Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's After Breakfast? Breakfast Dessert.

Sarah's Market and Cafe- Cambridge, MA

Egg white and avocado bagel sandwich
     One thing I wish we did more of as a team is get breakfast on Saturdays. Breakfast is the best. Especially after a 6 hour workout. I was thrilled this past weekend (perhaps more than I should've been) when Molly suggested we go get breakfast at a little cafe down the street from her apartment. Mary and I drove over, into a part of Cambridge I didn't know existed. It was more like the suburbs. Less city. We felt a little lost. Anyway, Sarah's is a decent sized convenience store with a small cafe in the back. However, the size of the place was no indication of how well known it was. The entire time we were there, there was always a line of people waiting for food. They have an awesome breakfast menu with tons of sandwiches, in addition to a incredible looking lunch menu with even more. I saw one woman eating the steak tip wrap (yes ... I know it was the steak tip wrap because I asked. Sorry to interrupt). It was all pretty cheap too! I was drawn to the egg white and avocado breakfast sandwich, partially because that's what Lauren and Joan had, and it looked awesome. I was admittedly a little hesitant because of the egg whites. I'm not sure I've ever had a breakfast dish with egg whites instead of the whole egg. Either way, it wasn't half bad. I definitely like yolks in my eggs better, but these were still good. They cooked the eggs in a flat sheet and folded them up like deli meat to put them on the sandwich. I normally make sandwiches like this with scrambled eggs and then they're falling all over the place, and it's just chaos. This is a much better idea. I got the sandwich on a soft sesame bagel and it came with tomato, warm avocado, and cheese. The sandwich was perfect, simple and exactly what I wanted. The melted cheese with the avocado stole the show.


Mike's City Diner - Boston, MA

Corned beef hash omelette, part of Jimmy's malt waffle and my linguica
     Jake used to rave about Mike's all the time when he lived here. The Pilgrim sandwich (turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce) was his favorite. Ever since then, I've been dying to go and get it. However, I had heard they had a great breakfast menu too. After scoping out the menu, Mike's landed on top of my suggestions list for Jimmy for places to get breakfast on his birthday. Mike's is a neighborhood staple in the South End, but also draws a lot of celebrity attention, including Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. They pride themselves on serving "huge portions of great food." Well... you've won me over (not that it's all that hard). Sunday morning Jimmy, Karl, Dave, Meagan and I all piled in my car and headed to the south end. When we got to Mike's, there was a line of people waiting for tables that only grew and grew the longer we were there. We were able to snag 5 seats up at the counter and got a first hand look at the food prep (this was a huge plus for me). 
Like dangling candy in front of a baby...
     I was in the mood for something sweet, so I got the cinnamon walnut waffle and loved it! I loved the waffle batter. The cinnamon made it taste so much .... fuller. There was just more to it than your standard waffle batter. Maybe it was whole wheat flour... hmm. Anyway, and the addition of the walnuts was great. I loved the change in texture. One thing that Mike's did that I've never seen before is they served you a small plastic cup of butter that was pinched on the end so that you could just flip the cup over and spread the butter as you continued pinching the cup. Ok ok... that sounds silly and really like I shouldn't be writing about it, but it was great. It was so much easier than spreading with a knife, and the butter was room temp, so it went on evenly. Genius. That nutty waffle soaked with butter and syrup was heavenly. Definitely one of the best waffles I've ever had at a restaurant. You can't compare with Zinneken's because those are just on a completely different gourmet level. Not as good as my grandma's homemade waffles though. Nothing will ever beat those. 
Linguica and the Cinnamon Walnut Waffle
     I also got a side of their linguica, which is a portuguese sausage. I had this same sausage at The Neighborhood Restaurant in Somerville once, but I liked Mike's better. I think the sausage at The Neighborhood was more cooked and therefore a little bit more dry. At Mike's instead of slicing the sausage on an angle and in smaller pieces, they took one link and sliced it straight down the middle. I think this helped the sausage hold on to some of the juices. 
     Thanks to generous friends, I got to try a few other dishes. The one that stood out the most was Jimmy's Southender omelette, which is Mike's homemade corned beef hash (I LOVE CORNED BEEF) and cheese. That's it. That's all it was, and it was amazing. The hash wasn't overly greasy like it can be sometimes. It sat all nestled up with the warm cheese, wrapped in an egg blanket and was savory and satisfying. That was the best thing I think I ate while there. Waffle was #2.
This was a complete accident, but I thought it was too good to not share.

Sofra Bakery and Cafe - Cambridge, MA
How could you even choose?!

     What comes after breakfast? Breakfast dessert. Duh. Jimmy and I were on the hunt for donuts. I had heard of a place called Stacked in the south end that I wanted to try, but it proved to be invisible. No luck. SO... instead, we headed back to Cambridge to Sofra Bakery and Cafe. This is another place that's long been on my list. I've just wanted an excuse to go. This was perfect. Sofra is a Middle Eastern bakery that dishes out their own unique twists on traditional Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisines. When you step into the cafe, you're taken across the Atlantic, surrounded by beautiful middle eastern tapestries, art and furniture, and packed into a tiny little line. They were busy, busy, busy and my brain was busy, busy, busy trying to decide what to get. I must’ve let at least 4 people go in front of me in line as I debated what to get. So… we got everything (not really), but it was more than 2 or 3 people need. Key word: need. But we wanted it all. Here goes…  
Our treats, courtesy of Meagan.
     I was getting the baklava for sure. No questions asked. It was a chocolate hazelnut baklava and was much different than any baklava I’ve ever had. It only had a subtle chocolate flavor, which was nice because it left room for the traditional baklava flavors and textures. Instead of pecans, this one had hazelnuts instead of pistachios or walnuts. Hazelnuts and chocolate are always a good idea. This baklava was also much more liquidy than most baklava I’ve had. Normally honey is used and it's thick enough that it doesn’t drip out when you’re eating. But as I ate this baklava, the sweet syrup came dribbling out. I’m curious as to what they used instead of honey because it was much thinner. Regardless, it was delicious.
     Jimmy had been to Sofra before, and he highly recommended the chocolate chip cookies. I think it was probably one of the best bakery chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. It had very large chunks of chocolate chips in it and was the perfect balance of chewy and crispy around the edges. It was beautiful and so very rich. Jimmy also recommended I try the molasses cookie even though he likes his better. I agree with him that these were more cake-y than I would’ve liked. I like my molasses cookies a bit chewier, considering the consistency of molasses. It just feels right. This cookie was definitely still tasty, but I’ve had better as far as texture goes.
Pretty lady!
    Meagan ordered a berry crumble croissant to share as well. It was good, but I don’t think there was anything special about it. What I like about croissants is their light and flaky texture. Adding the berries and the crumbles made it heavier and took away some of the appeal of a croissant, but that’s just my opinion. It also had a very unique flavor to it, almost sourdough-y. Jimmy agreed but neither of us could place it. Maybe a light citrus flavor was mixed into the dough? Jimmy shared his meyer lemon tart too, which was delicious. I think lemon treats are starting to grow on me. It’s weird. It was a light lemon curd resting in a really crumbly crust with 3 currants on top. Very pretty to look at.
     Lastly, I wanted to try a donut that looked like a birds nest. It was a big fat donut with no real resemblance of a hole in the middle, and the outside was covered in some sort of thin, crispy strings (dough maybe?) and shredded coconut. In comparison to a normal donut, it was much more dense and less cake like (but not as dense as the potato donuts from The Holy Donut in Portland). I really enjoyed how moist, soft and sweet it was inside in contrast to the crispy toppings that were stuck to the light glaze on the outside.
     Since I was there, I had to get one grape leaf. Whenever I’m around any sort of Mediterranean and middle eastern food I always aim to try the grape leaves to compare them to my great grandmas. She was from Lebanon, so she knew what was up. They’re often way too oily, or don’t have meat. Lamb is key. The grape leaves at Sofra were way different than anything I’ve ever had before and I’m not sure if I liked them. They had no meat, no oil, but were choked full of dill and topped with saffron (the saffron is a complete guess). It was super herb-y. It tasted good, don’t get me wrong, but it was just so far from what I’m used to and what I grew up on that I was slightly put off by it.
      All we had room for that day was pastries, but they’ve got a bunch of other amazing sounding menu options like the Turkish breakfast, a couple different shawarmas, shakshuka, and a wide variety of spreads and cheeses. Check out the menu!


  1. Stacked is a pop up donut shop you have to follow them on twitter to figure out where they are going to be each week, its sort of a fun mystery, they are totally worth the hassle!


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