Pia's Profile

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Best dessert in Brookline

I love everything at Clear Flour, especially the rustic tarts, and I just learned that Google has a 360 degree view of the INSIDE of the bakery, and you can even zoom in and read the labels!
https://www.google.com/maps/@42.35007...

Apr 07, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Boston's Best Toast?

I don't know if it's "artisanal" but Spot Cafe in Watertown has excellent toast. I think they import it from somewhere? (They have a sign up saying where their bread is from, but I haven't been there in a while and can't remember. France? Montreal?)

Mar 27, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Too-dark chocolate transformation?

I think what you're suggesting would work -- the effect on the texture shouldn't matter much since you're baking it anyway -- but adding some milk (maybe evaporated or sweetened condensed milk) seems like a better bet than just adding sugar. Also, this sounds like a lot of work. Why not just chop it into relatively small pieces and also incorporate small chopped pieces of milk chocolate or some sweeter/lighter chocolate?

Mar 13, 2014
Pia in Home Cooking
2

30th Birthday Party - with children

Go to Danehy Park in Cambridge (gazebo area next to playground, you may need a permit) and get takeout from Gran Gusto across the street or a picnic from Formaggio.

Feb 26, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Asta

Great report, thank you! How far in advance do you think you have to reserve?

Jan 28, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Best in Watertown?

In Watertown:
- Strip-T's for innovative and delicious but casual lunch/dinner
- Stellina for solid Italian; nice patio in warm weather
- Red Lentil for vegetarian/vegan food
- Molana or Shiraz for good sit-down Persian
- Jasmine for more casual or take-out Persian (Shiraz does take-out too)
- Stella's for pizza
- Demo's for soup and kebab sandwiches, but I've heard it has cleanliness issues
- Arax and Sevan for prepared foods; "Armenian Market" across from Target is also not bad
- Arax and Kay's (on Bigelow Ave) for produce and groceries
- Deluxe Town Diner, Uncommon Grounds, and Spot Cafe for breakfast; I also like Deluxe for other meals but I seem to be largely alone in this
AVOID: Green Peapod and Porcini's

Cambridge but nearby:
Sofra
Iggy's

Belmont:
Stone Hearth Pizza for upscale pizza
Patou (Thai)
Craft Beer Cellar
Vicki Lee's - cafe with great coffee and food and excellent pastries
Il Casale
Kitchen on Common
Eastern Lamejun Bakers for lamejun and spinach and cheese pies

Jan 25, 2014
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Four generation brunch

I think Henrietta's Table would be perfect.
If you haven't been to Full Moon, beware -- it's fun for kids because they have a playspace, but very loud and chaotic.

Dec 30, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

ISO almond baked goods recipes

Rainbow cookies! Also known as seven-layer bars. Thin layers of almond cake, traditionally colored with food coloring, layered with raspberry or apricot jam and covered with chocolate. Epicurious has a good recipe.

Also, you could make mini-almond tart crusts and fill them with lemon curd or pears.

Dec 18, 2013
Pia in Home Cooking
1

Which Flour to Use for Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was just researching this! My favorite recipe uses about a 1:2 ratio of bread flour (for more chew) to AP flour. The NY Times/Jacques Torres/Levain bakery/Alton Brown "The Chewy" recipes, which are known for producing large, chewy cookies, use all bread flour. And of course traditional recipes use AP flour or a mix of whole wheat and AP flour. I like the mix -- I think my ideal is close to half and half bread flour and AP flour, with some white whole wheat flour making up the rest.

Dec 16, 2013
Pia in Home Cooking

Who will cater a Christmas day dinner in Cambridge??

Flour has Christmas dinner available for pickup.
http://flourbakery.com/content/holida...

Dec 11, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Clementines that actually taste good

A few days ago I got some great citrus at Star Market on Mount Auburn Street in Cambridge. It's labeled "royal mandarin" and still has the stems and leaves attached. $2 a pound.

This page from Sunkist discusses different types of citrus, by the way: http://www.sunkist.com/products/seaso...

Dec 10, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

If you could make it to one place for your birthday...

We recently got the tasting menu at East by Northeast and loved it. It's a tiny place, and since it's an Asian-inspired menu you shouldn't have a hard time going gluten-free.

Dec 03, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Silvertone -- really?

Oh no, I was working off very old information, and ordered the mac and cheese... bland, excessively gooey, and drenched in a Velveeta-like substance. Blech.

Anyway, it was my first time there, and it's still a fun place with good music and atmosphere. The BLT and green salad were good, and such a huge amount of food that it didn't matter that the mac and cheese was terrible.

Dec 03, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Waffle Brunch - side dish ideas?

A citrus and fennel salad might work well on the side. I agree with the platter of fruit, too. Are you serving little rolls with the ham? Maybe some good cheese?

Nov 25, 2013
Pia in Home Cooking

A Chowhound Challenge: Older, Finicky Theatre District edition

Brasserie Jo?

Nov 10, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Cafés w/Friendly Strangers

That's what I was thinking, too -- go to a neighborhood place with lots of regulars, and sit at the counter. Deluxe Town Diner and Uncommon Grounds here in Watertown are like that, and Strip T's at slow times. Linda's Donuts in Belmont too, although the crowd is mainly retired folks.

Nov 03, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Food trucks at Somerville's Pop-Up Plaza, 9/9-9/11

You missed the best thing from Mei Mei, their rice porridge! Swoon.

Nov 01, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Banh Mi House in DTX

I went there once. I asked for BBQ pork. What I got might have been cured pork? The meat was extremely salty and a little slimy. I couldn't finish the sandwich and ended up throwing most of it away. I'll never go back.

Oct 24, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Anyone try Cafe Burrito in Belmont?

It's probably too late for you, but it gets a solid "meh" from me. I've had burritos from there and for a place called "cafe burrito" I found them to be pretty disappointing... I could slap together the basic ingredients at home without too much advance prep and get the same result.

Aug 25, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Ariel Birthday Cake in Boston?

Yum Bunnies Cakery in Belmont also does a nice job, in addition to the bakeries mentioned in the thread that lc02139 linked to.

Aug 12, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Best Whole Foods in Boston Area

You guys, gelato! Nobody else likes to eat gelato while they shop at WF? That's my guilty pleasure and the reason I sneak off to the River Street WF in Cambridge instead of the other stores that are nearby. Also, when shopping with small children, the odd layout of that WF where you leave your bags upstairs and then they send them off on the conveyor belt and load them into your car trunk is very convenient.

Aug 12, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Burdick Chocolates: Only Hedge Fund Managers Need Apply

That's true, they are small compared to similar chocolates.
To OpinionatedChef, next time your ship comes in, try EH Chocolatier -- also local, also pricy, but larger pieces, IMO better tasting, really beautiful, assertive but still harmonious flavors, and no false advertising.

Aug 09, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Burdick Chocolates: Only Hedge Fund Managers Need Apply

I agree with you that it's very expensive, but is it that different than other high-end chocolates? $1.50-2.50 per piece seems pretty common.

Aug 09, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Near Arsenal in Watertown other than Strip T's

Also Shiraz on Bigelow Ave. Gets hardly any foot traffic, so I try to mention it whenever the other Persian places come up! I prefer it to Jasmine, although I like Jasmine too.

I live in the neighborhood agree with Strip-Ts, Shangri-La, Red Lentil, and any of the Persian places as the best nearby eating options. Plus Fordee's and Stella's for counter service places. The diner is also a decent choice -- I think it's surprisingly good for dinner, although certainly not a destination place.

Aug 05, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

cake, cake, cake! (help needed to find my perfect b-day cake).

I really like the Lilly's version too. If you want something fancy (more than just cake + whipped cream + strawberries) Vicki Lee's in Belmont has amazing cakes.

Aug 05, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Are there better packaged cookies than...

I thought I was a snob about packaged baked goods, but I love a lot of the ones mentioned (esp. Jules Destrooper, Pims, Lu Petit Ecolier, Carr's Ginger Lemon Cremes)! And Salty Oats are local to me too, but I wouldn't call them "packaged"... yum. Also a New England thing, Effie's Oatcakes are excellent, like a oaty, slightly salty shortbread. And I love McVitie's digestive biscuits once in a while, the kind with chocolate.

Jul 11, 2013
Pia in General Topics

help me make vegetarian daughter happy!

This is fantastic! Thanks for this list and for linking to your larger list.

Jul 08, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

The best frozen, mixed berries in an area grocery chain?

I like the blend at Target -- can't tell you for sure how much it is, but it's not sweetened and it's good quality. However, it has whole strawberries, which can be a pain because they're so much larger than the other berries.

Jun 27, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Taste of Cambridge

Yay! Thanks for the update... maybe I can actually go this time!

Jun 21, 2013
Pia in Greater Boston Area

Flour by Joanne Chang

The morning glory muffins are amazing, best ones I've ever had! I changed up the mix-ins a little -- no nuts because my little one is allergic, and I was out of zucchini so I used carrot and spinach. Still turned out great!

Yes, I don't know if you've been to the bakery, but her recommended cookie size is bakery-size which makes a large cookie, the size of an adult hand. For most of her cookies, I make them smaller and flatten them a little, and reduce the baking time by at least 5 minutes. (In general, I find baking times to be the one inaccurate part of this book -- consistently way too long.)

Jun 20, 2013
Pia in Home Cooking