Cookbook price alert

  1.  This post is not sponsored in anyway.
  2. You must be able to travel to Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA.

I was killing some time the other day, and meandered around the cookbook section of The Coop, the official book store of Harvard University.  Believe it or not, I got bored.  For fun, I walked over to the sale section which is just one room over.  Most of the time, there isn’t anything I want.

This time, there still wasn’t anything I wanted… but that’s only because I already owned it.  The Coop had several copies of The Big-Flavor Grill: No-Marinade, No-Hassle Recipes for Delicious Steaks, Chicken, Ribs, Chops, Vegetables, Shrimp, and Fish for about $8.  I bought this book, written by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby, back in 2014.  I could read it all day because it appeals to me that much.  Seeing it on the shelf reminded me that I should cook from it before the weather turns cold.

Honestly though, I can make a lot of the recipes indoors sans grill.  The appeal of this book is in all the sauce and condiment recipes.

I love this book so much that I want to buy a copy of it just to gift to someone.

Alas, no one I know is addicted to cookbooks as I am.

But if you are or you like to grill, head over to the Coop.  You can thank me later.

Advertisements

Alden and Harlow, in pictures

Last week was the first time I dined at Alden and Harlow in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.  In sum, it was amazing.  The only thing not pictured that we ate was a plate of root beer glazed ribs (it was a special).  And it was the only plate that we felt did not live up to the deliciousness of all the other plates.  I’m not saying it was bad.  It just wasn’t stellar.  Everything in the following pictures though?  I WANT TO EAT IT ALL AGAIN AND AGAIN.

Alden & Harlow sign

Alden & Harlow sign

waiting for friends

waiting for friends

The turncoat cocktail and pickled green beans to nosh on

The turncoat cocktail and pickled green beans to nosh on

Continue reading

Toscano, a restaurant review (Restaurant Week edition)

Winter Restaurant Week came to a close yesterday, here in the Boston area.  A couple of my friends have raved about Toscano over the last year, so we went there.  Our menu was:

Primi
Salmone Affumicato
Foley Smoked Salmon – Crostini – Lemon – Caperberries

Rigatoni Toscano
Double Smoked Bacon – Tomato Cream – Herbs

Tagliatelle Porcini
Sautéed Porcini Mushrooms – Herbs

Pasta e Fagioli
Puree of White Bean Soup – Tubettini Pasta

Insalata Cesare
Romaine Hearts – Focaccia Croutons – Classic Dressing

Caprese
Local Fresh Burrata – Beefsteak Tomatoes – Basil

Secondi
Risotto Granchio
Jumbo Lump Crabmeat – Tomato – Shellfish Stock

Pollo Pizzaiola
Oven Roasted Chicken Breast -Pomodoro Sauce – Fresh Mozzarella – Oregano – Patate al Forno

Scaloppini Limone
Sautéed Veal Scaloppini – White Wine – Lemon – Parsley – Patate al Forno

Bistecca alla Griglia
Wood Grilled Sirloin of Beef  – Patate al Forno

Gamberoni al Moscato
Sautéed Shrimp – Leeks – Moscato Wine – Patate al Forno

Salmone Asparagi
Grilled North Atlantic Salmon – Asparagus – Mustard Sauce

Dolce
Tiramisu
Toscano House Specialty “Budino Style”

Torta di Mirtilli
Blueberry – White Chocolate Tart

Gelato e Sorbeto
Del Giorno

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.42.16 PM

The tagliatelle?  I loved it.  The pasta had a nice bite to it, and it wasn’t too oily.  The mushroom flavor was very good.  It wasn’t an immediate “wow” for one of my table companions.  But the more she ate, the happier she was with her dish.  For half of my table, the favorite starter was the rigatoni.  I tried a bite of it.  The bacon flavor is without question the dominant flavor.  It was very delicious as long as you like your bacon, and maybe I’ll order it next time.  Then again, I love tagliatelle and mushrooms, so I’m hard press to say which of the two I’d pick if I had to.  One of the diners had the white bean soup, and she was happy with it. It had a much more delicate flavor than I was expecting.  I’m not sure I’ll ever order it in the future, but I highly suspect that it’s because I’m pro-pasta at Toscano.

Continue reading

Chocolate Fest at the Red House

First, I want to apologize for the lack of images.  I forgot my camera when I was leaving for work.  D:

Very recently, my sister sent me an email about Chocolate Fest in Harvard Square and which places were participating.  (Oh, chocolate!  My one true love!)  This very quickly resulted in a table for six, under my name, at The Red House the other night.

Here’s the Chocolate Fest 2013 menu:

start with…
a choice of

pulled pork & monterey jack enchilada
with molé  sauce & jicama coleslaw

spinach salad
with Swiss bresaola, shaved white chocolate & raspberry vinaigrette

entrees

short ribs of beef
braised with mild Oaxacan cocoa & smoked chilies

roasted duck breast
with dried cherry molé sauce

finish with…

chocolate pecan bread pudding
with homemade whipped cream

fresh fruit chocolate fondue
with strawberries, pineapple & mango

chocolate espresso panna cotta
with chocolate covered espresso beans

There were also two drinks on the chocolate menu – one was red wine mixed with chocolate or cocoa (I can’t remember which), and the other was labeled Cafe Mole, maybe?  It was a cocktail with Patron XO Cafe, Bailey’s, something else, and chipotle simple syrup.  I had the spinach salad, the beef short ribs, and the fondue.  My sister had the enchilada, the duck, and the panna cotta.  A couple of people at my table got the bread pudding for dessert.  I got to taste everything because that’s how my friends and family and I are.

Most of the table thought that the enchilada was the winning appetizer, but I actually preferred the salad.  White chocolate on salad sounds weird, but there’s wasn’t too much of it.  I don’t really know how to explain the flavor combination, but the best I can do is to say that the chocolate smoothed out the flavors of the raspberries and the spinach.  I really liked it, and it seems doable to replicate at home.  (haha, I will need to research for a good raspberry vinaigrette recipe though!)

Both entrees on the chocolate menu were delicious.  I can’t remember what veggies came with the duck, but the short ribs were served with broccoli and mashed potatoes.  The short ribs were easy to shred with my fork, and the sauce was pleasantly spiced.  The smoked chiles definitely added heat, but not too much.  It was good for someone like me who has fairly low tolerance for spicy foods, but I think for someone who likes spicy foods it would not be detectable enough.

As for dessert, I didn’t get any mango pieces.  It was two strawberries, four pineapple pieces, and small cup of warm chocolate sauce.  I purposely picked a light dessert, which was a wise decision on my part.  I was so full by the time I was done with my entree, I couldn’t even finish the mashed potatoes.  But I did learn something, it is not the size of your dessert that matters, it is the awesomeness of your chocolate sauce.  (^_~)

The bread pudding and the panna cotta were good too.  The panna cotta interested me the least because I’m not into espresso.  The bread pudding was as excellent as their New Year’s Eve version but not as heavy.  I’m not sure what type of bread they use but it was very fluffy, and lighter than panettone.

After another awesome event dinner at the Red House, my friends and I have vowed to come here for a normal dinner some time in the near future.  Dear readers, I hope you will too.  And if you don’t know what to order for dessert, the bread pudding is always a safe and happy bet.  (^_^)

restaurant week, Harvest review

Restaurant Week, week no. 2, location – Harvest, Cambridge.

Menu for Week 2** March 21st to March 27th available every evening, including Saturdays Tasting Menu $33.09 / Half Glass Wine Pairing $48.09, Full Glass Pairing $58.09 (No Substitutions)

Appetizers

  • Spring Vidalia Onion Soup Gruyere Croutons & Fines Herbs Angelini, Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy 2008 Market Green
  • Panzannella Bufala Mozzarella, Crispy Artichokes & Parsley Crostini Burgáns, Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain 2007

Entrées

  • Seared Atlantic Salmon Pearl Pasta, Cucumber, Lemon Confit, Ginger & Dill Yogurt Whitehaven, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2008
  • Roasted Loin of Pork Braised Chard, Smoked Bacon, Anson Mills Polenta & a Vanilla Gastrique First Drop Wines, The Red One, Shiraz Blend, South Australia 2008
  • Forbidden Black Rice Tart Baby Carrots, Baby Turnips, Bok Choy & Hen of The Woods Mushrooms Hogue Cellars, Genesis, Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington 2005

Dessert

  • Chocolate Peanut Crunch Bourbon Cream, Sea salt, Cocoa Nibs Banfi, Rosa Regale, Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy 2007
  • Roasted Apple Pain De Gênes Vanilla Cream, Apple Conserve Markus Molitor, Riesling, Spätlese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany 2006
  • Raspberry Sorbet Sesame Almond Crisp Michele Chiarlo, Nivole, Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy 2007

Me? The spring onion soup, the black rice tart, and the roasted apple.

Miss L*? The spring onion soup, the pork, the roasted apple, and the half-glass pairing.

Miss K*? The panzannella, the pork, the chocolate peanut crunch, and the half-glass pairing.

The spring onion soup was nothing like I was expecting. I was still expecting something like onion soup. Instead, I was served a smooth, green soup with a drizzle of oil and a small piece of toasted bread with cheese sitting in the center of my bowl. But wow! It really made you think of spring. It was a delicate flavor, but still really flavorful. I don’t even know what herbs were used (I am a terrible taster, and am terrible at describing tastes). It was a perfect soup for a day like today, which was still quite windy and a bit cold even though we have officially moved out of winter.

[haha! I’ve been watching a Japanese drama recently called “Kami No Shizuku” which revolves around wine tasting, using really superfluous descriptions to describe the taste of a wine… I am so tempted to say something like “this soup transported me to a field of snowdrops on an early spring morning, all covered with dew, but then! the sun bursts through the fog to warm the air and the ground around me. The beautiful fragrance of spring feels my lungs, and a desire to move forward ambitiously surges through me.” *grin*  It’s so silly, and yet I’m still watching this drama.]

I think the theme for our evening out was “surprises.” My black rice tart? Again, it was nothing I was expecting. When I think of rice, I tend to think of Asian starchy and sticky dishes. But my tart wasn’t sticky at all, nor was it much of a tart. The rice had been molded probably with something like a biscuit cutter, and the veggies and mushrooms were mounded on top. The rice was infused with a sort of herb flavor that, again, I couldn’t identify. It was a stronger flavor than the onion soup, but nothing overwhelming.  The minute I put my fork in it, individual pieces of rice began to fall apart easily.  Miss K and Miss L took a bite of my rice tart, and both were also pleasantly surprised.

I did steal a bit of the pork. Wow, the pork tasted like it had been covered in smoky bacon except there were only a few bits of bacon on the plate. Miss K and Miss L raved over the pork plate. They were impressed with the wine pairing too. None of us are wine experts, but the ladies at my table know the good from the bad. And then Miss L admitted that it was the first time that she had ever eaten spinach that still looked like spinach (I hear that she only eats it in Indian cuisine, so probably as saag paneer aka palak paneer, which is also quite yummy).  She liked her spinach for once. Apparently, the highlight of the plate was the vanilla gastrique. I don’t know what gastrique means, but it was apparently the shiny sauce that was drizzled under their food and over their plates. Many “oohs” and “aahs” were had.

Miss K got the better dessert. Miss L and I were imagining something like an apple pie on our plates, but the reality was we got what was essentially an apple muffin served with roasted diced apples and ice cream. Oh, and a very, very thinly sliced piece of dried apple. The dried apple was really good. The rest? Good but nothing to wax frilly descriptions over. Miss K’s dessert looked like a tiramisu, but it was more like a chocolate cookie(?) layer with a chocolate peanut butter mousse layered on top. The peanut flavor was quite subtle and nothing like a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Miss K was happy with her dessert selection.

Honestly though, I think Miss K was more enthralled by her dessert wine, the Rosa Regale. It was fizzy and fruity and sweet like a cocktail, but without being a cocktail. She currently plans to hunt down this wine and buy it for her house.

I’m more than tempted to go back to Harvest. Maybe during the summer restaurant week. We were all really full at the end of the night. Luckily, I was not as gut-bustingly full as I had been after eating at Grotto (I did not have to stay up late in hopes of digesting my meal more). Don’t get me wrong though, portions at Harvest will still feed you well enough, even though it might look smaller than what you were expecting. On the other hand, the presentation was very nice – prettier than Grotto easily.  The service at Harvest was good, still not as good as my experience at Sel de la Terre, but still good. The only complaint we had was that the wines were not served when the food came out. They were always a few minutes late. I think we had to wait at least a good five minutes before the dessert wines were dropped off at our table. We tried our best not to dig through our desserts before Miss K and Miss L could have some of it with their wines.

I think Harvest is perfect for special occasions. And it’s a good place to check out if you want to impress your company. I’m very happy that Miss K and Miss L enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m sure we’ll go back in the near future.

~Mikan

** = Yes, Harvest had a different menu for Week 1.