Monday, January 31, 2011

No-Bake Fudgy Oat Cookies - Easy and Delicious

My mom got me "The Taste of Home: Cookies" recipe book for Christmas this year, so I was excited to try out one of the recipes I was eying  and to bring them to a dinner we were attending.  Even better, the recipe we chose was for drop cookies that required no baking!  So, I was hoping they would turn out well because they seemed like one of those good recipes to have on hand when you quickly need a dessert.  I was pleasantly surprised when they actually came out well and actually got compliments!

Yummy Cookies

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Paprikash - who knew there was a spicy paprika!

I started following Martha Stewart's everyday food blog, which has lots of great recipes, and found this chicken paprikash recipe.  It seem relatively simple and also used a lot paprika, which is not a spice I generally utilize, and I thought it would add a new flavor to the kitchen.
The necessities...

* 4 chicken leg quarters, cut in half at joint (about 3 pounds total)

* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
* 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
* 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
* 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
* 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
* 1/2 pound wide egg noodles
* 1/2 cup sour cream or thick plain yogurt

To begin, I chopped up my onion and and the garlic.

Chopped Onion

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pigalle - French Red Light District Style in Boston

Groupon strikes again!  This time, we had a lovely evening at Pigalle in the theatre district.  I had planned this evening around having my mom and one her best friends, K, (as well as one of my second moms) come have dinner in town with Nick and I.

Pigalle is a french restaurant that is tucked away on Charles St. South in the theatre district.  I had passed it a number of times walking back and forth to the south end but really had never thought to go in.  However, when Pigalle popped up on groupon I figured it was totally worth trying out.

When you walk into Pigalle, it just has this really cozy feel.  There is a small bar in the front, then the restaurant is filled with dark leather booths and and a timber ceilings.  They have a nice cocktail list, but my mom kept it simple and ordered a cosmo.

The Cosmo
I got a French martini that was made with Grey Goose, cassis and pineapple juice.  The result is frothy yummyiness.  Nick got The Aviation, which had Hendricks Gin, lemon juice and Creme de violette.  Even though it was a very manly pink creation, it was still very good.

The Aviation and the French Martini
When it came to the food, Pigalle has a great three course deal for only $40.  Another great thing with the three course meal is that they will time it perfectly so that you will make it to the theatre on time.  So, my mom and K opted for the three course menu.  I was surprised to see that all of the plates that came out as a part of the three course meal were the same as if you ordered off the regular menu.

Both K and Nick got the Duet of Vegetable Terrines: Beet and Horseradish Cream and Eggplant and Goat Cheese with Brioche Toast.

The Terrines
What was a bit odd about this dish was the eggplant because it was jellied, which made the texture a bit off, unless you really like jellied dishes. 

My mom got the Simple Arugula Salad with Fried Goat Cheese that also came with thin roasted fingerling potatoes.

The salad
I tried the fried goat cheese and of course it was delicious.  The breading did not overpower the cheese at all. 

For main courses I ordered Pigalle’s Cassoulet of Confit Duck Leg, Braised Lamb Shank and House-Made Pork sausage.

The Cassoulet
The presentation of this dish was fun.  I loved the little cast iron dish, but it was the charger that was more "french."  The detailing on the outside was something you thought you might see in the french countryside.  The food itself was pretty good.  I loved the duck and the sausage.  However, I did not love the lamb, which is what I was most looking forward to.  Overall though, I was pleased with the dish.

Nick got the Pork Wienerschnitzel with Herbed Spaetzle, Braised Purple Cabbage and Caper-Lemon Sauce.

The Wienerschnitzel
This was fun because it is not something you generally see in any Boston restaurants.  Nick loved the dish.  The pork was really moist and the sauce was flavorful.

My mom ordered the Beef Bourguignon with Mushrooms, Pearl Onions and Bacon, which is one of those dishes that is perfect to order because it seems overwhelming to make at home. 

The Bourguignon
Again, this dish was presented in a bowl that you would find in the french countryside, just adding to the look and feel of the restaurant.  Also, placed in the middle of the dish is a bone filled with marrow, intended to add more flavor.  This dish was really hearty and delicious - perfect for the colder evenings we have been having lately.

K got the Crispy Half Duckling with Dried Cherry Glaze, Bacony Brussels Sprouts, Pearl Onions and Potato Purée. 

The Crispy Duckling
This was another delicious dish.  The potatoes were so smooth giving them the appearance of a polenta almost.  The cherry glaze was flavorful while not being overly sweet.

Since my mom and K ordered from the three course menu, Nick and I could not be left out and also ordered desserts.  Both my mom and K ordered the Banana Phyllo Roll with Green Tea Ice Cream, Kaffir Lime Anglaise and Candied Walnuts.

The Banana Phyllo Roll dessert
The rolls were nice and actually not too sweet, and the green tea provided a nice complement in flavor.  The presentation of the dessert was nice.  The green plate really helped set off the colors of the dessert itself.

I ordered the Classic Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée, because next to chocolate desserts, this is my other go-to dish.

The Crème Brûlée
The crust on this dessert was fantastic, it was nice and thick.  You actually had to put in a little effort to reach the creamy center.  This Crème Brûlée was probably the best I have had in a long time.

Nick went against all his dessert norms when he found out they were out of the cheesecake and got the Fallen Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sauce and Raspberry Coulis.

The Fallen Chocolate Cake
Again, this was served on another french county plate that I really liked.  Also, I loved the presentation of the components itself - it looked like it was ready for a photo.  This cake had a nice rich coco flavor rather than being overly chocolaty like some cakes can be.  The sauces were good, just too rich for a non chocolate lover.

Overall, I was totally satisfied with my meal when we left the restaurant, and I would highly recommend the three course meal.  I think it is actually an amazing deal.  Also, there is a wide variety of dishes available so even the pickiest person (like myself) would be able to find something they would like.  Ordering off the regular menu can get pricey quickly considering there is such a great alternative. 

Pigalle is a great go-to for people looking to make a show as well as indulging in a quality meal, especially since it is in the theatre district and you do not need to move the car afterward.  Also, it is the perfect place to grab a bit during these cold winter months because between the atmosphere and comfort food, you will leave feeling warm and cozy.

Pigalle on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Butternut Squash, Kale and Cheddar Bread Pudding

I have been reading a lot lately about people doing a "Meatless Monday" in an attempt to be healthier, and its supposed to be much better for the environment.  I thought it would be a great way to get out of the chicken rut I sometimes find myself in.  In general, I base a lot of my dinners around chicken as it is both cheap and easy.  So, this post here starts my attempt at sticking with Meatless Mondays.  However, as you will see, this first one is in no way helping me get healthier...but it was so worth it!

I stumbled upon this butternut squash and cheddar bread pudding recipe on YumSugar and thought this was reason enough to go for Meatless Monday!  Also, this Monday happened to be one of the coldest days I can remember, so this comfort dish really was going to hit the spot.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Espresso Chip Meringues

Randomly Nick and I were talking about cookies.  I honestly cannot remember why we got started on the topic, but the next thing you know, I am off to the races attempting to make meringues.  Why meringues over the thousands of other types of cookies you ask??  Well because we got it in our heads these were "healthy cookies," mostly air - that and we had all the ingredients.  Also, it didn't hurt that we had a meringue cookie from Flour and it was delicious.

Nick found a fun looking recipe by Giada de Laurentiis so I went for it.

The necessities...
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup superfine baker's sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

The Ingredients

Monday, January 24, 2011

Myers + Chang - Yum Dim Sum

I have only been to Dim Sum once.  I was in Montreal with some friends and had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Luckily, one of the people directed everything, and basically I didn't have to do anything except watch the food come to the table and eat it.  I have been wanting to go again, but never knew a good place to go in Boston (Chinatown in particular).  However, after the "Top Chef" episode where the chefs had a Dim Sum challenge, I put a little bit more effort into finding a good recommendation.

One of the recommendations was Myers + Chang in the South End, and while it does not have the traditional carts, it does have a diverse dim sum menu.  After a bit of a long Saturday night, I was just not in the mood for fighting crowds and having to think too hard, so this seemed like the perfect option.  Having never been to Myers + Chang before, I was not sure what to expect...lets just say I am totally on board with their dim sum and wonder why you even need carts!

Myers + Chang is definitely funkier than your average Chinese restaurant, which only adds to the fun.  They totally broke the mold for Chinese restaurants - in a GOOD way.

We were pretty basic in our drink orders: water, diet coke and coffee, but the coffee was in a french press, which always adds a little something special.  They did have plenty of fun cocktails as well as their own soda flavors.  For ordering, they hand you a sheet for you to go through and just check off what you want.  The idea is more like tapas, where you order a bunch of small plates to share.  Taste and share we certainly did.  Each plate just comes out when it is ready. 

First came the shiitake mushroom and chinese greens dumplings.  In general, dumplings are one of my favorites, and these were delicious.  Being the first course, I was amazed at how fresh they tasted.  There was none of that greasy taste or slimy feeling that you see in a lot of Chinese food.  Turns out this was the constant theme for all the dishes.  Also, the sauce had a great bite to it and added a lot of flavor to the dish.

The Dumplings
When you order, you get the option of white or brown rice.  We went with the brown and took the left overs of any of the sauces and ate it with them.  While not necessary to complete the meal in anyway, it was nice to have - a bit of a palate cleanser.

Dumplings and Brown Rice
Nick ordered the nasi goreng with pork and pineapple, which had two asterisks next to it, meaning extra EXTRA spicy and they were not kidding!  While this dish was spicy, it was hot in a good way.  The pineapple was definitely not the dominating flavor to this dish, which worked out well for me.  Again, unlike most fried rice, this was not at all greasy.  The combination had a good texture.

Fried Rice
One of the best things I had at my first Dim Sum experience was steamed pork buns - it was actually the only thing I remembered.  So, those were a must for both Nick and I.  However, we got super nervous when we were checking out the menu beforehand because I did not see it on the menu!  Turns out though, stuffed bao is actually the traditional name for the steamed buns, so we were safe.  (Wikipedia to the rescue again!)  As this was our favorite, we got two different ones to try.  First up was the crispy pork belly:

Crispy Pork Belly
The second was the cantonese bbq:
Cantonese BBQ

While both were good, the crispy pork belly actually got a second round.  One was not enough!  The pork belly was cooked perfectly.  However, for both of these dishes, the bun was really quite amazing.  It was soft and had a lot of great texture.  Again, the whole thing was just fresh and not at all greasy.

Next, we got the sweet potato fritters with Chinese sausage.  While we did not think sweet potatoes were a real Chinese dish, we looked around a bit and they are actually used a lot more than we would have thought!  These were one of my favorite things we ordered.  They had a great crunch on the outside, while the inside had a nice blend of smooth sweet potato with some yummy sausage.  Again, this sauce was incredible and complemented the fritters perfectly. 

The Fritters
During the ordering process we decided we should probably mix in a bit of green and ordered the wok-charred baby bok choy w/shiitake mushrooms.  This was one of the most surprising dishes because it was so good!  The bok choy was cooked to perfection.  Each piece had a hint of char to it, but still tasted so fresh and not at all greasy or limp like a lot of veggies can get.  This is something I would recommend to anyone who just likes green vegetables.  Even if you do not generally like bok choy, this dish will change you mind!

Bok Choy and Mushrooms
Next, we ordered a bit more of a traditional dim sum item, the spicy kimchee pancakes, which again came with a fantastic spicy sauce.  These were fried, but still not overly greasy tasting.  The sauce made the dish for me as the pancake did not have a whole lot of flavor.  Again, that may be specific to this type of dish as I am not sure what kimchee is supposed to taste like. 

Kimchee Pancakes
The last thing we ordered was the dan dan noodles with spicy peanut sauce.  The presentation of this was fun because it was served in a traditional Chinese take-out box.  What surprised me though was the noodles were cold.  While not what I expected, it was a nice change of pace from the rest of the dishes we ordered.  The flavors were great and it had the perfect combination of peanut flavoring and spice, but I think I would have rather had this be hot.

The Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodle Box
Now, even though were totally full, we had to order some desserts!  When more than a couple of dishes on the menu called out to us, I figured we had to give them a go.  So we split the coconut cream pie with lime whipped cream and the "ancient chinese secret" chocolate mousse with homemade 5-spice meringues.

Coconut Pie

Both of these were totally worth it.  The pie had a great balance of the tart lime flavor and the sweetness of the coconut.  Both fillings were light and airy.  The mousse for me stole the show - soft and smooth and not overly sweet.  It had a distinct coco flavor.  I would love to know the secret because even Nick loved the chocolate mousse and he traditionally does not really like those chocolaty desserts.  The meringues on top were a great garnish.  Like the mousse itself, they were not overly sweet and were a great contrast in texture to the mousse.

While now warmed up to maybe attempt dim sum in Chinatown, I am not sure I would want to!  I had a fantastic meal from start to finish at Myers + Chang.  To the point where we cannot wait to try their dinner menu.  So for those wanting to attempt dim sum or just a change from the traditional brunch menu, this is a perfect option.  You will not be disappointed!

Myers & Chang on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Radius Burger Test

Last night Nick and I headed to the Financial District for a birthday party.  Knowing that the party started a bit later, we capitalized on the location and headed to Radius for a burger test.  Radius' burger has popped up on a bunch of "best of" lists (including mine) so we were eager for the excuse to check it out.

The Burger
Since it was a Saturday night we thought there would be no problem getting a seat at the bar - I mean who actually goes to that area on a Saturday night?  Of course we walk in and there were no available seats!  Turns out we stumbled upon half-price burger night!!!  We were so excited - that sort of stuff NEVER happens to me.  Radius is doing this promotion on Saturday nights through January, but since it has been so big, they may extend it through February as well.  Regardless, try to hit the half price night, such a good deal.

Onto the meal....

Like I said, it was busy when we got there so we had to stand for a bit.  What was really nice, though, was that Radius had bartenders circulating through the bar area to help out people like us.  There was no need to try and cram in at the bar to get a drink, making for a much more relaxed environment.  For our first drinks, we went pretty basic: Grey Goose and tonic for me and a Dark and Stormy for Nick (shocking right?!)  Nick said the ginger beer in the dark and stormy had a strong flavor, more so that others he has had.  By the time we finished our first drink, a table opened up for us. 

Knowing we were getting half priced burgers, we indulged on our second drinks as well.  This time we went with the cocktail menu because it had a couple of great options for both of us - vodka for me, gin for Nick.  I settled on the Havisham's Dream, which is Absolut Citron, pear liqueur, rose water and a splash of bubbles- where the bubbles come from, I do not know.

Havisham's Dream
The drink is nicely garnished with a purple orchid.  It doesn't get more girly than that!  Overall the drink was nice and easy to drink, not at all too sweet like some martini's can get.  None of the flavors overpowered the others.  Nick stuck with the ginger beer and got the Fezziwig's Punch, which had new amsterdam gin, pimm's cup, orange blossom water, and ginger beer.

Fezziwig's Punch
At first I was worried that we may be ordering another drink quickly as Nick's first sip was all gin!  However, after he mixed it up a bit, the rest of the flavors came together.  The orange blossom was really fragrant.  By the end, Nick was completely on board with the drink.  So, note here: make sure you stir!

When it came time to order food, there was no thought needed, and we both ordered the burger.

The Burger - from another angle
This burger has a large beef pattie that is topped with a horseradish sauce and onion strings that were actually between the bun!  In the picture, that is actually the sauce spilling out, not cheese.  I must admit I am not a maynoaise fan at all so this horseradish sauce worried me.  When the burgers came, they were cooked to perfection - when you order rare and medium rare, this is a big deal.

A look inside...
The burger itself was a great size, and the bun did not overshadow it in the least.  Since the bun is a fluffly artisan bread, the meat had its work cut out for it.  The onion strings in the burger were a great addition and added some salty, crunchy flavor and texture.  Now, the sauce Nick loved, but it was too much for me.  I think if I were to order it again, I would ask for only a little of the horseradish sauce, which would make a big difference for me.  The onion strings and sauce really do make this burger different from most and that I really appreciate.  Its hard to take something so standard and make it more special while remembering that the beef should be the star.

This burger quickly climbed the ranks of Nick's favorites, beating out Back Bay Social Club and a close second to Sel de la Terre.  For me however, Moo... and Back Bay Social Club still are tops.
Between the drinks, the food, and the warm atmosphere, Radius is worth the trip.  If you are a horseradish fan, the burger would be right up your alley. 

Radius on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vapiano - pasta, pizza and more

Last night, after going to the movies on the Common with some friends, we headed over to Vapiano on the corner of Stuart and Charles.  Vapiano is another European restaurant that is slowly making its way into the States.  Vapiano's style is somewhere close to a cafeteria, so everything is made to order, but in a casual dining setting so the prices are a bit cheaper.  Each restaurant also has an olive tree going inside, the Italian symbol  for good luck and a long life.

The Olive Tree
When you walk in the hostess hands you the food and drink menus as well as a Vapiano credit card.  You then seat yourself at tables that are meant for about 10 people apiece.  Assuming the place is packed, you will end up sharing your table with another party.  Along most of the walls of the restaurant are the various kitchen stations.  When you are ready to order, you head on up to the station that prepares the food you want - antipasti, pizza, sandwiches, or pasta - and place your order with the chef.

Inside Vapiano
I headed to the pasta station and ordered pesto with spaghetti.  They had a great variety of sauces and pastas, including whole wheat variates.  After I ordered, I actually tapped the credit card they gave me against the register, which keeps track of what you buy.  When you are done, you bring the card up to the front and pay there.  Pretty simple.

Pesto Pasta
The pasta was OK.  I realized a little too late that it needed salt.  Nick got the ham and arugula panini, which was on sourdough bread with smoked Gouda and came with tomato basil soup.  The sandwich was really good and tasty, however the soup could have used a bit more flavor.

The Panini
The friends we were with ordered pizzas, which were large - definitely big enough to share.  The pizza were pretty good, with a nice fluffy crust to them.

The Margherita Pizza
The Chicken Pesto Pizza
Vapiano also has a full bar with a good variety of wine that they serve by the glass or bottle.  Some glasses are actually less than $5, which is pretty good in my book! 

Overall I was happy I went and tried out Vapiano.  The concept is fun and different.  It's great for lunch or a quick dinner.  Most of the time though, I would rather sit down to a dinner where the food is brought to me.  But on certain nights, this would be a great option!

Vapiano on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 21, 2011

Unbroken - Lessons in Perseverance

Anyone who can dedicate an entire book to a horse, is an author I can get behind.  Even better is when the book is actually GOOD!  Laura Hillenbrand did just that with her first (?) novel Seabiscuit.  In Seabiscuit she really explored the world of horse racing from all angles and needless to say I was hooked immediately.

Recently, Hillenbrand's new novel, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, was popping up on every list I saw!

Cover Art
I read the synopsis and it was all about this guy Louis Zamperini, who I was not really familiar with, so it did not draw my attention.  Also, I was not looking to add to my book collection in anticipation of my Kindle!  In the meantime, however, a couple of my friends had read it and said it was pretty good, so I decided to give it a go and once again Hillenbrand out did herself.

The amount of research done in order to give the complete picture of Zamperini's life was impressive.  She was able to detail so many different facets of his eventful life.  This is a guy who started out as a challenging child, to becoming a world class track star and setting records, to the Berlin Olympics where he actually met Hilter, to becoming a Bombardier during WWII, to a POW in Japan, and onto figuring out how to live his life after the War. 

I was surprised at how inspirational the book was considering the amount of time spent describing life during Zamperini's time in the POW camps.  At certain points I really wondered how much a single person could take.  I think it was his spirit and seeing how he, along with the others at the camps, overcame all the amazing odds against was actually uplifting in light of the depressing setting.

Although the book was relatively long and had a massive number of details throughout, it really was an easy read (and being my first Kindle read i was worried!).  I finished and was happy to have learned so much about a fascinating person.  Zamperini's story in another author's hands may have not been as compelling, but Hillenbrand did him justice by taking such get care of his story.  For the rest of us, we now get the advantage of easily learning about this amazing individual.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


A couple of years ago I started seeing trivia nights at various bars in the area, and one time we actually just happened upon a bar that was doing a trivia night.  Turns out, the trivia is called Stump Trivia and is actually this big organized thing that is offered across the city at a variety of bars.  The whole trivia game takes about two hours and they cover all sorts of topics so everyone can contribute...really!

The Score Cards
After going to a couple of different bars, I went to The Living Room with some Junior League girls and had a good time!  The questions were hard, but doable, and of course the food and drink is better than the average bar fare.  Recently, Nick and I and our friends Kacy and Ricky started going on Tuesday nights a bit more regularly.  Most of the time we make sure we are there before 7 (even though trivia starts at 8) because they offer half priced appetizers- such a good deal!  Also, by getting there earlier you can be sure to get a comfy couch area, which only helps the trivia smarts.

I must admit that initally, the reason we kept going back is we actually placed and got a gift certificate towards our next bill!!  If you win you get $25, second gets $15 and third gets $10.  So while not a ton money, still is fun to get it.  The only thing I wish is they would make your winnings applicable for that night - I will still take what I can get.  Also, you can get your picture in their Promotions section...

Highly recommend finding a Stump trivia near you...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My New Obsession - My Kindle

One the big gifts I asked for this year for Christmas was a Kindle.  I am a huge reader that loves to buy books - and no, I do not wait for the paperbacks, I go straight for the hardcover.  Being a fairly quick reader, I have developed quite a collection, which was fine by me.  In my big kid house, I envision having one of those cool library rooms with floor to ceiling shelving that is loaded with books.

However, Nick and I live in a condo with only 576 square feet.  Granted, there is quite a bit of storage for such a small space, but there is a limit to how much you can squeeze in there.  As time has progressed, I seem to be getting creative about shelving for books.  Short of taking over precious closet space, something needed to change.

Enter, The Kindle:

My Kindle!

I was SUPER hesitant about the Kindle.  I love everything there is about books and, in the beginning, refused to believe a Kindle could actually come close to replicating that experience.  Now I have read 2 full books and am in the middle of a third one now.  I waited to post anything about it until I felt like I actually had a real feel for using the device.  Amazingly though, the technology behind the Kindle's pearl ink makes it seem like you are truly reading off the pages of a book.   

While I never thought a book was cumbersome to read, some of the bigger hardcover ones could get heavy and reading on the T could be a bit difficult depending on the size of the book.  The Kindle solves all of these issues, as the device itself is really small and light, much more so than even the iPad.  Also, with the click of a button, you turn the page.  Another great feature is the dictionary, you can look up any word directly from your Kindle.

I actually got the Kindle with the built in 3G.  When I first started looking into this I could not figure out how it worked because it seemed too easy - for $50 more at the time of purchase you will forever have 3G.  Really, it is that easy.  So no matter where I am in the US and the majority of the world, I will be able to buy books straight from my Kindle device.  It helps me avoid the issues I ran into while reading the Hunger Games trilogy - with this, you can download the next book in the series instantaneously!  Also, after a few months, the device will pay for itself because Kindle books are cheaper than buying actual books.

I read a lot of reviews comparing the Kindle to the Nook and to the iPad before asking for the Kindle.  Almost everyone, if not everyone, said that the Kindle was a lot faster and easier to use than the Nook.  The page turning seemed to be the biggest thing between the two.  While you cannot loan books like you can on the Nook, you now have the ability to loan a Kindle book for 14 days.  As far as the iPad goes, while I love the device, it is certainly not as good for reading.  The LCD screen can hurt your eyes after long use and it is just a lot heavier.  However, you can download the Kindle App directly to your iPad, which makes it easy to use both devices!

Another fun, but necessary thing for a Kindle is a Kindle cover.  They really help protect the device and make it easier to hold onto.  I got a great Diane von Furstenberg cover that is a zebra print.

My Kindle Cover
 There are tons more to choose from that make them a fun accessory to shop for!

I would highly recommend this device to anyone who reads!  I mean it is just so easy.  Coming from a book lover like me, that is saying a lot.  I promise you will not miss reading actual books.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tupelo - Good enough for Elvis, good enough for me...

Last night Nick and I went to Tupelo over in Inman Square in Cambridge (yes, we ventured across the bridge).  Nick used to live right around the corner so we have been to Tupelo at least a half a dozen times and loved it each time.  So, when it came up on Groupon last year, we bought three of them.  However, since that time Nick has moved in and getting to Cambridge always seems more difficult.  We had one groupon left to use before it expired at the end of February, so last night we went and remembered exactly why we love it so much!

Disclaimer for Tupelo, though: you need to leave your diets at the door.  You need to go in ready for a fat kid dinner, but really, you are going to enjoy EVERY moment of it and it will all be worth it!

Most of the time there is a wait for a table, so we jumped on the two chairs at the bar, right next to Elvis.

Hanging with Elvis...who is wearing my ear muffs!
Tupelo has a great variety of beers, a lot that are authentic to the south, including Abita and Dixie.  This time Nick and I went for two different Dixie's, the Blackened Voodoo and the Lager.

Some Dixie's
Neither of us had tried this beer before, but both had a nice flavor.  The Blackened Voodoo had a nice spice to it and the Lager was just nice and smooth.  At some point during our dinner I ordered another beer and got a Tusker Lager, which is actually from Kenya.

This was good - not as good as the Dixie, but I wanted to try something new.  Of note though is that the bottle was super heavy.  As in I actually had to have Nick confirm because I thought I was going crazy!

They had a couple of specials, one being Frito Pie, which they describe as Frito corn chips smothered with Texas-Red beef chili, Cheddar cheese, chopped onions, sour cream, lime and cilantro.  Nick did not have to think twice, this had his name written all over it!

Frito Pie
This dish is not for the faint of heart.  There is a whole lot of good spice in this "pie."  I am now a believer that Frito's should be in all chili - the salty crunch worked so well.

I ordered the fried oysters that come with green Tabasco aioli and their house pickles. 

Whole oyster plate
To be honest, I hate all pickles, so that did not sell me on the dish, but Nick really likes them.  In fairness, the house pickles were a actually a variety of pickled products.  The oysters though, were fantastic! 
Oyster close-up
Their oysters were huge!  The batter on these had a great spicy heat to them and were not too greasy.  All of them were really juicy.  All in all, some great flavor.  They totally got my taste buds ready for the spice in the entrees.

I was a bit conflicted for the entrees, the beef brisket (a menu item) or the pork chop special.  So I asked our bartender and she really could not decide!  Left to my own devices, I went with the pork chop special because I figured I could get the brisket when I go back.

Pork chop plate...
The pork chop, which was huge, was sitting in black-eyed peas and had a pile of onion rings on top.  The black-eyed peas were delicious.  Since it was a special, I cannot recall exactly what all was in them, but it was spicy and I really could not get enough.  The onion rings, like the oysters, had a great batter and were not too greasy like some can get.  However, neither of these tasty components out shined the pork chop.  It was huge, but cooked to perfection.

Pork chop close up
I always think pork chops are an easy dish for people to screw up.  It can get really dry and hockey puck like (read: inedible) easily.  This was not the case.  Even though it was large and thick, each bit was really juicy and had a lot of flavor.  I definitely made a good choice with the pork chop special.

Nick was also conflicted about his entree order, for him it was the crawfish etouffee or the beer batter crepes.  Again, we turned to our bartender and she, without hesitation, said the etouffee.  So, he went with that. 

Crawfish Etouffee
This was basically a bowl full of goodness.  I guess Nick went for the bowls and I went for the fried!  The etouffee has so many pieces of craw fish in there.  This dish also had some heat to it.  I mean, when you took a bite, it was spicy, but then the aftertaste spice snuck up on you.  It was hot!  But again, Tupelo does a great job with their spices - its all hot, but it all added great flavor and was not at all over done.

At this point we were faced with dessert.  We were totally full, but Tupelo gets their pies from Petsi Pies, which might as well be your grandmother's kitchen.  Even better, their ice cream is from Toscanini's, which puts most grocery store brands, even the boutique ones, to shame.  The one type of pie we had not tried before was the chocolate cream so that made a really difficult decision much easier.  Then, in celebration of Elvis's birthday last weekend, Toscanini's made them chocolate, banana and peanut butter ice cream, which was not available anywhere else.  At this point, it was really a no-brainer. 

Wow - this was good!  The ice cream was amazing, with just enough banana and peanut butter flavor so that neither outdid the other.  I could have just eaten that!  The pie, of course, was delicious.  The chocolate cream and the whipped cream were both nice and smooth.  The dessert was totally worth it.

Like I said, leave the diets at the door.  Both Nick and I rolled out of there and were talking about when we could go back.  We have not really repeated any dishes and everything we have ordered has been amazing.  The restaurant has a great neighborhood feel - the people at the bar are all friendly and talk to each other, and the bartender was great and more than willing to make suggestions when asked.

Tupelo is well worth the trip across the bridge!

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