Postcards from Boston: Summer’s Fresh Bounty

Collage of food images from Boston, MA: oysters, gazpacho, crab cakes, risotto, tomatoes

I’m on the road again, this time for business, but that never stops me from seeking out food pleasures, particularly when I’m in a city so full of food adventure-in-waiting like Boston. It’s the beginning of summer here and I’ve been lucky enough to experience just-warm-enough days and glorious evenings perfect for running along the Charles River, watching the sailboats float into the sunset. I’ve walked down Commonwealth Avenue with fans streaming out of Fenway Park, whisked along by their energy after a Red Socks’ victory.

It probably comes as no surprise that I’ve enjoyed just-caught seafood. At the recommendation of the Boston Chowhound community I had dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar, a refined yet casual space near Fenway park with an extensive raw bar menu. I tried four different kinds of oysters including Belons, an oyster species native to Europe that is very different from any domestic oyster I’ve ever had. Beyond fresh seafood though I tried dishes featuring fresh seasonal vegetables including a summer slaw made with summer squash instead of cabbage (served with some pretty great crab cakes) and a spicy gazpacho bursting with summer flavors at Summer Shack. I went to Summer Shack for the seafood but was very much impressed with their use of seasonal produce.

Possibly the biggest surprise of this trip for me was the dinner I had just a few floors down from my hotel room. I typically avoid hotel restaurants because they often count on the convenience factor for guests to drive traffic instead of the quality of their food. Looking at the menu for City Table at the Lenox Hotel I saw plenty of regional seafood dishes along with fun items like duck confit spring rolls. The Chowhounds didn’t hate the restaurant so I decided it was worth rolling the dinner dice. I was rewarded with a lovely salad featuring house-made burrata cheese and heirloom tomatoes, an herb risotto that was fresh and light, and a crisp that was just sweetened enough with strawberries to showcase the summer flavors of humble rhubarb.

I’ll call this trip a food success all around (it was a business one as well) because I’ve not only eaten well but because I’ve expanded my perspective of Boston’s food culture. This trip was a good reminder for me that it’s important to visit a city during different seasons to really get a feel for local ingredients and the way chefs make use of them.

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