Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace

My years are solidly marked by food. I am a well-loved child of hard-working parents. Dad and Mom equally shared cooking and menu planning responsibilities in our house and dinner was often elaborate. Never were meals labelled boring, nor do I recall my sister or myself begging or even asking for something else. Jennifer and I were often begging for meals from our own top-ten lists. Foods like Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese, Dad’s Meatloaf, Mom’s Tuna Noodle Casserole, Dad’s Meatballs and Sausage, Mom’s Chicken and Rice Casserole or Ma Hensel’s bow-tie pasta. All these foods feed the soul in the way that everything that I buy at Ed Hyder’s does.

Life today has food contingencies, too, but they’re more whole body healthy than the dishes mentioned above. Eating healthy is labor intensive and costly if you want to do it every day, unless you can share or prep in bulk. I have a pretty cool way of doing this that also helps my wallet. My secret: shopping at some special-specialty shoppes. The feature of my post today is one of them.

Life isn’t right if I don’t have my every-other week trip to Ed Hyder’s. This week, I stocked up on my staple items:

  1. Beet, Feta, Basil and Red Quinoa Salad
  2. Stuffed Grape Leaves
  3. Chicken and Dill Salad
  4. Cucumber Salas with Feta, Red Onion, Bell Peppers and Cherry Tomatos
  5. Tabooley
  6. Hoomus

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Ed Hyder’s is a family business that knows my definition of family; they’re attentive, kind and helpful. Each and every employee is quick with a smile and answers every question with the same enthusiasm as the first time they were asked. The foods that I pictured here are TO-DIE-FOR. No doubt. I refer to the Beet Salad as my iced cream. I was so serious about the Beet Salad that two people returned to the counter to test my insistence. The stuffed grape leaves are only second to My Sandie’s grape leaves and the chicken salad is delicious with crackers, fresh bread – with or without cheese – or just on a plastic fork at the first traffic light after exiting the parking lot. No Joking here, my loyal friends. I love this store. Ed himself remembers me and is very kind with information. The entire Ed Hyder’s Family is excellent.

The store stocks a full array of hard to find spices, flavorings (dry and liquid), coffee, tea, pasta, wine, cheese, olives, beautiful ka-bobs and complete-ready-to-cook roasts. They also help with party planning, platters and specialty orders, too!

To reward myself for completing this report to you, my friends, I’m going to eat two grape leaves. (It’ll be a healthy snack.)

Have a great week and when you’re in Worcester, please pick up a few treats at  Ed Hyder’s.

If you live in Worcester County, follow them on Facebook for specials and big deals.

Enjoy!

Oh Boy! The Boynton

boynton-family-restaurantOn certain Tuesday nights, my friend Tina and I go to “get soup” at The Boynton. Truth is, for me, it’s soup for the soul. It is for her, too, but she also loves their Chicken Rice Soup ($3.99). A Comforting Chicken Stock with an abundance of Rice, Chicken and bits of Carrots.

The Comfort continues in our conversation. Tina is a life gift. She’s a lady that leaves a mark on a person’s life. A good woman. No doubts here. We are growing people and we cheer each other on. We take time to talk to each other and listen to each other too.

The Boynton has grown quite a bit during its time in Worcester. I started enjoying their good food when they were a pub and a neighboring pizza shop. The bartender or, on certain nights, a waitress would assist with food. As you know, I am here for food, so all I’ll mention about the drinks is: they don’t skimp.

The Boynton’s food is indulgent. In the last 15-20 years, the growth of the business has been revolutionary. They’ve:

  1. Remodeled and reorganized.
  2. Rebuilt the pizza shop into a full-sized state-of-the-art all-stainless-steel, shiny, new kitchen.
  3. Implemented an entirely new menu.
  4. Purchased neighboring property to increase the size of the parking area.
  5. Grew more and more. They even put dining room additions onto the dining room additions!

It’s great!! This growth was mandatory. The Boynton is packed on most Tuesday nights at nearly 10pm. The energy is high and environment relaxed with populations of all ages and walks of life coming together. The table and bar service is really good. I’ve never been wary of this destination. Click here to make a reservation and beat the crowd.

boynton_barThis past week, we ventured there after Tina got out of work. I arrived first and secured a table on the outer border of the main bar area. Our waitress, Nikie, greeted me within a few minutes and was knocking my socks off from the very beginning. I ordered our beverages and an appetizer. We were off to the races. I was feeling a win coming my way.

What did we eat? Tina had her soup and shared the appetizer with me. I was craving pizza and decided that I would chance a suggestion from the waitress. I was thinking she’d suggest something healthy and she delivered. A small pizza with eggplant, broccoli and garlic. I added onions, peppers and feta. Y’all know how I feel about Feta.

Spinach Artichoke Dip ($10.99) Spinach and Marinated Artichoke Hearts blended with Garlic and Herb Cheese topped with Parmesan Cheese and oven baked. Served with Pita Chips. I asked Nikie to replace the chips with simple pita bread wedges. I can’t get the thought of deep fried bread into my wellness plan. LOL. She was happy to help.

Sm. Cheese Pizza + Broccoli, Feta, Garlic, Eggplant, Onions and Roasted Red Peppers = a mound of a pizza prices fairly at $13.73. This pizza was 4 meals. Very pleased.

We love to chat with servers. We also learned that Nikie is a vegetarian, a factory farm activist and a climate activist.

For those of you reading my meanderings, you may remember The Sole ProprieterThe Boynton is directly across the street. This Highland Street neighborhood must have good eating in the water or something. Try The Boynton – you can order online and pick up or eat in the brick-walled comfy space you see here. They are always going to make you happy with your decision.

This is direct from the Boynton website and I AGREE: “Highly recommended for a night out with friends, dinner with the familly and a popular spot for students. Named after one of the founding fathers of Worcester Polytech, the Boynton Restaurant is located at 117 Highland Street, (Route 9), ample parking in the back.”

Go. Experience. Enjoy!

photo credits: http://www.boyntonrestaurant.com/

Invite Important Ingredients

Sunday, August 18th was a celebration day! We were invited by Spencer’s Grandmother to a celebration dinner.

  • A very close family friend experienced a doctoral accomplishment.
  • Spencer’s Birthday was a few days earlier.
  • Paige (his sis) is leaving for college in a few days.
  • The weather was great; We’re the type of crew that just celebrates, never really need a big deal reason.

So, I want to focus on the recipe for success that Grandmother followed.

Ingredients:

  • Planned food that all enjoy. Two different entrees for 8 or 9 people is just as easy as making a little more of one. Part of the planning was prepping in advance which moved the cooking time and saved the cook/hostess from being shackled to the stove.2013-08-18 21.22.33
    • The menu began with goat cheese and fig preserve served with a delicious cracker variety. Spinach dip with tortilla chips. Cold drinks of all kinds.
    • Entrees were fresh lobsters, steamed mussels, backed stuffed chicken, roasted potatoes and the salad that you see here. I learned that the lobsters were fresh that morning (steamed at the grocery) from Market Basket.
    • Dessert was a custom ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery and one of four different kinds of coffee out of the Keurig.
  • The right mix of people. This was a family event in every way. One of the guests naturally made sure there was enough fig preserve with the goat cheese hors d’oeuvres. Another set the table. Another totally enjoyed washing some of the dishes once the dish washer was filled up. All invited had a great time and after many hours we all agreed that we’d love to stay, but bed time was calling. LOL!
  • Leftovers. A few of us took home some of the leftover seafood and were able to reminisce the great times again and again.
    • I was able to make the salad I showed you last week.
    • I also enjoyed a stir fry of Lobster and mussels in an olive oil wrap with one Laughing Cow Light Blue Cheese wedge spread onto the wrap before filling it with the warm lobster and mussels.

Mothers and Grandmothers have special ways in which they love, sometimes forcefully and sometimes very passively with both encouragement and devotion. It took me a long struggle to understand all of mom’s goose-ing techniques. I now can look back and see the amazing artistry of Nana Haven and Mama Leto and find myself applying their tools and tips and ideas into my life. I’m also doing more to develop myself. I am. I like it.

Further, I’m recalling this event with a new fondness today and recollecting that we were all one type of person that afternoon. We were ourselves.

Life with family and friends. Enjoy.

Best Dinners with Friends – North End

My gratitude for sharing with others is deepening with this writing assignment. I am increasingly in love with my work. I’ve always enjoyed writing and at the same time felt less than “writers.” This blog has created a desire to grow and is leading me to a conversion of doing – to feel-a-part-of – and to grow. Action is integral to living. My editors are awesome and I’m waking out of my comma coma, like a timid turtle. 😉

On Saturday, we dined at our friend’s home in the North End of Boston. Receiving an invite to a friend’s place is huge. We interpret it as a generous gift. Our friend, Michelle is a kindred spirit who shares the goodness of her life in her ability to cook, feed, entertain and bring the best out of people. She works for a non-profit nutrition/health program and brings to work and home her prior work as a chef. This is the second time I’ve enjoyed her masterful skill and hospitality.

Dinner was simple and simply marvelous. All fresh. All home-made.

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– Flank Steak
– Chimichurri
– Tabbouleh
– Grilled Zucchini & Feta

There are few words to describe what you see (these are close-ups of the meal) other than the following: tender, spicy, savory, zesty, fresh, delicious, sumptuous, beyond, hard-work, and I could go on and on. I’ll allow these pictures to speak their 4,000+ words. Oh, and “everything’s bettah with Feta!”

Two important highlights of this meal.

  1. The vegetables come from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Fresh beyond belief. No trucking, so they were likely picked within days of our meal.
  2. Michelle is an experienced cook. She takes time for her guests to participate in the menu planning and to prepare food appropriate in dietary need and from their favorites list.

I would be remiss to mention that there are more than 87 dining opportunities open to the public in the North End of Boston, MA, but I’m a hopeful regular at Chez Shelly. 

Hidden Jewel, Zagat Rated, fuggetabbouditt! Chez Shelly is where the love starts with the smile and ends with the hug, after you help yourself to a plate. Thank you our lovely host and dear friend.

We ended our evening by venturing out into beautiful weather and onto the cobble stoned streets for a Wicked good evening at The Boston Opera House.