Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter is the Best Season to Eat - here are your cliff notes

As a restaurant warrior with some 20 years in the industry, I have spent most of my life around food and drink. From clearing coffee cups of steady, elderly regulars at the counter at Charlie's Place at the tender age of 14 to hauling giant hotel trays full of baked haddock and chocolate puddings for three turns of the Gloucester House function room for hundreds and hundreds of tour bus tourists every day through summers hustling lobster bisque and white wine in contraband real glass stemware onto the deck at The Studio in Rocky Neck, while generous, but fussy, gay boaters made me earn every dime but taught me a lot about the proper way to enjoy a meal, to operating my own health-centric gourmet personal chef service up through my stint managing the fabulous, foodie heaven farm to table Alchemy Bistro with the wooden sharing boards of  wild boar and stuffed dates and locally foraged mushrooms (which would be delivered to the kitchen door before closing, when "Mushroom Alex" came out of the woods from his fungus hunt), to eventually taking over both the marketing and PR and the catering piece of a large restaurant group, I've earned my chops and I've learned something about myself - I'm a food addict.

I need to be around it.  I like to know who's talking about it.  I take pictures of it.  I feel like a better mother when the fridge is full of it. I get excited when I have something new and delicious, and even more so if it's rare or gourmet and I will forage for a favorite, rare cheese or a specialty olive oil till I rediscover it, knowing the recipe won't be right without that elusive ingredient, though I rarely (never) write or follow recipes.

I'm ok with this.  I have a pretty well developed theory about what a love of food says about the nurturing of a person's childhood. The kitchen is truly the heart of the home - the Heart(h) is the warmth and security of community since humans made fire. It's the safe place. Gathering around the fire meant life or death in protection from predators, in eating the days bounty and in staying warm when exposed to the elements. It's also where the stories of our human history were first shared and our first songs were sung. Just as a familiar beat of a simple drum symbolizes the rocking in the womb and soothes us in both an immediate and subconscious sense, so does the sharing of food in the warmth of the kitchen evoke the comforting sense of "belonging" that was an essential part of survival, of "life" and "safety" since we learned to walk on two legs.

People who don't care about food make me nervous.  Like there's some part of them that was unloved and therefore lacking in contentment, broken, in some way. I feel sorry for them, and I don't invite them into my supper club. I don't worry that they are insulted by this, because they probably don't read a blog about food anyway.

So what was I actually trying to write about??? Oh right, cold weather being only improved by the fact that it is the eating time of the year. Yes, of course summer means fresh veggies, and farmers markets and shopping for fish that is so fresh it's almost swimming and connecting with your food at the supremely local level, but I'm talking about the DESIRE for food, the yearning to lay on the couch with a stack of Food and Wine, to book a table you need three weeks to get and to return to your favorite cozy spot and wait for your winter must-haves appear on the table, and the chef drops in to chat.  THIS is a winter thing.

So here's what this meandering stream-of-consciousness narrative has led you to - a list.  Not "A" list but "THE" list of food bloggers in Boston.  Why should you care? Because it's your TripAdvisor for your tummy.  Urban Spoon has comprised a kick ass list of the hottest food blogs in Boston and it is your HOMEWORK before you hit up Open Table to book a seat. Just like I wouldn't book a room without consulting the reviews of real travelers, I wouldn't book a table without getting the 411 on what real (unpaid) food enthusiasts have to say.

If you care enough about food to have read this far, you should check out this list. It's a pregame guide to getting good grub....But unlike my blog post, there's a shortcut. Look at the notes on what each one's focus is (they're widely different in scope, just like our palettes). Pare it down to a palatable (pun intended) list of one's that sing to you.  Read them. Then pick your faves and for Michelin's sake consult them before you plan your next meal.  Think of it as due diligence in dining. Your discretionary dollars will thank you, and so will your belly.

Read, and then go eat.

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