Monday, July 11, 2016

Where Do I Put This Lime?

Roxy's Grilled Cheese - Allston, MA
http://www.roxysgrilledcheese.com/

How cute it this?
     So Roxy's started out as a food truck and now has a brick and mortar location near my apartment! Bummer! I've never been to their food truck, but I've seen it around town a million times and never heard a bad word about that heavenly childhood staple... the grilled cheese. Meagan went a few times when she lived here, and she never understood why I didn't just walk down the street and go get a grilled cheese if I wanted to try it so bad. She had a good point. I don't know why.
     Regardless, David and I were starving after a sick concert out on a boat in the Boston Harbor (we went to see Knife Party... but they never really came on... wth). We got an uber straight from the cruise back to Roxy's in Allston trying to beat the clock and make it there before they closed at 11. The restaurant is typical of a sandwich/burger shop with a long counter and plenty of wooden tables along the side. It's all very simple, and the workers were very accommodating to us taking part in this grilled cheese experience even though they probably just wanted to go home at 11pm on a Friday night. We're the worst.
     Of course, David wanted the grilled cheese with the braised short rib. It came with fontina cheese and caramelized onions. I love all these things (fontina cheese is one of my favorites). They really loaded in this nice and juicy shredded rib meat, and it was delicious. It wasn't so juicy that it got the bread soggy, and it also wasn't dry. It had the perfect moisture level, they melted that cheese like pros, and the caramelized onions added a subtle sweetness to the sandwich. It was heavenly.
     Just to be different, I ordered the Allston, which was goat cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, and arugula. This sandwich had so many unique flavors in it. It was crazy complex, but almost too much. While I love caramelized onions, I don't think they belonged on this sandwich. You lose their subtly sweet flavor because they were overpowered by the sweet fig jam. I would've preferred less of the fig jam simply because of how sweet and overpowering it was. I loved the fresh addition of the peppery arugula. Another bummer about this sandwich is that, because goat cheese naturally gets rather runny when heated, it's tough to keep it contained within a sandwich. It's especially tough when the sandwich makers have grilled the bread to such golden perfection that the edges of the bread stiffen up (great job guys), and therefore each bite becomes a eruption of goat cheese and fig jam. But the runniness of the cheese is no fault of Roxy's. This sandwich idea is a great one, but I just wish I could have kept more of the contents in between the two slices of bread and not all over my plate and table.

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Ariana - Allston, MA
http://arianarestaurantboston.com/

Manu, flatbread, and the dipping sauces
     First, a small story. Araiana used to be over in Brighton, and I remember seeing it when I first moved to the area. I have wanted to go since, but they moved over to Allston. Jimmy and I were looking for a place to go eat once, and I wanted to try Ariana so I called to make sure they were open after their move. They said they'd be open in two weeks, and guess what... two weeks later they called me back just to tell me they were open now, and I could come in. How cool is that? Who does that?!? I was so impressed.
     So finally, after going to Antonia's art show just up the street, David and I went into Ariana to check it out. It's a fancy little place that serves up Afghanistan cuisine. Their dim mood lighting, white table linens and blue water glasses made us feel elegant in our running shorts and t-shirts.
Korma Challow
     They brought a basket of (what looked like) homemade flatbread and served it with a sauce trio that included some sort of a walnut pesto, a sweet chili sauce and a cucumber yogurt sauce. That walnut pesto was the bomb. Too made David couldn't eat it without exploding. As an appetizer we ordered the Mantu, which was kind of like a ravioli. It was their homemade pastry shells (that's impressive in itself) filled with onions and beef, served in a shallow pool of yogurt and topped with carrots, yellow split peas and beef sauce. Excuse me? These were incredible and so full of flavor. The pastry shells were very thin and tender and the combination of the veggies and beef was so delicious and savory. It was all very light too. Generally in American/Italian cooking, things involving pastry dough and meat sauces tend to be pretty heavy and filling, but this was light and the perfect little appetizer.
     For the meal, I ordered lamb. Duh. I got the Korma Challow with was leg of lamb sautéed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes and spices. It was incredible. It was basically what I expected as far as Afghanistan cuisine in that it was some sort of meat in a tomato based sauce with veggies and a multitude of spices. One thing I noted right away was the complexity of spices in everything. Afghanistan food must generally use a variety of spices we don't use here because there were flavors I couldn't label. Anyway, the lamb was so tender and full of flavor like a good quality chunk of lamb. You won't get that everywhere. The dish was served with rice and lentils. Normally I'm not crazy about rice, but this long grain rice was fluffy and rich with flavor and a unique individualized texture. The little cumin seeds added a great flavor too.
     Ariana was quite impressive. From the atmosphere, to the water glasses, and to the food and flavors, I was impressed each step of the way. I was even more impressed with David's willingness to expand his palette. He's getting there.

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Stephanie's Village Pancake House - Rowley, MA
http://www.villagepancakehouse.com/

     Before heading out to see some of the mansions for the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations free open house day, I let David pick a breakfast spot. Normally this is my job, but I was "busy" or something and wanted to see what he could come up with. He knew that if we were traveling out of town (or basically whenever), I definitely wouldn't want to go a chain restaurant. He was right, and he picked a great place! We went to Stephanie's Village Pancake House, which is actually an old house that was built as a saltbox in 1660. It was renovated into a colonial home 40 years later and is still nearly the same today. When you walk in the front door to the restaurant, you're actually walking into what looks like the old living room of the house. As our waitress guided us to our table, we wove our way through hallways, the dining room, and other various rooms until we got to what looked like an old bedroom with a fireplace. It was literally the cutest restaurant I've ever seen, and it was jammed! Everyone was there. I was so excited. I was so proud of him.
All breakfast. All the time. 
     For breakfast I ordered the Quick Start which was very simply a small omelette with cheese, bacon, homefries, and a fruit bowl. I also got a side of pancakes with strawberries on top because I couldn't not get pancakes at a pancake house (unless it's Ihop...ew). The omelette was kind of silly, to be honest, but I should've expected it. The menu said it was just a plain omelette with cheese and that really was it. Just eggs folded in half with a sprinkle of cheese. The homefries were pretty good with their crispy uneven edges. Bacon is bacon. The fruit was fresh and great, and I love ending a breakfast meal with it. But my favorite part was the pancakes. They were light, fluffy and mildly sweet with strawberries on top (and no not the stupid syrupy type strawberry topping that shouldn't even be considered strawberries anymore). The only thing that would've been better would be fresh strawberries. The best part though was that they served REAL maple syrup. You never see that. Ever. Unless you want to pay extra for it. Not here. Stephanie knows what's up.
     I'd highly recommend Stephanie's if you're ever up in the Rowley/Ipswitch area and are looking for good food. Come for the pancakes, the atmosphere and the history.

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Rosa Mexicano - Boston, MA
http://www.rosamexicano.com/boston
What a goof. Carnitas were great though.

     Meagan is such a weirdo. Look at this picture. This was taken after our waiter grabbed Meagan's lime that we sneakily put in a cup/candle holder thing in order to hide it. I don't know why it was so funny but it was.
     Rosa Mexicano is a big restaurant down in the Seaport. I've seen it once or twice, but I honestly assumed it was a chain so I never went. However, today was different. We had just gotten out of the Institute for Contemporary Art, we were weirded out by the things we saw and needed to eat things to feel better. This is when I learned it was in fact a chain, but it was delicious, and I will tell you about it anyway.
     First of all they gave us a complimentary appetizer sampler which was some sort of shrimp on a corn chip with a mango sauce and pickled cabbage. It was ok, but it's the thought that counts. The thought to refill the delicious, hot chip basket gave them a few more points too. We just split an entree which was their Carnitas; slow-braised pork with cilantro, white onion and grilled pineapple. It came hot to the table in a cast iron skillet with handmade corn tortillas. We were given a generous portion of pork, nice hunks of pineapple, and a separate bowl of baked beans, rice, salsa and three kinds of sauces included a spicy habanero one, a thin salsa verde and sour cream. I'm completely guessing on those first two sauce, but it's what I'd guess they were.
   
The complimentary appetizer. Had to be careful not to fill up before the meal.
     The presentation of this whole dish was beautiful and quite overwhelming! There were so many flavor combinations to make. It was thrilling. Pork and pineapple always amazes me. It's such a great combination. The pork was moist and peppery and the pineapple had the subtly caramelizing edges. Those refried (black) beans were incredible! Honestly the best refried beans I've ever had, and I don't know why. They were so smooth. Maybe they were so good because they were black beans rather than the other beans that are generally used. I was so happy there were leftover beans because I wanted to eat them by the spoonful while sitting on my couch.
     The whole meal was excellent and filling, even when split between two people. The atmosphere was lively. The diving man sculptures affixed to the wall fountain behind Meagan were mesmerizing. All in all a good time.

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Ironside Grill - Charlestown, MA
http://www.ironsidegrill.com/
Veggie Burger from Ironside Grill

     I don't think I experienced Ironside Grill for all that it can be. Mantas and I went for lunch one day when we were on a job in Charlestown.  Although its name has evolved, Ironside is one of the oldest remaining restaurants in Charlestown, dating back to 1950. Now, Ironside is a little classy sports bar-like place in the heart of residential Charlestown. It's named after Old Ironsides (the USS Constitution) that sits in the Boston naval yard in Charlestown.
     I expected to encounter a bunch of tourists just out of the Bunker Hill monument and that's exactly what we encountered. Out of fear of feeling too full and gross (and about to move a ton of furniture), I opted for the veggie burger, which was was really just a pre-made patty that wasn't their own. So when a restaurant throws something like that together, you're not really experiencing what they can do, in a culinary sense. However, rather than fries, I got their grilled asparagus, which was probably one of the best simple veggie side dishes I've ever had. It was perfectly tender and just seasoned with salt and pepper. They were great. Ha. Easy to please.

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Tresca's Eating Place - Watertown, MA
http://www.yelp.com/biz/trescas-eating-place-watertown
Denver Omelette, home fries, scali toast and pancakes.
     I ask Jimmy if he wants to go to Wegman's. He asks if we're getting breakfast first. Uhhh.... of course. We intended to go to Deluxe Diner out in Watertown, but the line was out the door. No time for that. So we walked to Tresca's just up the street and sat down right away. Tresca's was a nice open restaurant with a typical diner feel and a bunch of tables. We were greeted by a woman with a charming woman with a heavy Irish accent and quickly confused her with a starving incoherent mumbles. I ordered the Denver omelette which had green peppers, onions, ham and american cheese. I wished it wasn't american cheese, but this was an amazing omelette. Normally I find omelettes, especially a mostly veggie omelette, kind of bland at restaurants, but this was a really flavorful omelette through and through. It was big and stuffed. The veggies were fresh and the slightly crisp edges of the eggs had an amazing flavor as if they had put a little extra butter in the pan. Definitely one of the best simple omelettes I've had at a restaurant. Their homefries were ok. Nothing fantastic. The omelette was also served with Scali toast, which was fabulous. Scali bread is a type of braided Italian bread made primarily in Boston (I just learned this on the world wide web).
     Then as breakfast dessert, we split a stack of 3 HUGE pancakes. I loved them. I don't know what was so different about them, but the batter seemed different. They felt like something more than just white flour, egg, and milk. More rich. Maybe it was the butter.
     As far as breakfast joints go, Tresca's was pretty impressive. I loved the atmosphere and the food was great and super filling. Very pleased. Plus the Irish lady was the cutest.

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Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Blondies - My Kitchen, Allston, MA
I wish I had a prettier picture of just how amazing these chocolate chunk almond butter blondies were. 
     THESE BLONDIES. THESE BLONDIES ARE THE BEST BLONDIES I'VE EVER HAD. This is a recipe from Oh Lady Cakes. I love her. I made them for Jimmy, Karl, Kevin and I for our road trip to Philly back in May, but I'm sure I ate 90% of them. They were delicious. They were dense, they were fluffy, they were rich in almond flavor, and they were moist. The chocolate chips I used, Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet, were key too. Definitely one of the best things I've made myself in a while.

Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Blondies
Oh Lady Cakes

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons almond milk or milk
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unbleached flour
Dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips)
Raw almonds, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 5×8″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and potato starch, followed by the coconut oil and vanilla extract; mix for about 30 seconds to ensure the starch absorbs any excess oil. Whisk in the milk, until completely combined, then whisk in the almond butter and mix until smooth.

3. Add the baking powder, sea salt, and flour, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula, just until combined.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan then level with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with chocolate chunks and chopped almonds. Bake at 350˚F for 34-38 minutes. For chewy blondies, bake for 28-30 minutes. For blondies that are completely baked through, bake for the full 38 minutes. Once baked, transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. After 10 minutes, lift bars out of the pan by the parchment paper and cool completely. Cut into 8 squares and store in an air tight container.


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Marbled Peppermint Crunch Cake - My Kitchen, Allston, MA
     
Looks a little rough around the edges. 
     I am awful at frosting cakes. Simply awful. Look at that thing. However, based on the outcome of this cake, I guess I'm not so awful at making it taste good. It was the bomb. I wonder though if it was the perfect texture and consistency because I used cake flour from King Arthur Flour up in Vermont. That place makes exceptional products. The cake was beautifully moist and rich. The peppermint flavor throughout the cake itself and the frosting was subtle. I wished the peppermint candies on top stayed crunchy a few days later, but if you're serving most of the cake the same day you make it, you won't have that problem. 
     I found this recipe on Crepes of Wrath and saved it for a special occasion. This special occasion was really just a thank you to David for trying to figure out what was wrong with my car while I had to work. I was really appreciative. 


Marbled Peppermint Crunch Cake
Crepes of Wrath

Chocolate Cake:
     1½ cups all-purpose flour
     1½ cups granulated sugar
     ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
     2 tablespoons espresso powder (optional)
     1½ teaspoons baking soda
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     1 teaspoon kosher salt
     ¾ cup whole milk
     ¾ cup room-temperature water
     2 eggs
     3 tablespoons vegetable oil
     1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Peppermint Frosting:
     2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
     5 cups powdered sugar
     ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Chocolate Ganache:
     1½ cups bittersweet chocolate
     2 teaspoons heavy cream

Decoration:
     1½ cups crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add in your milk and water, beat to combine, then add in your eggs and beat to combine. Add in your vegetable oil and peppermint extract, then beat to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. Cut out 3 pieces of parchment to fit into 3 8-inch cake pans. Pour the batter evenly among the 3 pans, then bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Set aside to cool.
4. While the cake cools, make the frosting. Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract, scraping down the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. Set aside.
5. Place a dollop of frosting on your work surface, be it a cake board or a plate. Place your first layer of cake on the surface and level it off with a serrated knife. Place a large dollop of frosting on the first layer, smooth it out, and sprinkle with ⅓ of your crushed candy canes. Repeat with the second layer, then with the third layer, level it off and use the rest of the frosting to coat the cake. Let the cake chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, then scrape off any excess with a cake scraper or crumb scraper for a "naked cake" look. Place the cake back in the fridge.
6. While the cake chills, melt your chocolate in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. Add in the heavy cream very slowly and stir to combine. Spread the frosting over the cake again, and use the cake scraper to scrape off any excess for a marbled, "naked" cake look. Sprinkle with additional crushed peppermint candy, if you'd like, then chill for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Papa Razzi - Boston, MA
Tomato Mozzarella sandwich

     We had a three day move with a great guy in Boston who treated us to lunch three times at Paparazzi, a fancy Italian restaurant over on Newbury St. Day one I had their Pollo sandwich which had grilled chicken breast, basil pesto, tomato, fontina, toasted ciabatta, mixed greens and lemon vinaigrette. This was probably my favorite of the three days. The chicken was super juicy, the pesto was fabulous and I loved the fontina cheese. The greens and lemon vinaigrette added a nice freshness to the savory side of the sandwich. It was a beautiful balance. Day two I got their Polpetta Panini sandwich which had beef meatballs, mozzarella, pecorino romano, pomodoro, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette. Now this one was rich. The beef meatballs had a great salty and herb rich flavor and were great with the melted mozzarella and nutty pecorino romano. This sandwich was a little heavier than the chicken though so I needed to save half if I wanted to continue moving furniture all day. Plus I had also gotten their hand cut herbed french fries. So savory. So good. Day three I got their Tomato Mozzarella sandwich with fresh mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, basil pesto, balsamic reduction, toasted ciabatta, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette. This sandwich was also great, but I wanted it to be bigger. I loved the freshness, and you can't beat the mozzarella, tomato, balsamic combination. The first two days our customer also ordered some Margherita pizzas. They were very simple. Super thin crust, crushed tomatoes, light cheese, basil and oregano leaves. A great little side snack to pair with the sandwiches. 
Margherita pizza
     Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the inside / atmosphere of Paparazzi, but the food was delicious. 





Where Do I Put This Lime?

Roxy's Grilled Cheese - Allston, MA
http://www.roxysgrilledcheese.com/

How cute it this?
     So Roxy's started out as a food truck and now has a brick and mortar location near my apartment! Bummer! I've never been to their food truck, but I've seen it around town a million times and never heard a bad word about that heavenly childhood staple... the grilled cheese. Meagan went a few times when she lived here, and she never understood why I didn't just walk down the street and go get a grilled cheese if I wanted to try it so bad. She had a good point. I don't know why.
     Regardless, David and I were starving after a sick concert out on a boat in the Boston Harbor (we went to see Knife Party... but they never really came on... wth). We got an uber straight from the cruise back to Roxy's in Allston trying to beat the clock and make it there before they closed at 11. The restaurant is typical of a sandwich/burger shop with a long counter and plenty of wooden tables along the side. It's all very simple, and the workers were very accommodating to us taking part in this grilled cheese experience even though they probably just wanted to go home at 11pm on a Friday night. We're the worst.
     Of course, David wanted the grilled cheese with the braised short rib. It came with fontina cheese and caramelized onions. I love all these things (fontina cheese is one of my favorites). They really loaded in this nice and juicy shredded rib meat, and it was delicious. It wasn't so juicy that it got the bread soggy, and it also wasn't dry. It had the perfect moisture level, they melted that cheese like pros, and the caramelized onions added a subtle sweetness to the sandwich. It was heavenly.
     Just to be different, I ordered the Allston, which was goat cheese, fig jam, caramelized onions, and arugula. This sandwich had so many unique flavors in it. It was crazy complex, but almost too much. While I love caramelized onions, I don't think they belonged on this sandwich. You lose their subtly sweet flavor because they were overpowered by the sweet fig jam. I would've preferred less of the fig jam simply because of how sweet and overpowering it was. I loved the fresh addition of the peppery arugula. Another bummer about this sandwich is that, because goat cheese naturally gets rather runny when heated, it's tough to keep it contained within a sandwich. It's especially tough when the sandwich makers have grilled the bread to such golden perfection that the edges of the bread stiffen up (great job guys), and therefore each bite becomes a eruption of goat cheese and fig jam. But the runniness of the cheese is no fault of Roxy's. This sandwich idea is a great one, but I just wish I could have kept more of the contents in between the two slices of bread and not all over my plate and table.

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Ariana - Allston, MA
http://arianarestaurantboston.com/

Manu, flatbread, and the dipping sauces
     First, a small story. Araiana used to be over in Brighton, and I remember seeing it when I first moved to the area. I have wanted to go since, but they moved over to Allston. Jimmy and I were looking for a place to go eat once, and I wanted to try Ariana so I called to make sure they were open after their move. They said they'd be open in two weeks, and guess what... two weeks later they called me back just to tell me they were open now, and I could come in. How cool is that? Who does that?!? I was so impressed.
     So finally, after going to Antonia's art show just up the street, David and I went into Ariana to check it out. It's a fancy little place that serves up Afghanistan cuisine. Their dim mood lighting, white table linens and blue water glasses made us feel elegant in our running shorts and t-shirts.
Korma Challow
     They brought a basket of (what looked like) homemade flatbread and served it with a sauce trio that included some sort of a walnut pesto, a sweet chili sauce and a cucumber yogurt sauce. That walnut pesto was the bomb. Too made David couldn't eat it without exploding. As an appetizer we ordered the Mantu, which was kind of like a ravioli. It was their homemade pastry shells (that's impressive in itself) filled with onions and beef, served in a shallow pool of yogurt and topped with carrots, yellow split peas and beef sauce. Excuse me? These were incredible and so full of flavor. The pastry shells were very thin and tender and the combination of the veggies and beef was so delicious and savory. It was all very light too. Generally in American/Italian cooking, things involving pastry dough and meat sauces tend to be pretty heavy and filling, but this was light and the perfect little appetizer.
     For the meal, I ordered lamb. Duh. I got the Korma Challow with was leg of lamb sautéed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, green beans, potatoes and spices. It was incredible. It was basically what I expected as far as Afghanistan cuisine in that it was some sort of meat in a tomato based sauce with veggies and a multitude of spices. One thing I noted right away was the complexity of spices in everything. Afghanistan food must generally use a variety of spices we don't use here because there were flavors I couldn't label. Anyway, the lamb was so tender and full of flavor like a good quality chunk of lamb. You won't get that everywhere. The dish was served with rice and lentils. Normally I'm not crazy about rice, but this long grain rice was fluffy and rich with flavor and a unique individualized texture. The little cumin seeds added a great flavor too.
     Ariana was quite impressive. From the atmosphere, to the water glasses, and to the food and flavors, I was impressed each step of the way. I was even more impressed with David's willingness to expand his palette. He's getting there.

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Stephanie's Village Pancake House - Rowley, MA
http://www.villagepancakehouse.com/

     Before heading out to see some of the mansions for the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations free open house day, I let David pick a breakfast spot. Normally this is my job, but I was "busy" or something and wanted to see what he could come up with. He knew that if we were traveling out of town (or basically whenever), I definitely wouldn't want to go a chain restaurant. He was right, and he picked a great place! We went to Stephanie's Village Pancake House, which is actually an old house that was built as a saltbox in 1660. It was renovated into a colonial home 40 years later and is still nearly the same today. When you walk in the front door to the restaurant, you're actually walking into what looks like the old living room of the house. As our waitress guided us to our table, we wove our way through hallways, the dining room, and other various rooms until we got to what looked like an old bedroom with a fireplace. It was literally the cutest restaurant I've ever seen, and it was jammed! Everyone was there. I was so excited. I was so proud of him.
All breakfast. All the time. 
     For breakfast I ordered the Quick Start which was very simply a small omelette with cheese, bacon, homefries, and a fruit bowl. I also got a side of pancakes with strawberries on top because I couldn't not get pancakes at a pancake house (unless it's Ihop...ew). The omelette was kind of silly, to be honest, but I should've expected it. The menu said it was just a plain omelette with cheese and that really was it. Just eggs folded in half with a sprinkle of cheese. The homefries were pretty good with their crispy uneven edges. Bacon is bacon. The fruit was fresh and great, and I love ending a breakfast meal with it. But my favorite part was the pancakes. They were light, fluffy and mildly sweet with strawberries on top (and no not the stupid syrupy type strawberry topping that shouldn't even be considered strawberries anymore). The only thing that would've been better would be fresh strawberries. The best part though was that they served REAL maple syrup. You never see that. Ever. Unless you want to pay extra for it. Not here. Stephanie knows what's up.
     I'd highly recommend Stephanie's if you're ever up in the Rowley/Ipswitch area and are looking for good food. Come for the pancakes, the atmosphere and the history.

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Rosa Mexicano - Boston, MA
http://www.rosamexicano.com/boston
What a goof. Carnitas were great though.

     Meagan is such a weirdo. Look at this picture. This was taken after our waiter grabbed Meagan's lime that we sneakily put in a cup/candle holder thing in order to hide it. I don't know why it was so funny but it was.
     Rosa Mexicano is a big restaurant down in the Seaport. I've seen it once or twice, but I honestly assumed it was a chain so I never went. However, today was different. We had just gotten out of the Institute for Contemporary Art, we were weirded out by the things we saw and needed to eat things to feel better. This is when I learned it was in fact a chain, but it was delicious, and I will tell you about it anyway.
     First of all they gave us a complimentary appetizer sampler which was some sort of shrimp on a corn chip with a mango sauce and pickled cabbage. It was ok, but it's the thought that counts. The thought to refill the delicious, hot chip basket gave them a few more points too. We just split an entree which was their Carnitas; slow-braised pork with cilantro, white onion and grilled pineapple. It came hot to the table in a cast iron skillet with handmade corn tortillas. We were given a generous portion of pork, nice hunks of pineapple, and a separate bowl of baked beans, rice, salsa and three kinds of sauces included a spicy habanero one, a thin salsa verde and sour cream. I'm completely guessing on those first two sauce, but it's what I'd guess they were.
   
The complimentary appetizer. Had to be careful not to fill up before the meal.
     The presentation of this whole dish was beautiful and quite overwhelming! There were so many flavor combinations to make. It was thrilling. Pork and pineapple always amazes me. It's such a great combination. The pork was moist and peppery and the pineapple had the subtly caramelizing edges. Those refried (black) beans were incredible! Honestly the best refried beans I've ever had, and I don't know why. They were so smooth. Maybe they were so good because they were black beans rather than the other beans that are generally used. I was so happy there were leftover beans because I wanted to eat them by the spoonful while sitting on my couch.
     The whole meal was excellent and filling, even when split between two people. The atmosphere was lively. The diving man sculptures affixed to the wall fountain behind Meagan were mesmerizing. All in all a good time.

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Ironside Grill - Charlestown, MA
http://www.ironsidegrill.com/
Veggie Burger from Ironside Grill

     I don't think I experienced Ironside Grill for all that it can be. Mantas and I went for lunch one day when we were on a job in Charlestown.  Although its name has evolved, Ironside is one of the oldest remaining restaurants in Charlestown, dating back to 1950. Now, Ironside is a little classy sports bar-like place in the heart of residential Charlestown. It's named after Old Ironsides (the USS Constitution) that sits in the Boston naval yard in Charlestown.
     I expected to encounter a bunch of tourists just out of the Bunker Hill monument and that's exactly what we encountered. Out of fear of feeling too full and gross (and about to move a ton of furniture), I opted for the veggie burger, which was was really just a pre-made patty that wasn't their own. So when a restaurant throws something like that together, you're not really experiencing what they can do, in a culinary sense. However, rather than fries, I got their grilled asparagus, which was probably one of the best simple veggie side dishes I've ever had. It was perfectly tender and just seasoned with salt and pepper. They were great. Ha. Easy to please.

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Tresca's Eating Place - Watertown, MA
http://www.yelp.com/biz/trescas-eating-place-watertown
Denver Omelette, home fries, scali toast and pancakes.
     I ask Jimmy if he wants to go to Wegman's. He asks if we're getting breakfast first. Uhhh.... of course. We intended to go to Deluxe Diner out in Watertown, but the line was out the door. No time for that. So we walked to Tresca's just up the street and sat down right away. Tresca's was a nice open restaurant with a typical diner feel and a bunch of tables. We were greeted by a woman with a charming woman with a heavy Irish accent and quickly confused her with a starving incoherent mumbles. I ordered the Denver omelette which had green peppers, onions, ham and american cheese. I wished it wasn't american cheese, but this was an amazing omelette. Normally I find omelettes, especially a mostly veggie omelette, kind of bland at restaurants, but this was a really flavorful omelette through and through. It was big and stuffed. The veggies were fresh and the slightly crisp edges of the eggs had an amazing flavor as if they had put a little extra butter in the pan. Definitely one of the best simple omelettes I've had at a restaurant. Their homefries were ok. Nothing fantastic. The omelette was also served with Scali toast, which was fabulous. Scali bread is a type of braided Italian bread made primarily in Boston (I just learned this on the world wide web).
     Then as breakfast dessert, we split a stack of 3 HUGE pancakes. I loved them. I don't know what was so different about them, but the batter seemed different. They felt like something more than just white flour, egg, and milk. More rich. Maybe it was the butter.
     As far as breakfast joints go, Tresca's was pretty impressive. I loved the atmosphere and the food was great and super filling. Very pleased. Plus the Irish lady was the cutest.

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Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Blondies - My Kitchen, Allston, MA
I wish I had a prettier picture of just how amazing these chocolate chunk almond butter blondies were. 
     THESE BLONDIES. THESE BLONDIES ARE THE BEST BLONDIES I'VE EVER HAD. This is a recipe from Oh Lady Cakes. I love her. I made them for Jimmy, Karl, Kevin and I for our road trip to Philly back in May, but I'm sure I ate 90% of them. They were delicious. They were dense, they were fluffy, they were rich in almond flavor, and they were moist. The chocolate chips I used, Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet, were key too. Definitely one of the best things I've made myself in a while.

Chocolate Chunk Almond Butter Blondies
Oh Lady Cakes

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons almond milk or milk
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unbleached flour
Dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips)
Raw almonds, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 5×8″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and potato starch, followed by the coconut oil and vanilla extract; mix for about 30 seconds to ensure the starch absorbs any excess oil. Whisk in the milk, until completely combined, then whisk in the almond butter and mix until smooth.

3. Add the baking powder, sea salt, and flour, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula, just until combined.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan then level with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with chocolate chunks and chopped almonds. Bake at 350˚F for 34-38 minutes. For chewy blondies, bake for 28-30 minutes. For blondies that are completely baked through, bake for the full 38 minutes. Once baked, transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. After 10 minutes, lift bars out of the pan by the parchment paper and cool completely. Cut into 8 squares and store in an air tight container.


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Marbled Peppermint Crunch Cake - My Kitchen, Allston, MA
     
Looks a little rough around the edges. 
     I am awful at frosting cakes. Simply awful. Look at that thing. However, based on the outcome of this cake, I guess I'm not so awful at making it taste good. It was the bomb. I wonder though if it was the perfect texture and consistency because I used cake flour from King Arthur Flour up in Vermont. That place makes exceptional products. The cake was beautifully moist and rich. The peppermint flavor throughout the cake itself and the frosting was subtle. I wished the peppermint candies on top stayed crunchy a few days later, but if you're serving most of the cake the same day you make it, you won't have that problem. 
     I found this recipe on Crepes of Wrath and saved it for a special occasion. This special occasion was really just a thank you to David for trying to figure out what was wrong with my car while I had to work. I was really appreciative. 


Marbled Peppermint Crunch Cake
Crepes of Wrath

Chocolate Cake:
     1½ cups all-purpose flour
     1½ cups granulated sugar
     ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
     2 tablespoons espresso powder (optional)
     1½ teaspoons baking soda
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     1 teaspoon kosher salt
     ¾ cup whole milk
     ¾ cup room-temperature water
     2 eggs
     3 tablespoons vegetable oil
     1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Peppermint Frosting:
     2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
     5 cups powdered sugar
     ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Chocolate Ganache:
     1½ cups bittersweet chocolate
     2 teaspoons heavy cream

Decoration:
     1½ cups crushed candy canes or peppermint candies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add in your milk and water, beat to combine, then add in your eggs and beat to combine. Add in your vegetable oil and peppermint extract, then beat to combine, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. Cut out 3 pieces of parchment to fit into 3 8-inch cake pans. Pour the batter evenly among the 3 pans, then bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Set aside to cool.
4. While the cake cools, make the frosting. Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract, scraping down the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. Set aside.
5. Place a dollop of frosting on your work surface, be it a cake board or a plate. Place your first layer of cake on the surface and level it off with a serrated knife. Place a large dollop of frosting on the first layer, smooth it out, and sprinkle with ⅓ of your crushed candy canes. Repeat with the second layer, then with the third layer, level it off and use the rest of the frosting to coat the cake. Let the cake chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, then scrape off any excess with a cake scraper or crumb scraper for a "naked cake" look. Place the cake back in the fridge.
6. While the cake chills, melt your chocolate in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. Add in the heavy cream very slowly and stir to combine. Spread the frosting over the cake again, and use the cake scraper to scrape off any excess for a marbled, "naked" cake look. Sprinkle with additional crushed peppermint candy, if you'd like, then chill for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Paparazzi - Boston, MA
Tomato Mozzarella sandwich

     We had a three day move with a great guy in Boston who treated us to lunch three times at Paparazzi, a fancy Italian restaurant over on Newbury St. Day one I had their Pollo sandwich which had grilled chicken breast, basil pesto, tomato, fontina, toasted ciabatta, mixed greens and lemon vinaigrette. This was probably my favorite of the three days. The chicken was super juicy, the pesto was fabulous and I loved the fontina cheese. The greens and lemon vinaigrette added a nice freshness to the savory side of the sandwich. It was a beautiful balance. Day two I got their Polpetta Panini sandwich which had beef meatballs, mozzarella, pecorino romano, pomodoro, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette. Now this one was rich. The beef meatballs had a great salty and herb rich flavor and were great with the melted mozzarella and nutty pecorino romano. This sandwich was a little heavier than the chicken though so I needed to save half if I wanted to continue moving furniture all day. Plus I had also gotten their hand cut herbed french fries. So savory. So good. Day three I got their Tomato Mozzarella sandwich with fresh mozzarella, beefsteak tomato, basil pesto, balsamic reduction, toasted ciabatta, mixed greens, and lemon vinaigrette. This sandwich was also great, but I wanted it to be bigger. I loved the freshness, and you can't beat the mozzarella, tomato, balsamic combination. The first two days our customer also ordered some Margherita pizzas. They were very simple. Super thin crust, crushed tomatoes, light cheese, basil and oregano leaves. A great little side snack to pair with the sandwiches. 
Margherita pizza
     Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the inside / atmosphere of Paparazzi, but the food was delicious. 





Monday, May 9, 2016

See Ya Never

Anthem - Boston, MA
http://www.anthem-boston.com/
Orecchiette with roasted veggies and steak

     The Boston Marathon came and went... and so did the all you can eat pasta deals. Sad face. This was the second year that David and I (as non-runners) took advantage of the all you can eat pasta deals that restaurants in the area offer the night before the race. Last year we went to Bambara, which was honestly better than Anthem. Even though it's pretty pricey, Anthem has a beautiful, modern-rustic space in the heart of Quincy Market, and it's often teeming with tourists.
     For the marathon, Anthem had an unlimited pasta deal, but you had to pay extra for meat with each additional bowl. So we got steak added to the first bowl, which was delicious, and we were sad for the rest of the bowls. However, I really liked the combo sauce made of marinara and pesto that they added to the orecchiette pasta. It gave the pasta a much more rich flavor than straight marinara would have. They also mixed in some roasted squash, zucchini and carrots. Bonus.

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BISq - Cambridge, MA
Bazz Hook-Up Board

     After work/school, Zach and I met up for our bi-monthy feeding. We both wanted to try out Bisq, which is a tiny, hip, "restaurant and wine bar" that recently opened near GG. Bisq seems to be semi farm-to-table and focuses on unique, natural, whole ingredients, similar to Commonwealth (which Zach and I also went to once). It's a wooden furniture and mason jars kind of place that serves up a non-Spanish version of tapas, or small plates. 
Top: N'Awlins shrimp toast, Bottom: Lamb ribs
     The waiter sold us on the Bazz Hook-Up Board, which is their head chef's version of a charcuterie board. They had three homemade meats: something similar to a procuitto, a blood sausage like variety, and another resembling salami. All of them were served with toast and absolutely delicious. Salty, melt-in-your-mouth meat. The board also had a chicken liver patte topped with house-made granola, kale and (what I think was) a pomegranate sauce. Crazy combination, but it worked. There was also a glob of lard that was whipped with cinnamon sugar. Yes I said lard. I think it was cinnamon sugar and it was strangely sweet, but delicious, especially when spread on the toast. THAT was melt-in-your-mouth because it was straight fat. That's ok, right? Lastly, they had a few small pieces of house-pickled okra and a whole grain mustard. I liked the pickles because they helped cut the fat in your mouth after eating the other board items. I wished there were more. 
     For the meal we ordered the lamb ribs... obviously. I don't think I've ever had lamb ribs, and these were incredible. I don't know how they even got them onto the plate without the meat falling off the bone because it was out of this world tender. They were super succulent and topped with small pieces of crispy kale and a sour orange glaze, adding some unique texture elements. That glaze was a surprisingly fabulous addition to the lamb. The sweet but sour flavor was delicious with the savory flavory of the lamb. As the second dish, we order the N'awlings barbecue shrimp toast which was mind-blowing. It seems next to impossible to deconstruct this. It was served as two pieces of toast with a thick, rich, cheesy layer that had grilled small shrimp in it. It wasn't barbecue as in the tomato-based barbecue sauce you're probably thinking of, but rather it's considered barbecue because it was cooked on a barbecue. On top they drizzled another slightly sour but sweet glaze and some "sexy scallions." So good. 
     These types of restaurants are difficult to describe because the flavors of things are so intricate and complex. It beautiful. I couldn't believe that lamb. It was so good. Like mind-alteringly good. 

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The Banshee - Dorchester, MA
Black angus burger and pub fries

O'Malley's Gaelic fries
     After a year and a half at UMass Boston, I finally hit up The Banshee, the local, favorite bar of a lot of my classmates. After my last grad GIS class I was teaching, all of the students and I went out for some food and beers as our final farewell. I anticipated standard bar food, but this was far from. The Banshee was a cozy little dark Irish pub with a really chill vibe. I loved it, and the menu was so much more than I expected with a little bit of everything from pizzas to burgers and bangers and mash. I'm still in this I-need-a-burger-everyday phase (where I'm not actually eating burgers everyday but I want them) so I ordered their black angus burger that was served with sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms on a brioche roll. The burger was beautiful. Thick and juicy and the sautéed goodies were the perfect addition. It was served with a side of great salty fries...some soft, some crispy, some a little burnt. I ate half of it all partially because it was 9pm and partially because I destroyed a plate of their O'Malley's Gaelic fries. These were their pub fries topped with cheddar cheese, butcher's cut smoked bacon and a drizzle of ranch. It was stupid good. Stupid good and stupid artery clogging I'm sure but that cheese though...

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The Linden Store - Wellesley, MA
The Linden Special

     There aren't many surprises in my life that are more exciting than when customers offer to buy us lunch when we're working. This time we were doing a job out in Wellesley and the wifey offered to get us some deli sandwiches from The Linden Store. It was their favorite local deli. My lightweight days made me appreciate a deli sandwich I can sink my teeth into more than the average person, so I was pumped. I ordered the Linden Special which was mortadella, prosciutto, salami, provolone cheese, marinated peppers, tomatoes, and oil. It was simple, but delicious. There were so many delicious salty meats that paired so well with the marinated peppers, again that cut the fat of the meats. I think it would've been a little better with some more greenery. Maybe some spinach or arugula. But it was still tasty. A step up from Jimmy Johns for sure. 

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Greenhills Irish Bakery - Dorchester, MA

Irish Breakfast Roll

     A pro to working with such diverse crews is that a lot of them often know where to get great food from their home countries. We finished an onload far too quickly down in Dorchester a couple weeks ago and Mark knew just the place to stop for second breakfast. There's nothing wrong with second breakfast. It was this hopping place called Greenhills Irish Bakery serving up a variety of pastries, breads, and INCREDIBLE breakfast sandwiches. I got their small Irish breakfast roll which was a homemade buttered roll that nuzzled a fried egg, Irish bacon (which is more like what we consider ham but better), Irish sausage and black and white pudding. I couldn't believe how good the sausage was. It was 100% different than the type of sausage you normally buy here in that it was less greasy, more meaty and tasted like it had more spices in it. It was the same story with the blood sausage/black and white pudding. The blood sausage had an incredible flavor partially due to the caraway seeds, which are not a commonly used spice. In both sausages, I really felt like I was tasting the meat itself rather than fillers or fat. Throw it all together with the salty Irish bacon and the egg and it was something dreamy. 



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Who Throws A Muffin?

Blue Frog Bakery - Jamaica Plain, MA
https://www.facebook.com/The-Blue-Frog-Bakery-100867203291726/


Bread Pudding Muffin
     I admittedly hate delivering boxes alone on Box Express days. One benefit though is seeing a delicious bakery and immediately stopping without needing to consult the crew. I had just dropped some boxes off in Jamaica Plain and was waiting at a stoplight when I saw this enormous blue frog sculpture popping out of the side of a red brick building. I love frogs, so I was instantly intrigued. I was in the door before I even finished reading the word "Bakery" on their sign.
The Ciabatta
   
     Blue Frog Bakery is a tiny little shop with standing room for only a couple people. They had some incredible looking pastries and a bunch of fresh, organic breads. I saw a muffin that looked like a morning glory muffin (the ones with carrots, raisins, pineapple, apple, coconut and who really knows what else) so I asked for "the crazy looking muffin." She says "oh the bread pudding muffin?" Um... excuse me? Um yes. Give me this godly bread pudding muffin. It was incredible. It was clearly fresh because it was still warm. It had chocolate chips throughout that were still melty. It had a stiff muffin top crust supported by its incredibly dense, and moist core. It was just like the kind of bread pudding you scoop out of a casserole dish. I lost my mind eating it in the van. "Having said that, I do have some thoughts." (name that reference) While I loved the inclusion of chocolate chips, I think they may have detracted from the uniqueness of the muffin. No one makes a bread pudding muffin, so I wanted to taste more of the bread pudding. The chocolate chips were rather abundant throughout the muffin and were very sweet. Their sweetness and abundance seemed to mask the bread pudding flavors. As a suggestion to Blue Frog Bakery, I'd suggest fewer chips or more bitter chips, so they're not as overpowering and masking your ingenious and inventive bread pudding muffin.
      I intended to only get a muffin, but then I read that they won "Best Bread" in Boston for 2015. I got a loaf of their Ciabatta bread which was incredibly soft and delicious. It was so simple and didn't have this distinct mildly crunchy shell you picture most fresh breads having. This bread was so good. Good to the point where I could easily just sit there and eat it plain.  I couldn't stop with the bread and butter. Then again, ciabatta generally has a decent amount of holes inside which make the best little receptacles for your melted butter. No shame.






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Michael's Deli - Brookline, MA
Michael's Corned Beef Sandwich

     So excited. I've wanted to go to Michael's Deli for a long time, and the time finally came! Cecil and I were out on a Nippon Express job and Nobu dropped us off in Brookline to forage. I brought my lunch, but as soon as I saw Michael's I knew there was no point in trying to fight the urge. Michaels is a tiny New York style deli in Brookline with a delightful staff. The man behind the counter was quite charming and super patient dealing with my indecisive self. I needed the corned beef sandwich though. That's what they're known for. They're a pretty famous name in Boston, as they've been named to Boston's "Best of" list many times and featured in countless magazines and award lists. 
MEAT
     It was delicious. It was rich, succulent, salty and had that little sour hit from the sauerkraut.  I'm trying to compare this corned beef sandwich to that of Katz's Deli in New York, but they're different. Let's start with the meat. Michael's meat was thinly shaved whereas Katz's was thick cut. I think Katz's meat was more flavorful and richer, but I also liked the thin shaved meat at Michael's. It was unique and different, and oh man they loaded it up. It held together in the sandwich better, and I think they layered the sauerkraut and thousand island dressing throughout the layers of meat. Genius. That was the coolest part of the sandwich. I love inventive sandwich makers. Because they dispersed the sauerkraut and dressing throughout, it never got pushed out, which is clearly one of the worst things to happen whenever you're eating a sandwich. The one downside to Michael's sandwich was the bread. Because the meat/kraut/sauce combo was rather juicy, the thin sliced bread got soaked and fell apart quickly. I would've loved a more hearty slice. 
     I also got a spinach kanish to go and had it for dinner the next night. I'm not sure if I've had a kanish before, but it's basically like my grandma's sfeeha; a hunk of dough stuffed with anything you desire. The spinach kanish was pretty tasty, but I wanted a lemony bite with the nutty flavor of pine nuts, like that of grandma's spinach pies. 
     I love Michael's Deli, and I want to go back for that sandwich... or the conversation. 

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In-House Cafe - Allston, MA

     This past Sunday was one of the best Sundays and most "Sunday" Sundays I've had in probably 2 years. What I mean by this is, I woke up, made myself some toast, Jimmy called and we went to breakfast, and I returned home to watch some shows and movies with various people filtering in and out the rest of the day. I did run down to the park to kick a soccer ball around with Tresser and her kids later in the day, completing the great Sunday picture. Anyway, it was just really relaxing because I submitted my thesis the day before and had no guilt (ok minimal guilt) about not doing anything all day. 

     Back to breakfast. Jimmy and I went to this little cyber-cafe looking place over on Harvard Ave which is not really a cyber cafe at all. Idk why I thought it was. I think just because their logo looks like it has a play button in it. I chose them because they had a "fourteen page breakfast menu" which would've been 2 pages if they had put more than 3 items on each page. I'm not mad, it was just kind of funny. Anyway, it was a cool little place in that there were random sized tables and chairs scattered throughout, kind of like you'd expect to see in someone's living room. Maybe that's why it's called In-House Cafe? Anyway, I ordered the Soprano Omelette, which was decent. It had sliced Halal Italian sausage, provolone cheese and caramelized onions. I think I would've liked more onions, more caramelized, and I would've liked them in strings rather than diced up so small. You didn't really get the unique caramelized onion flavor because they were just cooked (if that makes sense). The sausage was tasty, but had the texture of a hot dog. It wasn't a hot dog, but I like when breakfast sausage has that chunky texture.  I felt like the omelette overall was missing some substance. It had a ton of cheese, but I'm thinking the addition of maybe some multi-colored italian peppers would've taken it to that next level and complimented the italian sausage. It was served with some really delicious home fries and toast. However, I wished the toast was buttered. All it had was this little dime sized squirt of who knows what on top. Weirded me out a little. We were going to go for the banana caramel and pecan french toast, but we decided to wait until we got our first breakfast before ordering our breakfast dessert. However, in true Jimmy and Laurissa fashion, we were too full by the end and not patient enough to stand in line to order the french toast. Next time. 
     Overall, In-House was a decent little breakfast joint. Nothing fancy. Nothing special. But a cute little place to pop in for a quick order at the counter breakfast. 

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Dumpling House - Cambridge, MA
http://www.dumplinghousecambridge.com/

     I have a confession. I briefly considered quitting On High Heat. Sometimes I just want to go out to eat or cook something and not take a picture. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the food, and I did just that for the Dumpling House. Long story short, I don't think I'm going to give up just yet. So here goes... Dumpling House is stuck in that mysterious area between Central and Harvard Square in Cambridge. It doesn't get as much as attention as the squares, but it boasts some pretty amazing restaurants like Zoe's, Mass Ave Diner, and Dumpling House.
     I've seen this place quite a few times, and it's always full, so when Alyse came to town and suggested meeting at Dumpling House, I was beyond excited. Not to mention I was coming from work and was starving. I was so surprised how big this restaurant was! And boy did they need all the space they could get. It was packed. We sat at one of the big circular tables with the spinning center table thing. What the heck are those called? Either way, it was great because we got everything family style, meaning we could all share everything and spin it around to each other on the swively table top.
     I want to apologize though, as I have a very limited idea of what we ate. I was starving, got there late and never looked at a menu. Nor did I snap a photo. Either way, we had one plate of some sort of lo mein with chicken which was tasty. Salty. I needed it though. We also got another plate of some sort of fried chicken in sauce (that same food court style asian food you know you crave sometimes but hate yourself after eating) which was delicious and a higher quality than Panda Express type fried chicken. The best part was the dumplings. Hence the name I'm assuming. We got two different kinds. The first serving were seafood dumplings which came steamed in these silver stackable containers. I'll admit I have no idea what's going on when I eat dumplings. You can never see what's inside, so it's always a surprise. These seafood dumplings were good though. Pretty simple, but tasty.
     The other dumplings we got were soup dumplings which Alyse has mentioned many times before. She says they take a cube of some sort of condensed soup, put it inside a dumpling, cook it and it liquifies so that when you bite into the dumpling, it's filled with soup! How cool is that? These were delicious, savory and bursting with flavor. Like chicken soup in a dumpling. Probably my second favorite next to the sauce fried chicken nonsense.
     I wish I had some sort of photo to show them to you, but I don't. You'll just have to trust me when I say, if you're looking for good dumplings, you don't have to go all the way down to Chinatown.

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Punjabi Grill - Cambridge, MA
http://www.punjabigrillma.com/

     Rolando made me do it. Or I could blame Guillermo or Rob. For lunch once day in the middle of a job out in Davis Square, Rob decided he wanted to get Indian food. I brought my lunch, as always, but I agreed to go with them anywhere. We ended up at Punjabi Grill in Davis for their lunch buffet. Buffet. NEVER get a buffet for lunch when you're moving furniture all day. NEVER EVER get an Indian buffet for lunch when you're moving furniture all day. Or maybe just have some self control. Or just don't go to a buffet. We were all dying after, but it was delicious.
     Again, this was during my "I'm not going to write about food anymore" phase, so I have no pictures. Only memories. And because it was a buffet, I have no idea what I ate. So, I'll write about Punjabi Grill from a general standpoint. Everything was super fresh, delicious and exploding with flavor. Their samosas were fresh out of the fryer and the naan was fresh out of the oven. It was incredible. Even the rice pudding was excellent. What made it even better was that my bill maxed out at $10 for unlimited delicious food. This experience just reminded me how amazing lunch deals can be. Forget getting dinner... wanna go get lunch?

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Brown Jug - Revere, MA
http://brownjugrestaurant.com/index.php

     So it's funny because the other day David and I were talking about my food blogging and how some people go to a restaurant, try one thing and then just assume the restaurant is total junk because the one dish they happened to try was not so good. What's funny about it was that quite soon after that we went to The Brown Jug in Revere and had the absolute worst pizza I've ever had. It was their taco pizza. Now I've had an exceptional taco pizza before in East Lansing at Georgio's Gourmet Pizza. Brown Jug's pizza was so far from exceptional. On the menu it said it had hamburger on it. Well... it sure did. They cut up hamburgers and put it on the pizza. If you're going to make it a taco pizza, use ground hamburger and at least add some taco seasoning or something that even remotely resembles the taste of a taco. They used shit cheese. There were a couple chunks of obnoxiously large tomatoes through on top milling about with shards of white iceberg lettuce. Literally nothing about the pizza was good. Not even the crust, and I'm easy to please when it comes to crust. It tasted like trash and made you feel like trash. Tacos would never be that mean.


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Chickpea Sauté - My Kitchen, Allston

Full disclosure: This is not my picture. It's from Girl Versus Dough.
But I couldn't not show you how pretty this dish is. 

     Yes, I'm finally writing about something I cooked! I've been so unenthused about the things I've made recently. However, this chickpea sauté got me out of my funk. I found this recipe on Girl Versus Dough and tweaked it a little to fit my Lebanese heritage with zatar instead of caraway seeds. I think it turned out exceptional and I'd suggest following my recipe. The mint is key. Don't skimp. This is a nice light, but filling dish that's super satisfying. And don't be scared of the olive oil, pepper, yogurt mix. It's a strange but great addition to the whole dish when you dollop a little bit on top.


Chickpea Sauté

1 bunch (about 8 cups) Swiss chard, leaves separated from stems
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for garnish
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 tablespoons Zatar
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Toss in a small handful of sea salt, then add Swiss chard stalks. Blanch stalks for 3 minutes, then add leaves and blanch another 2 minutes. Drain and rinse chard under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, then transfer to a cutting board and chop roughly. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and zatar and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chickpeas and chard; cook another 6 minutes. Add garlic, herbs, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat; add more salt or pepper, if desired.

3. Stir together Greek yogurt, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Transfer chickpea mixture to a serving plate and top with yogurt mixture, an extra drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.