Black pepper shortbread with chevre, pine nuts, and marinated summer squash

August 15, 2012 § 9 Comments

As we get ready to leave Boston, people keep asking me if I have a Boston bucket list, the things I want to do – or do one last time – before we skip town for colder, more birch tree and lake filled climes.  I don’t for the most part.  My bucket list is really seeing people, the close friends or just the daily faces that are so familiar.

It’s entirely expected that I’ll miss our dear, wonderful friends, our neighbors, my fellow doctoral students.  I’ll miss them like the dickens.  What is less expected, but is a realization creeping up on me is how much I will probably wind up missing the UPS man, the hip barristas at the local coffee shop, the sandwich crafting artistes at the cafe, the goofy kids at the cash register at the dog bakery (yes, there’s a dog bakery in our neighborhood), the fellow dog owners I wave at every day when I’m out with Squid, the old guy in the short shorts and helmet from the early ’80s who rides his bike everywhere all year round.

These are the personalities, colors, faces, voices that make up what we have of community here.

Also on my bucket list is simply keeping my eyes open to appreciate the daily sights here.  We have a wonderful view from our apartment of lush tree tops and just the hints of skyscraper tops (Boston has all of 4 or 5 skyscrapers).  It’s Boston, so there are truly historic sites tucked in here and there and everywhere amidst daily life.  The trees and vines, flowers and bushes of the arboretum look like fairyscapes right now, so I’m trying to remember to breathe them in amidst the frenzy of everything else going on.

And, no surprise, there is a bit of a food bucket list.  We’re making quick runs to our favorite farm stands, an unhealthy number of stops at our favorite bakeries and ice cream shop, and by the end of next week, we’ll probably be floating away on a river of really excellent iced coffee.

Most exciting of all (well, maybe not of all, but it was definitely exciting), we finally went on a hot date to a rather fancy restaurant that we’ve been daydreaming about trying for a while.  For all my interest in food and reading of restaurant reviews in the Times, I have been to very few seriously fine dining establishments (approximately zero, before this).  I’ve been a grad student for a while, and all!  So, though I love the idea of it, I’m completely intimidated by fancy restaurants, and we probably would not have wound up going in the end had Joel’s aunt and uncle not brilliantly and generously given us a gift certificate as a birthday present.

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Little pistachio and cherry cakes

June 28, 2012 § 20 Comments

I’m leaving this afternoon to visit my family in Norway for two weeks.  So I baked.

I completely forgive you for the raised eyebrows and incredulous pursing of the lips.  Who bakes when they’re about to leave for two weeks?!  Who bakes while they are still scrambling to make sure they have packed for every possible type of weather?! Who bakes while they’re frantically attempting to get the house cleaned and the dog prepped for having a stand-in puppy mamma?!  Just how addled in the brain am I?!

But, you see, I have an explanation.  These are travel cakes.  Or, at least, they were meant to be, but more on that later.

You may now be asking, “ok, well, what are travel cakes?”  My answer, I’m afraid, is I don’t exactly know.  But, I decided to go ahead and try to make some anyway.

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Spring vegetable jumble with lemon tarragon butter

May 13, 2011 § 5 Comments

There is a little restaurant a quick stroll down the street from us that serves a ridiculous brunch on the weekends.  You might be tipped off to the fact that they have some tricks up their sleeves when, come Saturday at 10am, you see the line of chipper people trailing out their door and down the sidewalk, drinking coffee and chatting as they wait for a table.  Your suspicions would be further aroused by the amazing technicolor underwater scene painted across their bathroom walls.  It’s ebullient, playful, borderline garish, but oh so enticing, just like their food.

They make waffles so large and airy you could raft them down a river (of maple syrup, at least), their pancakes piled with enough fruit to fill a decorative bowl on a coffee table, and they have been known to make a popover the size of your head and fill it to overflowing with creamy eggs, sausage, vegetables, and hollandaise.  That last one is something I’ve been thinking about recreating at home, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.  I think you might need to get a special permit to make popovers that big.

Their suppers, I’m afraid, don’t quite live up to their brunch standard.  We’ve tried twice, giving it the benefit of the doubt, but both times the food was fine, but relatively uninspired.  It had a couple things going for it anyway, though.  One was the extreme and helpful frankness of the servers.  All of our questions were answered fully and honestly, and then some.  The crab cakes were fine,  we were told, but they were more cake than crab.  The burger was more worth getting, we were counseled.  And the enchiladas, it was explained, would be good if what we were looking for was the extremely-gooey-cheesey type of Tex-Mex (Joel was, in fact).

The other thing the place had going for it was the vegetables.  I get irked when I go to restaurants and all the more vegetables they provide you with are 3 elegantly plated green beans or a thimble-sized nest of micro-greens.  This place was much more my style.  That style being the, “why yes, my meal will consist of 2 servings each of 4 different vegetables perhaps drizzled with a delectable sauce, thank you,” style.  Each dish came with a riot of seasonal veggies, a mountain of veggies, a jumble of veggies…

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