i know everyone's heard this quote by now:but it really, really bothers me that our "president" always sounds like he's a 6 year old on a playground.
posted by fwc | 4/27/2006 4:17 PM
as some of you may know, andy and i finally got around to going to radius for a certain special day on a fairly quiet friday evening (which sound like is typical for them). i hope winnie appreciates these stealthy pics i took (whilst trying not to feel like a tourist). i suppose i should start by saying that overall we were both underwhelmed. very solid execution, but nothing wowed us. here's the pornographic play-by-play:

amuse bouche #1: tiny roasted cauliflower + something green (bad memory, sorry -- maybe mint?) + two tiny bits of kumquat. simply lovely. andy's version had shrimp instead of the kumquat.

amuse bouche #2: two bits of tempura. mine were both tofu-esque. andy's was shrimp (he thinks) and sweet potato.

my first course (L to R): liquid pee, i mean, pea. very strange (not quite in a good way), but interesting. half as much would have been plenty. then pea greens with marcona almonds and grapefruit (a bit OD'ed on the peas by then and i'm not big on salads anyway). "toasted" asparagus with a nice sauce. mushroom with a puff pastry, reminescent of the wellington i had at hamersley's but miles away in terms of quality. the pastry was nice and dry and just the right density for forking into, although the mushrooms were more creamy where i would have much preferred savory.

andy's first course: rabbit roulade wrapped in bacon with grapefruit glazed salsify on a puree of something green (sorry again) with a zucchini blossom dipped in a gooey cheese and fried. andy gave a solid A to this one.

my second course was a rosemary-infused spaetzle with baby carrots and something in the onion family. had some nicely browned bits. fairly intense rosemary if you're a fan of it (which i'm not particularly). again, i wasn't so impressed with this. instead of a subtle flavor in each bite it was more like in this (and most of the other courses), the accumulation of flavor got to the point where you didn't quite want to finish it and in between courses you had a really strong aftertaste (which andy said he could taste simultaneously with everything by the end of the evening).

radius was kind enough, however, to not leave andy courseless and gave him a serving of their mint gnocchi (with peas! talk about exploiting the fruits of the season). again, we weren't so impressed. more sweet than savory. maybe overall they were going for a lighter, more summer menu than either of us were at all ready for (i mean, it snowed last week!).

the best course for me. hedgehog mushroom ravioli with something green, lentils, celery root puree, and dollops of carrot reduction. some quibbles: two would've been enough, and a bit too much celery root and lentils. and is it just me, or is one meal with celery root enough celery root to last you for a year? i think i've had three in the past three months. enough already!

andy had the arctic char with pickled ramps and lemon. he was distinctly unimpressed with the quality of the char and the balance of the dish, which had an overall onion taste he found overwhelmed it.

dessert, L to R: glass of chocolate milk which i have to say was strongly reminescent to me of the sugary chocolate milk that's left after you've eaten a bowl of chocolate rice krispies or cocoa puffs. very strange. next, chocolate cake with cashews. standard, but a nice consistency. last, milk chocolate ice cream, which was unusual and quite good.

andy had the goat cheese cheesecake with huckleberry ice cream. good, but again the balance left something to be desired. andy's comment: the ice cream was too creamy to complement the goat cheese. a sorbet would have worked much better.

and to see us off, bits of chocolate-y squares, those fruit things i like (i feel so ignorant; winnie will have to remind me), and tiny macadamia cookies.

our server was adequate although the rest of the service was better. the initial wait for menus was noticeably long, and we would've expected the restaurant would have had a more rigorous no cell phone policy.

so that's my fairly laid-back review. feeling fairly chill at the moment. sorry, winnie, looks like of the three, great bay is the one that gets our vote (even though i think you weren't a fan of it). maybe it's just the level of boston restaurants, but i still haven't had a really memorable meal in boston in a long while. def. have some things lined up, though, so until next time faithful readers (haha) ...

posted by fwc | 4/10/2006 10:17 PM
get ready for a marathon post ... here's the precursor:

first off, saw that burrito max closed! is this a product of the kenmore square gentrification? RIP, burrito max. your tofu bbq burrito will be missed!

second, julia child's memoir looks totally cool and i was looking for a good bio on her w/out success so this is great to have. here's the amazon link for easy ordering access.

and despite the fancy-shmancy dinner at radius where each dish was labored over by top professionals, i have to say i'm proud of the thai red curry i whipped up just now (now that i have my life back i actually have time to cook -- and do laundry haha). since i was dumping pictures i thought i'd take a rare pic of my own cooking. this curry was amazingly simple. you pretty much just put 1 cup of coconut milk in, some red curry paste and maybe a bit of sugar (and fish paste if you're of the omnivorous ilk), and some veggies, and then some more coconut milk, and that's it. my respect for thai curry makers has severely diminished. actually i shouldn't be too cocky, b/c the other curries in this book were much more elaborate. but this is def. going into my limited arsenal of guy-who-doesn't-really-cook-but-can-if-it-takes-less-than-10-minutes-and-there-are-less-than-five-ingredients dishes. here's the cookbook it came from. andy and i picked it up b/c it has lots of nice pics.

posted by fwc | 4/10/2006 10:01 PM
my deadline for work is finally FINISHED and i'm wholly enjoying my first free time. i'll start by catching up on some music news:

cat stevens recording: Mr. Islam is working on his first pop album since 1978. It is expected in the fall, though there is no indication as to whether it will be released under that name or the one by which he first became famous, Cat Stevens.

also, paul simon's new album was produced by brian eno. interesting.

also worth mentioning is the recent announcement of the end of what was indisputably one of the greatest tori amos websites ever, this news is a particular shock to me b/c i have literally checked this site almost every day since i first came across it, prob. sometime just a few months after it began (in 1996). congrats to the dent for ten years of feeding my and countless other fans' tori love. you have been much, much appreciated and you will be greatly missed.

posted by fwc | 3/31/2006 6:10 PM
this nytimes article about american regional accents is interesting. as a louisvillian there have been times i've had people give me "where the heck are you from?" looks b/c of isolated, random words that somehow got into my pronunciation (and have since been somewhat smoothed over). off the top of my head:

- "crayon": used to pronounce as "crown"
- "sentence": inexplicably, used to pronounce as a very hillbilly-sounding "sint-ince"
- "Iraq": not sure how people pronounce this, but I used to pronunce it as "EYE-rack" which I think is more hillbilly than the pronunciation "Ih-rack"
- "Louisville": and of course everyone knows that natives pronounce this not as "Loo-ee-vill" but as "Loo-uh-vuhl".

posted by fwc | 3/18/2006 10:07 AM
i wasn't too good about taking a lot of pics while in seoul, but here are a few.

building at deoksugung, one of several palaces:

at inwangsan, a buddhist shrine:

street food:
deokbokki along with (from near to far): fried gimbap (korea's version of sushi, here mostly just rice noodles wrapped in gim, korea's version of nori), some fried seafood i think and mandu (korean wontons), and fried carrots/scallions i think and fried sweet potatoes. the sweet potatoes there are yellow and soo good.

various kinds of fried doughnuts/rice cakes (ddeok). the ones on the left have red bean in them. the ones at the top of the picture are called hoddeok and are soo good. they have brown sugar in them, which gets nice and gooey. i craved them the whole time i was there, but unfortunately only had them once. am def. going to have to go back for more.

posted by fwc | 3/16/2006 10:50 AM
been out of the restaurant loop and wondering what the news is. anyone heard anything about delpha's new place sorellina (who was behind mistral)? this globe review makes it sound pretentious and the weird ending of the review just sounds seedy. i've only been to mistral once but was distinctly unimpressed. also, i think daisy mentioned toro, oringer's somewhat recent tapas place. similarly, i didn't care for clio and i believe andy didn't have much good to say about uni. what's the buzz? tell me what's a-happenin'.
posted by fwc | 2/28/2006 4:14 PM
i've been lax in posting ... been methodically making my way through every cambridge eatery i've happened to miss since my time in boston, as well as checking out the few new ones. some quick comments:

bombay cafe (harv sq): it's been a long time since i've been to this place. not bad, but it's the type of gussied up indian food (like kashmir on newbury st) that i'd pass up in favor of more homey fare.

9 tastes (harvard sq): relatively new thai place. you've gotta wonder about any thai place that has an "all you can eat" special. this has earned a spot pretty near the bottom of my list of thai places in boston. pretty sloppily prepared and bland all around, and not bland in a minimal way like the popular MIT-student destination thailand cafe on mass ave.

pepper sky (pearl st, central sq): has become a regular spot thanks to its closeness. pretty standard americanized thai food, and although the curry is depressingly bland, the spicy pad thai (also pretty minimal) is acceptable. the drunken noodles are prob. the best thing i've gotten from here.

middle east (central sq): no one goes to the middle east for the food, and for good reason. the falafel was okay, but half of our grape leaves were inexcusably gritty.

falafal palace (central sq): tiny place, but not bad.

picante's (central sq): ecchh. i don't remember this place being so incredibly bad. have they changed management since i was in school? pretty inedible stuff.

mass ave restaurant (b/t central and harv sq): the breakfast was okay, but the lunch (pseudo-mexican) is pretty much on the level of picante's, i.e. pretty terrible.

in related news i've pretty much had to strike hamersley's (tremont st, south end) off of my list. went last night, and at the server's strong recommendation (although much against my better judgement) i got the mushroom wellington w/ madeira sauce, a sort of pot pie. this dish really chrystallized hamersley's failings, namely that in their pursuit of the full-bodied french rustic feel every dish is so buttery and creamy that they're overwhelmingly rich, heavy, and in the end just uninteresting. andy had the so-so duck confit, and our warm chocolate tart was similarly lackluster (just as most of the desserts we've had there have been). we've had some good meals there, but i've had too many subpar ones that it'll be a long time before i'll be persuaded to go back.

so now that those mostly mediocre places are out of my system, i'm looking forward to hitting some new places w/ the warm weather. top of our list: upstairs on the square (in harv sq), petit robert bistro (kenmore sq), salts, the blue room. also, after the disappointing trip to hamersley's i'm more enthusiastic about hitting rendezvous again.

posted by fwc | 2/16/2006 4:10 PM
carl sent me this info about a CSA that has a pick-up location in central square. i'm sorely tempted to join, but $25 worth of vegetables a week sounds a bit much for me and i don't think they have smaller boxes right now.
posted by fwc | 2/13/2006 2:54 PM
nadeau from the boston phoenix (not the most reliable source, since i believe he also adored the nightingale in the south end) raved about steve johnson's newest venture, the rendezvous. it apparently opened in november; it's in central sq; and it "offers Western Mediterranean inspired cuisine". johnson was the chef/co-owner of the blue room.

enough with the facts, andy, patty, and i checked it out a week or so ago, and had some good eats. andy and i were disappointed the garlic soup wasn't on that evening, but we both started with the "Celery root salad w/apple, goat cheese, pomegranate & green peppercorn vinaigrette". a bit dry, but enjoyable. andy had the "Moroccan-style lamb tagine w/dates, almonds and flagelolets" which he quite liked; patty also liked her escarole salad and "Potato gnocchi w/braised oxtail". i had the "Homemade cannelloni w/cavalo nero, foraged mushrooms, ricotta & sage". as with my salad, i found the cannelloni, while nicely prepared and thought out, to be just a tad bit underpresent, by which i mean that it wasn't bland, but the level of emphatic, savory tastiness was lower than it should've been. maybe a bit more vinaigrette in the case of the former and a bit more salt for the latter would have rectified this.

the desserts turned out to be the highlight. much as i like creme brulee, i'm fairly bored of the various flavors in different restaurants (in their case vanilla), so we opted instead for "Apple crostada w/red grapes & honey-lavender ice cream" and "Warm chocolate-hazelnut cake w/cinnamon cream". the latter was particularly memorable. it seems hard to find noteworthy desserts in general, but both of these were palpable hits.

in cambridge's (particularly central square's) otherwise mostly food-barren landscape, rendezvous is a nice addition. service was acceptable; decor (it was a burger king before) is a bit undefined and hopefully transitional: it's too spartan to be as homey as its lighting and color would seem to want to suggest. in any case, will def. will be going back; we'll have to see how it shapes up over time.

posted by fwc | 1/8/2006 5:09 PM
a couple of crossposts from mailing lists:

winnie's december mix, like her others, are full of what i presume are the latest indie bands that i should know. in a lot of ways i feel that now that indie pop has been around for so long so many people are doing the same thing rather than moving forward, and it's becoming easier and easier to reference bands' sounds (e.g. the of montreal track sounds totally like a belle and sebastian ripoff to me). harpsichord, glockenspiel, violin, trumpet, and harmonica seem to be requisite instruments nowadays. as i've said before, i'm on the edge of being able to still enjoy this stuff, but i do still enjoy it, particularly the more wistful tracks (like the jose gonzalez and the national tracks from last time). this time the blissfully moody tracks i loved are the books, gravenhurst, okkervil river, and the rosebuds. each of these had little production details i loved, like the "whoo whoos" in the latter track; and the books' has a bass guitar-centric sound (very pinback style) and bitty beats that i just love. i also liked the kings of convenience track quite a lot. this and the okkervil river track strongly reminded me of matt pond PA who i should listen to more of. i agree that the kathleen edwards track sticks out in the same way the imogen heap track stuck out last mix -- a bit too mainstream sounding. i also thought the baby shambles was a bit too much of a clash ripoff, but maybe that's just me. but it's a good mix, esp. since i've been out of the indie music loop so much lately.

i like ang lee's direction, and in brokeback mountain he didn't disappoint. the vibe is much like crouching tiger, w/ gorgeous, hugely expansive scenery providing a backdrop to an intimate story. like that movie, this one also has a beautiful balance of sparse, spaciousness with explosions of energy, an aesthetic that i really, really love. the story could've easily been banal, but it was beautifully restrained, helped hugely by good performances all around and 2 particularly impressive performances by heath ledger (who i knew nothing of and who i just found out is australian) and michelle williams (who i also know nothing about although apparently she was in dawson's creek). all in all a solid 9 out of 10.

posted by fwc | 1/8/2006 4:58 PM

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