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Boston Trip Report, Day 4

pikawicca Feb 9, 2014 06:52 AM

Had lunch at Super 88 Market in Allston. Granted, it's a food court, but it had interesting choices and was a fun place to people-watch. My daughter's Banh Mi was a better choice than my Pho (broth needed lots more flavor). Our reason for choosing this spot was to further my pursuit of the elusive Preserved Turnip. I have a new Mandarin cookbook that calls for this ingredient and I had not been able to find it in any of my local Asian markets or online. Thanks to my daughter's eagle eye, I now have a packet of the stuff to take home. (If I lived in Boston, I'd certainly shop here -- huge selection of Asian ingredients, and a good selection of whole fish.)

At this point, I would like to bow down and kiss the feet of the Hounds who nudged me in the direction of Formaggio. After visiting the natural history museum on the Harvard campus, we decided that it was worth the walk to check out this highly recommended cheese shop. Wow, just wow! I've been in many cheese shops, both in Europe and the states, and this place blew me away. Huge selection, especially for such a tiny space, extremely knowledgable and friendly staff, fantastic cheese. Tasted one of the best cheeses of my life (extra-aged comte). Ended up ordering a selection for them to cut and ship on Wednesday. (My rec room remodel is just about finished, and I plan to celebrate with a "knock 'em off their feet" wine and cheese party.)

Craigie on Main for dinner

Had the 6-course tasting menu.

Amuses of Razor Clams w/Yuzu (our fave), Trout Pastrami w/Roe (a close second), and Monkfish liver.

Then a beautiful dish of Black Bass Crudo, Citrus, Herbs, Heart of Palm, and Avocado. Wonderful flavors and textures, as well as being the prettiest dish of the evening.

Sturgeon, Red Rice and Quinoa, Onion Marmalade, with a Beurre Rouge Sauce. The hit of the evening, simply perfect.

Pasta, Blood Sausage Beurre Blanc, with Pork Belly and Cauliflower. I have to say up front that I steer clear of blood sausage after an unfortunate encounter while eating an English fry-up many years ago. This preparation, however, was great: the sausage was basically pulverized, lending its richness to the sauce, without the skeevy texture.

Sirloin and Braised Beef Cheek with Winter Vegetables. By this point, I was flagging, and I don't each much meat, in any event. Had a bite of each of the meats and both were excellent; the braise was particularly luscious. I passed my plate on to the youngsters who were able to consume it with gusto.

We were each served a different dessert:

Chocolate Crema w/ Tarragon Ice Cream (sounds weird, but it worked)

Chocolate Mole Panna Cota w/Banana Avocado Mousse and Corn Masa Ice Cream (interesting concept, but did not work for us)

Sweet Potato Curd, Tamarind and Coconut Curry Ice Cream (clever idea, well-executed. We really enjoyed this.)

In short, the food was first-rate. The service, however, bordered on the bizarre. The waiter showed up with our first courses and wine before we were half-way through our cocktails. At the other extreme, twice there were gaps of more than 30 minutes between courses. Irritating and very odd, considering there were many people waiting for a table. I assume that this was an anomaly, and would return in a heartbeat.

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  1. m
    Madrid RE: pikawicca Feb 9, 2014 08:13 AM

    So glad you enjoyed formaggio! It is really a very special place. Thanks for all your reports. It's great to hear back and also helps future visitors.

    1. c
      cambridgedoctpr RE: pikawicca Feb 9, 2014 10:41 AM

      i have always had good service at Craigie; i am going again tonight. That said, not everyone is happy about service there. I am not sure why there is such a disparity of judgment; it might have something to do with attire? I do not know.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
        s
        Slimshady1261 RE: cambridgedoctpr Feb 9, 2014 03:08 PM

        "It might have something to do with attire ?" Have you read her previous posts I am sure that what she or her guests were wearing had nothing to to do with service issues

      2. beetlebug RE: pikawicca Feb 9, 2014 03:36 PM

        So happy you enjoyed your visit to Formaggio. It's just a great place. I also love their cured meats.

        Which new Chinese cookbook did you acquire?

        1 Reply
        1. re: beetlebug
          pikawicca RE: beetlebug Feb 9, 2014 05:15 PM

          "Mandarin Food and Cooking."

        2. b
          bcc RE: pikawicca Feb 9, 2014 04:04 PM

          Hi,
          Sandor Ellix Katz has a recipe for fermented turnips in his "The Art of Fermentation". I haven't tried it myself, but it looks interesting. We rarely see turnips around here (Switzerland). The Swiss seem to think that turnips are meant to be fed to cattle.

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