A few weeks ago I went to Boston for a conference – the annual March Meeting of the American Physical Society (boooring!). However, Physicists are so brain dead to normal life, that most of the conference was in fact in February! I wasn’t too pleased with having to go, since a snowboarder broke Maya’s arm just a day before I left. But I was giving a talk so it was too late to cancel.
So, while Maya was at home suffering alone I set out to explore Boston, in the culinary sense. After getting some recommendations from friends and spending some time on the net, here are seven foodie highlights of the trip:
1. Black Ink Squid Pasta at The Daily Catch
When I saw this dish, I immediately knew it would be superb. After smelling it deeply, I was convinced. The house-made black ink pasta, delicious and elegant at the same time, was cooked to perfect chewiness. The sauce is a combination of ground calamari, olive oil, garlic and anchovy paste, an Aglio Olio with a twist. It was so good, that I went back again on my last day.
2. Afghan Delicacies at Helmand (Cambridge)
Ariel lives in Cambridge and this is his favourite restaurant. With his guidance, we skipped the mains and just ordered all of the appetizers. Each of them was special in its own way. My favourites were Kaddo, baked pumpkin served on a yogurt garlic sauce and topped with a ground beef sauce and Banjan, baked eggplant with tomatoes and yogurt (these guys sure love yogurt, they put it on everything).
3. Lobster Roll at James Hook & Co.
I was told by Asaf that I could not visit Boston without having a Lobster Roll. The truth is, until I looked it up, I wasn’t sure what a lobster roll is, and was half convinced it is actually just sushi filled with lobster, like a salmon roll or avocado roll. Turns out it’s generally a white bun, hot dog style, filled beyond the brim with lobster salad, drenched with mayo. It’s super fast and delicious.
4. Stuffed Squid at Casa Romero
There is something about the smokey flavor of chipotle that I cannot resist. When this dish arrived, I almost squealed with delight. The baby squids were arranged in a circle on my plate, covered in an aromatic chipotle and tomato sauce.
When I arrived to the entrance to Casa Romero, I hesitated: I was on a small dark alley, and although there was a sign above, it did not look like a door to a restaurant. I was thinking: is this the door, and if so, where the hell is the handle? Turns out the restaurant is in the basement. Duh.
5. Hunting and Gathering at Trader Joe’s
Living in Vancouver, BC, we end up making periodic pilgrimages to Trader Joe’s in Bellingham. By far our most cherished purchase is a few kg’s of 72% belgian dark chocolate, a steal at $5 for 500 grams. Invariably we end up also stocking up on cheap milk, butter and eggs, parmesan, blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, freeze dried mangoes and other essentials.
Our last trip to the US ended at the Vancouver General Hospital instead of Trader Joe’s, so we were left with a large gaping hole in our pantry. I was surprised to find that the Trader Joe’s in Boston is tiny. Still they had everything I was looking for, so that was good. But the lineup snaked right, left, left again and then right, what the hell? It was like a python snake in a tiny cage, coiled beyond repair.
6. Dark Hot Chocolate at Burdick Cafe (Cambridge)
These guys sure know how to make their hot chocolate. I suspect that their interpretation is a literal one, a drink that consists mostly of high quality melted chocolate, and some milk.
7. Mozzarella and Pesto Sandwich at the Flour Bakery
I was on my way to the airport, and let’s face it: no one wants to be stuck eating airport food, or worse: airline food. The locals rave about the Flour Bakery, so I headed there to get a sandwich for the road (or air, in this case). I chose the simplest item on the sandwich menu, since great bakeries shine even in the elementary sounding items. This reminded me how good the combination of pesto, mozzarella, tomato and two slices of excellent bread can be.