Friday, December 26, 2008

trattoria pulcinella

For Christmas Eve this year, we went out to dinner with our good friend, Renee. We were lucky to find that Trattoria Pulcinella was open and still accepting reservations. It's located on another side of Cambridge that we don't normally venture to, and has been there for fifteen years.

It's a cute, cozy restaurant that serves Mediterranean style Italian cuisine. We shared a bottle of white wine and the Beef Carpaccio antipasti. It was so delicious and went perfectly with the Italian bread and olive oil. Our waiter was kind enough to bring out a tray of plain olive oil when I told him that I am allergic to cracked red pepper.

The food was amazingly good! Renee had the gnocchi with mushroom, ricotta, and sausage dish which was quite delicious. Tony devoured the bone in rabbit with onions, black olives, and tomatoes. I thoroughly enjoyed the ravioli of the day: shrimp and ricotta in a cream sauce topped with grilled shrimp. Yum, yum, yum!

We {surprisingly} had enough room to share dessert over some decaf coffee so we tried the chocolate pudding with olive oil and Sicilian sea salt. Wow, so good! I think after our honeymoon in Seattle and trying the amazing sea salt caramels at the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, we've learned that sea salt compliments chocolate very well.

We had such a wonderful experience at this place that I'm sure we'll be back again soon. It's nice to support local, small neighborhood restaurants. Especially when the food is this good! :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

the beehive

After a disastrous attempt to attend a taping of the NESN Comedy All-Stars, we went out to the Beehive in the hopes of catching some sort of musical entertainment. There is such a cool atmosphere in the Beehive. The Jazz Criminals were playing and they were quite entertaining. We shared a carafe of wine and the Beehive frites with sage and sea salt. It was a great way to get out of the cold and enjoy some funky jazz.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the independent

One reason that we would find it really difficult to move away from this area ("Camberville") is the culture within each neighborhood that I don't think you'd be able to find in suburbia. For instance, Union Square. It's a short walk from where we live now and it has so much cool stuff going on. Obviously, our favorite these days is Bloc 11 Cafe, but there are also places like the Independent, Great Thai Chef restaurant (proclaimed by Tony to have the best tom yum goong soup), Grand the store, Capone Foods and so much more.

This particular post is about the Independent. They have consistently good food there and a nice, cozy atmosphere. We tried their deviled eggs appetizer and they were so tasty! I don't think I've ever seen deviled eggs on a menu before, but I have to say that if I ever own a restaurant, that's something I'd like to include on the menu. They're so simple but so yummy.

Tony had the french dip sandwich and I had the steak and gruyere cheese sandwich appetizer with a side order of french fries. The food was delicious and the portions are generous. With a beer and a glass of wine (and before the tip), our bill only came out to $40. Not bad for a Thursday night outing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

magic blondies

I tell you one thing, Ms. Martha sure can come up with good recipes. Or else, perhaps, the food people she hires can. I made a batch of these magic blondies for a coworker's birthday earlier this week and they were such a big hit! Super simple and super yummy (yes, I snuck a bite of Tony's, shhhhh!). I'll have to make another batch sometime next week after the holidays.

Magic Blondies (makes 1 dozen)


2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (about 2 1/2 ounces)
2/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries (I used cherries)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (oh crap! just realizing that I forgot to add the baking powder! whoooopsies!)
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
9 tablespoons (1 1/8 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
2. Stir together coconut, chocolate, walnuts, and cherries in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
4. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Mix in 1 cup coconut mixture.
5. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Sprinkle remaining coconut mixture over tops.
6. Bake blondies until a cake tester inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 25 minutes. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

And here's snapshot of how they turned out. Enjoy!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

what is tapioca?

"Can you eat this?" is something I hear so often from my concerned friends (thank you guys by the way). Recently, my friend Shannon and I were talking about tapioca pudding and how I can eat it thanks to the folks at Kozy Shack. And then she asked a really good question, "What is tapioca?"

My answer: "I don't know but whatever it is I'm not allergic to it."


So I decided to look it up because we were convinced that the perfectly small, round, pearls were too perfect to be naturally formed that way (i.e. man had to step in somewhere).

According to Wikipedia:

"Tapioca is a flavorless, colorless, odorless starch extracted from the root of the plant species Manihot esculenta. Tapioca is gluten free, and nearly protein free. The commercial form of tapioca most familiar to many people is pearl tapioca. Commercially, the starch is processed into several forms: powder, fine or coarse flakes or meal ('flour'), sticks, and 'pearls'. In all its forms tapioca starch is opaque before cooking; after cooking it becomes translucent."

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

"In processing, heat ruptures the starch grains, converting them to small, irregular masses that are further baked into flake tapioca. A pellet form, known as pearl tapioca, is made by forcing the moist starch through sieves."

And then I couldn't read past that because I'm not a member of their website and couldn't gain access without a credit card number.

Interesting. And yummy. Thanks for not using corn syrup, Kozy Shack!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

zaftigs delicatessen

"Let us be your Jewish mother." Ha ha ha, that is the first thing you'll see on their website. After a quick crafting trip to Paper Source and driving around the Brookline area, Liz, Renee, and I had a late lunch at Zaftigs in Coolidge Corner. We were actually craving sushi, but Mr. Sushi was closed so this was our second choice. And right next door.

They had so many good things to choose from on the menu, plus they serve breakfast all day. How can you go wrong with that? Liz got a giganomous pastrami sandwich that she said was killer with the spicy mustard. Renee got the challah french toast which was simply yummy and covered in syrup. I opted for a sirloin burger that came out perfectly medium-rare.

And since we were all too stuffed from lunch, we got dessert to go. I mean, how can you not get something from this lovely display of baked goods?

And alas, my hubby benefitted from this little outing, too, by divulging in a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. I went for the coconut cupcake. Yum-o! They bake all the cupcakes and brownies there on premise by the way. So if you're in the Coolidge Corner area and need something to soothe your sweet tooth, be sure to check out their bakery!

Now where's that treadmill of ours?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

beef tataki

Have you ever tried it? We got it as an appetizer at Yoki tonight and it was quite yummy. Must say, there are a lot of yummy things at Yoki. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

29 newbury

Have you ever heard of Open Table? It's an online restaurant reservation system that is awesome. You earn points for each reservation you make (and keep!) with a restaurant that participates in their program, and then after a certain amount you can redeem the points for a gift certificate. I just looked at my profile and I joined back in 2005 when I still worked at Pioneer (God, that seems like forever ago), and I used to use it for lunch outings once in a while. There weren't a ton of places (like there are now) that participated in it, so my choices around the Faneuil Hall area at that time were kind of limited.

Anyhoo, so it took us ten reservations at 100 point restaurants, and one reservation at a 1,000 point restaurant to cash in for a $20 gift certificate. (Note to the person out there thinking/saying, "Sheesh! It took THAT long!": they didn't start offering 1,000 point reservations until recently.)

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah. So we decided to use our gift certificate at a restaurant that we've never been to, 29 Newbury. Tony gets credit for finding this one.

We made a reservation for 7:00 pm so that Tony would have enough time to get home, change, and for us to drive out to Newbury Street. Luckily, our parking angel was with us last night, so we managed to find a metered spot on Berkeley street. When we got to the restaurant, the hostess asked us if we wanted to take the first available seat or if we wanted to wait for a more private booth. We opted for the booth and waited about 15 minutes at the bar which was fine with us because it has a cozy atmosphere and we sipped wine. They have a patio area outside (with blankets!) that they don't take reservations for. I can't remember exactly what the place used to be (I think it was something like Parris Cafe?), but I remember that it was always packed outside on the patio during the daytime.

We were glad we waited for a booth because the other tables in the middle of the restaurant seemed a little too close to each other. I mean, I'm sure we would've been fine, but, you know, I'm just sayin' is all. They gave us some delicious, warm sesame bread (don't worry, I tore the crust off) while we waited for our food to arrive. We each had a glass of the Four Vines red Zinfandel and it was quite yummy.

(Note: they still have their summer menu posted on their website.)

Tony had the grilled pork chop dish with butternut squash, chard, and a caramalized apple sauce on top. He let me try a bite and it was really good!

I had the prime rib topped with blue cheese. It came with spinach and roasted potatoes. Of course, I had the steak medium rare and it was devine. :) It had a delicious port reduction sauce on it, too, and the cheese added just the right amount of tangy and saltiness. Let's just say that yes, I can be a pig, and that this meal was fit for anyone PMS'ing. LOL

Overall, as Tony said, "I'd give this a 9 on a scale of 10. We haven't had very many 10 restaurants, but this was nice." And I agree. The service was super friendly and it has a really nice, romantic atmosphere. The food was delicious. We can't vouch for dessert because we simply did not leave any room to try some. But that means we'll just have to go back some time again, right?

Oh and the bonus? We got 1,000 points for this reservation. Score!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

limoncello in the north end

After a couple of hours at the Ringling Bros. circus with Tony's niece and nephew, we met up with their parents, Joe and Marina, and walked over to the North End for lunch. Of course, all of the restaurants up and down Hanover Street were packed, so we looked for something on one of the side streets. We came across Limoncello and decided to give it a try.

Tony had the basic Spaghetti al Pomodoro Fresco, and I had the Linguine Alle Vongole (linguine with clams) with a white sauce.

The food was okay overall, nothing great. The pasta was overcooked which kind of sucked, and I thought my dish was a tad salty. At first I thought it was because I probably put too much parmesan cheese on top, but Tony thought his dish was salty too. The great thing was that they were very accomodating to the kids and put together a simple bowl of pasta with butter and cheese for them (totally not on the menu) and brought it out before our dishes so that they could stay occupied. It wasn't too pricy for the food so it wasn't a terrible experience, but we probably will opt for a different place in the North End next time.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

LTK bar & kitchen

We met up with Renee and her dad, John, at the LTK Bar and Kitchen (Legal Test Kitchen) in Boston last night. It's on Northern Avenue near the Bank of America Pavilion (formerly the Boston Pavilion) and boy, there sure was a lot of traffic getting there. We had 6:00 reservations so it probably didn't help that it was kind of still rush hour in the downtown area.

Anyway, we both ended up parking in the garage there at 255 Northern Avenue and it was quite expensive since we went over the 2.5 hour time limit (and even though we got our tickets validated). So just a warning to anyone that parks in that garage: watch the time while you're in the restaurant so you can get a 50% discount on your parking! Yikes! $18!

This was the second time Tony and I went to this place. The first time was a couple of years ago when it first opened up and we were going to see a Bryan Adams concert at the Pavilion. We thought it was just so-so back then. It seemed better this time around food wise, at least the three of them were pretty happy with their dishes (yes, my review is coming!). The atmosphere is really hip and modern, and it was kind of loud in there which was too bad because John is a little hard of hearing. Our waitress seemed kind of cold at first (she spoke super quickly!), but then warmed up to us and turned out to be really sweet during the rest of our visit.

Renee had the Lobster Pad Thai dish and she thought it was delicious. It was kind of cool how they gave her that huge piece of lobster! She couldn't even finish it all, so I'm sure it'll make for some really yummy leftovers.

John had grilled tuna with a lemon caper sauce on the side. They let you pick two sides when you choose the grill option so he got the potato au gratin and spinach. He, too, couldn't finish his dish which probably gives you an idea of how big their portions are.

Oh and it's not pictured here but Renee ordered a red salad as an appetizer and it was quite large so the three of them were able to split it. She said it was a little on the bitter side so I think it was raddichio, but I couldn't try it since the dressing had nuts in it.

Tony ordered the paella dish and it smelled really good. He said it was pretty good and that he was glad it wasn't like other paella dishes he's had where they were almost too spicy to enjoy. He said the mussels were quite sandy though.

I ordered two of the appetizers as my entree: the mussels and the crab rangoon. The mussels were cooked in a garlic and white wine sauce as stated in the menu, however (and this is my beef with restaurants) they did not mention that the dish comes with tomatoes in the sauce. I absolutely fricken hate when they don't list all the major ingredients in a menu description! I didn't say anything and just moved them aside in the bowl, but it really ticked me off.

My mussels were really sandy too, which was a huge disappointment. But what was worse was that five were tightly closed. For those of you who don't regularly eat mussels, that means that they were unedible. I think there were only like 15 to 18 in the bowl to begin with, so I was quite bummed that 1/3 of them were no good.

The crab rangoon was pretty good, but basic. I can't eat the sauce it comes with so I'm sure they would've tasted better with them. Next time (if we go back there) I think I'll do what John did and order from the grilled menu.

The dessert was quite yummy though, thank goodness. We shared a rather large piece of chocolate cake and the restaurant's "BCP" dessert. The BCP turned out to be their rendition of Boston Creme Pie.

Although my food was subpar, we had a nice time meeting and talking with John. The Malbec wine we shared was quite good, too. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

yoki, again!

Funny how my last post was about Yoki, too.

I took Renee here for the first time on Sunday after our excursion to Portsmouth, NH. She had the Backdraft Maki (salmon, cucumber, and avocado) and Idaho Maki (sweet potato) rolls.

I had a Salmon Skin roll which was really tasty. It came with carrots though, so I pushed them out and gave them to Renee. I also had a roll that I can't remember the name of, but it had tuna, yellowtail, and salmon in it plus some wasabi flavored roe on top. It was very yummy.

Okay, that's all I can say about it because I'm making myself hungry for sushi now. :-)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

yoki sushi + the independent

We met Mike and Erin at our favorite sushi restaurant, Yoki, in Medford last night. First of all, I am just so happy that we have another "couple" friends that like sushi as much as we do. Second, Yoki is definitely our favorite place for sushi. We have never had a bad experience there -- the sushi is consistently delicious and the wait staff is super nice. Mike and Erin liked their sushi so I think we made a pretty good recommendation (i.e. there wasn't a speck left on anyone's plates).

Mike had the Spider Maki (soft shelled crab tempura with tobiko, cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo and sweet soy sauce) which was one of my favorite rolls before I discovered my avocado allergy [insert sad, pouty face here]. He also had the Rock 'n Roll Maki (jumbo roll of yellow tail, salmon, white fish, avocado, and scallions with sweet soy sauce). A nice surprise is that this roll is fried in tempura batter, too, so it gives it a crunchy texture.

Erin also had the Spider Maki and a California Maki (crabstick, cucumber, and avocado).

Tony had the Rock 'n Roll Maki and the Good Time Maki (cream cheese and cucumber topped with smoked salmon). He thought that the cream cheese taste was a little too powerful but Erin and I thought it was really good.

I had a Negihama Maki (yellow tail and scallions roll), Sake (salmon), Ikura (salmon roe), and O-Toro (fatty tuna) Nigiri sushi and it was all so yummy. The O-Toro was something that they had as a special, seasonal item that night and it was super fatty. Super fatty = super yummy!

Afterwards, Tony and I went to the Independent in Union Square in search of dessert. We saw my new coworker, Elissa, there with her boyfriend which was a nice surprise. Unfortunately, we couldn't sit at the bar with them because the place was packed, so we went over to the other side of the restaurant and managed to find two seats there.

We shared the profiteroles dessert and it was so good! We both ordered a glass of the Riesling wine but Tony didn't care for it as much as I did because it was more of a sparkling wine and he thought the bartender gave us Prosecco in error. He didn't hate it because his glass was empty by the time we left. ;) Anyway, a fabulous dessert and we were so glad to see that the Independent was full of people.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

four burgers

Renee, Tony, and I tried out this fairly new place in Central Square called Four Burgers on Saturday night. Basically, all they serve are all natural beef, turkey, vegetarian, and salmon burgers. Lucky for us they also serve beer and wine. :)

First of all, it's in Central Square, so you know it isn't in the most refined area of Cambridge. The burgers were kind of pricy ($7 each) but we all agreed that they were really tasty. I opted for the waffle fries that come with each burger, while Renee chose the sweet potato fries option and Tony went with the french fries option. What was kind of funny is that my waffle fries looked like potato chips (kind of like the Ruffles cut but criss-crossed), and they charged an extra $1 for Tony's french fries. Anyway, details details.

All three of us got the beef burgers because let's face it, we were starving carnivores. The wine was good although they gave me a glass of pinot grigio when I asked for pinot noir. All in all though, we had a good time and would probably go back there again if we were ever in Central Square looking for a burger alternative to the Wendy's down the street.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the red house

Mike, Erin, Tony and I met up for drinks at Noir after work. It's a bar at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge that has outdoor seating, which was perfect for a summer night. Erin talked me into having one of her all-time favorite drinks, a Dirty Harry. It's a martini made with Reyka vodka, blue-cheese stuffed olives, and a splash of dirt. (P.S. I had to ask to, what is "a splash of dirt"? It's olive juice.) I like pretty much all things savory so I thought it was pretty good. I think Tony wanted to hurl at the thought of blue cheese in a drink, but he was still a good sport and took a sip. I also had a glass of the Ste. Michelle pinot grigio wine which was excellent.

We decided to try out the Red House restaurant in Harvard Square for dinner. It's a cute restaurant with a cozy feel to it inside. It was interesting because on one side of their menu, they had a $30 pick-and-choose menu where you could pick three things from four categories. There was one appetizer section, two entree sections (not sure how they were distinguished), and a dessert section to choose from. I went to their website to get the names of the dishes we ordered but they don't post that menu online for some reason. So I'm gonna have to go by memory and more of a list of ingredients rather than the actual dish names to give this review. Here's what everyone had:

Mike had a Caesar salad to start with (forgot to get a photo of it, sorry!), shrimp linguini, and a slice of key lime pie for dessert. He didn't order from the pick and choose menu though.

Erin had two of the same things I had (she has good taste - lol!). We both had a sauteed mushroom and garlic dish as an appetizer. Then we both had a steak entree which was served with more mushrooms, rice, and asparagus. Of course, my asparagus made its way over to Tony's plate. For dessert, she had something with mixed berries on top of. By the looks of the photo I think it was something creamy.

The only difference between hers and mine was that I had a slice of the dark chocolate cake for dessert. Minus the raspberry sauce of course. And the real thing only came with one slice of orange ... this photo was taken after I put my slice onto Tony's plate.

Tony had a mixed green salad with watermelon and pine nuts as an appetizer, a puttanesca pasta dish as an entree, and a slice of dark chocolate cake for dessert.

We had a nice time and the food was delicious. I asked about the pick and choose menu and the waitress said that it is something they always offer (not just because it was Restaurant Week).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

met bar & grill in natick, ma

The last time I wrote about the Met Bar & Grill was back in November of last year, but we've actually been there 3 or 4 times between then and today. Renee, Tony, and I did a lot of shopping today during the Massachusetts Sales Tax Holiday Weekend which started with a little breakfast and coffee at our favorite Bloc 11 Cafe. After all the major shopping duties were done, we introduced her to the burgers at the Met.

She tried the Paris burger which consisted of a fried egg, brie, and caramelized onions. Yum!

Tony had a Met burger with Swiss cheese. We had bad luck with them forgetting to put his cheese on the last two times we've been there but thank goodness they remembered this time.

I had my usual bunless Met burger in a bowl with arugula, sauteed mushrooms, and a side of roasted garlic aioli. No kissy kissy tonight with my garlic breath!

But the thing that makes you do a Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph is the massive basket of "Sweets & Rings" that comes out and takes up half the table. LOL Okay, maybe not half but you get the idea. This thing was oozing with their yummy, string, onion rings and huge slabs of fried sweet potatoes. Diet? Wha? Nothing but goodness here. And a couple of stuffed pigs. Yikes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

daedalus for dinner

We had dinner with our friends, Sara and Jeff, tonight at a restaurant called Daedalus in Harvard Square. They recently (not sure exactly when but like within the past couple of years?) added on a nice outdoor patio area on their rooftop. Normally, it's very difficult to get a table on the patio for dinner but we lucked out (with a parking spot too actually) and managed to get a table right away. Tony and I like to go there for drinks once in a while but it has been a while (like 3 or 4 years?) since we last ate there and we were both really impressed with how good the food was.

Tony had the Blackened Haddock Fillet which was topped with a cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and mango salsa; served with black beans, rice, and chorizo.

Sara had the Stuffed Pork Medallions which were stuffed with blue cheese, baby spinach, and portobello mushrooms; served with mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, and a shallot peppercorn sauce.

Jeff had the Flank Steak cooked medium rare (my kind of guy!) with a Madeira wine sauce; served with mashed potatoes and grill asparagus.

I had the Salmon dish which was a pan seared fillet with white wine cream sauce; served with mashed potatoes and sauteed broccolini.

I was so tickled at how the mashed potatoes were piped onto our plates and couldn't resist getting a close up shot for ya'll to see. Plus, I think this is the first restaurant that I've had broccolini as a side dish at. Too fricken cool. The whole world needs to discover broccolini!

Anyway, it was such a beautiful summer night. What a great way to spend time with friends, enjoy good food, and share some laughs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


For Tony's birthday this year, I had originally made plans to take him out to The Beehive for dinner. But alas, we ended up going there with Mike and Erin one night (read about it here) so I had to come up with plan B. I ended up picking Icarus, which is also in the South End (a.k.a. our new favorite hangout for some reason) and so we had a nice dinner there on Sunday night.

Unfortunately -- and I'll explain why in a second -- the restaurant was celebrating Restaurant Week. Normally I like to go and try out new places during Restaurant Week but my hubby does not, so that was one downer. Secondly, I had looked at their non-Restaurant Week menu ahead of time and found something I could eat, but they decided they weren't going to offer their regular menu items that night. Rats. (Note to folks who might get a sense that I'm sounding really snobby and picky here: most of the time, restaurants let you order from their regular menus despite the Restaurant Week shindig thingie so it wasn't like I was a martian with three heads when I asked our waiter for the regular menu.)

So the way it works with Restaurant Week is that there's a fixed price for a three course meal ($33.08) and you get to pick one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert from their special menu. We decided to also do the half glass wine pairing which was a little extra. It was a neat way to try different kinds of wines, too.

We both ordered the Farm Field Salad with Orange and Sherry Vinaigrette which was paired with a really delicious Pinot Grigio called "Altanuta" from Italy. We were both surprised at how large the salad was because, let's be honest here folks, most portions during Restaurant Week tend to be on the smaller side. It was a good salad but we both found it to be a little too salty for some reason. I think we enjoyed the wine the most. :)

Tony had the Roasted Chili Glazed Pork Loin with Corn Pudding and Watermelon. It was served with a Shiraz called "Yalumba" from Australia. He thought it was ... interesting. As he said, "It's like it doesn't all necessary go together but it works somehow. I like it, it's just different."

I ordered the Grilled Bluefish and Smoked Shrimp Butter with Roasted Poblano Pepper, Corn, and Quinoa Pilaf but of course, I had to do without the pepper and corn part for obvious reasons. Instead, I got three little roasted potatoes as a substitute. My dish was served with a Cannonau called "Santa Maria La Palma" from Sardinia that was quite good. The dish was really good, too, but again a little on the salty side.

The best part, of course, was the dessert! We both had the Decadent Chocolate Cake. Yum! The whipped cream on it wasn't the typically overly sweet kind so it made it even more delicious. We had a little glass of Banyuls called "M. Choupetier" from Languedoc, France that was a perfect compliment to it.

Afterwards, we went for drinks at Sibling Rivalry and had a fun time people watching.

Happy Birthday, Tony!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

blueberry bread pudding

I stopped by the farmer's market near Harvard Yard after work today and picked up another crate of freshly picked blueberries, plus three ears of corn for Tony to enjoy tomorrow night. Dang stupid corn allergy! These look so yummy!

Last week, I bought a really long loaf of French bread that we only managed to eat half of. So I thought I'd try to figure out how to make bread pudding with the hardened loaf tonight. I Googled for a recipe and basically came up with this one by combining a couple of them and based on what I had on hand. It actually came out really good! :)

Here's a shot of what it looked like before I put it in the oven:

And what it looked like after. Not very pretty actually since the blueberries kind of exploded. But it tastes much better than it looks!

the beehive

My husband works really hard at his job. Sometimes he works longer than he's supposed to. So occassionally he gets rewarded with a comp day. But has he taken any of those comp days? Nope. Recently his boss reminded him that he has them so he decided to take Monday off. We had lunch together and afterwards he hung out with his friend, Mike.

Rewind to the day before yesterday: Sunday. We played tennis and ended up stopping due to my sore baby toes. (More details about our tennis excursion here.) Mind you, when I say "sore" I mean they hurt so bad on Monday while I was at work that I couldn't wear my "work" shoes and hoped that nobody would notice my flip-flops. Sore as in a much darker shade of red than they should be. I could post a photo here but that would just be disgustingly gross. Okay, so on top of sore baby toes due to tight sneakers, my thighs and calves are a-c-h-i-n-g!!! I must be so out of shape ya'll.

Put all these things together: hubby with day off and the CAR + sore baby toes + aching legs = a ride home instead of a painful walk!

I guess they had not concluded their boys'-day-out so Mike was in the car when he came to pick me up. We managed to get in touch with Mike's girlfriend, Erin, before she hopped onto the train home so we decided to go out for dinner and drinks. We couldn't decide on a place in Harvard Square so we opted to head over to the South End (seems to be our favorite destination these days) to scope it out.

Funnily enough (I think I made up that term), Tony and I had driven around the South End on Saturday night in search of The Beehive to no avail. Of course, we easily stumbled upon it last night when we weren't even looking for it. It's next to Hamersley's Bistro on Tremont Street, near Sibling Rivalry.

It was a beautiful summer night -- not too chilly, not too hot -- so we sat outside for drinks. Apparently there is some sort of law for restaurants where customers have to eat something in order to be able to drink alcohol outside. So they have a smaller, snack-like menu for the outside sidewalk area that consisted of funny things like roasted peanuts ($2), olives ($4), a cheeseball and triscuits (yes, I said triscuits ... forgot how much that was ... $5?) and more. While Erin sipped on her dirty Ketel One vodka martini, the three of us shared a carafe of Pinot Grigio. We ordered some pate ($9) and olives to eat with the complimentary baguette (we ended up eating three altogether - such pigs!). It rained really lightly and then luckily stopped after a couple of minutes. We spotted this pretty rainbow, too.

We decided to have dinner inside the restaurant. Wow, what a cool place! We sat downstairs which is where the stage is located. They have lots of exposed brick, old chandeliers, and burlesque decor. The bathroom was kind of dark but also pretty cool with old, antique mirrors over the sink. The seating at our table was a little awkward because it was like a bench and the table had kind of weird angles, but we made it work.

Tony and Erin had the roasted cod, Mike had the blackened tuna, and I had the tuna tartare and ordered a side of the "Beehive Frites" for the table. The frites were like thicker potato chips and were really tasty. We all really enjoyed our dishes and pretty much handed back clean plates. Of course, we ate so much pate and bread earlier so none of us had room for dessert.

I think overall we had a nice experience at The Beehive. The food was delicious and so was our wine, but it was a tiny bit pricy. My main complaint was that the pate had nuts and raisins in it but there was no warning on the menu, etc. I think the restaurant really should consider warning customers about the nuts in them because of food allergy issues. Also because the pate comes nicely wrapped in saran wrap and then in a pretty paper that is a map of France with different regions outlined by the type of cheese they make. It would be such a waste for someone with a nut allergy to get it, open it up, and then have to send it back. Oh and we couldn't tell if it was nuts inside until the guys tried some for me. So. You know. I think restaurants need to label those types of things clearer.

Lastly (sorry for this really long review!), we had a good laugh when we got the credit card slips to sign because there was a line asking for our telephone number which is something none of us have ever seen before. Tony and Mike would like to think it was the waitress asking, but we had to burst their bubbles. LOL Sorry guys!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Tony was craving a burger last night. After going through the list of the usual places where we know we could get a good burger (Tavern, Christopher's, R.F. O'Sullivan), we decided to get in the car and drive over to the South End to see if we could find a new place to try. While driving around Tremont and Washington Street, we tried to find a new place called The Beehive that we read about recently. Alas, no luck.

Then I remembered this bar we happened upon a while ago called Coda. Luckily, we found a parking space not too far away and walked into a packed restaurant around 8:30 pm. I think we managed to get the last table at the moment. It has such a cozy atmosphere and our waiter was super friendly. He, Josh, was very patient (and comical) about my food allergy issues (thanks, Josh!). I was craving beef for some reason so I had the steak frites medium rare. Boy oh boy, was it medium rare! (That's a good thing by the way!) Tony had a cheeseburger and we both had a ton of yummy, thin, crispy fries. De-lish! We'll definitely go back there again. :)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

keepin' it simple

One of the best ways I've managed to "cope" with food allergies is to cook things I can eat in different ways. What better specimen to use as an example than chicken. I mean, there are so many ways you can cook chicken these days. One of my favorite ways -- yes, despite the hot, humid, summer weather we are going through lately, call me nutty -- is by simply roasting it. All I do is throw it on a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then put it in a 450 oven for an hour. Yummy every time.

I bought some gnocchi at the Salumeria Italiana a couple of weeks ago (keeps well in the freezer until you need it by the way). I also bought a beautiful potted basil plant from Andy's Flowers in Somerville a couple of weeks ago that keeps blooming and blooming despite how many leaves I pluck off it. I made an olive oil and basil paste in our little Magic Bullet blender device (<-- seriously one of the best buys out there if you like to cook) with some garlic, parmesan, and romano cheeses. Put it all together and you have yourself a delicious (and rather healthy?) dinner. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

chobani greek yogurt

I've found a new snack, ya'll ...

Chobani vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt. Yummmmmm!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

sushi class

Tony and I took a sushi making class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts on Friday night. I had taken two French cooking classes there and wanted him to see what it was like -- plus we LOVE sushi -- so I convinced him to take the class with me. It was a lot more stressful than he thought it would be, but we still managed to have a fun time learning various things.

Our instructor, Chef Hong, taught us about shopping for sushi grade fish, how to roll a couple of different ways, about the various filling options, and -- most importantly -- how to make sushi rice. We all did the prep work of cutting up vegetables, frying the tempura pieces, and prepping the dessert stuff in groups of two. Tony and I made the components for the dessert pieces -- mango with coconut rice and chocolate nigiri -- plus made the sushi rice. Then we cleaned up our boards and all learned how to make rolls at the same time. We could use any filling we wanted to which was really cool since I was a little bit worried that I wouldn't be able to eat much due to my food allergies. We will totally do this at home some time!

Here's a video of Chef Hong seasoning the rice that Tony and I [nervously] made:

And here's a video of Chef Hong assisting Tony-san with his rolling techniques (sorry for my little comments in the background - LOL):

Anyway, if you're in this area, I highly recommend taking a cooking class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts some time. It's a lot of fun and you learn a lot while making yummy food and meeting interesting people. :)


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