Sunday, July 19, 2015

We'll Take the Toucan Pizza Please.

Classic Cafe - Arlington Heights, MA

The Albanian Omelette 
     I started "training" for a triathlon back in January, and today was race day. It was great. David, Rachel and Catherine came as my little cheering section, and it was perfect. It was a super hot day, but I was ready and super excited for it. Before I knew it, it was over, and I took second in my age group! That was fun. My most proud accomplishment I think was taking third out of all the women competitors for the swim portion. The swim was the hardest part for me to train for because I was slightly over it after swimming in high school for so long. So swimming laps again... alone... with no music or things to look at... wasn't easy from a motivational standpoint. Anyway, this has nothing to do with food. However, after the race we went to the Classic Cafe in Arlington Heights for brunch. This cafe was in a cute little section of town on what seemed to be a main street, but was relatively quiet. It was a family neighborhood restaurant with maybe 15 little tables and had a cute combination of young girls working their first jobs and older ladies who've been waitressing for eons. 
Appleman Tri, Littleton, MA
           Our toast came out first, which was kind of funny. I've never seen that before. I mean, it came out way early, way before the rest of our food, kind of like an appetizer. It was just your standard store bought "wheat" bread with real butter packets (yay!).  For the meal I ordered the Albanian omelette because it had leeks in it! You rarely see leeks at restaurants. Now that I think about it, I'm not quite sure why. They're delicious and add a really unique flavor to egg and potato dishes. This omelette also had meatballs and feta cheese in it. I liked that there were meatballs rather than sausage because sometimes I feel like sausage can make an omelette greasy and that's not what I wanted post race. My only complaint would be that I felt like the feta cheese may be on its way out. I know it can sometimes have a little bit of a bite, but this was definitely sharper than it should've been. The home fries were good. Big chunks of potatoes, slightly cooked with no intention of crispiness, which is fine. They just needed a little salt and pepper. What in the world is that reddish seasoning everyone and their mother puts on homefries? Cajun? Paprika? I need to know these things. 


Wicked Restaurant and Wine Bar - Dedham, MA

The Tuscan

     Now that I'm not a lightweight, I generally enjoy going to restaurants when given the opportunity. So when David asked if I wanted to go to this Wicked place to meet a couple of his friends, I happily agreed! Wicked is a very trendy little spot in a big shopping plaza out in Dedham. They've hopped on the band wagon when it comes to locally-sourced, organic ingredients which I think is awesome. It was pretty dimly lit inside, but there were a lot of red, yellow and orange lights and accents throughout giving it a real fire-y feel... appropriate for the pizza focus.
     For an appetizer, we ordered two little baskets of french fries which were so delicious. I don't eat fries often, so when I get them and they're fabulous it makes me happy and feel like they were worth it. They had tons of salt on them, and I like salt. There were a bunch of fry nubs, and I like fry nubs. They were hot. I like it hot. I just really like when there are a bunch of smaller fries and nubs because that means more crispy surface area within a certain volume.
     For dinner, David and I split a pizza. I was in the mood for your standard greasy cheesy pizza, but what we got was much different, but really interesting. We ordered the "Toucan pizza".... well that was David's first attempt at the Tuscan Pizza. It was adorable. Anyway, this pizza had roasted garlic and white bean puree, mozzarella cheese, house smoked pork belly, tuscan kale, red peppers, roasted fennel and a fig glaze. There were so many different things happening on this pizza that it became a little overwhelming for me. The white bean puree didn't bring much flavor, but it added a pastey texture to the base of the pizza that I wasn't real keen on. The combination of the smoked pork belly, kale, peppers and fennel was the best part, in my opinion. You know, pork belly is loaded with fat, so it added this salty, rich flavor to the lighter veggies. As far as the fig glaze, I definitely could've done without that. It was really sweet, and it didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the ingredients on the pizza, especially the salty pork belly. I like figs, but it was almost adding a dessert-y element to it. It could've gone really well with the rest of the ingredients (minus the pork belly) if the pizza had goat cheese on it instead. Don't get me wrong though, the pizza was delicious and unique, the crust was simple, and had the perfect amount of tearability. That's not a word, but I don't know how else to describe what I'm thinking because I'm thinking of tearability. The fries were awesome and the atmosphere was lively and inviting. If you're out that way, I'd definitely recommend a stop at Wicked. 


The Galley Diner - South Boston, MA
Kielbasa, homefries, eggs and toasts
     Sometimes I add restaurants to my list for some reason, and then I forget why. Maybe I read about them someone, maybe someone told me about them. Who knows. In this case, I think I read that they were voted Best of Boston in 2014 for something. After my trip home to Michigan, David picked me up from the airport and took me to breakfast (but I chose the place). Since I was heading to school, we stopped at the Galley Diner in South Boston. On the way there, we both definitely thought we were going to wrong way because we were heading down some slightly run down residential streets. We turned the corner, however, and there she was. A white cinderblock building with an old sign out front. This place was your typical back alley diner, with a few tables and a long bar with stools, where the workers have been on deck for 25+ years. They were super nice and the food came really quick, which is always a plus when you're getting breakfast. No time for messing around. 
Outside of The Galley Diner
     I ordered the kielbasa, 2 eggs, homefries and toast. The kielbasa was good, but it was much more fatty than I'm used to and not as good as the kind my family gets. I'm a little spoiled in that respect though because my grandpa knows where to get the good stuff back in Detroit. The homefries were pretty good, but I would've liked a little bit more of them, and more of them with some crispy edges and things. In the most lame way, my favorite part was the pumpernickel toast. Why? Because it was real butter. They used real butter on the toast which wins you HUGE brownie points from me. You just don't see that all that often. Overall, the Galley Diner was good, but nothing crazy special. Admittedly, I did order your standard run of the mill breakfast, but I think it's safe to say they're a good place to go if you're looking for a quick, satisfying breakfast when in the area. 


Fire+Ice - Cambridge, MA

     Birthday. It's my birthday. Well, it was and for your birthday, Fire+Ice gives you a free meal (if you sign up for their newsletter... which I did... along with nearly 10 others in order to get free birthday food). So on my birthday, I went there with David, Mary, Jimmy and Eric. Fire+Ice is very similar to Mongolian Barbecue in that you fill a bowl with meats, veggies and things and take it to a big circular stone grill where they cook it in front of you. Basically it's a big stir fry station and it's amazing. Plus, it's unlimited, so you're meant to feel almost miserably full when you leave (right?).
     The Fire & Ice we went to in Harvard square is one of 5 locations throughout the country, so it's not as big as the Mongolian Barbecue chain. The restaurant itself was in the basement but the general atmosphere is pretty lively as people are wandering around grabbing food and the chefs are situated in the middle cooking up 10-20 dishes at a time. Because each bowl is different and unique, it's tough to describe each. However, overall, I didn't think it was as good as Mongo. Fire and Ice had a decent amount of meats, but most of them were coated in some sort of marinade or spices. Normally this would be fine, but there's a station with a bunch of other sauces you choose to throw in to the whole dish, so it was tough to choose a sauce that would go well with, for example, the "chili lime chicken." Honestly I can't remember if that was a flavor of chicken they offered, but there were a few meats with very specific flavors that made me question how you'd pair that with a sauce. They had a bunch of different sauces, but many I wouldn't have thought to put with this kind of food, like alfredo or honey mustard. I assume, however, that this allows for more customization, in that, you don't necessarily have to get a typical stir fry like dish (more like Mongolian) but that you can also create a dish like a chicken, broccoli alfredo or something. I was bummed though that they didn't have as many shaved meats, like shaved pork. I like them thinner, and I think that's more typical of a lot of authentic stir fry. And they didn't have lamb. That was the saddest part. 
     All the dishes I made were very tasty, and I loved the fresh fish options they provided, like big hunks of tuna. They also had a sandwich bar, where you could get full burgers and other things if you wanted to. I didn't partake in that (or the salad bar) but this place provided a huge variety of cuisine options. I'd definitely go again, and maybe take a photo next time. Until then, this old, blurry picture from an MSU Crew fundraiser at Mongolian Barbecue will have to do. Go Green!

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