Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

In one sentence: the food and wine in Portugal are pretty good and cheap, both in stores and restaurants, and portions in the latter are generous.

The discoveries were presunto – a salt cured ham that is quite different from spanish jamon serrano and served cut into quite thick slices), broa – a cornmeal bread made with a combination of corn and wheat flours and is great with some quiejo da serra, a runny mountain cheese. I brought a small wheel of this cheese home – we bought it while driving through Serra da Estrella mountains where it is made.

Restaurants we visited and can recommend: A Cozinha in Coimbra for great consistent portuguese fare – we ate there several times, Pedro dos Leitoes in Mealhada for roasted suckling pig, and Pao de Trigo in Azoia for grilled sardines and other seafood: unexpectedly they also serve pimientos de padron – apparently these peppers belong in both spanish and portuguese cuisines.

Suckling Pig

Other pictures we made are of course flickered: Dining in Portugal.


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I wanted to try this place for a long time, especially after getting the cookbook authored by the chef Ana Sortun – Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are plenty of Oleana’s reviews on Chowhound – mostly positive but some negative, although everybody seem to agree on that appetizers are better than entrees, and desserts are superb.

I don’t usually take pictures especially when we’re dining with friends but there are some nice photos here.

The menu reads nice indeed so we wanted to try everything. Which we basically did – ordered all dishes from Pret-a-Manger and two appetizers – Fried Mussels & Hot Peppers with Turkish Tarator Sauce and Sultan’s Delight; Tamarind Glazed Beef & Smokey Eggplant Purée with Pinenuts to share among four of us. Everything was really tasty and interesting except for maybe deviled eggs that were a bit pedestrian.

I ordered Spicy Fideos & Chick Peas with Green Chard & Orange Aioli as an entree while other folks in the party had Scallops, Brussels Sprouts & Carrot Kibbeh stuffed with Golden Raisins & Pinenuts, Lamb Steak with Turkish Spices & Fava Bean Moussaka  and Crispy Duck with Yemenite Curry Spice, Turnip Puree, Zhoug & Fried Chick Peas  respectively.  Fideos had too much chickpeas that intervened with the silkiness of noodles – i wish i didn’t order this as though tasty it’s not a suitable dish for entree – one gets bored after several bites.   I had a chance to try carrot kibbeh that was nice as well as zhoug – very interesting. Overall all my dining companions were quite pleased with their entrees.

And of course we couldn’t miss the dessert: Baked Alaska; Coconut Ice Cream & Passion Fruit Caramel and Nougat Glace with Pistachio Kadayif & Blood Orange Granite. Baked Alaska is huge and meant to be shared. Nougat glace was outstanding exquisitely perfumed with rose water. I would come back if for this dessert only!

Idiosyncratic wine list reasonably priced, and i’m glad we also had a chance to try Oleana 3-C Ale, a spicy belgium style ale brewed with cumin, coriander and cardamom, hence the name. A good saison like beer – spritzy and very dry.   

Now i need to get back to the book and recreate some of the dishes we liked.

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I was perusing the OpenTable site trying to find a restaurant close to our hotel, and the name Saha attracted attention – we love middle eastern food, Saha is a title of a cookbook by my favorite Greg Malouf, an australian master of arabic fusion, and incidentally that’s the style of Saha’s chef Mohamed Aboghanem. The result of quick googling and a search at CH was reassuring and we decided to give Saha a try.


And i’m so glad we did. Not a single miss on the Saha platter of assorted dips; hummus was particularly good with some interesting smoky hint so we ordered a second helping. Fattoush salad was nice and elegant in presentation. Merguez sausages were the best in recent memory and beef kofta very tasty with an excellent sauce called zahaweg. Oh and of course not to forget a baby okra.

Note to myself – need to learn more about the yemeni cuisine…

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I always wanted to visit Oliveto, and we were very lucky to be in San Francisco at the time of the annual Whole Hog event.


The menu reads like a dream, and you want to order literally everything.  So after a long consideration we got platters of dry-cured salami, potted pork, assorted sausages (coppa di testa was out of the world), and warm antipasto of pork tongue, artichokes and black truffles (excellent) for appetizers. I had spit roasted pork belly with chestnut honey castelvetrano olives and almonds for main – great dish and reminded me how interesting and distinctive is chestnut honey, it actually used be my secret ingredient. And these olives are worth seeking out. For dessert we had a bacon fat ice cream and seville orange pie with lard crust – both very good.

I saved the menu and plan to make some dishes at home (maybe even some salumi).

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Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham is one of our favorite local places and we ate the numerous times although usually not straying far away from our typical menu: Hot & Sour Wonton Soup (for 2)  (it took us quite some time to explain to waiters that we really mean it – two for two) and Sichuan Style String Beans. My other favorite is Chinese Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce. Other dishes we tried there and found quite decent are Fried Tofu & Napa Cabbage w. Spicy Chili Sauce and Jumbo Shrimp w. Sichuan Pepper Spiced Salt (although i wish shrimps were of better quality)…

In the other hand Sichuan Garden in Brookline is getting quite of lot of favorable reviews on Chowhound so we went there for a dinner.


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Yesterday we had a chance to attend a Whole Pig dinner at East Coast Grill.


Preceding the main dish, a bunch of very nice appetizers were served: beef empanadas were especially good.

The pork was served buffet style with flour tortillas, rice and beans, palm heart salad, and couple of sauces: one of them was like a sneak preview of East Coast Grill Hell Nights. Delightful Chris Schlesinger was around to chat with the guests, and to serve us chicharrones – without those no cuban pig feast would be complete.

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We went to Stowe mostly for skiing but the weather didn’t cooperate and it was raining half of our time there.


It doesn’t mean we didn’t find how to enjoy ourselves: we visited Burlington, ate at several nice places, drank good beer and even ice skated.


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