Thursday, May 28, 2015

Go Get 'Em Out There

Wagamama - Boston, MA

     I love that Boston is a hub for conferences because it means so many friends come into town, and I get to see them! This time Sarah had a math conference, so on her last day I met up with her at Wagamama in Faneuil Hall. Modeled after Japan's ramen bars, Wagamama has 4 locations in Massachusetts. The restaurant itself had very simple, and sharp features and furniture in a red, black and white color scheme. Very typical, modern asian decor I think.
     The menu was impressive, and each dish was loaded with 7-10 fresh ingredients. I went with the yaki soba, which is a teppanyaki dish. That basically means it has big, thick noodles that are fried on a flat griddle. The noodles were awesome and unlike anything I've had before. They were just super thick, really long and almost misshapen. Like worms... minus the sand. The dish had the teppan-fried soba noodles with chicken, shrimp, egg, beansprouts, peppers, red onions and scallions and was garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and black sesame seeds. I loved the different textures and temperatures of the dish. The pickled ginger was cool and sour, the fried shallots were crispy, and the beansprouts and sesame seeds were cool and slightly crunchy. The warm, grilled peppers, onions, juicy chicken and shrimp and scrambled egg contrasted in a unique way with all the cool and crunchy ingredients. I wasn't going to eat the whole dish because it really was a ton of pasta, but I had a long day at work, I was hungry, and it was delicious. Sounds like a good enough reason right? It was a good deal of food too for a great price. I (or the normal person) could've taken it come and made it into two meals too if I wanted to...but I didn't.


Bambara - Cambridge, MA

Someone is excited about noods
     Marathon Monday!!! What does that mean? Carb-loading Sunday! Just because I didn't run the marathon doesn't mean I wasn't going to take advantage of the all-you-can-eat pasta deals throughout Boston on Sunday night. No no. After hitting up the expo, David and I walked over to Bamabara, which is this swanky little place across from the science museum in Cambridge. At first we weren't sure if we were underdressed or not, but I think it ended up being ok. It was a very classy place, with dark walls, sleek furniture, and concentrated lights illuminating glassy accents... and free bread.
     So for this unlimited pasta bowl, you could pick a shape of noodle, a meat or veg, and a sauce. For our first bowl, we got orecchiette (little ear shaped pasta) with grilled chicken and alfredo. It was looooaded with butter. It was super rich, a little salty and had a great cheesy flavor. Amazing. Probably one of the best alfredo sauces I've ever tried. The chicken was delicious too because it had slightly charred edges from the grill. Other options for other bowls included a marinara sauce, a roasted garlic and tomato sauce, sausage and grilled veggies. The sausage was pretty standard, and I wasn't all too impressed. The veggies were average too, but I think the penne with chicken alfredo was the best. After the 4th bowl, we had to call it quits. We were ready for marathon... sleeping. On the way out, some guy said to us "Go get 'em out there tomorrow!" We said thank you, and it got us amped. Maybe we should've said something, but it felt good to look like a marathon runner. Meh.


Shake Shack - Boston, MA

The Original Shack Stack
     The marathon was great. The weather was not. We were cold and hungry and had *walked* for many hours. I realize this sounds pathetic because these people ran 26.2 miles...that's because it is pathetic. Either way, Catherine guided us to the Shake Shack on Newbury St. where she works now. Shake Shack is a fast paced burger joint that actually started as a hot dog stand in NYC. Now they're spreading throughout the northwest, and for good reason. They're quick, delicious, and it feels better than regular fast food.
     I was so excited because the only other time I had been was with (a different) Catherine on free burger day and it was their burger with fried onion rings and american cheese. It was too greasy for me and I wanted to try the more fresh looking burger I see in their instagram photos. This time I was getting it. and it was so much better. The patty was still a little bit greasy and flat for my taste, but it was still delicious. I liked the the big slice of tomato and the large leaf of curly romaine. Both of the veggies tasted fresh and cool and helped balance out the greasy burger. The Shake Shack fries remind me of childhood at friends' houses because, honestly, they're like the frozen ones you make at home out of the bag. The crinkle cut ones. Remember those? So good.


Butternut Squash Galette - My Kitchen, Cambridge

     Oh gosh I love when simple things I experiment with turn out to be incredible. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (the woman is a genius) back last fall when butternut squash was in season. Naturally I waited until they were out of season to make this and other butternut squash recipes I have. Regardless, this galette was awesome. The combination of the roasted squash, caramelized onions and fontina cheese was so rich, but still light. Fontina cheese is one of my favorites. She made a great choice using it. Goat cheese would be good too, but that would've made it completely different. I also didn't use her crust recipe. I used some random dough I made a while ago and froze. I'm sure it would be even more spectacular if I had used her recipe. I'd say this is a good party dish to bring. It's simple but tasty and good as an appetizer.

Butternut Squash Galette

1 small butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup fontina cheese, grated
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with olive oil and a dash of salt and roast on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway. Set aside to cool slightly.

2.  While squash is roasting, melt the butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the a pinch of salt and sugar. Stir occasionally until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

3. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

4. On a floured work surface, roll the chilled dough out into a 12-inch round circle. slide it onto an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture. Keep the center open.

5. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm. 


Butternut Squash Ravioli - My Kitchen, Cambridge

Butternut Squash Raviolis
     Since I had the butternut squash, I ran through my pinterest looking for recipes I could use it in.  This is another recipe from Iowa Girl Eats and it is delicious! However, I don't know why I ever think making ravioli is a good idea. I mean... it's good and all, but it literally takes forever. And I don't even make my own dough. I just use those little wonton wrappers. It's too much effort for the amount of satisfaction. Anyway, these raviolis were good. I wanted them to be a little bit more garlicy and with cheese.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

3 cups roasted butternut squash
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt & pepper
40 wonton wrappers

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve squash and scoop out seeds. Place upside down and roast on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Chop onion and garlic. Sauté onion in olive oil with some salt & pepper until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute being careful not to burn.

3. Transfer cooked onion and garlic to a food processor. Add roasted butternut squash and cinnamon to food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are combined and smooth. Place filling into bowl and taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

4. Setup a work station that includes a cookie sheet, small bowl of water, cutting board and butternut squash filling. Place wonton wrapper on cutting board and moisten all four sides with water. Place around 2 teaspoons butternut squash filling into the center of the wonton wrapper. Fold one corner over to the other and seal two sides, pressing any air out of the middle of the ravioli. Fold one corner over, then fold the other corner over on top. Squeeze gently to make sure corners stick together. Place ravioli on cookie sheet.

5. Once you’ve made all the ravioli, cook immediately or place the cookie sheet directly into the freezer and allow raviolis to freeze through for 1-2 hours. Once raviolis are frozen, place inside a freezer safe bag and store in freezer. Raviolis should keep well for 4-5 months and can go directly from the freezer to the stove or pot of boiling water. Enjoy!


Oasis Cafe and Bakery - Medford, MA

     Whenever we go to Hardy Pond to do some sampling, Julie always tries to get me to eat things, and I don't hate it. This time we stopped at this Brazilian bakery called Oasis. They had a Brazilian barbecue buffet place next door that was super cheap that I'd love to visit someday. Anyway, she went crazy and got us all these little things. Small cookies with jelly, peanut brittle, cheese rolls, and this chicken dough ball thing that was unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's called Coxinha and it's basically a cream cheese ball, covered in shredded chicken, surrounded in a dough and deep fried. It must be fried really quickly though because 90% of the dough isn't cooked. It's this weird gooey consistency that gets stuck to your teeth, but it was so tasty. Well, the chicken was tasty rather than the dough. There were so many different textures and flavors happening in it. The cheesy rolls were great too. They seemed like these super eggy small rolls with cheese inside them. But somehow the cheese was really throughout the dough in that you couldn't see cheese strings inside when you'd take a bite. You could feel the chewiness of the cheese and the taste the cheese, but you couldn't see it. It looked like a regular roll, but small. It was really unique. They were really soft too, especially fresh from the oven. I love experiencing new treats like this, especially when they're with someone so well versed in food culture. 

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