A Bite of Boston

When you think of food in Boston, what comes to mind? Lobster? Chowder? Boston Cream Pie? How about tapas?

The night we arrived in Boston, we went to grab dinner at Toro, a Barcelona-style tapas restaurant located in Boston’s popular South End. The walk from our hotel to this restaurant took us past some gorgeous Victorian brownstone buildings and on to Washington Street. This thriving and hip area, supported by the nationally recognized Washington Gateway Main Streets Program, is home to numerous local businesses and some of Boston’s top restaurants.

Though there were a number of cute bistro tables outside the restaurant, it was a little too chilly to sit outside, so we went in and grabbed a cocktail by the bar while we waited for our table.

I opted for The Interrogation, a delightful mix of vermouth, manzanilla and old-fashioned bitters. Matt stuck with the Jerez Manhattan made with bourbon, sherry, cherry and black walnut bitters.

We didn’t have to wait too long for our table, but I would recommend making a reservation if you go. Every nook and cranny in the restaurant was crammed with tables and they were all full–and a line of people were waiting for their own seats.

Once we took our seats and began looking at the menu, I know my eyes began to grow bigger than my stomach. Everything looked so good!

We decided to start with the Queso Mahon, a delightful marinated cow’s milk cheese that took my breath away when I took my first bite. The grassiness of the cheese contrasted perfectly to the sweet of the tomato jelly and meatiness of the pistachios. We spread it on top of the fresh Spanish bread brought to the table when we sat.

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Nest we moved onto the Pan con Tomate, a toasted bread with tomato, garlic, olive oil and sea salt. The fresh tomato hit the tongue almost like a gazpacho, but was quickly followed by the strong bite of garlic and a kick of salt.

Then was the sweet and smoky Escalivada Catalana, a blend of eggplant, onions, peppers and tomatoes that we ate with more of the Spanish bread.

Of course, it was important to get in some greens so we split the Ensalada Cortada, a delightfully light salad with a tangy tahini-miso dressing.
After a quick refill of our cocktails, we moved onto the special of the night: a pork and egg paella. The sight and aroma of this dish were incredible and the taste was divine. The pork was tender, the rice al dente (with crispy bits on the bottom where it sizzled in the pan) and the egg infused the dish with a rich creaminess. We practically licked the skillet clean.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that my eyes got a bit bigger than my stomach? Well, I put in an order for the patatas bravas (fried potatoes with alioli and spicy tomato sauce) before the paella arrived. Unfortunately by the time these came out, we were so stuffed we could barely eat a bite or two and had to get them to go.

It was a good thing we were walking because we needed a stroll after dinner to help us start digesting all the great food we’d consumed.

I’m not sure how we could even consider breakfast the next morning, but we knew we’d need nourishment to get us through our whale watch so we stopped off at Flour Bakery + Café on Washington Street for lattes and breakfast sandwiches.

 We both got the breakfast egg sandwich with ham, cheddar, arugula, tomato and dijonaise (mine minus the tomato and dijonaise). They were good, though the egg patty was probably the thickest egg patty I’ve ever seen. It was a bit too much egg for me, but fortunately wasn’t rubbery.

We spent the main part of the day enjoying our whale watch and the New England Aquarium (check out that post here if you haven’t read it yet) and working up an appetite for dinner. So, after a day of wandering around Boston, we headed to Little Italy for dinner. We were recommended Giacomo’s Ristorante, but the line was out the door (and they only take cash), so we decided to try our luck at Panza.

The food was respectable, though the service left a bit to be desired. I got the linguine carbonara and Matt the linguini and littleneck clams with fra diavolo sauce. Our appetizer was a burrata with fresh tomatoes from the “specials” list that night.

We had a little time before we needed to get on the road after dinner, so went in search of a cup of espresso and found ourselves at Modern Pastry. The line out the door was so encouraging, so we decided we had to try one of the homemade cannolis.

We took our espressos, cannoli and a mini Boston Cream Pie (picked up on a stroll through Quincy Market a few hours earlier) and found a bench in a nearby park to enjoy our treats and the view of the slowly descending sun.

Hearts happy and tummies full, we headed back to Connecticut and a much needed sleep.

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