All in Boston

The Taj is fit for a Queen (aka Mother's Day)

By Queen, I mean, of course, MOM.

Although our reason for Afternoon Tea at the Taj recently were for a reason other than Mother's Day, I'm recommending this age-old custom to those of you looking for a Mother's Day outing.

Afternoon Tea has never been more elegant than at the French Room at the Taj in Boston. Located at the corner of Newbury St. and Arlington St,  the Taj overlooks the beautiful (and especially lush at this time of the year) Boston Public Garden.

Once seated, service is gracious and attentive with beautiful live music wafting through the elegant high and chandeliered ceiling.

The Taj Royal is $38 and comes with finger sandwiches, canapes, tarts, scones, dipped strawberries, with clotted cream and lemon curd.

The tea selection ranges from white, green, black, oolong, herbal and chai, so there's definitely one for everyone. Reservations are recommended and be sure to wear your most floral clothes. We sure did.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

On July 28, 3 local area chefs battled it out on a grassy hill-top using only 1 local (and secret) ingredient.

The 3rd annual Camp Cooking Challenge was sponsered by REI and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, hosted by Dane Tullock, Outreach Specialist, REI Boston and videographed by Jeremy from Studio603films.

Using REI's camping gear and fresh produce from The Food Project the chefs were challenged to serve two dishes to the judges using the red fish as their master ingredient. The judges were DAR commissioner Greg Watson, Editor of Northeast Flavor Magazine, Jean Kerr (whose current issue features Julia Child), Founder and President of Chop-Chop Magazine, Sally Sampson and Director of Food Initiatives , Edith Murnane.

The winners were Chefs Chris Douglass and Nuno Alves from Tavalo for their seafood risotto (I tried it, it was delicious!)

Coming in second was Chef Jay Murray from Grill 23 with Chef Patricia Yeo (from tv's Top Chef Masters fame and Moksa) coming in third. (I'm a huge fan of Top Chef so it was a pleasure to meet Chef Patricia Yeo).

Here, some highlights (my interview by Dane made it to my Instagram feed!)

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Location:

143 1st Street  Cambridge, MA

Finally! Something tasty in this city!

I've never tried Afghan cuisine, but it certainly has very distinct flavours. Mint to coriander to pumpkin to cardamom. Curries and rices but crispy pastries and soft breads.

We ordered Bowlawni, the pastries filled with veggies, the Qoremay Ma-He, sea bass that's pan fried and sauteed, and served with rice. Absolutely delicious! The vegetarian special which includes baked pumpkin (out of this world!) eggplant, spinach, okra, and rice.

The cardamom cake (called "our cake" on their menu) is a must try. I make a cardamom cake, too, although this was much more moist and soaked in the essence. Mine is more of a tea cake (also a must try!)

It was also fairly busy even on a weeknight, but the service was still attentive and beyond wonderful.

I can't recommend this place more!

Location:

41 Union Street  Boston, MA 02108

Yes, it's America's OLDEST restaurant (in terms of being open for continuous service), and was established in 1826.

1826!!

The recipes possibly date back as far as then, too. To a time when perhaps seasoning wasn't available, for the blandest of bland meals can be eaten here.

Good clam chowder, if the simple ingredients of cream, potatoes and bits of clam, could possibly be screwed up.

Potatoes tasted like dirt.

The asparagus and beans weren't cooked fully.

The biscuit barely saved my meal from being a total disaster. I even overheard someone complaining that his daughter ran out with an upset stomach from the scallops.

Shame on us for taking guests from out of town there.