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Union Square Farmers Market, 10/23

26 Oct

No matter how many years I’ve lived here, I always think that the growing season begins and ends much sooner than it does.


The Case of the Unrefrigerated Cheese

24 Jun

Am I the only one who has wondered why Formaggio Kitchen—Best Cheese Shop in the Country™—gets to keep its cheeses outside at room temperature, albeit covered by a film of plastic wrap, when most of the other stores have them refrigerated and cryovacked?

I’ve thought about it every time I’ve gone in there, and finally asked Kurt Gurdal why all the other cheese shops can’t do it. “Is it that they can’t do it or that they don’t want to?” he said.

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10 Random (but useful!) Summer Food Observations

1 Jun

1. Ice cream and fro-yo taste better on a plastic spoon.

2. Lately, I prefer Korean fried chicken to American. Especially with that pickled diakon. Great examples: Roppongi in Allson, and Bon Chon, moving soon to Harvard Square.

3. Favorite summer cocktail: The Backyard at Gargoyle’s on the Square. Light, a little flowery and grassy, a little sweet.

4. If you’ve never tried Indian ice cream, sample the Khulfi at Christina’s or the saffron and pistachio falooda (like a multi-textured milk shake) at Dosa Factory.

5. The creamiest low-fat tangy frozen yogurt, IMO, is at Ufood Grill, but I also love the tamarind flavor at Berryline.

6. If you want to try your hand at DIY barbecue, you can’t go wrong with this Mexican-inspired variation: Achiote-and-Orange Pulled Pork from Sunset Magazine.

7. No Cape house? Have a waterfront picnic on the Esplanade docks near the Arthur Fiedler sculpture, or on the steps of the ICA.

8. It’s cherry season!! Whole Foods has the best ones, and they’re on sale for $4.99 right now.

9. According to a recent UCLA study, hamburgers made with an antioxidant-rich spice mixture consisting of cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, had 71% less malondialdehyde (a reactive and mutagenic oxidizer = BAD stuff) after cooking than regular beef-only burgers. I guess my mom was really on to something with her Surprise Burgers.

In other words, if you like it then you shoulda put some zing on it. Ooof.

10. If you have kids, Kimball Farm in Westford is as good as it gets: mini-golf, bumper boats,  batting cages, fried scallops, barbecue, and good ol’ maple walnut ice cream.

East by Northeast Looking at Mid-Dec/Early Jan Opening

20 Nov

I emailed Phillip Tang a few weeks ago to ask when he thought he’d be opening his hotly anticipated Momofuku-esque restaurant in the old Benatti space in Inman Square. Just got the following reply:

Sorry it has taken so long to write back but I have been inundated with emails recently as I have been seeking employees for the new restaurant.  I unfortunately cannot give an exact date due to the unpredictability of restaurant openings, but I would like to open either in mid-December before the holidays or wait until just after the new year.  Thank you very much for taking interest in the opening of my restaurant, I am very excited about this project.

I can’t wait…

You will have a very tasty cookie.

21 Oct

Well, here’s a clever idea someone should’ve thought of sooner: chocolate fortune cookies, as served at the cookieRestaurant Changsho in Porter Sq.

The meal itself was forgettable (and pricey)—Mongolian beef made with cheap meat, shrimp lettuce cups that reminded me of Chinese food circa 1989. But they do have a way with dumplings, so you might want to just try it for a snack.

But then, we didn’t really go for the food.  We went for gossip! A couple of weeks ago, there was a massive traffic jam on Massachusetts Avenue brought on by a barreling motorcade of black SUVs, limos, and police cars. In unison, the police cars spun halfway around, blocking off a quarter-mile stretch so the SUVs and limos could make AN ILLEGAL U-TURN and double-park in front of Changsho. Can you imagine! Making a U-turn on Mass Ave. and double-parking in front of a cop without getting pulled over.

Anyway, Someone Very Important was clearly stopping in for lunch after a Harvard visit, but we were perplexed. Why would such an important person be lunching there?  And who was in town? Not Obama. Not the Dalai Lama. Once we started crawling again, we tried to crack the window and ask a cop, but he yelled at us for, uh, stopping traffic.

According to Changsho’s very gracious maitre d’, it was Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Apparently, his secretary showed up at the restaurant the night before, after closing time, to inspect the kitchen and inform the staff that they were to be visited by a head of state in 12 hours. No pork, please.

And here’s an interesting fact: President Yudhoyono travels with a personal physician who tastes all his food before he eats it.

Where to Find: Soul Food

17 Jul

Q: Do you have any tips about where to find soul food African-American style in Boston? I have eaten at Poppa B’s  but I’m not sure its still open. Been to Chef Lee’s but he has closed down shop.  Thanks. — William the Webmaster.

A: Hi William! First of all, Poppa B’s is still open, and they’re still doing their legendary fried chicken, fabulous bargain breakfasts (don’t miss the biscuits), and homemade desserts.

My other favorite spot for soul food is the Coast Cafe in Cambridge. Have you heard of it? The fried chicken there is very good (notsides quite at Poppa B’s level, imo, but definitely in the top five—just order legs and thighs instead of breasts, which can be dry), as are the classic sides like collards and black-eyed peas. I’m also partial to the old-school banana pudding.

I haven’t yet been to Mrs. Jones in Dorchester, but my friends over at Boston’s Hidden Restaurants are fans.

Finally, while Inman Square’s Tupelo isn’t doing soul food—it’s more pan-Southern—there’s some overlap: fried catfish, greens, and red beans and rice.

Dinner and a doozy

9 Aug

We missed our friends’ wedding last fall, so we thought, hey, let’s take you two lovebirds out for dinner when we get back. They were kind enough to say “Great!” and not, “But isn’t that really giving yourselves…uh, a gift?” They were also too polite to remind me that the groom isn’t really that much of a foodie and maybe tickets to a Sox game would have been better? So off we went to T.W. Foods, which I’ve been anxious to try ever since I heard reports of inventive, ingredient-driven, oh just say it, California-sounding food.

Ingredient-driven food is exactly what we found, which was lovely. Very clean and uncluttered. Food with a point of view. Not, I’m going to load up this plate with foie gras and truffle oil and call it classy. Or, I’ll sedate you with my deep-fried short ribs until you’re too stupid to know better. Or Look! 30 ingredients on a plate! And I’m on a unicycle! This was more like, Eggs and fresh corn are amazing together, especially if you cook the eggs so they set into little curdles. And Did you ever try chocolate with basil? I did, and it works. See? And since our entire meal was locally sourced, there was a subtext about local agriculture and food with sense of place. It was about paying attention to your sense of taste, playing one flavor against another, experiencing ingredients in a new way. And living in Cambridge, and thinking how nice it is to be named Amy and listen to NPR and muse about your sense of taste and your sense of place, and la-la-la farmer’s markets, and what a sucker Alice Waters has made you.

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A reminder…

22 Jul

…not to head to Harvard Square for a “quick bite” on the night that the last Harry Potter book is about to drop.