Sunday, January 17, 2010

brioche for breakfast

One of the best things I always look forward to on weekends: sleeping in on Sunday. On this particular Sunday, I was waken around 11 am (hey, I went to bed around 1:30 am, so ...) when my husband decided to roll out of bed. I asked for thirty more minutes because I had just been dreaming about eating tomatoes and fresh mozzarella (pathetic, I know) and the bed was oh so warm and cozy. And it was Sunday.

About ten minutes pass when I hear the sound of the kettle whistling. The sounds of my wonderful husband making French pressed coffee. My foot sneaks out from beneath the comforters (yes, more than one ... I freeze at night). Brrr, it's warmer in the bed.

"Wake up, wake up ..." I hear as he comes back to check on me. It hasn't been thirty minutes yet. But the thought of fresh coffee. Oh, I'm so torn. Warm bed or coffee?

Suddenly I remembered that I bought a loaf of brioche from Sherman Market the day before. Sleepily, and with my head barely peeking out from beneath the covers, I tell him, "You can slice the brioche and put it in the toaster, then eat it with butter or jam." Funny how clearly I can give directions when it comes to food even though I'm half asleep.

I think, "He's going to wait for me to get up to make anything to eat, or he'll just eat cereal." Nice warm, comfy blankets.

Less then ten minutes later, a lovely smell wafts into the room. Mmmmm ... the smell of toasted brioche! I'm awake, I'm awake!

They sell the brioche as a full loaf for $9, or in thirds for $3. I bought one for us and one for my friend Laura because we have this common obsession affection for brioche. Sherman Market only receives it on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays so if you want one be sure to stop by during the weekend and early because they always sell out! I certainly plan on going back to get some pretty frequently.

Especially if they make Sundays that much more wonderful. And delicious. :)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

top of the hub + atlantic fish

Photo is from the Top of the Hub website

We started the new year with good food, fun, and company by having drinks and dinner with my brother-in-law and his wife. We took them to the Top of the Hub in the Prudential Center and luckily managed to find a seat in the lounge for some drinks. It's always fun to take people who have never been there before, even if it's cloudy outside like it was that night. The whole ordeal of trying to find a parking space nearby, walking through the Prudential Center, and then taking an elevator up to the 52nd floor of a building can be quite exhilirating. And then you see the spectacular view from the top.

They feature a pretty nice wine and cocktail menu that may be a little pricy, but we all agreed that the portions are bigger than what you usually expect. The martini and champagne glasses we were served that night were quite large which was quite nice. :)

Even though it was quite cloudy, I managed to snap this photo of Fenway Park all decked out for the Winter Classic that took place earlier that day.

Since we managed to [miraculously] find a parking spot on Newbury Street, we decided to find a nearby restaurant for dinner instead of driving to another neighborhood. We ended up going to Atlantic Fish, a restaurant that we had gone to with my sister-in-law and her mother back in February last year.

It's such a classy joint and after eating there again, I have to say that I'm glad we picked it. Our waiter, Fabian, was great and quite animated (even as he poured out one of the cocktails). He was good at taking a group shot with my camera, too.

We shared the clams casino appetizer. It was delicious! There were six pieces and I think we could've fought each other for seconds. I think next time we go back there I could polish off a whole plate of these with their delicious fresh-out-of-the-oven bread. Yum!

As you can see, our table was full of good food! I had the 2007 Viognier from Miner Wines and it was so good. Marina had the 2008 Sancerre “Les Belles Vignes” from Domaine Fournier and it, too, was good. Our waiter brought the glasses to the table and asked us to guess which was which. It was kind of difficult but you could definitely smell a difference between the two (one was sweeter than the other).

Marina had a grilled yellowfin tuna steak with spinach and lobster mashed potatoes on the side. Those mashed potatoes were amazing! Whomever thought to put lobster in mashed potatoes was a genius.

Tony had the seafood fra diavolo dish which was made with shrimp, scallops, swordfish and mussels in a spicy tomato sauce. The portion was quite a lot so he ended up taking home some leftovers.

I went for the lobster ravioli dish again even though I've tried it before because it is just way too delicious to pass up. They make it with chunks of lobster and shitake mushrooms in a really nice and rich basil cream sauce. I had to ask the waiter for extra bread so that I could sop up the sauce.

Needless to say, we had no room for dessert afterwards and left the restaurant with some very happy bellies. It was such a nice way to ring in the new year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

hing shing pastry

We went to China Pearl for some dim sum on Wednesday (luckily they do dim sum all day until 9 pm!). I think it had been at least one year since either of us had dim sum because I think Tony went with his coworkers from Eaton Vance before he left last December, and I can't remember ever going since then (which is kind of sad).

I guess with my food allergies I was always hesitant about going out for dim sum because I don't know what ingredients they use to make the dumplings, etc. I played it somewhat safe this time (especially after just getting over whatever it was that bothered me during the Christmas holiday) and stuck with mostly shrimp dishes like har gow, and of course, shumai. I couldn't resist eating one of the lo mai gai (lotus leaf wrapped rice and meat) bundles, especially after Tony opened one up and the fragrant smell of the leaves and sticky rice enticed me.

Two days later (and even the day after), I felt fine so I think my fears have been calmed. (Woo hoo!)

They didn't have the egg custard tarts (dan tat) that we both love, so we stopped at the Hing Shing Pastry store on our way back to the car to pick some up. We normally stop at the Eldo Cake House but we parked in the opposite direction this time and thought about trying out a new place. I'm so glad we did!

Hing Shing is small and there are no tables and chairs to sit down at to enjoy your pastry purchases, but they have a large variety of things to choose from both sweet and savory. There were a couple of people ahead of us in line so we patiently waited while the one woman working the front tended to orders and a bunch of men in the kitchen were busy baking and talking.

This rack of pastries caught my eye and come to find out, they are sponge cake. They looked like popovers to me but sure enough, they are sweet and really light and fluffy in texture.

We laughed a little bit when we saw these "big walnut cookies". They were huge! And full of whole, large walnuts.

The woman had just put out a fresh batch of the dan tat so we were pretty psyched.

So we took our pastries, headed back to Somerville and to Bloc 11 for some coffee. I'd say that the dan tat and lattes were quite a perfect combination.

The dan tat were so yummy! I love the crunchiness and flakiness of the crust, and how the egg custard is not overly sweet. I found a recipe to make them at home on Jen's blog, so I might muster up the courage to try it out some day. But making a trip out to Chinatown for some makes it all that more special in the end, and this time I promise I won't wait a whole year to go back!


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