Friday, February 25, 2011

Gordon Ramsey's 'Kitchen Nightmares' Visits Davide

Fans of Fox's perversely compelling train wreck "Kitchen Nightmares" usually have two questions: "How much of that drama is artificial?" and "What does the food taste like?" This week, Boston diners will get a chance to answer the second one when an episode taped in the city airs for the first time. Anthony and Frank Gesualdi, brothers and co-owners of Davide in the North End invited the irascible chef Gordon Ramsey into their restaurant a couple months ago. Anyone who's ever seen the show before can probably guess how it played out. Anthony talked about the experience.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursty: Your favorite bar is dead, and here’s where it went to heaven


It took about five seconds after sitting down at the bar at Citizen's Public House and Oyster bar for me to realize I'd arrived at the restaurant industry worker's version of bar Heaven. Maybe it was the dozen plus bottles of bitters arrayed in front of me on the bar, or the chalk board listing the near 100 types of whiskey they offer. It could just be the fact that they serve Fernet Branca on tap for $3 a shot. 

They have a grand design: Michael De Paulo and Tonya Mezrich

Braintree native De Paulo is the designer of the couture evening label Michael De Paulo. Mezrich is the creator of Jewel Design by Tonya and the wife of Ben Mezrich, author of “The Accidental Billionaires,’’ the book on which the Oscar-nominated film “The Social Network’’ is based. Now the longtime friends have joined forces, debuting the Fall 2011 line of their new ready-to-wear fashion label mike&ton at the W this week. We chatted with them about the new venture.

De Paulo: We basically started thinking about it a year and a half ago. From the beginning we started with the idea of maybe doing party dresses. As it evolved, it got more specific to doing a full-scale collection for Fall 2011. Tonya and I met through a mutual friend. I dressed her for the Boston premiere of “21,’’ the movie based on her husband’s book, and we clicked immediately. I’ve been dressing her in my couture gowns over the past three years. It was a great natural thing.

Q. How do you describe the new designs?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cocktails To Toast George Washington On His Birthday

posted at City's Best

When Robert Laird founded the first commercial distillery in America back in 1780, it probably never occurred to him that we'd still be indebted to his initiative centuries later. The product of his efforts, Laird's Applejack, which his family had been producing privately for some 100 years prior, is a brandy made from fermented cider. To make it back then, they'd bury a barrel of cider in the frozen ground, then scrape off the ice that formed on top. Voila, old-timey drinking! 

While it may not be as popular as it was in colonial times, Laird's Applejack is a staple at any cocktail bar with a proper sense of history today. That's because it's one of the most important spirits in the mythology of American drinking. Johnny Appleseed sung the apple brandy's praises on his iconic journey across the country, and presidents throughout history have been known to be partial to its lightly spiced apple and caramel bite.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Liquid: Chain Reaction


There are any number of reasons you might find yourself in a chain restaurant. Maybe you live in some horrible suburb and don't have many choices, or maybe you're visiting your family back home. Could be you've got, like, some disgusting stomach cramp fetish that can only be satisfied by cream sauce and chicken strips. Hey, do what you've got to do.

For the most part, the bars at these chains are no better than the food. They're usually way too bright, sticky with children's ketchup-paws, haunted by the mediocre souls who frequent them, and convoluted with weird deals: add bacon and cheese to that 22-ounce beer for $3.99!

It doesn't have to be like that though. And increasingly, more chains are taking cues from the better bars in the city, incorporating the ideals and the motivations, if not always the execution, of the craft-cocktail movement.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dom | Sun Bronzed Greek Gods’

Massachusetts has had a pretty good run setting the indie agenda lately. We are only now feeling the full effect of the Passion Pit factor, as a wave of full-on sound-alikes crawl out from under their kaleidoscope shadow. Next up is Worcester’s Dom, likely to be our biggest musical export this year. With its high-pitched male vocals, janky Casio riffs, and grimy bass buzz, “Living in America’’ might trick you into lumping the burgeoning band in with that lot. That would be a mistake. The seven songs on this EP, now being re-released onto the bigger stage through Astralwerks, are the epitome of the predominant contemporary mercurialism, where lo-fi electronic retro-futurism meets psyched-out garage. Some songs even clash with themselves — “Bochicha’’ sounds like it was recorded in a dingy apartment just steps away from a gorgeous, roaring surf. The record is an alternate universe timeline in which a teenage Kurt Cobain — whom band frontman Dom resembles in his neon dishevelment — had grown up on a steady diet of party rap and new wave, sometimes literally, as on the band’s recent remix collaboration with rapper Gucci Mane. Cannot wait to hear what the rip-offs three years from now sound like.

Boston Globe

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flowers and chocolate? Bring on the booze!

Erin Baldassari

Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day is like going out to a bar on St. Patrick’s Day — except instead of pretending to be Irish for the day, everyone is compelled to pretend they’re in love. Since I know everyone’s going to go out anyway, how about this: skip dinner with your date and just go have a few cocktails at the bar. For established couples, it lowers the expectations for fairytale romance; and for newer ones, there are fewer potentially awkward moments and a more social environment will take the pressure off. Every restaurant around the city is doing special Valentine’s menus, and a few bars are serving Valentine’s cocktails as well.

Bistro du Midi
272 Boylston St., Boston
“Clouded Judgment is suited for Anti-Valentine’s Day, due to the inclusion of tequila, which always loosens inhibitions, lubricates conversation, and creates a scene of fun and frivolity,” says Bistro du Midi general manager Doss Posey. “Coco is suited for Valentine’s Day due to its bright red color and its sweet taste. Named after a flower, with an homage to the grand dame of fashion [Coco Chanel], this cocktail is perfect for our lady patrons.”

What’s in the drinks?
» Clouded Judgment: Lemon-lavender-infused tequila, St. Germain, Pernod, lemon juice,     Crème de Violette
» Coco: Vodka, Lilet Rouge, lemon juice, simple syrup

Union Bar and Grille
1357 Washington St., Boston; 617-423-0555
“The Sweet Heat is a lot like love,” says Union Bar and Grille bartender Kristina Hoffman. “The rich chocolaty Crème de Cacao feels like a warm, comforting embrace, while the chili-infused syrup gives you a kick of spice and excitement.”

What’s in the drinks?
» Sweet Heat: Crème de Cacao, chili-infused simple syrup, vanilla vodka, mole bitters
» The Passion: Bourbon, Applejack, passion fruit nectar, grenadine, orange flower water, edible flower garnish

50 Park Plaza, Boston
“On Valentine’s Day, we try to cater to everyone — singles and couples alike,” says Pairings bartender Matt Giarnese. “In the spirit of that, we are also catering to both ‘sinners’ and ‘saints.’ The Purist is a sweet, balanced mix of Pearl Plum vodka and St. Germain that has an ethereal appearance. The Seducer is a bold red color, mixing in some fruit with a hint of effervescence to give an added kick.”

What’s in the drinks?
» The Purist: Pearl Plum vodka, St. Germain, sour mix The Seducer: Stoli Strawberry, pineapple, cranberry, Sprite

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Entangled in the emotional pop of Eisley

Eisley are a bunch of damn hypocrites. Ever since the 2005 release of "Telescope Eyes," with its excruciatingly pitiable plea of "Please don't make me cry," they've been making their fans do exactly that. You'd have to be a hardhearted bastard not to feel the romance in the love-besotted harmonies of singers Stacy and Sherri DuPree, who form the photogenic Texas quintet with siblings Weston and Chauntelle and cousin Garron.

On new album The Valley (Equal Vision), the tears continue to fall, but they've taken on a decidedly more bitter context. Perhaps that devotion to heartbreak is what's made the band fit in so well with the emo company they keep. Over the years, they've toured with Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Say Anything, and New Found Glory. But Eisley (yes, their name is a Star Wars reference) aren't necessarily a clear musical match to the bombastic, overwrought punk of any of those bands whose scene orbit and fan base they often share. Rather, with their open expanses of vocal beauty, piano balladeering, and guitars dripping in rivulets of melancholy, they have more in common with the earnest, vaguely Christian power pop of past tourmates like Switchfoot and Snow Patrol. Maybe it's because all the sad boy men keep falling in love with the three DuPree sisters: a member of Eisley has been romantically linked with, married to, divorced from, or gone through an aborted engagement with the frontman of each of the above-mentioned first four bands.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wild Nothing -- Gemini

The musical space-time continuum is on schedule; the current temporal zeitgeist has US indie bands mining the hazy, drugged-out blur of turn-of-the-’90s England for inspiration. Virginia’s Wild Nothing pushed themselves to the forefront of that shift last year with their debut, “Gemini.’’ Actually, there is nothing forceful about this album, now being rereleased on a wider scale. The execution here is more a progression of chemical moods achieved through production, the reverb thicket of layered synths and delay, and bleached-out vocals mixed down like the persistent murmuring of a waking dream. Band principal Jack Tatum relies on the gurgling of his guitar leads to carry the songs forward, keeping the vocal turns reserved and detached, save on the captivating and melodic “Chinatown.’’ On “My Angel Lonely,’’ an echoing guitar line de-ices the foggy windshield of the arrangement, and on “The Witching Hour’’ a chiming delay pattern bubbles beneath heavily effected drums and droning vocal sighs. Taken as a whole, it’s like listening at the wall in a rehearsal space to the band two doors down — practicing 20 years ago.

Boston Globe 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Liquid: Saving grapes

When it comes to wine, a lot of us are commitment-phobic. Sure, we'll take a chance on a bigger-ticket bottle on a special occasion, but what about a typical Thursday? If trying that intriguing varietal means splurging on a $100 bottle, we'll probably settle for a fling with something from the by-the-glass list, where the options are often limited and sometimes humdrum. That's because the risk of opening a special bottle only to sell one or two glasses and have the rest go to waste just doesn't make sense for most bars (as much as the thirsty servers having a drink after their shifts might wish it did). 

Posto (187 Elm Street, Somerville, 617.625.0600), the newish wine bar and brick-oven-pie spot in Davis Square, is aiming to correct this fatal flaw in the wine-serving process with a preservation system that makes the aspirational dreams of the cost-conscious oenophile a reality. It's a great concept in theory, and one that I'd like to see more bars incorporating in terms of pricey spirits as well. Bartenders talk about wanting their customers to try new things all the time - why not make it a little easier for us to do just that? 

The King Is Dead: With Myspace floundering, where do bands turn?

The reports of the demise of Myspace have been coming at a steady pace for a few years now. But despite the vast emigration of personal profiles to Facebook, bands that have long used the seminal social networking site as their online home base are now in a precarious position. When you search for a band online, the first page that will likely appear (aside from their own website—if they even have one) is their Myspace page. That's because of the dominating role the company has played in changing the way bands distribute their music and cultivate fanbases during the past five years. But despite this, the company continues to shrink. Last month, the social networking hub implemented a 47 percent staff reduction, with approximately 500 employees losing their jobs. That obviously doesn’t bode well for the company, but does it signal the official end to their ability to maintain a foothold in the musical networking and distribution climate? And if so, which sites—if any—will fill that potentially impending void for bands? Will the functionality of a site like Bandcamp, or the streamlined design of music players like SoundCloud put the final nail in Myspace's coffin?

For years, Myspace had one big advantage over competitors: Every band you'd ever want to find (and tens of thousands more you wouldn't) have maintained a presence there. It wasn't necessarily the best option, just the most popular one.

Myspace CEO Mike Jones sounded optimistic nonetheless in a statement he released in conjunction with the job cuts. “While it's still early days, the new Myspace is trending positively and the good news is we have already seen an uptick in returning and new users,” he said. “Since the worldwide rollout of the new Myspace, there have been more than 3.3 million new profiles created. We also introduced Topic Pages, which connect users to entertainment-focused content from news sites and blogs all over the web. Over 134,000 topic pages have been created since the introduction of the new Myspace.” (Myspace did not respond to AP’s request to comment for this story)

Perhaps sensing a potential void to fill, dozens of new sites have emerged with hopes of picking up where many consider Myspace has failed. Sites like SoundCloud and Bandcamp seem best poised to succeed at the moment, although their models differ from each other and from the original purpose of Myspace. Others like ReverbNation, alonetone, SoundClick and many more are looking to take a slice of the pie as well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ask Men Boston list of the week


Craigie on Main

Why? Four cocktails in one? Sold.

At serious cocktail bars, sometimes narrowing down your choices from the menu can be difficult. Should you try the Conquistador Collins made with Oloroso sherry, rhubarb and lemon or the Jupiter's Acorn with Barbancourt 15-year-old rum, Nux Alpine Walnut liqueur, Benedictine, and egg white?

Since you don't want to try five or six in one go -- seriously, don't do that -- options like their Craigie Cocktail Whim option, where they choose four mini-cocktails balanced from light to heavy, cut out the indecision. Trust your bartender.

Photo: Michael Piazza/Craigie on Main

Craigie on Main
853 Main St., Cambridge
PHONE: 617-497-5511



Why? Because this is one of the world's great cuisines.

Being a historic crossroads of sorts, Turkey has a a rich tradition of pulling various cuisines from its neighboring Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries into its fold. Everyone has had a kebab of course, but that's just scratching the surface. The country's culinary flexibility is on display on the menu at this newest entree into the expanding Inman Square dining mecca. Dishes like vegetarian stuffed grape leaves, eggplant stew, mashed potato-stuffed meatballs, and panfried calf liver are just a few examples. Consider your stomach's application for its culinary passport granted.

1164 Cambridge St., Cambridge
PHONE: 617-945-2730