Listen to my conversation about Bristol Lounge with Morning Edition host Bob Seay on WGBH 89.7 FM
BOSTON — I felt as if summer had indeed arrived after I left the sunny Public Garden to head into the cool air of the Bristol Lounge. Chef José Gamez's recipes, such as golden tomato gazpacho and smoked sable fish tacos, were out of this world and incredibly fun to make. Gazpacho is a dish that I frequently prepare on particularly hot days in the summer, but I had never made it with golden tomatoes. The golden hue made an excellent canvas for my artistically drizzled tomato and cilantro oils. Thanks to Chef José, I got to do my best Jackson Pollock impression on chilled soup.
Chef José's passion for food and cooking is infectious. While we were in the kitchen he asked me, “Have you ever been to East Boston?” I said, “Yes, to visit friends, but I've never actually eaten there.” “Oh, Margarita! You are going to love it. Colombian, Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Peruvian; so many different foods to try!” Wait—I get to eat Chef José's delicious food from the Bristol Lounge and receive a culinary tour of East Boston? Yes, please!
After we arrived at the Maverick T-stop in East Boston, Chef José took me to Montecristo, a Central American restaurant. What did not make the episode is that Chef José and I ordered a “small” picada to begin our meal. Montecristo's picada is a platter full of fried beef, chicharrón, chorizo, shrimp, and chicken served over a bed of french fries and tortilla chips. It was HUGE (five people could have shared it for dinner!)—and delicious.
José and I then moved on to Salvadoran pupusas, which are stuffed corn patties. I had one stuffed with pulled pork and cheese with a side of curtido, a vinegar-pickled cole slaw. The pupusa is similar to the Venezuelan arepa, which I made with Chef Carlos of Orinoco during a previous episode of Neighborhood Kitchens. Both the pupusa and the arepa are corn patties that can be stuffed with fillings, but they are not identical; I found the arepa to have a fluffier texture than the more dense pupusa.
I love that Chef José not only draws inspiration from his Salvadoran roots, but also from all of the different foods available in his home neighborhood. He is even thinking about introducing a pupusa appetizer to the Bristol Lounge menu, but he is waiting until he can find a unique and personal way to prepare them. Chef José cooks so many different types of cuisine: Italian, American, Latin, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes all leave his Bristol Lounge kitchen daily.
My tour of East Boston finished at Piers Park, a beautifully landscaped public space right on the harbor with incredible views of the Boston skyline. It was a lovely finish to a wonderful day that began in the Public Garden and was filled with wonderful food from the Bristol Lounge and an insider's guide to Eastie.
Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to find out more about Bristol Lounge and East Boston.
VISIT NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS