A dinner worthy of waxing poetry, an Urban Hearth review

Well, no.  I’m not actually going to write poetry about dinner.  But I am happy to report that I finally got to eat dinner at Urban Hearth, a cute little restaurant found in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  *does a happy dance*

I was there back in the winter for the first time to try out their breakfast/lunch menu, and really enjoyed it.  I meant to attend dinner there for my birthday some time ago, but I had trouble planning it when one of my friends headed off to Europe for vacation.  Instead of another food-truck-adventure-staycation this summer, my sister suggested that we meet up and have dinner at Urban Hearth.

While Urban Hearth is a cafe with an a la carte menu during the day, it is a fixed price multi-course restaurant when the evening rolls around.  You have your choice between 3 course and 5 courses, and you can add a wine option as well.  We just did the 3 courses without wine.

Supper club dinner at #urbanhearth

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Our meal started with an aperol spritz aperitif.  Their version of aperol spritz had cava instead of prosecco.  I don’t drink much at all, but I did like this cocktail.

Then, the starters came out.  Technically, the starters are complimentary bites not listed on the menu.  Both my sister and I should have gotten the same starter, but my sister has trouble digesting corn products, so she got an heirloom tomato and mozzarella plate.  My plate was a tostada, it was really good and sign of the food to come:  elegant and seasonal, but familiar.  It had sweet corn kernels, avocado cream, zucchini, tomatoes, cheese, bell peppers, a natursium leaf, and probably cilantro too but very little.  (For which I am grateful for as I am anti-cilantro.  Sorry, cilantro fans.)

Aperol and cava aperitif #aperitif #aperolspritz

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Tostada for a starter #urbanhearth #tostada

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My sister's starter #urbanhearth #heirloomtomatoes

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For our official first course, I went with the peach panzanella with seared halloumi, fresh greens, and olive emulsion.  It wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  It was well styled, and the halloumi was easily my favorite part of the plate, but the peaches weren’t as sweet as I had hoped, and the olive emulsion tasted like a puckerish vinaigrette.  The bread part of the panzanella was really torn pieces from a nice loaf of bread that still tasted fresh.  I guess I’m more accustomed to toasting cubes of old bread when I make panzanella.

My sister had the seared pork belly with English peas, kimchi, and radish.  It was really gorgeous, and the pork had an amazingly dark sear that was probably just seconds away from being burnt.  If I hadn’t chosen a meat heavy dish for my main course, I would have picked the pork belly for myself too.  I will say that I don’t know where the kimchi was.  Looking at the photo now, it looks like the plate had fresh and pickled radish.  I guess the pickled radish was the kimchi.

Peach panzanella with halloumi #peaches #halloumi

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Roasted pork belly with pea puree #porkbelly

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When the first course was done, my sister and I were just chatting and sipping on our aperol spritz (we’re very slow drinkers when it comes to booze as our entire family just really isn’t inclined to any variety of alcohol in general).  And then, the kitchen whipped out some steaming shishito peppers that had been seared in generous amounts of oil and topped with salt.  Normally, I’m not wowed by shishito peppers (meanwhile my friends love them lots) but these were pretty good.

By the time the entree dish came to the table, I was already nearly full of good food, but I was determined to see the evening to the end.  My second course was the beef tenderloin with chanterelles, kohlrabi dumplings, creme fraiche, greens, and blueberry sauce.  I wouldn’t have thought to pair beef with creme fraiche and blueberries, but it doesn’t seem strange to me at all.  I just never thought to do it.  It was fabulous.  And the kohrabi dumplings?  I loved that too.  The dumplings were basically like a potato gnudi except made from kohlrabi.  I’m very tempted to try making it at home.

Meanwhile, my sister had the pan seared striped bass with grilled shrimp.  She was also supposed to get spoonbread, but since that had cornmeal in it, the kitchen replaced it with kohlrabi dumplings (she also loved them).  Not a bad word was had about the dish.

Pan seared striped bass and grilled shrimp. @hongkongeatz all your favorites! #fish #shrimp

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After the entree, we got our last palate cleanser:  a little digestive/sugar cookie with elderberry jam fruit.  This delicious.  The cookie portion was a little sweeter than I personally like but not disgustingly so.  I guess the only bad thing about this palate cleanser was that I couldn’t really savor it.  It was the size of a two bite cookie, but you really had to one-shot it because the cookie crumbled the minute you bit into it.  (Not that I speaking from experience or anything…)

But the dessert plate?  That was something I got to savor as slowly as I wanted to.

Starting with my sister’s dessert, she got the chocolate bark.  Visually, it was beautiful.  I didn’t get to taste the chocolate, but I’m sure that it was good.  I did get to taste the olive oil sorbetto, on the other hand.  It was a little jarring at how savory it was, especially after the digestive cookie.  It was made with a good quality oil, but extra virgin olive oil is a very distinctive flavor.  My sister was confused when she first ate it because she forgot that it was listed as olive oil on the menu.

Chocolate bark and olive oil sorbetto #chocolate #oliveoil

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My sister may have picked the better first course, but we agreed that my dessert was the better of the two, which was the huckleberry pie with ginger whipped cream and basil oil garnish.

Huckleberry pie with ginger cream and basil oil garnish #awesomedesserts

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It was less elegant looking dessert, but the huckleberry mini pie tasted amazing with the ginger hints in the cream.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about the basil oil but I eventually found myself wanting a bit more of it on my plate.  Right now, I want to try infusing some ginger into some heavy cream (oooh, and I can too, I have some heavy cream in the fridge this very moment), just so that I can whip it up and served it on a pie.  Or a galette.  Whatever you want to call it, I don’t care.  (puts ginger whipped cream on the to-do-list)

If you are in the area, or ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend stopping by Urban Hearth.  Whether you just want to stop for coffee and breakfast, or whether you’ve got plans to spoil yourself for dinner.  My sister and I are already planning our next visit.

https://www.urbanhearth.net/

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Harvard SEAS lecture, 11/26/12, David Chang and Carles Tejedor

The lecture was split into three parts: Professor David Weitz gave the science opening and explained why, even though oil+water is opaque, Carles Tejedor’s olive oil gelee is clear. (The opacity is due to the mismatch of index of refraction between oil and water. Water has a lower index of refraction than oil. The sugar in the olive oil gelee increases the index of refraction of water almost to that of oil.)

The second part of the lecture was a short food demo by Carles Tejedor in which he plated oil yogurt (made up of 25% extra virgin olive oil, the yogurt was made pretty via spherification) and some olive oil bread (made up of 50% olive oil, I think he said).

The third and longest part of the lecture was David Chang waxing poetic about microbes. (^_^)
It really wasn’t anything that he hasn’t talked about before, so I won’t bother rehashing it. Just enjoy the pictures below.

As for audience goodies, we got to try the olive oil yogurt with olive oil breadcrumbs. We also got about 1/2 tsp of cashew miso, and three vials of mystery liquid. The first vial was cashew tare (the fermented cashew juice that separates out post-centrifuging). The second was olive “soy sauce, which tasted like salty concentrated olive juice. And the last vial was fermented olive juice which was very bitter to due oleuropein, a chemical compound which naturally occurs in olive.

Continue reading

Harvard SEAS lecture, 9/26/11, Carles Tejedor, Fina Puigdevall and Pere Planagumà

While waiting in line, I met and chatted with Kathy of http://www.kathycancook.com/. Very cool to meet other food bloggers. I have to admit that as much as I like to write posts about food and food related things, I’m terrible about publicizing this blog. I think it’s just a result from my personal wish for some level of anonymity. Or something like that. I don’t know.

Anyway!

The subject of tonight’s lecture was “Exploring thickeners to manipulate mouthfeel” with Carles Tejedor (Via Veneto), Fina Puigdevall and Pere Planagumà (les Coles). Continue reading

Can’t we just pay somebody to write a funny title for this post using “equinox”?

So…we’re having an Equinox shindig on the 29th, though it won’t actually be on the Equinox, it’s ok, because we’re ok. We haven’t decided yet if it’s going to be themed — ALL COCONUT ALL THE TIME?

I am very good at throwing things in a pan and burning them. A master, in fact.

Off-hand, I was thinking it’d be fun to do something way outside my comfort zone , but that’s pretty much everything. If it’s not Italian, Greek, Turkish or Lebanese, I have no idea how to make it and probably don’t have the right tools to cook it either. (“What? You mean you don’t use olive oil in this?”) Oh yea, and I’ll probably burn it.

Asano-mama will now give you all a vocabulary lesson. In Greek, the word for what we call “olive oil” is λάδι, pronounced “LAH-þee” (yes, that’s a þorn). It means oil, not olive oil, just oil, because why the heck would you use anything else? Sickos.

ΛΑΔΙ