Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baba & Chaat

I've "discovered" two new lovely treats. I put the word discovered in quotes because apparently I was just really slow in learning about these delish delights.

I'd been too blinded by my admiration for hummus to ever notice it's cousin Mr. Baba. Gloriously smokey and smooth this dish is so creamy and yummy. The best version I've had(although, truth be told it's also the only version I've had) is at Akdeniz, a Turkish restaurant that Kitchenette and I have been to twice. Nicely warmed and pooled into a large bowl/dish it's topped with a tomato-based stew of either chicken or beef. To me though, the stew is merely a distraction. It's Mr. Baba I come to see. But he's an expensive date. For that gustatory pleasure, it's about $15-16 dollars. So does anyone know of any good baba ganoushes I can purchase at the grocery store? And is it traditional that they serve it warm? Because I have to tell you, I don't know if I would like Mr. Baba nearly as much if he were chilled.

Being cheap and adverse to risk, I usually order from a limited selection of my favorites whenever I'm at an Indian restaurant (chicken tikka masala, chicken vindaloo, saag paneer, vegetable korma, etc). But BUFFETS are a whole different story. They rock! This one restaurant near my apartment has an amazing weekend brunch spread. Luis and I go to this brunch at least once a month. Each time, I've noticed this appetizer of crunchy potato chip look-a-likes that get doused with yogurt sauce, chick peas and potatoes and a green sauce. It was never really compelling enough for me to try until one day when after my third plate of chicken vindaloo I decided to branch out. This stuff is TERRIFIC!!! It's crazily crunchy, both sweet and sour, and just this huge party of flavors. It's bold, brash and unique. Apparently there are also a wide variety of chaats in existence with restaurants putting their own spins on the dish?

Anyway, if you haven't ever tried either of these. I highly recommend them. Although I really do think the baba ganoush must be better warm rather than cold.

(photo from

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chez Henri, Boston

In the spirit of taking advantage of a work-related jaunt to Cambridge, MA, I had "dinner" in February with two friends at Chez Henri, a restaurant that had long been on my list of Places I'd Like To Go but which somehow never made it to the number one spot. Chez Henri is a cute little restaurant parked on a sidestreet just off the main drag of Massachussetts Avenue, between Harvard and Porter Squares. Upon entry, you realize that the cute little space is further divided into two separate but not entirely equal spaces - to the left, the bar room and to the right, the dining room. I had lured my friends to CH on the basis of its famously fancy (and comparatively well-priced) bar food and as we walked through the cold evening, our hunger built.

When we arrived, the bar room was probably 75% full - most of the seats at the bar were occupied and there were diners at most of the small tables. But we found a seat and settled in with the menu []. I had read very promising things about the Pressed Cuban Sandwich and now that Kitchenette has finally convinced me that pork isn't the evil meat that I was raised to believe it is, I decided to order that. J had Cuban Style Empanadas and F the Warm Spinach Salad with Duck Tamales. We also shared an order of calamari. Everything was delicious - my Cuban was cheesy and oozy and warm on thick toasted bread. YUM!! The food came out quickly, the service was good and the environment was warm and cosy. It could have been a less enjoyable experience if we had been stuck at a table near the door or squeezed into some corner of the small room but we were lucky and had a lovely time.

If you find yourself in Boston - or live there - and are looking for a classy restaurant experience without spending a lot of money, I'd highly recommend Chez Henri. And get the Cuban - while J and F enjoyed their food they were both jealous of mine!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

duck duck duck

every once in a while...i get an intense craving for roast duck (other cravings are for Indian food and Vietnamese food and a burrito)...

Recently i had two opportunities to eat Peking Duck, which i think I never tried before.

The first place I tried it was at Sang Kee (one of my favorite Chinatown restaurants)....I really enjoyed it there, as I got to roll my own little pancakes. Because I was SO hungry, I also enjoyed the extra rice and accompanying dish, which was the remaining duck meat, stir-fried with snow/snap peas and veggies in a rich brown sauce.

The second place I tried it was at Cin Cin, a Chinese restaurant in Chestnut Hill. This is a pretty nice, semi-fancy Chinese restaurant. I enjoyed the Mongolian Lamb the last time I went there. Anyways, I ordered the Peking Duck here and the waiter made the rolls for us by request. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this experience as much because he put too much hoisin sauce in the rolls! Also, there was no rice or side dish to accompany this meal. I guess it was okay since the crispy spring rolls I had as an appetizer was pretty filling. But the duck was still good and I enjoyed the green tea ice cream for dessert.

does anyone know what hoisin sauce is made of? i don't know if i really like it...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Trader Joes Update

People on chowhound say the new Union Square store should be open March 16 or March 17! I dread the mobs of people I'll have to fight my way through, but I can't wait to have access again. I only wish I lived closer.