Jenny Famewhore

Thursdays in the Heights: Orinoco

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 25, 2010

Orinoco’s Delicious Latin Flavor Is A Steal

By Jenny Liu

Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

There are some restaurants that I believe could easily charge a higher price for their food without customers complaining, and I suspect that Orinoco may be one of them.

The entrance is set back in a thick curtain, but once I fought my way through it, off of sunny Harvard Street, I was faced with a high-ceilinged room, cozy in its dimness, with wooden booths. Old black and white family photos, nostalgic and fading, stretch upwards, and indigenous masks in bright colors cluster against an exposed brick wall. A long family table situated in the center of the room, flanked by 10 robin-blue chairs, subliminally suggests a grand family gathering. I could imagine the yells of children fighting over fried, sweet plantains as the grownups sip cold, spicy mojitos. Lively melodies of salsa and merengue ebb and flow, becoming less noticable if there is food present in front of me, at that point in time.

[Continue reading]

Advertisements

Be still my heart

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 23, 2010

On Eric’s visit last weekend, we ate up Boston. Ate it all up. The experience was akin to those multiple orgasms that leaves you dizzy from all the blood rushing away from the brain towards more sensual organs, like the stomach.

I want to go back to languishing at: Orinoco in Brookline (Venezuelan), Helmand in Cambridge (Afghan), Neptune Oyster in the North End (Oyster bar), Sibling Rivalry in Back Bay (New American), and Sel de la Terre on Newbury Street (American).

I’ll let these photos write my thousand words for me: (click an image for slide show & commentary)

Yeah. Just hold on a sec. Need to get these pants undid.

40 days and 40 nights

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 18, 2010

Not eating out in Boston

I am: a severe glutton, and attending a Catholic-affiliated university.

I am not: Catholic. Nor an industrious kitchen wench.

Sabrina and Jessica separately pointed me to  Not Eating Out In NY within the same day. I took this as a cosmic sign that maybe there was something a little excessive about ordering in and eating out about eight times within the first half of February. And I’m not talking about picking up a Boston Creme at Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m referring to blowout three courses, and tips in the double digits. In the spirit of Lent, I will give up eating out and ordering in. Maybe this will be the year I make it all the way to the end with better command of my self-control than years before (those were tough. You guys! I had to cut out cheese and baked goods. That’s like asking Kate Moss to give up cocaine. No one dares!)

The challenge:

No restaurant meals, no take-out, no prepared or frozen cuisine. Essentially, if someone else is cooking and I am relinquishing my dollar bills, mug me, gag me, give me stern spankings, whatever.

Inconveniently due to food column assignments, skiing trip in Maine, and Boston Restaurant Week— a gangbang of obstacles all rolling up in the next month, I will concede to several exceptions:

1. As long as the food is not paid for by myself (someone else is footing the bill).

2. Seven “cheat” meals for travel and restaurant week’s sake. Technically, it is 47 days between the start of Lent and Easter, because “Sundays don’t count,” so I am still doing 40 days.

45 days remaining  ’til April 04, 2010

Tagged with: ,

I love my vajayjay

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 9, 2010

It can get me $5 Filet Mignon, Delmonico rib-eye, lobster orecchiette, and goat cheese mashed potatoes.

But…

Aw, now I gotta pay for a $3 water. Vie de merde.

A dessert a day

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 9, 2010

Iced Green tea with lychee jelly & Azuki Puff

It’s true what they say about sugar. It’s addictive, and your body craves more once you start. The trick is to never start, impossible!, or intake very limited amounts. I rarely drink sodas and juices (though not for this reason), sticking to teas (chai, jasmine, oolong), which normally tempers these terribly unhealthy pangs of want. But having access to an oven in the dorm room compels me to bake… carcasses of sugar and butter boxes pile up in the recycling bin at an alarming rate.

Some pastries however, are so worth it. This Azuki cream puff from Cafe Japonaise on Comm Ave, nr. Babcock St., is worth it. The outside is a crispy layer of croissant, with a dense buttery bottom holding in the smooth, silky custard and thick, sweet red bean paste. At $3.25, I could eat at least four more if I didn’t have an excess supply of recently baked lemon drop cupcakes. After this past weekend’s loaded “Armageddon Burger” (a recipe coming out in this week’s BC Heights, if all goes well) I should not have even looked its way to begin with. However, this little cream puff was so seductive and electrifying that after the first two bites, I was already sinisterly plotting on how to make it mine– replicating the recipe, and distributing it in the restaurant I may one day open.

Hm, maybe I shouldn’t state that in print.

Referenced Locations:

Cafe Japonaise
1032 Commonwealth Ave
Newton, MA 02459
www.japonaisebakery.com

Thursday in the Heights: Best Ramen in Boston

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on February 9, 2010

Who Prevails In The Japanese Ramen Battle?

By Jenny Liu

Men Tei: Tonkatsu Ramen

Ken's Ramen: "The Sapporo"

Published: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The master sagely directs, “First, observe the whole bowl. Savor the aroma, jewels of fat glistening on the surface, shinachiku roots shining, seaweed slowly sinking, spring onions floating. Concentrate on the three pork slices. They play the key role but stay modestly hidden. Then poke the pork.”

“Eat the pork first?” the disciple asked, bewildered.

“No. Just touch it. Caress it with the chopstick tips. What’s important here is to apologize to the pork by saying, ‘See you soon.’”

That was the most famous bit of dialogue from the 1985 Japanese movie, Tampopo. Since its release, hundreds of new noodle shop owners have claimed to be deeply inspired by this classic film, and just as many have named their ramen joints after Tampopo. The ramen culture extends far beyond the packs of cardboard and powder that turn into a nutrition-less meal familiar to most college students. Like the discussion on where the best burger can be found, where the best ramen can be found is a passionately debated topic.

When I think about the criteria for a good ramen joint, I think about the many bowls of noodles I have consumed in ramen lover’s paradise, Tokyo. Ramen in Tokyo is available in many different styles, from Hokkaido in the north, to Kyushu in the south. However, despite the subtle and varied differences between the styles, there are essentially three components by which ramen can be judged: the texture of the noodle, the taste of the broth, and the quality of the toppings. Although, in the end, you do not need to be a professional food critic to instinctively know whether or not the ramen tastes good.

Unlike Tokyo, where ramen bars are as abundant as Starbucks is in America, Boston has less than a handful. I decided to eat at the two most talked about places in this ramen-deprived city — Ken’s Ramen House at Packard’s Corner on the B line, and Men Tei, near the Hynes Convention Center.

For more ramen imagery and the verdict, continue reading at: http://www.bcheights.com/arts/the-scene/bite-of-boston-1.1113196

P.S. Oh boy, this gets me geared up for some epic Tokyo ramen showcase entry.

Starbuck’s Clover coffee

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on January 30, 2010

Tokyo, April 2009

I will admit that I have this shameful habit of ducking into a Starbucks to sip a saccharine, spicy chai latte, with foamy whole milk or a creamy caramel macchiato on the occasion. I should feel twinges of guilty when I go, “wee,” when the red holiday cups make its seasonal debut, or when I walked into a Starbucks in Tokyo in March and April to find sakura pastries and strawberry frappes with pink and white swirls. Pretty.

Starbucks is so prevalent in the landscape of big cities, that sometimes, I miss it when I don’t find a store across from a store, cannibalizing each other. I even get angry when I really, really, REALLY need to pee, and I can’t find one within a block and I have to resort to using the restroom at, ugh, a McDonalds. Their job is to be everywhere, isn’t it?

It’s frustrating how it’s always crowded no matter how many stores there are in the city, and when Starbucks announced that it would close a few hundred stores in NYC a few years ago, the Times sarcastically wrote, “Now, New Yorkers will ONLY have 10,000 branches to choose from.” These stores never kick anyone out either, which serves as a great procrastination space to gossip with friends, cut class, and beg the barista for free whipped cream.

Yet, the company is so evil and so sinister, that it has conditioned college students to associate their brand with the delights of coffee, caffeine, and class by embedding themselves in the dining halls (“we serve Starbucks coffee”) and using whatever currency system the university accepts. Then, when everyone graduates, they will naturally gravitate towards the same provider of liquid stimulant that they have relied on for the last four years. (more…)

Emerging from a brief hiatus,

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on December 14, 2009

Finals week for the college folks. Need brain food: baked butternut squash lightly coated with a brown-sugar glaze and a shrimp-tofu-broccoli-mushroom stir-fry in infamous Chinese “brown sauce.” That’s merely: oyster sauce + soy sauce, for those not clued in.

Other things to boost energy: brewing some Starbucks Christmas blend, and hitting the gym (favorite game = spot the anorexic). Until the 18th, babes.

Tagged with:

Thursday in the Heights: Bar Lola

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on November 17, 2009

If there are any college students still dating, a tapas bar is the perfect date spot; and a social reflection of our comparison-shopping tendencies, truncated attention spans, and a life of overwhelming choices. The tapas bar is a restaurant manifestation of the non-exclusive standard of love. Eating many little meals means you never have to commit to only one– one dish, or one lover. If the date sucks, just huff up those tiny appetizer-sized plates and beg over that check.

I find the difficulties that Frank Bruni’s hyperbolic grousing about the “death of the entree” referred to (enduring 17 bites of one thing is a luxury for a food critic) hard to justify and a wee sanctimonious when juxtaposed against the rising global food insecurity. Let’s be optimistic. There are only three meals in a day, an infinity plus one array of food and ways to make them. I would probably never get around to 1/4 of all that exists even if I were to eat something different every day. For me, tapas are the perfect way to adventurously taste everything without resorting to, say, asking Andrew to awkwardly entreat his friend who works at Late Night at BC dining to sneak over a single fry, that’s all- just one, for me. Or having to look wide-eyed and innocent at my dining companions and cautiously (in a manner that doesn’t invoke a vision of an Orphan Oliver hover-crafting-over their food) beseech, “Are you going to finish that?”

One day, I may settle into the peaceful cradle of satiety- a truce with curiosity- and find my niche, like, on a dirty bar stool in the Lower East Side of New York with my 17 Coronas and 17 sliders, but until then, I will keep looking towards that horizon, wondering what’s on the other side, and rallying for those tapas to keep coming.

Sultry Atmosphere And Tiny Bites At Boston’s Bar Lola


bar lola

Published in the November 12, 2009 Edition of the Heights

My friend and I were to have dinner one night, and she left me the exquisite burden of choosing the restaurant, along with a few footnotes: classy, but not overly extravagant; conducive to a long gossip session; and adventurous. It was like seeking the necessary characteristics in a perfect partner, but I only needed this place for a few magical hours. (I’ll let you in on a trade secret – Menupages and Chowhound is the foodie version of Craigslist.) So it was with these parameters in mind that I came upon Bar Lola, a tapas bar a short four blocks from Copley Station, on a corner of a tree-lined street flanked by colonial brownstones.

At Bar Lola, we were faced with a formidable menu spanning upwards of 40 dishes, ranging from tapas frias, or cold plates, with classics such as the Tortilla Espanola and Manchego y Serranno, and tapas calientes, or hot plates, with anything from fried calamari to sea scallops to roasted duckling to rabbit.

(more…)

Mac and Cheese takedown taken-down

Posted in Boston, Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on November 15, 2009
Mac and Cheese throwdown prize

a hastily written sign, and three boxes of 'good tastes' mac

Cooked, went, distributed, and conquered the Mac and Cheese takedown today (Nov. 15) at Great Scott, and here’s a one giant, self-congratulatory, spoiler about the conclusion: My Mac and Cheese-hurriedly-entitled, “Jenny’s Mac and Cheese: Asian invasion,” won 2nd place people’s choice!!!

IMG_5024

At the Great Scott: a sold out event

It was my first time ever entering a food competition (and my fourth time ever making legitimate Mac and Cheese, including the practice batch made yesterday) and aside from the prize of three boxes of Good tastes’ Four Cheese, Mediterranean, and Brie & Fig Mac & Cheese, I also gained a plump blister on my index finger from chopping onions all morning, the wicked pleasure of hearing my name announced with gusto and then followed by an explosive applause (I wish I could get a video of that to replay during moments of low-confidence,) and met some fantastic cooks in the Boston area– fierce, tingly delicious, and creative competition.

I thank my academy of people: Anna, for introducing me to the Thrillist mailing list where I discovered this chance; friends who were present last night at Larissa’s wine party, who were subjected to the delights of being my guinea pig control group for the test batch; Erin, for opening my cans when I was rushing around and freaking out a la Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit; Kristen, for driving me to Great Scott; and to all the people who courageously ate my Mac & Cheese and voted for it.

Of approximately 20 entrants, other great Mac and Cheese contenders included: lobster mac and cheese (to my left;) Mac and cheese of Doom with peppers, whole wheat pasta (to my right;)  truffle and thyme mac and cheese with sea salt sprinkled on top; Gorgonzola mac and cheese with crushed walnuts; bacon mac and cheese with homemade BBQ sauce (the boy had a clever t-shirt exclaiming, “Basically like God .. on a plate.. with bacon;”) and a judge’s choice first place winner, double-baked taters with chives, sour-cream, and bacon Mac and Cheese. Nom nom, that was delicious and appealed to my taste buds in a comforting, extremely satisfying way.

IMG_4985

The final product-- a pan-asian experiment

I’ll let you in on a dirty, behind the scenes secret: I hadn’t a clue how my Asian Invasion Mac and Cheese tasted when I served it– it was my first time making it with all the recipe edits and augmentations. I woke up late and ran out of time making it, so I covered it immediately out of the oven, and booked it to the venue. Then I stood there and served it to 200 people behind the hot, sweaty lines on an adrenaline high of having subsisted on nothing but Dunkin’ Donut coffee with a turbo shot, and a pint of Strongbow, semi-consciously hoping that no food or taste poisoning occurs. Victory tastes sweetest when least expected.

Making-of and recipe follows.

(more…)