Baking Recipes, boston, Cape Cod, Savory, Seafood, Uncategorized

Seared Scallops with Corn Summer Salad

Hey there readers! It is summertime which means one thing for this Critiquing Carnivore…Cape Cod! That’s right, as per usual, I’m back on the glorious Cape and serving up some delicious local fare and eating at the best spots. With my newfound inspiration (and obsession) with Bon Appetit Magazine, I have been waiting for moments to recreate some of their seafood recipes. Today, we’re making scallops.

The day we made this recipe my mom and I were sitting on the beach and she mentioned getting seafood for dinner. I love scallops, like yum yes please, so I simply sat there and prayed to the scallop gods that they would be a reasonable price at the fish market. Obviously, it worked! Scallops were bought and I got myself on Bon Appetit’s website.

Chef Carla Lalli Music (@lallimusic) developed this Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce recipe and it very quickly became our inspiration! There is a YouTube video on this recipe to follow Carla as she is making the dish, too!

Like I said, this recipe served as inspiration so we tweaked and added some things. First we seared the scallops, we used olive oil while the recipe suggests either that or vegetable. Scallops don’t take that long to cook so keep an eye on how they turn opaque as well as the sear on the top, flat side. Three to four minutes on the first side should do, you’ll only need two on the other.

In our version, we sautéed spinach in the delicious aftermath of the scallops to serve as our base. Spinach is awesome because it works with anything and is so healthy and good for you!

Then we started with the brown butter and lemon sauce. I highly recommend referring to the recipe video for how to cut the lemon membrane. It’s easy once you see it, but the wording can make it a little confusing. When you add it to the brown butter the lemon practically melts and the aroma is spectacular. As you swirl and stir the sauce I recommend lightly pressing the bottom of the spoon you’re using against the lemon bits. This really helped the lemon to dissolve fully in the pan. Instead of capers we used parsley, which Carla suggests as a substitute in the video. If you do go the capers route remember that capers are salty!

Paired with the scallops, we prepared a simple corn, tomato, onion, and cucumber salad. Fresh, light, summery, perfect.

This was a great summer dish, it was so light and bright, the lemon sauce giving so much flavor and acidity. After tasting the sauce, my mom and I immediately agreed this sauce would be fantastic on pork, chicken, anything! The lemon bits really heightened the lemon flavor and it was fun learning a new technique from Carla!

I highly recommend this recipe for the summer! the additions we made elevated the recipe and created more of a cohesive meal rather than just a main dish of scallops so it’s a great time to get inventive and creative in the kitchen yourself! If you’re a lemon fan like me, get to the kitchen and start cutting those lemons! Bon Appetit!

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American, Dallas, Fort Worth, Italian, Seafood, Uncategorized

The Charles- Dallas, TX

Driving through the Design District in Dallas on a Saturday night the streets are quiet, barely lit from street lighting appearing to be…lets say questionable. My friends, Diana and Jonathan, are finally taking me to their favorite spot. They’ve constantly talked about this vibrant, dashing Italian inspired restaurant. The Design District, being dark and my first time in the area, made me curious about the spot based on the surroundings (although I could be wrong). Then you walk into The Charles and you are immediately transported into a different world.

It’s 8:45pm and the party is just getting started here at The Charles. The bar full to the brim, every seat filled with happy faces of satisfied and hungry customers. It takes me a moment to adjust to the crowd as we made our way to the bar, where we wait for our table. Every server is squeezing by and weaving through people, kindly acknowledging everyone they may accidentally tap. The bartender, who comes to help us, greets us with a smile and energy that is too hard to explain- an electric charge that exudes around him. One of the collaborators, Chas Martin, knows my friends and makes a point to say hello, give us each a kiss on the cheek, and give off the energy ten times bigger than the bartender. You can tell he has put his heart and soul into the restaurant. You see him fluttering from table to table, person to person, making a point to connect with everyone in his establishment.

The decor of The Charles is like entering the fantasy of someone’s innermost dreams. Exposed beams create an industrial look, light fixtures that resemble bubbles or balloons adorn the ceilings. Dainty wallpaper on one wall contrasts with the leopard print chairs and benches. Boars heads, ancient Italian vases and corbels, and feather looking chandeliers all contribute to the fantasy image that one embarks upon entering The Charles. A different feel and vibe than any other Italian restaurant and I loved every bit that I took in.

When our table was ready, our sweet waitress took the time to explain the concept and idea of The Charles- family style dinner where you order several different courses and share. How very Italian. She, like the other bartender and staff, had a “je ne sais quoi” that is something you have to experience there for yourself. My friends and I all agreed, there must have been extensive or precise training for the staff to have gone through to all make the experience an incredible and special one.

The chef, J. Chastain, and Martin traveled to Italy together to immerse themselves in the Italian culture, look, and food. I learned this from my insider friends who know what’s what, especially in the Dallas food scene. You can tell by looking at the menu that this trip struck inspiration because it exudes Italian inspired items. The chef did his research and created a menu that is exquisite, rustic while also being elegant.

We started with wood fried oysters and I must say that I do not like oysters, but my friends convinced me that these are not your typical oysters. These are wood fired topped with crispy pepperoni and parsley- these will most likely be the only oysters I will ever eat in my life. The texture is not that of a raw oyster, but rather lightly cooked and not the usual slimy touch. The other item that was a first for this carnivore was beef tartare- the theme is that I don’t typically eat anything raw. This tartare was divine though, the bed of beef on top of a toasted piece of garlic bread and adorned with pepper chips and served with ricotta. These menu items I highly recommend for your starters and both are a good introduction to raw proteins.

Our next few courses came out and they are true stars. I’ll begin with the pastas:

Our first pasta is the veal ragu cappelloni which appears to be a fan favorite when you look up The Charles on Instagram. Served in a Parmesan cream sauce the cappelloni was stuffed with ragu and paired beautifully with the light sauce. Secondly we ordered the spicy creste di gallo which is a spicy shrimp, red sauce based pasta dish. The spicy kick compliments the dish as a whole and doesn’t leave your mouth on fire or with that kick stick in the back of your throat. Lastly to round out the pastas we couldn’t resist getting the cacio pepe fritters that had a delectable garlic fromage base and hint of lemon. Each pasta dish was cooked to utter perfection. Having been to Italy before each dish had that Italian inspiration with a twist to it and I felt like I could tell the chef knew what he was doing when it came to cooking the pasta. I highly recommend each of these dishes, but for me the creste di gallo takes the cake.

As for our main entree dish the pork spoke to all three of us. Fathoming this much food was a bit daunting, but the menu really has so much to offer and we couldn’t resist. Thank goodness we didn’t let the daunting task win because this pork was some of the best I’ve had. Boasting fennel, mushrooms, and orange twist the pork was a beautiful pink color inside, juicy and oozing flavor. It cut like butter and as soon as it graced my taste buds I was in heaven. It was extremely flavorful and to my delight immensely, but not overpoweringly, peppery. While there are several eye catching entrees, I would return solely for this pork dish alone (but we all know that I wouldn’t get just the one dish either). The chef really took my breathe away with this pork, to the point where I wish I had bread to collect the sauce (I would say that is the one and only downside to the restaurant, I wish I had something to soak up all the sauces and creams from each dish, seeing that licking plates in public is not necessarily acceptable).

By the end we were stuffed, the idea of dessert out of the question. But this meal was so special and we didn’t want the night to end so dessert was ordered and again we made a great choice. We tried both the infamous olive oil cake and the tiramisu. This tiramisu had a much darker color than the typical one, but still had that the great rich flavor everyone loves. The olive oil cake was moist and fluffy, drenched in almond tuile and bedazzled with grapes and a blanket of mascarpone.

The food at The Charles is obviously the principal of the show, but the soloists and corps de ballet frame the principal to create a performance that is technical, fluid, and stunning. From the interior decoration, the personalities and hospitality of every single person working there, and the attention to detail is what really makes The Charles an experience that you will forget. Accompanied with the great company of fantastic friends, The Charles is a place everyone should treat themselves to, whether it be a quiet date night or a fun night out with a group of friends. Either way you will be welcomed with open arms, just as the Italians do.

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Beef, Fort Worth, Mexican, Seafood, Tacos, Uncategorized

Bartaco- Fort Worth, TX

Y’ALL. I’M SORRY.

I know it’s been over two months since I’ve posted an actual blog, but I’ve been eating lots of delicious foods this summer that have been documented on the ‘Gram (@critiquingcarnivore) Nothing has been really blog worthy…so lame and a poor excuse, but that’s what it is. Anyway, I’m back and back in the state of Texas and how else was I going to spend my first night in the heat than spend money I don’t have and eat some great tacos! One of the newest additions is Bartaco.

Across from HG Sply, along the Trinity in Westbend is Bartaco, the white building catching your eye walking by the river. You walk inside and it has a Mexican beach look, wicker notes and white plank walls. The hostess was inviting and accommodating while we waited for a table, although the front is pretty tiny and not great for several parties to be waiting for a table. However, the bar is located directly to your left as you walk in, inviting you to pull up a chair and have one of their amazing cocktails while waiting.

We were sat down and our waitress was cute and asked if we had been before. Two out of four of us had not, but she didn’t care to explain the system of how things work thoroughly. She explained some how to order, but some things she wasn’t clear about. I understand, half of us did know, but regardless an explanation of the different kind of service offered is always welcome for newcomers. With that said, she did explain that you order almost the way you would sushi. You mark on a personal piece of paper what you’d like to order with a pencil, marking the item and quantity. Upon completion, I later figured out, you place a card to flag your server (you do this almost every time you want their attention). They go through everyone’s order to confirm and you’re done! It’s a different way for ordering tacos, but for the kitchen it may be easier to help fire food.

If you don’t know this about me then here you go: before going somewhere new I always check them out on instagram beforehand. One thing I learned from instagram is that the drinks are incredible, fun combinations and well made. One drink that has had some recognition is called Smoke on the Water. With mezcal, watermelon, lemon, and mint this drink is super refreshing and not sweet! For a hot day it’s perfect and overall the prices were not astronomical. Also, they make for cute pictures…look how pretty!

A couple of things pertaining to the tacos. These guys are small, only four inch tortillas. I recommend at least three, maybe four plus. They also aren’t full of lettuce or tomato, it’s loaded with your main ingredient and topped with herbs and some extra flavor enhancers. Another tip…keep track of who got what. They brought the tacos out at once and some orders were put on the same trays. Make sure everyone got the right amount and right options. Then, divide and conquer.

Guys, look at me eating seafood in Texas! Yes, I just saw the cod and couldn’t say no. It was a nice piece of fish with a good fry to it, but I would’ve loved some more cilantro or something with it. Definitely recommend adding some pepper sauce (there are three different kinds on the table, jalapeño and habanero are two options) to add some flavor. I would’ve added some pepper for seasoning as well. Prepared well, just needed some kick.

Next up, pork carnitas! A taco staple, carnitas are slow cooked pork, shredded to delicious perfection. These carnitas were delicious with some more condiments and flavors coming together than the fish. The tangy mojo sauce added some nice elements, this was a favorite of both instagram and myself.

Lastly, the fan favorite of all is the chicken pastor: achiote marinated chicken with grilled pineapple this is definitely the most flavorful of the three tacos. The chicken was grilled and marinated wonderfully, the pineapple adding that acidic tang to balance the taco. By far this was the best taco, I was sad I only got one.

Overall Bartaco is a great new spot for tacos in Fort Worth. With killer cocktails and an array of taco options (duck, redfish, pork belly, oh my!) this will soon be THE stop along the Trinity. All the bikers and runners will flock here to recoup, taking a breather and being sure to stay hydrated! 🍹

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American, boston, Burgers, Cape Cod, Italian, Seafood

Laurino’s- Brewster, MA

Home. A lot of people think of their family when they think of home. The atmosphere, the people, the food. The same goes for restaurants. Yes, you remember the food if you’ve been to a great place, but many of us also remember the experience we had. Were the waiters/waitresses nice? Did the hostess greet you cheerfully? Were you told a wait time that fit the means of a normal time frame? Those are things that can make or break a restaurant just as much as the food being good or not. Laurino’s checks off everything and does it with love. 

Just off Route 6A sits Laurino’s, a humble and welcoming establishment on Cape Cod. We came here as a second choice actually, after our first choice treated us less than spectacular. We learned our lesson and know to make Laurino’s our first choice. From being greeted with a smile, to delicious food, to seeing hardworking people work together, you feel better knowing your money is going towards a restaurant like that than one with snotty hosts. 

The vibe at Laurino’s is that of home, with fun posters and pictures all around and a community feeling. They welcome all, seeing that we’ve taken my autistic sister here and seeing an autistic boy the night we went. Our waitress was bubbly and happy, exuding vibrant colors that made us feel cheerful and happy to be there. She made our experience amazing and we noticed all the waitstaff helping each other, from running plates to cleaning and turning over tables. True teamwork.

The food, on top of everything else, was superb. The SOB Burger was juicy and delicious, all the ingredients cooked perfectly. The specials that evening made it difficult to decide what to get, but one special that night screamed incredible. Scallops with tortellini in a red pesto sauce was just too good not to get. The tortellini had to have been homemade, with ample filling and tasty pasta. The scallops cooked to perfection, complimenting the tortellini in a delicious sauce that popped with flavor and spice (and everything nice).

From now on Laurino’s is the place, where everyone is welcome to enjoy drinks, food, and company. Ultimately that’s what matters when you go out to eat, not necessarily where everyone else goes, but the place that leaves you feeling bright and your tummy full. 

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American, Beef, boston, lobster, Seafood, Uncategorized

Rapscallion- Acton, MA

My one and only request to my parents when I came home for the holidays was to go to Acton. Not to Lexington, not Concord, Acton. Why you may ask? We’re going back to Table and Tap.

For those of you who may not have seen my previous post about Rapscallion should go read it now. It will help you better understand why this place is so incredible. Aside from the fact that the restaurant is housed in a farmhouse from the 1700s and that they make and serve their own beer, the food is out of this world and the staff is like family. 

The hospitality level at Rapscallion is truly amazing. They take care of you and make your dining experience special. They don’t just take your order and go on with their day, they talk to you and engage in conversation. They always make sure you have a drink and check in to make sure you’re enjoying your time, and not just by your one waiter/waitress. Several people, including  co-owner Peter Daniel, took the time to make sure our dining experience was memorable. This is one of the many reasons we go back to Rapscallion and recommend it to everyone. Peter and all of the wait staff are passionate about what they do and what they represent, that’s what sets Rapscallion above everywhere else. 

Along with the amazing service is the food! Everything coming from farm to table, from local farms, makes it much more special. I say we dive right in, I’ve got my crisp, light flagship Honey ale in front of me and ready to devour all the deliciousness. 

Now in my previous post I talked about the poutine, and it’s still a family favorite of ours, but we also decided to try the Fried Brussel Sprouts. Let me just say tasty. The brussel sprouts were cooked perfectly and the fry was spot on, it wasn’t heavy at all. It came with a maple cranberry aioli that only enhanced the vegetable. It was such a great combination of flavors and it didn’t take long for them to disappear. 

Now onto the main courses. Grab an Acton Ale and sit down because we have a Mac and cheese battle tonight readers! Lobster vs. Beef. 

First on judges table is the Pulled Beef Mac and cheese. What we have is Rapscallion’s Honey Ale BBQ beef, smoked white cheddar and  yellow cheddar with scallions and jalapeños topped with buttery breadcrumbs. I know, try to control yourself. It really was insane. The beef is on the sweeter side, due to their Honey ale braise, but this sweetness combined with the smoky savory cheeses was harmonious. The waitress had asked if I wanted extra jalapeños or the dish as it’s served and I should have asked for extra. There wasn’t a lot, which from a chefs perspective is smart because you don’t want to overpower the dish or the customers mouth. So, if you like spicy and are adventurous ask for extra jalapeños. The beef was tender and with the yellow and white cheddars the flavor combinations were delectable. 

Second up is the Lobster Mac and cheese. They are quite clever at Rapscallion, they took their lobster grilled cheese (love, read about it in my previous post!) and turned it into a more hearty choice. A great move because the reason we were first drawn here from the start was because of that menu item! I almost started crying again. Thanks to Table and Tap fontina and lobster is my new favorite combo. With that being said, this item has lobster cream as its base and herbed cream cheese in there too, and of course topped with breadcrumbs. They must have made their own lobster stock because the lobster cream enhanced the lobster flavor and it came across when you tasted the cream by itself. The cheese blend was out of this world and there were chunks of lobster throughout. I couldn’t stop eating it, it was like the grilled cheese, “I never wanted the taste to leave my mouth.”

Shall I reveal my favorite Mac and cheese now? Let’s keep reading to find out because we had to have dessert too! Rapscallion is probably the only restaurant I’ll get dessert from because I know it’s that good. Just like their dinner menu, the desserts are all homemade. We had trouble deciding what to get so we asked our sweet waitress her opinion, “chocolate mousse hands down” she said. “It’s a recipe that was left from the previous restaurant and we’re happy they left it with us.” Chocolate mousse it was then. And oh my gosh if you could take fudge and make it into a soft mousse this is it. It didn’t seem possible, it was so chocolatey and rich like fudge, but it wasn’t dense, it was light! Thank goodness for the previous restaurant and for chef Ian Michaud and sous chef Ryan Flisher for perfecting it.

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten while my mouth’s been watering. It’s time to reveal my favorite Mac and cheese! I’m sure you could guess, but hands down Lobster wins. Trust me you should get both and share with the family, but it was creamier and just that much more flavorful. 

At the end of the meal Peter Daniel came by again to thank us and talk to us, he seemed to recognize my parents from the many times they’ve been. Even if he didn’t he was incredibly gracious and eager to share his passion for Rapscallion Brewery (located in Sturbridge, MA) and Table and Tap. Once I came up with the courage to tell him about my extracurricular activity of blogging, he was curious and wanted to know more about it! He said the staff loves hearing good feedback and I know from day job it’s the best feeling, too. It was really cool, me being a quiet blogger, to have an owner curious about my blog and getting the opportunity to talk about food with him! 

So to everyone and the Daniel brothers at Rapscallion thank you, you’ve done it again. I can’t wait for March when I’ll be back in New England again, because Rapscallion Table and Tap will be the first thing on my to do list. I hope some readers take my advice and head up to Acton to experience the wonderful hospitality of the Rapscallion family.

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American, boston, Ice Cream, lobster, Seafood, Uncategorized

Rapscallion- Acton, MA

This is the story of how I found my last meal. Last meal referring to ones final meal before departing Earth. People sometimes talk and joke about this after a meal they have, saying they will return to have that meal. I will tell you now that that meal could not compare to the food of Rapscallion.

It’s a restaurant that just pops up when you search “nearby restaurants” on Google. You drive up to the house, built in the 1700s, and it’s quaint and New England-esque. The smell from the smoker is most inviting, especially after a long day of furniture shopping. A lovely outdoor seating area is enticing, being in nature and looking out across the street into a green forest. The inside is rustic, the bar completely full of who appear to be “usuals”. Little rooms in the house divide the dining areas, lending an intimate setting with only a few other tables along with yours. 

The atmosphere is incredible, with amazing background music of Southern rock and a vintage homie feel. The staff is excited to serve you the astounding creations of Chef Ian Michaud (read his bio located towards the bottom of the attached link). They are equally as excited to serve you the beer of the Rapscallion brewery, located in Sturbridge, MA. The model of the brewery and restaurant are liberating: “Rapscallion is a MA-only microbrewery that puts freshness, quality and consistency above all else, honoring the craft, the Rapscallion customer and the communities we call home.” This home is where I intend to not only have, but share my last meal. 

Because all the beers not only sound delicious, but are also brewed by these guys, we wanted to try a couple before picking just one. We got a flight of four, left to right: Honey, Lager, Blonde, and White IPA. My favorites were probably their flagship, the Honey, and the White IPA. From the photo you can tell how different they are. The Honey was crisp, light and refreshing. The IPA is cloudy and almost looks like orange juice, but the hops were equally as refreshing and ended up being my favorite.

The menu has such an array of foods, from BBQ out of the smoker to chickpea fritters. One appetizer that caught our eye was the poutine. Poutine is a French Canadian dish that is French fries in gravy sauce with cheese curds. What caught our eye about this poutine was the use of their Black IPA. Let me just say that I want that gravy on everything. It was tangy and luscious, it took all the class not to drink the remains out of the dish. They use cheddar cheese curds, which isn’t common for poutine, but it was a light cheddar and worked perfectly with the IPA glaze. Other notable appetizers are the mussels, cooked similarly to cataplana style, and the chickpea fritters which were cooked perfectly and sat on a bed of smoked tomato sauce from the smoker.

The entree that practically brought me to tears upon the first bite and is, what I have decided to be, the best meal I have ever had is the Lobster Grilled Cheese. It is exactly what it sounds like: “fresh shucked lobster, herbed cream cheese, fontina, baby spinach on toasted sourdough with a cup of lobster bisque”. Let’s just start with the first bite, heavenly. The cheeses were light and there was just a perfect balance of both that it didn’t overwhelm the lobster meat. The herbs and spinach, which you don’t typically put with lobster, worked harmoniously with the meat . And this was all in the first bite. I tried so very hard to savor each bite and not just gobble it down. I knew that I wanted this to be my final bite of the meal, so I started on the sides. The pickled vegetables were delicious, especially pickled asparagus. They weren’t extremely vinegar tasting, adding a refreshing bite to the meal. The bisque was sublime, so thin and full of lobster flavor. I think the best bisque I’ve ever had. However, I never wanted the taste of the grilled cheese to leave my mouth, I kept saying that I wouldn’t eat again so as not to lose it.


We asked the waiter about the meal and once he informed us that everything was made from scratch and the ingredients were all local, we had to ask about dessert. Those, too, were made from scratch. We had to keep this spectacular meal going and after the waiter relayed the dessert menu, which consisted of an IPA crusted chocolate cheesecake, we went with a Massachusite choice of blueberry crisp. As we ate lunch everything certainly tasted homemade, from scratch, and local, but this crisp was all of that and more. You could tell that they had just made the crisp to order. The blueberries were so plump and full of flavor you wondered whose farm they came from. The fresh apples in the crisp were also mouth watering and whole walnuts added an amazing crunch. The crisp topping was divine and the ice cream tasted like home.

Just writing this post makes my eyes and mouth water, causing me to contemplate getting in the car and going a mere two days later. This is a top notch restaurant, and if it wasn’t for the drum shop we had to stop at down the road, if we hadn’t searched for nearby restaurants, if we hadn’t given the colonial house a chance, we never would have had the best meal of our lives. All this in Acton, just 40 minutes from Boston. If anyone from Rapscallion who may come across this amateur blog, thank you for honestly the best American meal of my life. To those reading this, make the trip. 

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boston, Seafood, Tacos

Pier 6- Charlestown, MA

Over the river across the way from Boston is Charlestown, where the American Revolution began at Bunker Hill, where Paul Revere stopped at his favorite tavern, and where delicious foods can be found. One of the restaurants that is becoming a fan favorite is Pier 6.

Just a few piers down from the USS Constitution is the little waterfront restaurant Pier 6. It’s location is extremely ideal, with a fantastic view of Boston and the harbor. The atmosphere is fun and the staff is inviting. The food is equally as inviting. 

When you come to the Boston area it’s hard not to get seafood. Fish tacos is always a good choice and Pier 6 is no different. They use mahi mahi, a very mild fish, so it’s inviting for even new fish lovers. The corn salsa is very delicious, packing Mexican infused flavor and fresh vegetables. The avocado on top is always a bonus. The dish comes with fries, which isn’t amazing, but certainly a little addition that didn’t go unnoticed.

Pier 6 is becoming a popular lunch and dinner spot, especially since they are open year round. It’s a stop every foodie should try to make…be sure to enjoy the view with the food and grab a well mixed drink, too!

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