Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wagamama (Prudential Center)

Today, I went for a quick bite to Wagamama in the Prudential Center with my friend Randy. I had only been to one Wagamama before and it was in London. From what I remembered, Wagamama was a relatively inexpensive noodle house that proved to be a good time so I was anxious to try out their new second Boston location. Wagamama is open and airy with long wooden tables laid down in rows, not much fuss or muss about the place. This sparser atmosphere works well and lends a clean, modern, and comfortable feel to the restaurant.

We were quickly greeted at the door by a nice woman who brought us to our table. At Wagamama, there is a chance that you could end up sitting right next to someone you don't know since the tables hold at least 20 people. Tonight wasn't extremely crowded so we were able to secure part of a table that was a bit away from people. For drinks, we both ordered Japanese beer. I ordered the Tiger Beer,billed as "a premium beer from the far east with a full flavour and refreshing taste" it was just as it was described, a pretty darn good light beer (with a cool label). Randy got the Kirin Ichiban premium beer, "the fine aroma of hops and joponica rice provides its lighter body and delicate aftertaste". Randy said he enjoyed it very much although I did note it had a bit of a bitter aftertaste compared to the Tiger Beer. (Something I did notice is that no one at the restaurant had a glass of water...not sure if you specifically have to ask or if it costs extra.)

For an appetizer we got a bowl of edamame. Edamame is steamed green soybeans. Ours were covered in salt and chili pepper (just lightly) and they were great. A good snack before our main course.

For our entrees, I ordered the simple Chicken Ramen ($9.50). The Chicken Ramen is "soup and ramen noodles topped with a marinated and grilled chicken breast, seasonal greens, menma and sliced scalion." When it arrived it came with chop sticks and a small ladle that I wasn't quite sure how to use. I enjoyed the Ramen. It was simple but fresh and the noodles were soft and good. The broth wasn't as salty as ramen you buy in the store but I think that's definitely a good thing! The best part? I got to slurp up the liquid at the end right from the bowl!

Randy ordered the more complex chicken chili men, "stir-fried chicken, squash, red onion, peppers, snow peas and scallion served with wheat noodles in a chili sauce made from chilies, ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass, sweet red pepper and tomato. It was a bit spicy for me but had a good flavor to it and had a familiar tomato sauce taste.

One thing Randy pointed out to me was that at Wagamama, they bring your food out right when it's done so sometimes not everyone is fed at once. This isn't a huge problem since most of the food arrives within 5 minutes of ordering.

I really enjoyed Wagamama. It had a fun crowd from young college students to fancily dressed older women, friends and couples. The wait staff was super friendly and super fast. They even bring the credit card machine right to your table so you don't have to wait too long for the bill. I would definitely recommend Wagamama for a fun quick bite with friends.

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Galette des rois

Happy Mardi Gras!

For the occasion, I decided I wanted to make a King's Cake for the office...but I wanted to make my favorite: the Parisian-style galette des rois.

This delicious, flaky creation filled with almond paste is traditionally enjoyed at Epiphany, but that didn't stop me!

Galette des rois


1/4 cup almond paste
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt

1 (17.25 oz) pkg. frozen puff pastry; thawed

1 fève (or you could substitute a dry kidney or fava bean)
1 egg; beaten (for egg wash)
1 Tbsp powdered sugar (for dusting)

Note: I didn't have any almond paste (and the store was already closed), so I just made my own using the pulverized almonds from Trader Joe's that I was talking about in my last post and some additional sugar and almond extract. After pulsing this together in the food processor, it came out quite nicely.

1. Follow instructions on packaging to properly thaw your puff pastry.

2. Add the almond paste, sugar and butter to the food processor and process until ingredients are incorporated and smooth. Add egg, flavorings, salt, and flour. Blend. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Prepare a baking sheet by buttering or lining with parchment paper or a Silpat.

4. One sheet at a time, roll-out the puff pastry into about a 11-inch square being careful not to manipulate it too much and avoiding letting it get too warm. Using a large plate, etc. as a template (Ha! temPLATE!) cut out the pastry into a circle. Place on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate while preparing the 2nd sheet of puff pastry.

5. Take 1st sheet of pastry out of fridge. Spread the almond paste mixture into the center of the circle leaving about an inch margin around the edge. Press the fève down into the almond mixture. Place the 2nd sheet of puff pastry on top and crimp edges to assure a good seal. (I use a fork to crimp, then push the edges back towards the center to make the galette nice and round and the edges less flat.) Brush on the egg wash. (Optionally, you can make a little design in the egg wash by drawing lightly onto the top sheet with a chopstick.) With a small knife, prick a few vent holes.

6. Bake for 15 minutes in the hot oven--making sure not to open the oven during this time! Remove from oven after 15 minutes and dust with powdered sugar. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes--depending on your oven--until the top is a nice, golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Whoever finds the fève is king/queen of the party! If you have a paper crown, that makes it even more fun.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hungry for public market, Boston plans a site - The Boston Globe

Boston is working on planning a new, upgraded public food market?! I'm so excited!

Hungry for public market, Boston plans a site - The Boston Globe

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our gâteau au chocolat

When I lived in France, this was our go-to cake (er, gâteau), and I decided to make it for Valentines' Day dinner tonight--after 4 years of not having it! It was so good, we thought we'd share.

I attribute this recipe to mes chers Lise-Marie and Mimo, who were masters at whipping-up this deliciousness for our many parties and Sciences-Po bake sales. In order to be true to the original that was given to me, I'll post that first followed by the conversion I used tonight.

Gâteau au Chocolat

200g beurre
100g farine
250g sucre
5 œufs
100g amandes en poudre
200g chocolat

-Faire fondre le chocolat.
-Mélanger le beurre moue & le sucre. Ajouter les jaunes d'œuf, la farine, les amandes, et le chocolat fondu.
-Monter les blancs d'œuf en neige et les incorporer
-Mettre au four (à 150ºC) environ 40 minutes.

Since I lost my trusty food scale during the last move, I used Julia Child's little conversion chart for measurements, making tonight's gâteau like so:

14 Tbs butter
3.5 oz. flour
9 oz. sugar
5 eggs
3.5 oz. almond meal (You can get this at Trader Joe's, or pulverize your own.)
7 oz. unsweetened or semi-sweet chocolate (I used Baker's Unsweetened, since that's what I like.)

-Melt the chocolate (I added about 1 oz. of espresso.)
-Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the yolks of the 5 eggs (conserve the whites), the flour, the almond meal, and the molten chocolate.
-Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold these into the chocolate mixture.
-Pour into a round cake pan (I used a 10" silicone mold.) Bake at 300ºF for 40 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes and turn-out. Serve warm. We chose vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment, but it is also good by itself or with a raspberry coulis.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brunch at Ann Sather's (Chicago)

This past weekend I went home to Chicago, and seeing as I rarely get to dine out in the city I made it a point to go to one of my favorite spots for breakfast - Ann Sather's. For over 60 years Ann Sather's has been serving up delicious breakfasts and lunches with an assortment of delicious Swedish specialties throughout the menu. I remember my godmother bringing a box of freshly-made Swedish pancakes with lingonberry preserves over to my house for brunch straight from Ann Sather's, so this place has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

The atmosphere at the Lakeview location is very bright and fun with Swedish-themed art adorning every wall. There are two main dining rooms and on a Sunday morning it is PACKED. Luckily our party of three didn't have to wait too long - maybe 20 minutes.

Since I hadn't had a good Swedish pancake in quite some time, I knew what I wanted from the get-go: The Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and Swedish meatballs. For those of you who aren't familiar with Swedish pancakes, imagine that a French Crêpe and an American flapjack had a baby - the pancakes are light and sweet and just the right thickness -delicious! The meatballs were served in a brown gravy and were a nice size and quite tasty.

Chris chose the French Toast fantasy, and I was quite pleased to be splitting my meal with him in exchange for some of this. Apparently endorsed by Rachel Ray, the "fantasy" consists of marscarpone-filled cinnamon rolls, battered, grilled and topped with granola and fresh seasonal berries. Absolutely delicious, and plenty of food. The mascarpone was nice and buttery, not too sweet and hence not overwhelming. The strawberries and blueberries were great, too, as was the bit of crunch added by the granola.

Jeff opted for a Denver omelet (Ham, Onions and Green Pepper), which also came with two sides. He chose the cinnamon rolls (another thing Ann Sather's is famous for) and hash browns. The cinnamon rolls were perfect and quite large considering it was just an included side. The sugary frosting tasted very fresh, and the hash browns seemed pretty standard.

Considering we all paid $10 or less for such a delicious breakfast, excluding coffee and juice, of course, there was really nothing not to love. The food is wonderful, the atmosphere upbeat and bright, and the service is great - especially considering what a mob scene it was. There were so many other things on the menu I am dying to have, for example the Norwegian smoked salmon and dill omelet (and anything else with smoked salmon!). There will definitely be a next time!
Ann Sather Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 2, 2009


Sunday evening Chris and I wanted something quick and easy but also delicious for dinner. I've always walked by Rami's, an Israeli-owned shawarma and falafel place, but have never gone ahead and eaten there. It always seems to be hopping, so we decided to give it a try.

The place is pretty small and the menu not overly extensive, but every day they have a number of specials in addition to their homous, baba ganouch, chicken, shawarma, and falafel combinations. Yesterday they had a number of "cigars" filled with things like kibee and assorted meats. I was a little taken aback by the prices, which seemed a bit much - $10.95 for a pita with homous, shawarma, and an assortment of vegetables, pickles, tahini, and hot sauce. Despite the price, it was excellent - the shawarma was very tender and flavorful and all the accompanying vegetables very fresh and a perfect balance to the hot sauce.

Chris' falafel was somewhat cheaper, maybe $8.95, and accompanied with the same assortment of side items. They were very tasty and not at all greasy like some can be. Overall I had a very nice quick bite to eat though I found the prices to be somewhat unreasonable. Rami's is located in Coolidge Corner on Harvard Street right across from the former Barnes & Noble.

Rami's on Urbanspoon