Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pastoral Hedging

I remember listening to a sermon once. The pastor was saying how as a responsible husband and father he had taken out a life insurance policy on himself, that in the even of his death his family would be taken care of and his wife would not need to work. I'm more curious about the first part.

I often ponder the Biblical precedent of seemingly beneficial acts. For example if one had a curious ability, say to require significantly less sleep than the rest of the population or none at all, would it be advised to try and isolate a mechanism responsible in order to allow others to utilize it as well? Sure, one could argue that it would allow our geniuses or soldiers to contribute so much more to society, but would it be actually Biblical to offer another method for humans to avoid rest, and increase reliance on human strength? Correspondingly, how Biblical is insurance? Shrewd perhaps in some argument, but a far cry from a pictured community that takes care of each other, each selling their own possessions in order to provide for all.

And in this case I might take it further: is the leader of a church group, one who should be pastoring his community and teaching them what community is, hedging against the very community he teaches? Using their own tithes to take out a life insurance policy for the unlikely event of pastoral death under the idea that his community would not come to take care of his family...well, that's either very comforting or a symptom. I guess I just wasn't aware that a pastor's popularity and congregation's economic status directly influenced his insurance policies or standard of living - quite Biblical I'm sure.

I would imagine that as a leader and teacher of a community, you'd want to live in the way that represents what you've taught. Betting against your congregation using their own offerings - learning from the best of investment bankers, I see. But similarly, I just imagine there should be better uses for that money.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kitchen 4140 (Sunday Brunch)

This restaurant I might consider a favorite, though it remains elusive to some strange degree. Why? I've come several times to find it closed, though that would largely be my fault - it's shut Saturdays duing breakfast and lunch. Or more accurately, brunch is only on Sundays.

But I'm not as stupid as I may sound - Kitchen 4140 was originally opened as a brunch restaurant, and the transition to its now solely dinner presence has only confused and sorrowed. Despite the transition I yearn to come back over and over, perhaps yearning for the purity of taste and calmness of space I once here had.

The outdoor area has become more crowded, and larger tables dominating over the smaller ones that once sparsely populated the area, making for a perhaps more social, more profitable, and more intrusive experience than before. Heck, the front door isn't even a front door anymore - a change made I assume to allow for increased kitchen storage? But not all has changed: the gardens still look unfortunately bare, and the overall decor direction seems unchanged.

Roasted Vanilla Infusion
Organic rooibos | mated infused with vanilla | steamed milk

I'm not someone who enjoys nor consumes tea or coffees, though I am considering picking up the hobby out of social codes. That said, I did taste this one, a rather large pour (never a bad thing!) of a rather agreeable tea on the range of how bad teas can truly taste. That opinion likely largely stems from the combination of milk and vanilla overpowering the flavor, at least at the top of the drink; nearer to the bottom I rediscovered my usual complaints.

crab benedict 15
jumbo crab | caper hollandaise
rosemary biscuit | poached eggs

Personally I've never been interested in benedicts after my first - it was impressive, but I quickly learned similar they all seemed" a thick hollandaise sauce covering "perfectly" poached eggs on a heavy Southern biscuit, lumps of meat or crab thrown haphazardly on. Perhaps its just my lacking interest, but I never found the dishes balanced, making it a tough order.

Unfortunately, despite the quality of each individual ingredient here, this dish too leans toward the same faults, namely that there is a distinct lack of a brighter note helping the heavy. The biscuits were surprisingly tasty, and the crab and hollandaise as expected; the eggs, of course, ran around creating a mess. Whether that's fun or not depends on the person; I enjoy it but hate the management.

steak hash 16
grass fed tenderloin | two poached eggs
wild mushrooms | caramelized onions
fire-roasted peppers | garden vegetables
avocado creme fraiche | toasted artisan bread

There seemed a considerable variation in the quality of the beef, leading some chunks to be quite a bit tastier than others. The avocado creme fraiche was light but tasty, though I do with it were chilled a bit, and the poached eggs were appropriately cooked (hah) and peppered - delicious. The real steal of the show here isn't the wild mushrooms though, which I do tend to love, nor the carrots, which someone glancing at the pictures said that they "could tell it was a higher-class restaurant just from those". Surprisingly, the toasted artisan bread, herbed to glory and taste, was my favorite part, yet sadly tasted last and when I was fullest. It easily beat the rosemary biscuit of the benedict, which in that dish was basically half the meal.

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. I remember eating here back in the days where it was only open for breakfast and lunch, rather than the dinner restaurant it is now. It retains a lot of the same charm and style, along with the implication that the food is at the least locally grown; sadly, I do remember the absolute quality being better then than now; the service, too - I think you need one additional person on staff.

With that said, I have no issue coming back here, nor recommending it to others; the portion sizes, peaceful atmosphere, and good food are more than enough to sway me over again and again. Consider me a happy snowman!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life Alive

As a tourist, when I told my friend I was going to meet some people at Life Alive, she (my friend) told me that I was meeting girls. She knew before I did.

After Life Alive, I know why - if a yoga place ever became a restaurant, this would be it. It's not to say that men wouldn't generally enjoy it, but the portionings and ingredients tend toward the side of conservatism, more bridal-health conscious than deep savory. I personally have no issues with the food itself, though the pricing truly multiplies upon what I would imagine plain vegetables cost - the margins must be ridiculous. But like Apple, I guess that's the charm?

The Adventurer
Our Sesame Ginger Nama Sauce combines with a colorful mix of corn, beets, broccoli, dark greens, shredded cheddar, tofu & tamari almonds over quinoa & short grain brown rice.

Filling Bowl $9.25
Handy Wrap $9.75
Demi $5.85

Okay, I'll hand it to them: they made it tasty. But let me clarity too that I'm a guy who doesn't as is enjoy steaks or bacon in the slightest, and I still wouldn't volunteer this restaurant to a group of friends. I could imagine coming back again one day, if only because again some girls wanted to. 

And I think that'll be sufficient enough.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


After being rejected by many neighboring restaurants and its sister with a rather long wait, we came here by suggestion and sat, possibly for its immediate availability. Suspicious for a Friday night? Perhaps, but luckily the visit was not wholly disappointing - perhaps its reputation or location just a block away that allowed for this decent restaurant to occur unoccupied.

Note that it looks rather like a bar when walking in and unlike a restaurant - you can tell the food will be a step above typical bar peanuts, but if priorities were to be called, the ambiance fits. A beer and a cocktail later two burgers were ordered, and the service was friendly but distant enough to well, shoot the breeze unattended.

Coda #2 | rhum agricole blanc, barbados rum, allspice, demerara syrup, lime, egg, nutmeg 12 

A bit like eggnog, and an enjoyable drink, though like most restaurants, I do wish it were stronger.

Coda Burger | choice of swiss, cheddar, or blue cheese, hand-cut fries, $1 each: sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions / $2 each: bacon, fried egg

The burgers were juicy, flavorful, and had a hint of charbroiled taste to them. The patty was thick, the fries, thin, and though a tad greasy (it wasn't a health burger), wasn't to the point of feeling disgusting afterward.

It was a guy's night to shoot the breeze, and on a rainy Boston night, this sufficed. I'm not sure if its completely worth the price of entry, but heck, it did well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Parish Cafe

Parish Cafe is a social hub of sorts, intention and end. A bar and sandwich restaurant (and really more of a pub than a bar), the unit focuses on a type of customer loyalty, a relaxed ambiance, and inventive menu concept to draw people in other restaurants only dream of - it's designed to make people talk.

What makes Parish Cafe unique is perhaps twofold: one is its beer loyalty program, whereupon drinking through a menu of 100 brews in under 120 days or something of that sort, you are awarded a large glass mug with your name inscribed to be stored at the bar, the advantage being that from that point onward when you order a beer, there is a fuller pour and some recognition awaiting.

Second, the food. Parish Cafe's menu is comprised of sandwich items recipe'd by various popular local chefs. As expected, the dishes may not have quite the common denominator most restaurant menus should, but they're all sandwiches, and the variation somehow fits if but in a different yet delightful way.

Third, and perhaps this was just the effect of squeezing 8 people in next to a window, this restaurant feels a bit straight out of TV.

The Hot and Cold Chicken Salad / $11.75
Grilled and chilled chicken breast marinated in olive oil and garlic served with arugula, caramelized almonds, shaved carrots and chilled snap peas over warm sticky rice with a sesame-soy vinaigrette.

Another menu item I would probably only come up with at 3am, the hot and cold combination is strikingly delightful. Arugula often is the leaf of choice for such heated variations, and the olive oil thankfully doesn't drench the rest of the dish. The warm sticky rice fits the Asian-themed dish and salad better than expected, and though I'm never going to like any species of peas, the dish is cohesive and enjoyable, especially to share. It actually reminds me of bibimbap in ways.

Le Mistral / $19.25
Created by: Mitchell Randall, Executive Chef – Ostra, Boston
Garlic and rosemary marinated beef tenderloin grilled to medium rare, served on ciabatta with caramelized onions, chive mashed potatoes and melted Bel Paese cheese. Topped with seasoned arugula, a truffle aioli and crispy onions. Sided with Cape Cod potato chips.

Just read that description again. Doesn't it sound delicious? To me, it tasted as expected and sounds, enough of a compliment on its own. I'm never going to love ciabatta or any of the harder crusted breads, even with their purposes; it takes an exceptionally moist and creamy sandwich in order to compensate or rationalize it, and this one does. Regarding the truffle oil - I know its a bit of a trend ingredient used typically in splash just to bump the price and class up a bit more, but I think it has a nice way of balancing the largely heavy components of the rest of the sandwich. Surely citrus or some other cheaper ingredient could have done the trick too, but what's the fun in that?

Spicy Tuna Burger / $19.25
Created by: Tim Cushman, Executive Chef/Owner – o ya, Boston
Sashimi grade yellowfin tuna, finely chopped, formed into a patty and grilled to medium rare. Served on a classic seeded burger bun with homemade spicy mayo, thinly sliced pickled ginger, chopped scallions, mixed greens, Roma tomatoes, toasted sesame seeds and a kabayaki drizzle. Sided with Cape Cod potato chips.

Perhaps the most interesting sandwich out of the bunch, the yellowfin is served seared fairly thouroughly, hurting my inner expectation and desire for sashimi. I will readily admit though that it is served quite deliciously, the patty a fairly different concept to me, and the scallions rounding it out nicely.

An example of other dishes available, quickly snapped but not sampled:

It's not difficult to see why Parish Cafe is popular. With one of the cooler and more relaxing restaurants I've been to in Boston, the atmosphere allows for talking, but wasn't too loud to hear each other - thank goodness. More importantly, we enjoyed our time here, and as good as the food is at Parish, I think that's even more the goal.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Chicken and Rice

I can't be 100% sure why the truck was parked on an essentially deserted center of the Financial District on a holiday weekend, but it served my needs particularly well, if it meant that there was no line or wait. Hailing from a similar brand of food from New York, curiosity obviously grasps at wanderers and tourists, wondering if it's just as good.

What you get: a combo plate of chicken and lamb, extra white garlic sauce and a bit of hot sauce, some pita bread, yellow rice, and crisp salad; eat it together! Apparently its even better if you mix all the ingredients together first, and some people say the more white sauce the better.

For the price you end up with some decent food and portions, though I could offer perhaps two suggestions: first, though I did like the overall taste, the flavoring/cooking of the rice has the notable room for improvement. Secondly, it would seem that this lunch truck is primarily that, and I could only imagine that this would serve just as well after hours around bars and college campuses. I liked it; just don't compare it to Manhattan.