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Strangest Sweet in Boston?

opinionatedchef Apr 26, 2011 11:07 AM

The international world of sweets is so fascinating, especially the further away you get from Western traditions. The 'strangest sweet in Boston’ experience i have had- was yesterday at Yi Soon Bakery in Allston. Not so unusual for the ingredients- I’ve had plenty of tasty vegetal sweets from India and the rest of Asia, and I love taro.... it was the composition that really threw me for a loop. I have no idea if this item has a particular story behind it, but here’s what it was>> Like most of Yi Soon’s light-as-air soft buns and cakes, this was a bun, filled with sweetened white taro. But why is it draped/wrapped in a purplish grey napkin?, I wondered. Well, that napkin is actually a sheet of purple taro something (think 1/8” thick sheet of marzipan) Maybe some taro and mochi/rice flour combination...? As a concept, it reminded me of Japanese gifts that are traditionally wrapped in a pretty piece of fabric. And this purple taro ‘fabric’ even had something of a ‘pattern’ on it (but maybe that was due to the makeup of the taro itself). Anyway, if you’re ever going to a “guess what this is” party, this is the perfect thing to bring along. You’ll win every time! How about you? Pig trotter ice cream? tomato cheesecake?

Yi Soon Bakery
112 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA

  1. itaunas Apr 27, 2011 10:00 AM

    Brazilian and Portuguese sweets are relatively tame -- at least the ones available in Boston. I can come up with a couple which are _unique_, but I wouldn't consider strange. The Brazilian Romeu e Julieta pastel (an empanada style fried pastry filled with guava paste and cheese) from Pastelaria Vitoria Broadway (there was a romeu e julieta pizza around too, but I suspect that place closed). If you want your sweets in the form of Pizza, Chriscilla's in Everett does offer a 'pizza de banana' (banana, condensed milk, cinnamon) and I believe Muqueca will make a 'moqueca de banana da terra' which is common in Espirito Santo. At festas juninas (search for my past posts) you can also get a milk sweet made with hominy (like posole) and sweet and savory versions of a Brazilian style tamale (pamonha, but made from corn not masa).

    Portugese pastéis de feijão use white or read beans as part of the filling of a sweet tart and you can get a nice version from Fall River at Central Bakery.

    Mass grown Brazilian jiló -- a very bitter eggplant shaped fruit (relative) which is picked green is used for savory dishes, but also as the basis of 'doce de jiló.' No commercial versions around although there are some restaurants which make other doces,but there are some homegrown versions and you can also DIY with local fruit as the basis.

    In Brazil "chouriço" in the Northeast of Brazil can mean a sweet dish made with pig's blood, fat, coconut, cashews, and more, but to get that "strange" you _will_ have to leave Boston.

    Chriscillas Restaurant
    447 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149

    2 Replies
    1. re: itaunas
      opinionatedchef Apr 27, 2011 11:05 AM

      itaunas, you continue to be my very fav CH poster because you are just so darned knowledgeable and helpful. Whenever I see your name, my eyes make a beeline to your comments.What a fascinating post.

      Pig's blood and sugar, W O W.

      The Chriscilla's (is that a combo of chris and priscilla or a viable Brazilian name?) banana pizza has my mind flying to woody allen saying to the pizza waitress, after she has rattled off all the topping choices, "What, no coconut?" . Yet another example of art mimicing real life. The bean pie thing is common in the caribbean too. I will seek out some of those local things so thanks so much.

      btw, have you ever run across banana peels being made edible- in local restnts ( or other?)

      Chriscillas Restaurant
      447 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149

      1. re: opinionatedchef
        itaunas Apr 27, 2011 11:50 AM

        oc "Chris" in Brazil is generally written with a "K" (such as Kris/Krys) and is more often a female name so I can tell you its not a husband/wife (it also would be priscila in Portuguese). The folks which started it are from Santa Catarina, they may have inherited the name Chriscilla when they bought the place, I don't know. It also was up for sale recently, so don't have a recent data point on quality. Speaking of coconut, its part of queijadinhas along with cheese and both Brazilians and Portuguese make versions, but cheese as a dessert isn't so uncommon -- hence the cheese course with compotes, cheddar with Apple pie (a new england thing), and cheese cake.

        The bean cakes are also a West African thing, which is likely the Portuguese and Caribbean link.

        There are a number of liquers, sweets, and even juices which use peels from various fruits in Brazil. I have seen banana used, but I wouldn't say its that common. The most common peel (outside citrus) I would say is pineapple, used to make juices, a kind of "tea," liquers and so on. But keep in mind these are generally extracting flavors, pectins, vitamins and other elements from the fruit not making the shell itself edible. While Italian "grappa" is dandied up and sold for a premium locally, Portuguese "aguardente bagaceira" also made from the pomace is still sold as what it is -- inexpensive firewater/hooch! The clear versions are a good for infusions with other ingredients or fruit leftovers (peach pits with the internal "nut" an example of something else traditionally used to make a digestif but you have to be careful as there are chemicals in it you don't want to ingest in quantiaties).

        Chriscillas Restaurant
        447 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149

    2. C. Hamster Apr 27, 2011 09:35 AM

      I had it in Chicago and not here, but I had a potaot salad filled sweet bun at a Japanese market. It was good!

      1. t
        TheScribe Apr 27, 2011 07:50 AM

        I had string bean popsicles from Super 88. They are probably available at any Asian grocery. They were good!

        1 Reply
        1. re: TheScribe
          opinionatedchef Apr 27, 2011 10:48 AM

          well, terrif! just the kind of vegetal thing i'd love to try, so thank you!. Now when i go for the next PhoViet banh mi fix, i'll pack some of these in the cooler bag! thanks!......... And then, being the good CH that I am, I will stop at Mixx . Because we pass this way but once.........

        2. l
          LStaff Apr 26, 2011 07:53 PM

          A Speed dog. :-o

          1. g
            gimlis1mum Apr 26, 2011 07:17 PM

            Have you had ube ice cream, or some other such treat made with purple yams (from the Phillipines)? A friend made some for us and it was very tasty.

            I'm trying to think of sweets but instead I keep coming up with that snack mix at Super 88/HK Market - the one that's a bunch of puffed/fried peas and other legumes with some lighty sweet, almost candied anchovies mixed in. I forget what it's called...

            1. C. Hamster Apr 26, 2011 12:26 PM

              The Durain "Popsicles" at Kam Man

              7 Replies
              1. re: C. Hamster
                opinionatedchef Apr 26, 2011 12:31 PM

                hmmm, are we related?(see photo!) Are they sweet and delicious? i've always wanted to try durain but have thought them too big and expensive to buy one.

                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  Pegmeister Apr 26, 2011 12:51 PM

                  I'm sure Hamster will jump in, but I believe they are often referred to as stinky fruit?

                  1. re: Pegmeister
                    opinionatedchef Apr 26, 2011 01:26 PM

                    oh yessss, i know exactly what they are; i've just never eaten one!

                  2. re: opinionatedchef
                    C. Hamster Apr 27, 2011 06:16 AM

                    I suspect we are cousins once or fifty times removed ...

                    The durian pops are very weird. Very sweet, watered down but not delicious to me.

                    Real durian smells like gasoline-soaked garbage to me. The pops are different and less offensive but not exactly tasty.

                    1. re: C. Hamster
                      StriperGuy Apr 27, 2011 07:07 AM

                      I LOVE them.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        opinionatedchef Apr 27, 2011 10:44 AM

                        well that's why they call you striperguy!

                  3. re: C. Hamster
                    tatsu Apr 27, 2011 06:36 AM

                    i've had some durian pops in my freezer since last summer, from H-Mart, probably the exact same brand at Kam Man. To paraphrase Will Ferrell in Anchorman, "It's so hot! Durian pops was a bad choice. *glug*"

                    3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

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