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.

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., 617-410-6288

a new cookbook + cowboy cookies

after a trip to brookline booksmith on wednesday afternoon and finally deciding to purchase the tartine bread cookbook, i was inspired to bake something. when i say inspired to bake something, i don’t mean that i was quite ready to bake bread. this cookbook purchase was well thought out, and after some careful reading and time to shop for the correct ingredients, i’ll be ready to give it a try.

instead, i decided on making some cowboy cookies. my mom makes something very similar, called ranger cookies, that were what i was thinking of when i started looking for recipes. the difference between the ranger and cowboy cookies are that the chocolate chips in the cowboy cookies are replaced by rice krispies in my mom’s version. whichever you choose, both are delicious!