Tag Archives: review

Coppa!

Coppa is one of those restaurants that I kept meaning to get to. Chef/Owner Ken Oringer is legendary on the Boston food scene, with restaurants as diverse and well-loved as Clio, La Verdad, Toro, and KO Prime to his name. The other Chef/Owner, Jaime Bissonette, has not only worked with Oringer at several of those restaurants, but he’s the sort of young, funky, tattooed chef who gets profiled all over the place. All signs pointed to Coppa being a great dining experience. So what took me so long to get there?

I’ll admit it, location was a huge factor. Coppa is tucked away on a little side street in the South End that just isn’t that convenient to my nightlife. I’m in the neighborhood once a week during the school year to volunteer, but the middle of a work day isn’t the best time to visit a restaurant that calls itself an enoteca – while it’s not literally a wine shop, there is a very serious Italian wine list. I was also concerned that this would be a splurge meal – something I have no trouble doing, but I needed an excuse for said splurge.

One finally came in the form of my third marathon, which I ran with two friends with similar attitudes toward good food and drink. We would celebrate our accomplishment with wine and meat!

Because that’s Coppa’s specialty – a marvelous selection of Italian salumi, cheeses, and meaty delights. This is not a restaurant that vegetarians would enjoy. Thankfully, I am no vegetarian. So, did it live up to my great expectations?

DID IT EVER.

We started with pretty much our only vegetable dish of the evening, little crostini topped with sunchokes and marscarpone cheese.
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(apologies for the blurry picture – it was quite dark in the restaurant. Eventually I caved and used my flash.) This little bar snack is seriously fantastic. If you’ve never had a sunchoke, imagine a cross between a chestnut and a mushroom – nutty but earthy at the same time.

Our other non-meat dish was the burrata, which is type of insanely buttery mozzarella cheese made right in Somerville, MA.
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If it had been acceptable to lick the plate, we would have.

Similarly warm feelings were had about these:
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These are pig’s tails, roasted in a wood-oven and glazed with mostarda. They are tiny nuggets of pure joy. If I could eat them every day, I would be extremely happy for the rest of my incredibly shortened life span.

Naturally, we couldn’t visit Coppa without getting a salume plate. Regrettably, I forgot the name of nearly everything on this platter the minute she put it down, but I DO know there’s some lardo on that piggy, because we asked for it, and it was amazing. Also, how adorable is that tray?

Adjusted Salume Plate

This was an entree special of an extremely decadent rib. Though just one, the meat was plentiful.

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Finally, we did try one of the wood-fired pizzas – bone marrow with beef heart pastrami and horseradish. If, like myself and the ladies I was dining with, the combination  of beef heart and bone marrow on your pizza tantalizes, GET THIS. It is outstanding, meaty and silky and cheesy and wonderful.

Untitled If, on the other hand, like the young couple on a date next to us you are in fact a pair of very confused vegetarians, DO NOT EVEN ASK what is on this pizza. You will be sorry you did.

The atmosphere in Coppa is jovial and close – the space is teeny tiny. Everyone seems friendly and the wait staff is lovely, but if you’re in Boston and want to go, I’d get (I did in fact get) reservations, because there’s really not the space to wait. Since they call themselves an enoteca, a note on the wine: I thought it was fabulous. I also really love Italian reds, so this seems like a no-brainer, but I felt like Coppa carries interesting grapes for a reasonable by the glass price. They don’t have a full liquor license, so the cocktails are all cordial-based (Boston has some weird liquor laws). That’s not really my scene so I didn’t try them – but if you have I’d like to hear about it!

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A Visit to the Dumpling House – Part II of the Dumpling Cafe

Not sure what the heck is going on? Head over here for part 1!

Despite the plethora of appetizers we’d ordered, we still had plenty of room for entrees. I think is one of the most magical things about these adventures – so many people are eating that you can really go to town on the ordering and neither be too full nor overladen with leftovers.

Our entrees were actually a bit less exciting than the appetizers, although a few daring choices were made.

Diced Chicken with Peking Sauce

This was not one of them, though it was delicious. The menu called it Diced Chicken w. Peking Sauce. Peking sauce is often an alternate name for hoisin, although confusingly it can also refer to a similar sauce called tian mian jiang, which is an amazing name for just about anything. Either way the chicken fit the profile – somewhat sweet, somewhat salty, the tiniest bit of chili. Very enjoyable and way less gloppy-sweet than your typical suburban “General Gau’s” chicken. It was good, just not terribly adventurous. I suspect we were all recovering from duck tongues and Weird Uncle Meatball.

Razor Clam Meets Pork with Chives
More intriguing was the “House Special Razor Clam Meet (sic) & Pork w/Chives in Hot Sauce.” Razor clams are not commercially fished, so someone is digging those suckers right out of the beach! The little bits of pork held most of the spicy flavor (unless you ate those little atomic death chilis they put into these dishes, which I did not), and the chives were abundant in a way you don’t normally see herbs used – tasty and interesting. I might have to try it at home! There were also pieces of secret squid tucked away in the mix – they were perfectly cooked, not at all rubbery and a nice addition to the dish.

Sauteed Blood with Leeks
This was the Sauteed Blood with Leeks. It was my choice, mostly because I am less excited about Intestine and Pork Blood Hot Pot, which was the other option up for discussion, and I am sad to say that I made the wrong choice. The dish wasn’t bad, it was just surprisingly boring for sauteed pork blood. We were able to easily remedy it with sauces from other dishes, but perhaps I judged the intestines too harshly – no one has ever accused a mustard hot pot of being dull. I guess I will just need to go back!

Twice Cooked Pork
This little beauty, on the hand, was not boring. In fact, it had the best sauce for doctoring the blood, along with anything else one saw fit to put it on. It’s Twice Cooked Pork, a name that doesn’t really reveal too much about how awesome this dish is. Luckily Jake pulled out his fancy-phone, did some research, and wisely recommended that we give this dish a whirl.
Holy cow. If you’re too lazy to click the link, basically the dish is pork belly boiled with ginger and salt, then fried and served with cabbage or leeks. This rendition also had a spicy-sweet chili sauce that was unbelievable on pretty much everything, including (especially?) sauteed pork blood.

All in all, Dumpling Cafe lived up to and even surpassed our expectations, even with their curious definition of meat balls. I can’t wait to go back! Armed with what we know now, I believe the team could put together a meal of truly epic proportions. And about 90 orders of soup dumplings.

Soup Dumplings, Duck Tongues, and Weird Uncles

Have I mentioned to you guys how much I love Serious Eats? Should you not know what that is (on the random off-chance that THIS is the only food blog you read), let me explain. Serious Eats is a food blog, but in a big, big way. It was created by acclaimed food critic Ed Levine, and as the name suggests they are serious about food, with daily recipes, book reviews, videos, and restaurant reviews. I got into Serious Eats because of their Food Lab column, in which J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, formerly of America’s Test Kitchen, de- and re-constructs recipes for ultimate tastiness. What can I say, it appeals to the science nerd in me. But I STAY with Serious Eats, well, for lots of reasons, but particularly because they often do features on Boston-area restaurants and food, giving me ideas for things to try and write about here. Like this one.

Now, if you’ve been a loyal reader of this blog for some time, you may remember the first time I tried soup dumplings. Truly that was a magical feast of porcine wonder. Yet here was Mr. Lopez-Alt claiming that not only were these xiao long bao better than any others served in Boston, they were the best he’d had anywhere. What was to be done but to give it a try? I gathered my intrepid dumpling crew – The Goog and The Sisters Sacchetti, with the additions of Jake, Mr. Menace, and Gary – and off we headed to Chinatown to see what delights The Dumpling Cafe had to offer us.

And oh, what delights there were!
Xiao Long Bao
Rather than being coy, and making you wait until the end of this tale to find out if Serious Eats did me right and the soup dumplings lived up to the hype, let’s get it out of the way first. THE SOUP DUMPLINGS WERE AMAZING. Tender little morsels of pork tucked into a thin-skinned dumpling and surrounded by a marvelously fatty, ginger and garlic flavored broth. Outstanding – you could just get six steamer baskets full of these and be in heaven, unless you hate dumplings, in which case there is something wrong with you and you should really see someone about this terrible affliction.

But that wasn’t all that Dumpling Cafe had to offer! With so many traditional Taiwanese dishes to try, our intrepid band did the only thing we could possibly do, and ordered as many dishes as it seemed humanly possible to eat.

For appetizers, in addition to the dumplings, we had:
Pan Fried Duck Dumplings
More dumplings! But they were different dumplings. These were pan-fried duck dumplings, and they were also quite tasty, though not quite as shockingly good as the soup dumplings. Fluffy, light and pleasant, but greatly improved, as we discovered later, by the addition of sauces from other dishes.

Duck Tongues
Grilled duck tongues! Or, as the menu called them, duck tongus. (I really love Chinese restaurant misspellings and I’m afraid you’re going to have to indulge me in the litany of those from the Dumpling Cafe. Far from detracting from my restaurant experience, I think these little mistakes really enhance it.) As you can see, they are served on a stick. Everything on a stick is delicious, right? Well, to be fair, I think I liked these more than the rest of our party. They’re sort of rich and fatty, but a bit
of work because, much to the surprise of everyone at the table, ducks have a bone running through the middle of their tongues! (Of course, had we paid more attention to the very article that brought us to the restaurant, we’d have known that.) I have no idea why this is, since my preliminary research leads me to that other Serious Eats article (my other favorite column, Chi Chi Wang’s amazing “Nasty Bits.”) or information about duck calls. Either way, I think some of my dining companions were a bit put off by the fiddly little bones, but I liked the tongues quite a bit!

Chicken Skin
The “Sticky Toffee Pudding” of the evening – grilled chicken skin. In this case, people seemed surprised at how much they loved it, which I thought was funny, since I thought it was a gimme that the best part of any bird is its crispy, delicious skin. While the grilled technique rendered the skin a bit less crisp, it was made up for by the flavorful marinade it had been soaked in.

My surprise love of the night was this:
Chilled Tofu with Preserved Duck Egg
No, those eggs aren’t bad, they’re preserved! The dish is Chilled Tofu with Preserved Egg and it was wonderful – the tofu sweet and light, the egg
unctuous and creamy. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the preserved egg (also known as a “Century Egg”) due to having read about the eggs smelling of sulfur and ammonia, but I didn’t notice any smell at all and the taste was complex and rich, like the Platonic egg, a good contrast to the blander tofu.

Odd as the Century Egg was, it was not nearly as strange as the appetizer that we thought would be the most Western – the Taiwanese Meatball. When we ordered it, we’d expected little meatballs, something like what you’d get in an Italian Wedding Soup, served in a tasty sauce. The menu said it came with grary, which we surmised was meant to be gravy, although it provided an amusing nickname for Gary for the evening. Imagine our surprise when this arrived, put in front of us with the single word “pork”:
Weird Uncle Meatball
We were, to say the least, puzzled. We confirmed with the waitress that by pork she meant meatball. She had. We dug in.

It was…surprisingly tasty, though the gumminess of the gelatinous rice…shell? I guess? was a little intense. However the bits of pork and mushroom inside were deliciously meaty, and the “grary” was bright and pungent and not as sweet as it looked. Elise declared that if the chicken skin were the “back seat of the car dish” and the xiao long bao were the “girl you take home to mother dish” then the meatball was like a weird cousin that everyone is a little nervous to have over but who turns out to be kind of interesting. I thought about it and decided that weird uncle seemed more fitting, and thus Weird Uncle Meatball was born. Later research revealed that Weird Uncle Meatball is a traditional dish also known as bawan. Research also revealed that not all bawan are as gelatinous as Weird Uncle Meatball was. For all of that, as I said, he was quite tasty and worth the adventure – just be prepared for the oddity.

Tune in later this week for the second installment – our entrees!

True Adventures – Part 2

After enjoying our drinks and appetizers, it was time to get down to the serious business of dinner – the entrees.

Valerie ordered the Vietnamese Crepe:
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Filled with honshimeiji mushrooms, fried tofu, and mung bean sprouts, this crisp pancake was light, flavorful, and tasty with its spicy dipping sauce.

Several folks at the table ordered the Green Curry with fried tofu, mizuna & bok choy, maitake mushrooms and black rice cake:
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The curry was pleasant, mild for green curry but with a terrific hint of lime. I found it slightly salty but the black rice cake was nicely chewy and it was all well-balanced.

Speaking of balance, the flavors in the spaghettini melded perfectly:
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Another popular choice at the table, it combined smoked tofu, English peas, blanched almonds, and a “cream sauce” made from cashews. The smoked tofu was incredible, with a flavor and texture like smoked gouda, a perfect complement to the sweet English peas. To my taste the homemade pasta was a bit too soft; a function, I think, of being made without eggs. Other than that, this was close to my favorite dish.

The ultimate honor, however, ended up with my own entree:
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This the phyllo purse! Stuffed with seitan, roasted zucchini, and caramelized onions, surrounded by a red mole, fire roasted peppers, arugula & pepitas, this was an outstanding combination of flavors and textures. The phyllo was crisp and golden, opening to all of the treats inside. Seitan, which is made from wheat gluten, is often used as a meat substitute, although personally I like it just fine on its own merits. The mole was smoky and complex and brought out the best in all of the ingredients. Should I return to True Bistro I may have a hard time ordering anything else…

When the time came for dessert our waitress asked us if she could make some recommendations. Naturally we agreed – who better to help us make our choices? She recommended, and we ordered, the following:
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The coconut pie. This was pretty much a no-brainer anyway; it’s always raved about in reviews, and it’s even won vegan baking praise from PETA. A blood orange sauce is swirled around a slice of what almost resembles a firm coconut pudding topped with toasted coconut; the crust is some sort of short bread or crumble. It’s NOT meant to be coconut cream, and so it is not, but it IS creamy on its own right. Not being the world’s biggest coconut fan (I like the taste, but the texture of dried coconut squicks me out) I liked this just okay, but LOVED the blood orange sauce. Drip that on some good vanilla and we’d have a serious winner. If you DO love coconut, this is pretty outstanding.

Her second choice was the newest dessert on the menu, a raspberry Napoleon:
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Traditional Napoleons are made with puff pastry layered with pastry cream or whipped cream, and iced. Puff pastry = butter and pastry cream is out for the obvious reasons, so this was instead sugar phyllo dough with a filling of white chocolate “mousse” and topped with raspberries and a raspberry reduction. Again, the fruit here was the big winner, sweet and tart at the same time and very, very fresh. The sugared phyllo was a hit too, crispy and not too sweet. The white chocolate mousse was good and creamy, but a bit unexciting in the way that white chocolate always is.

However, the final recommendation was exciting indeed!
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That, my friends, is the “death by chocolate” cake. Covered in creme anglaise and shattered caramel, this blew me away. In part this was because I was expecting chocolate cake, as in birthday cake. I do not really care for chocolate cake. It is always disappointing to me, because it doesn’t really taste like chocolate, and cake is just not my jam. It’s like sub-par, sugary bread. THIS chocolate cake, on the other hand, was a riff on flourless chocolate – creamy, intensely cacao-flavored, barely sweetened, and covered on top with one of my favorite desserts, burnt sugar. Hard to go wrong with that combination, and I was all the more impressed when I found out that it’s made with silken tofu! If I can ever get my hands on this recipe, look out!

All in all, True Bistro exceeded my expectations of what a vegan restaurant can do. My favorite dishes were those that didn’t try to replace animal products so much as demonstrate that you don’t always need them to make great food. Thank you to Mr. Menace, Elise, Valerie, Dan, Aime, Gary, Sarah and Andrew for sharing this adventure with me!

True Adventures – Part 1

So many of our adventuresome outings are focused around meat, particularly unusual (to our culture anyway) meat and meat products. Machu Picchu is a chicken grill, with an assortment of offal offerings. The Gourmet Dumpling House trip focused around pig ears and feet, and who can forget the blood-based delights of JnJ Turo-Turo or Cafe Polonia? While each of these has been wonderful, it was time for something truly bold, truly adventuresome. Something new. It was time…for veganism.

Well, to be fair, neither I nor the other intrepid foodmanauts of the Adventures in Food crew actually became vegans. For readers who may not know, vegans are vegetarians who go a step or two farther. Rather than simply not eating meat, vegans do not eat any animal product whatsoever. That means no cream, no butter, no eggs, no cheese. Depending on their reasons for choosing to practice veganism, this can extend beyond food into all animal-based products – no leather shoes, no wool sweaters – or it may be limited to culinary choices. Either way, we did not adopt this stricture for more than the constraints of one meal, but for the course of that meal we ate absolutely no animal products.

The restaurant we visited is called True Bistro, and I believe it is the first of its kind in the Boston area. That’s not to say that Boston doesn’t have any other vegan restaurants. Right down the street from True there’s a little cafe called Pulse, Grasshopper has been serving vegan Chinese food for years, and right down the street from it is Peace o’Pie, which makes vegan pizza. What made True Bistro compelling to me is that its whole purpose is to make vegan food that is upscale – a real fine-dining experience sans meat, dairy, and eggs. A far cry from tofu-scramble and curried lentils, this would be in many ways the hallmark of true creativity in cooking, if they pulled it off. I had to try it.

And so, I rounded up 8 fellow food-adventurers, including Mr. Menace, and off we went!

True Bistro does not accept reservations, so I was a bit nervous bringing in such a large party. Luckily we arrived early enough that despite another very large party dining at the same time we were able to be seated immediately. The staff was extremely courteous and readied our table very quickly, I might add!

The interior is small, but painted in white to make the most of the space and take advantage of the large picture windows that surround it. The tables were appropriately set, for an upscale establishment, with white linens and blue wildflowers in bud vases.

I started my meal with the El Diablo cocktail – normally made with creme de cassis, tequila, and ginger beer. True Bistro’s version featured a housemade black currant liqueur – apparently the commercial product isn’t vegan, and, a bit unfortunately, ginger ale. It was pretty, but a tad on the sweet side due to the ginger switch:
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The sisters Sacchetti ordered the very picturesque peach sangria:
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The rest of the table contented themselves with less photogenic beverages in the form of water and beer, so you don’t get to see those!

We ordered several appetizers for the table. The ravioli in lemon-thyme “cream” sauce had been much talked about, so we ordered a couple:
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Bright with lemon and truly tasting of thyme, the cream sauce was amazing, and indistinguishable to me from actual cream. The ravioli themselves were filled with a wonderful pale-green sweet pea puree. The pasta itself was a bit soft, which I imagine is due to being made without eggs, something I didn’t know was even possible, frankly.

We also ordered the cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms. These I wish we’d gotten more of, because they were outstanding:
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The mushrooms were perfectly tender and sweetly meaty, while the batter was crunchy and flavorful. Though they came with two sauces, a horseradish dill and a smear of curry, they didn’t really even need them.

We also had a gorgeous plate of malty pickles:
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And some of the best fries I’ve ever eaten in my life:
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Now, you may be thinking that the fries aren’t really all that “upscale,” but they were done the style of Belgian frites, as any regular bistro would serve (though usually holding up a large steak, to be fair.) These fries were a revelation – gloriously salty, golden, and crisp. Our meal was off to a fine start!

As is this entry – too long for just one post. Tune in Friday for the thrilling conclusion – entrees and desserts! You know you want to find out the secret to vegan chocolate cake…

The Wonders of Peru!

Specifically, Machu Picchu. Though sadly, I have not been the pre-Columbian Inca site, fabled in story and song. I am speaking instead of the Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken and Grill, fabled in restaurant reviews and blogs!

I visited Machu Picchu in February, after our Taza tour on the suggestion of my friend Elise. There are actually two Machu Picchus in Union Square – a more formal restaurant with a more extensive menu, and the grill, which is more casual (as evidenced by the smiling, fat chicken bursting out of their logo. Confidential to Machu Picchu – I would like to request a tee-shirt with that guy on it.) We were visiting the grill primarily for the Parrilladas Machu Picchu – a mixed grill platter that includes pork ribs, gizzards, rachi (tripe), chorizo, anticuchos (beef heart, in this case), steak, and of course, pollo ala braza – the famous chicken!

However, that was the main course of our meal. We started out with some appetizers:
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Some fried yucca! The starchy plant is similar to a potato, but more fibrous. The sauce in the middle was tasty, creamy with just a hint of spiciness. It’s called ocopa, and apparently includes chili pepper, peanuts, and mint among its ingredients!

We also had tamales:
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These were unusual for containing egg and olives, along with the pork filling. Man, I really love tamales, pretty much no matter what you put in them, and these were no exception. I once tried to make them, and while they weren’t spectacular, it may be time to revisit that project. At the very least I know now how to get the right kind of corn flour…

But wait, there’s more! Empanadas:
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Empanadas are another food that’s hard to mess up, based on my time-tested rule: Food that is made up of a filling surrounded by dough is amazing. Whether we’re talking about raviolis, dumplings, or corn dogs, this rule has yet to be broken. These empanadas, however, were actually even better than that. They were amazing – a dense, slightly sweet pastry surrounding perfumed meat.

Our final appetizer was the choclo Peruano con queso:
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For those of you who aren’t up on your Peruvian Spanish, that’s corn with cheese! More specifically, choclo is a very large-grained type of corn from the Andes. It’s not as sweet as American corn – more chewy and nutty. The cheese is a mild, salty farmer’s cheese – like feta, but not as briny.

We also ordered chicha morada, purple corn drink, to start. The corn provides the amazing color of this beverage, but the flavor is more like a spiced juice:
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It contains pineapple, clove, cinnamon, lemon, and sugar and is seriously tasty. I’m not usually a fan of a sugary drink with my food, but the spices balance this nicely.

Finally, the time came for the serious business of dinner, the mixed grill:
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Truly it is an impressive pile! I also ordered a side of fried plantains, because I adore them:
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We also had an extra order of chicken for the less adventurous:
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And my sister ordered the el Peruanisimo, a sandwich of marinated pork and sweet potatoes:
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I made sure to tuck into a little bit of everything:
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The meat is prepared with a dry rub of “Peruvian spices” according to the menu. I’m not sure what was in the mix but it is incredible – salty and spicy without being overwhelming. In fact it greatly improved the items I was most nervous about, the tripe and the gizzards. I was concerned about the tripe because when I’ve eaten it in the past I haven’t really enjoyed it much, typically in pho. I’ve found it tasteless and chewy, like someone had sneaked a rubber band into my soup. This preparation is much more compelling – the honeycombs catch all the spice mix, and while it was still a bit chewy, it wasn’t unpleasantly so.

The gizzards I was concerned about primarily because those who’d been to the restaurant before didn’t seem to like them as much, describing them as “gristly.” They’re popular in the cuisines of most of the world, however, and I needed to try them. The truth is that – I LIKED the weird, slightly crunchy texture. They kind of pop in your teeth, a texture I enjoy. I can see why it’s not for everyone, however.

Everything else was outstanding – beef hearts are awesome, I think I like them better than steak – and I’ve never met a chorizo I didn’t like. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, and I can see why they built the restaurant around it.

There were enough of us eating that we had room for dessert, so we all split a torta tres leches – the cake of three milks:
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The three milks are evaporated, condensed, and heavy cream. I’m not the world’s biggest cake fan, but it was nice and light.

All in all, the food was terrific, and very reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a change of pace from the typical Thai/Indian/Mexican fare, and you’re in the Union Square area, I recommend giving Machu Picchu a shot! Now if they’d just make me my tee-shirt…

Grilled Cheesiness

Hello, my friends! Did you miss me? Apologies for the impromptu hiatus, but I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately, a bad habit which zaps all of my brain power and leaves precious little leftover for writing.

On the plus side, I’ve been doing QUITE A BIT of cooking and eating, so I have a backlog of topics to write about! Huzzah! I also have two dear friends who are PROMISING me some guest posts – let us hope they get the chance to write these because both topics are pretty exciting. I’ll say no more for the moment.

Among the many wonderful things I’ve eaten since February, one sticks out in my mind as worth talking about here despite the fact that on its surface it is one of the LEAST adventurous foods you can imagine. On the face of it this food is simple, cheap, and made up of ingredients that everyone reading has eaten at least once, and I’d even go out on a limb and say that at least 98% of you enjoy, if not downright love, the results.
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As you probably guessed from the title, we’re talking GRILLED CHEESE. The very icon of homey plainness, am I right?

But you see, this is no ordinary grilled cheese. This is a grilled cheese from Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, the latest addition to Boston’s sudden upwelling of food trucks. For years, Boston was a roach-coach wasteland, with only a few stalwart’s like Speed’s and Sami’s flying the banner of quick food from a truck. In the past year or two, however, perhaps in response to the less than stellar economy, these suckers are popping up everywhere, with a bit of a twist. Rather than the straightforward hot dog trucks of New York and other major metropolises, Boston’s food trucks seem to be focused on taking one food or concept and trying to elevate it at the same time that they’re offering it on the side of road, wrapped in paper. I’ve written about Clover, of course, with its vegetarian focus, and in recent months we’ve gained a cupcake truck and one specializing in banh mi. So grilled cheese, why the heck not? In many ways it’s the perfect food to grab from a truck – minimal ingredients, minimal equipment, and it can be eaten while walking!

In addition, Roxy’s has chosen the perfect location to sell their sandwiches – Cleveland Circle, right in the heart of Boston College country. They’ve got perfect late-night post drinking fare, and they’re positioned to take advantage of that fact. They’re also positioned perfectly near my sister Kelly’s apartment, so I made plans to visit Roxy’s with her – TWO good reasons to go to a part of the city I never get to (though I did live there, once upon a time). We were joined by office-mate, fellow-Marathoner, and food-adventurer Jess, who lives not much farther away than Kelly.

SO HOW WERE THE SANDWICHES, you ask? Well, there are a few more things I think you need to know about Roxy’s approach to grilled-cheesecraft before I answer that.

Point 1: They use mayonnaise, not butter, to coat the outside of the bread before grilling.
Point 2: At the time we visited, there were three-four kinds of sandwiches to try, but we selected only two.
Point 3: Roxy’s griddles other things, like cheesecake. We forewent this in favor of frozen yogurt/ice cream from Mix Chill, so I can’t tell you how that is.
Point 4: They also fry a few things, including onion rings and pickles, and I can and I WILL tell you about those!

ON TO THE SANDWICHES!
Jess and I elected the “Rookie” – Monterey Jack cheese and tomato with whole-grain mustard. All sandwiches are on Iggy’s white bread. We also both ordered fried pickles.

Kelly ordered the Green Muenster (ho ho) – Muenster cheese (duh), with guacamole (the green) and bacon (got nothin’.) She got a side of onion rings, which the gentlemen serving us mentioned were an experiment.

The verdict: The Rookie was great, though it will be even better with some decent tomatoes when summer hits. Jack isn’t the most exciting cheese in the world, but the mustard added much-needed zip. The mayo coating makes for a very good, less greasy crust than butter, though I’ll admit to missing the salt that it adds. (YES, I USE SALTED BUTTER ON MY GRILLED CHEESE. WHAT OF IT?)
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The Green Muenster was tasty, but we all agreed we wanted more from it. Muenster is ALSO not a particularly tangy cheese, and the guacamole wasn’t tangy enough to make up for it. We all agreed that an addition of salsa, or even more onions in the guac, would be welcome.
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The fried items, on the other hand, were like ambrosia, especially the pickles. Roxy’s uses Grillo’s Pickles, cut into coins, then battered and fried into the most amazing crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside salty and vinegary treasures I can imagine. There’s also a special sauce that is tasty but unnecessary to the greatness of these beauties. I would like to get Roxy’s batter recipe, and then stay at home for the rest of my life, frying things.
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DSC03572The onions had the same knock-out coating, which held up to our walk home. I believe it’s a beer-batter, with Guinness as the beer, and I fully intend to retro-engineer it at my earliest convenience. Seriously, it’s like tempura and beer-batter had a baby – light, yet flavorful. Dang.
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Ultimately, though the sandwiches were good, it’s those pickles that will bring me back to Roxy’s. At least until I discover their secrets for myself!