Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I take back all the bad things I've said about Kowloon

Your dining out habits change drastically when you have a toddler. You need to figure out where you can go where people don't care if:

1) there is high pitched shrieking with your appetizer
2) there is the possibility of thrown food
3) someone runs up to a fellow diners' table and tries to climb into the booth

This is how we ended up dining at the Kowloon on Rte 1 in Saugus on a Saturday afternoon at 4. I used to snort whenever this place came on to the Phantom Gourmet. I thought, Man... those Andelman brothers must have some sort of deal with the owners of this place because it seems like every second episode, they mention the PuPu Platter and the Kowloon Komedy night.

So we stayed away from the PuPu Platter since appetizers that are on fire are generally not a good order with a curious toddler at the table. We got chicken wing appetizer, a whole fried fish, and something else that I can't recall... probably because I slugged down a Mai Tai before any food came.

L got a cup of milk with a cute straw adorned with an umbrella. She promptly destroyed it.

And yes, there was high pitched shrieking. She was probably summoning some of her dolphin friends because she judged from the decor that there should be some marine life somewhere. Note the mommy shushing finger depicted above.

Oh the things we do for our children.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Deep Fried Egg Topped Poutine @ Saus

I'm Canadian, so I know a good poutine when I see/ingest one. This is my second time dining at Saus, but the first time that I noticed the deep fried egg on the menu. I envisioned a battered and hard boiled egg that was dipped in the deep fryer, but boy was I wrong.

E made the order and got us a Belgian Poutine topped with aforementioned egg and a waffle with salted caramel sauce.

Such a pretty deep fried egg! My guess is that they cracked the egg into the oil and then the white got all crazy and the yolk stayed intact and was cooked to a medium hard boil. We had to be careful carrying it over to the table so that it didn't topple over.

As soon as L saw it she started yelling, "more more"! Which in toddler-ese means "gimme". She was a fan of the fries, but not so much into the curds. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get cheese curds in New England. You can special order them at most fancy cheese shops, but this didn't help me when I was planning the menu for my Canada Day party only 2 days in advance of the event.

Waffle was also delicious. Salted caramel is delightful and waffle perfectly crispy. One of the staff showed us their waffle iron which is cast iron, gets super hot and helps the crispness by the sheer weight of the iron. He said they heat it to 190 degrees Celsius which I bet could result in some pretty serious occupational hazards.

Saus does a brisk late night business as you may well imagine since it is situated right next to a bunch of bars close to Quincy Market. Many drunk poutine purchases on the weekend I suspect.

During the day it's quite family friendly with nice clean tables and no worries if you drop fries on the floor or make squawky noises! Bon appetit!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Does American Chicken Taste Like Wood?

Two of my co-workers are originally from China. They both mentioned to me over lunch the other day that when they first moved here, they thought that the chicken here tasted like wood. In order to get yummy tasting chicken they would often resort to buying fresh killed chickens from stores in Chinatown, such as Wings or Ming Kee. You can also get t-shirts from this place in Cambridge, Mayflower Poultry.

To test out this theory, I asked X. to help me buy a live chicken this week. We walked over to Ming Kee which is only a block from our office and she helped me pick out a nice 3 pounder. She speaks Chinese, which helps as the workers there were limited in their English communication. My feathery friend came to $8.75 and they de-feathered him and separated all the giblets for future use.

I polled the Chinese people in my office (n=2) and decided to opt for cooking it by boiling with green onion and ginger. It takes about 1 hour, but the process is pretty easy because it just involves throwing everything into the pot.

I've got my eye on you!!! This is a little creepy. But delicious. I think it is the combination of the skin, dark meat and giblet bits that makes it extra tasty and so non-wood-like. I also saved the broth for other tasty recipes.

It was served with a green onion, ginger and sesame oil dipping sauce!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

First Food, Then Chocolate - Max Brenner

This is probably as close to the modern day Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory as you are going to get.

We saw this restaurant featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Pizza Episode. They just opened up a new location on Boylston St., so of course we had to go check it out! We made reservations for a Saturday night at 6 pm, which was a good thing because it seemed like a lot of people had the same idea. L is depicted here waiting impatiently for the feasting to start.

We started with an order of the kid's mac and cheese. There is a science theme, with many of the condiments arriving in laboratory measuring devices. Syringe marinara appeals to my nerdy side.

I had a Berry Nutty Professor Chocolate Cocktail. Delicious!

For my main dish, I chose the Yummy Baja Style Tacos. One of them is missing you will note. There was a lack of fish, but there was nice crunch and spice.

E ordered the Mexican Jambalaya which was super spicy (not depicted). I made the mistake of biting into a red jalapeno pepper ring thinking it was a red sweet pepper. Thankfully L had a big cup of milk that I cooled myself off with!

We finished off with a Chocolate Chai and a Chocolate Surprise Tiramisu. Note the Erlenmeyer flask with liquid chocolate and the graph paper plate!

There were many fondue options, but flaming pots at the table are generally frowned upon when dining with a toddler. There was a lovely backdrop aroma of burning chocolate and marshmallows as a table close by was having the Smores Fondue!

We'll be back because with such an extensive menu there are too many things that I need to try.

I forgot about my cool dance moves here:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Is it "Quack Quack" or "Coin Coin"?

One of my friends who is from Switzerland and speaks Swiss German was telling me all the different ways that animals make noises in her country. I guess this all stems from the fact that our kids are at the age where one of the favourite past times is to teach them, "what does a monkey say?"... "ooh oooh ooh aah aah aah!" or "what does a dog say?"... "woof woof!" or is it "ruff ruff?"

This got me thinking about duck, or "ya ya" are L likes to call them because she goes to a bilingual Mandarin daycare. Mandarin ducks say, "quack quack" by the way.

Being in Chinatown exposes me to the opportunity to walk by a lot of hanging BBQ meat stores. I'm sure that in a couple of years, L's friends will be screaming, "ewwwww duck face", like Rudy Huxtable et al., but for now, ya ya it is. The live chicken stores also intrigue me, but that is for another day when my friend X will come with me and help me order. She swears that when she first moved here from China, she thought that store bought chicken tasted like wood and she had to buy tasty chicken from the live poultry stores in Chinatown. Now her palate has adjusted which is a bit disappointing, but I'd like to taste what one of these yummy ones is like... maybe even one of the ones with black skin! The skin is purported to have some therapeutic and medicinal purposes, especially for women!

So back to the ducks. On my way home last night, I stopped by Chinatown Cafe and bought 1/2 crispy BBQ pork and 1/2 BBQ duck.

Since I started receiving my Community Supported Agriculture shares from World Peas in the last couple of weeks, I haven't had to go shopping for fruits and veggies and I thought that Monsieur Canard might go well with some brussels sprouts and kale that I had from this week's bounty. There were also some nice garlic scapes that were from last week that I hadn't finished yet. These nice cruciferous vegetables (the baby cabbages and the kale) have great crunch! Cruciferous just means that when they flower, they make a cross-shaped flower -- so holy! It's the same family that broccoli and cauliflower come from.

So these little buddies got all chopped up.

Thrown into a pan with oil and the chopped garlic scapes with a citrus ponzu bath.

And topped with my BBQ'd friend.

Best part is that I still have about 5 servings of leftovers for the weekend. It's going to be a rainy one, so this is my version of summer comfort food.

Friday, June 10, 2011

2011 Locally Grown Patio Produce

The crazy rains throughout May/June in New England, followed by some ridiculously hot temperatures and more rain have been good for my plant babies. Everyone talks about eating local and organic these days, but the money and access is always the rate limiting factor.

We are lucky enough to have our own little patch and okay weather to grow a bit of stuff. A small elevated patio, however is not really productive enough to feed our family of three which includes a ravenous toddler. Yes, you heard me... ravenous. We have yet to see the "picky" moniker that is so common these days. Probably because she has never really been offered dinosaur shaped nuggets, we never order off of the "kids menu" and she would rather eat a whole apple or pear than a Delmonte fruit cup. I can't tell you how many times people stop us and say, "is she going to eat the peel on that whole fruit?". Hmmm... why not, I eat the peel. Fruit cups have brainwashed society into thinking that kids will choke and die on apple and pear peels.

I think also the fact that she "helps" plant the garden by "digging" in the dirt with her kid sized trowel gives her an idea of where the food actually comes from. Post a comment or email me and I can send you some peer-reviewed journal articles providing positive evidence for this. And these are actual community based research trials done in schools, so it's not just anecdotal.

All that being said, I also belong to a organic produce delivery service, Boston Organics and have coordinated set-up a cluster distribution point for the World Peas Community Supported Agriculture group in Charlestown. Boston Organics takes care of the organic and World Peas does the local part (and often organic, but because they are small farmers, they can't afford the USDA certification most times).

Anyway, here are some of my backyard babies before they bear fruit (well more precisely veggies). I'll update the pictures once we get more blooms!

Happy growing!

Snap peas.

Sage and thyme (foreground) Bell pepper (background)

Zucchini (I think I need to thin these out)

Grape tomatoes, lavender and scarlet flax (in the smaller pots in front)

Chives atop of my rain collecting barrel.
We don't have a hose hookup since our patio is on top of the garage on the 2nd floor and the house hose hookup is downstairs by the back door. This is better anyway, because why let all that good rain go to waste?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grilled Pork Stuffed Squid Tubes

I had a craving for this Vietnamese dish after watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel about the Humboldt squid invasion.

I found a couple of recipes online that described how to make this yummy treat that my mom used to make when I was a kid. I used to act as sous-chef, helping her clean the squid of its guts, ink sac and pseudo-spine. However, one of the aforementioned recipes said that to make life easier, I should buy the pre-cleaned frozen version.

So off to HMart we went on Memorial Day to procure the ingredients. Shopping with a toddler is always dicey, so I grabbed my items without carefully reading the labels.

To make sure that I didn't give us all food poisoning, I opted to stir-fry the ground pork, mushrooms and shallot filling the morning before I was going to stuff the tubes. Then, to my surprise, when I got home from work and pulled the defrosted box of squid out of the fridge, I noticed that there would be more work to be done!

Eek -- they weren't cleaned - eyes, guts, pseudo-spine and everything! Thankfully, L had fallen asleep in her stroller on the way home from school, so I had a window of opportunity! My childhood skills came in handy and I was able to de-gross the squid tubes handily!

Stuffed and grilled and delicious! I used toothpicks to "sew up" the tube ends so that the filling didn't come exploding outwards on the BBQ. Great with hot sauce!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Littlest Sous-Chef

Okay, so this isn't really about food, but it does demonstrate an alternative use for all your pantry items. A warning that this takes a little creativity and concentration... especially for an 18 month old budding executive chef!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Extra smart invertebrate salad

I've been getting bored of my usual protein sources lately and since the weather is warming up, I've been craving more salads. Salads are of course known for being very proteinaceous. I was futzing around the grocery store this week, I noticed some frozen octopus in the seafood section and also noticed that 2 1/2 lbs of octopus was only $5.99. Hmmm... it's probably cheap because most people would a) think it is gross b) not know what to do with it. I've had some pretty tasty Greek and Japanese style octopus dishes, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I hesitated a little since a former co-worker was always talking about how smart octopi are and how he would never eat one. I had some foresight and googled "octopus intelligence" after I made the salad. This video demonstrating octopus resourcefulness is pretty cool, but be forewarned that the music is really bizarre in a new-age sort of way.

For those of you who are brave and interested in trying this dish, I boiled the octopus for about an hour until the legs were tender enough to stick a fork easily through. There are a lot of octopus boiling references around that suggest you need to smack the heck out of the raw octopus and boil it with a cork for who knows what reason, but I just did plain water with some salt and then rinsed it in cold water and it was pretty darn tender.

While I was chopping some of the veggies I thought that a mandoline might come in handy, but as you can see by my carrots, the titan peeler julienne peeler worked it's magic, so I will continue to hold off on the mandoline purchase!

I used rice vinegar, sesame oil and black sesame seeds for the dressing. Yum!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is it bad luck to eat Rabbit?

Happy New Year!! Informal reader poll: Is it unlucky to eat rabbit this year, or just rabbit foot?

We celebrated the Lunar New Year by attending the Lion Parade downtown this afternoon. There were multiple lions and lots of lettuce and oranges being thrown. In fact, I got hit in the forehead with a mandarin orange as I left Pho Hoa. Actually, I walked into it because it was hanging from the door frame. Yes, I'm that clumsy.

It's good to know that Pho Hoa is also known as the Health Conscious Choice. Which means that anyone who is currently following the 4 hour body, should be okay. Please DO NOT interpret this as my endorsement of this weirdo's philosophies. That would be very un-academic and un-evidence based of me.

I'm surprised that the firecrackers didn't freak L out more. She was completely unphased by the noise. The smoke actually set off the fire alarm in the restaurant and we sat through some loud beeping and flashing lights for most of our meal.

It was a bit like dining in a Vietnamese-themed rave. I wonder what would have happened if there was an actual fire going on in the kitchen because no one eating made any movement towards the doors. I guess the food was that good.

I found it rather reassuring that the Boston Police Officer who was supervising the parade (at time and a half I presume), knew the restaurant owner by her first name. So I'm guessing that he would not let us burn to death while eating vermicelli bowls and banh xeo.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Huzzah! A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) distribution point in Charlestown

Local local local! I'm pretty excited that this is getting off the ground. And we even made it into the Charlestown paper!

My fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies should be planted in the ground just north of my house by the immigrant farmers at New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and World PEAS CSA.


This food face approves.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Surprise Treat!

Who says that commenting on blogs never gets you anything! Not me anymore... I left a comment on Christine Koh's blog about these cool wall decorations and I won a free set of them! I never win anything!! And it was very timely because L had been particularly cranky that day due to a new molar coming in and this momma was about to lose it.

So here is what I won. We have a very blank wall space that is perfect for it, so as soon as it arrived, I put it up. Well actually I waited for L to take a nap because despite her best efforts, often it is just easier to do these things myself right?!

What a sustainable treat! You can move them around, swap them out for different ones and because we rent, there is no need to paint! Perfect for us urban folk right? Looks like a bomb went off in our dining room, but that is the price you pay for having a creative toddler.

All this decorating makes me hungry, so we toodled over to the Pru and had some noodles at Wagamama. Yum!