Lamb and Spices Take Center Stage at Boston’s Oleana

Lamb and Spices Take Center Stage at Boston’s Oleana

“About 16 years ago, I was invited to go to Turkey for the first time and study with a couple of women there,” said James Beard Award-winning chef Ana Sortun. “When I tasted and saw the food in Turkey, it changed the course for everything. It’s become a real passion and study of mine.”

The trip ultimately led to the opening of Oleana, a Top 25 restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., now in its 15th year, a clear indication of its long-standing success. “We cook Mediterranean food, but with a huge focus on Eastern Mediterranean, particularly Turkish.”

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Farming Industry Impacting Boston’s Summer Tables

Farming Industry Impacting Boston’s Summer Tables

Concerts on the Charles River Esplanade, strolling around Faneuil Hall, browsing farmers markets…these are just a few things that might come to mind when you think summer in Boston. Boston’s strong farming industry impacts the food system, shaping regional summer food trends.

More than ever, the dishes being served in Boston restaurants are designed around the farm, indicative of the area’s thriving culinary scene and the ever-expanding impact chefs and buyers are having on the food system.

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Boston’s Latest Flavor Booster: Charcoal and Ash

The concept of using charcoal in food is nothing new; vegetable ashes, for example, have been used in bread and cheese making for hundreds of years. What is new is that Boston chefs are actually putting charcoal and ash on their plates — and serving it to customers.

Chef Brian Poe calls the taste the “Dorito effect.” He uses charcoal to enhance the grill flavor at his Beacon Hill restaurant, the Tip Tap Room, but only after safely testing the recipes on his own backyard barbeque.

“With actual charcoal, nothing brings to mind rustic outdoor cooking like letting meat slowly cook, roasting a sweet potato in charcoal, or searing a raw piece of charcoal-rubbed tuna,” Poe told the Boston Globe.

His latest foray is charcoal-roasted jalapeños at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake.

While consumers seem to like the flavor charcoal and ash lends to dishes, they also love the way it looks on their plates — and even take it to social media sites like Instagram. Read more

A Taste of Mediterranean at Boston’s Oleana

“We cook Mediterranean food, but with a huge focus on Eastern Mediterranean, particularly Turkish,” says James Beard Award-winning chef Ana Sortun, chef and owner at Oleana. The restaurant, located in Cambridge, Mass., is in its 15th year, a clear indication of its success.

Known for its inventive cuisine, Oleana’s menu features dishes like octopus and potatoes bravas with smoked aioli and Turkish spices; Vermont quail kebob with Baharat spice, barberries, and pistachio; and duck with spring dug parsnips, walnut tabouleh, and smoke honey labne. But it seems Sortun is most excited right now about lamb. And spices.

“Spices and lamb, to me, go naturally hand in hand. They really bring depth and richness to dishes without making them heavy. And they’re a perfect match.”

There are three lamb dishes on Oleana’s menu at time of publish: a lamb and grape leaf tart with cumin, orange, orzo, and spicy feta; lamb shoulder with chickpea, fried artichokes, turmeric, and cilantro; and a moussaka (lamb and eggplant pie) with tahini, fava beans, and fried peas.

Check out the sneak peek above, and stay tuned for the full “Table 42” episode, coming soon!

Now Trending: Pickled and Fermented Foods

Now Trending: Pickled and Fermented Foods

By Courtney WalshWest Coast Editor

A staple element of many European, Asian, African and Middle Eastern culinary traditions, pickled and fermented ingredients are just now starting to make their way into a wide range of restaurants nationwide. From accoutrements to integration in cocktail programs, pickling has become all the rage for U.S. chefs and mixologists alike, with many restaurants choosing to initiate house-made pickling programs as well as experimenting with unique vinegars and nontraditional pickling ingredients with which to work with.

Below, we explore restaurants in three major cities that are spearheading this trend.

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