Helping Hands Monkey Helpers: Food Festival

Saturday September 28, 2013 marked the annual Helping Hands Monkey Helpers Food Festival fundraiser at the WGBH studios. Every year food and beverage sponsors come together to support Helping Hands and raise money for the non-profit organization. Established in 1979, Helpings Hands is a unique group that provides service monkeys to disabled adults with mobility impairments. The organization cares for and trains each capuchin monkey for about 4 years before donating them to one of their applicants. It costs on average $40,000 to train each monkey, and as they are provided to recipients free of charge, it’s imperative that Helpings Hands receives support from generous donations.

Enter Columbus Hospitality Group! CHG is one of the many event supports, with the largest presence hosting five restaurant tables: Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, Mooo…, and L’Andana. Other great Boston restaurants were represented, each serving up tastings of knock out appetizers.

This was my second time attending the fundraiser, and both years my favorite station was Mistral’s. The French bistro served Duck Confit and Wild Mushroom Cous Cous “Risotto” with Parmesan and Black Truffle. I don’t even like mushrooms and I had two bowls of this stellar dish.
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I think L’Andana was next on my list with their House Made Ricotta Bruschetta with fig and their own harvested honey. Fig + ricotta + honey may be one of my favorite food combinations. Sweet, light, and irresistible.

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Mooo… offered tiny but hearty Beef Sirloin Sliders with Mooo Sauce and Caramelized Onions on House Made Rolls.
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Being pregnant, I wasn’t able to taste Sorellina’s Tuna Tartare with spicy mustarda aioli and chili vinegar, although I’ve had it in the past at their restaurant and it can’t be missed!
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Along with raw tuna, other treats I couldn’t indulge in were…
Cinquecento‘s Red Wine Poached Pears with Whipped Gorgonzola & Olive Oil Crostini. If I were able to have “moldy cheeses” I would have probably consumed this enter plate.
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Jody Adams’s Trade and Rialto were represented at one table, offering Ceviche with dukkah, harrisa, and lime. Another raw fish option I had to avoid.
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I shouldn’t have tried Masa‘s Wild Mushroom Empanadas since they contained caramelized onions and feta cheese (some “soft cheeses” are a no-no while pregnant), but it was half way down when I realized there was feta in the middle. Oh well! It was worth it 🙂
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Back to the things I could eat, and ate a lot of!
The Catered Affair had incredible Butternut Squash Agnolotti drizzled with Sage Brown Butter and topped with Fried Sage. I had to walk away from the table after my second helping, because I could have stayed there all night.
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Zocalo may have had the best table, simply because they were serving three options, each one out doing the last. My husband probably had five spoonfuls of the Tuna Ceviche with lime, tomatoes, mangos, avocado, onion, cilantro and EVOO.
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Thank goodness avocados are not on the pregnancy “do not eat” list or else I’d be in major trouble. I was able to try (quite a few of) Zocalo’s Guacamole Tostadas.IMG_5803
And last but not least were the Chilapitas, which are sweet plantains stuffed with pulled pork, crema fresca, avocado and pickled onions, topped with ranchera sauce and cotija cheese. YUM! Out of all of the restaurants mentioned, this is the one I haven’t been to, and after their showing at Helping Hands I think I’ll be making a reservation very soon.
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After consuming all of the savory apps, my sweet tooth was calling. Thankfully Konditor Meister represented for desserts with unforgettable cream puffs, mini pies, tarts, and more.
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I couldn’t enjoy the open bar this year, but Ketel One was serving cocktails at their vodka bar, and beer and wine were flowing from Harpoon Brewery, M.S. Walker, and William Grant & Sons.

With guaranteed amazing food, live entertainment, a silent auction, raffle prizes, and knowing I’m contributing to an incredible cause, I look forward to attending the Helping Hands Monkey Helpers Food Festival every year! If you want to learn more about the organization or donate to assist in the care and training of the monkeys, visit www.monkeyhelpers.org

Trade

I’m a big fan of Jody Adams’ Rialto located in Harvard Square. I’ve been twice and each time have had unforgettable meals. When I heard about the beginning stages of Trade I could not contain my excitment, espcially because this concept would be more casual and affordable than the sophisticated and elegant Rialto. It took a few months since Trade’s debut, but I finally made my way to the Waterfront…

Bread: We were not served bread. Which I found strange and disappointing.

Menu: Small (tapas plates), Soups & Salads, Flatbreads, Plates (entrees), A Little Extra (sides). The smaller shareable plates offer a far share of seafood, the 4 flatbreads all sounded appetizing, and the entrées feature at least one pasta, fish, chicken, burger, and steak. I saw a variety of options from each section so my friend and I decided to share the following…

Food/Presentation:
Local Burrata with almonds, dates and balsamic
Two large pieces of burrata were served next to 3 long crostini and topped with chopped almonds. Date spread was smeared on the plate for dipping. I enjoyed the textures and flavors of this Small Plate; the cheese was soft and creamy on the inside as burrata should be, the bread was crunchy & drizzled with oil, and the dates added a subtle sweet component.

Tomato and Roasted Fennel Soup with curried yogurt, honey and Asiago
The soup was drizzled with honey & yogurt (and some unfamiliar leaves); an Asiago cheese stick was placed across the bowl for dipping. I’m usually a fan of anything with tomatoes (especially soup) and this dish was no different. I missed the fennel flavor but enjoyed the slight curry taste.

Lamb Sausage Flatbread with eggplant, Manchego, peppers and garlic yogurt
An oblong thin crust flatbread was served on a wooden board, topped with eggplant spread, roasted peppers, shaved Manchego, mint leaves, and garlic yogurt drizzle. I failed to mention the lamb sausage for a reason as it was more of ground lamb and somewhat sparse throughout the pizza. While this was tasty I was underwhelmed and disappointed in the small amounts of lamb. I expect a lot from Chef Adams, and she never fails to impress me! I was just hoping for more with this flatbread.

Taza Chocolate Budino with sea salt, rosemary and hazelnut wafer
A small ramekin came filled with chocolate “pudding” and topped with sea salt and a single rosemary leaf. The hazelnut wafer was a great contrast to the sweet chocolate and strong salt presence. The pudding was dense, thick, filling, and delicious.

Bathroom: One of my favorite bathrooms in the city, mainly because of the three private stalls! I love the raised square sinks and the bright blue stall doors against the mainly all white restroom.

Service: Our waitress seemed uninterested at first, almost annoyed. We were undecided on drinks and dinner so we asked a few questions about cocktail ingredients and food portion sizes. While she was able to answer the questions, we were somehow more confused after hearing her answers. The burrata and soup came out together and before we were finished the flatbread was brought to the table. Since we were sharing everything it wasn’t a big deal, I was just expecting to have the flatbread after the 1st course. While our server seemed hurried at times, we never felt rushed. Overall an ok service experience.

courtesy of Trade website

courtesy of Trade website

Overall: My first impression of Trade is a great one: I enjoy the open bar/lounge area fit with free standing high tops & banquettes and plenty of standing/mingling space. The dangling bulb lighting gives the illusion of a starry night, while larger domed lighting fixtures decorate the dining room. Exposed ceiling piping gives it an industrial feel, and the wooden tables & chairs with accent primary colors add a modern tone. I enjoyed the food and wouldn’t hesitate to go back and try another flatbread and any one of the entrees. My work at Trade is not complete; there’s more food to try and more cocktails to taste!

Rum Trade and Study Abroad

Rum Trade and Study Abroad

The Perfect Bite: Oiled crostini, date spread, creamy buratta. There’s no cheese like it!

www.trade-boston.com

postcard presented w the check

postcard presented w the check

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