August 31, 2004


A creamy white, soft goat cheese from Catalunya. Utterly luscious. Texture like a firmish brie, with smooth, fatty, milky, goaty flavor. First had at LaBrea Bakery, but also found locally at Whole Foods Fresh Pond. *swoon*

Posted by foodnerd at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

Upstairs on the Square

Restaurant Week in Boston, and the only place we wanted to go was Upstairs. Mostly because we hadn't been since it changed names & locations, and curiosity was getting the better of us.

This is a weird restaurant. The upstairs "formal" dining room is entirely pink, and decorated to a finely-pitched blend of Legally Blonde, Gustav Klimt, Alice in Wonderland, and the Magic Kingdom. It scared us, until we'd gotten outside a nice stiff cocktail, at which point it became cuddly and amusing, a bizarrely appropriate counterpoint to the extremely Cantabridgian ladies populating the room. And don't even get started on the precisely matched set of 6-foot, vaguely exotic metrosexuals comprising the waitstaff. Where do they find them? Is there a casting call?

All this frippery aside, the food itself is wonderful. The portions are small, so you can indulge while still fitting into your size 2 togs from Jasmine/Sola -- which is good for food sluts like us who will take your 3-course prix fixe and raise you a couple of desserts and maybe a cheese plate.

The roasted black cod, with crabmeat stuffed into a tiny, tangy heirloom tomato, was dreamy as that sablefish always is. The steak frites was very nice, but those weren't no frites; they were dainty little homefries. Thank god the waiter (under interrogation) provided full detail on the dish, so I could change my order to the cod -- when I order frites, I expect double-fried crunch action on those potatoes. Desserts were uniformly terrific, particularly the pistachio tea cake and sicilian lemon sherbet and buttermilk ice cream. But the best in show was the heirloom tomato soup, soft and warm and chunky, with bits of bacon and some kind of elusive flowery note that we couldn't pin down -- we suspect it's allspice in the bacon cure -- so very, very tasty!

It's spendy, so I'll probably be limiting my visits, but I'd go back for that food. Next time, though, I'll be sitting in the much-manlier downstairs room; a girl can only take so much pink in a lifetime. *shudder*

Posted by foodnerd at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2004

stupid cheese tricks

Been tickled by this ever since I put some goat cheese into a bowl of pasta, only to have it completely melt and coat the pasta with creamy tangy goodness.

Newest entry, and something you can only really do in summer with the good produce: Cut kernels from one cob leftover corn. Dice up a big fat tomato. Mix together, add pepper & salt, and a couple of slices of chevre, ideally with some herb on it, like chive. The cheese melts in with the tomato juices and makes a creamy dressing.

(Note from 8/31: this works just as well with very sharp cheddar, though it doesn't melt so much. Added steamed green beans and some hot pepper flakes too. Yum.)

Posted by foodnerd at 03:34 PM | Comments (7)

August 24, 2004

the joy of seltzer

I have been obsessed with seltzer water lately. I crave those tangy, tingly little bubbles. I drink it plain, I drink it mixed with a little cherry juice or lemonade or orange juice (orangina, without all the sugar!). Can't get enough. And so I am starting to get annoyed with schlepping those heavy bottles home from the store, and even more annoyed with the fact that in so doing, they inevitably get jostled, so that when you open each and every bottle, you get a face or a shirtsleeve full of seltzer. I have got to get a working soda siphon pronto. The fabulous red metallic spherical one i got in a secondhand shop still has some funky odor about it which I haven't been able to chase away yet, so I may have to break down and buy a new one. In the meantime, can i interest you in a spritzer? There's a vanilla flavored bottle I'm about to try...

(and ps: why is it that whenever I ask for a seltzer water in a restaurant or bar, the server has NO IDEA what I am talking about? I have to ask for fizzy water, soda water, or in the most dire of cases, club soda before I make myself understood. Is it so regional an expression that only new yorkers and jews know from seltzer?)

Posted by foodnerd at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

pea tendrils & dill?

At the Newton farmers market today, I bought some pea tendrils and dill from the Hmong Farms stand. The nice lady there got very excited and told me that she often sautees both those things *together*, with a little garlic, which I thought a little weird but kind of intriguing. So I did it. I kinda like it, though it doesn't taste very asian; more like english peas with dill. Tallasiandude is a purist, though, and it's not his cup of tea.

Posted by foodnerd at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2004

tasty cracker nuggets

These wee tuscan crostini that they have at the Whole Paycheck and other foofy food stores are freaking yum-o-rama! Plain or rosemary flavor, so tasty... and they make cheese taste even better than usual. Especially the delightful truffley number that hedge got this past weekend. And there's nothing in them -- flour, olive oil, yeast, & salt, that's it. Buying these for every cocktail party I ever throw ever again. Yum.

Posted by foodnerd at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

more good eatin'

Further adventures of cookery with hedge:

Spanish dinner of seared local wild scallops on wilted frisee, followed by pan-seared local wild hake with parsley/garlic/lemon sauce (hake=yum, even tallasiandude likes it), minted basmati rice, more green bean/walnut salad, and sliced tomatoes.

Deep South breakfast of tall buttermilk biscuits (from Cook's Illustrated, yummy and easy), mustard greens in ham hock broth, scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes, homemade marmalade, and homemade dill pickles.

Breakfast #2 of more biscuits, New Zealand rata & manuka honey, fried eggs and bacon, tea, and sliced tomatoes with scalloped tomato & fried crumbs.

What a vacation she had: sleep, read, go to food markets, cook, eat, repeat. Yeah!

Posted by foodnerd at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

clambake at home

Apparently one must have a party of several dozen in order to hold a clambake on the beach; no one does it for small parties. A couple of places have big clambake pavilions where smaller groups can go and join in, but these do not appear to a) be on the beach or, more importantly, b) use seaweed in the cooking. Thus thwarted, Hedge and I turned to the DIY solution. She was going to Marblehead anyway to visit folks, so we called ahead to arrange for some rockweed, steamers and lobsters to be ready for pickup, and we cooked those suckers right here at home.

Rockweed is essential for the proper clambake flavor. I put a bunch in my roasting pan, put the clammies on top, and covered with more rockweed and a couple of cups of water. The pan fit nicely inside the gas grill with the grills removed, and 30 minutes later, gorgeous fresh salty steamers and littlenecks (steamers on the right in photo, with bigger shells & much messier bodies to eat, but most delicious, i think). The 6 of us put away 8 pounds of clams, along with 4.5 lobsters and a groaning board of side dishes. (The remaining 1.5 lobsters became lobster salad for this morning's breakfast, along with bread fried in leftover lobstery butter and some of those tasty dill horseradish pickles. Mmm.)

We put some rockweed in the lobster boil as well, along with a tablespoon or so of kosher salt. Lacking enough burners and a big enough kettle, we nuked the corn and pan-boiled the potatoes the usual way rather than attempting to get them in there with the sea critters. Caramelized zucchini & onions w/ thyme, long beans w/ walnut oil and walnuts, garden tomato & mozzarella salad w/ wild arugula were all amazing; the garlicky slaw somehow didn't go with the other flavors as well as i hoped it would, though it was tasty in and of itself.

Gooseberry-raspberry tart was yummy too, though well into my second piece I discovered that tangy tart filling mixed with vanilla ice cream makes a wonderful creamy treat on its own, sort of like a berry fool.

This was the first time hedge, littlelee, spleen & I all cooked together, and I must say it was a beautiful thing, a well-oiled machine of ad hoc cookery.

Posted by foodnerd at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)

August 12, 2004

at last, they redden

For weeks now, there have been bunches of big fat tomatoes on my vines, steadfastly remaining green just to torture me. This week they let loose, and it's insalata caprese time. *swoon* The tomatoes are so good. I may have to have one tomato-&-mayo-on-white sandwich just for the decadence of it, but I can't really bring myself to do anything with them but slice them onto a plate with salt, pepper and oil. Mozzarella & basil is about all the adulteration I can handle. Hurray for late summer!

(side note: between my garden, the parental garden, and miscellaneous travel, I haven't been to a single farmer's market yet this year. Pathetic.)

Posted by foodnerd at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2004


Tonight's impromptu dinner party was a triumph of leftover usage. Half a log of goat cheese, half a jar of roasted red pepper, and 4 of the !@#$% zucchini went into the pasta. The bag of plums & pluots that I hadn't had time for became the plum tart I've been meaning to make for a year. And the half-bag of multigrain pita chips and whole-wheat loaf-end were perfect with white bean dip. Yay, me. *giggle*

Notes: multigrain sesame pita chips from Trader Joe's are delicious. And the bean dip ended up being white beans, chickpeas, rosemary (which gets stronger over time, note to self), parsley, garlic, lemon, hot sauce, salt, pepper, olive oil, and a bit of red wine vinegar. (It needed tanginess.) I love, LOVE my immersion blender.

Posted by foodnerd at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2004


None of us had been there ever, so we went over to the crab-fest at Magnolia's restaurant in Inman Square, all agog at the prospect of some fine crab-tastic eats. And the crab was good but not great, which made us all sad. Smallish portions, which we all liked, and they have shandy, which is always fun. But nothing grabbed us -- the flavors were okay, the preparations were okay, the decor was okay. We felt bad to dis a place for being merely adequate, but life is really too short to waste time on anything less than spectacularly delicious. Sigh.

Posted by foodnerd at 09:58 PM | Comments (2)

August 01, 2004

carrot-buttermilk-dill soup

What to do with that cup of onion juice? Use it to steam up a bag of baby carrots with salt & pepper, then stick the immersion blender in there and whiz them up with buttermilk. Mix in snipped dill, serve cold. Yum yum. Low fat, low maintenance, highly tasty. It would probably even go nicely as a first course with the kebab kubideh, though if you haven't so generated onion juice you could probably just steam some onion in with the carrots.

Posted by foodnerd at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle

Dude, I have GOT to find me a White Castle. Tiny little burgers with fried onions, in a cute white castle. Never been to one, but yum. And cravings aside, this movie's awesome -- love it, quoting it already.

Posted by foodnerd at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

PickleFest 2004 (duuude)

Another armload of cucumbers this week, so in addition to the 4 jars of russian horseradish-dill pickles, I just made another big batch of pickles using my uncle's special pickling-spice mix. They smell awesome. (His mix is mustard seeds, dill seeds, broken-up bay leaves, allspice, cloves, and hot peppers, from what I can tell.) So I've got pickles up the wazoo -- good thing I really like pickles. Also palming a few off onto pickle-loving friends...

btw, the russian horseradish-dill pickle recipe is from Please to the Table, with adaptations by me:

25 kirby/pickling cukes, about 4" long (or big ol' ones cut into spears)
12 dill plants, with seed heads (or supermarket dill + some seeds)
2 pieces (each 1/2") fresh horseradish root, peeled & sliced (critical ingredient!)
8 cloves garlic (I slice thinly)
12 black peppercorns (I use way more and the pickles end up very spicy)
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 quart water
1 quart white vinegar

Original recipe is water only, but i prefer more tanginess so i use half water, half vinegar. Wash and trim the cukes, and stuff them into clean glass jars with the dill, garlic, horseradish and peppercorns. Remember to stuff the spices/seasonings in as you go, otherwise it'll be hard to ram them down in between the cukes. Boil the water & vinegar, add the salt to dissolve, and then pour over the cukes & spices in the jars. It is best if the cukes are completely covered by liquid - make more brine if you have to. Let cool, then put the lids on. Let them sit out for about two days to ferment a little, then put them in the fridge. (I don't bother sterilizing and sealing, so they do have to live in the fridge so they don't spoil.)

People go crazy for these pickles. They *are* really good, if I do say so myself. Nice in a grilled cheddar/tomato/pickle-wich, in particular.

Posted by foodnerd at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)