7 People Share Their Favorite Meals

Recently I shared with some new people that I have a food blog. Of course, they asked where I had eaten some of my favorite meals.

Immediately my brain froze and I couldn’t remember anyplace. I don’t eat out as much as most people think and many of the places where I enjoyed some of my best meals were from many years ago.

Restaurants open and close quick as lightening. Some places that I would mention are no longer open and I want to share restaurants that people can visit now.

The plan is to eat out more often and start a list on this blog of some of my favorite places. It will be a living list that will change over time. This way, the next time someone asks me for a recommendation, I can hopefully remember easier or at the very least, direct them to the list on this blog.

Since I don’t have the list now, I’m sharing some favorite meals of other people. Over the last three years, for the You Pick Six interview series, I’ve interviewed over twenty people about their personal relationship with food and eating. Some meals were at restaurants. Others were not. Many were overseas. Some were in the Boston area.

If you, like me, are always interested in different places to eat and others food experiences, here are 7 favorite meals from 7 different people.

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Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Author of Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat

Tiny, just-dug, hot potatoes sprinkled with kosher salt eaten from a plastic sandwich bag; a hard-boiled egg (undoubtedly laid that day), also with kosher salt; and sweet coffee eaten in a small, Ecuadorian mountain village at sunrise. Why was it the best? I was hungry. I was happy. It was a moment of purity.

Korsha Wilson, Writer and Host of A Hungry Society on Heritage Radio

That’s tough. I believe that every restaurant experience or every meal you make at home is different depending on your mood and other factors. My most recent favorite meal was at a small restaurant in Genoa, Italy.

After a day of sightseeing, my boyfriend and I had a drink at a local bar and asked the bartender where to have a good dinner. Instead of just giving us his answer, he asked the rest of the bar patrons and the kitchen staff what they thought and they all agreed that we should go to Locanda Spinola, a new restaurant nearby. Long story short, it was amazing. Homemade pastas, simply prepared fresh seafood and local wine. The service was so hospitable and warm! My boyfriend and I stayed after our dinner (and after the restaurant closed) drinking beer with the staff and talking about restaurants in the U.S. and Italy. It was wonderful.

Chris Haynes, Founder of PR Company CBH Communications

When I went to summer camp as a kid, I clear as day, remember the counselor going around the fire pit and asking us, “if we could eat at any restaurant in the world, where and what would it be?” All the other kids answered McDonalds, Wendy’s, etc. I yelled out “the restaurant on top of the Eiffel Tower!” Everyone just looked at me, but truth be told, my favorite movie at the time was Superman II and there was scene at the then restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Anyway, fast forward to three years ago and I finally achieved dining at my dream restaurant and a result the BEST MEAL I ever had! My friend and I dined at Alain Ducasse, Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. I’m not sure I have ever or will ever have a better meal!

Johnny Fayad, Co-Founder of Eat Your Coffee

Whenever my cousin comes to Boston for work, he’ll typically spoil me with a really nice dinner. One of the best ones was at a sushi restaurant called Oishii in the South End where we had so many amazing dishes from squid ink pasta to different preparations of uni. So good.

Maria Olia, Author of New England’s Colonial Inns & Taverns

I eat out constantly in Boston doing research for my travel books and I have had some amazing meals along the way. But my most memorable meal was 10 years ago in Tuscany. My husband and I, along with our three sons, our daughter and my parents toured the Castello di Brolio vineyard. Afterwards we had the tasting menu at the vineyard’s small restaurant. I don’t remember exactly what I had for each course, but it was an authentic Italian meal outside on a perfect summer day in a magnificent setting and with all the people I love.

Maria Stephanos, WCVB News Anchor

My Aunt Debbie’s house. It doesn’t matter if she’s making keftedes (Greek meatballs) or homemade phyllo. I have never left her table without thinking that is the best meal I’ve ever had.

Heather Sears, Author of Mind to Mouth: A Busy Chick’s Guide to Mindful Mealtime Moments

Ahh, there have been so many! And actually I’ve realized that when I pay attention and become really present with the food I’m eating and the situation I’m in, even the simplest sandwich in the park with my son can be memorable and nourishing on many levels.

But there is one meal in Bali over 20 years ago when I backpacked through Asia with a friend that remains like Technicolor in my mind. It was chicken satay, eaten at sunset on a beach, with a man playing “Blowing in the wind” on a guitar nearby. The colors, smells, sounds and feel of the air were amazing and distinctive. I remember telling myself to take everything in, moment by moment by moment, because I probably would not be back! So I drank it all in through my senses and wrote a permanent record in my memory.

Boston Black Restaurant Challenge: What You Should Know

Have you heard about Boston’s Black Restaurant Challenge? It began on the first of February and ends tomorrow.

The challenge is to eat at four black owned restaurants in Boston during the month.

February is Black History Month and a great time to learn about the past. But it’s also a great time to learn about what’s happening now — and take that knowledge and use it to plan for the future.

So what do you do when the month is over? What if you missed the challenge?

Keep on or start supporting these small businesses! Now we have a great restaurant list.

Let’s be real. February is the shortest month of the year. In Boston, it’s filled with snow, ice, cold and generally blah weather. This year, the flu kicked into high gear and many people were sick.

But now we’re moving into March. There’s more daylight. Warmer temperatures. At least for me, the better the weather, the better I feel. So, I’m more inclined to venture out. I’ve tried a few places on the list already and I’m looking forward to trying some more.

Something else to know about the Black Restaurant Challenge is that it’s not just in Boston. Many cities around the country have been promoting Black Restaurant Week for the past few years and more are joining in.

Now this is a tasty trend that I hope keeps growing.

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Image: Boston Black Restaurant Challenge

 

{You Pick Six} An Interview with Entrepreneur: Darryl Settles

You may not recognize his name right away. But if you’ve been in the Boston area for any period of time, it’s virtually impossible not to know the work of Darryl Settles. His company, Catalyst Ventures Development (CVD) is the umbrella organization for his many business ventures.

For years, Darryl has had a hand in shaping the landscape of Boston’s food and entertainment scene, including being the creator and founder of the Beantown Jazz Festival back in 2001.

Boston’s iconic soul food restaurant Bob the Chef went through lots of name changes and ownership over the decades. Yet, the spirit lives on. Transformed by Darryl, he brought it to the 21st century as Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, where new generations and old continue to enjoy southern comfort food, cocktails and jazz.

He’s part of the new ownership of Slade’s Bar & Grill and though no longer affiliated, he’s a founding partner of Beehive Boston.

Anyone who follows the food business sees restaurants quickly come and go. I was curious to learn more about someone with such success and longevity in this industry and Darryl was nice enough to oblige. So, let’s resume this ongoing series with the 18th interview of You Pick Six.

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What is a favorite dessert?
Red Velvet Cake

What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hang around smarter people and LISTEN!

What three people do you admire most?
That is hard to narrow down, but Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, and Nelson Mandela come to mind. Each were/are great, respectful, and smart men whom took a lot of “heat” but always kept their focus and helped make the world a better place!

What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
Food always tastes better when you are happy and with family and/or great friends.

Tell me about what you’re working on now.
I am developing an online platform to connect scaled minority businesses to both private and public sectors to help level the playing field and build wealth in our communities of color.

Tell me about where you grew up.
I grew up in Aiken, S.C., a very nice community, but worked on weekends and during the summers on my grandfather’s farms in the country. He was my hero and helped develop my work ethic.

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Thank you so much for participating Darryl!

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Photos: Provided by Darryl Settles.

Al Fresco Dining at Novara Restaurant in Milton

Views of outdoor seating at Novara restaurant.

Didn’t make it to Italy this summer? Neither did I. But while dining at Novara Restaurant recently, it felt like I was transported to Italy for a mini-vacation.

I took another mini-vacation in July when I was in Connecticut for a couple of days to see Maxwell in concert. The concert ticket price included Maxwell’s new CD blackSUMMERS’night, but you had to get it later via mail.

My friend received our CDs and asked if she should send mine or if we should get together. Get together of course! I suggested dinner at Novara and we enjoyed a wonderful summer night dining al fresco.

Starting off, the service was great. Full disclosure*, I was invited to visit Novara. However, I have been invited to visit other restaurants over the years and been shocked by less than stellar service and disorganization. Thankfully Novara’s staff was friendly, professional and organized.

My friend and I were both pleased with the delicious bread. Our cocktails were tasty, refreshing and strong.

Bread basket at Novara restaurant.

Cocktails at Novara restaurant.

Novara is the sister restaurant of Abby Park, which I wrote about on Craving Boston. It was a very warm evening, but we did get a quick rain storm out of the blue.

Because the tables have umbrellas over them, it wasn’t even a problem. A perfect summer night.

Entrees and dessert at Novara restaurant.

For my meal, I had the Special, which was lobster gnocci. So good! My friend had zucchini parmesan. She loved hers too!

Like its sister restaurant, Novara has a wonderful menu. I love Italian food, so I basically wanted to eat everything. I noticed people picking up food to go, so the take-out menu is a great option as well. Of course I had dessert. The chocolate mousse was the perfect ending to my meal.

I definitely recommend Novara and will return. Having a good restaurant so close to home makes eating out easier. Parking was not a problem and it’s often an issue in Boston.

Logo for Dine out Boston aka Restaurant Week Boston.

Restaurant Week, now called Dine Out Boston, is coming up in just a few days. Even though Novara is located in Milton, they have joined in as well.

You have two opportunities (August 14 -19 & August 21 – 26) to participate. If you want to start adding restaurants to your list, start with Novara!

 

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Disclosure* Thank you to Novara for the  complimentary dinner for two!

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Another Boston Romance

Alfresco_dining_Boston

My love for Boston has returned. Not that I ever stopped loving it. But the winter makes it hard to remember that loving feeling. That special love for Boston feeling.

Like when I’ve been away on a trip. I’m on a plane and we start circling Logan and descend back into the city. No matter where I’m coming from or how much I enjoyed my trip, I am thrilled to be home. I see Boston with fresh eyes and get that loving feeling.

Each year when the warm weather returns, the city wakes up and blooms. When I was walking outside yesterday, I looked down an alley that would be very easy to miss. I saw this outdoor seating area. Empty, but waiting for people to arrive.

Imagine all the future people in this space over the next few months. Mixing and mingling. Talking. Eating. Laughing. Remembering. Maybe even falling in love.

It made me think about all the restaurants and cafes around the Boston area that have set up their outdoor seating for the season.

Then this morning, I found a listing on Eater Boston with 120+ patios officially open for 2016. They made the list, so I don’t  have to. It’s a great resource for the season. Whether you’re an area local or a tourist visiting. I’m looking forward to going to a few of these places. Hopefully you will too!