American, Baking Recipes, Italian, Savory, Uncategorized

The Risotto Fiasco

This is the story of how I messed up, improvised, and succeeded at making risotto.

Okay, first of all, this is why I bake. I love cooking and I love how I can be experimental and try new things and make it up as I go, but sometimes it bites me in the ass.

In this case, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m about to go into the craziest time ever with a triple bill where I’m dancing all three pieces first cast (if you’re new to the blog, I’m a professional ballet dancer…yeah hi) so I wanted to make something really special. I’m single, I have the weekend to myself to rest and recoup so I wanna do a little “treat yo-self”.

When I first thought of what I wanted to make I immediately thought of my mom’s risotto. Creamy and perfectly cooked- my mom is an amazing cook, the best actually. I figured I could totally do this and boy was I wrong.

I called my mom roughly seven times- SEVEN- about how to make it, what kind of rice to get, why is there only organic shit, what kind of wine do I use, etc, etc.

So in the end, I had decided I wasn’t going to make this. I just was too in over my head. And then I found myself in the food store, wandering the rice aisle, and I grab a box that says “Risotto”. I call my mom and try to figure out what kind of wine to get and mention that the box says to add water. My mom said to me, “what did you get, I use chicken broth and it’s a long process. It takes time to make risotto.”

I BOUGHT THE WRONG STUFF. I am a Cancer zodiac sign too so you know I started getting upset and mad at myself. I spent all this money to make a dish that I don’t know how to make and had bought the wrong ingredients. I even had a freak out about having the wrong pot to make this risotto.

I was stuck- but this Critiquing Carnivore rallied herself together. I am my mother’s daughter and I can figure this out as I go and…improvise! *cue jazz hands*

Firstly, I bought Lundberg family farms organic arborio risotto- basically instant risotto instead of plain arborio rice. The instructions on the side say to use 2.5 cups of water, but instead I used 2 cups of water and half a cup of white wine. My mom said to use Sauvignon Blanc, naturally I had already gotten Pinot Grigio (at least I’m sticking to character with getting the WRONG INGREDIENTS). I also added a little lemon juice to add some acidity to it. With classic risotto instead of water you usually slowly ladle in chicken broth a little at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid. My mom adds in the white wine and lemon juice for taste.*

In the end I added some chopped onions I had quickly sautéed as well, just to add some texture (and I love onions).

So moral of the story is mom’s know best and the risotto fiasco ended up working out. The boxed stuff came out okay (definitely not the same as my mom’s) and once I stirred in extra Parmesan cheese and top it off with parsley, I still felt like a Top Chef Queen.

*the risotto stayed pretty soupy up until the 15 minute mark- if you go the boxed risotto route DO NOT WORRY. The rice will absorb all the liquid in the end and if not just remove the pot from heat. If you cook it too much and the risotto looks dry, I would recommend adding more water…or wine 😉

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT MY INSTAGRAM: @CRITIQUINGCARNIVORE

Advertisements
Standard
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. 

Standard
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. 

Standard