Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ice Cream for Dinner. It's Fine.

Muqueca - Cambridge, MA!menu/ckwa

     Finally! I finally found a restaurant in Boston that makes a Caipirinha. It's my favorite. It's the national drink of Brazil, and I was introduced to them and learned how to make them when I went to Ecuador. They are made with cachaça, sugar and lime. So simple but so delicious... and naturally I forgot to take a photo. Whatever. 
Frog Legs
     Zack really enjoys trying new things (and wanted to try a caipriniha because I had talked them up so much), so we headed over to this Brazilian restaurant called Muqueca on Cambridge Street near Gentle Giant. Muqueca is unique because they cook the majority of their dishes in shallow clay pots which is a traditional form of cooking in Brazil. The owner, as well as each pot, is native to Brazil, and his goal is to provide his customers the feeling of being in Brazil when they visit Muqueca. 
Coconut Shrimp

     On to the food! We knew right away that we had to try the frog legs because both of our first experiences were not all that exceptional. The frog legs were deep fried and came arranged quite provocatively. I'm hesitant to say it tasted like chicken, but it really did. The meat is a little bit more stringy, has zero fat, and has a slightly different ... pond flavor. What does that even mean? I have no idea. Take it or leave it. The second appetizer we got was the coconut shimp. They were piping hot and so delicious, especially dipped in the mystery, creamy dipping sauce. I really liked that their batter was dense, but not thick, and a dark brown. They really fried those puppies.

Mariscada with Yucca flour
     For the entree we chose the Mariscada, "A Must Try!" This delicious pot came with shrimp, crab meat, mussels and squid in a cilantro, tomato, onion and coconut milk broth. They served you a plate of rice as a base for your entree. The mariscada was absolutely incredible. There were so many different types of seafood, which made each bite different from the next. I really enjoyed it because, often in American seafood cuisine, the dishes are very salty and rich. This dish didn't rely on salt to be appealing, but rather on the different spices they used and fresh ingredients. It was all very light. The broths weren't heavy and the tomato and coconut made it taste almost refreshing. To garnish, they served a tiny little clay pot with farofa, which is yucca flour. It had a very mild flavor, kind of like that of cornmeal. But added a fine crunch to each bite. The other mini clay pot was plantain moqueca, which had a similar base as the mariscada, but had hunks of plantains in it rather than seafood. It was a very small dish, so you only had a couple bites to experience it, but it played second best to the mariscada for sure. 
     As a second entree, we ordered the banana lasagna, which was actually plantains, a 3 cheese sauce and oregano. Yea... oregano. I failed to read the description fully and didn't know there was oregano in it. So obviously it wasn't loaded with oregano, but I would've like to hunt for the flavor. This lasagna was so good though. There was a layer of melted cheese on top that covered the sweet plantains that were bathing in the cheese sauce. Because it was cooked in a clay pot, some of the cheese on the sides of the pot crisped up and were like gold. All of the cheeses were some sort of white cheese, but I'm unsure what kinds. I was surprised at how well the sweet plantains went with the cheese. It was so unique, and I figured they'd make it delicious, but admittedly I was a tad skeptical at first. It just seemed like two opposing flavors. It was definitely along the lines of a savory dessert, so we finished the meal with that, and it was perfect. So many unique and tasty things. Next stop, Brazil!
Banana Lasagna and Plantain Moqueca

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies - My Kitchen, Cambridge

     This month, I've been trying not to buy groceries... which means using up a lot of things in my fridge. One of those things is a bag of cranberries I bought... eh... maybe a year and a half ago. They looked fine, so I figured I'd use them. I found this recipe for cranberry oatmeal cookies a while ago on Undressed Skeleton with the intention of using these stone aged cranberries, and I finally got around to it. I omitted the Truvia she uses, but I think they still turned out fine. They're super simple, very basic, but an awesome, tasty and healthy "treat." I wouldn't really even say they're a treat because there's nothing bad about them. They're whole grains, unprocessed sugars, fruit and a touch of chocolate. I ate them as a pre-workout snack, and they were great!

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

4 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries

1 extra large ripe banana
4 cups whole grain oats
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp honey

1) Add 4 cups of fresh cranberries to a pot with 4 cups of boiling water. Boil on high, until berries start to pop and foam.

2) Remove berries from boiling water. Let them cool for 30 minutes in a refrigerator.

3) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4) Combine the oats, banana, flax seeds, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and honey in a medium sized bowl. Mix thoroughly. Squeeze the remaining juice from the cranberries back into the bowl. Add cranberries to the dough. Lightly mix them in, using your hands.

5) Add in 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, using your hands.

6) Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper and scoop tablespoon sized balls onto the baking sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes. 


Bon Me - Boston, MA
My precious...

     It seems like every summer I tell myself to go to SOWA. I know you probably have no idea what that is, but SOWA stands for "South Washington," and it's this big open market down on Washington St in South Boston. They have a farmers' market, a huge vintage/antique area, an artsy/craftsy market and a section dedicated to food trucks. I was definitely most excited for the food truck area, but there were so many cool things in all the different sections. I found this awesome blueprint of an old airplane that I'm going to have framed and will put up in my home when I finally have a place of my own. It's beautiful.
     Anyway, Mary, Brandon and I headed down to SOWA this past Sunday. After browsing through the markets for a while, we headed over to the food trucks to see who all was there. Man... it was overwhelming. I'd say there were about 11-12 different trucks there including some of the big names like Roxy's, Bon Me, The Dining Car, The Taco Truck, Stoked Wood Fired Pizza, Bone Daddy's Burgers, M&M Barbeque, The Paris Creperie, Grillos Pickles, and Batch Ice Cream in addition to a few others. This would be a tough choice for anyone. But for Mary and I? Nearly impossible. I've always wanted to try Bon Me and Roxy's, but everything looked so good. Everything SMELLED so good. The sight of the baguettes that were coming out of the Bon Me truck were what finally got us in the end.
Miso-braised pork sandwich
     So the story behind Bon Me is that it was a husband and wife duo that entered a food truck contest on a whim and won! They've been winning over the hearts of Bostonians with their authentic Bon Me sandwich inspired Vietnamese cuisine since (bon me, or bánh mì, is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread). At the truck, these guys allow you to select one of three "mains" and decide whether you want it in a sandwich, as a noodle salad or with rice. Of course, I wanted to try all three... but that bread though...
     I'm sure we picked the longest line, but it was Sunday, we had no other plans, and we had our minds set on some pig in a bun. Unfortunately they were out of the Chinese bbq pork (which is apparently their best seller), so we both got the Miso-braised pork sandwich. This pork... was stupid. It was so stupid good. I mean... it was so juicy. You know when you're making a roast or something and all the drippings come out of the meat and end up becoming a bath for your lump of meat? I could just picture this pork soaking up all the delicious flavors these juices have to offer wherever Bon Me does their cooking. Some of the juices were soaked up by the bread, so at the end you had a hunk of juicy pork bread. Incredible. Sometimes pork can be over salted at restaurants too, but this wasn't. It was perfect. The sandwich also came stuffed with some pickled carrots and daikon (a type of radish), house made pork pate, house made spicy mayo, cucumbers, red onion, and cilantro. The cilantro and pickled carrots were key. I can't say I noticed the spicy mayo or the pate. I'm sure the sandwich would've tasted different without them, but they didn't steal the show.
     Oh and the bread! The bread! It was like a fresh beautiful baguette fresh from the bakery. It had the crunchy outsides, but soft insides so that when you took a bite of your sandwich the insides just collapsed a little, but the outside kept its form and held in all the goodies. I had never been so ok with getting food on my clothes. I had pork juice all over my shorts. It was so worth it.


Frozen Hoagies Truck - Boston, MA

     Mary and I have been talking about Frozen Hoagies since the dawn of time. It's Boston's original ice cream sandwich truck that started in 2011. Their cookies are homemade, and they get their ice cream from a company called Chilly Cow right outside Boston.
Chocolate Fudge Brownie cookies and
Mint Explosion Ice Cream
     She had this great idea to run to the truck after a workout or as a workout sometime if it was far enough away. This past Wednesday, it had to be at least one trillion degrees in the erg room, and we were soaked after a weight circuit. The Frozen Hoagies truck was supposedly parked right across the BU bridge, and closed at 7pm. It was 6:45. The stars were aligning. It was perfect, so we scuttled on over. They have so many ice cream and cookie options. Unfortunately (not really), they were out of the large cookies so the man working the truck had to give us a double decker triple cookie sandwich instead. Bummer. I went with the chocolate fudge brownie cookie with the mint explosion ice cream. The cookies were the perfect stiffness to hold together the sandwich, but were still soft and chewy. Ideal. As far as the ice cream, I swear this man put a pint of ice cream on my sandwich. It was the size of my head. It was so refreshing and had these mini mint cups in it. They were kind of like mini peanut butter cups, but they had mint in them instead (like and Andes mint). I had never seen anything like it. Mary got their chocolate chip cookies with chocolate covered strawberry ice cream. Also amazing. This treat was not only dinner, but cooled me down immensely. I discovered that they're there in that same location every Wednesday. Danger Will Robinson.
Until next time lover...

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