Ali G's Profile

Title Last Reply

Some recent Merrimack Valley eats / lunch

Info & Pine, thanks for the suggestions! We don't make it out as much as we use to, so I like to explore different spots at lunch. Sounds like I need to hit some of these bakeries.

I forgot, I did grab a Cuban sandwich at the Caribbean Bakery in Lawrence a while back and also once of the empanadas from the warmer. Empanada was OK. I liked the sandwich, but I haven't been back.

Apr 17, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Some recent Merrimack Valley eats / lunch

Honestly, I must have eaten 25 sandwiches here over the last year or so and have never had an issue. The husband and wife always wear gloves and food always tastes fresh. Seems like they do more business selling scratch tickets and cigarettes, but it's still my favorite banh mi around. They were growing hot chile peppers last summer and gave me one to eat along with the sandwich. Hot as hell, but nice touch.

Apr 16, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Some recent Merrimack Valley eats / lunch

The pies at Thwaites are English meat pies. They are round and the crust is firm but flaky, similar to a chicken pot pie. Baked, not fried. The standard flavors are chicken and pork, but they must make around 15 different flavors. The pork is hard to describe. It's like lightly seasoned ground pork, almost like a sausage out of the casing. Delicious. They also have scotch eggs available once in a while, which is a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and fried. For some reason they close at noon on Wednesdays, so keep that in mind if you plan to stop by.

I didn't try the empanadas at Jacqueline's, but it looked like there were some smaller ones and some larger ones available. Not sure of the filling. I'm pretty sure this place is Dominican. The chicken wasn't very salty to my taste, but based on the color, they might use some Sazon.

Forgot about the arancini at Il Casale. It's been a while since I've been there. Stella in the South End does a good job as well. If you are in Wlatham, Tara Restaurant on Moody has a good baked empanada with beef, onions and raisins. They also have the smaller fried options, but I typically get the chacarero.

Apr 16, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Some recent Merrimack Valley eats / lunch

I've been spending some time up north during the work week, so I thought I'd post about some of the places I've grabbed a bite to eat. I'm usually solo, so I tend to just grab n go.

Lowell

Nhu Y Sandwich Shop. This is my favorite place for a banh mi anywhere. It's more of a convenience store that happens to sell sandwiches and egg rolls. I've tried just about every option, but the chicken is my favorite. It seems to be just steamed shredded chicken, but they stuff the sandwich a little more than most and the price is around $3. It might have creeped up to $3.50 recently, but still a great deal. Only negative is that they sometimes stop selling sandwiches if the wife is sick or traveling. Luckily there are many other options in the area.

Hong Cuc Sandwich Shop. This seems to be a favorite on here and Yelp. It's very good, but for my taste, not as good as Nhu Y. The staff is very friendly and they have many more food options (fried balls of dough w/ sesame seeds, fresh summer rolls, boba tea, snacks, sausages, etc). I don't care for the chicken banh mi as much here. The chicken has some kind of a sweet sauce on it. I usually stick to the beef or cold cuts here, although the Nem was really good as well.

Methuen

Thwaites Market. This place makes awesome pocket pies. Not sure how else to describe them except that they are small individual pies stuffed with all kinds of goodness. They always have the chicken and pork pies in the warmer, but also carry 5-10 other hot varieties at any time as well as frozen pies to cook at home. I like the standard chicken and pork, but think the turkey is great. This place is also a deli / butcher. Not sure if they will make sandwiches, but apparently the sausages are made in house as well as corned beef and other options. Nice mom and pop old school market feel to it. I think it's cash only.

Lawrence

Tacos Lupita. This place has been covered a lot on here. Great tortas and burritos. I go after the carnitas or al pastor. The pastor reminds me of taco stands in Mexico with the sweet pineapple on top.

Jacqueline's. This is a corner store that happens to sell awesome fried chicken as well as other treats (empanadas, baked chicken, fries, what looked like chicharones, etc). Price is great ($1 per piece of chicken). For $4 you can get 3 decent sized pieces of crispy chicken and some fries. I need to try some of the other offerings. Language barrier can be a little tough, but just point and you will be fine. You order from a woman on the left as you come in and pay the guy on the right.

Tripoli Bakery. I like the pastries and bread here, but the pizza isn't my thing. Apparently sweet sauce is a north shore style and the sheet pizza here gets great reviews. I think it's OK, but wouldn't go out of my way for it. I don't think pizza should be sweet.

Italian Kitchen. Across the street from Tripoli and only open a few days a week I think. This place seems to only sell arancini and crispelli. I think the arancini is a little bland. I prefer Domenic's in Waltham or the recently closed Salem Foods on Moody St.

I've grabbed subs at a few other places in Lawrence but can't place the names. It definitely helps to speak Spanish when grabbing takeout in Lawrence since a lot of the small shops speak very little English. I usually have to point or have another customer help translate for me. Tacos Lupita usually has someone at the register who speaks perfect English, but the guy you order from responds to pointing better :)

If anyone has some other suggestions for quick takeout in the area I'd love to hear it. On my list to try is Korbani's Bakery in Methuen for Lebanese. I hear the Syrian bread is good. Not sure if they offer hot food or wraps, but I'm sure I could put a meal together with various items. Also want to try Pollo Tipico in Lawrence. Read some decent reviews on that place as well. The Cambodians at work have given me a lot of suggestions for Lowell, but I always end up with a banh mi.

Apr 16, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area
1

ISO Troegs Nugget Nectar

I do like Sucks as well and have been seeing 6 packs in several stores. By the way, a 6 was $9.99 at McKinnon's in Salem, NH. I think most of the local spots were $11-$12. I have not come across any bombers.

I agree that these hoppy beers are best as fresh as possible. If I remember correctly, Nugget Nectar comes out around February, so I think ~ 2 months would still be worth drinking. At this point it was more of a mission to find the beer than anything else. I just really enjoyed it the last couple of years. Even a couple of singles in a mixed 6pack would suffice.

Apr 11, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

ISO Troegs Nugget Nectar

Thanks I'll check some of these places. Gordon's on Moody didn't have any a few days ago, but I did not check Main St.

I called about 5-6 stores near work and everyone was out. Also happened to be working in Salem NH today and stopped by McKinnon's. Never knew they had such a large beer selection. No Nugget Nectar however (no Troegs at all for that matter).

Apr 10, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

ISO Troegs Nugget Nectar

I know this is seasonal and I probably missed the boat, but has anyone seen this beer on the shelves recently? Every place I have been is sold out. I happened to see it a week ago down the cape but didn't pick it up. Hoping that some liquor store may have some kicking around. Maybe a place that gets more Bud/Miller/Coors drinkers than craft beer drinkers?

Apr 09, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Apricot Kernals in bulk bins?

I'm looking for small amounts. I was hoping they were available in bulk bins where I could just get a 1/2 cup or so.

Mar 24, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Apricot Kernals in bulk bins?

Has anyone seen apricot kernals in bulk bins around the Boston area? I'm planning to make some amaretto liqueur and wanted to follow a recipe that uses both almonds and apricot kernals. The packages I have found are all over $18 and I only need a small amount. I'd rather not spend more on the ingredients than a bottle of DiSaronno and don't really have any use for the leftovers.

In the same vein, does anyone know if green walnuts ever show up in the area? Nocino is also on my list, but it seems like there is a short window for green walnuts and most come from the west coast.

Mar 24, 2014
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

How do you brew your morning cup of coffee?

We decided to give the Keurig a break and bring out our old 12 cup Cuisinart drip coffee maker. So far, it's working out since we can get the volume of coffee we want. However, we are working through a bag of beans I got from a local roaster. My wife prefers a dark roast, but I've been enjoying a medium roast in the morning from better beans. I think I will still be buying a single cup option in the future. I'm leaning towards Hario V60 pour over or the Aeropress. This way we can each get the coffee we want, it just takes a little more work.

I might also try my french press again. I don't own a burr grinder and can't help but get sludge in my cup no matter how coarse I try to grind with my cheapo blade grinder.

Feb 12, 2014
Ali G in General Topics

How do you brew your morning cup of coffee?

I've been making coffee at home recently to save some money and also so I can use the beans of my choice. I have a couple of moka pots that are mostly used for espresso and also a french press. I like the french press, but don't care for the sludge at the bottom of the cup.

Lately, I started using the My K-Cup in our Keurig. This is super convenient since there is no water to boil and my wife only makes her coffee from pods, so its already on. However, I get mixed results and even after a thorough cleaning, it's been producing short cups for the past week.

I've been looking at an Aeropress or some other kind of single cup contraption (Chemex, Hario, etc). Just wondering what others use to make their coffee and what method or device do you prefer?

Feb 04, 2014
Ali G in General Topics

Are expensive/gourmet coffee beans worth it?

I've only been drinking coffee on a regular basis for the past few years. Prior to that, I'd have a cup if I went out for breakfast or maybe an espresso after dinner. I was OK with Dunkins coffee, then moved on to Starbucks where I could get a darker roast or Americano. Now I mostly make it at home since it's cheaper and I can choose the beans I want.

We have a George Howell coffee shop near me and whenever I'm there, I get the drip of the day. It's a nice way to try several different varieties of beans. I've also bought small amounts of beans from Whole Foods since they roast in the store and I can buy as little as I want to try it out.

For my taste, I tend to prefer beans from Africa. The Ethiopian Yirgacheff beans at George Howell have been fantastic. WF also carries some beans from Kenya which also taste great. I've now found a roaster near my work, so I pick up beans from them as well. In my opinion, the beans do matter, but how you brew can also affect the taste and body of the cup. I'm still experimenting with my brew method and came to this board just to ask people what they use to brew their morning coffee!

Feb 04, 2014
Ali G in General Topics
1

Chile powder or chile sauce for Texas style chili?

So my chili was pretty successful. There were a couple of things I'd do different next time though. After blending the rehydrated chiles, I attempted to strain the mixture to remove any skins and seeds. The problem is that my strainer was so fine, nothing was passing through. I don't own a food mill, so I decided to just dump in all in since it was pretty well blended. This was mostly fine, but there were some tough skins that just got chopped up and would stick in my teeth. Not pleasant. I'll make a powder next time.

I didn't think the chili was spicy (hot), but it had a great chile pepper flavor that left a little tingle on the tongue. My wife said the next pot of chili needed to be a little sweeter and have more stuff in it. She doesn't tolerate heat very well. This pot was basic Texas style (all beef, no tomato, no beans).

Any tips on adding some sweetness to the next batch that doesn't involve adding a lot of sugar? I thought cooking in some tomato paste when I sweat out the onion and garlic would give it some more depth and give a little sweetness. Perhaps a chopped up red pepper or something. I'm not opposed to beans in the chili either, it's just not what I was going for this time around. I'd love to hear what some of you do for your chili. Thanks.

Feb 03, 2014
Ali G in Home Cooking

Chile powder or chile sauce for Texas style chili?

Thanks for all the replies!

ChiliDude - I actually have all of the chiles you mentioned, except the chipotle is in adobo and I ran out of arbol. Since I typically think of the arbols as adding heat, I plan to add 1-2 dried Thai chiles that I had left over from the summer garden.

I do have an immersion blender, so I'll try that. Just a question about blending, when you reconstitute the dried chiles, do you add the soaking liquid to the jar or remove it? I wasn't sure if it was needed or if it might take on some bitter flavor from the soaking.

I am planning to leave beans out of this chili. I don't mind beans, but I'll leave those to my wife's turkey chili. I want all beef for the game. Any preference on the beef? I see tri-tip is used in a lot of competition recipes. If I can't find any, I was planning on using chuck.

Jan 30, 2014
Ali G in Home Cooking

Chile powder or chile sauce for Texas style chili?

I picked up some dried chiles and plan to make chili con carne for the super bowl. I've toasted and ground chiles in the past to make a powder, but this time I was thinking of soaking them and then blending into a sauce. Does anyone have experience doing this? Any preference for powder vs. sauce when making chili?

Jan 28, 2014
Ali G in Home Cooking

Tresca, Teatro, or Strega?

Wow, so it seems unanimous for Teatro and no love for Strega. Thanks for the feedback!

Dec 31, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Tresca, Teatro, or Strega?

We acquired some Phantom Gourmet gift cards over the holidays and have an anniversary coming up. I'd like to use the cards for a nice night out. Based on the list of restaurants, I'd like to try Tresca, Teatro, or Strega. I've read reviews on all three, but we have never been to any of them.

If you recommend Strega, is there a preference between the Waterfront and North End?

Thanks!

Dec 30, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Best lobster prices this week?

I'm making a lobster dish for Xmas and was wondering if anyone has seen good deals on lobster anywhere. Market Basket and Shaws have chicken lobsters for $6.99 / lb which is the best I've found so far. Last year I was paying around $3.99 / lb at MB.

Has anyone found any better pricing than this?

Dec 22, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Restaurant Discounts in MA and Alcohol Purchases

A few years ago the state started cracking down on using Groupon, LivingSocial, etc for alcohol purchases at restaurants due to happy hour or discount booze laws and whatnot. However, I have a $25 gift cert to a local pub that was given to me as a gift. The cert comes from restaurant.com. The pub requires a minimum of $50 purchase to use the cert. This is the sort of place that is nearly impossible to reach $50 unless I invite out another couple or order drinks.

Does anyone know how the restaurant.com certs work when it comes to drinks? If I have to spend $50 in order to use the gift, I guess I'm not really getting a discount on alcohol. Seems like a gray area. Just wondering if anyone else has experience with these. Restaurant.com just says that it's the restaurant's job to enfore local laws. Thanks.

Oct 28, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Heady Topper Dbl IPA

I was not a big fan the first time I tried this beer. It had a huge hype that I didn't feel it lived up to. Due to timing conflicts, I didn't get to crack my cans for about a month or more. It was OK, but there were 20 other similar beers I could buy with less hassle.

The second time I had the beer it was literally canned the previous day. I have to admit it was awesome. Great on the nose and much less bitter than the first try. I think freshness plays a huge role in these ultra hopped beers.

I had a conversation about this recently with the owner of my local liquor store. I didn't like Sculpin last time I had it and he swore the freshness played a big part. He had 6packs that were very fresh. Didn't buy it, but do think the bitterness grows with age.

Sep 20, 2013
Ali G in Beer
2

Pumpkin Beer

It's that time of year again where pumpkin beer floods the shelves. Well, its actually been there for a month but I refuse to drink it before September. I never cared much for this style but I have to admit its grown on me.

I'm partial to Southern Tier Pumking and Dogfish Punkin. I've had a couple other local versions that I've enjoyed as well (Wormtown was one). Looking for some other favorites to seek out at the packy.

Sep 20, 2013
Ali G in Beer

Liquor Store with best Cognac selection

Found some Jean Fillioux at Gordon's in waltham. The website lists two Gabriel & Andreu bottles. Not sure if its what you are looking for. The bottle we got is not listed but two others are and those were not sold at the store.

Jun 26, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Liquor Store with best Cognac selection

Looking for a place with a decent selection north of Boston. Basically Woburn up to Salem NH. If a place carries Jean Fillioux even better.

My local spots, Marty's, Gordon's etc have an OK range, but I'm looking for some new labels as a gift. I've done Pierre Ferrand, Kelt, Germaine Robin, etc. The birthday boy liked Jean Fillioux during a tasting at Gordon's, but they don't seem to carry bottles.

Cognac drinkers please feel free to weigh in with favs in the $100 ballpark.

Jun 25, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Lunch stops on way to Storyland?

Looking for a place to stop with the kids on the way to Storyland coming from Boston. We will be driving up 95 to Rt 16.

I'm open to suggestions for a place to stop that isn't a restaurant as well since we will be packing some food for picky eaters. Thanks.

Jun 18, 2013
Ali G in Northern New England

Italian Birthday Dinner?

Looking for some ideas for a birthday dinner. Just the two of us. We have been trying to get to L'Andana in Burlington, but things keep coming up. We may be closer to the city that night, so I'm thinking North End or something around Boston proper. Nothing ultra fancy or stuffy. Good food/wine/atmosphere.

May 20, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Fun bar with good apps in Portland?

Just following up on our trip. We started the night with drinks at Novare Res. The place was slammed pretty early, so we grabbed a drink at the bar and headed outside. My beer was pretty strong and I wanted to last through the night, so we decided to grab some food.

We wondered up the street to Sonny's and scored seats at the bar. More drinks and a few apps to share. I remember the warm smash beet salad with goat cheese being very good. The salt cod fritter were tasty too, but I love all things salt cod. Reminds me of childhood. Tried the lobster rangoons. Not bad, but probably a waste of money and calories since there is not much too them.

We decided to move on and eventually ended back at our original planned spot the East Ender. By this time, I was many drinks in and wanted something more substantial. I ordered the burger. Forget what the wife got. I have to say, this was one very tasty burger. Great crusty sear and good fries.

Never made it to Eventide for lunch. We grabbed lobster rolls on Commercial St. during a walk. Maybe next time. I did drink a bunch of Oxbow Farmhouse which I really enjoyed. Also had a fantastic lunch at Duck Fat and a very good dinner at Fore St. My wife still talks about her sandwich at Duck Fat. It's nice when a place lives up to their hype.

Apr 25, 2013
Ali G in Northern New England

Fun bar with good apps in Portland?

Thanks for the great suggestions! I'll be busy tonight looking over menus and reviews.

We were planning to hit Novare Res for a couple of drinks at some point. My wife isn't impressed by beer, so I thought we might pop in for a pre or post dinner drink at some point. Only up for a couple of nights, but I want to try some Maine beers I can't get in Boston like Oxbow. We were also planning to hit Eventide for lunch, since it gets such great reviews.

Apr 08, 2013
Ali G in Northern New England

Fun bar with good apps in Portland?

We are planning to go out for drinks and apps on a Saturday and are looking for some ideas. The menu at East Ender sounds perfect, but some of the reviews are making me have second thoughts so I'm trying to get some additional recommendations.

Any thoughts on places to hang out for a couple of hours with drinks and good apps? Also, any feedback on East Ender?

Apr 07, 2013
Ali G in Northern New England
1

Favorite supermarket corned beef (grey)?

They do carry corned ribs, but you might have to ask the guys at the counter. I didn't see any packaged in the cooler.

I did find out, however, that they corn bottom round, not brisket. I'm pretty bummed since I had originally read they used brisket. The piece I got was sealed and just labeled as corned beef. It was uniform like a flat cut, had a decent cap of fat on one side and the grain looked similar to a brisket. I tried this cut once years ago and thought it was less tasty than a brisket. Oh well, I should have asked. I'll try to make the best out it by braising it in some beef broth or beer at a low temp. If it needs more flavor, that's what mustard is for. Just a warning in case you want a different cut.

Mar 13, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area

Favorite supermarket corned beef (grey)?

Well, I just bought my grey corned beef at Elia's Country Store in Wilmington. Lucci's and Elias are both close to my work, but I've bought burgers and marinated steaks at Elias before with good results, so I went with them. They are also selling for $3.99/lb vs. $5.99/lb at Lucci's. I always buy big so I can make hash the next day, so it adds up. I'll try Lucci's when I have a corned beef craving outside of March since it's always available.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!

Mar 12, 2013
Ali G in Greater Boston Area