December 31, 2008

taqueria la mexicana

I read a couple of glowing reviews of Taqueria La Mexicana, and I've been meaning to go there and check it out for a while. I am constantly waylaid by the delights of Wu Chon House whenever I am in Union Square, though.

But today I was headed for the Reliable Market, to buy more kimchi, having used up the last of it yesterday, putting our household at risk of having to eat its spicy ramen without adornment. And I was hungry, which is never a good plan for me when I am heading into a food store. So I took the opportunity to scratch the taco itch that's been plaguing me of late, an itch made all the worse by thoughts of Chicago and a friend moving there next month.

I got one pork taco and one potato & chorizo taco, since the latter was touted by one of the reviews. Potato & chorizo is fine, but the pork is where it's at: a truly moist, meaty carnitas that's flavorful enough to stand up to a pair of tortillas. The tortillas are store-bought, but freshly warmed on the griddle. The pico de gallo was just sad, beige tomato dice with barely a dusting of cilantro and onion. I brushed most of it off, and next time I will ask for just cilantro and onion. There will be a next time, on the strength of that carnitas, though overall it doesn't hold a candle to the delights of Chicago Mexican. The new Cantina La Mexicana next door, though, is really quite a nice space, all dark wood and sparkling glassware at the bar, and with perfectly adequate Mexican food like this, it should do just fine in the Boston market.

Posted by foodnerd at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2008

topsy turvy

It's been a particularly difficult holiday season, being as it was the final days of our (dear, adorable, elderly) kittycat. We miss him, as we miss his companions who went before him, and we are sad.


Everything is weird. There's no yowling for attention when we walk in the door, no paws in the neck or snaggletooth poked in the face when we wake up in the morning. It's a good thing we have this week off from work, because we have been holed up at home, not really dealing with much of anything at all.

In the middle of all this, one night we looked in our fridge and couldn't stand the idea of anything in it, so we decided to go out. But we couldn't quite muster the energy to drive to the city, or really to drive at all, so we walked to Asian Grill on Moody Street -- that same Asian Grill that in the past had been so abominably wretched that it pained me just to walk past the place. But it's had a big sign on the front the past few weeks, proclaiming a new Korean and Japanese menu, so we figured we'd give it a chance to redeem itself, and if it was too horrible, we'd pay, leave full plates behind, and walk a little further to Sushi Yasu.

We ordered soon dooboo chigae and tofu kimchi bokum, and both were, dare I say it, excellent. The kimchi bokum was super spicy and vinegary, but I liked it very much, giving it second place in the roster behind the best one, now and always, from Wu Chon. The chigae was well balanced and chock-full of tiny minced octopus and squid and so forth along with the silky tofu. The pan chan were all more than decent as well, and hot barley tea came in heavy diner mugs as we sat down.

So we'll go back, on the strength of the new Korean kitchen, and maybe next time we'll be braver and try a dish or two off the rest of the menu as well. It's nice to know some things can change for the better.

soon dooboo chigae at Asian Grilltofu kimchi bokum at Asian Grillpan chan at Asian Grill

Posted by foodnerd at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2008

on brunch

"I must commend you for the great civility and refinement you show in suggesting a 1pm brunch. Various barbarians insist on 11am for brunch while a wide range of cretins and assorted morons feel that 2pm (or even later) is appropriate. They are all wrong and you are right."

from an email thread re: New Year's celebrations. i love my friends.

Posted by foodnerd at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2008


Sofra. Ana Sortun's new cafe/takeout place in Watertown. Go there. Now. IMMEDIATELY.

Why are you still reading this, did i not tell you to go eat at Sofra this instant? Turkish and North African mezze and pastries, all wrapped up in a fabulous green-enameled vintage building that I loved even before Ana filled it with tastiness.

Feta whipped with spicy pepper. Celery root turned into silky hummus with almonds and a whisper of garlic. Lentil and walnut mash drizzled with tangy pomegranate molasses. This is the stuff of a vegetable lover's dream. It all makes for a gourmet dieter's haven, assuming you can resist the exquisite-looking golden pastries and the smell of cheese borek. Damn.

Posted by foodnerd at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

December 15, 2008

cider chicken & sage sweet potatoes

I went over to B+D's place last night to visit and to admire their magnificent 11-foot christmahannukwanzaka shrub, and of course i hadn't had this visit planned 30 seconds before I suggested cooking dinner, only partly because I had chicken thighs in the fridge needing to be used.

anyway, it all worked out even better than usual, and we've got two new recipes you should try out.

Cider chicken is mine, and it's easy easy easy. Salt the chicken thighs well. Brown the chicken thigh in some olive oil. We used bone in skin on, which i think worked nicely. Take the golden brown chicken out and put it on a plate. Pull off and eat as much of the crispy skin as you can. Pour off most of the fat, then lower the heat and saute half a chopped onion. When it's soft, add some bourbon - somewhere between a splash and a shot. Let it bubble a minute then add a cup of cider and maybe half a cup or a cup of chicken broth. Boil that down for a while, maybe 10 mins, and then put the chicken back in and let it cook the rest of the way through. I semi-covered it, but not sure I needed to, and it did make the remaining skin go soggy. What you want to end up with is a sauce that's just about to become syrupy, so you can spoon it over the braised chicken and have it stick. Grind a little pepper over the top toward the end.

Sage sweet potatoes is B's, and it's a keeper. Peel your sweet potatoes -- we did 6, and had enough for 4 people. Grate them on the food processor or box grater. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a fairly deep pan, and add the sweet potatoes. You'll basically saute them until they're soft. Add some salt and pepper if you feel like it. In a small saucepan, melt half or most of a stick of salted butter, then add a big handful of chopped fresh sage. The butter will go green, but keep cooking it and the butter will brown. Once you've got a panful of browned butter and crispy sage leaves, fish out some of the sage (if you like -- it IS tasty crispy sagy goodness) and pour it into the now-soft sweet potato mash. Mix it all up, eat, and swoon.

This sage/sweet potato combo is the ideal sweet-savory approach for this often-mistreated vegetable. And it seems to me that this dish would be just as happy on a plate with a steak, or a thanksgiving turkey, or a fish fillet as it was with my cider chicken. Simple, rich, nutritious and versatile. I'm sold.

Posted by foodnerd at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2008

cilantro & chive yogurt dip

Feeling slightly capricious at the Trader Joe's earlier this week, I perused the packaged dips on offer, and found that most of them were full of chemicals and other sketchy crap. One, though, was not: Cilantro & Chive Yogurt Dip.

Now I know perfectly well that the tallasiandude won't go near this one, loathing cilantro as he does, but it sounded pretty good to me, and low in fat too. There's only 300 calories in the entire tub.

I just tried it tonight and it turns out to be all I'd hoped it would be. Kind of like (be still my half-jewish heart) chive cream cheese, only a little tangier and more like dip. Lovely on carrot sticks. Probably decent on potato chips too. Yum yum.

Posted by foodnerd at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2008

sorry, people, got a little busy again

i hate it when i don't post for over a month. my site looks crappy, you guys are sad, no love for anyone. so, while i am getting my shit together over here, i will share this, just because it assaulted my eyes today while reading an otherwise compelling webcomic:

Oh. My. God. EEEEW.

People, highwaisted mom-jeans made of shiny stretch fabric are NOT SEXY. They are not fashionable. They are hideous, and they are not flattering even on the skinny ol' teenagers who model them. They were NOT CUTE THE FIRST TIME AROUND. What is going on here? I do believe I am becoming a crotchety old bag who goes on and on about the depravities of Our Modern Age. But I mean, come on. Eeeew.

(and btw, these horrid trousers go for 99 euros. the mind bends.)

Posted by foodnerd at 10:35 AM | Comments (2)