Broadway Cafe, Maria's, Brazilian Festival, Violette....
With a lot of travel and long work hours, I have gotten behind in both scoping out new chow and reporting. However, I have hit a few rarely-mentioned places recently and hope a quick run-down interests someone. :-)
Pastelaria Broadway -- This is one of my favorite places in the area for a X-Tudo and grabbed one late at night recently. Medium-well fried egg, potato sticks, corn for some sweetness, ham and bacon, american cheese, don't recall any peas. If you want to be Brazilian grab a container each of ketchup and mayo, then put some on each bite (or a whole take-out packet on each bite). In any case the sandwich, with some mayo and maybe ketchup, is worth trying sometime in your chowing lifetime.
Broadway Cafe and Bakery -- Have mentioned this Brazilian Cafe in Everett a few times. Its right near Dunkins and City Hall. It is not as English-friendly as Bread and Co, but I have been going here more due to some less than stellar experiences at B&C. One thing I like on the back of the menu is their plate of the day (I think in Portuguese only), where you choose a protein (steak, chicken breast, shrimp, pork chops, and a few other things) and it comes with rice, beans, (two fried eggs and onions for the steak/chicken), fries. The seasoning on their beans is really simple, but still manages to be tastier than most full restaurants around. The chicken breast was a bit tangy due to lime, the beef (thin latin american cut) seasoning excellent and much better than what I got at Machu Picchu. You get 2 steaks or 2 chicken breasts for $9.99 (chicken might be 8.99) which could serve two, the shrimp is more. Really simple food, but "bife acebolado" is simple food and poorly done by so many Brazilian places locally. They do shakes and various other things, just less selection than B&C. More varieties of coffee than Brazilian places usually have, but never tried.
Maria's Cold Cuts - For some reason this deli on Winter Hill doesn't get mentioned too much, but I was recently craving an Italian sub and b-lined it here. Ended up leaving with more than a 1/4 of meat on a seeded bun, plus a soppressata and a bunch of dry goods. Mmmm.
Winter Hill Bakery - I also dropped by Winter Hill Bakery close to Maria's. Reminds me a bit of Parziale in selection, but its a Portuguese bakery. They do a slightly wider selection of breads (Italian and Portuguese, plus some basic american) than Central and Casal, less sweets than Casal (some great looking suspiros or meringues). Their bread is best eaten fresh -- all bread is best so, but their Papo Secos perhaps have less preservatives. They were out of the Papo Secos (portuguese roll), but had a smaller similar roll and good sandwich-loaf shaped sweet bread. You can also get their sub rolls at McKinnon's.
Violette's -- Violette is a wine store that is run by an Importer and Wholesaler, just after the Star Market in Cambridge and a few blocks before Shangri-La on Belmont St. They originally were on Mass Ave Because they focus more on the wholesale business, the hours are as eccentric as Richard the owner -- I think they _are_ there weekday days, but am not nearby. Have caught him once on a Wednesday at 7 and a few times Saturday 10-2 ("I decided to drink coffee today, that is why I am here"). I think they are worth mentioning because they import (from abroad and california) directly from small producers and right now their focus seems to be on organic producers. In the past he imported a lot of greek and eastern european wines, but it was through a consortium which shopped around for a higher-volume distributor. Last trip picked up an unusual red from the Loire (for drinking right away) and an Italian to decant, this trip an italian and unusual californian blend. The more interesting wines there are now in the $17-18 and then $25-28 ranges, but there is even a $3 bottle. I buy more wine at other places, but try Violette from time to time for a change of pace and even enjoy the uncertainty of whether the shop will even be open. Try it on a saturday and then lunch at Shangri La.
Machu Picchu - Visited for the first time since they moved across the street. Definitely advertising the full bar, but it wasn't the right hour for a pisco sour. Only dish that really stood up was the papa rellena -- chopped, not ground beef for the filling and the red onion relish was awesome this time. DC got a microwaved empenada (and $4 for one empanada?). Bisteca a lo pobre didn't look so hot when it was served because it hadn't been well browned, but was tender enough and quite tasty. Rice a bit over cooked, but also tasty. Saw them restocking the kitchen and it was all restaurant depot -- C brand fries, non-name bulk rice, PEI potatoes, etc. Based on past experiences I wasn't expecting to be wowed, so we were satisfied and ate everything, but review wise there are much better alternatives and their prices have seemed to creep up. The restaurant was pretty dead at lunch time, although (like Taqueria Mexico in waltham) a number of latino tables showed up starting around 1:30.
Kick Ass Cupcakes -- Been better reviewed by others and I didn't do the ordering (or have the idea). Decent yellow cake, bordering slightly on dryish but distinctly cake crumb. Happy that it wasn't overly frosted, nor the frosting too sweet, but very limited variation between several cakes. One different one was interesting (sort of cheese cake like, perhaps it was the strawberry shortcake, dunno). I don't get the whole cupcake thing and if I did, wouldn't go running back, but did appreciate the cakes in part because they were clearly cupcakes (not huge, heavy muffins) and not over-frosted.
Brazilian Festival -- The Brazilian festival in Brighton had most of the usual suspects -- Midwest, the churros stand (I think the same people as Sweet Brasil), and a Baiana. Several stands selling sweets and a couple of hot-dog vendors (one looked to have a more complete "brazilian dog" than the other). New additions this year was a pastel stand and crepe stand (probably associated with Sweets & Treats, but no propaganda). I wanted a pastel, but was full and decided to try some homemade sweets first then go back when the line was less. I had a beautiful looking pe-de-moleque (like peanut brittle) that was too sweet and not as good as it looked. A cake lady had more than a half-dozen cakes, but no yucca cake, ok caseiro chocolate cake, but tasted like brazilian nestle coco powder. It was worth the trip out there, but as a chow event it doesn't compare to some of the festas juninas.
Maxixe -- Umass Amherst has a program introducing ethnic vegetables to the area -- they get the seeds, start them, and then try to get farmers at farmers markets doing them. The past few years they have done Jilo (a bitter brazilian vegetable) and then Taioba (a leafy green), which were distributed somewhat in Metrowest (jilo made it to the farmers market, both were at the Ashland MB). Last year I got stocks of these and maxixe, which wasn't part of the program, from a friend. After the birds ate all our starts, I noticed this year that UMass had added Maxixe and had a new association with Seabrea markets. Never made it to Seabrea despite several trips to Providence, but MB in Chelsea has Jilo and Maxixe. Maxixe is a spiny green vegetable, about the size of a pickling cucumber. The most favorite dish seems to be stewed with pork ribs, although I had an excellent stew of it and okra, have had it in salads. In any case have had it several ways this year, but the Maxixe from MB/UMass doesn't compare to that out of the garden. Next year I'll have to keep the seedlings inside. If you see it give it a try -- just rasp off the spines and you are ready to go.
Peppers at Roberto's Fruit - a few weeks ago Ricardo's Fruit in Medford had some great looking butter peppers (a number of them red and they had a different name) and excellent cherry peppers. I bought a bunch, then decided I wanted more to pickle and picked up more at MB in Chelsea (not quite as nice). So far they have been eaten with pork chops, used in salads (w/o much green :-), and stewed with beef shoulder.
I need to check out Cake & CIA (cake and company) on Main Street in Everett for Striper Guy. They are right next to Cafe da Fazenda which I have reviewed before, but haven't been able to drop by.
Great report and especially thank you for telling us about Violette. I loved that place and thought it had closed- used them as a source for gifts for many years and used to buy exceptional wines there. So glad it is there and can;t wait to go back. I remember getting a case of Larcima Christi - a delicious red wine- for a Christmas party from there.
Hah, I think maxixe are what I planted as "Mexican cucumbers," but too late and frost got them before fruiting. Sounds worth trying again next year. Thanks for the reminder about Violette; they often have "buy at your own risk" markdowns that can be really interesting for short $. What the heck are butter peppers? I should stop at Roberto's more often.
From what I remember now, I think they were labeled as "Cheese peppers" at Roberto's, which appears to be the more common name. Flattened pumpkin-shape pepper, both green and red. More sweet than spicy, but picked up a nice flavor with some bite when I pickled it with the hot cherries and a small amt of dried chillies.
I think Maxixe and mexican cucumbers are different, but not certain. Umass had a pamphlet which called it a "West Indian Gherkin" When cooking it, if you want to reduce the bitterness you can scoop out the seeds and also squeeze out some water. For a salad I might use a small touch of sugar.
On editing I omitted the detail that the X-tudo is a hamburger with all those fixings. You can also get a X-frango which is chicken breast instead of the burger and other variations.
Super run-down, as always. I'm sad to hear about Machu Picchu being meh -- in that big new room they have so much potential and yet there's just something missing. I remember talking to Duarte from Taranta about the place and he wasn't the hugest fan -- alluded to the sourcing practices you noticed. Rats.
Great reviews, thanks. I agree completely about Machu Picchu, but continue to go because I don't know any of the much better options. I like O'Cantinho, Izzy's, and Muqueca, but I don't really consider them alternatives due to the differences in the cuisines (Peruvian vs. Portuguese, Puerto Rican, and Brazilian). I like Orinoco too, but they always seem to be out of much of the menu whenever I go.
Where else do you recommend, and any do you have any recs of what to get (or avoid)?
Tried some maxixe from the Hmong Farmers at the Mem. Drive Saturday AM farmers market (my favorite)....Someone told me to slice it, skin and all, and eat it like a sweet cucumber, but it didn't float anyone's boat...Guess I need to try cooking them. The Hmong woman said it makes a great pickle, which sounded right, but I was too lazy (blush)...
Just some places links
(Broadway Cafe is 508 Broadway in Everett, but places keeps sticking a Providence cafe in its place. Same bug with Violette which is 1 Belmont St, but get a vision place in its location.)
Also any thoughts on where to buy Peruvian potatoes in the area -- they are around in some restaurants and I saw them once at Haymarket, but can't think of a retail or wholesale outlet with them regularly?
192 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145
Maria's Cold Cut Center
314 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145
Roberto M Bros Inc Fruit
246 Mystic Ave, Medford, MA 02155
Cake & Cia
393 Main St, Everett, MA 02149