Eater 38 Challenge: #9 Cafe Sushi

Valentine’s Day was a perfect day to make some progress on our Eater 38 challenge.  February 14th is notoriously a bad day for trying out a new restaurant. Expert opinions warn diners to stay home, but we didn’t listen and went out anyway! We dined at Cafe Sushi for a Valentine’s Day lunch, which was perfect timing because it was right before yet another blizzard in New England. To make things even more of a flurry, Ryan accidentally thought he had made the reservations for 1:30PM, but he actually made them for noon. Coincidentally, there happened to be a guy named “Ryan Butter” with a reservation at 2PM. The hostess thought that he was Ryan Butter and seated us right as we got there. Luckily, service died down by 2PM and Ryan Butter also got a table without any problems.

Cafe Sushi is a very casual place. Although sushi is always a treat to eat, probably not the best place to score some points on romance if you are trying to impress your boo. Read: No intimate, warm fuzzy, candle light decor here. Service as predicted was on the slow side. The server (as predicted) seemed unhappy. Such is life when one is working on a holiday meant to be spent with loved ones, but instead you are serving others. I am a resident, so I empathize with this dilemma. I am going to give the server the benefit of the doubt and bet that he would smile more and be more pleasant on another day.

We ordered the Chef’s Sushi Lunch, the Sashimi lunch, and the Sake 101 flight. The sake flight was probably the best part of the meal. It was fun to do a tasting of something that we are not very familiar with. Sake has such complexity! This was a great introduction to sake for us, and I have a feeling that sake may become one of our next obsessions/vices.

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Sake flight: Dewatsuru Kimoto, Minato, and Fukucho (from top to bottom, although they all look the same!)

Our meals came with a side of salad and miso soup, which were both well executed. The salad was so beautifully presented and perfectly seasoned. The soup was wonderfully balanced and was a soothing retreat from the New England cold.

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Side Salad

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Sashimi Lunch (left) and Chef’s Sushi Lunch (right)

The main courses though left something to be desired. They were both beautifully presented. The issue was I didn’t really know what I was eating because there was no description on the menu. I know what was tuna and salmon, and I think one was swordfish, but I’m not sure what the other proteins were! The rice was under-seasoned for my taste. I thought the chef’s sushi lunch was going to be a creative selection, but the fare was pretty standard and not too exciting. While it was affordable sushi, I am not sure if it was the best sushi in Boston as many claim it to be. I don’t have much experience with sushi in Boston, so I guess I’ll have to eat more and get back to you on that!

Another gripe of mine was that the restroom was in the back hallway of the restaurant, and I might as well have gone outside in the blizzard to do my business because that’s how cold the restroom was!

Decor: 2/5

Service: 2/5

Food: 3/5

Total rating: 2.33/5

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! What did you do with your friends and/or partners?

-Lisa

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Weekend Cocktail: The Greyhound

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Make & filter your fresh grapefruit juice

 

It’s snowing in greater Boston today and we’re stuck at home in our fair city of Cambridge again this weekend. With the MBTA shut down, what better way to celebrate than with a citrus cocktail?!

The past month or two it seems to me that oranges and grapefruits have been on sale on a weekly basis. Today’s cocktail, the Greyhound, is a simple cocktail variation on the classic screwdriver that will take advantage of those grapefruit sales. All it requires is ice, vodka, and grapefruit juice. This recipe comes from Mittie Hellmich’s “Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails.”

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 5-6 ounces of fresh grapefruit juice
  • Pour into an ice-filled highball glass and stir
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Enjoy your Greyhound.

 

Enjoy!

-Ryan

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DIY: Limoncello, Part 1

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Limoncello is an italian lemon liqueur that is traditionally served after a meal in Italy, as a digestif (or digestivo, in Italian). The genesis of my interests in mixology along with Lisa’s recent borrowing of Eugenia Bone’s cookbook “The Kitchen Ecosystem” collided in late December when flipping through Bone’s book I discovered her limoncello recipe. As I was still in the Christmas giving mindset I thought what a wonderful gift idea! It’s a DIY gift, so the giftee will know it came from the heart, took both time and forethought, and it will last for months—so it’s a perfect gift!

I decided to try it and see if it comes out any good! Here’s the recipe (I’ll add a Part 2, final product post in late February):

Makes 1.5 Pints of Limoncello (or roughly a full 750 mL bottle)

  • 4 lemons (thoroughly scrubbed)
  • 1 pint of vodka (preferably 100 proof, pictured is 80 proof Stoli)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of sugar

The steps:

1. Remove the zest of your scrubbed lemons with a vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the pith (per Bone’s recipe, you need about 1/3 cup)

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2. Combine the lemon zest and vodka in a pint jar, or any large jar (preferably a Ball-type jar). Screw on the lid and give it a healthy vigorous shake. Set aside for 1 month. Shake periodically (I found this part a great stress reliever).

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3. After a month, transfer the lemon vodka mixture to a quart jar (I started with a half-gallon Ball jar, so I skipped this part)

4.In a small sauce pan, heat the water and add the sugar. Once the sugar is completely dissolved remove it from the heat and let cool. Add the simple syrup to the lemon vodka mixture. Give the mixture a few good shakes and put the limoncello away for another month.

Almost there! Stay tuned for “DIY: Limoncello, Part 2: Bottling” to see the final product.

-Ryan

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Eater 38 Boston Challenge #8: Trina’s Starlite Lounge

I love reading the blog Eater. When I saw their recent recommendations on “The 38 Essential Restaurants” of 2015, I knew  a challenge was in the making. So many of these fantastic restaurants are right in our neighborhood, and while Ryan and I make it a point to cook at home as much as possible, I love indulging ourselves once in a while. It is a great way to explore a city and get to know some new neighborhoods. The challenge is to try all 38 restaurants by the end of the year. I already tried seven of them in 2014 (Oleana, Jm Curley, Hungry Mother, Craigie on Main, Bronwyn, Casa B, and Gene’s Flatbread), so I have a head start. Follow us as we eat our way through Boston!

Last weekend, Ryan and I scratched off number seven on our list by going to Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Inman Square. We dined here the night of the NFC/AFC championship games, the one in which the Patriots played the Colts. You can imagine that here in Cambridge (a city full of die-hard Patriots fans), this was a very important and big day. Thus, our experience may not be truly indicative of what average service is like here. This is a no reservations type of place. Despite the crowds, we were actually seated right away. The decor here is retro and so much fun. All the television screens were playing the game and the fridge near the bar was appropriately decorated with letter magnets that read, “Keep Calm and Go Pats!”

shaddock

We started off with a cocktail called the Shaddock (above). Trina’s is known for its cocktails so pass on the beer when you come here. The Shaddock is a classic cocktail made of Genever, St. Elder, Aperol, and lemon. This cocktail was perfectly executed and delicious. Now  we cannot stop eyeing the bottles of Genever whenever we go to our local liquor store. Soon we will give in and purchase a bottle so that we can make our own version at home, I know it!

Starlite hot dog Starlite chicken and waffles

Then we got the Starlite hot dog and the fried chicken and buttermilk waffles. The Starlite dog was topped with french fries, coleslaw, and a mayonnaise based sauce (that I think had sriracha in it?). It was overall a bit too decadent for me. But maybe this is the kind of hot dog you want to watch a game and have a beer with? For five bucks, it was worth trying- but next time I’d order something else on the menu.

The chicken and waffles are one of Trina’s signature dishes. I can see why! These waffles were crisp on the outside,and the chicken moist on the inside. I would have liked more of that hot pepper sauce because it was so tasty. None of these plates came with any accompaniments. If you want a more balanced meal, order some sides. The very reasonable prices would allow you to do that and the portions are fairly large.

Decor: 4/5

Service: 5/5

Food: 4/5

Total Rating: 4.3/5 stars

I definitely see myself coming back here for a casual drink and snacks! I would love to try their “industry brunch” on Mondays some day.

Happy Dining!

-Lisa

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Your Weekly Cocktail: the Whiskey Buck

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Lets be frank, there are some weeks where Friday just can’t come soon enough… For those weeks we hope you’ll join us in our weekly cocktail series.

As the weeks roll, I will taste a new cocktail each week and document it. As mentioned elsewhere, I’d like to learn the techniques of bartending. My goal is to make this more interesting and informative than a straight cocktail recipe book—if you’re looking for that, I suggest you look no further than Mittie Hellmich’s book The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to over 1,000 Cocktails. Eventually, my aim to make these cocktails as “from scratch” as possible and share the techniques and trivia learned in the process. In a few months I’d like to make my own cordials, infusions, tinctures, bitters, and syrups. Until then we’re starting with the homemade ginger beer we made recently.

A Buck—aka a mule—is a flexible drink, can be made with any spirit: rum, vodka, gin, whiskey, brandy, and garnished with lime or lemon. Buck’s are great for parties because they conserve your liquor cabinet and keep your guests’ quenched.

Here is what you’ll need to make the 12 Bottle Bar version of the Whiskey Buck:

  • A chilled collins glass (didn’t have so I used a Ball jar—so hipster I know)
  • Crushed ice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1.5-2 oz of rye whiskey (12BB recommends Old Overholt Rye Whiskey as their “budget” rye ~$16.50-$18.00)
  • A jigger to measure
  • lewis bag (or a cheaper equivalent)
  • A mallet (a crab hammer works. Or if you’d like overkill—Tim the toolman Taylor style—a deadblow hammer)
  • 4-6 oz of ginger beer (home-made, Reed’s, or any of these recommended by dappered)
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Stuff ice cubes into lewis bag and pretend you’re playing whack-a-mole.

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Crushed ice.

Add ice to glass (preferably a collins) add two measures of rye whiskey,

Add ice to glass (preferably a collins) add 1.5 to 2 measures of rye whiskey, the strained juice of 1/2 a lemon, top with 4-6 ounces of ginger beer, garnish with a lemon slice (optional), stir.

Drink responsibly.

Drink responsibly.

Try it and let us know what you think! Have a happy weekend!

-Ryan

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Wacky Wednesday: What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

It’s Wednesday! Here’s another funny video from Dr. Hamblin to get you through part 2 of the week. Stay tuned for our first installment of a weekly weekend cocktail post this Friday.

Here are some links to other funny articles around the interwebs on the same topic.

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/10-things-never-to-say-to-a-pregnant-woman/view-all/

http://www.omaha.com/momaha/things-you-should-never-say-to-a-pregnant-woman/article_f32f82b8-11d7-11e4-894a-001a4bcf6878.html

-Ryan

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Follow the Process: Rise & Shine

Under the comb
The tangle and the straight path
Are the same.
-Heraclitus

Rise and Shine! For those of you struggling on your New Year’s Resolutions, keep it up! Bit by bit life’s a cinch! Trust the process. Many of us have today off, so it’s a perfect day to regroup, refocus, and get back on track. I know I’ve got some mileage to make up too!

Make this your AM alarm and you’re sure to get out of bed and get moving!

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Honey-Green Tea Kombucha Part 2: Bottling

Our first batch of kombucha has been fermenting for 7 days now. It is time for bottling! Kombucha may take longer to ferment depending on the ambient temperature. I tasted our batch after 7 days and felt it was the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. However, if the temperature is cooler in your house, it may need up to 10 days of fermentation. After 7 days, taste it every day by pouring it into a glass until it is to your liking.

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Green Tea Kombucha all ready to be honeyed and bottled!

1. With clean hands, lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set on a clean plate. Measure 2 cups of starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for your next.

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Scooby along with a baby scooby (left) and 2 cups reserved starter tea (right)

2. Divide 3/4 cup of honey equally among the containers you are using to bottle the kombucha. One batch makes six-16 ounce bottles, so I put 2 tablespoons of honey in each bottle. Pour fermented tea over top. Leave at least 1-inch of headspace. Cap the bottles and shake each bottle to dissolve the honey.

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3. Store the kombucha at room temperature out of direct sunlight until carbonated, typically 1-3 days. Refrigerate to stop carbonation. Consume within one month.

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Bottled kombucha with the next batch already fermenting!

Brewing kombucha at home was so much fun. It can seem intimidating, but was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Now that my scoby is ready, I can make 6 bottles of kombucha a week. I can’t wait to try new flavors by adding fresh fruit, fruit juices, and spices! Kombucha is a great alternative to drinking water. It is healthier than drinking soda and is full of probiotics. I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Happy Brewing!

-Lisa

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Monday Afternoon Humor: Sad Desk Lunch

Another work week is upon us. Here’s a funny health video from our favorite radiologist turned Atlantic Magazine columnist to help you get through another Monday with a smile on your face.

Enjoy!

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Honey-Green Tea Kombucha

It has been 2 weeks and Scooby the Scoby is now ready to make kombucha. Yes, Scooby is a slimy, jelly-like glob. Let’s admit that he looks kind-of disgusting, but this mass of bacteria and yeast is what turns sugared tea into fermented tea, also known as kombucha. For my first batch, I am going to make a Honey-Green Tea Kombucha recipe from True Brews by Emma Christensen. This involves a basic recipe for kombucha with the use of green tea. Honey has antibacterial properties which can actually weaken the scoby, so the honey is added after the fermentation process during bottling.

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Scooby the Scoby (Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)


Honey-Green Tea Kombucha: Part 1

From True Brews, By Emma Christensen

14 cups water

1 cup white granulated sugar

8 bags green tea or 2 tablespoons loose green tea

2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha

1 scoby

1. Bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled.

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2. Remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and gently place the scoby on top. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

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3. Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it will be undisturbed. Ferment for 7 to 10 days. Check the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

4. After 7 days, begin tasting the kombucha. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle!

Check back in 7-10 days to see the addition of honey and the bottling process!

-Lisa

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