Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
The NY Times article I read a few years back first put Portland, Maine on my radar as a dining destination, but back then, I already moved out of Boston and was adjusting to the more French and Southern inspired DC dining scene. When I moved back this winter, I made a goal to take a trip out with Katie and Krissie and as of this past weekend, I could cross it off my list. Sadly, we did not make it to any of the restaurants mentioned in the list, although Duckfat was by the same people who created Hugo’s.
Since I started working, the most difficult decision I have to make is deciding what to have for lunch. Now that I actually work in a downtown area, I know the joys of having lunch options during the week, but it has also made my life that much more complicated. When I don’t bring lunch and I’m not lucky enough to snag a free lunch through leftovers in the common area from vendor visits, the brain starts ticking. So far I’ve been able to avoid chains when I’m on the hunt, which means no Chipotle or Cosi for this guy. If you work in downtown Boston, hopefully this little guide will be of assistance.
8 City Hall Ave.
Basic deli with sandwiches, soups, salads, and a few hot entrees. Sandwiches come with cold pasta salad and half a pickle. I ordered the cowboy grilled sandwich (roast beef, cheddar, tomato, pickles, red onions and bbq sauce on a ciabatta roll). Average sandwich that could have spent another few minutes in the panini press as the cheese wasn’t fully melted and the middle of the sandwich was still luke warm. Co-workers were bigger fans than me. $7-$8 for most items.
48 Winter Street
For Middle Eastern eats, you can’t go wrong with Falafel King. There’s falafel for your vegetarian friends and shawarma for the meat eaters. Service is fast and efficient although the location is cramped in a small hall among other take out counters. Look to spend $7 for most items.
44 Province Street
The most popular eatery on my list. Sam Lagrassa’s was featured on Diners, Dive Ins, and Dives. Note: it is not a diner, drive in, or dive. However, it has the heavy sandwiches that would merit mention on the show. I’ve been here twice and have gotten pastrami both times, as it is the closest thing to a NY quality pastrami sandwich i.e. mustard, cole slaw, and greasy, juicy, hot pastrami. More pricey than what I would like to spend on a work week lunch and could cause sluggishness in the afternoon, but definitely delicious. $8-$11 for most sandwiches.
101 Arch Street
For something a little different, try Chacarrero for Chilean sandwiches (bread made in house, grilled steak or chicken, meunster cheese, tomatoes, steamed string beans and avocado spread). My grilled steak made out a little dry and tough, green beans were on the over done side, and avocado spread was more runny than a spread. I didn’t think it was worth the hype going in, but I’d be open to returning. $7-$9 for sandwiches.
85 Arch Street
A lot like Delicato with mostly sandwiches, but with a few more hot entree options served cafeteria style. I opted for a gyro because I just can’t say no. I was a little skeptical as the meat wasn’t sliced from a large rotating hunk, but ended up being surprisingly juicy. Only downside is that it was cash only. Most items were $6-$8.
125 Summer Street
Located in a rather stuff lobby of 125 Summer Street, Andale is my Chipotle substitute. Burritos were slightly smaller and cheaper, but you have to pay extra for cheese, which I’d say isn’t normal. However guacamole is only $0.50 extra unlike Chipotle’s ridiculous extra charge. I got the Mexican sausage which was tasty, but a little difficult to eat. The pozole (mexican pork stew) was swimming in oil and chili and could do damage if you have a sensitive stomach. Burritos start at $5, most items $5-$7.
I hope this will encourage you downtown office drones to leave your building and explore new dining options. Just remember that none of your co-workers really care what multimillion dollar deal you are closing. They only care if you have a killer lunch spot recommendation.
Of the Asian cuisines showcased in Boston, I crave Vietnamese food the least. I’ve thrown pho on my list of never agains. Star anise is one of my natural born enemies, so it should come as no surprise when I detected its slight presence in my pho broth, I swore off pho for good. Such a shame since bottomless bowls of noodles sound so good on paper. Occasionally, I’ll have a hankering for a spring roll, but that’s usually when I’m not sober and am feeling like a true fatty mcfatterson. A few weeks ago, I had a huge yen for a bánh mì sandwich. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this wonderful treat, it is grilled meat (my favorite is pork), with mayo, pate (YUM!), whole cilantro sprigs, fish sauce, pickled carrots and daikon, and hots.
Beef sandwich at Phở Viet
All of these ingredients are encased in a very light baguette that has a very nice crisp outside and a soft inside. This translates into it will flake all over you as you eat it. Be ready with a solid leaning sandwich stance, lest you fall victim to the bread crumb storm.
I love this sandwich not just for its rich flavors and wonderfully tart carrot/daikon mix, but also for its history. The sandwich showcases some of Vietnam’s French roots, and not that I’m necessarily all for colonization, I am for food fusion. I have a deep appreciation for flavors that change because of the times. Someone was innovative enough to think, let me mix what I have locally and throw some French fats on it (pate and mayo) and serve on a delicate French influenced baguette. Or maybe it was someone who had all this food on its way out and figured, Oh fine I’ll just throw it all on a piece of bread and deal with it. Whatever the case may be, thank you! You’ve given me the one Vietnamese dish that makes my heart sing.
P.S. Go ahead and let this post title sink in. Yes? Yes? I’m basking in my cleverness.
I was determined to put my slow cooker to use and decided kill two birds with one stone by also making pulled pork for the first time. After reading so many times about the wonders of the slow cooker for winter time BBQ, I decided to use a simple recipe so that I could see the pork by itself and then try a bottled sauce as well.
Simple Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
3 lbs Pork Shoulder
Salt and Pepper
1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce
Season pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Place in slow cooker and add water until the bottom of the slow cooker is covered. Set to low for 8 hours. Once shoulder is ready, take shoulder out of slow cooker and let rest 15 minutes. While the meat is resting, remove liquid from slow cooker and add BBQ sauce of choice to slow cooker bowl. Begin shredding meat from shoulder and place in the bowl. Mix with sauce. Return bowl to slow cooker and cook 30 minutes on high. Serve and enjoy. I use a Texas style sauce from World Market, which was bold and just a tiny bit spicy.
Mini Pulled Pork Sandwiches
I initially made some mini pulled pork sandwiches, but decided to use the leftovers with some cauliflower puree. Looks like cauliflower is good for something after all.
1 Head of Cauliflower chopped into 1-1.5 inch florets
1 cup Water, Milk or Stock
3 Cloves of Garlic
3 tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper
Take cauliflower florets and place in a shallow sauce pan with 1 cup milk, water, or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer covered for 10 minutes or until tender. While cauliflower is cooking, roast 3 cloves of garlic with olive oil in a foil pouch. Place 3 tbsp. butter, garlic and oil, cauliflower florets, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached. Use remaining liquid in sauce pan to thin out the mixture in food processor by adding a little at a time. Season to taste.
Pulled Pork Over Cauliflower Puree