Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Henrietta's Table, Harvard Square

I like getting my family into this whole blogging thing :)

My aunt was in town for a conference and invited me to join her for a "research" breakfast at Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square. We had a great time chatting and eating, since it's so hard to spend any one-on-one time talking at our large family get-togethers (the eating, on the other hand, is never a problem).

I went for an omelet with spinach and feta, served with hash browns and toast. On my first bite, all I could taste was butter - which was a lovely thing. In fact, I think you can see a nice sheen of butter in the picture above. Sadly, however, the eggs themselves were overcooked and too thick. It may just be my own tastes, but I favor omelets that are more tender and thinner. The spinach, though, was excellent, simply folded into the center of the omelet. It was clear that this was incredibly fresh spinach, and I could have eaten a mound more of just that. The accompanying sides were very satisfying - the hash browns were crispy and golden and just delicious, while my choice of toast, the sweet anadama bread, was cut in big, thick slices. Definitely a hearty and filling meal.

My aunt went with the poached eggs and bacon on anadama bread with hollandaise sauce and asparagus. Again, the eggs were overcooked, with the yolks not runny but firm all the way through. But everything else was great, including the hollandaise with a pronounced lemony zing.

This was my second time at Henrietta's Table (the first was for a wedding shower), and I really appreciate the restaurant's use of fresh and in-season produce. Definitely makes me want to go back for lunch or dinner, when eggs aren't the main focus. (Oh, and also because the seasonal drink menu looks killer!)

Henrietta's Table on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cheap Eats: Pho Viet

Three dollars and change can't buy much - a coffee, a pastry, a slice of pizza... or a friggin' huge sandwich stuffed with great meat and veggies. At Pho Viet, one of the stalls at the Super 88 food court in Allston, a bahn mi sandwich costs almost nothing but is still super filling and relatively more healthy than some of your other "cheap" options. A large crunchy, crusty baguette is toasted and filled with cilantro sprigs, hot peppers (used sparingly), lightly pickled daikon and carrot, cucumber spears, a light smear of mayo, and your choice of meat (or tofu). This Bostonist tried the chicken, which is very well marinated, with lots of delicious lemongrass flavor. But really, for under $4, why not try them all?

Originally published on Bostonist.

Pho Viets on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Favorite Ice Cream

You may have noticed that I like ice cream. It's a major food group for me, and there's never a family get-together that doesn't end with ice cream. I'm usually a Brigham's girl (which is why I was so upset to hear that they had been sold to Hood), but my all-time favorite ice cream is from Kimball Farm. I usually go to the one in Carlisle, but their location in Westford is much bigger (and includes mini golf and bumper boats!). Sadly, it's kind of far from the city, so I only go once in a while, but when I do, man do I enjoy it.

Oh, and that amazing (but melty) peppermint stick ice cream you see there, measuring over 2 full cups? That's a kiddie size and cost about $3. It also has a fantastically creamy base and is loaded with tons of both red and green peppermint stick flakes. Maybe it's a good thing this isn't closer to the city, or I'd be eating there all the time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cheap Eats: SoulFire

There's something very summery about barbeque, but when the weather is so hot and humid, the last thing you want to be doing is tending the grill or the smoker. That's where SoulFire in Allston comes along.

The meat is expertly cooked and left unsauced so you can add your favorite from their line-up of sauces - the sweet sauce was this Bostonist's favorite. The pulled pork sandwich ($6.95) was piled high with tons of shredded meat, including some delicious little burned bits. Lone ribs ($2.75) can be purchased as a snack or added to a meal, and they are beautifully smoky and juicy.

Sandwiches come with one side and pickles, while entrees come with two sides, pickles, and cornbread. The collard greens are some of the best in the city, and the mac and cheese is the kind of homestyle stuff you wish mama could make.

SoulFire is open Monday-Thursday 11:30am-10:00pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm, and Sunday noon-10:00pm.

Originally published on Bostonist.

Soulfire on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Deep Ellum, Allston

So onto my third blogger meet up this weekend. Nine 20-something bloggers from Boston met up at Deep Ellum last night for a little networking and some drinks. It was great to meet the new people and to see the people I met at the last blogger happy hour, so thanks to Julie and Susie for planning the whole thing. I'm definitely looking forward to the next one. In attendance were In Development, The JQ Lounge, Skrinkering Hearts, Chez MRhé, She's Only Waiting on the Next Best Thing, Everyone Loves a Boston Girl, We Are Not Martha, and Transient Travels.

And not only did I enjoy hanging out with all these other bloggers, but this was also an excuse to finally try Deep Ellum, which I've been meaning to do for ages. There were quite a few drinks enjoyed, and the Cranberry Lime Rickey seemed to be the favorite at the table. I enjoyed a mint julep (which they even served in a silver cup) and a Black Water (rye and Moxie). I grew up with Moxie, as it's one of my father's favorite drinks, so I ordered the Black Water just to tell him I had it... but then I loved it and had to order a second. The boot polish taste of the Moxie was smoothed out by the rye, and it ended up tasting like a better Jack and Coke. Definitely give it a try.

We also shared a few appetizers. I enjoyed the pretzels with beer cheese and the fries with gorgonzola the most. And I don't even like gorgonzola, but this was delicious! Everything needed to be eaten quickly, though, as the cheese cooled and congealed fairly quickly. I figure if they can do wonders with pretzels and fries, the rest of the menu must be amazing. Can't wait to go back to try some more (and have some more Black Waters).

Deep Ellum on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Savant Project, Brigham Circle

So, I've gone over a year with this blog, having met only a handful of local bloggers. It's not that I'm reclusive, it's just that, well, blogging isn't the most social of activities (I'm sure everyone who's at BlogHer this weekend would object to that). That being said, yesterday I had two blog meet-ups, and there's yet another planned for tonight. Crazy.

After drinks at Eastern Standard with This Boston Life, I headed over to the Savant Project in Brigham Circle to meet, drink, and eat with Boston Food and Whine, Calamity Shazaam in the Kitchen, and the Food Monkey. We had a great time discussing various restaurants and restaurant personalities in the city, as well as sampling the food and drinks that the Savant Project had to offer. We were seated on the patio, and I'm so glad that we were, because it was much hotter inside the restaurant than out. The patio was very cute, walled off by a picket fence - it felt like hanging out in someone's backyard (which is actually exactly what it is).

Since it was Cocktail Week ("like Restaurant Week, but for lushes," as I called it on Bostonist), we all ordered the special - a berry mojito, one of four tapas (we got them all, for the sake of research), and berries in sake with lime whipped cream. The mojitos were a deep pink shade and were delicious, albeit a little too sweet. The tapas (tuna sashimi in a lime soy marinade, tamarind grilled shrimp (above), scallop and shrimp ceviche crostini, and veggie spring rolls) were likewise good but not great. The berries for dessert were served in a sake and Bacardi mix, topped with lime whipped cream and a fried mint leaf. Honestly, I was a bit distracted the whole time by the fried mint leaf - it tasted nothing like mint and had the weirdest texture. I can't see myself going back there to have those dishes, but there were other things on the menu that intrigued me.

We were still a bit hungry, so two of us split the blue cheese-stuffed burger, and the other two split the veggie burger. I really loved the veggie burger, made from chickpeas and spinach and topped with red pepper sauce, goat cheese, and onion rings. The flavors and textures worked beautifully together. The fries that came with the burgers were interesting - a mix of regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, tossed with a garlic parmesan "dust" that reminded us of cheetle. We also tried some of the other drinks on the menu, and I was quite happy with the Master Splinter on the rocks (gin infused with lychee and cherries).

So overall, I think the Savant Project is better than Cocktail Week was letting on. Just like Restaurant Week, the restaurants have more expected of them while the customers pay less money, often resulting in inferior product. I really enjoyed what we had from the regular menu, and would happily go back to try some more of the items that caught my eye.

Savant Project on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

J.T. Farnham's, Essex

Sometimes it sucks not to have a car. Like when you want really great seafood - the city is just not the place to be. Essex, on the North Shore, seems to be the center of the clam shack world in Massachusetts, boasting what some consider to be the top three options - Woodman's, Essex Seafood, and J.T. Farnham's.

My family took a day trip up to Newburyport last week, and we pushed through the lunch hour, growing grumpier by the minute, so we could have clams instead of eating at one of the restaurants in town. Using my father's GPS, the trip from Newburyport to J.T. Farnam's front door was quick and easy. Ordering, however, was not quick and easy, since we were all starving and couldn't make up our minds.

We eventually settled on "boats" - your choice of fried seafood, plus fries or onion rings. Two orders of clam strips, one order of clams with bellies, and one order of scallops. My mother and I aren't big fans of whole clams; I think I've had too many bad ones, with bellies filled with nasty grit, for me to really be a fan. But sampling the bellies, I was blown away - they were small, sweet, and juicy, proving to me why so many people love whole clams. The clam strips were also delicious and not at all chewy - cut a little big for my taste, but absolutely delicious. I only tried one bite of scallop, but it was also perfectly cooked - Farnham's knows what it's doing with the fryer.

As far as sides go, the options are fries, onion rings, or cole slaw. Without a doubt, the onion rings are the way to go here - delicate, with just the right amount of batter. The fries were good, but didn't have the same cache as the rings. And slaw... ew, mayo.

God, I've made myself hungry just by writing this...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cheap Eats: Chacarero

Green beans on a sandwich? That was this Bostonist's first thought on encountering a sandwich from Chacarero. But the combination of ingredients that make up a Chacarero sandwich - chicken and/or steak, jalapeno sauce, munster cheese, tomatoes, green beans, guacamole - form a unique balance amongst themselves. The hot sauce makes your lips tingle, while the guacamole cools them off. The soft tomatoes and the slight crunch of the beans pair well, and the cheese - well, doesn't any good sandwich need cheese? Choose from veggie, chicken, beef, or combo (chicken and beef, in perfect harmony), served on freshly-made bread. You'll forget there are green beans on there after one bite.

Chacarero has two locations in Downtown Crossing: 26 Province Street and 101 Arch Street. They are open Monday through Friday, 11am to 7pm.

Originally posted on Bostonist.

Chacarero on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 12, 2008


When I had my first kitchen during college, I spent a relaxing spring break without housemates, doing whatever I felt like - such as cooking. My mother had recently given me a copy of our church's cookbook, and I decided that trying my hand at some of my favorite Armenian foods would be a good way to spend the break. That week, I made manti and lehmajun and simit for the first time, and I've since gone on to expand my repertoire a bit. I'm not sure when I first made baraze (a Lebanese cookie hiding out in my Armenian cookbook), but it's found its way into my rotation of cookies.

I first wanted to try making baraze because it uses mahleb, one of my favorite spices. Mahleb is the pit of the sour cherries, and has a fabulous nutty and slightly bitter flavor that is important to many baked goods in Armenia and other surrounding countries. It should be bought whole and ground just before using (although I usually get it ground at the store for convenience's sake).

Of course, once that I saw that the recipe included honey, sesame seeds, and pistachios, I was sold. These buttery cookies are slightly addictive, and the combo of the mahleb, sesame seeds, and pistachios is satisfying to any nut lover.

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. mahleb
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 sticks butter, melted
1/4 cup warm water
4 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. warm water
sesame seeds (about 3/4 cup)
pistachio nuts, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, mahleb, baking powder, butter, and 1/4 cup water. Mix until dough is firm. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine honey and water and mix until honey is thinned. On a small plate, combine sesame seeds and chopped pistachios.

Preheat oven to 350°. To form the cookies, roll a piece of dough into a walnut-sized ball, then flatten between your hands. Brush on side with the honey, then dip honey-side down into nut mixture. Arrange cookies on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges begin to brown and the mahleb flecks in the dough begin to darken.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Scallion Pancake Goodness

One sad thing about my apartment is the lack of nearby Chinese food. There's plenty of Thai and Japanese, but I've yet to find some really good Chinese within walking distance (although I did notice a little storefront the other day when I was wandering around). So, to compensate, I was forced to try my hand at one of my favorite Chinese orders, scallion pancakes.

That having been said, I can't say these are at all authentic - just tasty. I picked the recipe up from a friend in college, and I've kept it more of a "make it however you want, decide what tastes good" recipe. So just work the dough until it feels right, and add the oil, scallions, and salt and pepper as you see fit.

And I've never been sure of the sauce that scallion pancakes are served with, so I just combined some Ponzu and the leftover chopped scallions, and this seemed to be pretty good. Is there a real recipe for the dipping sauce?

As a side note, does anyone have a suggestion for best scallion pancake in Boston?

Scallion Pancakes
2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
sesame oil
salt and pepper

Mix together flour and water in a large bowl until the water is absorbed and the dough is not sticky. Add more water a tablespoon at a time if all the flour doesn't incorporate. Once the dough is formed, knead it about 20 times, then cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Cut dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each piece as thin as it will go, then spread the dough with about a teaspoon of oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of scallions. Starting at one edge, roll the dough up into a cigar shape, making sure the scallions don't escape or get all bunched up together. Then coil the cigar into a spiral and press the spiral down with your hand. Roll this until it is thin, about 1/8 of an inch. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.

Fry each pancake over medium heat in a little vegetable oil. Stack all the fried pancakes and cut into triangles.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cheap Eats: Fin's Sushi + Grill

Japanese restaurants can get pricy pretty fast - sushi adds up. But Fin's Sushi + Grill (in Kenmore Square and Cleveland Circle) has a fantastic bento lunch special that severely cuts down on the cost.

For between $7 and $9, you'll get a heaping mound of healthy and delicious food that fills you up for the afternoon. Miso soup, salad, 2 pork gyoza, 2 pieces of California roll, a pile of fresh fruit, and more rice than you can eat shares the box with your choice of entrees (the teriyaki salmon is pictured above). The teriyaki is especially tasty - it's not overpoweringly sweet, but has a nice saltiness that pairs well with the fish.

The lunch special at Fin's is served Monday through Saturday, 11:30am to 3:00pm. They are located on Beacon Street in Kenmore Square (perfect for lunch before a day game) and on Chestnut Hill Avenue (between the B and the C lines) in Brighton.

Originally posted on Bostonist.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fashioning a Cookie Lapel Pin

I, too, am saddened by Mr. Monster's turn away from the pro-cookie agenda.