Jim Louderback

September 10, 2011

Good Meat Hunting in Boston

Filed under: Food and Wine — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Jim @ 10:16 am

pig headWhen I lived in Boston in the mid-nineties, it was hardly a food town. You had bars, restaurants posing as bars, and a few venerable and mostly inedible fine dining establishments

That’s all changed. The South End of Boston has sparked a renaissance in fresh, artisanal food and the local population has taken to the change.

Sure there are lots of fine seafood restaurants in the area, from Jasper White’s Summer Shack near the Hynes convention center (try the Littlenecks, they were amazing the other night), to a rejuvenated Legal Sea Foods (my guilty Logan Airport indulgence) and the deservedly trendy and popular B and G Oysters – where raw and cooked local seafood really shines.

But you expect Boston to do seafood well. It’s everything else that’s trailed woefully behind in the past – yet based on my recent crawling around the South End, Boston now does meat as well as sea.

I’m not talking steaks, mind you. With Grill 23, a local outpost of the Capital Grille and the usual chain suspects, marbled strips have never been an issue. Nope, I was looking for that more ethereal flesh, the cured pork parts that truly set a fine dining city apart from its pedestrian neighbors – along with enlightened wine pairings, both sybaritic and sublime.

So I was at first drawn to The Butcher Shop, located at 552 Tremont Street smack dab in the heart of the trendy South End, and across the street from its foodie sibling, B and G Oysters. I was not overwhelmed.

Perhaps it was because the maitre de forbade me from taking a free barstool – despite the fact that at least three were open, claiming that others were waiting for the space. Hustled back to the butcher-block stand-up table in the back, I waited 10 minutes for someone to come take my order.

On the bright side, the wines by the glass were rare and wonderful. I started with a first for me – a red wine from the sun-baked Spanish island of Mallorca. It was supple and balanced, something I didn’t expect from such a hot growing climate, and one that’s inspired me to seek out more.

I opted to pair it with a plate of Chorizo, thinking that I’d hit The Butcher Shop’s sweet spot. But I was wrong. Sliced too thick, dry and chewy, it was far from the better chorizo experiences I’d had, whether at New York’s fabulous Bar Jamon, or in France, Spain and Britian.

The Spanish potato dish was better, and the paired Mencia wine serviceable. And when I finally became privileged enough to earn a spot at the bar, the local crowd was convivial and welcoming. Still, I left with a bad taste in my mouth; they treated me like I should have been honored to be graced with a seat, but the food just wasn’t good enough to justify the snoot.

coppaSo I wandered a bit deeper into the wild south end, onto Shawmut Street. There, at 253, I found a real gem. Called Coppa Entoca, it’s an unassuming little place with a wooden pig out front, and oodles of charm and awesome charcuterie inside.

With more of an Italian bent than Spanish, Coppa features a wide range of luxury salted pork products, a decent wine list, and far less attitude – and far less expense – than its Tremont neighbors.

The inviting (and super cute) bartender pushed me away from some of my original considerations, instead suggesting I try the eponynomous Coppa, along with a plate of Rosso that was equally earthy, and ethereal at the same time. The super-fresh proffered plate of bread was accompanied by a dish of some of the best olive oil I have ever tasted, smooth with a peppery finish that will kick you into next week.

I enjoyed the Merlot-blend of Italian red, found the meat amazing, loved the prices, and fell in love with the ambiance. What a gem.

If you’re headed to Boston, clearly sample the fine local seafood restaurants first – and the Summer Shack, B and G Oysters, even Skipjack and Legal Seafoods are good bets. But for your second night, head over the Mass Pike to Coppa. You won’t be disappointed by either the wines or the meat!

January 5, 2011

Amazing Device Turns Your iPhone Into a Car Stereo!

There are a wide range of ways to stream audio from your iPhone to your car stereo, from the mini-jack to bluetooth and more. But they all involve fumbling with a separate unit, which can be downright dangerous on the road.

Now there’s a better way! The new O’car actually makes your iPhone or iPod Touch an integral part of the stereo. You hop into the car, plug the iPhone into your head unit, and it turns into an automotive device – letting you listen to music, see GPS and use heads up navigation and much more.

A downloadable app integrates the phone’s OS and software into the head unit – and the iPhone actually swivels horizontally and vertically – this has to be seen to be believed! It also includes a 4×55 watt amp with a subwoofer control, and even supports multitasking (although we’re not sure how).

The unit will be available in the first quarter of 2011 for around $300

See the Amazing iPhone Car Stereo In Action!

December 30, 2009

The Worst 5 Mobile Apps of the Year!

Filed under: Commentary,Technology Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jim @ 1:02 pm

2009 saw a land grab the likes of which we haven’t seen since the days of the railroads. Greedy software companies and websites tried to cash in on the cellphone app store hype, and released tens of thousands of new programs for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Many of them were quite good, but some of them were atrocious. And the dreck wasn’t solely the province of no-name companies either. Our five worst applications for 2010 come from some household names. So here’s the list, and don’t miss the video from our expert team of reviewers at App Judgment, they saw thousands of programs this year, and spent hours fighting over who would make the worst of the year!

Photoshop.com Mobile for the IPhone: About the best thing you can say about this application was that it was free. Everything else was disappointing, from the interface to the functionality. There are far better photo apps for your phone, from a variety of lesser known companies. Photoshop may lead the world on the PC and the Mac, but it sucks on the iPhone.

Worst 5 list continues below

SEE WHY THESE FIVE APPS ARE SO DREADFUL!

Hold On! : Sure, many 2009 apps provided mindless entertainment. And that’s what this iPhone app aspired to do as well. But it failed utterly, completely and spectacularly – unless you’re prone to repeating stupifying tasks for days on-end to make the Guiness Book of World Records. The point of the program? Hold down an on-screen red dot for as long as you can. What a waste of .99.

Will You (Marry Me)? : Love was decidedly *not* in the air when we looked at this program The premise? Rather than buying a real ring, the iphone app simply displayed a jewel box opening up to reveal a digital diamond inside. One of our one reviewers even called it the anti-Viagra, and she was being too kind.

QIK: Let’s say you build up a fantastically successful company that lets anyone stream video from their cellphones to the internet, and through it to anyone in the world. Your first program runs on Nokia phones – nice to look at, but hardly world-beaters when it comes to apps and users. So you port it to the iPhone. You would expect it to, well, allow iPhone users to stream video to the world from wherever they are, wouldn’t you? We did. But it didn’t. Another “win” for AT&T’s ticky-tack 3G network. What a waste of pixels.

Shead Spreet: The name wasn’t the only mixed up part of this Android application. As smart phones became both business tools and entertainment devices, a wide variety of business-oriented programs launched. This one claimed to put a full-featured spreadsheet in your pocket, but failed miserably. With bad import features, poor data entry, and lame customization, it brought to mind the worst of Visicalc, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro and early Excel. Heck, even Windows Mobile worked better than this crapplet. Sometimes free really is too expensive.

It wasn’t all bad. There were tons of great apps released this year too. Tomorrow we’ll put up our list of the five best apps of the year, including a surprising number one!

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