chocolate chip meringues

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One of my favorite parts of having lived in several different cities is the opportunity it has given me to explore each place through food. It’s unofficially become my technique for tackling a new home: make a list of coffee shops, book stores, and restaurants by neighborhood, and slowly wind my way through. I not only learn public transportation routes in the process, but usually get to meet some really great people along the way, too.

Even though I’m not actively thinking about these places in other cities (most of the time), when my friends or family members are planning a trip to Boston, driving through Chicago, or flying out to visit Jon and I in San Francisco, I have the opportunity to share some of my ideas. These may not be the top restaurants in your mind, but at them I found the cups of coffee and slices of peanut butter toast that helped each city feel like home.

I typed out a list for Boston earlier today (my sister is going there next month), and while I was working my way through the South End and Cambridge, Flour Bakery came to mind.  There’s a lot on the menu to love – the roasted chicken sandwich “as salad” for one – but my favorite is their meringue. There’s two varieties – almond, and chocolate – crunchy on the exterior and chewy inside, flecked with bits of toasted sliced almonds and shaved dark chocolate respectively. After I adding the Massachusetts Ave. location to my sisters’ list, I decided to make some chocolate chip meringues at home.

Since I don’t yet own the Flour cookbook, I decided to use a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which you can find here.  If you’d like to know some of my other favorite places, just ask and I would be more than happy to share!  Until next time, Boston.

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Diptych

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new york + settling in

I have a new appreciation for hot plates and toaster ovens.

this weekend I moved from an apartment in inman square to a studio in the south end. trees line my new street, I’m a ten minute walk to my favorite espresso royale caffe and flour bakery, and am getting acquainted to the mini-fridge, microwave, and bed doubling-as-a-couch lifestyle.  although i may feel differently come december, it turns out my concerns about not having an oven were at least somewhat unwarranted. tonight for dinner I made quinoa with a few drops of olive oil, arugula, salt and pepper, and topped it with two eggs, chopped avocado, and grape tomatoes. all on a single-burner hot plate (the quinoa was made first). living here and cooking this way will force me to be creative with food, again. i’ll have to forgo some of the staples i’d ordinarily rely on this time of year like roasted squash, and baked oatmeal isn’t anywhere in the foreseeable future–but that’s alright. I’m just thankful to be here.

earlier in the week I went to visit my cousin, christina, in new york. turns out that megabus is amazing. I never took the bus to new york last spring, for some reason, but it was really easy and well worth the $26 round-trip ticket. I spent part of wednesday afternoon wandering around the east village and at ost cafe on the corner of 12th and avenue a, waiting for christina to finish work. this was my view from the cafe window. hopefully during the course of the fall I’ll have time to make a few more trips to the city. until then, i’ll be posting more of my toasted, re-heated and single-pot meals.

beginning again.

the fall semester is underway, and it’s my last as a full-time student in the gastronomy program at boston university. hard to believe.

as I’m getting settled back in boston, my legs are adjusting from the miles-long bike commutes to the mission to long walks across the BU bridge, through cambridge, to campus. this fall brings a lot of good with it: multiple San Francisco visitors, my cousin’s wedding next weekend in kalamazoo, and a pending trip down to new york. it feels good to move to an already-familiar place.

all throughout my work with la cocina over the summer, I had been contemplating ideas for my thesis. I was interested in aspects of the incubator model, and its ability to be transferred to other neighborhoods around the country; in other market-entry incubators, including markets like Off the Grid and The Underground Market; and the potential of incubators like La Cocina to continue to foster the growth of small food-business start-ups in San Francisco. What impressed me over and over again with this non-profit in particular was the depth of commitment to their clients: each email sent to a volunteer, each jog up the stairs to the storage cages in preparation for a cooking class, and each organizational meeting for the street food festival–was done with the goal of showcasing these culinary entrepreneurs. whatever form my thesis ends up taking, I hope it will at least be a small reflection of the passion that runs La Cocina. the work they’re doing is changing lives in the Mission District, mine included.

sowa market + bon me

tomorrow is the opening day for boston’s sowa market at 460 harrison avenue. the following food trucks and vendors will be there, along with a farmers’ market + a variety of artisans from new england.

swing by for banh mi from 10am-4pm  and check out sowa’s site where a few of my photographs are featured!

The Cupcakory
Clover Food Truck
Bon Me Truck
Eat
Grillo’s Pickles
Grilled Cheese Nation
Staff Meal
Silk Road BBQ
M&M Ribs
Roxy’s Grilled Cheese
Boston Speed Dog
C-Cup Cupcakes
Fillbelly’s
Boston Frosty
South End Pita
Lincoln Street Coffee

Bon Me in the Making

This past weekend I had the privilege to spend some time with Asta Schuette, Alison Fong and Patrick Lynch, owners of Bon Me and one of three finalists from Boston’s Food Truck Challenge last October. Below is a brief write-up I did on their business: look for them next Monday serving up “inspired Vietnamse cuisine”  near the Government Center stop on the green line.

The truck parked in the driveway of eleven Osborne Road is easily concealing half of the garage behind it. On a cloudless day, the trucks’ mustard and marigold brilliance is exaggerated, cooled slightly by the powder blue lettering and gray accents dotted along the vehicle. A meager line is forming; some pull out their cameras and lean back to attempt to capture the entirety of the situation, falling slightly into the neighbors’ flower beds still awaiting spring. After seven months of anticipation, Asta Schuette steps up to the large glass window on the right side of the truck, stoops down with her small notepad and addresses the accumulating line of people: “Thanks so much for coming! What can we get for you?”

On April 4th, Asta, along with her partners Ali Fong and Patrick Lynch, will officially open their food truck for business in City Hall Plaza, across the street from Boston’s famed Faneuil Hall. Today is a unique celebration for Bon Me held at Patrick’s mothers’ house; and the eager trio of entrepreneurs are serving family and friends Bon Me’s first batch of, well, bahn mi. Other than the price tag, offerings today mimic the soon-to-be menu: a choice of the the bon me sandwich ($5), rice bowl ($6), or salad ($6); filled with grilled pork, satay chicken, or bbq tofu, topped with tangy carrot and daikon pickles, cilantro, cucumber and their secret Bon Me sauce.

“I love the rice bowls with either chicken or pork. (It) provides great satiety in these cold spring months… come summer I will be more in favor of chomping on a noodle salad, lighter in flavor and feel.” Asta’s thoughts turn from her stomach to the line, which has begun to snake around the front of the truck in the driveway. She gingerly leans on the frame of the refurbished DHL truck, waves hello to her friend Sarah, then resumes her dance back and forth between the window and prep line, announcing to Ali “three chicken, one rice bowl and two sandwiches.”

Although Asta has become accustomed to her jack of all trades role, serving won’t be her primary responsibility in the future. Learning to manage truck operations, staffing, beverages, and sourcing, like the “pork liver from Jen and Pete’s Backyard birds in Concord… and seasonal and local vegetables from the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Lowell” has challenged, but not overwhelmed her: “It is really exciting to be on the cutting edge of something new in Boston. Gourmet food trucks are about to explode here.”
Bon Me will operate at City Hall Plaza, Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. www.bonmetruck.com, 617-410-6288