Smoke is the barbecuer master's livelihood, but it's a delicate substance—too much and your meat tastes charred, too little and it's bland. Thankfully, Chris Thompson and Kate Economides have learned to tame the fickle ingredient. They smoke all of their meats on-site at Blackstrap BBQ, monitoring the slow-cooked pieces for hours on end. Their supply of oak wood lends a deliciously burnt tinge to brisket, sausage, chicken, and ribs, which are then rubbed with spices and arranged with down-home sides.
It can be hard to pick your meal, though, as The Boston Globe magazine attests: "Everything on the blackboard is irresistible." A classic single-meat plate comes with two sides and cornbread, but you can also pile sauce-covered bites between sandwich buns, which let you eat with your hands instead of large, unwieldy jai alai scoops. Then there's the Hog—a kielbasa wrapped in bacon, smoked, fried, and put on a roll. Most entrees come with sides, ranging from baked beans and collard greens to sweet-maple mashed potatoes.
Depending on your choice of meat, you get to sample different regional tastes. Ribs get a Memphis-style dry rub, whereas the pulled pork follows North and South Carolina traditions, and the brisket is all Texas. Kate and Chris serve these signature suppers from their Winthrop kitchen, but they also convey them to events through their catering business, Tastyplates.
Butter, sugar, and flour. These three simple ingredients form the basis of each treat cooked up at Oakleaf Cakes. While the ingredients are straightforward, the cakes are anything but, as proven by head baker Amanda Oakleaf and the 4-foot-tall Dora the Explorer cake she constructed on the Food Network?s Cake Challenge. At her shop, Amanda and her team of artists, sculptors, and bakers create treats that run the gamut in flavor and function, from elegant tiers of red velvet to sugary cartoon figurines placed atop marshmallow fondant. Guests can dream up flavor combinations such as gingerbread cake slathered in white-chocolate buttercream or chocolate samoa layered in honey icing, or offer up a 3-D object for Amanda and her team to re-create in meticulous, edible detail. Regularly scheduled cake-decorating classes impart visitors with some of the team?s creative tricks of the trade, such as leveling cakes and keeping schoolchildren from swarming in through the doggy door at the sight of snickerdoodle cupcakes.
The bakery's from-scratch approach extends to the attached caf?, as well. Rather than keeping coffee warm throughout the day, staffers ground and brew each cup to order, using custom-roasted Barrington Coffee beans and an Aeropress. This cutting-edge brewing method is designed to extract exactly enough flavor from the beans to create the best brew possible, and achieves it in less than two minutes. Each sultry cup of joe perfectly complements the bakery's wide assortment of baked goods, which range from classic cupcakes, cookies, and muffins to wholly unique goodies including made-from-scratch pop tarts, artisanal marshmallows, and miniature cheesecakes.
Ecco Restaurant and Martini Bar's staff matches wines and specialty martinis with culinary counterparts drawn from a menu of Italian-inspired steak, seafood, and pasta. Suggested wine pairings help servers increase flavor synergy, enhancing the lobster mac 'n' cheese?s fontina cheese and buttery crumbs with a sauvignon blanc hailing from New Zealand. They also embellish meals or stories about their last fishing expedition with the wildflower martini, a blend of Absolut wild tea vodka, St. Germain, ginger, and lemon juice.
Situated less than a five-minute drive from Logan Airport, Ecco Restaurant and Martini Bar houses a geometrically diverse dining room crowded with rectangular and circular leather booths. A signature wall scribbled with autographs reveals the John Hancocks of the restaurant?s myriad guests, and artistic clusters of light bulbs spread warmth across orange couches and exposed brick. The seasonal outdoor patio provides a nice spot to enjoy a leisurely weekend brunch or a romantic dinner under the stars.
All of the cakes and cupcakes at …Cakes are prepped with fresh, quality ingredients, hand-selected by talented pastry chefs working under the tasty eye of owner Deana Martin. Deana—a self-declared purveyor of sweet, but not too sweet creations—teams up with her fellow chefs to craft delicious recipes, playful decorations, and accessible edibles for any confection fanatic. Choose from the everyday cupcakes available in-store, or call ahead at least a week in advance to create your own custom everyday dozen, which allows you to mix and match any flavor combination of classic cupcakes. Flavors include red-velvet cake with vanilla frosting, chocolate cake with mocha filling and buttercream frosting, or coconut cake with lemon frosting.
To those in Boston's North End, the iconic blue and white Mike's Pastry box can mean only one thing: cannoli. Ok, it could also mean cream puffs, fresh fig squares, or crispy taralli, but Mike's cannoli enjoys something of a legendary reputation on Hanover Street and for good reason. The bakery––which has been run by the Mercogliano family since 1946––makes 17 different varieties of the Italian pastry, filling the fresh baked shells with everything from classic ricotta cheese to chocolate mousse. Of course, it isn't just the variety that sends customers flocking to Mike's pastry case; everything from the rum cakes to the Neopolitan sfogliatella is made fresh from scratch each day using handpicked fruits, real cream and butter, and Italian recipes passed down through generations. The pastries, cookies, and other treats have become so in demand that Mike's has even opened an online shop, so fans can enjoy them even when they’re far away or literally chained to their desk.