Back to School/Work/City Routines
It is the season of seeking comfort; routines fall into place, cozy fall fashion comes out of the closet, and city life begins anew. Fall routines are best studded with wonderful little treats whether it is visiting a place that makes you feel good or ingesting something that does. The taste of summer is beginning to fade, but there are plenty of new flavours to seek out this fall. Here are some of my Boston area cravings in case you need help finding your own.
Weekends are for Goat (butter) Pretzel Croissants
The goat butter pretzel croissant at True Grounds are only available on weekends at True Grounds in Somerville and you should probably put it in your calendar and set an alarm so you don’t miss out. I thought I was a croissant purist until I had this one. True Grounds’ goat butter pretzel croissant is salty like every good pretzel should be, earthy from the goat butter and somehow has both the chew of a soft pretzel and the laminated flakiness of a croissant. It is completely addictive, rich and delicious. It is the one thing you can dream of all week to distract from the doldrums of whatever you might be stuck doing since you can’t get it again until the following weekend.
Cheese But Make it Blue and A Dip
One of my favourite snacks will always be crudités. Add cheese, fruit, and charcuterie to a plate of crudités and it turns snack time into a meal. The star for all our after school snacks, appetizer platters, or un-meal meals has been Formaggio Kitchen‘s blue cheese dressing. We have craved their blue cheese dip ever since we first tried it on a whim after buying an orphaned crudités platter one day. The blue cheese dip has become such a staple in our house that if Formaggio Kitchen is out of stock, I start stalking their refrigerator section on a regular basis until it appears again.
Eggs Be Deviled or Hand-held
Eggs are extremely personal and divisive. If you don’t like them a certain way, it is not something you can just let slide. For example, I must avoid any kind of steamed frittata-style, egg bite thing that has become so popular because I despise the texture and flavour of eggs cooked that way. Luckily, there are many fabulous egg options in the area and here are the ones I crave the most. Hi Rise has a perfect, little four bite sandwich called the Little Brekkie, which is hard boiled egg, baby arugula, goat cheese and mayo on a challah slider roll. Hi Rise also introduced the Brekkie Supreme recently that has the addition of bacon, tomato and tarragon mayo. Egg salad sandwich is something my mother craves. It is something my grandmother ate, but it was never my thing until I discovered Konbi’s egg salad sandwich recipe. I won’t eat any old egg salad sandwich, I love making and eating Konbi’s egg salad sandwich, but if peeling hardboiled eggs is not on my agenda (and it rarely is) I will head to Little L Bakery for their perfect egg salad sandwich on Japanese milk bread. For something bolder, I will head to Black Sheep Bagel Café for their deviled egg salad toast. I usually get it on an everything bagel and it is deviled eggs (chopped up) topped with bacon, paprika and scallion slices.
Don’t Yuca My Yum or I will Dan Dan Dance on Your Grave
The yuca fries and dipping sauce served with all the lunch sandwiches at La Royal are one of my latest obsessions. This is another case of me usually liking only classic white potato fries, but I make an exception for La Royal’s yuca fries, which are thick cut and have a nice thin crisp outer layer. They are served with a rococo mayo which is definitely part of the craving. I had mine with the pan con pescado which made for a very tasty lunch.
Maybe dancing on your grave is a little dramatic, but so are the Dan Dan noodles at WuSong Road that are a major lunch time craving of mine. The Dan Dan noodles are topped with ground pork, refreshing ribbons of cucumber and the saucy noodle are full of flavour with just a hint of numbing Szechuan pepper. It is one of the most crave-able noodle dishes in Cambridge, I would also add any dish you please from Yume Ga Arukara to that list. For me it is their spicy cold niku udon that I crave. I won’t go off on a tangent here now, but there are plenty of ramen noodles to crave in Boston but that would be a whole other article.
Not everyone appreciates liver and that’s okay. I have always loved liver in any way it has been prepared for for me by my family (usually fried with onions or as chopped liver), but the most exquisite crave-able liver I have had was not my grandmother’s or my bubbe’s but a very chic little restaurant in Boston’s Back Bay that serves the most put me on a pedestal and admire me (in both looks and flavour) sushi spot: Uni. Uni’s foie gras mousse with yuzu gastrique and bee pollen is served with the most tender, and slightly sweet choereg bread that is incredibly crave-able. Choereg is an Armenian version of challah that is dreamy in a slightly obsessive way. For less of a splurge, I crave S&S Deli‘s challah rolls and chopped liver. I buy the whole packet of rolls and bring the liver home by the 1/2 pint. I like their chopped liver best with a little extra salt and pepper on top or a drizzle of chili crisps. The challah rolls always disappear because the rest of the family will snack on them plain or use them for sandwiches.
My morning drink, when I leave the house is always cappuccino. I don’t have the patience, equipment or desire to make myself one at home. The cappuccinos I crave lately are from Diesel and Faro. There are plenty of places in Boston for good coffee, so you can factor in where you live, what kind of energy or music you like, whether you walk, bike or drive there, and all kinds of things to find the spot to satisfy your coffee cravings. When the weather gets cooler, sitting in Hi Rise, while the bread ovens are filling the air with the warm hug of thick air filled with the scent of yeast and baking flour is a totally crave-able experience. If I want some distraction with my coffee, I’ll head to Forge and sit in the window seat overlooking the kitchen where I can lose myself in the meditative repetitions of croissants being cut and rolled. When I’m looking to grab and go, or want to sit outside and sip my coffee, I’ll walk over to La Saison and treat myself to the gift of indecision over a varied assortment of pastries to have with my coffee from cardamom éclairs to my go to za’atar feta scone. I’d say, when I want a break from tea, I head to Rite, but their coffee is also pretty darn perfect. I’m giving Rite their own section because I crave more than the drinks there. Other tea cravings in town include: Persian tea (with a choice of cardamom, rose or saffron sugar cubes) at La Saison, pretty flowering teas to enjoy with pretty geometric little cakes at Jonquils Café, the iced chai at Faro, and a choice of Mem teas when I’m having breakfast at Deluxe Town Diner.
Moving on to cocktail hour, Boston has many places for a great cocktails and I didn’t realize how spoiled we are with our cocktail scene until I traveled. I’m not saying other cities don’t have great cocktails, but the median cocktail here is in a sweet spot of well balanced and well made. I’m not going to list all my favourite places to get a drink, that is again. a whole post in itself, but the two cocktails I have been craving lately, are in Cambridge and Somerville (apologies for those who can’t cross the river).
If you want to stay on the other side of the river head to Birds of Paradise at the Charles River Speedway to try some tasty and interesting drinks. I have always been attracted to a little bit of a “bad boy” vibe so I guess it was meant to be when I picked the Bad Larry (just let it not be the one on The American Dad) at Pammy’s based on the ingredients not the name. I’m a little vane but not stupid. Bad Larry is a cocktail on draft that contains a tiny cluster of pickled grapes. Bad Larry is made with Thalia Rosé Vermouth, verjus, Pineau des Charantes and yellow Chartreuse. Apparently, I’m in my vermouth season because I also crave the Just Vermouth No.1 as my go to drink at Spoke Wine Bar, which shifts with the seasons but always contains vermouth and secrets.
The Rite Stuff
Rite is a new tea, coffee and a little something more spot at The Charles River Speedway. I have learned recently that you don’t have to get wine at a wine bar and you don’t have to get tea at a tea spot. A really good place will do everything well, and only offer something they stand behind and find worthy of offering. So on that note, if you feel like coffee, order one at Rite. If you feel like tea, get that, and if you don’ t know what you want the staff are very skilled at helping you figure out what’s for you in that moment based on caffeine needs, likes, and whatever other factors you want to throw into the formula. I crave all things hojicha. I love the toasty flavour of hojicha. I first discovered it at Gen Su En Teahouse when I wanted something other than a matcha tea and fell head over heals for it. I’m not sure you will find a more expertly made tea from matcha and hojicha to teas I can’t remember the name of but were delicious iced and hot. While you sip on your tea, you might get a little peckish and this is where the little something else comes into play. So far, everything I have.
tasted has had that crave-worthy quality. The one dish that is bordering on obsession after the first taste, is the savoury yoghurt. It is delectable smooth and creamy Greek yoghurt topped with beets, micro greens, and a few other layers of flavour and textures. I could probably eat this every week for the rest of the year and still crave it as much as the first time. If yoghurt and beets are not your thing (try it anyway and then decide), then check out the bread and butter offering or go on a sweet, salty, spicy journey back to the perfect childhood you never had in Technicolor with the maple butter toast.
The thing about relationships and family is that you make a lot of compromises, flex a little, and when you’re lucky find some common ground here and there. When it comes to dinner plans, we have one vegetarian, one dairy free diner, and two omnivores with strong opinions.
Luckily, we have a few common family cravings, and if our schedules coordinate we will seek them out for a fun and tasty time together, where no one is cooking and no one is doing dishes.
Our family cravings include: the tzatziki from Greek Corner, the mixed green salad with shallot mustard vinaigrette and pizza from Si Cara, the Caesar salad, pizza and ice cream (especially chocolate or raspberry chip) from Picco, Dim Sum at Joyful Garden (carts) or Great Taste (no carts), tofu soup from Kaju Tofu, hot pot from Little Q hot pot, and sushi from Café Sushi, Sugidama, Fish Market or Daikanyama.
Sub, Hoagie, or Grinder Make it Italian
Ever since living in NY, I will crave an Italian sub at least a half dozen times a year. It has to be really good, overstuffed, and topped with hots. My cravings can be satisfied at New Deal Fruit in Revere or at Domenic’s in Waltham. I have a few other spots on my to go list that I have heard make a good Italian subs. I will report back and add them to the list when I do.
Wholehearted Entirely Craved
It seems absurd to crave an entire place or person’s cooking but in these cases it is not. I don’t necessarily crave the entire menu at any of these places, but enough of the menu for it to be impossible to single out a particular dish or part of the menu. I am constantly craving so many things on Spoke Wine Bar‘s menu. Chefs Paul Butler and Kelcey Rusch seem to know what they’re doing when it comes to making crave-able food that is not on anyone else’s menu or likely not on anyone elses’s mind either. Once you eat the food at Spoke it will become a flavour memory that won’t go away until the craving is satisfied again. The menu changes often, which would be tragic, because your latest craving may not be on the menu the next time, but the saving grace is that an equally delicious and desirable dish always replaces it. You’ll find most of my latest cravings from Spoke and other spots on Instagram. Save room for dessert because the everything but the ice creams in particular are a treat!
Even though, I trend savoury over sweet, I do appreciate a well made pastry or dessert. I crave just about anything sweet or savoury that Brian Mercury comes up with. Brian Mercury is the executive pastry chef at Puritan & Co., Café Beatrice, The Lexington and Geppetto. You can grab some treats and go from Café Beatrice or enjoy a full meal at any of the other spots just make sure you leave room for dessert.
A Few More Cravings To Top Things Off
This is altogether too long of a post, but hopefully you had time to browse and find some new things to try and crave. Here are a few more things with no details just trust they are delicious and that’s why they’re here.
- squid at Moeca
- canelé at Praliné
- vegan chocolate cake (in the shape of a giant muffin) from Flour
- crullers from Lil’s in Kittery (worth the road trip)
- cardamom bread from Quebrada
- baguette from Clear Flour
- veggie cream cheese at Bagelsaurus (we always have to buy 2)
This is not a comprehensive list. I know I’ve left off some of my favourites and there are many places I have yet to try. I’m always open to trying new things, share your cravings with me here in the comments or on Instagram or Facebook.