As a self-proclaimed foodie whose hobbies run gamut of anything food-related—from trying out different eateries in Boston to taking pictures of food to writing about food—I would never miss the opportunity to sample delicious tidbits from some of the best restaurants in Harvard Square at a free event yesterday.
In honor of Food Day, an annual celebration that promotes healthy, sustainable, and affordable food, Harvard Square Business Association organized a tasting event showcasing food samples from about nine local restaurants. All the dishes at the events were made with ingredients sourced within 20 miles of Cambridge, MA.
The first stop was Grafton Street, which served wheat berry risotto with parsnips and apple butter. Unlike traditional risotto made with Arborio rice, this dish used wheat berries for a crunchier texture. The smoked parsnips provided another layer of flavor, while the apple butter underneath added some sweet side to the otherwise rich, savory dish. The fried kale chips garnished on top were a bit greasy.
To the right of Grafton Street, a strong smell of pork wafted from Russell House Tavern's station. The restaurant featured slow roasted Brambly Farms pork leg with honey crisp apple butter and spicy Verrill Farm squash caponata. This interesting combination of sweet and savory was served atop a round garlic toast chip. The pork was juicy and tender, but the caponata may have been too overpowering.
The Red House wins the prize for the most creative (and frankly, the most convenient to consume) dish: a skewer of sliced roasted beets layered with local goat cheese and arugula and drizzled with lemon-herb dressing. Called the "Roasted Beet Napoleon," the salad skewer was not only beautiful in its presentation of natural colors, but also provided a refreshing palate compared to the rich entrees above.
To cap off my mini food adventure around the Square, I sampled Sandrine's Bistro's pumpkin brûlée, which was served in an individual ramekin. As the pastry chef caramelized the sprinkles of sugar using a blowtorch, a sweet aroma that reminded me of toasted marshmallow aroused my senses. After cracking the warm, caramelized sugar on top, I found the cold, pumpkin flavored custard balancing to the temperature of the dessert.
Other highlights of the event included roasted pumpkin soup from Rialto and bread pudding with a scoop of pumpkin ice cream from Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe.