‘Spring’ your must try Recipes.

I recently came upon a great website that I use to bookmark recipes I want to make. Similar to Food Gawker or Pinterest, Springpad uses ‘notebooks’ to help you organize your interests. The ones I use the most are ‘restaurants to go to’ and ‘recipes to make this week’. Springpad is a great place to organize those lists of things you’ve “always wanted to try” so you can actually do them!

The Role of Social Media in the ‘Food World’

For my next project I want to focus on how different people, in different areas of ‘the food world’ interact with social media and the web. How the use of social media has helped further their businesses in ways it otherwise could not.

The food world in all its capacities has been changed immensely by the use of social media and the web. We can now make our dinner reservations online, restaurants have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Food bloggers can gain their own strides without being published in a mainstream paper.

Renee Hirschberg, a local boston food blogger and restaurant critic who has graciously agreed to speak with me. The web and social media is an integral part of her business and I am looking forward to hearing her thoughts on how her business has evolved other the past decade and how the use of social media has helped her progress.

I have also contacted  the two co-founders of ‘The Fresh Truck’. Daniel Clarke and Josh Trautwein, both Northeastern graduates, have taken an old school bus and retro-fitted it into a mobile farmers market set to hit the ground this coming summer. The aim of  ‘The Fresh Truck’ is to bring local, fresh, affordable produce to lower-income neighborhoods surrounding Boston that do not have easy access to nutritious food. To create community involvement and stimulate change to help build stronger, healthier communities. I am intrigued to hear their thoughts on how social media and the web has made their endeavors possible thus far as well how they plan to continue using it once they are up and roaming through Boston’s neighborhoods.

I am still looking for a few more, local sources and would love any suggestions!

Happy Eating

Exploring Reading Terminal Market

Trending in Boston has ventured to explore the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ for the weekend, Philadelphia!

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to explore the local cuisine and hot spots. While in Philly I went to visit Reading Terminal Market. Similar to Faneuil Hall right here in Boston, but much larger and with a bit more variety. Boasting more than 80 vendors, Reading Terminal is a melting pot of different cuisines, local delicacies and an open market  where you can do your weekly shopping.

Full of delicious smells and passionate people, weaving through the aisles of Reading Terminal is an experience not to be missed.

When Food meets the Web

I have two main loves in life. One is for journalism and media, the other for food and when these two things merge together in a cohesive way I am like a little kid on Christmas morning – staring wide-eyed  at the bounty under the tree.

Being a self-professed foodie I have my arsenal of media sources I check on the regular when I want a new recipe or restaurant to try.

I have a love affair for  Zagat’s Boston Blog as I have gushed before -The site visually is simple, clean and sophisticated. Just like the persona of Zagat itself. A mogul in restaurant reviews  Zagat is certainly an expert source in knowing where to go and what to order.

The reason I love their Boston blog is because it is tailored to my lovely city! A creative quark of the site is it has weekly themes, this week being coffee- which is àpropos for all the Boston college students muscling through exams this week. Last weeks theme was burgers! and who wouldn’t love that.  Zagat’s Boston blog does a great job of  profiling local restaurant news, chefs as well as incorporating national news and how that relates locally. It involves its audience by providing a link to sign up for their weekly newsletter  as well as there being a comment section/ linking ability to social media sites if you wish to share the particular story. – The site also has links for blogs in other major cities likes Los Angeles or New York City so if you are traveling you can still find the best ‘eats’ around you. The site also has a link to its original claim to fame- its reviews and ‘Best Of’ lists on Zagat.com

A few close seconds I also love to peruse are Renee Hirschberg’s blog, Eat. Live. Blog. I enjoy her site because it is more personal. Hirschberg is a local restaurant reviewers and food blogger and I originally came across her blog through her Twitter.  She live tweets comments and photos when she is out reviewing a new restaurant which I enjoy and you can really sense her passion and excitement for food through her writing and through her tweets. Her site is easy to navigate with different tabs for reviews and recipes and has a fun logo.

And lastly, an oldie but goodie  The Boston Globe’s Food and Dining Section. In its classic style you’d imagine your grandmother cracking open a copy of the paper on a weekend morning looking for a new restaurant to try. With mouth-watering photos, the front page of the section lays out every facet of foodie related news at your mouse-click. From its ‘Recipe Box’ to Q&A articles, reviews and news on food trends it is a no-fail way to find whatever local gastronomic news your stomach desires.

Maybe you will find me writing my next blog post at one of Zagat’s recommended ‘10 Hot indie Coffee Shops in Boston‘!

Happy Eating

Affording Luxury

A few weeks ago I came across an article written by  the New York Times called  ‘The Unaffordable Luxury of Food.”

Talking about how food and fine dining is becoming more and more of a luxury rather than just ‘going out for dinner’ – a gastronomic experience more than just filling your stomach. Also, how this mindset isn’t just for  a successful businessmen anymore… more and more young people are choosing to spend their money on fine meals over other options. Carving out chunks of their  paltry  incomes to dine out at sophisticated restaurants,  go to food festivals and wine tastings.  There are people in the world who eat to live, and those who live to eat. For me personally, I live to eat. Going out to new and interesting restaurants, food festivals and cooking  with my friends is what makes me happy.

This past week alone I have gone out to dinner four times and spent an inordinate amount of money on expensive chocolates and tea at the Chocolate Festival that took place in Harvard Square last Sunday… normal things for a college student to be spending their money on? I though no, but apparently that stigma is changing. Dining out at nice restaurants is not just about the food, it’s the experience. It’s about taking the time out of your hectic life to enjoy something simple. It’s a time to leave your phone in your purse and enjoy a good conversation over great food. We live in a fast-paced world where sitting down to a meal is a rare occurrence and when we do get the chance, to make it a memorable one.

OTTO- New York City. Taken by Olivia Hesslein

The last AMAZING meal I had, was at  Otto Enoteca Pizzera this past December while I was still living in New York City. OTTO is one of Chef Mario Batali‘s creations. Specializing in rustic pizzas and  pasta, unique cocktails and the most sinfully delicious gelato I’ve ever had without having traveled to Italy. What made this meal so special besides the incredible food was that I was there with my family. Laughing and talking until our waitress has to tell us the restaurant was closing for the night. A great meal can bring people together and remind you to enjoy the simple things.

The mindset surrounding food for young people is changing:  “I don’t think about what anything costs,” Emily Gerard, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a publishing assistant making the requisite salary, told me recently. “I’ll drop $60 once a week at the Greenmarket, which I would never do at a grocery store; I like supporting local farmers.”

I think this change is telling of our generation. It shows passion, intelligence and awareness. Were becoming more aware of  what we eat, where it comes from and how it gets to our plates. But more than that, its teaching our generation to make time for simple happiness, when we are entering a world where that can easily be swept to the wayside.

Cooking with Chef Alarcon

Chef Pedro Alarcon

Photo: Chef Alarcon at Northeastern University, taken by Olivia Hesslein

There’s no better way to break up a stressful day of classes then by going to a cooking demonstration!

Here at Northeastern we are lucky  to have an on campus kitchen, Exhibition Kitchen – used to host cooking classes, demonstrations and other food related events for students. This past week the university brought in local chef, Pedro Alarcon owner and executive chef of  La Casa de Pedro in Watertown, Mass.

Chef Alarcon is a native of Venezuela and has brought his love for his country and knowledge of local cuisine right here to Boston. Watching Chef Alarcon cook you could see his passion come through, talking about how when “I came to this country I didn’t even know how to fry an egg.” and how far he has come. Chef Alarcon decided to make a classic Venezuelan dish and favorite from his restaurant’s menu: Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice) with fried plantains.

Here is a link to Food Gawker, a website I personally use to find recipes. I like it because other foodies from all over can post their much-loved recipes here to share.   There are a myriad of different Arroz con Pollo recipes to suit your fancy!

Alarcon described this dish as one that is a classic favorite for large families and one that is relatively inexpensive to make. Which was a perfect dish for the crowd of college students he was cooking for – that they could easily replicate on their own.

While watching Chef Alarcon, I was live tweeting the event. – linking to photos and the event homepage through Northeastern’s website. The only thing that could have made live-tweeting this better is if Twitter was able to come up with a way to tweet smells- because the food smelled heavenly… Live-tweeting an event is a beneficial form of ‘reporting’ because you are broadcasting details in real time. From cooking events  such as this to something like the Presidential Inauguration, readers and tweeters alike appreciate the immediacy of learning about something while it is still in the midst of unfolding.

Four ‘foodie-approved’ websites

Eat Here Now!

I would like to share some websites I frequent when I’m looking for the latest in culinary news. From restaurant reviews, articles on the next big trend to profiles on chefs and more.

1) The New York Times: Dining and Wine – The New York Times is known for its gutsy restaurant reviews. Personally, I enjoy reading the Diners Journal section. An overview of great restaurants and what they’re serving that makes them so great. They are restaurants in the New York city area, but restaurants that can make it in the big apple can survive anywhere. Whats happening here gives the restaurant world a scope of whats popular and whats not.

2) The Boston Globe: Food and Dining – It is everything food and everything Boston-  trending right in your neighborhood. If you’re looking to find a new restaurant to venture to the coming weekend, reading the front page of this section will certainly steer your taste buds in the right direction.

3) Open Table: A personal favorite of mine. Open Table is a great site where you can make reservations online from your smart phone or online. Open Table has a reputation for  appealing to high quality restaurants -All the reviews are written by other Open Table members and foodies alike so you can trust that the reviews your reading are accurate and thoughtful. You can search for restaurants in any city as well as Open Table writers compile features like ‘ Best restaurants in Boston for Valentine’s Day’  and other ways to make your dining experience more worthwhile.

4) Zagat Boston Blog : Zagat is well-known in the culinary world and ‘anyone who is anyone’ on the restaurant scene wants to be placed on their yearly ‘Best of’ lists. This blog compiles local restaurant reviews, food trends, funny articles on chef and must-try places. Absolutely a hidden gem of local culinary know-how.

Photo: CC Chuy’s restaurant By JD Hancock and republished under a Creative Commons License. Some Rights Reserved.

Food Snobbery 101

To introduce this blog, I feel it would only be appropriate to define (in my terms) a ‘Foodie’.

A foodie is someone who is interested in what goes into his or her bodies. They have a genuine love for all food- healthy and otherwise.  Foodies have a curiosity for different cuisines, unique pairings of ingredients, where they get their ingredients from, how they are grown and raised. Foodies have a flair for different cooking techniques and a thirst to continue to learn more.  They are the people you see spending hours in restaurant warehouse stores drooling over stainless steel knives and La Creuset pots. They are the people with more then one kind of salt in their pantries; grey sea salt and Himalayan pink.  They look at each meal of the day as a new opportunity to explore, create and enjoy. Spending hours scouring the Dining section of the New York Times reading the latest reviews.  Foodies look at the gastronomical experience as another way to enjoy life…to slow down and savor the moment.

For those not as acquainted with the culinary world; or for those who would like a good laugh, here is a link to an excerpt from ’The Food Snob’s Dictionary: A Lexicon of Gastronomical Knowledge’ written by David Kamp and Marion Rosenfeld and illustrated by Ross Macdonald.

This is a dictionary that literally defines different techniques, terms, types of food; bios of chefs, menu terminology and even more.  All that is defined would be an essential part of a ‘foodie’ repertoire.

For anyone who is looking to expand their food knowledge or merely wants to understand the menu at a 4 or 5 star restaurant, this would be a great read for you.