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Beer of the Month Clubs delivered to Massachusetts

Not what you asked, but here is an alternative: Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont has a fantastic selection and the people there are very nice and knowledgeable. They also allow mixed 6-packs. You could get a few 6-packs so he could taste a lot of different beers. (Or if you're doing the "beer of the month" and you want something to hand him on the day of your anniversary, you could supplement the club subscription with that.)

1 day ago
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Can you freeze barfi and other Indian sweets?

Anything in syrup (rasgullas/chum chum) won't freeze well. Sandesh can normally be frozen. If it has a firm texture and it doesn't have a lot of liquid it should be OK.

Sep 21, 2014
Pia in General Topics

Buy a Chicken Pot pie or 8

I tried the one from Centerville Pies and didn't like it at all. The chicken was tough and dry.

But who knows, maybe I got a bad one; anyway, they sell these and a variety of Centerville Pies frozen at Kay's in Watertown, on Bigelow Ave. off Mount Auburn Street.

Sep 08, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Overthinking

I'm with you. No matter how many times this happens, I never seen to learn my lesson. Last week I made a nice pot of lentil vegetable soup. Squeezed some lemon in, perfect. But maybe it would be even better with a little more lemon juice? No. It just tasted sour.

Sep 05, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Easy home cooking?

Here's what I made tonight:
- Boil a pot of water
- Put in pasta
- Put in precooked chicken sausages so they cook for 8 min
- Put in broccoli for the last minute

Worked out great -- everything cooked in one pot, almost no prep.

Sep 04, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking
1

Easy home cooking?

Congratulations on not eating fast food in a month! With 4 kids, very impressive. Here are some easy meals that will feed a large family:

- Spaghetti and meatballs; you can either make a huge batch of meatballs and freeze most of them for future meals, or I think there's no shame in buying pre-made frozen ones. Meatballs and sauce can go in the crockpot, or you can bake the meatballs in the oven and toss everything with sauce.

- Quiche or frittata. Cheap and easy, and healthy and wholesome too. Frittata doesn't require a crust, for quiche you can use premade crust if homemade is too daunting. Cook up whatever veggies you have (onions, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, spinach are good), add some optional meat (like sausage, ham, or bacon), whisk eggs and pour them over.

- Boneless, skinless, chicken breasts or thighs + jar of salsa + crock pot. Serve over rice or as tacos with corn tortillas.

- Meatloaf with ground turkey. Finely chopped (or food-processed) mushrooms, onions, and carrots are good add-ins.

- Pasta with garlic, spinach, white beans, and grated cheese.

- Pasta bake: whatever veggies you have, whatever cheese you have, tomato sauce, throw together and bake.

- Fish (salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, roast at 400 for 10 minutes per inch thickness) or fishsticks + salad.

I have a kid who hates cooked vegetables, so I usually chop up some carrots, peppers, or cucumbers as a side vegetable. Roasted vegetables are good too. Or in the freezer section of the grocery store, you can buy bags of veggies that you throw right in the microwave to steam them, and when they're done you can mix in butter and herbs, or premade pesto, or salt and pepper or whatever you want.

Sep 04, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking
1

Buy a Chicken Pot pie or 8

I love the pot pies at Petsi Pies. My favorite pot pie ever. But they're pricey -- a 10 inch pies costs $25 -- so maybe not the best if you need 8. Also, it's a good idea to call ahead and check if they have them.

Sep 04, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

ISO the best noodle for lo mein

I came in to suggest Russo's too. Yellow, chewy noodles. These are fresh noodles.

Aug 31, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

New Half Sour Pickles at my local Market Basket.

Star Market on Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge also has pickles from Farm Ridge Foods, but they are packaged differently. Good stuff, I like them more than Grillo's which was my previous favorite.

Aug 31, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

DIrty Family Secrets

When both my kids were tiny, they would happily eat slices of butter by themselves (when they could get them). And I guess it's basically the same as extra-creamy cheese.

Aug 28, 2014
Pia in General Topics

Rolled Cookie Recipe for Favors

Cute idea! Rolled cookies aren't my strength either. If I were in your position, I would bake a sheet of cookies (one big rectangle), cut out rounds with a 2-inch round cookie cutter, and roll the sides in something pretty (like colored sugar crystals) to disguise that you cut them out. Then put the prints on top.

Aug 25, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

How do I replace Hamersley's as my "go to" special occasion restaurant? (Very detailed list of criteria inside!)

Hamersley's is closing??!! How did I miss that? I somehow just assumed it would always be there...

Anyway, on topic, get over your dislike of Cambridge and you will greatly expand your options. Each restaurant is different, there is no unified "dining scene" and the people eating in Cambridge are more or less the same as the ones eating in the rest of greater Boston.

Aug 20, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

any thoughts on L'Andana?

I've only been there once, but felt the exact same way. Food was good, but to me the ambiance was chain-restaurant-like.

Aug 20, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Clueless cook with parents dropping by (long)

Looks beautiful and I'm sure your parents loved that you went to so much effort for them! I would be so touched if my kids put so much thought into cooking a meal for me. (They're still little and would probably burn down the house in the process.) I like your breakfast platter idea -- simple but perfect.

Aug 11, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Peaches are SO wonderful right now...

Do you have a recipe you'd be willing to share? I have never heard of this, but it sounds great! Googling produces a number of recipes that are all pretty different from each other, so a tried and true one would be great.

Aug 08, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Peaches are SO wonderful right now...

I've made this with amaretto and vanilla instead of cinnamon and rum... really good! Broiling works too, with a little sugar sprinkled on top.

Aug 08, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Dear New York: San Francisco's Haute Dog Will Crush Your Cronuts

Cute name. This is basically a large pig in a blanket, which is one of the most delicious foods ever invented. Subtract the beet chips and it's less "haute," but still sounds like a great idea.

Jul 23, 2014
Pia in Features

Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

I agree! I thought I was the only one. I bought two gallons of it (Costco...) and to me it tastes like they dumped in way too much vanilla extract.

Jul 18, 2014
Pia in General Topics
1

Day in Boston - where to eat Italian? Other suggestions?

If you're not looking for a sit-down meal, get takeout from Casa Razdora, and sit and eat it in the park in nearby Post Office Square.

Jul 13, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area
1

Cha Yen Thai, Watertown

I tried the new place in my neighborhood, Cha Yen Thai, for takeout. It's on Mount Auburn Street in the Coolidge Square neighborhood of Watertown, near Arax and Sevan, in the storefront formerly occupied by a wings place. It was surprisingly good! ("Surprisingly" because nothing's lasted long in that space, and the other Asian restaurant inhabitant of our neighborhood is the Green Peapod, which is dreadful.) We ordered larb, chicken satay, and kee mao noodles with seafood. The larb tasted very fresh with slices of radish and red onion, served with crunchy romaine leaves. The chicken satay was tender and coconutty, and came with a mild peanut sauce. The noodles had great wok hay, and were tossed with carrots, green beans, and small portions of whole mussels, shrimp, and calamari. I'll definitely go back and try other things on the menu.

They appear to have absolutely no web presence and the website listed on their takeout menu (chayenthaicookery.com) doesn't work, so I'll give you a rundown of their menu here. Everything is $4-10.

Starters, $5-6: Corn cake, poh piah (spring roll), roti with curry chicken, chicken wings, fried bean curd, shrimp cracker, curry puff

Soup, $4: Tom yum, galangal, or tofu

Salad, $8-9: Salmon mango salad, larb, papaya salad

Curry and chef specials - $8.50 for chicken, pork, or tofu, $10 for beef, duck, shrimp or seafood. Curry - red, green, pineapple, panang, Massaman, cashew nut. Ginger, eggplant basil, garlic, prik khing, ka pow, pla pad cha.

Fried rice, no price listed: plain, pineapple, or basil

Noodle, same pricing as curry: pad thai, kee mao, see ew, yaki soba, tom yum, sukothai

Grill, $5-7: Calamari, pork, chicken satay, beef, shrimp, bacon, vegetable

Jul 03, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Looking for High Tea and Nice Breakfast

The Boston Public Library's Courtyard Restaurant has afternoon tea overlooking the library's courtyard. I've had lunch there and thought the food was decent, but not excellent; but it's a novel setting and a nice view.

Jun 27, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

What am I doing wrong with my brownie recipes?

You could buy the Ghiradelli double chocolate mix, and mix in finely chopped chocolate at your preferred bitterness level.

Jun 25, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking

Help with North End casual date night

No argument here. Considering we just walked in with no reservation, I was perfectly happy with Limoncello.

Jun 23, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Help with North End casual date night

Good solid dinner, we enjoyed it but nothing made up sit up and pay attention. I got the Tagliolini al Limoncello, homemade tagliolini (similar to linguine but thinner) in a tomato cream sauce with exactly 4 shrimp. He got the special risotto with asparagus and baby shrimp, which was very springy tasting. Prices are around $18-26 for pasta and $20-38 for secondi, which is a splurge for us -- if going out to dinner were the focus of our evening, I prefer going to places where flavors and combinations are unexpected or something I would have trouble making at home.

Jun 23, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Help with North End casual date night

Thanks for the suggestions! Everywhere we went was packed with tourists and World Cup crowds, so I will have to keep your suggestions on file for next time. We ended up having a snack at home and then eating dinner at Limoncello after the show. (Alas, no early dinner reservation for us, due to kid/babysitter issues.)

Jun 22, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Help with North End casual date night

We'll arrive around 7 p.m. on Saturday night and are planning to see a show from 7:30-9 at Improv Asylum in the North End. I'd like to have dinner, but I can't wait until 9. So, I'm thinking we could get a snack before the show, then a light dinner after the show. Another possibility is a quick, casual dinner before the show and coffee or ice cream / gelato afterwards. Any suggestions? I'm familiar with the area during the daytime, but I'm not sure what will be open on a Saturday evening other than sit-down restaurants (and Mike's, Modern, etc.) And this is a "date night" with my spouse, so no need to impress. Thanks!

Jun 20, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Bonapita

I tried it today too. It's on Franklin Street in Downtown Crossing, near DSW and TJ Maxx. There's no lunch rush since they just opened... it was pretty empty. I had the chicken, which I liked.

There are three menu options: pita sandwich, salad, or rice plate. For each of these you have four choices: chicken a la plancha (chopped into small pieces and grilled with peppers); meatballs (beef meatballs with, I think, a lemon and garlic sauce); mushroom, lentil, and thyme, and beet patties with black beans. Each one is around $7-8.

They also sell their pita in 5-packs to go. The fresh pita, which you can see being baked as you wait for your order, is worth visiting for.

I thought the menu was a little odd, there are basically four choices that can't really be customized because they all have strong flavors. The flavors were good and the bread was warm, fluffy, and fresh. I didn't think the sandwich was a very filling lunch, and I'm not a huge eater. I would go back and try one of the other options next time.

Jun 16, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

ice cream stand?

So, this is going to sound really terrible, and it's certainly not cute or old time-y, but the best (chocolate, have not tried vanilla) soft serve I have had is at... Costco.

Jun 10, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

ice cream stand?

Have to differ on the ice cream: it's Hood vanilla + flavor packets. The chocolate tastes diluted and the non-vanilla flavors have a chemical taste to me. The creamsicle and javaberry are OK and a lot of people are big javaberry fans, but I find the sorbet to be icy. I love ice cream and Celebrity makes me grumpy. It's in my neighborhood and it appeals to the kids, but I get crappy ice cream for more money than I would spend at any of the really good ice cream places nearby like Rancatore's.

Jun 09, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Does this dish have a name?

I don't know, but can you post a link to your blog post after you write it? That sounds great.

May 30, 2014
Pia in General Topics