Boston report

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Spent a few days in Boston and, of course, dined around with my foodie friend E. Here are a few nibbles on my recent finds.

Dinner at Sensing, where Michelin Chef Guy Martin hangs his toque when in town. It’s at the new Fairmont Battery Wharf (just tell the taxi driver it’s in the North End at the end of Battery Street, few know where this gem is). Easy-going style in a fine dining restaurant. If I hadn’t been battling a cold, I might have opted for the chef’s table–a bar overlooking the prep area where Chef de Cuisine Gerard Barbin, who executes Martin’s vision, holds forth.

I began with the Sensing Snacking Platter ($19), a tasting of six hors d’eouvres, each one a creative blending of texture and flavors, such as Jersulaem artichoke soup and spicy Ras-El-Hanout, duck foie gras creme brulee, and smoked mussel and root beet tartar. I followed that with roasted duck breast laque and duck leg wrapped in filo dough, sweet sauce ($35), really a duck two ways. It was a generous portion that I couldn’t finish, although I did eat every morsel of the the duck confit in the filo dough; yum.

Instead of dessert, I opted for eye candy, the blown glass installations in the lobby and the downstairs meeting space are outstanding. The latter resembles a herring weir.

Before departing the city yesterday, we splurged on tea for lunch at Chef Frank McClelland’s L’Espalier, in the Mandarin Oriental (which I always want to call the Mandarin Orange). L’Espalier offers three Fantasy Tea Party options for lunch on weekends: Make Way for Ducklings ($27), which is a pastry-lover’s dream; Red Riding Hood’s Basket ($36), a classic tea with canapes, sandwiches, pastries, and petit fours; and Three Blind Mice ($30), a cheese tasting.

We both wolfed down Red Riding Hood’s Basket: three canapes, foie gras torchon with beet mustard, lobster salad crostini, and goat cheese and pistachios; and three tea sandwiches, smoked salmon, ham and Tete de Moine, and cucumber with cream cheese; and, well, we started on the pastries (the chocolate decadence was true to its name), but I’ve still got a few left to nibble on today.

No question, tea is a splurge here, but it’s one I won’t forget and one I’d save for and do again. It’s a way to sample the elegance of one of Boston’s top tables without all the fluff of fuss of a dinner. By the way, if you’re interested in wines, check out Wine Mondays, which feature a themed four-course tasting menu with wine parings in a communal setting; $60 reservations required. Here’s the upcoming schedule.

Mar. 2: Italy
Mar. 9: Southern France
Mar. 16: Quit Your Wine-ing, It’s Beer!
Mar. 23: March Madness – Southern Hemisphere
Mar. 30: Spanish Inquisition
Apr. 6: South America
Apr. 13: April in Paris
Apr. 20: Burgundy
Apr. 27: Loire Valley
May 4: Pacific Northwest
May 11: Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere!
May 18: Pinot Envy
May 25: French ABCs: Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne

And lest you think I’m getting too highbrow, I can also recommend the chicken soup  with rice at the Steve’s Greek Cuisine in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Mmmm good and filling.