you may already know, I spent the past week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The trip, my first to Mexico, exceeded my expectations. Of course, my boyfriend and I were constantly comparing the place to other trips we’ve been on to Nicaragua and Bali. Each and every place has a beauty of its own, both in terms of landscape, people, and food culture. Thus, it’s impossible to compare the trips. Once again, I ate my way through the vacation and boy was it worth it.ImageImage

The best meal we ate was at El Andariego. Steps from the city center, this restaurant certainly gives patrons both quantity and quality. The mural walls are funky, but the best part, other than the food, was the incredible service. Our server, Jesus, made us guacamole at the table. He also served us a free taste (or two) of Mexico’s famous tequila…

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I ordered the Fish Tacos, which were flavorful thanks to the addition of pineapple. Pickled onions, rice, a delicious sweet corn bread, beans, and avocado crème were served on the side. My stomach was in heaven.

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My boyfriend ordered the Chicken Fajitas, which in his words were “the best fajitas” he’s ever had.

Evidence of this claim are shown by the demolition he did to his meal:

After a week filled with deep-fried cheese enchiladas, mounds of tortilla chips, fruity drinks and lounging on the beach, I am thankful that I am training for a marathon…

Continuation of my Mexican Food Binge

Back in December, I met with the CEO and founder of a site called Tasted Menu. The concept is simple: eat a dish, post a picture, give it a rating. Unlike Yelp and other review sites, this site helps consumers narrow down the best dishes at a restaurant or in a city. You can also search for “best dish” or “best pizza” (Seared Petit Strip Loin at O Ya and Brussel Sprout Pizza at Posto, respectively). Currently, Tasted Menu is for just the Boston area, though plans of expansion are in the near future. A mobile app is also about to be launched. I think this site will provide some very valuable data to restaurants, perhaps even more so than just a general rating of a dining experience. I’m asking you to take a peek at Tasted Menu because, even if you don’t live in Boston, it will certainly whet your appetite. One of my more recent reviews on Tasted Menu is about Tu Y Yo in Somerville, which was an eye-opening and delicious meal.

Part two of my Mexican food binge, which, as stated before, began when I decided to travel to Mexico over my spring break. My boyfriend’s last night in town before heading off to school was honored with a meal at Tu Y Yo. This, once again, is not a “TexMex” place but instead serves dishes based on family recipes that have been passed down through generations. In fact, the menu states which family member created the dish, and the year they were created. A unique menu, I would say.

We started out with the vegetable tamales. These corn husk wrapped appetizers were interesting to open, particularly as each held a different filling. Some had corn, others spinach, and some unidentifiable. They were all good, though it was the sauce and the excitement over opening each tamale that made this dish worthwhile.

My carnivorous friends enjoyed these chicken-taquito like appetizers:

I ordered the Salmón Criolla, which looked unassuming, but was delicious. The fish was a little dry but the sauce was fantastic. The best part? The shrimp and potato cakes. Dense, flavorful, and chicken-nugget-looking, they made the dish special.

The finale of my meal was perhaps the best part. The Avocado Cheesecake sounded different, so I gave it a shot. It might have a graham cracker crust and a very subtle taste of avocado, but I thought this was delicious. Avocado has such a great consistency, so I’m not surprised to find that it makes a good cheesecake filling. I wish I could have an entire avocado cheesecake–I would certainly eat the whole thing.

On my trip to Mexico, I will be on a search for avocado cheesecake and at the very least, true Mexican cuisine.

Flour Bakery + Café, Boston

Hand me a tomato, mozzarella, basil sandwich and I will gladly eat it. Hand me a tomato, mozzarella, basil sandwich from Flour Bakery + Café and I’ll eat three more, that’s how good the sandwich is. Fresh arugula and roasted tomatoes made this sandwich different, and better, than any other tomato mozzarella sandwich I’ve ever eaten.