Birthday Dinner at Via Matta!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Via Matta
79 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 422-0008

Last birthday dinner of 2011! I didn't plan for all 8 dinners save for 94 Mass Ave (the big party) and Noche (day of) but some friends who couldn't make it wanted to indulge me with separate dinners so I'm very lucky indeed :)

This was not my first time at Via Matta so I knew I was in for a treat when B suggested celebrating there (thank you!). This time I didn't have their delicious pasta and opted for the cod instead. Although the fish was grilled perfectly, it wasn't salted enough so my dining experience was non-optimal. B loved her pasta Bolognese though and in a moment of deja vu, I was reminded that I proclaimed Via Matta better for pasta the last time I was here as well. Our cocktails were so-so (not pictured); service was attentive and friendly.

Diver Scallop Crudo with zucchini pearls, plum, mint and crispy lentils-could use more sodium and acid.
Line-Caught Cod with lobster, local shellfish, wilted romaine and sea urchin emulsion-Same as above.
Tagliatelle alla Bolognese-One of the best pasta B has tried!
Via Matta's Almond Tiramisu-I liked the delicate almond flavor, which was a nice variant of the classic.
Panna Cotta with mango and chilli pepper flakes-Perfect for the summer!

Making Korean-inspired Bulgogi Pork Pizza with Scallions!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Making a homemade pizza hardly needs any introduction so I'll just list the ingredients used: From Left; chopped scallions, store-bought pizza dough, 3 tablespoons bulgogi marinade, pecorino romano, 1 cup of bulgogi pork (cooked)
After broiling it at 450 deg F or ~210 deg C for 8 minutes (check), I cracked 2 eggs on top and allowed the pizza to sit for another 5 minutes.
Yum! The perfectly-cooked, runny egg :P~~

Overall, this pizza was fabulous. If there was anything I would change, I would probably use another cheese that melted a little better than pecorino romano. 

Fatty Goodness at Fette Sau, Brooklyn, NYC

Friday, June 24, 2011

Unassuming enterance, tucked away in Williamsburg
Awesome wall @ Fette Sau
Fette Sau BBQ
354 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211-3308
(718) 963-3404

Food: 3.9/5.0
Service: Self.

Fette Sau or "Fat Pig" in German, has awesome BBQ. This place has also been reported and blogged to death so I'll try not to be too repetitive, and be to the point instead. Warning: DO NOT COME DURING PEAK HOURS ON THE WEEKENDS. The lines are mad mad crazy and move super slowly. I gave up queuing and came back on a separate day.

What I liked: 
-The wall, which was filled with diagrams of different cuts of meat. Lol. Boston Butt. That gets to me all the time.
-The cinderblock building, fenced-in compound and cement floors. I'm one for sterile, industrial spaces (ala MIT) so this is right up my alley. Weird, I know.
-HMYGIHMYP (How much you get is how much you pay)
-The baby back ribs  and pork belly
-They had sarsaparilla soda!

What was so-so:
-The baked beans. Too sweet. Which is why I get my baked beans imported from the UK. It's a tad tangier 
-Pulled pork was a little dry

Spread of Heavenly Piggie Offerings:
(Hand Pulled Berkshire Shoulder, Berkshire Belly (Bacon), Berkshire St Louis Style Pork Ribs, Berkshire Ham, Berkshire Sausage)
Fette Sau Business Card. I've been toying with the idea of getting a piggy tattoo for a while now, so I'm collecting images for reference...

Dinner at Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn NYC. Nom-worthy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Crispy and juicy fried chicken on cheddar waffles, savoy cabbage slaw.

Buttermilk Channel
524 Court St (between Nelson St & Huntington St)
BrooklynNY 11231
(718) 852-8490

Food: 4.2/5.0
Service: 4.2/5.0

We came on a Saturday night, Tiff and I. While making the trek from the subway stop, we saw a group of boys behind, speed-walking. They were on to us and unceremoniously tried to get ahead of us to Buttermilk Channel. They succeeded in both securing a table first and for looking like major world-class douches. For our table, both of us spent 30 minutes at a wine bar close by with a chilled sauvignon blanc. 

Our server was really friendly and accommodating when we specially requested for the duck fat hash, a side which was served with the special of the day... and it was every bit as delicious as it sounded. Plus it had ramps! As buttermilk channel was known for its fried chicken, I definitely ordered it. The chicken had a lovely crust and was juicy on the inside. Cheddar waffles, slaw and syrup were perfect accompaniments, I polished off everything on my plate. As if that weren't enough, for dessert, I ordered the pecan pie sundae--genius! It had everything I liked. Pecan pie filling (with minimal pecans) and glorious Van Leeuwen ice-cream :) I tried my hardest to dispel the thought that I probably consumed more than 10,000 calories that day. Yikes. Aside from my expanding waistline, I highly recommend a trip to Buttermilk Channel for the tasty fare and friendly service, but be prepared to wait if you go on the weekends.

The most delicious duck fat hash, topped with grilled ramps.
Pecan Pie Sundae-deconstructed pecan pie layered between Van Leeuwen Vanilla Ice-cream
Tiff had no part in this artery-busting concoction. 
On the day we visited, filming was underway for Men in Black 3.
The crew fashioned a replica of the subway.
Blocks and Blocks were reserved for filming...guess this is one way the city of nyc makes money?
Vintage cars. A scene from a time long past.

Brunch at Olea, Brooklyn NYC

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green Eggs and Lamb scrambled with fresh cilantro, tomato and red onion, served with merguez lamb sausage and pita--decent eggs and potatoes

Olea Mediterranean Taverna
171 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238-1019
(718) 643-7003

Food: 3.6/5.0
Service: 3.6/5.0

Keyword: Lamb! We went to Olea on a lazy morning and were seated by the window indoors. I usually crave savory things like eggs instead of waffles and pancakes (unless I'm sharing it with a friend) so no surprise, I got the green eggs (above). It was also a win-win when Tiff ordered the lamb sandwich. My green eggs were aromatic and my first nibble of the Merguez sausage gave a delightful pop of meaty juices. Patatas bravas were tad hard. Tiff's sandwich was pretty good. The spicy aioli was a nice touch to the spiced meatballs so another friend requested for some to go with her fries. No can do, we had to pay an extra dollar for what I believe was 1 tb of sauce, which was finished in a couple of dips. Not cool.

Overall, brunch at Olea was hearty and affordable. 
Food was palatable as a neighborhood joint. Service was ok and leisurely but we weren't in a hurry so no big deal. If I lived in Brooklyn I might be back. However, as a visitor, I'll take my limited stomach space to explore the rest of NYC's brunch-scape.

Lamb Sandwich greek meatballs with feta and spicy tomato sauce on baguette, with salad and patatas bravas--I liked the aioli and meatballs

Making Taiyaki using my Fish-shaped, Cast-Iron Mould :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

After trolling the www for a dependable recipe, I settled on CookingwithDog's taiyaki video. Other recipes I've tried in the past had batters that were way too runny/deflated. I wanted a mix that would maintain its shape and have the same dense but soft crumb I was used to having back in Singapore/Japan. I found this fish mold at my local HMart some time ago and had this craving for some stuffed pancakes while watching the NBA Finals so... here it is! I had a jar of kaya lying around so filling it became.

FYI, i loved the Japanese-accented commentary in "Cooking with Dog" + the blurb on making your own white bean paste from scratch. I laughed when someone commented "I wish people worked like white beans. 'Soak in water overnight until wrinkles are gone! :D'"

Overall, the batter did give taiyaki that held its shape mostly (deflated a bit), so I'll stick with this as a primary for further tweaking. 

Taiyaki Recipe (adapted from here)
- Taiyaki Batter - Makes 6 fishies.
100g or 1 cup Cake Flour 
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 tbsp Sugar
1 Egg 
100ml or 1/2 cup Water
White or Black Bean Paste

Prep dry ingredients: Sift cake flour, baking soda and white refined sugar through a sieve.
While stirring the flour mixture with a whisk, pour the egg and water in the center.
Gradually blend in the egg and stir the mixture thoroughly.
Mix until all the lumps have disappeared and you get a smooth batter.

Cooking notes
1. Lightly heat both the sides of taiyaki pan, coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil.
2. Pour some batter into the pan, place the bean paste or whatever filling on top.
3. Pour the batter over the filling.
4. Close and flip the taiyaki pan.
5. Cook until both the sides are golden brown.
6. Remove the taiyaki with a bamboo skewer and trim off the edges of the taiyaki.

 Ta Daaaa!

Whipping up a light, summery brunch with strawberries, fiddleheads and polenta!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quartered strawberries and cucumber slices with chopped mint, to be macerated in pomme quintessence (or reduction of balsamic vinegar)
 Blanched fiddleheads, (courtesy of Kae) with truffle-brie polenta and a generous dollop of jumbo lump crab salad
Spa-food heaven. This batch of polenta was probably one of the best I made so far. I incorporated some brie and truffle oil while cooking and the result is a light, moist cake. I had it together with smoked trout later and it tasted even better after the flavors equilibrated overnight.

Birthday Dinner at The Regal Beagle! A neighborhood gem.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

308 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 739-5151

Food: 3.7/5.0
Service: 3.9/5.0

After walking by The Reagle Beagle for what seemed like the nth time, plans were made by Eve and I to catch up and have a nice cozy dinner close to our neighborhood. I've heard really good things about TRB for a while now, plus I was looking forward to affordable eats and a nice cocktail after a hectic week in NYC. We loved the dark but inviting interior and the option of ordering drinks while waiting for our table--perfect for date night! Service was pleasant and our waitress was helpful and attentive. TRB had an extensive cocktail menu of interesting and appetizing drinks. Although we both decided beforehand that we were only going to have one drink, we couldn't help but order another; they were really good! The next time I'm back, I would love to try out their Ritz-truffle Mac n Cheese and almond gazpacho. Doesn't it all sound nommilicious?

Tuna Tartare-truffle soy vinaigrette, cucumber and orange. 
Delicious. The tuna was seasoned perfectly and had lots of bounce. 
Special, Cornmeal Crusted Local Black Bass over a Watermelon- Red Pepper Gazpacho with Fregola Sarda & Green Beans-This dish was not salted/salted well enough. After sampling the savory truffle-soy vinaigrette, this dish seemed bland in comparison. Fish was a tad overcooked. Love the intense orange of the gazpacho :)
Special, Ricotta Gnocchi wtih Bacon Lardons, Roasted Mushrooms, Arugula & White Wine Butter-We enjoyed the gnocchi which had a delicious smoky flavor. Mushroom added additional meatiness to this simple, rustic dish.
Coconut Creme Brulee-whipped cream and roasted pineapple. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not because I loved the fresh toppings but didn't fancy the custard as much.

Indulging in ice-cream and supporting a wonderful cause at the Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl 2011!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Scooper Bowl Entrance.
Every year, The Jimmy Fund puts up an all-you-can-eat ice-cream event to raise money in support of cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. All things considered, the Scooper Bowl is one of my favorite Boston events and I make it a point to go every year. My friends and I eagerly went on opening day (Tues). I just found out that due to the extreme weather, the last day (Thur) was canceled so a some people didn't get a chance to make it. Well you know what, the Jimmy Fund is obviously still taking donations and if it's ice-cream flavors of note, perhaps I might be of service. 

Out of the 32 flavors available, my strategy was to pick 1 or 2 interesting flavors from each tent. I tried my best but ended up eating only 12 scoops in total, with a repeat of Ciao Bella's Key Lime Graham Gelato (NOM-worthy). My friend, Lorien, was a woman with a mission as she sought to beat her personal record of 18 scoops (last year). She eventually did so with 20 scoops. *respect*.

My favorite flavors at the Scooper Bowl were (ranked in order):

1. Ciao Bella-Key Lime with Graham crackers-not too sweet, with the perfume-y bouquet of sweet limes and just a hint of bitterness. Crushed Graham crackers mixed into the batter added a nice, "nobbly" texture.
2. Baskin Robbins-Golden Oreo Gold Rush-This flavor was an unexpected surprise and I enjoyed its pop of brightness. Ribbons of Oreo icing ran through the lemon custard ice-cream, which was topped with Golden Oreo cookie pieces. 
3. Ciao Bella-Mango Sorbet-Not too sweet, perfectly acidic.
4. Ben & Jerry's Midnight Snack
5. Ciao Bella-Wild Blueberry Sorbet
6. SoCo Creamery Berkshire Berry
7. Ben & Jerry's Bonnaroo Buzz
8. Breyer's Dulce de Leche
9. Edy's Orange Creme Sherbert
10. Friendly's Forbidden Chocolate
11. Hood's BoSox Brownie

 I valiantly tried my best. 12 cups in total. I have also exceeded my (ice-cream/caloric) quota for the week.
 Tonnes of ice-cream eaters.
Adorable Swag obtained by the Fedex truck. 2 pieces of gum in tiny box. Genius and cute overload.

Birthday Dinner at Abistro, Brooklyn, NYC. Repeat visit in Order!

154 Carlton Ave
BrooklynNY 11205
(718) 855-9455

Food: 4.1/5.0
Service: 4.1/5.0

Abistro has just restored my faith in Senegalese food! I had my first try at Teranga's in Boston but didn't enjoy the food entirely so I kind of left Senegalese food off my food radar. Thankfully, my bff and reluctant foodie, Tiffany took me out to Abistro for my birthday dinner in Brooklyn, NYC when I visited last week and I'm glad I did!

The establishment was small, intimate and very very warm without any a/c or fans. Ventilation might be bad but we soon forgot about the heat as we sipped on a bottle of chilled prosecco (BYOB only). Reservations highly recommended as the space fills up quickly. As suggested by trusted Yelpers, we were  getting the Senegalese Chicken and unanimously ordered the calamari-escargot special and mussels to go with our white bubbly. Finally, after hovering back and forth between the Moroccan salmon and the Brook Trout, we voted in favor of neither and went for another trout special. Although the food came slowly, it was all worth it. I enjoyed the richness and interesting flavors the chef incorporated into his entrees; every mouthful was invitation to another bite. Before I knew it, I left no more room for dessert (blasphemy, I know) so I would love to revisit Abistro again to try the remaining menu!

Special, calamari and escargot: Could do with a tad more acid and salt. 
Abdoul's Mussels-with plum tomatoes, mushrooms, and scallions in a ginger lemongrass broth: I could slurp everything up in a jiffy.
Senegalese Fried Chicken-seerved with pineapple-scented jasmine rice cake, wilted swiss chard with Senegalese salsa in a dijonnaise sauce: OMG. No words. Just get it. The flavors of the wilted swiss chard reminded me of mui choy (a lightly-pickled Chinese cabbage, 梅菜) and of home. Seriously, both entrees had elements which reminded me of Singaporean food!
Special, Roasted Trout with artichoke, fingerling potatoes: Omnomnom. Tonnes of flavors but they all melded together nicely.

Birthday Dinner at Evoo. Fresh!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Evoo's menu changes pretty frequently according to the availability of local ingredients

350 Third Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
(617) 661-3866

Service-3.8/5.0 Our server was pleasant but painfully awkward as he attempted to be engaging. I'd rather he just stick to refills of water and the usual template questions.

Evoo might just be my newest favorite restaurant in the Cambridge area! At $38 for 3 courses, prices are largely affordable should you decide to treat yourself/when the folks come to town. Being the lucky person I am, my colleague Jimmy took me out to dinner, carte blanc. We sampled 2 cocktails, 2 appetizers, 3 entrees and 2 desserts and left, super happy! Evoo deserves a/2/3 thumbs up for the convenient location, warm decor, yummy drinks, tasty appetizers/entrées and creative desserts (very important). Everything was well-plated, flavors were harmonizing and and ingredients were fresh and local (when possible). 

Will be back soon!

Back Room Smoked Ham Fat-Potato Croquette with Boggy Meadow Farm's Baby Swiss and Pete & Andy's Pickles: I don't have high expectations of potato croquette in general but this was a pleasant surprise with the thin crispy crust and tender interior. Ham fat added lots of flavor.
Duck, Duck, Goose-Duck Confit- Seared Hudson Valley Duck Foie Gras and Slices of Goose Breast with Lentils, Broccoli, Escarole and Sherry-Ginger Sauce: How cute is the name? Very very good. Picture speaks for itself. I wished the foie gras was a little bigger though.
New Jersey Asparagus, Lourdes' Stracciatella and 4 Star Farm's Polenta Casserole with White Truffle Oil, Sous Vide Pullet Egg and Toasted Coarse Bread Crumbs: My least favorite dish because it could use more salt, but still it was very good.
Seared Florida Kingfish Fillet wtih grated potato salad, baby artichokes, roasted peppers, charred lemon-Fennel relish and runny black olive tapenade: Fabulous. No complaints.
Seared Arctic Char Fillet with Crazy Ben's Locally-Foraged Mushroom Risotto, spring peas, Eva's pea greens and Ramp nage: delicious, sustainable fish. I enjoyed it cos it was more delicate and silky than salmon. Nom!
Parsnip cake-Looks like your regular toffee pudding cake but the parsnip added moistness and interesting flavor. Caramel was spot on. 
Sorrell Sorbet with Sugar Cookies: AMAZING. It was light and citrus-y, was refreshing, had notes of guava at the end. Ice crystals were fine and smooth.
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