Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts -- Updated Nov. 2012

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ayersian
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2012/11/21 00:13:33 (permalink)

Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts -- Updated Nov. 2012

Previously I was putting these photo reports at the end of every Boston Monthly Meet-Up announcement, where I think that they go underappreciated by the RF community. Perhaps this move will increase traffic to our group and our cause: to enjoy each other’s company whilst chowing down on Boston’s best food. I’ll continue to add to this thread after each meeting, so please let me know what you think — and join us, by all means! We welcome any and all newcomers to our friendly fellowship…
 
I’m a month behind in posting, so I’ll begin with October. Paul took the reins in planning this month with two fabulous stops: Spalla’s/Culinary Delights in Natick and the Dudley Chateau in Chocituate. The fine folks at Spalla’s/Culinary Delights were waiting for us with multiple samples in addition to their main selling points, namely an authentic Chicago-style dog and Italian beef.  We also were meeting up with Bostonhotdogman, a/k/a Rob Merlino, to witness his eating the 100th hot dog in his travels throughout New England and beyond. His blog, Hot Dog Stories, chronicles his adventures and this particular stop on the hot dog trail (and we even got our photo included!).
 
Our group this month included Paul, Karilyn, Joyce, Amy & Chris. As soon as we sat down, chef/owner Alex Palterman introduced himself with a plate of various turnovers:

 
Some were stuffed with slow-cooked cabbage…

 
…while others were stuffed with herbed chicken. Both were incredible, and Paul proceeded to order some extra cabbage turnovers to take home!

 
Alex kept us busy with excellent cold cuts, namely brisket and garlicky salami:

 
Amy grabbed a tarragon soda from the cooler and this odd cream-like soda with the comical label. If you’ve tried Armenian basturma before, this tarragon soda is sweet and perfectly cuts any garlic taste:

 
Cara Spalla is the mastermind behind the Spalla’s side of Culinary Delights, and she whipped some truly great Chicago dogs for us, with every authentic element intact. This sign in front of the counter tells it all:

 
I must admit that I was skeptical about the taste, but Cara really pulled it off here: this dog was actually better than a few we’ve had in the Windy City! You may think that’s a ridiculous statement, but I’m totally serious — the freshest, most vibrant tasting ingredients in every bite:

 
These dogs with BBQ sauce, banana peppers & onions were great, too, but not as divine as the Chicago dogs:

 
Paul spied some chopped liver, which we also sampled:

 
Alex brought over some salami with a parmesan crust (amazing!)…

 
and some pickled garlic sprouts, which looked curiously like asparagus but tasted like long green beans and only slightly garlicky:

 
Then came Cara’s pride and joy, real Chicago Italian beefs, with a thin gravy that she said some folks like so much that they want to drink it!

 
To conclude the Chicago experience properly, a cup of lemon Italian ice for true refreshment and palate cleansing:

 
Culinary Delights had an impressive display of European groceries and delicacies:

 
We said farewell to Cara, Alex, Rob and Little Miss (his daughter), dragged ourselves back to our vehicles, and headed over to Dudley Lake and the Chateau in Chocituate:

 
This neighborhood bar & grill is renowned in these parts for their burgers, so we ordered graciously. The Cochituate Burger, topped with beef & bean chili, hickory smoked bacon and cheddar, was incredible…

 
…as was the Warrior Burger, stuffed with blue cheese and topped with bacon:

 
These burgers were among the best we’ve had in greater Boston, and it didn’t surprise me that the Chat has won numerous local awards for Best Burger and grub.We ordered minis, the smaller versions the burgers, and still had halves to take home and eat the next day.  I'd like to see someone polish off a full-sized burger in one sitting, because there is no way that we ever could! I must also note that they stocked one of my favorite root beers, Saranac from Utica, NY:

 
Paul’s picks were fabulous, and we’ll definitely be visiting both places again soon!  Thanks for reading/drooling!    Chris
 
post edited by ayersian - 2012/12/15 17:22:18
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    ann peeples
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts 2012/11/21 09:22:43 (permalink)
    Fantastic looking food, and so glad there were no disappointments...so wishing I could be on the East coast during one of your meet-ups!
    #2
    joerogo
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts 2012/11/21 09:59:08 (permalink)
    ayersian, I love Boston and the outlying areas.  I always keep an eye on the meet-up threads, just in case I'm in the hood.
    #3
    mr chips
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts 2012/11/23 18:44:49 (permalink)
    Great looking food. wish I could be in the area.
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    billyboy
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts (UPDATE with Nov. 8th Meet-Up pics) 2012/12/12 05:55:38 (permalink)
    Ever since Bethgrd, Karilyn and Ayersian started putting together Boston-area meet-ups, I had been hoping to make it to one of them.  Since I was visiting friends on the South Shore outside of Boston for the weekend, I figured I'd come up a day early for a surprise appearance at dinner.  I asked Chris & Amy to keep it on the QT and it was a real hoot to see the surprised looks when I walked in to Mary Chung (Mandarin and Szechuan Cuisine) in the Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge.  When I walked in, RFers Bethgrd, Karilyn, Paulde, and Wanderingjew (with his girlfriend, Sandra) were already there.  Feel free to post pics, chime in, add your opinions of the food/experience or correct any mistakes I may have made.

     I think Bethgrd did most of the ordering for the table as she has been coming here for quite some time.  Suan La Chow Show (sp?) which were steamed, meat-filled dumplings in a spicy sauce which really tingled the lips and I absolutely loved.  I'd come back just for these.

     The scallion pancakes were greasy, as scallion pancakes ought to be and they helped soak up some of that spicy dumpling sauce.

     And some of the fried dumplings.  My note taking was poor but I remember liking these.

     The super spicy Dun Dun Noodles which had me chugging my water but I couldn't stop eating.  A kind of heat that made me crave it even more.

     I'm guessing that these are the Spicy Fresh Green Beans.  As a child, I grew up on a LOT of canned vegetables and it wasn't until the last 15 years or so that al dente vegetables with a crunch really worked for me.  These were just right and added even more spice to my already smoldering taste buds.

     The Lion's Head Meatball.  I wasn't crazy about this as it seemed a bit heavy to me and to be honest, I have preconceived notions about what I want from a meatball.

     Yu Shiang Eggplant, which I believe is fried and served in a garlic sauce.

     Stuffed Eggplant.  I'm not sure with what this is stuffed or how the other eggplant dish tasted as I am a bit of an eggplant frowner and I didn't try it.  Yeah, I need to be more adventurous.  Perhaps the others can elaborate.  I know Chris is a big fan of one of these dishes.  Happily, my note taking was so bad as I was engaged in great conversation with everyone and it was a treat me meet Paulde and Sandra and to reconnect with everyone else after so long (too long!).  I was even able to meet up with Dale & Sandra for a meal at the Second Avenue Deli in NYC a few weeks later along with their friends Joel & Ellen and my girlfriend joined in the RF festivities too!

     After our most satisfying meal, we walked down the street to one of my favorite ice cream shops in the Boston area, Toscanini's.  I came here quite often when I lived in the area and I was soooo looking forward to this visit.  They give out free samples and I tried one of the Burnt Caramel and one of the Salty Lemon.  The Salty Lemon was like combining lemon curd and lemon icebox pie with a hint of salt.  It made my lips pucker and was quite good. 

     Ultimately I went for a scoop of the Burnt Caramel and a scoop of the Grapenut covered in their homemade bittersweet hot fudge. That Burnt Caramel was just teetering on the edge of sweet/burnt and was just divine.  The Grapenut has long been my "go-to" flavor here and it was just a amazing as I had remembered.  They are generous with the Grape Nuts and some are soft while others still have slight crunch to them.  A flavor that is very popular in Massachusetts and the version here is the yardstick for me.  And their bittersweet hot fudge is something to be savored a tiny bit at a time so it will last as long as possible.  The only complaint I had on this evening is all of this incredible ice cream reminded me that I no longer live here and I'm hard pressed to find ice cream of this caliber in NYC.  Sniff.  Yeah, first world problems, I know!  

     I had almost forgotten to get a group shot before we went out separate ways.  Sorry Paulde, it didn't occur to me until after you had left!  The reason we're laughing is the girls in the window decided to get into the photo too!  From left to right:  Karilyn, Wanderingjew, Sandra, Beth, Amy, Chris and Billyboy.  Thanks so much for a wonderful evening and many, many thanks to Chris & Amy for opening their home to me.  I have a number of other food stops from that weekend I'll be posting in a separate Trip Report soon!  Until then...

     
    post edited by billyboy - 2012/12/12 06:03:06
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    bethgrd
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts (UPDATE with Nov. 8th Meet-Up pics) 2012/12/12 08:15:37 (permalink)
    Billy,thanks for posting this. It was a fun night.
    I was a bit disappointed that M chungs went heavy handed on the heat...i prefer mild.  My mouth was on fire. The waitress helen was great though and recommended tea to douse the flames.It worked! Yes , toscaninis is located fortuitously near chungs...2 great tastes..
    so good to see you. love the photo at end.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts (UPDATE with Nov. 8th Meet-Up pics) 2012/12/12 08:25:56 (permalink)
    I hear you on the eggplant, Billy...it's just one of those things I can't seem to get on board with.  But everything else at Mary Chung looks great, especially the steamed dumplings and dun dun noodles.
     
    The $64,000 Question: if you're in the last photo, who was behind the camera?
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts (UPDATE with Nov. 8th Meet-Up pics) 2012/12/12 09:12:36 (permalink)
    Thanks for the photos Billyboy- It was great to see you in Boston  at Mary Chung and and in NYC  at the Second AvenueDeli  too (and to finally meet Dayna!!) all in the same month...

    I forgot how spicy Szechuan can be- I agree with Bethgrd, our waitress Helen was great
     
    First  Photo of Sandra here on Roadfood, I guess it's official that means she's no longer a figment of my Imagination!
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    ayersian
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    Re:Boston Monthly Meet-Up Feasts (UPDATE with Nov. 8th Meet-Up pics) 2012/12/12 19:28:15 (permalink)
    The photo-bombing girls in the window were hilarious!  And that was the best meal I've ever had at Mary Chung's, hands down.  A raucous time with great friends -- and the inimitable waitress Helen to boot.  Thanks so much for your expert reporting, Billy!    Chris
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