Thursday, January 31, 2013


Last night Ameeka and I were in the mood for tapas, so after some Yelp research, we found ourselves at a restaurant in the Brighton area called Tasca.

We both hadn't had tapas in a while, so we had to ask the waiter about portion sizes and the appropriate number of dishes to order. He suggested three tapas each, and a shared "entree." Both Ameeka and I were pretty hungry, so that sounded reasonable to us, but in retrospect I could probably have done with a bit less.

(Upon arrival home after dinner, I felt like my stomach was about to explode, and I'm pretty sure my middle looked like I was carrying a 3rd trimester food-baby)

For our tapas, we ordered the following:

Salchicha de cordero: Savory grilled lamb sausage over Israeli couscous with roasted vegetables and mint oil (mine)

Salmón ahumado: Smoked salmon served on a potato pancake with red onion, capers and dill crème fraîche (mine)

The potato "pancake" part of this dish was not what I expected. Rather than being similar to the other potato pancakes that I've had - which were all quite similar to real pancakes in preparation -  this "pancake" was made of shredded and crispy-fried potatoes that were jumbled together in a very dry and crunchy mixture:

Patatas bravas: Fried cubed potatoes in a piquant tomato sauce and garlic aioli (Ameeka's) - this dish was basically home-fries, but with fancier sauces

Setas Ronan: Roasted portabella mushrooms with shaved manchego, capers, red onion in a sherry
vinaigrette with roasted red pepper toasts (Ameeka's)

The sauce in this dish was reportedly very good, although the mushrooms themselves were only "ok"

Empanadillas de queso de cabra: Herbed goat cheese empanadas served on a roasted red pepper relish (Ameeka's)

Confít de pato: Fall off the bone succulent roasted duck leg served over braised red cabbage and apples (mine)

[As you can probably tell, I like eating animals, and Ameeka likes eating plants]

Our shared "entree" was the Berenjenas Rellenas: Baked crispy eggplant stuffed with oven dried tomato and Manchego cheese served in a fresh tomato and basil sauce 

Although our stomachs were nearing maximum capacity at this point, I saw bread pudding on the dessert menu and had to order some:

Bread Pudding: Moscatel sherry and raisin bread pudding served in a warm caramel sauce

Unfortunately this bread pudding had a consistency similar to... it's hard to describe, but I suppose the closest thing I can think of is mochi (?). I'm an Asian who actually is NOT a fan of mochi, so there was only so much of this bread pudding that I could tolerate. The rest got abandoned.

Of note, as I relayed to Ameeka during our meal: a handful of people die in Japan every year during the New Years celebrations by choking on mochi. It's not only a food item with an icky texture, but it's dangerous too!

Ameeka opted for the warm chocolate pudding:

Overall rating: 6.5/10

1612 Commonwealth Ave
Brighton, MA 02135

Monday, January 28, 2013


Sunday = brunch day, so yesterday I decided to try Aquitaine with a few friends. Located in the South End, it's only a few streets away from the Buttery - which is actually how I first noticed it. The exterior is dark and sleek, and although the interior was intended to be a casual "bistro style," the overall atmosphere is not quite scrubs-attire-friendly (although they're far from having an enforced dress-code).

Their dinner menu has French-inspired entrees, but the brunch menu is pretty typical.

We started off with some fresh cinnamon buns, which were smaller and lighter than the ones offered at Mistral.

Here is what Aquitaine had to offer:

As a comparison, here is a link to the Instagram picture of what I got last time I visited Mistral:

Alex and I each chose the Salmon Benedict: smoked salmon with Hollandaise and chives, as well as a side of brunch potatoes (i.e home fries)

 (I asked for avocado with my Benedict)

Ameeka ordered the (vegetarian) Benedict Provencal - served with avocado, tomato, Hollandaise sauce, and side of brunch potatoes. The tomatoes basically stand in place of where the ham (in normal Eggs Benedict) or salmon (in the case of smoked salmon Benedict) would be:

Charity opted for an omelet with side of  whole wheat toast and (again) the brunch potatoes:

Posted on the wall directly opposite from our table was a large chalk-board with a list of "Today's Dessert Offerings." Included on this list was a warm chocolate cake, apple tart with vanilla ice cream, sorbet, chocolate mousse, profiteroles with vanilla ice cream, and most importantly - crispy chocolate bread pudding. We spent most of brunch in anticipation of the opportunity to try those delicious-sounding desserts, only to have our waiter burst our bubble at the last minute.

As we were preparing to order dessert, he informed us that the list we had spent the last hour staring at was indeed only offered during dinner time. The brunch dessert selection was much more limited: we could choose between three items - Crème Brulée, Sorbet Du Jour, or the Chocolate Mousse. That killed my enthusiasm for sure (I obviously had my eye on the crispy chocolate bread pudding), and almost everyone else's too.

Alex ended up ordering the Crème Brulée though, and it was reportedly pretty yummy (I forgot to snap a picture because I was having an internal temper tantrum about being denied the bread pudding)

Overall rating: 7/10

569 Tremont Street 
Boston, MA 02118

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tea at the Taj

Yesterday Ameeka and I had reservations for tea at the Taj, Boston. As compared to Bond - where we had visited the week before, the food was definitely overall superior.

Also as a bonus, they used loose-leaf teas rather than tea bags (much classier!). The only bummer with this was that I repeatedly forgot to use the strainer every time I poured myself a fresh cup of tea, and ended up spending lots of time scooping leaves out of my cup (...not so classy...)

Unlike at Bond, the pastries and sandwiches were served on 3-tiered towers - as is proper :D

The first tower included the sandwiches and canapes

The second tower included the scones and desserts

Ameeka and I both decided to do the Taj Royal tea:

I selected Vanilla Earl Grey, while Ameeka opted for the Taj breakfast tea

Sandwiches were:

Cucumber and cream cheese:

Traditional egg salad:

Smoked salmon and American caviar:

The canapes were:

Lobster profiterole:

Prosciutto and melon:

For scones we had cranberry walnut (this was one of the best scones I've ever had):

as well as ginger and raisin spice:

For dessert:

Typical chocolate dipped strawberries and madelines:

Coconut macaroon and pistachio rose sable cookie:

Chocolate eclair and pumpkin tartlet:

And traditional chocolate opera torte (next to the chocolate dipped strawberry):

While the food and tea was better at the Taj than at Bond, the atmosphere was less relaxed, and by the time 5pm rolled around, the entire French dining room (where tea is served) had cleared out, with the impression that the servers were rushing guests away... Fortunately, just steps outside is an entire street of good shopping!

Overall rating: 7/10

Taj Boston
15 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The British sometimes have good ideas: lining well-cut trench coats with a trendy plaid pattern and then charging obscene prices for clothing and accessories that people in my homeland in turn make knock-offs of (for about $2 a piece)... that's one. Harry Potter is a second. But in my opinion the smartest thing the British have come up with is afternoon tea.  I know those 5-hour Energy commercials say that 5-hour Energy is the key to getting through the usual mid-day slump, but they're wrong. Nothing beats chocolate, cream, and dessert teas when it comes to getting you past the 3pm blues.

For a while now my friend Ameeka and I have wanted to stop by the Taj for afternoon tea, and last Saturday we had overlapping free time. Unfortunately here in America, afternoon tea is generally only offered on weekends, and the Taj is extremely popular, so reservations are a must - which we didn't realize until too late. As an alternative, we decided to do tea at Bond - located in the Langham hotel instead.

Unlike at most places - which serve the snacks accompanying afternoon tea in 3-tiered trays, Bond served everything plated.

First course was the finger "sandwiches":

English cucumber with farmer's cream and dill: like most cucumber sandwiches, this was light and refreshing, but the bread was a bit dry

Smoked ham roulade with cape cranberry relish: my least favorite - I don't generally like ham, and again the bread was dry

Foraged mushroom and creme fraiche tart: overall just plain bland

Meadow Brook egg "mimosa": this tasted like a regular deviled egg - nothing spectacular

The second course was the scone course:

served with Devonshire cream: (i.e "clotted cream" - my favorite scone condiment)

lemon custard:

and strawberry jam:

The third course was the desserts

Chocolate dipped strawberry:

Raspberry French macaroon:

Fresh berry trifle: this was my favorite dessert of the four - the cream layer was delicious, and the berries were definitely fresh and yummy

Lemon Madeline: this particular cookie was a bit thicker than I'm used to - even for Madelines, and had a slightly rubbery texture

As for the tea, Ameeka went with the white ginger pear iced tea which was served in an interesting contraption:

While I opted for the orchid vanilla dessert tea.

The food was not stellar, but the environment was calm and relaxing. We ended up spending almost 3 hours over tea, which is obviously an appreciated change from our normally faster-paced days. I'm interested to see whether the Taj has to offer in comparison...

Overall rating: 6/10

Bond Restaurant and Lounge
250 Franklin Street
Boston, MA 02110