Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where do I even begin?

     Some people have a heightened sense of smell. Others have a heightened sense of hearing. But as some have heard me say (and think I'm crazy), I'm starting to think I may have a heightened sense of taste. Really. I get lost in this euphoric paradise when I'm trying something new or even enjoying a slice of Mom's zucchini bread that I've had a million times. There's just something about the way my brain responds to something that tastes so good. I really constantly think about food, how it's made, how I can make it, and what makes it so delicious. Thanks to the Michigan government, my bridge card allowed me to experiment a lot with food during college. Probably much more than the average college student. Either way, I've put in a lot of hours in the kitchen but really haven't documented much of it. Also, since my recent move to Boston, my exposure to other types of cuisine has multiplied by millions. Ok, maybe not millions, but really.... have you ever seen a Madagascar restaurant in Michigan? Didn't think so. 

     This is where my food journey begins. Or, rather, this is where my food journey picks up in the digital realm. But I've made so many amazing things in the recent past. And since my mother's visit last week, there's no way I can skip over the food experiences that week. So, we'll go back a few months and start from the beginning. 

Kelly's Roast Beef - Revere, MA

     I'd say, within my first week here in Boston, Jimmy insisted we go to Kelly's Roast Beef. Kelly's opened in 1951 at their first location on Revere Beach, but there are 4 other locations in MA. They are known for their legendary roast beef sandwiches, but there's no way you can look over the pastrami sandwich, seafood or lobster rolls. Naturally we wanted to go to the original location. We hopped on the Mass Pike, got lost and turned around at least 3 times (Massachusetts roads are absolutely stupid), and finally made it. It was Kelly's 60th birthday that day. Sadly no free food (that was my first hope). A decent crowd surround the beach side hut. We decided to get both the roast beef sandwich and pastrami sandwich and split them. Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel told Jimmy he had to get the fried clams. The air smelled of salt and seaweed, and was thick and heavy... as I was about to be. We found a picnic table as far from the stupid people feeding the seagulls as we could and dug in. Beautifully red roast beef piled 3 or 4 inches think... I swear. None of that brown roast beef you see in the supermarket with shiny green who-knows-what on it. Arby's sauce had nothing on whatever sauce they put in this monster. It was delicious. Admittedly, the pastrami sandwich won. Thick rye toast and spicy mustard pulling the whole ensemble together. Fried clams were decent. Not as crisp as hoped, but still tasty. Sam Brown's still got my respect though.

Kell's Kreme - Revere, MA
     Jimmy and I always seem to be on the same page. The instant our last bite passes through our gullets, our minds shift to dessert. What's for dessert? Where is the closest ice cream place? We were in luck. Kelly's Kreme was literally a 2 minute walk down the beach. Another beach side hut not associated with Kelly's Roast Beef, surprisingly. I expected your typical soft serve. Good and standard. Not today. I'm a sucker for cookie dough, as my Grandma and aunts can attest to. Seeing the cookie dough sundae sign made my heart skip a beat. They took a big bowl and towered vanilla soft serve in the middle, leaving some space on the outside. Then I'm not completely sure how, but they must have spooned warm gooey cookie dough in the bowl around the ice cream tower. Topped it off with a mound of whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and a strawberry. My eyes had to be the size of watermelons. Within 5 seconds of holding onto my baby, the strawberry fell off. I almost cried. The nice girl behind the counter with a heavy Boston accent replaced it. She's making it to heaven.                  Jimmy got a soft serve twist dipped in sprinkles. He's a sucker for the colored ones. We sat on the beach, but I'm not sure if I opened my eyes the whole time. I was lost in the warm cookie dough. This was unlike anything I had ever eaten before. Genius, yet so simple. The coolness of the ice cream mixed with the warmth of the dough. Like hot apple pie and vanilla ice cream. You could feel the sugar crystals in the dough. It was easy to make the flavor of each scoop last. I have this thing I do whenever I eat sweets. I use the roof of my mouth and tough to break down whatever I'm eating. No chewing. Maximizing my tongue's exposure to the substance. On numerous occasions I had to ask Jimmy what he said to me because I was on another planet and not listening (sorry Jimmy... I'm sure you understand). Pure bliss. I was huge. Jimmy felt huge. So we walked along the beach, found cool shells, sand and water formations, a cornucopia of seaweed, and plenty of dead things. It was a great day. 
     Our second trip to Kelly's Roast Beef was when Alyse finally made it to town. Again, simply amazing. This time I was feeling cheap, I figured I'd get the hot dog. Lame, I know. But wait, not at all. I don't know how they did it, but they somehow made it marvelous. I think it was the bun. It was toasted with some sort of fat on it. Butter maybe? Not sure, but the buns here in MA are different than at home. The sides of the bun are more like sliced bread, as opposed to rounded sides like those in MI or in the midwest. The dog was juicy, the bun was crisp and the onion rings were perfect. Not too greasy, not too much batter. Plus I got a free basket of fries. Lesson #1, never reject free food... even if you're a lightweight. 

Mike's Pastry - Boston, MA

     My first exploration of the city was nearly a 20 mile bike ride through downtown and down to South Boston. Here I am trying to get in a decent amount of steady state on my bike as my afternoon workout, and I see a man with a Mike's Pastry box. Was this the famous family-owned Italian bakery I've been hearing about? I had to ask. He showed me where to go and I bee-lined to the north end in the heart of Little Italy. Cursive yellow letters welcomed me in. Huge line. Rather, a huge mass of people fighting their way to the front. I quickly learned by example and made my way up to the counter. The entire back wall was adorned with pictures of their 15 (I'm guessing) different types of cannoli. Overwhelming to say the least. Plus glass cases lined the waiting area full of other goodies. I had to decide. I got a Florentine Cannoli and a chocolate dipped almond biscotti. Best biscotti I've ever eaten. But the cannoli... that's another story. The thing was a brink. Four pounds, let's say (not really). As I recently learned, the Florentine Cannoli doesn't have the traditional fried pastry shell. They use a rolled Florentine cookie (chopped nuts in crispy buttery caramel) stuffed with the most decadent ricotta cheese filling ever imagine. Both ends of the cannoli were dipped in mini chocolate chips. I took both of my prizes outside and sat on a stoop to eat them. I kid you not, as I sat there eating the cannoli, I had 4 different people walk up to me and say something on the order of, "You really look like you're enjoying that." I don't understand. I'm practically sitting on the ground, my head is down, and I'm silent. How in the world do you know I'm enjoying it? Am I glowing or something? I must have been.
     Mom and I made another trip out there when she was here. I needed her to experience it. She also got the Florentine Cannoli and the Amaretto Cannoli. As I also recently learned, amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavored liqueur. In a cannoli, it's marvelous. Adds a whole different dimension to the ricotta cheese filling. On the subject of almonds, I got what is called a Crucanti Macaroon. Basically it's composed of layers and layers of sliced almonds held together with sticky sweet almond paste and sprinkled with crushed almonds. Not knowing that when I bought it, I was delightfully surprised. It was tougher than a typical macaroon but still amazing. In my recent emptying of my jar of peanut butter, I was going through withdrawals. I saw 2 types of peanut butter cookies. I asked a worker what he recommended. "Peanut Butter Crunch" he says. Six inches in diameter, the cookie had a layer of finely ground peanut butter (not yet creamy) spread on the bottom. Not sticky like you would think. On the top they drizzled a little chocolate. Heaven's perfect combination. It was soft with crisp edges. Absolutely perfect. These people really know how to do it. Bottom line, if you're ever in Boston, go to Mike's Pastry. 

Curried Chicken and Rice Soup - Allston, MA
     My next experiment took place in my own kitchen. I had a half of a split chicken breast, bone in, that I had no idea what to do with. I figured soup was probably the best option. I opened a food network magazine my grandma gave me. First soup I found called for half a chicken breast bone in. Perfect. Had almost everything I needed, so with a quick trip to the store, I was ready.

Curried Chicken and Rice Soup

1 bone-in chicken breast (about 1.5 pounds), halved
2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1/3 cup jasmine rice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1. Combine the chicken, carrots, bay leaf and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Add 3 cups broth and bring to a boil; immediately reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is just firm, about 20 minutes. 
2. Meanwhile, heat the butter in another saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the onion is soft, 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and the remaining 3 cups broth. Increase the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the rice falls apart, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Remove the chicken from its broth; discard the skin and shred the meat into pieces. Return the shredded chicken to the same broth.
4. Puree the rice mixture with an immersion blender until smooth (or use a regular blender, then return to the pan). Pour in the shredded chicken and broth, stirring gently to combine; bring to a simmer. Toss in the chopped herbs and serve. 

     Have you ever cooked something and in the end wondered, "How in the world did I do that?" The soup blew my mind. Probably one of the best soups I had ever eaten, and I made it. I was pumped and I'm pretty sure I told everyone about it. Is that what it's like to make a kid? I bet it is. 

Bova's Bakery - Boston, MA

     The trip began as an exploration of the USS Constitution and nearby piers. Jimmy and I saw the ship, went through the museum, and it was time for me to head back to practice. We were both bummed and hungry. It was a weight circuit. I could do it any time right? I didn't know what to do. I knew what I wanted to do. If skipping a practice and making it up the next day is the worst thing I ever do, maybe I'll be ok. Needless to say, we continued walking down the shore, up and down some piers and, well.... I didn't go to practice. We sat out on one pier for quite some time. Watching some people sailing and dreaming of owning yachts. By the time we got back to the parking lot, we already owed 16 dollars for parking. We had been there 3 hours and of course for 3-12 hours of parking, it was $16. Our tummies were rumbly, so we figured... lets walk across the street. Little Italy is right there. Might as well eat something... darn. After perusing a small portion of restaurants in the area, we happened upon a little bakery called Bova's Bakery, "A North End Tradition Since 1932." Jimmy had to go in. I put up absolutely no fight. The second you stepped in the door the blissful aroma of bread filled your nostrils. Shelves behind the counter sat stocked with fresh, crisp breads. A huge case full of cookies stood there staring us in the face. As we stood there, a lady came out from the back with a tall basket full of Italian bread fresh from the oven. I could feel the heat on my arm. I looked at Jimmy, he looked at me, and we mutually agreed there was no way we were walking out that door without one. Back to the cookies. Jimmy saw these cookies he had eaten before. Maybe he can correct me if I'm wrong, but we got a half pound of these shortbread like cookies that had raspberry goo in the middle and sprinkles on top. Even though he said they weren't as good as the ones he had before, they were still delicious (we had to wait until the drive home to eat them because we wanted to save them for after dinner). We also got an almond type cookie that was yellowish (not sure why) and a sesame seed covered cookie. Both were good. It's kind of funny to compare American type cookies to these. It would be easy to eat these cookies and say, "they're not sweet enough" or "I've had better" but I think it kind of comes down to appreciating what you're eating and where it came from. This little bakery had been here a while and was owned an operated by an Italian family. They've probably been making these cookies for years. So who am I to say, "I want it to be sweeter"? If you're constantly comparing food from one culture to the next, you may never be satisfied. Each culture has their own style or flair, and I think it takes an open mind to step out of your comfort zone to appreciate that. I'm working on it. So we continued walking around to find a restaurant and consequently ate half of the loaf of bread... before dinner. 
Massimino Cucina Italiana - Boston, MA

     Finally we decided on a little restaurant called Massimino Cucina Italiana. The door was small, the hallway was dark, and some old man said to me "Two? It's cooler downstairs." We headed down the narrow steps and into a smaller room that resembled a wine cellar. The walls were stone, the lights were dimmed, wine bottles lined one wall, and Frank Sinatra was playing in the background. The atmosphere alone blew me away. Where were we? The room probably had 8 or 9 tables and all were filled. The waiter walked up to our table and instantly started listing of the specials. His blabber flew in one ear and out the other due to the fact that I was still trying to grasp the magic of the place I was in. I started laughing. Jimmy looked at me with the "shut up Steve" look on his face. I couldn't help it. The man would say "Roasted lamb chops with a, b, c, d, and e glazed with f, g, h, i, j and topped with k, l, m, n, o, p. The rapidity of his voice, his professional wrestler appearance, and the complexity of whatever he was talking about knocked me off my rocker. My face was in my hands because I couldn't stop laughing. I could tell Jimmy was holding back. Needless to say, we had to ask him to repeat what he said. Poor man. I hope he wasn't angry with me. Jimmy says, "Last time I went to a fancy restaurant I didn't ask how much one of the specials was before I ordered it and it ended up costing me 35$. Learned my lesson that time." So what does he do? Orders the homemade pasta special with scallops, shrimp, and other delicious things for what... $34, Jimmy? We'll get to that later.
     As an appetizer we ordered the Fried Calamari special. BEST Fried Calamari of my life. First off, the plate was huge. Way more calamari than I expected. It was perfectly crisp on the outside but soft and well cooked on the inside. Tentacles were perfectly curled and, in my opinion, were the best part. Thrown into the dish were also some "vinegar peppers" cut into rings. They added such a good zing to each bite in which you paired one with a calamari ring. Their marinara sauce was fabulous to dip in. It tasted very fresh yet sweet. Sprinkling the whole bit with a little lemon juice just made this dish phenomenal. The bread we got was pretty good, but not warm which was a bummer. The oil for dipping was fabulous though. Bits of herbs and garlic in olive oil and who knows what else. It was top notch. 
     Then as far as dinner goes, I wanted the crazy lamb dish the waiter mentioned as one of the specials, but couldn't bring myself to order it. I ended up ordering what I believe was called Veal Florentina. I'm not a huge fan of veal, but I wanted to give it a try. Plus I was trying to avoid pasta considering I was trying to cut weight (make jokes all you want). When my plate arrived it was definitely different than expected. This veal seemed to be in a meatball/patty form and was sautéed with mushrooms, artichokes, and olives and baked with mozzerella. It was fabulous. A lot of flavor combinations I wasn't used to. First off, the veal tasted different than I remember veal tasting (however, it's been years since I had it). The  olives and artichokes brought in a salty/zingy/clean taste. Does that make sense? It seemed very light and mildly refreshing. All in all, we left very happy. Very, very happy and fat. Thank the lord we had a little bit of a walk back to the car. However, that walk was one of the more difficult post-meal walks of my life. Poor Jimmy was so full and in pain, yet food drunk at the same time. The man was slurring his words and was stumbling around as we walked across the bridge back towards the car. I laughed so hard. I literally almost peed my pants. At one point we both had to stop walking, try to catch our breath, stop laughing and move on. That kind of ab workout after stuffing yourself is rather difficult. 

Stuffed Eggplant - Allston, MA

     Next on my list was my stuffed eggplant experiment. I bought two eggplants from Shaws for pretty cheap and had no idea what to do with them. For the first one, all I did was put some olive oil on a baking sheet and slice the eggplant into inch thick (or less) slices. Then I topped them with a variety of things, just to experiment.
-minced garlic, salt, pepper
-minced garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary
-italian spice (oregano, tyme, etc), salt, pepper
-slice of tomato, slice of italian sharp cheese, topped with an asparagus tip and italian spices, salt, and pepper.
Then I just baked them. Not sure what temp. A good one. For like 15 minutes? They tend to get shrively. I don't think you want that. The best one with tomato, cheese, and asparagus was definitely the best. There was a nice combination of the crisp asparagus and gooey cheese.

Then the next night, I tried the stuffed eggplant.
 I'd read through the whole thing before you attempt to make it because I added little notes.

Stuffed Eggplant

8 oz ground chicken/turkey
diced fresh tomatoes
rice spinach

1) Cut eggplant in half and scoop out insides leaving about 1/2 inch of flesh on the skin. Cover each half with oil (on skin) and put on a cookie sheet.
2) In a pan, cook up the meat. Add onions, peppers, eggplant insides and minced garlic. Cook for approximately 7 minutes. Add 1 cup water, diced tomatoes, and however much rice you think appropriate for the amount of water (normally it's 2-1, so with one cup water, maybe 1/2 cup rice? I think I did more than that). Reduce heat, simmer for 25 minutes (Make sure this is enough time for the rice to cook according to the directions on the package of rice you bought. I bought Jasmine rice which actually only is supposed to take 9 minutes to cook once the water comes to a boil. The 25 minutes was ok though). Add salt/pepper/nutmeg to taste.

3) In the meantime, put eggplant halves in the broiler upside down for 12 minutes. Flip at some point.
4)Pull out eggplant, put meat/vegetable mixture in each half. Eat with fork and knife. 

It was fabulous. Another one of those moment's in which I wonder how I actually made it. Sometime people say the skin of an eggplant can be bitter, but this wasn't at all.

My 23 Year Celebration
Whole Foods - Cambridge, MA
So this brings me to my birthday. After the hardest practice of my rowing career here at Riverside, which hasn't been long, I went to Whole Foods and got their Glorious Morning Muffin. I wanted a treat, and this absolutely hit the spot. I was ready for a carrot muffin, but this had carrots, apples, coconut, raisins, and maybe pineapple. It was dense, the raisins were plump and there were so many flavors in each bite. Next time you see a Whole Foods, go in and get one. It'll make your morning glorious. 

Second breakfast was a super pancake experiment. Karl and I tried a bunch of different types of pancakes and added things like pecans, dark chocolate, strawberries, strawberries AND dark chocolate, blueberries, raisins, and bananas. My favorite is a good banana pancake covered in peanut butter. Add a little honey, instead of syrup and you've got yourself one of the most low cal breakfast treats (joke). The bananas take on a completely different taste when heated in the pancake. And who doesn't like melted peanut butter?

Saus - Boston, MA

Lunch was at a place called Saus in downtown Boston. This is Boston's first Belgian street food cafe. In a nutshell, they sell fries, deep fried eggs, and waffles. I went for the fries. The fries themselves came in a paper cone and somehow tasted different than normal fries. I'm not sure if it was the oil they were cooked in or the type of potato. Either way, I liked it. They weren't super crispy, which I generally hope for, but the sauces made up for it. One of the sauces was called Samarai Sauce (top sauce in the picture) and was made up of mayo and a type of chili paste. It was mildly spicy and added a really cool taste to the fries. Fried and spicy? Kind of buffalo wing-esque. The other sauce we got was called Vampire Slayer. It was also mayo mixed with a bunch of garlicy goodness. Again, different but delicious. There were no leftovers. 

Cafe of India - Cambridge, MA

     For dinner I took many requests from people and ended up going with a place my neighbour Adam recommended. This place was called Cafe of India and was in Cambridge. He had told me you can get the "Special for One" meal for $20 and have enough food for two. I thought for sure he didn't know how much I could eat, and that it might not be enough. Dave, Karl, Alyse and I all went out. The atmosphere was mildly elegant. The place was set up as any other fine restaurant, but with Indian influences. Beautiful pictures hung on the wall and the colors were all maroons and browns. Each booth had a little pillow. Perfect for me. I always love laying on booths in restaurants. Finally, someone who supports this decision. Before we could even order there was a complimentary plate of cauliflower fritters on our table arranged beautifully with some lettuce and shredded carrots. These were very similar to the ones Markymarc and I made once. Truth be told, I like ours better. But, must not cross culturally compare. 
     Karl and I ended up splitting one of the dinners for one and Dave and Alyse split another. First out was the soup. It was smooth and full of curry. A burst of flavor in each bite. Spicy, but not too spicy. Next came the Samosas. I had never had these before, and I'm sad it took me 23 years. Samosas are these fried triangular stuffed pastries filled with savory ingredients such as potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, and coriander. Sometimes they have meat, but these didn't. They reminded me a lot of pasties. The outside was perfectly crisp, while the inside was warm and soft. The potatoes were the best part I think. The only bummer was that we got 2 for the 4 of us. 
     Then came a sizzling noise from the kitchen. It was a platter full of goodies. On it was a Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, and Seekh Keba.  Seekh Keba is basically minced meat with spices that is cooked on skewers in a tandoor (a circular clay oven). I'm pretty sure the Seekh Keba we got was lamb. It was kind of like lamb sausage, which I've never had before but it was fabulous. Definitely a surprise when I took my first bite. Both of the chicken dishes were also amazing. The Tandoori was a fire red color and had such a great flavor without being too spicy. Served alongside this plate of meat was rice (cooked absolutely perfectly), fresh from the oven naan, and our entrée. We ordered the LambDo-Piaza. In it was pieces of Tandoori lamb roasted with sliced onions, tomatoes, green peppers and spices, and garnished with fresh coriander. Being rather new to this whole food thing, I'm still not sure what coriander is or how to use it. Either way, winning combination = naan, rice in the middle, a little LambDo-Piaza and presto.... amazing. There were so many components to this meal. I was always lost as to what to eat next, or what to combine with what. I couldn't let any go to waste. I couldn't stop eating. Wasting it would be criminal. It was all great. The atmosphere was great. The glasses were crystal clear and the water looked magnificent. Yes... I notice these things.
     Just when I thought I couldn't possibly fit any more in my stomach, I forgot our special included dessert... and it was my birthday, which meant 2 desserts. Karl and I ordered Rasmalai. Supposedly it consisted of home-made cheese patties, cooked in a sweet condensed milk with pistachios and rosewater. It was awful. Really. The best part was the milk that was kind of sweet. But the cheese patty looked like cardboard, felt like cardboard, tasted like cardboard, so I'm pretty sure it was cardboard. Regardless, very interesting and fun to try. The treat they brought for my birthday was this little bitty chocolate cake with a candle stuck in the top. I thought for sure this wasn't enough for 4. But the thing was so dense, so rich and was plenty. The cake was made with dark chocolate and a little bitter just like I like it. Did a little more of that thing I do to make sweets' flavors last. I had stuffed myself. Alyse had stuffed herself. Pretty sure we both ate more than the men. We were in awe. All that food for 20$ for two people. It was astonishing. I couldn't believe any of it. One of the best birthday dinners I've ever had. Sorry Grandma.

Captain Carlo's Restaurant - Gloucester, MA

     The search for a good beach in the area is actually harder than one might think. There are beaches nearby but most are either in bad areas, not really beaches that face the open ocean, or are stinky/seaweedy during low tide. With Brook's recommendation, Jimmy, Karl and I headed to Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA. It was beautiful. Perfect sand, huge waves, breath taking homes. The whole package. I took my skimboard and attempted that again, with more success than previous attempts. It was more fun, however, to ride the waves in on it. Anyway, on the way home we wanted some seafood. Jimmy and I were in the mood for clam chowder. We stopped at Captain Carlo's Restaurant. It was a decent size restaurant right on the edge of a harbor full of fishing boats. This place looked really familiar and I think I may have visited this restaurant before with Mom. We sat outside as the sun was setting and the air cooled. Fireworks were going off in the distance and the feeling was right. Jimmy and I ordered a huge bowl of clam chowder. I like a thick chowder, and man... this was thick. It was perfect. It was rich, smooth, and full of potatoes and clams. Chunky soup would be envious. Clam chowder is tricky because, naturally, clams tend to have sand in them. So every now and then you crunch down on the sand. I think it comes down to balancing the quality of the chowder and your tolerance of the sand. If the chowder is amazing, sand is merely sand. A minor road block in your consumption mission. Not the most difficult of challenges when the chow is so pleasing. The bread at Carlo's was also perfect. Simple breadsticks packed with a punch. Perfect for scraping out chowder left stuck to the inside of the bowl. Jimmy and I both almost took off the waitress' hand when she tried taking our bowls before we had the chance to wipe 'em clean with a breadstick.
     My meal for the evening was "Littlenecks on the half shell." I assumed this was some kind of oyster. However, I definitely didn't know they were raw oysters until the waitress was long gone and Jimmy said, "You like raw oysters?" I said, "Well... I hope so." Knowing my palette isn't picky, I was completely comfortable with trying something new.  The oysters came, literally in a half shell on ice with a few lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, and some horseradish. May seem typical, but I didn't know what to expect. The procedure included adding a squirt of lemon a little horseradish and sauce and slurping it down. Chew if you please. I wanted to chew it. Take time to explore the taste and texture. Goopey as one might expect. Kind of what a huge booger may feel like during a cold. Partially solid and such. But I'm not one of those "I don't like ____ because of the texture" kind of people. I enjoy textures. It's what makes food unique. Bitter lemon flavor, salty yet sweet oyster flavor, spicy horseradish and fresh/zesty flavor from the cocktail sauce. It was complete. Not filling, but the flavors complimented one another perfectly. I loved it. Checked that off my list. 

Buff's Pub - Newton, MA

As for my food exploration endevours, they were kind of put on hold as Canadian Henley crept around the corner. With cutting weight and such, I had to be extra careful. And by "put on hold" I mean, for a week or two. It's like telling a kid they can't have candy for 2 weeks. I couldn't cut out eating adventures for that long. You know how people get the travel bug? Well I get the new food bug. That doesn't make sense, but you know what I mean. This is where my insane food bender began.
     Aside from the stops at Tim Horton's (sour cream doughnuts are my favorite), consuming a full bag of cheddar sour cream chips in under 15 minutes between with Lauren and Joan, a pack of peanut M&Ms, reeses peanut butter cups, and other sweets I can't remember to list off on the way back from Mustache land, the first place I went when I got home was Buff's Pub. My heart yearned for chicken wings and this is where I had read had the best wings in town. Jimmy instantly agreed to go with. We ordered a full plate of buffalo wings (medium), a plate of fries, and potato skins. I was so ready. My body hadn't seen fried food in a while. Not like this at least. Wings came out and they were huge. I was pleased. However, the sauce was nothing to write mother about. Just your typical medium heat buffalo sauce and wings were moderately crisp. Can't really screw up french fries, but the potato skins were another story... in a good way. Probably the best potato skins of my life. They cut the potato the opposite direction of what you normally see (widthwise as opposed to lengthwise). Just enough potato flesh was left on the inside of the skin. It was filled with cheese, crisp bacon, sour cream and possibly chives. The potato was cooked to perfection, melted cheese (never a bad thing), the bacon crisp just like I like it, and the sour cream was a cool refreshing treat to clean off the palette a little. There were 4. There should have been more. 

Japonaise Bakery and Café - Boston, MA

     Next on my list was a bakery my Grandma had seen on the Food Network. She said it was called Japonaise Bakery and Café. I walked out of work one day and realized... boom... there was one right across the street from City Sports. It taunted me until I got back from Canada when I could finally indulge. I was hunting "A round puff pastry" supposedly. I asked the lady at the counter and she knew exactly what I was talking about. It was called the Azuki Cream. This pastry was a fluffy croissant dome baked with sweet red beans (azuki) filled with light whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar. Sure, beans in a pastry might not sound appetizing... but let me tell you... it was amazing. It kind of had a beany flavor but it wasn't overpowering. It was surprisingly sweet, and kind of dense. The light whipped cream was a nice compliment to the bean paste. The food network was right on the money in showcasing this piece.

Dave's Fresh Pasta - Somerville, MA

     One interesting thing about the Boston area is all the squares. Central square, Harvard square, Kenmore square, Davis square, Porter square. They all have a unique feel and are full of different shops and restaurants. One of my days off left me to explore Porter square and Davis square. I went by foot and went in all the stores that caught my attention and read numerous menus displayed on outside windows. While walking in Davis Square, I looked up to see a sign that said "Dave's Fresh Pasta." I had heard this name before. Brooke recommended. Her last recommendation was definitely worth while, so I went in. It was beautiful. This tiny shop had so many specialty items. Things I had never seen before. There was chalkboard overhead with a full menu of sandwiches and things.
     In the right hand corner was the pasta section. Pasta hung from the walls. A fridge full of homemade sauces sat behind me. Workers scurried about frantically behind the counter as they began to close up show. I was one of those... keeping workers from going home. Truthfully I thought this place was a sit down restaurant. But it wasn't. You simply walk up to the counter, tell the nice man the flavor of pasta you want, how you want it cut and how much you want. They had everything. A bunch of types of homemade ravioli and numerous pasta flavors. I went with a pound of spinach pasta cut in the shape called pappardelle, to make things easy. He pulled a big square of dough off a huge stack and put it through this machine that flattened it. He did it again and weighed it all. Then he ran it through another machine that cut all my pasta into strips about 3/4 of an inch thick. With each dough sheet he ran through the machine, he threw all the freshly cut pasta onto a cutting board that was covered in what I think was corn meal. This was to prevent it all from sticking together. With a dash more of the cornmeal, he threw it all in a bag and sent me on my way. I headed to the counter to pay and there were baked goods sitting there. Lonely and abandoned. They were closing up shop here at Dave's and the treats were free. I think I scared the man at the register when I found out they were free. I took a chocolate chip croissant and a whole wheat and oat roll. That plus the pasta cost me $4.50 or so. Not too shabby. I'd be lying if I said I didn't eat any of the pasta dough on my walk home. It was that good. The croissant didn't make it a block down the street. It was so light and the chips had to be dark chocolate. They had perfected the art. The roll was dense and amazing with a little butter once I got home.
     I saved the noodles for the next day. I wanted to make my own sauce. Now let me tell you, this had to be the best pasta dish I've ever created. I'm not sure if it was the noodles or the sauce, but it was far from unedible. Maybe I cheated a little, but I care not. Here goes:

Homemade Pasta Sauce

1 jar Trader Joes organic pasta sauce
A handful of fresh basil (stolen from neighbour's garden... sorry Sam)
Garlic cloves
Garlic powder
Cumin seeds
Roasted almonds
Course ground salt and pepper
Italian seasoning (mine has basil, marjoram, oregan, and thyme)
Ground beef
Yellow pepper
Red Pepper flakes

1) First, roast the almonds. Add them and the basil, garlic cloves, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin seeds, rosemary and Italian seasoning into a mini food processor and chop. 
2) Sautee the ground beef and add salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes to season. Once meat is mostly done, add onions and peppers. Cook until tender. 
3) Once slightly softened add the veggie/meat mix to the sauce and mix in the chopped mix from the food processor. Be sure to cook all this together for a decent amount of time to let all the flavors set in. 

I paired this sauce with my spinach noodles from Dave's and it really was a religious experience. Another moment of "I definitely didn't make this. Couldn't have."

Wrapro Falafel and Grille - Cambridge, MA

     Back to my walk home from Davis square. I was hungry because dinner had been that one chocolate chip croissant. I wanted something super cheap and came across Wrapro Falafel and Grille. Grape leaves for 65 cents each. This was my calling. I intended on getting only two, but I also got a kibee ball too. Ok, maybe I'm biased because my Great Grandma is 100 and a culinary genius from Lebanon, but her grape leaves blew these out of the water. These were so full of oil and only had rice in them. No lamb. Come on... that's like a corn dog without the hot dog in the middle. Still tasted good, but not nearly as good as Grandma Dini's. The same goes for the kibee ball. Grandma's kibee balls are all kibee (ground lamb). These were 3/4 breading and 1/4 kibee in the middle. Maybe I've just been spoiled all my life. So I'm still on the hunt for a good middle eastern restaurant in this city. 

Riccardo's Ristorante - Boston, MA

     The day in which Jimmy was moving away was quickly approaching and Karl's birthday drew near. We had to do something. Naturally, we headed to the North End again. After much deliberation, we ended up at Riccardo's Ristorante (I made sure to ask if they had good bread). That's one plus to eating in Little Italy. You're basically guaranteed to get a basket of bread while you wait. It was late. There were few people in the place, but the wait staff was still friendly. Each table had more glasses than I knew what to do with. The screenless windows were wide open and the Italian infused air rolled in. A waiter promptly greeted us and listed off the specials. Stuffed meatballs. Had to have them. Jimmy needed them. After shoveling down 2 baskets of the warm, fresh from the oven, crisp on the edges bread with butter, the meatballs came to the table at the same time as our fried calamari. The meatballs stayed hot for a while and were huge. I'd say 3-4 inches in diameter and stuffed with a little bit of heaven. Of course by heaven I mean cheese. I really don't know what kinds, but it was amazing. I'm sure ricotta was one. The meat itself had so much flavor. Perfectly seasoned. The calamari was lightly fried, making the tentacles crisp just to my liking, as described before. No vinegar peppers on this dish, but it still hit the spot. 
     For my meal I got Orecchetti con Salsicca e Broccoli de Rabe. Basically pasta in the shape of "little ears" with Italian sausage and broccoli in a very very light sauce. The sausage was like nothing I had ever seen before. I expected slices of sausage. No, it was more like sausage turned into popcorn and exploded out of the casing when heated. each piece was all squiggly, resembling a mix between popcorn and fried calamari tentacles. I think I like this better than normal sausage. More surface area. More to taste. And the broccoli weren't normal heads of broccoli. Brocolli de Rabe looks like long skinny broccoli with a smaller top, but it is in fact not related to broccoli. It is more closely related to turnips. Who knew? It's a little bit bitter, but still tasty. By the end of this meal I didn't feel like a cow, and was happy, even though my wallet wasn't. 

Modern Pastry - Boston, MA

     Again, being on the same page, as soon as we finished eating dinner Jimmy and I hunted out a bakery. I had heard Modern Pastry was good, so we headed there. They were shuffling people through as quickly as possible because they were closing up shop. I saw a glass case full of these chocolate covered lumpy bars that literally looked like a turd. How could I not get it? I had no idea what it was. I asked the lady behind the counter but couldn't understand what she was saying. I also got a pistachio cookie and a florentine cookie half dipped in chocolate. First off, the turd tasted like coffee. I don't like coffee, but this was a different story. It was called an espresso torrone and was basically a log of almond flavored nougat covered in espresso beans and dipped in dark chocolate. I loved it. My dad would have loved it... Mr. Steal-coffee-beans-from-the-dispensers-in-the-grocery-store. Based on my last experience with a food that had "florentine" in the name, I knew this cookie thing was going to be good. The cookie was crisp, yet chewy. The chocolate it was dipped in was so smooth and sweet. I couldn't believe it. I'd take a bite, "This is so good," another bite, "oh my gosh, how do they do this?" etc etc... And I thought a pistachio cookie would be good and simple. Ya know... taste like pistachios. But this thing had to have a secret ingredient. It was moist and dense and green. So full of flavor that I really didn't expect. I wished I hadn't only gotten one. I will go back for more. 

Nachos Like Dad and I used to Make - Allston, MA
     I wanted nachos. I wanted nachos on a huge cookie sheet like my Dad and I used to make. I had organic blue corn chips. Jimmy had Trader Joes jalapeño tortillas. We cut up the tortillas into triangles and baked them. Presto. Chips. Chips were obviously the base layer. Next we added one broken up and sautéed ground beef patty and four ground turkey patties, sautéed onions, a whole can of black beans, red peppers, raw onions, and a mother-load of cheese. The oven did the most of the rest of the work. Bubbling up the cheese, covering the chips, filling the apartment with heavenly scents. We pulled the tray out and added a chopped tomato, a butt ton of lettuce, 3/4 of a jar of salsa, and a almost a full tub of sour cream. As we completed the ensemble, Jimmy says, "See the problem here is that this isn't going to be enough." Sarcastic of course. This was the Everest of nachos. Everything I had been envisioning for the past couple days. No forks, no plates, just fingers. It got messy, to say the least. 20 minutes later, we scraped the last morsel off the bottom of the tray. We had done it. Jimmy licked the last remnants off his fingers and said, "I really didn't think we were going to eat all that." We ate the entire thing without planning to or even thinking it was possible. Talk about underestimation. I was in a euphoric state. 

Mom's Visit
Le's Vietnamese Restaurant

     And so it began. With my mother's visit came a whole new wave of culinary curiosity. The minute I met her at the T-stop across from my work, she said, "I'm hungry, I'm thirsty and I have to pee." Mission one: Find a good quick place for food. I was thinking something quick like sandwiches so she could get back to my house and rest. But her brain was some place else, and I liked it. She suggested we go to Le's Vietnamese Restaurant. I had never had Vietnamese before and she recalled having it once and loving it. So we gave it a whirl. There were a lot of asians in there, so naturally I assumed they were all Vietnamese and so the place had to be good. Stereotypical, I know... but life is a puzzle. Constantly putting pieces together to try to form conclusions. Reading the menu was difficult. Half in a language I didn't understand and most things seemed like it consisted of pork, spring rolls, and rice. I had to be missing something. Feeling adventurous, I order a number 38: Steamed rice plate with grilled pork chop, julienned pork skin and steamed ground pork cake, tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce. Served with nuoc cham. In writing this just now, I had 2 realizations. 1) There were these noodle like things I remember being served that were white/transparent and covered in some kind of powder. I thought maybe the powder was peanut powder and the stringy things were just noodles. No where on their menu for a number 38 does it say anything about noodles. They weren't noodles. They were skinny strings of pig skin and I ate them up like noodles. 2) The spring rolls and both mom's and my entrees were served with this sweet delicious dipping sauce. We had no idea what it was. Turns out, it's the nuoc cham the menu talks about. What is nuoc cham? It's a dipping sauce made from lemon or lime juice, sugar, water, and fish sauce. I have no idea what fish sauce is exactly, but Mom and I put it on everything we could. It was phenomenal. Weird. Forgot to mention, we got spring rolls as an appetizer. Best spring rolls I've ever had... even though my spring roll record is rather low. The insides had a mix of ground chicken, carrot, onion, rice vermicelli and mushrooms. They were fried until golden, but the insides weren't greasy at all. These were also served with the perfectly paired fish vinaigrette on the side. 

Fin's Japanese Sushi + Grill - Boston, MA

     I took suggestions all day at work about where to take Mom for sushi. She had tried Kroger sushi before, but come on... we all know that's like eating TV dinner mac n' cheese rather than your grandma's homemade medley. The conclusion was Fin's Japanese Sushi + Grill in Kenmore Square. I hadn't had sushi here in Boston yet, so I was open to anything. The place was very modern. A lot of sharp angles in the art. Walls were adorned with metal structures and obscure light fixtures. A lot of dark browns and deep reds were offset with deep glass bottle blues to accent. I liked it though. It was different. Mom let Jimmy and I decide what to have because she was clueless as to what was what. We were all there once. We got the Caterpillar Maki (Grilled eel, avocado, cucumber, flying fish roe, rolled in the shape of a caterpillar), Crazy Maki (Shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, tobiko & spicy mayo), Spider Maki (Deep-fried soft shell crab, avocado, cucumber, tobiko & spicy mayo), Double Match Maki (Sweet potato tempura, pineapple, baked salmon on wasabi mayo sauce) and another roll that I thought was called the Fin Special, but I can't find it on the menu. In the picture, Crazy Maki in the furthest one by the bowl of soy sauce. The Caterpillar Maki is the green one in the center. The roll along the back was the Fin Special and the closest roll was the Spider Maki. The one on the far right was the Double Match Maki. I really have no idea how to describe the flavors of sushi. There are so many little elements all packed into one bite. The sushi chefs must know the physics of how your tongue moves through the sushi and which tastes follow other tastes. Eat bite is a rollercoaster of flavors. I love the fish eggs (flying fish roe) that was in the Crazy Maki. I like popping the eggs in between my teeth. Any type of tempura in sushi floats my boat too. One thing that the menu didn't say the Double Match Maki had in it was strawberries. You can kind of see them lying on top in the picture. This roll was so interesting with pineapple, sweet potatoes, and strawberries. So unique and so tasty. Mom loved it all too. The chopsticks proved to be a challenge at first and so did the whole eat-it-all-in-one-bite method. Eventually she got it, and I was so glad to be part of the experience with her. 

Toscanini's - Cambridge, MA

     Surprise, surprise. It was ice cream time. All I had heard were raves about this place called Toscanini's in Cambridge. It has been written about in People Magazine, The Boston Improper, and the New York Times declared it "The best ice cream in the world." Had to learn for myself what all the fuss was about. With nearly 30 flavors including Grape Nut Raisin, Burnt Caramel, and Goat Cheese Brownie, Toscanini's was slammed. It was a hard choice, but I went with their Cookie Dough and Chocolate #3. Not really sure what the #3 meant at first, but I soon came to learn that it was their darkest and richest chocolate ice cream. 10 points, Laurissa. Definitely not the cheapest ice cream in town, but definitely the best. Perhaps the best ice cream I've ever had. Now I know I raved about that cookie dough sundae from Kelly's Kreme in Revere, MA, but this was indescribable. Once again, lost in every bite. Each cookie dough chunk was perfect. Perfect proportion of chocolate chips in the chunk mixed with the sweet coarse sugar crystals. The vanilla ice cream that encapsulated each chunk was so smooth and creamy. Similarly the Chocolate #3 blew my mind. The chocolate was out of this world rich, but not too sweet. The exact amount of sweetest blended with dark chocolate flavor. It was another closed-eyes-lost-in-another-dimension experience. I savored it to the best of my abilities. 

The Maine Diner - Wells, ME

     On Mom's third day out east, we decided to hop on a train to go explore Maine. She wanted to show me some harbors and get some good, cheap lobster. We boarded the train at 9 am or so and I was asleep before the train left the station. I was so bummed. I wanted to see the sights along the way. The first thing on her agenda was a lobster roll. We rolled into Wells and took a shuttle into town. After gazing out at the ocean for a little while we stopped at a candy shop to pick up some peanut brittle, malt balls, chocolate covered raisins, peanut butter cups, coconut clusters, and chocolate covered pecans. We 
know our limits. Then we got on another shuttle to take us a few miles down the road to a place called The Maine Diner. Guy Fieri from the Food Network Ffeatured this place in one of his Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show, so naturally, his picture was on the wall. It was around 1 on a Monday and this place was slammed. It was tiny and looked like your typical diner. Nothing fancy. We waited about 30 minutes for a table for two. Walking in, I saw a bunch of people with what looked like cornbread muffins. I'm a sucker for cornbread. I got a fried clam roll with coleslaw and the cornbread muffin. The clams were amazing. Not soggy at all and they were overflowing out of the hot dog bun (the same kind as the one I mentioned when I went to Kelly's). The only condiment for this sandwhich was tartar sauce. It was so simple and so good. Is it really that hard to make good coleslaw? I can't tell, because this one was perfect. I like a little pepper and I like it to be light. I don't want to have a guilty feeling when eating coleslaw, as if there's too much mayo. Then the cornbread muffin was everything I had hoped for. It was sweet, dense, and slightly sticky on the outside. You know the sticky muffin feel I'm talking about? Well, I like it. The butter that it came with was also sweet and whipped. Went perfectly with the muffin. There's no way you could make that combination any better. Satisfied once again. 

Cape Pier Chowder House - Kennebunkport, ME

     After the Maine Diner, we headed to a town just down the road called Kennebunkport right on the water. It was a cute little town with a bunch of fun shops. Still on the hunt for some good lobster, we were told that Cape Porpoise was the place to go. According to the map, it looked like it was about a 20 minute walk away. Wrong. Very wrong. More like 3 miles. We had been dealing with pouring rain all day and I could tell Mom wanted to turn around. But there was no way I was about to walk all that way only to return unsatisfied. Finally we came upon an estuary that had drained because the tide was out. We ran into a old man that was headed out to go harvest his own clams. I asked him if he could show us how, but truthfully we weren't properly dressed and didn't really have the time. We finally made out way out to Cape Porpoise Pier where there was a neat little fishing dock covered in lobster cages. Numerous boats sat floating in the harbor unused on this rainy day. There were four different restaurants on this little pier and we decided to go with the Cape Pier Chowder House. It was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was one medium size room, kitchen included. A big lobster tank sat just inside. Family wedding photos hung on the wall next to fishing pictures and random fishing accessories. It was very homey. The women behind the counter were tough. 

     We ordered a 1 1/4 pound lobster for $16 and two 1 pound lobsters for $22. This was a lot cheaper than most places I had seen in the city. We were pumped. One of the women behind the counter reached into the tank and pulled out three lobsters and threw them onto a hanging scale. They were pissed. They squirmed around trying to make it back to the water but were unsuccessful. Into a basket they went and into a huge pot of boiling water. Instant death. Poor fellas. We sat very patiently, awaiting our lobsters, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and fries. Finally the      lady delivered a huge steaming tray to our table. This is what I had waited        

for since I moved to Boston but was too cheap to buy it on my own. Equipped with bibs, crackers (not the edible kind), forks, a tub of butter, and wipes, we dug in. Cooked to perfection. The meat was incredibly sweet and slid right out of the shell. You could tell how fresh it was. Unlike any lobster I've ever eaten before. Butter was completely unnecessary. Mom was in heaven and you could tell. All too soon, it was over and now the fear of the dreaded walk back loomed over our heads. As I was washing up in the bathroom, Mom got up the courage to ask a lady waiting for her take out if she could give us a ride. Thankfully the lady agreed and took us right into downtown Kennebunkport. We were both insanely appreciative.
     Once we got there, we had some extra time before we needed to get to the train station. Within 20 minutes we hit up 3 candy stores. Bought a cookie, 3 chunks of fudge, a wide assortment of salt water taffy, and best of all.... fighter jet gummies. I was ecstatic. The B-2 Bomber was the best. Still battling the rain, we made it to the train station and headed back to Bean Town. 

Euno Ristorante - Boston, MA

     After taking Mom on a mini bike tour of the downtown area and a couple other historical sites, we headed north for her first trip to Little Italy. Let me just say, Rachel Ray know's where it's at. We went to Euno's Ristorante and her picture was on a sign outside that said "Euno stands out from the crowd in Boston's north end." An older Italian man quickly approached out table and gave us the run down. The servers here in the north end are always very quick to greet you and inform you of the specials. As he rattled them off, Mom was similarly puzzled, minus the laughing, as I had been at Massimino's a few weeks back. She chuckled and politely asked the waiter to repeat them. Now, I had asked if they had good bread when they entered, and they said yes. But I definitely could think of ways to make it better. It came to the table literally as a half of a loaf turned on its side. The crust was a little stiff and hard to eat. The dipping sauce was just olive oil I think. It tasted much different than any other olive oil I had tasted before. Mom and I decided it was a little bit more fruity. Maybe because it was fresher? Either way, we had our waiter add salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to the mix. Made the dip so much better and exciting. We ended up asking for another half a loaf of bread. So between the two of us, we killed a whole loaf. 
     Have you ever seen a really good movie and couldn't stop thinking about it for a the next couple days?  K-pax, released in 2001. I couldn't stop thinking about that movie for over a week. It was mind boggling and really made me think... for a while. Now that's what the next part of this meal was like. I can't stop thinking about it. As for the main course, there is no way to fully explain to you the magic I experienced. I order the Gnocchi con Funghi. The gnocchi perfectly plump and resting in a bed of a creamy brown sauce with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola and permesan cheeses, and was finished with truffle oil. I had no idea what a truffle was when I ordered it, but I am so glad I did. This was by far the best dish I have eaten in Little Italy thus far, and I have eaten a lot in this end of town. The mushroom flavor was amazing and the sauce just completed it all. I don't know what it was. Maybe the truffle oil? People rave about it all the time. Is this what I've been missing? With each bite I was blown away more and more. I couldn't stop. There was no way I was leaving anything on this plate. I wiped that baby clean with the last bit of bread we had. Mom must have thought I was crazy by the sounds I was making. If you like mushrooms and are in Boston, go to Euno and get this dish. You will not regret it.

Homemade Granola - Allston, MA

     I had been putting it off for far too long because of cutting weight and such. I made homemade granola once before, but I cooked it a little too much and things burnt a little. This was round two.

1/2 cup soybean oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar (I think)
4 cups of rolled oats
Flax seeds
Sunflower seeds
Dark chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
2) Heat up the oil, honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar in a small saucepan until is was mixed together and warm throughout. 
3) In a large bowl, combine oats, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, flax seeds, and the sunflower seeds.
4) Fold in the oil/sugar mixture until it is evenly distributed and coating all the oats. Season with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (DO NOT MISTAKE TUMERIC FOR CINNAMON... I did that at first. Oops).
5) Place the mix on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Watch it carefully though. Things on the edges burn a little bit more quickly. After 30 minutes or so, invert the granola onto another cookie sheet and bake the other side for another 10 minutes, as long as it's not burning. 
6) Remove from oven and let cool overnight if you want it a little chunky. I used a cutting board to flatten it a little bit so it would harden and form chunks when I broke it up in the morning. I was kind of successful. Then once it's completely cooled, add in the raisins and chocolate chips. Pair with yogurt, blueberries and pomegranate and enjoy!

The Barking Crab - Boston, MA

     It was Mom's last day in Boston. We had been putting in a ton of miles by bike and foot. All this time her pants were getting looser and mine were getting tighter by the hour. It wasn't fair, yet it was so fair. She was giving me the gift of exploring a bunch of types of food, and I was giving her exercise and a decent tour of the city. It all worked out. We went to the beach after I got out of work at 2. Inevitably we started to get hungry. One restaurant called The Barking Crap caught her eye when she saw it on a Boston city map she had. Jimmy had always wanted to go there, but we were too cheap. I didn't put up a fight when she chose to hop on the T and head toward the circus tent looking place. It was right on a channel that ran into the city and provided a great view of the city's tallest skyscrapers. This restaurant was divided into two different areas. There was an indoor section that was peaceful and quiet. Then there was an outdoor tent that boasted lobster traps full of strings of christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. Other mermaid statutes, buoys, and other random objects dangled from the underside of the tent. It was unique. Chatter ensued from the bar while families sat around long picnic tables gorging in baskets of crab. You sat with whoever you were placed next to. Before we sat down, we already knew what we wanted. A man at a nearby table ordered the fish and chips. Biggest plate of fish and chips I've ever seen. He had two huge cod filets that were the size of a large iron face (if that makes sense) and were lying on a pile of fries. I looked at Mom and she looked at me. She knew what I was ordering.
     As soon as we sat down, we ordered. An order of Stuffies started us off. These were two huge Rhode Island giant Quahogs that had been chopped with chourico (same this as chorizo), mixed with a Portuguese sweet bread stuffing and served with a slice of lemon. Quahogs are basically large hard-shell clams. The chourico in this case was a mildly spicy sausage that featured a smokey flavor and a deep red color from smoked red peppers. The quahog/chourico/stuffing patty must have been formed, placed back into the shell and steamed because they arrived at the table piping hot. Steam rolled out as we opened up the shell. The first bite took me completely by surprise. Not at all what I was expecting, especially because I didn't know that chourico was the same as chorizo. The spicy smoked flavor had fused into the sweet taste of the stuffing. Once again, you would occasionally chomp down on some sand from the quahog, but it was completely fine. Nothing to fuss over. The flavors in this mix were out of this world and I did the whole smush the food in between my tongue and roof of my mouth the make the flavors last bit. This whole combination of flavors blew my mind. Props to whoever thought of it.
     For our main course, Mom and I decided on crab. $32 for a 1 1/4 lobster here (remember, it was $16 at The Cape Pier Chowder House). So we got a pound of snow crab and the fish and chips plate with sweet potato fries. Best sweet potato fries of my life. Some were crisp, some were hard and some were nubs. And I love nubs. The cod filets were crisp on the outside and huge, as expected. However, mine was gone in under four minutes. Tricky. Mom gave me a few bites of hers. The snow crab came out steaming hot. It was a little hard to get the meat out, and it didn't slide out like the lobster meat had. Again, the meat was sweet. Butter wasn't a necessity. Satisfied once again. As we were about to leave, we saw a waiter bring out the big kahuna. A 10 pound lobster. $215. Never in my life would I drop that much dough on a crustacean, but it was cool to see. And with that we headed home. We pledged to not seek out pastry shops or candy stores, as we had plenty of sweets stock piled back at my house. Mom had fulfilled her seafood craving she had brought with her in coming to the east coast. I was greatly appreciative to have gone on the journey with her. We both agreed we had eaten more seafood in those few days than we had in the past year.

The Thinking Cup - Boston, MA

     Mom was gone and I was on my own to explore food again.... at least once I lost all the weight I had gained when she was here. I went exploring downtown a few days ago just to get some exercise. I happened upon this little cafe called The Thinking Cup. The glass case full of mini cupcakes and pastries drew me in. This place was cozy and warm. Some people sat studying, while others were reading the paper or chatting with friends. The counter tops were what made this place unique, I think. Laid into the counters that lined the windows were old Boston Herald newspapers from the 20's and 30's. A pretty good read actually. I approached the counter and was overwhelmed with choices. I was trying to find something small so I wouldn't feel terrible about myself afterward. Then I saw what looked like to be the largest macaroon I had ever seen. And next to that sat one with dark chocolate bits in it. That was my prize. The man behind the counter put it on a little square plate and sent me on my way. I was ecstatic. I sat down at the counter by the window and instantly took a picture with my phone. It was so picturesque with the old newspaper backdrop. I had to send it to Aunt Renee because she's in love with macaroons. A worker asked me if I was looking at it with a magnifying glass. What? Phone, magnifying glass... they look similar right? No, but no one could interfere with the blissful state I was about to enter. I took my first bite. It was flawless. Perfectly moist and not too sweet. Chocolate bits added a slight sweet/bitter punch to each miniature bite I took. I tried to savor it to the best of my ability. It was lovely. 

1 comment :

  1. I am in love with this blog! I am pretty sure I've heard of Kelly's Roast Beef because when I was in Karate, my sensei would visit Boston pretty often and his name was Kelly, so that was his favorite place! Yay food!