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Showing posts from November, 2013

Pumpkin Ricotta Pecan Pie

Happy Thanksgiving! This is my dessert for the evening, a pumpkin ricotta pecan pie. I started making pumpkin ricotta pies several years ago. I was experimenting with pumpkin pie. One day, I caught an episode of Mike Colameco's food show that featured an Italian grandmother making ricotta pie. A light went on in my head---I realized both of these tastes would be better together. The recipe is pretty simple: half pumpkin, half ricotta, two or three eggs, your favorite spices. I found the pecan topping trick this morning in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Still waiting to dive in...

Cambridge MA: Royal East

My good friend Srini Devadas treated me to lunch at Royal East. This restaurant has been a fixture in the MIT neighborhood for decades. I first went there in the 80's during visits to campus. It's been consistently good over the years, well worth the several-block walk up the block in cold weather. We shared two of my favorite dishes: sautéed string beans and garlic eggplant. Both were excellent. My string beans were well cooked but just firm enough to give a nice texture. The eggplant sauce was spicy and just a little bit sweet.

Cambridge MA: Area Four Bakery

With a few minutes to spare in Tech Square and a need for a quick snack, I stopped by Area Four's bakery. The entrance for the bakery, by the way, is somewhat nondescript but to the left of the main restaurant's door. The staff recommended this biscuit, which is spiked with a combination of chives and red pepper. The combination is not quite savory but certainly a great counter to the excessive sweetness that so often comes with breakfast. The biscuit itself was soft and pillowy. The pepper and chives are what made the biscuit special.

Boston MA: Kashmir

I just had a wonderful dinner at Kashmir. It's located in a very nicely decorated lower-level space in Back Bay. The service was extremely gracious and helpful. The meal started out with a complementary amuse bouche of lentil mushroom soup---very tasty. This very attractive spread is a mixed vegetable korma and onion naan. I ordered the korma hot, a 3 out of 4 on their spiciness scale. That was a good choice, particularly for a cold evening. The heat grew on me as I ate, not overwhelming at first, but very spicy by the time I finished the meal, with a pleasant afterburn. The creaminess of the korma made a good counterpoint to the heat. The naan was wonderful. Naans can sometimes be heavy. Mine was light and fluffy; the garlic note was just right, strong enough to give a nice lingering garlic taste.

Chamblee: Old Brick Pit BBQ

Old Brick Pit BBQ has been on Peachtree in Chamblee for years. This is a classic BBQ place, not a yuppified upscale restaurant serving BBQ. The décor, though simple, has recently been upgraded with nice wood paneling. You order and pick up at the counter; you serve yourself tea from the big hugs behind the food line. I stopped by at lunchtime to find them doing land office business, but serving everyone very promptly and courteously. I ordered the chicken, which was excellent. It was tender and succulent. The sauce is tomato vinegar with great spices. The creamy cole slaw was also excellent. They serve classic white bread. I would prefer cornbread but given the tastiness of the chicken I won't complain.

Plainfield NJ: Red Tower II

Red Tower II has been on Route 22 forever. Back in the 20th century, when I lived in northern New Jersey, I used to drive by it regularly. I never made it in because I figured that I would always have a chance later. Finally, 30 years later, I made it. I went for the classic Texas Weiner. (I'm still not sure how these hot dogs got their name.) I like how the hot dog sticks out past the bun---the dog feels more generous. Verdict: pretty good. The chili was just spicy enough to give it some zip. This was a good little snack that kept me going for the rest of the afternoon.

Tucker: Cookdaddy's

Cookdaddy's just opened across the street from Northlake Mall. The menu is typical Southern fare---ribs, chicken, meatloaf---with a large complement of sides. The service is standard BBQ procedure: order at the counter, then sit down and wait for your food. The staff is very friendly and helpful. I tried the ribs, which unfortunately weren't smoked and disappointing. The greens were pretty decent, although they were probably a little undercooked. The beans, in contrast, were a little overcooked. I also got a chance to try the meatloaf, which is a hit.

Philadelphia PA: Jharoka at URBN

In need of lunch while at a meeting at the Navy Yard, I stumbled across Jharoka. It's a small, mostly vegetarian and coffee spot in the Urban Outfitters complex, but it's open to everyone. I had the dal for lunch. It was spicy enough to have zing but not overwhelming, overall quite tasty. My coffee was excellent. They also have a large collection of designer chocolate bars. I picked one up for snacking on the plane back----it was very rich and intense, a real treat.

Philadelphia PA: Cucina Forte

When I went online to look for an interesting little Italian place for dinner, the consensus pick seemed to be Cucina Forte. It's in northern South Philly with a simple but inviting interior. The restaurant is family run, with Maria in the back cooking. All the reviews stressed the gnocchi, so I ordered the sampler plate. Gnocchi can be hard to find, so I always consider it fun, but these were truly outstanding. My sampler had both kinds of gnocchi---one with spinach and the other with Parmesan---as well as both sauces---cream and red. The gnocchi were pillowy soft and very absorbent; I could see air bubbles in the gnocchi when I cut into them. I would love to know how she makes them so light and fluffy. For my main course I ordered veal saltimbocca. It was quite good, with a great sauce that I sopped up with everything at my disposal.

Golden CO: Bob's Atomic Burgers

Bob's Atomic Burgers is a tiny little place behind Golden Liquors. They clearly attract a lot of Mines students---decorations include an oscilloscope. I think this is the first restaurant I've seen with an oscilloscope... My burger was great. I ordered mine with mushrooms and bleu cheese as well as lettuce and tomato. Their patties are larger than those found at the typical nouveau burger joint and it was wonderfully juicy. The toppings were great, the buns were great. Everything about the burger was outstanding.

Golden CO: Abrusci's

Sorry for the lack of a plate photo, but I had an excellent lunch at Abrusci's. My rigatoni and sausage had a great creamy sauce. I asked for the oven baked version to give it that extra crispiness on top. The service was truly outstanding---everyone makes you feel very welcome and at home.

Golden CO: Golden Diner

Downtown Golden is a very hip location these days. I really enjoyed my breakfast at the Golden Diner. It's a family run operation with the sort of food that gets you going in the morning. It's very reasonably priced, too. The giant pancakes were tempting, but I went with the hobo scramble. All the ingredients---eggs, hash browns, tomatoes, green pepper, onion---were mixed together, but each maintained their distinct flavor. The vegetables were nice and crisp. This dish was a great experience for my mouth.

Denver CO: Tamales by La Casita

Tamales by La Casita serves great tamales. It is an updated version of a restaurant that has been in the neighborhood that has been in the neighborhood for many years; I've eaten at the original La Casita over the years. The décor is bright and cheery but very simple. The service is very friendly. When my order took a little longer, the owner noticed my plight, got me my food, and refilled my water herself. The restaurant serves a full complement of Mexican dishes, but I took a hint from the name and ordered a half dozen tamales, a mixture of red and green chiles. Wow, were they good. As you can see, they came wrapped in foil from the steamer. I don't know which filling I preferred---both were outstanding. They were mildly spicy but just enough to get your attention. The heat of the filling is perfectly complemented by masa. I'm really glad I found the latest incarnation of La Casita.