a curious last few days: a healthy dose of tummy gratification interspersed with meetups (coincidental and non-) with college friends and a necessary tending-to of the laundry/grocery/clean variety.
saturday afternoon i got to meet the ocean of new, shiny faces that can only belong to the plucky legions we call 'dig interns'. heh. after i came home and showered and creatively (i.e. with the seat of my pants) threw together a deconstructed guacamole out of my last boston organics delivery, my friend sam (of harvard, mit and the requisite array of collegiate asian-american activities) called me up out of the blue to, naturally, eat something delicious. i took advantage of the fact that he has a car (wow, technological breakthrough) so we headed to sichuan gourmet in honey-baked-ham framingham. we drowned our desires for spicy chinese food with the following: a starter cold dish of wood-ear mushrooms (think floppy flowery mushrooms with the soft chewy wet texture of seaweed) tossed gorgeously with scallions, cilantro and tiny slices of small red peppers; heaps of gangou dry-fried fish fillets topped with an amazingly complex chili-oiled mix of green onions, garlic, peppers and fermented black beans; chengdu spicy style lamb with various greens and the most tender (tenderized? fatty? miraculous?) meat i have experienced in recent memory; and soothing sides of shanghainese green vegetables and white rice to balance the stupendous hotttttness happening on the table. there was the requisite nose-blowing, but the flavors were so rich and nuanced along with the spice and not a merely straight-on dumb heat. i'm so glad i got to finally visit one of these places that i usually only read (and drool) about on chowhound. for the next suburban sichuan destination: red pepper!
today has been a smattering of getting some work out of the way, but this morning's straightforward errand-running in davis square had a wonderfully unexpected twist. not only was the weather absolutely stunning (a warmth and light that rarely peeks through at this point in january), i noticed little things usually overlooked (the robbins smoke shop and convenience store which i hope doesnt shut down due to the new cvs; a specifically advertised brand-new timbuk2 bag in the window of goodwill) and i ran into my friend john who i've known since college and is now finishing up his math ph.d. at mit. we always bump into each other out and about in cambridge or somerville, almost always in a cafe where he gets his studying done. even more encouraging, we're now practically somervillian neighbors. small surprising things like this brighten my day in a way that few things do. i may have lived in boston for an insane amount of time (i'm on my 8th year, folks), but small-town coincidences like this never get old.
ok, i'll stop with the unicorns and rainbows now.
i meant to go running but now the sky is dark and i'm a bit paranoid since i dont have reflective gear. i can has gym session monday morning? the kickboxing bootcamp i signed up for begins this week, so see you soon with my sick, sweaty PYTHONS and fierce, twichy jabs. :)
alright, without further ado, here are yummy things from 2007. (i never specified *which* weekend i'd update my notable picks, which supposedly should mitigate my embarrassment at being tardy...)
#1: everything at o ya
tristan and i died and went to heaven at our wonderfully luxurious meal here, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of detail that went into the food and how much complexity could be squeezed into such concentrated bites. it's an upscale modern japanese "tavern" with small plates, the precious prices and wonderful sake sommeliering juxtaposed with a modest location and beach boys on the muzak. we had only but a few plates from the lengthy, dense menu, but the ones i remember most vividly are the chanterelle and shiitake sashimi and an uni-topped mound of deliciousness. i hope that we can experience this restaurant at least once during 2008... it's an undeniable splurge but extremely, fittingly so.
#2: paired cheese with cocktails at no 9 park
i apologize for the total lack of detail regarding this occasion (i wasn't taking notes, surprisingly) but it still was extremely notable and begs for a return investigation. john gertsen, bar manager at the moneyed no 9 keeps it real on tuesday and saturday evenings, eager to share philosophies behind his newest concoctions and veritable history lessons on the classics. we were enjoying some of seasonal cocktails and the restaurant's resident cheese expert came out with an array of cheeses matched specially to "pair well with our cocktails." she explained each one, the names and origins which escape me now, but the cheeses were like nothing i had ever had before: one unbelievably saturated with nutty walnut undertones; another with a rind immersed in red wine; and the third insanely rich and creamy. it was remarkable to try them in tandem, a pairing of flavor profiles that never even occured to me before. no 9 park is also a rare, occasional splurge (even when not eating) but this experience truly blew my mind.
#3: red beet salad and endives with soft goat cheese at petit robert bistro
even for the couple times i've actually dined at this restaurant, i love the french atmosphere and truly authentic dishes (e.g. andouillette or tripes provençales). also, the basket of bread (allegedly imported from montreal) is incredible. this particular occasion was the last class of the language course i was taking at the french library, so we could practice our conversation in a real-world environment. although the restaurant's not particular cher i didnt want to spend too much on dinner, so i decided on just this salad (after my aperitif of lillet blanc, bien sur). i wish i had a real photograph of the dish, because the composition of the salad was surprisingly chic, with layers of ruby, white, and green melding beautifully--both visually and on the tongue. tangy chevre paired with beety earthiness and bitter endives, not to mention the melange of textures (plump, crisp, creamy) transfixing my smitten thoughts.
#4: curry mee soup at penang
because of the dig's proximity to chinatown, at least in the cooler months i almost always go there for lunch for a hearty bowl of noodle soup. i rotate between pho pasteur, pho hoa, suishaya, and penang most frequently, but i will never forget the day i tried the curry mee. (i even called my mom because it was such a revelation). Description reads: "Rice & egg noodle with eggplant, bitter melon & tofu stuffed with minced fish served in a clear chicken broth or spicy curry broth." but it's so much more... i wax a bit more eloquently in my year-end soup roundup in the dig.
#5: truffled polenta logs at the savant project
you can't eat too many of these, or else one might become physically more a log than desired, but it's a worthy challenge of restraint. i never really was a polenta enthusiast, but these things truly turned me around. mission hill's sharp newcomer savant project serves their signature finger-shaped wads of crisp, fried cheesy polenta infused with the unmistakable essence of truffle, to be dipped into a glassful of creamy decadence. you sigh, dip, and sigh some more. the classy fragrant snackers get their own little shoutout in the savant project's review in the dig.
honorable mentions: the tiny perfect burger at dante, the jamaican jerk chicken sandwich at red bones, brunchy things at renee's cafe, the one perfect rib at east coast grill, nuclear tacos at sxsw, clams + chorizo at casa portugal, kobe hamburger at squealing pig, the list goes on...
yummmmmmiez. please tell me other things i can't bear to miss out on!
i'm sure all this eating is making you thirsty, so upcoming: notable five in the libationary category!