Monday, February 22, 2010

central bottle

"Have you been to Central Bottle yet?" That's what a friend of mine asked me via email yesterday. Yes, yes indeed I have been to Central Bottle! It's a neat wine store in between Central Square and MIT on Mass Avenue that features a huge selection of wine, plus some cheeses, meats, and other culinary goods. I've stopped in three times over the course of about a month, and each time I'm taken aback by their super friendly staff, the selection that they offer, and the various events they have going on.

The first time I stumbled in was back on 1/29/10 when I tried to go see the I...You...We...Robot! exhibit at Space 242 in Boston after work. After driving around for half an hour and not finding a parking space, I gave up and decided to stop by on the way home (because I had driven by several times wondering what it was like inside).

I think they were doing some sort of wine tasting that evening right before I got there, and I was able to try a cabernet that the woman was pouring as I walked around and gawked at all the pretty wine labels.

And then I perused at the lovely dishes full of little bruschettas that they offer for a couple of dollars, which were located right next to the displays of meats and cheeses that they sell. There were yummy things I recognized like Scamorza cheese and Bresaola, plus many other delicious things I would love to experience some time.

Don't let the size of their wine selection intimidate or scare you away: they have a section of wines that are less than $15, so it's not all just stuff to save for a special occasion. I bought a bottle of a Chilean wine, Terra Noble Carmenere Reserva 2007, and Tony and I both really enjoyed it (went back to get a second bottle later).

The second time I visited, I took my sister-in-law there and she found a bottle of wine that she has only scene back in Italy. I think on that visit, we both bought some of the ricotta salata cheese to try. I remember admiring their light fixtures, too, which my sister-in-law said looked like they were made out of Italian sodas.

The last time I was there was with a friend on Valentine's night, on our way to dinner. This was when I picked up that second bottle of the Carmenere mentioned above. Since my husband had a gig that night, I was planning on making a nice dinner for us on Monday night to celebrate and I thought the Carmenere would go well with lamb chops (which, it did by the way!). We arrived to a nearly packed store because they were doing a special oysters and champagne event to celebrate the holiday. We didn't stay for the festivities, but it was fun to see the red Vespa that's parked at the front of the store all decked out with hearts.

We're going to their lamb and wine tasting event tomorrow (2/23) night which we are super excited about because well, we both love lamb and wine! (There will be a post about that later this week, I'm sure ...)

So now I ask, "Have you been to Central Bottle yet?" :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

coconut milk shrimp

I love when the jumbo easy-peel shrimp goes on sale at the grocery store because I love to make this coconut milk shrimp dish.

It's super easy to make! I honestly think the part that takes the longest is deveining the shrimp, but then again, I am the pickiest person when it comes to doing that (ask my husband) so it might not take you as long as it takes me.


1 pound of jumbo easy-peel shrimp, shells removed, deveined*
1 can of coconut milk (not the low fat stuff!)
2 shallots, sliced
2 shoots of green onions/scallions
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1/2 a stick of butter
salt and pepper


1. In a large saucepan about 2 inches deep, melt 1/2 the butter over medium heat and add the sliced shallots. Season with salt and pepper, stir occasionally, and let them soften (about 5 minutes).
2. Add the garlic cloves (I like to put them in whole so that you can remove them easier later if you don't want to eat them and have garlic breathe the next day), turn up the heat to high, and add the shrimp.
3. Let the shrimp get cooked on one side before stirring and flipping them over (about 2 minutes). Add the green onions and the remaining 1/2 of the butter.
4. Once the shrimp are nice and pink, add the coconut milk. Stir and let it get back up to a little bit of a boil. Then turn the heat down to really low and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
5. Serve over rice and enjoy!

*I put that asterisk next to deveining because when I say I'm picky about deveining, I mean I devein the backside of the shrimp and the belly of the shrimp too. I know, it's a bit much but that stuff creeps me out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

samurai boston for sushi

We had dinner at Samurai Boston last night before heading over to see the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars show at the Berklee Performance Center. We scored a parking spot right on Boylston Street near the restaurant (thank you, parking angel!) which was awesome because I was stupidly without a winter hat and gloves that night. This was the third time I have been to the restaurant (read about our previous outing here) and I was really looking forward to the yummy sushi to be had.

We decided that this was our Valentine's Day outing, so we splurged and got a little bottle of Sayuri Nigori sake ($17) to share. It is a cloudy, cold sake that is nice, sweet and refreshing. It's also dangerously easy to finish the whole bottle in a short amount of time!

Then we shared an appetizer called Hamachi Kama Yaki ($10) which is lightly salted, grilled yellowtail collar served with a deliciously sweet ponzu sauce. It was so yummy!

The portion was much bigger than I had anticipated which is always a nice surprise. It seemed so simply cooked and seasoned but tasted amazingly good. We both really like yellowtail as sushi, so having it cooked was a nice way of enjoying it too. I have to admit, I was sucking the last bits of fish off each of the bones, it was that good!

Tony had the rainbow roll ($13) and the negihama maki rolls ($5.50), which were very good.

I decided to get the chirashi ($19) bowl of rice with sashimi on top, one of my favorite things to get when we splurge on sushi. I love the sweetness of the sushi rice at the bottom of the bowl and the freshness of the fish on top. They also put a little mound of ikura (salmon roe) on top which doesn't always happen when I order the dish elsewhere, so I was super psyched.

It was delicious and as always, quite filling, but I have to say that I don't care for imitation crab meat. (What is imitation crab meat anyway, dare I ask?!) The best part was that I had Tony eat a piece of eel (unagi) and he liked it -- of course, he didn't know what it was until I told him afterwards!

We ended dinner quite full and content, although they were out of the green tea mochi dessert so were a little disappointed (probably better for our cholesterol levels though). I like this restaurant because they serve consistently good sushi, the atmosphere is fun, and the people that work there are so nice. It might not be a place to go to for sushi everyday, but for special occasions and special guests I think it's well worth it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

lime cornmeal glazed cookies

I made these lime cornmeal glazed cookies (a recipe from Martha Stewart) for our valentine themed coffee hour at work yesterday. I made them years ago (back before I knew I was allergic to corn!) and so I thought I'd give them a shot again. I think people liked them (errr, at least I hope so!) so here's the recipe in case anyone out there would like to try them out.

Ingredients (for cookies; makes about 2 dozen):

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
4 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes total)
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (2 medium oranges)
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for coating glass

Directions (for cookies):

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg; beat until just blended. Add citrus zests, lime juice, and almond extract.

2. With the mixer on low speed, add flour and cornmeal. Continue beating until well blended. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Using a 1 1/4-inch ice-cream scoop, form balls from chilled dough. Place balls on prepared sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart. Dip bottom of a medium drinking glass into cornmeal. Flatten balls with the bottom of glass until dough is about 1/4 inch thick.

4. Bake cookies until crisp and light-golden brown around the edges, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a wire rack, and let the cookies cool completely.

5. Place a wire rack on top of a piece of parchment paper. Pour the lime glaze over the cooled cookies, allowing the excess to drip off the edges. Let glaze set. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Ingredients (for the lime glaze; makes about 1 1/3 cup):

3 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
8 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest (about 6 limes total)

Directions (for the lime glaze):

Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Add lime juice; stir until smooth. Stir in lime zest. Use glaze immediately.


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