Food blog revival

I’m bringing my food blog back to life. After I went abroad I tried to keep it alive but was too busy with all of my school work and trying to graduate. Now that I have more time, I’m going to be blogging about food through photography, experimental recipes and my dining adventures.

Right now I’m volunteering at a farm in central Maine, so stay tuned for pics of freshly picked, organic goods.

Also, for anyone who already follows, I changed the url so it’s not just about me being abroad. Just a heads up: http://eating-myway-throughlife.tumblr.com/

Breaking Bread

Award Winning Bricco Panetteria (Published in Scene magazine)

By Alexandra Fileccia

Hidden down an alleyway off of Hanover Street in the North End lies Bricco Panetteria. Follow the stairs down and you’ll enter into the cozy bakeshop. On your right stands a tall rack filled with dozens of loaves of bread. On the counter in front of you sits fresh croissants and sandwich bread. The buzz of busy bakers fills your ears as they make the day’s supply of bread. The panetteria has received nothing but praise since its opening about four years ago.

The bakery takes the title of “Best bakery/bread” for the second year in a row in Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” issue. The Panetteria was also mentioned in the August 2014 issue of Bon Appétit. Owner Frank DePasquale initially opened the bakery to supply his own bread to his restaurants. Now, anyone can stop by for a loaf of bread.

With new head baker Antonio Follico and a new variety of breads including polenta bread, truffle bread and sesame bread, Bricco is bringing a fresh taste while staying close to tradition. “We like to play with the recipes,” says Antonio, “People like to try something different.” Antonio worked his way up in the panetteria, and with his experience and new responsibilities he plans to change things up a bit.

The ingredients and passion that goes into creating the bread make it so desirable. Bricco uses minimal ingredients such as unbleached, unbromated enriched wheat flour and organic wheat flour, water and salt. Antonio’s favorite breads are Olive Ciabatta and Prosciutto and Parmesan Ciabatta, two of the bakery’s popular loaves. The panetteria is open everyday from 8am to 11pm. If you haven’t already, head down Bricco Place and grab yourself a loaf.

Basket Case

Packing the Perfect Picnic Feast

Published in SCENE Magazine

By Alexandra Fileccia


 

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and Boston is bustling with tourists—summer is finally here. And I have one word for you: picnics. Share a meal with friends, family and Mother Nature. Or make it a romantic date along the Charles River with someone special. Pick a spot, whether it be the Lewis Wharf, Corey Hill Outlook or even Boston Common, and get settled.

The spot where you set your blanket is important, but the food in your basket is the heart of your picnic. Pack your favorite salads, sandwiches and burgers. Need inspiration? See what famous chefs from around Boston would pack in their baskets.

Jasper White
Summer Shack
“Fried chicken and some potato salad. Mostly just fried chicken, it’s my favorite.”

Dante de Magistris
Dante, Il Casale
“That’s easy, left over pasta. I always associate picnics or the beach with tuna spaghetti. It’s really good cold. It’s a light tomato sauce with tuna, anchovy and parsley. Also something refreshing like cut up pieces of jicama with lime chili salt. And of course some wine or a margarita in a pitcher.”

Jose Duarte
Taranta
“A French baguette with Mortadella, grapes and a piece of Crucolo cheese. And, of course, some Prosecco.”

Lucas Sousa
Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro
“Something easy to eat while sitting out. Meats and cheeses for a sandwich, and some fruit.”

Ian Just
Society on High
“I would have to say our Cobb Salad; nicely grilled chicken on top of mixed greens, blue cheese, bacon pieces, hard cooked egg, and avocado. Perfect for a picnic.”

Bill Poirier
Sonsie
“An Asian picnic basket. Premixed Mai Tai with plenty of crushed ice. A sesame lobster salad roll, cold, Sriracha fried chicken, miso veggie slaw and brownies with crystalized ginger. Did I say plenty of Mai Tai?”

Paul Wahlberg
Alma Nove, Wahlburgers
“A six pack of Coca-Cola, pork cutlet sandwiches from my father’s recipe, homemade potato salad and roasted ears of corn.”

Meat getting a bad rep

By Alexandra Fileccia

As the horse meat scandal continues in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the people’s trust in the meat industry is on the decline. Since January 15, the day that the public of Ireland and surrounding countries was informed of horse DNA found in frozen beef burgers, the public looked for someone to blame leaning toward the major meat manufactures in Ireland and the UK.

A lot of pressure has been put on big food regulation organizations, as well, to control the horse meat outbreak and find a solution. “We have been working with the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with its investigations,” says Jane Ryder, press officer for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. “At the request of the European Commission, we, like all Member States of the EU, have commenced a testing program of 50 samples of beef products for horse meat and will report back to the European Commission by 15th April.”

Though horse meat is safe to eat, according to the Food Standard Agency in the UK, if there is little trace of phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory commonly used in animals, are found, the majority of the population thinks that eating horse is wrong and seen as a taboo in most countries. In a survey mentioned in the article “Horse Meat Survey Reveals How Many Americans Think Scandal Should Be Handled: Give To Poor” by The Huffington Post, most people would rather eat alligator meat than horse meat. The survey showed that people would only eat horse meat over dog meat, which makes sense since both of these animals are commonly domesticated and people view eating them as eating their own pets.

With all of the tests being conducted on DNA in beef burgers, it came to light that many of the patties contain not only horse meat but pork as well. The horse meat scandal exposed the cut corners made by the meat companies. It was found that a French meat processing company, Á la Table de Spanghero, knowingly sold horse meat as beef, which was bought from Romania and relabeled by the French company.

“When we carried out our survey we were looking at beef burger products on sale in Ireland,” says Ryder. “We had no idea that what we uncovered would lead to a much greater issue of fraud throughout Europe.”

By relabeling the packaged horse meat as beef, meat producers knowingly lied to its consumers. “People don’t like to be deceived. The idea of getting what you pay for and not something else is fairly fundamental,” says Maureen O’Sullivan, chairperson for the Vegetarian Society of Ireland.

Reports have shown that vegetarian alternatives meat products have increased in sales due to the horse meat scandal, and meat products sharply decreasing, according to The Guardian. What does this mean for the future of the meat industry in the UK and across the globe? At the rate that sales are going, it seems that majority of the population will shift away from meat consumption. “The numbers of vegetarians increased during the BSE or ‘mad cow disease’ scandal some years ago,” says O’Sullivan. She says the number of vegetarians will most likely rise because of this scandal as it has in the past.

Though this incident directly affected Ireland and the UK, it will have an impact on the entire world and change the way people think about eating meat. “The meat industry is a very cruel one,” says O’Sullivan, “so I wish that, in the words of Paola Cavaliere, that meat eating would become taboo in the same way in which we don’t eat humans.”

 

My new food blog

My new food blog

I started a food blog for my eating adventures throughout Europe while I’m studying abroad through Emerson College’s Kasteel Well program. Follow it for my weekend eats and reviews!

Is gluten free the way to be?

Read this article in the Health section of Atlas Magazine’s New Renaissance issue!

By Alexandra Fileccia

From pizza to canned baked beans, sausages to fried foods, we live in a gluten saturated world. We pour our dressing on our salads without noticing the wheat added for thickness, or we drink a glass of root beer overlooking that the ingredient modified food starch is derived from wheat. Wheat, rye, and barley, all of which contain the protein gluten, can be found in most meals in the typical American diet, which makes it difficult for people living with a gluten allergy, gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease.

When Mason Weiser, an intern for Boston’s Weekly Dig, was 13 years old, he was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. His fatigue and frequent stomachaches stopped when he eliminated gluten from his diet. “[Living gluten free], you have to learn how to cook,” says Weiser, who is now 19, “and you have to develop a taste for cultures in which wheat isn’t the main ingredient.” A lot of Eastern cuisine, including Thai and Indian food, is gluten free because the meals are rice-based. Weiser likes to make quick meals using rice pasta and fresh vegetables, reminiscent of Asian cuisine.

In addition to having gluten intolerance, it’s also possible to have a gluten allergy, which is an immune response to gluten that can cause skin and gastrointestinal irritation as well as anaphylaxis, according to a handout that Lisa Ferreira, a registered dietician at Boston University’s Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, gives to students. A gluten allergy can be life threatening.

Boston resident Emma O’Brien, 23, has a different reaction to gluten. Her body’s autoimmune system damages the lining of the small intestine, which leads to mineral deficiencies. This reaction to gluten is known as Celiac Disease. According to celiaccentral.org, about 3 million Americans suffer from Celiac. Celiac Disease is more severe than gluten intolerance.

Living with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, or a gluten allergy makes it hard to “eat-on-the-go.” O’Brien needs to make meals from scratch and carry homemade snacks with her because she can’t just pick up something quick at any convenience store or fast food place.

O’Brien has to think about cross-contamination as well. One time she was babysitting a toddler at his home and decided to eat a spoonful of honey that his family had. “Immediately, the child asks for toast with honey on it– and it hits me,” says O’Brien, “there’s totally gluten in the honey from a knife that touched bread touching the inside of the jar.” She immediately got hiccups and became painfully bloated, vomiting soon after.

Kimberly Dong, project manager and research dietitian at Tufts University, says there is a lot of misinformation about gluten, especially now that it is hyped up in the media. Gluten free has turned into a new fad diet that companies are capitalizing on, saying that it is healthier to cut out gluten. “Gluten is the latest fad “scapegoat” these days,” says Dong.

Though it is not necessarily healthier to live gluten free, following a gluten free diet has forced Weiser to eat healthier. “I can’t really go for fast food anywhere,” say Weiser. “So that cuts off a whole swab of really, really unhealthy food.”

Dong says there is a lot of misinformation surrounding gluten sensitivities– the main misconception is that grains containing gluten are unhealthy. “If people focus on eating whole grain wheat products that are high in dietary fiber and within portions,” says Dong, “it can be a healthy part of one’s diet.”

“Gluten isn’t bad for everyone, inherently,” Weiser says, and someone who isn’t gluten intolerant can get the same health benefits from a gluten free diet by just being mindful of what he or she eats. Dong says someone can still get a high amount of calories and unbalanced portion of nutrients without consuming gluten, which can make a gluten free diet unhealthy.

Ferreira says gluten free versions of food sometimes contain more fat than the food made with gluten. “If there is a reason to follow the [gluten free] diet, there is a benefit,” Says Ferreira. “However, if there is none, following the diet can be an unnecessary challenge on many levels.”

Is it worth more than a dime?

In the North End of Boston, grocery shopping can be a little tricky. Residents complain about the distance of reasonably-priced chain stores and the local markets’ high prices, though store owners say these local stores keep the neighborhood feel.

Vegetarian Restaurants In Boston

Are high food prices on campus eating away your Board Bucks?