Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
In typical Ray fashion, I had friends over this past weekend and had a few days of pure gluttony. When friends come over, I try my best to get a sense of they are looking to try wherever I’m living and plan the weekend around meals that will be satisfying and give Boston a chance to impress.
To begin our journey, we headed to the North End since it would be a little less crowded on a Thursday night. We got on line at Giacomo’s and after 30 minutes, we were treated to calamari, garlic bread and pasta. Calamari was good, but could have been fried better. The marinara sauce was tangy and had a homemade taste to it. Pass on the garlic bread. Lobster Ravioli was finished off quickly as the portion size was small. Linguine with Fra-como sauce and shrimp and scallops and swordfish with a cream sauce were wins. Next, we braved the only semi-hectic crowds at Mike’s Pastry for cannolis. Peanut butter, yellow cream and pistachio all safe bets.
The next day, berry tarts from the previous day were for breakfast followed by UBurger. After some afternoon beer at Sam Adam’s Brewery, it was time for dinner at Yankee Lobster Fish Market were all 3 of us enjoyed clam chowder and Lobster Rolls. This was probably the most fulfilling meal of the weekend for me both because of the concept of fresh seafood by the water at the start of summer. Perfectly crispy fries and a long walk down Seaport Blvd. help too.
Lobster Roll from Yankee Lobster Fish Market
The next day, we hit up a few Asian establishments including Japonaise Bakery for some sweets including their Azuki Cream Bun, cakes and mochi. Take a pass on the cake and head straight for the Japanese cream items and pastries. For lunch we hopped between Bonchon Chicken for some wings, pork buns, and fried octopus balls and Jojo Taipei for soup dumplings, scallion pancakes and minced pork over rice. Finally for dinner, we headed to Redbones for some BBQ. St. Louis ribs won out above all and the smoked brisket was dry. Before my friends left, we had dim sum at Hei La Moon in Chinatown. If you’re concerned about my health right now, rest assured that I’ve been eating like a rabbit since the weekend.
Almond Cake with Oranges and Cream with an Azuki Mochi
Growing up, my family frequented Chinese grocery stores frequently from the two located near my house, a plethora in Flushing, NY where my grandparents lived and even driving close to a hour within NJ just to buy Asian vegetables, fruits, and pantry items. Early on, my sister and I caught on to the snack isle and became connoisseurs in the finest Japanese snacks like chocolate filled koala biscuits, the lesser chocolate filled panda biscuits, Pocky (apparently pronounced “Poke-e” and not “Pock e”), and mushroom crackers with a chocolate top.
Since our early years, we have noticed that these items became more and more available in American stores such as near the anime section at Suncoast video in a mall or World Market. Now, I have had the privilege of working with someone who grew up in Japan, and have been introduced to a new more traditional goody from across the pond. Upon her return from a trip to Tokyo, I was presented with this little wrapped package.
It includes a little wrapped tin pan with a plastic cover the holds in the bean (soy?) powder. On top of the powder is a little angular bottle filled with a sweet (brown sugar?) syrup. Upon pouring the syrup over the powder, use the stick to dig up two pieces of mochi at the bottom of the pan. This is where the wrapping paper comes in handy as you will definitely face powder spillage. The gooey mixture as a result from the syrup and powder taste of a squishy piece of mochi with hints of molasses which is why I thought the bottled syrup was brown sugar.
Brown Sugar Syrup
According the my co-workers, eating mochi or maybe these mochi snacks were the leading cause of death in Japan among elder citizens during New Years Eve and New Years as it is eaten as a symbol of prosperity or some other value that the Japanese strive for. I can agree that the texture can be a choking hazard, but this notice mochi snack eaten couldn’t be taken down.
It’s in the Wrist
In Japan, mochi is traditionally eaten as a snack that is filled with bean paste and not ice cream (darn). I’ve always loved the mochi in the freezer section of the Asian grocery store. If you are by an Asian grocery store, please buy yourself a box and share.