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.

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Thursday in the Heights: The Armaggedon Burger

Posted in Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on February 11, 2010

The Armageddon Burger

By Jenny Liu

Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Originally Titled, "French Toast- Bacon Apple Turkey-Burger"

It is your last meal on earth. In these hours of armageddon, what will you eat?

I contemplated this for a while, and after toying with the concept of combining filet mignon, foie gras, and caviar into one expensive last stand, I instead determined that for a final meal, it would be more appropriate to salute America, the country whose fruitful bounty has sustained my past 20 years of existence. In keeping with the American spirit, this dish must be excessive. It should also include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for the opportunity to experience all three, one last time.

Those who are faint of heart or morally opposed to carnivorous feeding frenzies, you may want to cover your eyes.

It is irrelevant where the burger was invented and who served it first. What matters is that a burger is synonymous with the American food identity. But instead of the usual beef patties, it was only natural to include turkey and apples, as food items entrenched in American folklore with the pilgrims and Johnny Appleseed. Remember him? Who knew that his legacy would one day include inspiring recipes for heart attacks?

Instead of buns, let’s be daring and replace them with French toast, smothered in eggs and bacon grease. Did I forget to mention that there is bacon? Yes, before anything, it should be sizzling on that stove with the noble purpose of seasoning the pan with its grease for the egg-soaked bread and applesauce-infused turkey patties that are waiting to leap into that bath of piggy essence.

When the bacon, French toast, and turkey patties are cooked, assemble them in the way that is most logical to you, adding the condiments and cheese, of the American variety of course. Sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar over the French toast buns and liberally douse it in maple syrup — “like the Niagara” would be a suitable simile in this context. It would be wise to eat this monster of a burger with utensils, but then again, caution is for survivors.

After that, maybe down a few antacid tablets to ensure that the acid heart reflux will not interfere with the final pleasure of such decadence. Just in case.

You know you’re curious about how this baby was formed, continue here: http://www.bcheights.com/arts/the-scene/the-armageddon-burger-1.1124573

Btdubs, I wanna know, what would y’all eat in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

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.

Thursday in the Heights: Tasting El Salvador

Posted in Recipes, Travel by Jenny Famewhore on January 29, 2010

By Jenny Liu

Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I am walking into Arbol del Dios, past a gallery devoted to El Salvador’s most celebrated resident artist, Fernando Llort. My mind absorbs the bright colors and bold outlines from my peripherals, but my feet keep me moving past the paintings, scenes of village life, courtyard, and sunlit emerald facade. Despite the vibrant colors and the view of paradise, I do not pause until I am in the restaurant, pointing at food and muttering my heart’s desires in fragmented Spanish.

workers at Tipicos Margoth, making pupusas

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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.

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Thursday in the Heights: Snake Bites

Posted in Recipes by Jenny Famewhore on November 1, 2009
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The Heights, October 29, 2009

Snake Bites

By: Jenny Liu

Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Halloweens previous, I had roped my friends into going trick-or-treating with me. But after several embarrassing encounters, wherein the candy-dispensing parents would slyly ask us, “So how old are you all?” I decided to find other ways to fulfill the needs of my inner child. In the spirit of the holiday—absurd, theatrical, and supremely over-the-top, I thought of one person I could turn to: Paula Deen, Food Network celebrity and queen of gluttonous, Southern-inspired comfort cuisine. After all, what could be scarier than scarfing down pounds of butter and cheese, and ending up in a food coma?

Paula Deen’s rise to Food Network fame was a tour de force. Legend has it, Paula Deen, recent divorcée, with two sons and two-hundred dollars, moved to Savannah, Georgia, where she started a small catering company, The Bag Lady, and soon after, a wildly successful restaurant, The Lady and Sons, which garnered critical acclaim. Now, she is the accomplished host of Paula’s Best Dishes, Paula’s Home Cooking, and Paula’s Party. With her shocking white hair and intense blue eyes, her indiscriminate use of butter and, sassy remarks, most people either want to have a heart attack watching her shows or feverously wishes she were their grandmother. I am still waiting to be adopted.

This holiday, I wanted to avoid the usual clichés of pumpkin and apple recipes and opted instead for one of Paula’s Halloween recipes, Snake Bites. The appeal of Paula Deen’s recipes is that they are generally classic, ordinary dishes, but with a hedonistic spin (And by that, I mean, injected with several sticks of butter and a bucket of lard.) This also means that they are very easy to make, even for someone like me, who, without a meal plan, is left to flounder with late-night leftovers from Roggies’ and New Hong Kong out of sheer laziness. The Snake Bites is an epic sandwich, layered with nearly two inches of deli-cuts and cheese inside a flaky, buttery crescent roll.

When assembling the innards, I halved the amount of meat, still sufficient to produce an artery-clogging glory. I don’t think the entire 30 ounces of ham, salami, and bologna the recipe calls for can possibly fit onto one crescent roll. Alternate the layers of deli-cuts and cheese for an integrated effect. Also, any type of cheese or meat can be substituted to your liking. In fact, you can throw anything but the kitchen sink in there. Even make it into a dessert. In another step, I did not use food coloring, and merely spread the egg yolk on top of the dough. Once it bakes in the oven, the yolk coating would give it a glossy brown sheen.

One lethal biteIt’s a snake! A slug! A caterpillar! Or, insert your favorite annelid here! Due to the malleability of the dough, it can be shaped into any long, cylindrical creature of your desire.

The name of the recipe, “Snake Bites,” is an obnoxious word-play in many ways, yet appropriately justified: a single bite, though not necessarily lethal, would send anyone into a lipid-induced bliss.

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Thursday in the Heights: Houston’s

Posted in Boston by Jenny Famewhore on October 22, 2009

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I had been meaning to go to Houston’s/Hillstone for a few weeks (for food, for career research, for writing), so I lured Larissa into being my partner in crime with promises of expensive wine and Frank Bruni (departing NYT critic) approved burgers, and it wasn’t until last Monday 5pm, did we go on our restauranting date. 40 minutes later, we were in downtown Boston, and two hours later, we were still noshing on sandwiches of the lard-laden beef variety, triple-dipping our thin-cut fries in wasabi dressing, drinking the sweet bounty of Napa Valley, schmoozing with the staff, and getting lectured on the psychology of men by a 40 year old antique (read: used) cars salesman.

(Thank you, Larissa, for being my pillar of strength!!!)

Admittedly, I was kind of nervous. Who knew there was as much prep-work and depth of thought involved in grilling other people as there is in being interviewed yourself.

I had read all the reviews on Houston’s on menupages, NY Mag, Citysearch, industry zines, hospitality student blogs– everything within the first 300 results on Google was under my radar. I went in with enormous expectations– a loftiness usually associated with NASA space experiments; it was almost unfair.

On that note, this is my first published restaurant review in the BC newspaper, The Heights! While I was back in New York City this weekend on fooding adventures with Eric, someone (in the industry?) playfully asked us, “so which one of you is a food writer?” Eric laughingly replied, “Well, we both are.”  Word.

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