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Snugly nestled in Boston’s bustling North End sits Parla, an Italian speakeasy that opened in April. I got to check it out on a recent girls’ night out, and it is the perfect place for such an occasion.

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The cocktail list at Parla is a ton of fun; classics like the margarita are mixed up with rye; I am a huge fan of rye and was excited to see this. To start off, I went with the Bee Sting Julep, a slightly spicy, slightly sweet blend of habanero honey infused whiskey with mint and lemon. It had a nice kick while also being refreshing!

 

bee sting julep cocktailAs it often happens when I am out with these ladies (which is not often enough!) we ordered lots of things to share. Parla’s menu is perfect for sharing, especially since you’ll have a hard time choosing what to order. What did we have?

arancini

Braised Oxtail Arancini – These were one of my favorites of the night. I loved the bit of meat in the hot and chewy arancini, and the sauce that came alongside would be perfect for mopping up with bread or just about anything.

quail egg carbonaraWe also had the Quail Egg Carbonara, which was topped with a runny quail egg just waiting to be mixed in with the hot pasta and salty bacon.

lobster ravioliThe Lobster and Uni Ravioli was as beautiful as it was delicious. Out of all of the pasta dishes (We had four, but my photos didn’t come out great.), this was my favorite. I loved the creamy pink sauce, and the addition of fava beans was nice for texture.

Secco You can’t have a dinner outing with the ladies without a bottle of bubbles, and we enjoyed a bottle of Secco Prosecco with the meal. Italian bubbly certainly goes well with Italian dishes and lots of chatter!

I would recommend Parla heartily; I sent some friends there the following night, and they loved it too. It’s a great spot in the heart of the North End, doing food that is fun, creative, and delicious!

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Tags: Boston, cocktail, Dining out, dinner, food blog, Italian food, North End, prosecco, restaurant, Restaurants, wine

Summer Fridays mean CSA pickup for us! This is our first year choosing a CSA over farmers market finds, and we have decided to go with Red Fire Farm because we loved their organic approach and pickup location in Cambridge between our jobs. As corporate frankenfarming takes over more of our food supply and makes us so much less healthy as a whole, we’re happy to support young farmers and healthy land. The people growing our food are not only steward of the land but stewards of our health, and we are going to try to prepare and eat everything they grow with love.

We were more than a little excited to peek into the first week box of our 20 week CSA. It was full of green things, very welcome after a long winter. Our CSA box included strawberries, green garlic, several types of lettuce, a parsnip, broccoli, cilantro, and radishes. It all looked and smelled so earthy.

Red Fire Farm CSA

Red Fire Farm CSA

Now that Friday nights are CSA nights, they are also date at home nights, time for cooking and drinking good wine and relaxing after a busy week. Our first CSA and its green garlic inspired me to make a simple pesto.

green garlic pesto

I added a large handful of fully cleaned green garlic, bulbs, greens and all, into the Ninja blender, along with a few glugs of olive oil. On top of that, I added parmesan cheese, a half cup of walnuts, salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder, since green garlic can be mild.

green garlic pesto

I blended it all into a nice paste, adding oil as I went along, and used the green garlic pesto to top bowtie pasta, shrimp, and our CSA spinach and broccoli.

green garlic pesto

We washed it down with a lovely Chardonnay from our North Fork trip and paired it with the end of our Orange is the New Black season two binge.

Friday nights at home with our fresh, organic CSA veggies have never been better. I can’t wait to see what summer brings.

Are you shopping at local farmers markets or participating in a farm share or CSA?

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Congratulations to Christina, winner of the Passion for Coffee giveaway! Christina, please email me at traveleatlove @ gmail dot com with your contact information.

 

Do you love coffee? I certainly do. My favorite way to enjoy coffee is an espresso or two after an indulgent dinner, on a night where there is no work the next day. Coffee tends to make me VERY jittery, to the point where I get dizzy sometimes, but I still love it. I have learned that coffee in moderation, with food, works out well. I am glad I made it work!

Coffee is great in desserts and various drinks, as many of us know, but it can also be great in savory dishes. At City Landing, we had an incredible coffee-rubbed meat that was tender and full of flavor. When I was asked to participate in a blogger book tour for Passion for Coffee by Patricia McCausland-Gallo, I was definitely curious to check out the book and most interested in where coffee fits in with savory dishes.

Passion for Coffee

Passion for Coffee is like a warm, comforting cup of coffee itself. It’s fun reading, with background information on the coffee bush, but more importantly on the coffee people, where the passion comes from.

“The coffee plant is the main character of the stories that follow—true stories in which people, enamored of the land and this crop, work tirelessly to produce the shiny, redberries that the plant yields only a few times a year. These are tales of the incredible path that many people choose to take in their lives, but that few others really understand.”

The book also has some tips on getting started and the kitchen essentials needed for using the book. I always find that helpful; I can be guilty of not being completely prepared for cooking, so it’s always a good reminder!

coffee curried chicken

Following the introduction, the book has recipes of just about every type, from drinks, to baked goods, savory main dishes, and greens. I love how versatile coffee is shown to be in this book. There are some incredibly decadent recipes such as Pizza Sticks with Coffee Drizzles that include a coffee cream sauce and a whole section on spiked coffee drinks. . . I can definitely get behind that!

instant coffee

I opted to make a Coffee Curried Chicken for the blog tour, and my photos of the curry were absolutely dreadful, so the above image of the coffee is all I have. Curry isn’t always the prettiest thing to photograph, it turns out!

The curry starts with chicken breasts marinated in a coffee-yogurt base with honey, garlic, cornstarch, and curry. There’s no juicier way to prepare chicken than by marinating in yogurt I have found, and this flavor-infused yogurt really made for some tender and lovely meat. The coffee flavor went really perfectly with the spices of the Madras curry I used, and it added a round, earthiness to the sauce.

The dish is topped with raisins that have been plumped up in a bit of Cognac, along with toasted almonds, and coconut, lots of sweetness, toastiness, and crunch!

We decided to serve it with some sautéed vegetables and some quinoa to round out the meal and stretch it out for lunch the next day. This curry is even better reheated! The recipe is below, and if you are a fan of coffee and curry, I definitely recommend making it!

Now for the giveaway; to enter, visit the preview of the book, check out the Table of Contents, and leave a comment here letting me know what recipe you would like to make most. I will choose a winner on Friday, June 20. Good luck!

 

 

Coffee Curried Chicken Recipe, from Passion for Coffee

2 servings
1 teaspoon freeze-dried or granulated instant coffee
2 teaspoons water
2/3 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 chicken breast halves, with bones and skin (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons cognac
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted*
2 tablespoons coconut, toasted*

1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the coffee in the water. Add the yogurt,
honey, garlic, cornstarch, curry, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
2. P lace the chicken in a shallow dish, add the sauce, cover, and allow
to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Remove the chicken
from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
4. P lace the chicken in a baking pan, and add the sauce. Bake for 40
to 45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the chicken reads
160ºF. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside, covered.
5. Heat the raisins and cognac in a small saucepan over medium heat
until the raisins plump up, about 2 minutes, and then flambé.* Remove
from heat and set aside, covered.
6. Add the raisins and almonds to the sauce in the baking pan, mix, and
spoon over the breasts to serve. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut.
Variation: This recipe can also be prepared with half-and-half, but I use yogurt because
it is lighter, easier to digest, has a consistency that is easier to work with, and carries the
flavors through the sauce better.

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Tags: chicken curry, coffee, coffee recipes, cook book, curry, giveaway, recipe, recipes

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