June 23, 2008

a tasty beverage

went out to Eastern Standard last night (more on that when i have time to post photos) and before dinner we had a Whiskey Smash cocktail.

The cocktail menu at ES is deliberately obfuscatory, and there is no way to know wtf each intriguingly named item actually might be, unless it's a classic like a Sidecar. However, I did eventually manage to determine, by talking to our heavily accented waitress, that a Whiskey Smash involved bourbon, lemon, simple syrup and mint, which seemed like just the ticket on a warm early-summer evening.

And it was.

Arrived in a lowball over piles of shaved ice. Tasted rather like a citrus julep. Quite refreshing, and not quite as diabolically alcoholic.

Posted by foodnerd at 03:30 PM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2008

Hungry Mother

apparently everyone is going gaga over the new Cambridge restaurant Hungry Mother, and since we ate dinner there last night with a group of friends, i see why. We pretty much had one of everything, and all of it was fantastic.

They do a mini-starter course, which of course I am rabidly in favor of, then starters, then mains and dessert, and the wee post-dessert sweet that arrives with the check. Also cocktails, which are inventive and rather lovely -- I had the #1, which is rye + dr. pepper + bitters, and the bitters override any overly-sweetness to make a pretty awesome drink.

If you've not guessed it from the ingredients of that cocktail, there is a strong appalachian theme to the cooking at this restaurant, combined with fine dining service and presentation, and strong haute cuisine execution. The overall feel is comfortable and rich, relaxed and refined.

The mini-starters:

deviled eggs, satiny, spicy and fresh-tasting, the equal or better of my own, topped with crispy bacon.

very spicy pimento cheese with toast triangles and celery sticks. i could eat vats.

boiled virginia peanuts with gray sea salt. lovely with the cocktails, i must say.

the "real" starters:

shrimp & grits, dark, savory and spicy with very nice creamy grits.

salad greens with radishes and almonds and goat cheese - sounds boring, wasn't.

barbecue ribs with some sort of orange-peel relish and cornbread with no sugar, huzzah!

summer sausage & tasso ham with fantastic pickled peppers and ramps, spicy grainy mustard and more grilled toast.

fried oysters, dear sweet jesus, so yummy. The equal of the amazing ones we had on the California coast at Duarte's Tavern. Came with some sort of buttermilk-dressed salad, also tasty but I was distracted by the oystery goodness.

the mains:

roasted chicken with kale and beets and red-eye gravy. delicious, just a shade oversalted.

flatiron steak with super-creamy roasted yukon golds & crispy fried vidalia rings.

french gnocchi with peas and mushrooms and pea tendrils.

fried catfish with mustard-caper sauce (yum), rice and collards.

grilled bluefish with olive sauce, potatoes, arugula and sea salt.

the desserts:

bourbon pecan sticky bun with sorghum ice cream

perfectly light yet rich chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and a glass of milk

buttermilk pie in a graham crust, lemony and creamy

fantastic rhubarb sorbet with strawberry sauce

It was all very good, but if I went back tomorrow, i would get the eggs, the pimento cheese (maybe two), and two orders of the oysters and call it a (very happy) day. Yow!

Posted by foodnerd at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)

June 09, 2008

for the records: Cupertino Chinese Mall

I am clearing out my email, and i ran across something i wrote up for a colleague going out to do some work at Apple. When I was out there, I was there alone for long periods of time, and I consoled myself with the free happy hour cocktails at The Cupertino Inn, but mostly with constant meals at the chinese mall nearby. I'm posting the notes here so I can find them again, and so you may find them useful.

The chinese mall is at the intersection of Homestead and Wolfe in Cupertino (or possibly just over the town line into another town, but close enough). If you are staying at the Cupertino Inn, it will take 20 min to walk there, or a really quick cab ride.

Places to try:

A&J - good chinese café; I recommend the sauteed rice cakes with vegetables (rice cake are not like Quaker rice cakes, but are chewy white disks -- essentially rice pasta -- and come with green leafy veg and bamboo shoots and pork shreds, among other flavors) and I ADORE the spicy garlic cucumber pickle. Most everything is good here.

Porridge Place - the best food overall in my opinion. Fast food takeaway place but there are tables. You choose a tub of rice or congee, and pick a few plates of stuff to eat with it: stirfried pork, bok choy & garlic, 1000-year eggs, spicy shrimp, etc etc etc. For this it is best to have two or more people so you can get a nice variety of dishes and not waste enough food for 5 people.

HC Dumpling House - fancier interior, Shanghai style cooking. Try the soup dumplings (small steamed bun, xiao lung bao), and I think they have a Tung Po pork which is braised pork belly in brown sauce. Not the best Shanghainese food I've had, but perfectly acceptable.

Joy Luck Place - fancier place, with some classic high-end dishes like the weird but good shrimp with walnuts and mayonnaise.

Vietnamese noodle place I forget name of: run of the mill, but with a stellar green papaya salad.

That should keep you in eats. If dining companions are being lame about eating chinese, the brewpub right next door to the Apple campus is actually pretty good too.

There is also a comic/stuffed toy shop in the mall. I came home with a plush Totoro that is now on the shelf over my desk. :-)

Posted by foodnerd at 04:29 PM | Comments (1)