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Destination: Donuts

I have to disagree -- Linda's (in Belmont) is very exciting for my little kids. True, it has ugly tables, formica, and the crowd of retiree regulars may not strike you as charming, but I find the whole scene charming because it's a true neighborhood place that you don't find so often these days. And the kids are especially thrilled when we go there for a whole breakfast, eggs and bacon with a donut for dessert.

Apr 16, 2015
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Regional snacks for gifts?

Mentioned on one of the 2014 threads, but Effie's Oatcakes! They're available at a lot of smaller area stores, plus Whole Foods.

Mar 01, 2015
Pia in Greater Boston Area

February 2015 Openings and Closings

The old location of Gustazo on Belmont Street in Belmont is being replaced by a barbecue place (Tony Q's?). Not sure when it will open, but it looks like they are getting ready.

Jan 26, 2015
Pia in Greater Boston Area

What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

Mostly homemade chicken soup = cook onions, celery, and carrots in a little butter; add water, Knorr's chicken stock gelatin cubes, and chicken breasts; remove chicken and add noodles, and then shred the chicken and add it back in at the end. Takes half an hour.

Jan 22, 2015
Pia in Home Cooking

Best sandwiches in Boston?

Yes, but they only cost around $5. Two of them would be a good meal.

Jan 13, 2015
Pia in Greater Boston Area

What are you baking these days? Happy New Year January 2015 edition! [OLD]

That cake is perfect! The one with brown butter, pears, and chocolate chunks, right? I made it a few years ago and I still remember it fondly. I don't think I have any tips, but I loved it as is.

This weekend I made blueberry muffins from an Ina Garten recipe, which the kids loved, and black bottom oatmeal pie from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook. The pie was delicious and an interesting take on chocolate pecan pie. No nuts -- perfect for me, since I have a nut-free kitchen due to a child with nut allergies -- but the oatmeal part on top was like the top third of a pecan pie, chewy, nutty tasting, and a little gooey. Underneath was a layer of creamy chocolate ganache. Pecan pie tends to be too gooey and sugary for me to enjoy more than once every year or two, but this pie was nicely balanced and separating the chocolate from the goo was a good way to enjoy the two distinct flavors.

what is a good restaurant near Mass General hospital

You could try Seoul, a Korean restaurant about a 10-minute walk away. If you're up for a walk you could also go to the Paramount for breakfast or lunch.

Dec 11, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Anyone else crazy enough to bake with a preschooler?

I cook and bake all kinds of things with my three-year old. (He's the exact same way -- when I'm in the kitchen, he grabs a stool and climbs up next to me. If I need ingredients to be measured precisely, I measure them into a measuring cup, and then let him dump them in the bowl. He can pour, stir, sprinkle a pinch of salt or spices, look at the numbers on the kitchen scale to tell me when to stop (again, not very accurately, but I don't rely on his word). He can also chop soft ingredients with a butter knife.

Pancakes are fun because they're quick to whip up and then you can eat them right away.

Dec 09, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

ISO Quiet place for a winter drink, Harvard-Porter-Davis Squares

Henrietta's Table would work.

Nov 30, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Bao Nation

From their Twitter account (@baonation) it looks like they have a variety of different fillings, but maybe not all at the same time.

I'm excited to try this place.

Nov 19, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Sheherezad food truck

I visited the Sheherezad food truck at lunch today. You should go there. This is not the usual dry schwarma and falafel. According to Eater Boston, it's run by Burke Weston, who came from Hamersley's. Entree selections were a cinnamon-spiced chicken stew, beef kubba (which I know as kibbeh; mixed with bulgur wheat and toasted almond slivers) over rice, and a cauliflower pita with fresh herbs and pickled veggies. There were also some appetizer and "snack" sized dishes and a dessert, which I can't remember now but I think was billed as an Iranian pastry.

I got the beef kubba, topped with roasted eggplant and tomato, and it made for a very satisfying lunch. The rice, in particular, was fantastic. I'm not one of those people who eats plain white rice for fun, but there was something about the texture of this rice. It reminded me of stuck-pot rice/taddiq but without the browning. It cost $7.50 and it took all of two minutes from the time I walked up to the truck to the time I walked away with my lunch.

Seriously, go there.

Here's the Eater link: http://boston.eater.com/2013/9/5/6376...

Nov 18, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Return to Cha Yen Thai Cookery

I have ordered takeout a few times, without specifying any heat level, and haven't found it too spicy. (And I'm not a chile-head, I prefer my food to not cause me physical pain!) They are very nice and won't give you a hard time if you ask for your food to be mild.

Nov 17, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Great Soups Downtown

The new place in the Financial District, Flame Cafe, also has pork gyros. I haven't tried the pork. The chicken was good, I liked it better than Zo, but I haven't had an amazing gyro in Boston.

Nov 14, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Uh oh, convention at Boston Seaport Hotel

Mostly. There are some tables. I wouldn't go there with a big group. I would say 2 people for counter seating, 4 max for tables.

Nov 09, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Uh oh, convention at Boston Seaport Hotel

For a group like that, I'd go with Pastoral or Tavern Road for a good meal. Sportello for a more upscale meal. Sam's if you want a great view and decent but not great food.
If they like chain restaurants, Legal (not the Test Kitchen) or Del Frisco's, Morton's for steak.
Flour, J. Pace, and Sweetgreen if you want a casual soup/salad/sandwich (just salad at Sweetgreen).
Flour and Barrington for morning coffee and pastries. Flour has breakfast sandwiches too.
Drink for fancy drinks, Lucky's for non-fancy drinks.
Beer and soft pretzels at Harpoon if you can make it over there before they close.

Nov 09, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Great Soups Downtown

Yes, the lamb chili is great, and my other favorite soup there is the fasolada (white bean and veggie). All the soups I've tried at Zo have been very good. And I like the grilled bread.

Nov 04, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Bagelsaurus - new Cambridge location.

Argh, why didn't I read this post before this morning? Around 8 a.m., we were hungry and I thought, perfect opportunity to grab some bagels at Bagelsaurus! So I loaded the 3 year old and 7 year old in the car. We waited on line for about 45 minutes, during which the 7 year old complained about the cold and the 3 year old yelled and ran around. (Not blaming this on Bagelsaurus at all -- I didn't realize how long the wait would be and had I known, I would have immediately gone to Plan B. Just saying this to warn others who might have companions who aren't so good at waiting. However, I agree with the other posts here saying they could speed it up. NY bagel places sometimes have an "express" line on weekend mornings for people who are just taking out bagels to go and aren't ordering sandwiches or anything. Bagelsaurus would benefit from that too.)

I wanted to love the bagels, but I found them very tough and hard to eat. The pretzel bagel, especially. I actually gave up and threw out 3/4 of that one because my teeth were starting to bother me. Plain had excellent flavor but was also tough. Seeded wheat was softer and probably my favorite of the ones I tried.

For the price, the long wait, and the quality, it wasn't worth it for me.

Nov 01, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Oh Snap! Is there a gyro arms race heating up in Downtown Boston?!?!?

(This is meant to be a reply to total13.)

Piperi is great, but they don't do gyros. It's their "gozi" flatbread (like a tortilla, but chewier and with more heft), or salad greens, with either falafel, chicken, steak, or roasted veggies, and with any combination of their salads and sauces on top. Salads include shredded carrot with cumin, pickled red cabbage, white bean with parsley, and tomato-cucumber relish. I'm not doing it justice with this description, though. It's all fresh, healthy, and delicious, and a great place to grab a quick lunch. The staff is unfailingly friendly and polite. I go there regularly because it's very close to work, and I'm always happy. BUT, if I want a gyro, I walk two minutes to Zo.

Nov 01, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Korean Downtown?

I've been there! It's a tiny little storefront with good stuff, including a selection of Harney & Sons teas and if I recall correctly, Fage yogurt. Good quality ingredients and nice people. Not so good for vegetarians, I think every menu item has meat or fish.

I had the bibimbap, which was good -- didn't knock my socks off or anything, but it was a great option for a quick takeout lunch, and came with miso soup. I also had the East West Pig which I wasn't crazy about because it was slathered with BBQ sauce, but others rave about it.

Oct 28, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

October 2014 Openings and Closings

Yikes. I missed that in the September thread.

Oct 28, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

October 2014 Openings and Closings

Details on the moral turpitude?

Oct 23, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

El Diez Food Truck

Pictures are on their website: http://www.eldiez.us/gallery-3/ (click on "Starters"


Although the beef filling that I got looked a little different -- it was looser, with visible pieces of red (chile?) pepper.

Both the chicken and beef empanadas had small pieces of onion and pepper mixed into the filling. I think the beef empanada has small pieces of hard-boiled egg too (or at least something resembling hard-cooked egg white). The chicken empanada has lots of whole (pitted) green olives. Both were juicier than the ones I make at home, which makes them a little messy to eat.

Both empanadas were great. My only complaint was the wait -- I arrived after 1 and it took a full half-hour from getting on line (5 people ahead of me) to getting my food. Maybe the baked empanadas would be faster? By default they give you the fried ones, and they hand them to you right out of the fryer.

Oct 17, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Rainbow cookies, in the North End (Boston)

Modern is my favorite. Once I got them from Modern, Mike's, and Maria's to do a side-by-side comparison. I would rate them Modern, Maria's, Mike's, but they're all good.

Get some extra for yourself, they're delicious!

Oct 16, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Half hour pudding.

Look for "pudding cake." I didn't have luck googling for pumpkin pudding cake -- the ones I found were just moist cakes -- but here's an example of a chocolate pudding cake: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/an...

and here's a lemon: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/le...

Oct 08, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Flour Bakery

I'm not hating on Flour, although I don't love everything there, but in answer to your question (I'm assuming you're talking about sweet stuff since there's a consensus here that the savory menu items are good at Flour):
South End - Madeleine
Fort Point - now that Sportello bakery counter is closed, Flour is the best option; Bee's Knees next door is an alternative
Central - Petsi Pies for muffins/scones and Darwin's for Lakota Bakery cookies are good alternatives

Oct 03, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

New Strip T's Thread for 2013:Excellence and Innovation Continue

I was disappointed when I heard about the change, but on a recent visit I found that the limited dinner menu still offered inventive and delicious food -- just fewer choices. That was OK with me and didn't really affect my dining experience.

Oct 03, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

35 minute dinner party prep

Skip the marinara, very briefly saute some garlic and chopped tomatoes and toss that with the ravioli, arugula, and parmesan.

If you're going to Trader Joe's anyway, swap out the cannoli for their pumpkin cheesecake, and drizzle storebought caramel sauce on top.

Oct 02, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

The new Rosebud, Davis Square

Great review! The menu really is all over the place -- char siu, cavatelli, duck confit flatbread, nachos with a potato chip base instead of tortilla chips. But it all sounds tasty (and they should borrow your description of the Rachel for their menu, I bet orders would double). Do you think it's kid-friendly, or is it more of an adult place?

Oct 02, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Flour Bakery

I agree with this completely.

Here's what I think is great at Flour:
- Bread
- Bite-size tarts

Very good:
- Sandwiches
- Stuffed bread
- Most baked goods, especially cookies and brioche-based baked goods

OK to good:
- Soup
- Salads (they tend to be overdressed)
- Cake (I find the frostings too sweet and heavy)
- Sticky buns - too sweet for me
- Bread pudding and trifle

Oct 02, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

What are you baking these days? September 2014, part 2! [old]

Me too. Crust from the Flour Bakery cookbook, filling a hybrid -- 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3T flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, lime juice (didn't have lemon) and a good pinch of cardamom, my secret apple pie ingredient. My 3-year old went on an apple-picking field trip this week and begged all week for us to make apple pie. We spent all day making it, and I let him do as much as possible including rolling out the dough. Then when dessert time rolled around, he just ate the ice cream. Anyway, the pie was delicious and my husband wouldn't let me bring any to the neighbors.

Sep 28, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking