There was a day in my life when I sat down and ate an entire jar of pickles. It wasn’t out of hunger, or even out of pride. It just happened. You see, I have a thing for a good pickle. Last weekend, Boston Calling Music Festival only egged me on, with its line-up of music that could only be cherished with a few pickles on hand.
When the weather went from icy rain storm to summer over the span of two days, I rang in the forecast with numerous visits to Grillo’s Pickles, a Boston-based pickle operation. When the company isn’t hand-packing pickle spears into jars, it spreads pickle joy out of a wooden cart. That very cart rolled into Government Center on Sunday, and I couldn’t help but eye Grillo’s in between acts. Throughout the day, I’d feast on spicy pickles—pervaded with dill, garlic—plucked straight from the bucket with a pair of tongs. These pickles came down with a crunch, and for a dollar a pop—for 2-3 spears depending on size—even the music couldn’t keep me away.
Grillo’s Pickles can be purchased online or at Whole Foods Markets in Boston.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. I’ve been capped and gowned, photoed and toasted, lectured and best wished. These days, I’m a college graduate—and things are really friggin’ scary. Though I don’t know where I’ll be in the next week, month or especially year, I can say with confidence that the past four years have defined me in ways that I will never be capable of expressing. My time here and Boston has transformed me, and it comes down to the people I met. From matriculation to commencement day, we’ve shared meals in dining halls, sushi in my living room, steak and ale pies abroad in London and more slices of 2am pizza than I’m willing to admit or able to remember.
Last week, just after finals and just before graduation, my friend Kosta and I shared one of our numbered side-by-side meals at Neptune Oyster in Boston’s North End. The space is tiny and can probably squeeze in about twenty people when each diner sucks in. We waited two hours to snag two bar seats, and spent the time milling around the cobblestone streets. When the seats were ours, we slid down a few oysters, had a heap of fried clams and split a hot, buttered lobster roll. The kid’s a good sharer—what can I say?
I’m not sure where my posts will be written in the future, but you can bet that mealtime will be shared with the important people in my life no matter where I am. Even if it requires a plane ride.
Cheers to four years, Boston.
Neptune Oyster, 63 Salem Street, Boston, Massachusetts
College (better known as the best years of your life) is just about coming to an end. My finals are kaput and emotions are running high, so all there’s left to do is celebrate.
Needless to say, I celebrated a little too hard the other night (I had like two beers, mom), so the day after was an absolute waste, leaving me posted up on the couch to nurse my wounds. My roommate/best friend Arielle—who I travelled to Thailand with two summers ago—swears by Tom Yum Noodle Soup from the campus Thai place just down the street. If she’s sick, you can bet one of those foggy plastic containers is stocked in our fridge. It’s sweet, sour and so spicy that it makes you cough. It’s crunchy with green onions and bean sprouts, and the noodles soak up all of those pesky impurities—at least in my dreams. It has the same curative qualities of grandma’s chicken soup, but it kicks that my-head-hurts sass right out of you.
Nud Pob, 738 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts
dulce de leche froyo + hot fudge + cookie dough + Oreo + Butterfinger
16 Handles, 1309 Beacon Street, Brookline, Massachusetts
You know you’ve got a problem when your roommate says, “cooome on—can you write a new post already?” Forgive me. I realize Jews and gentiles alike are probably over images of matzah overstaying their welcome.
Here on my end, the last 48 hours were spent in New York City, doing big girl things like going to meetings, sitting alone in cafes and eating broccoli. With a quad shot latte flowing through my veins, I devoured a broccoli sub at No. 7 Sub. Trust me when I say this is a good idea.
Before you get all “whaaat—broccoli sub?” on me, just know that this decision was made after consulting nearly every New Yorker in my phone. No. 7 has all kind of quirky options—like Zucchini Parm and Mongolian Tofu—that are known for being crazy good, but the broccoli sub had the biggest following by far. It’s an all-kinds-of-crunchy layering of lychee muchim, ricotta salata and pine nuts, with the bread adding that vital crackly soft component. Sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park, I noshed away on the most delectable composition of broccoli the lunch world has ever seen.
No. 7 Sub, 1188 Broadway at 26th Street, New York, New York
Tomorrow night, Passover—and the carb-cutting that goes along with it—will be kaput. Before my boxes of matzah hit recycling, I figured I’d wave goodbye with a solid use of its cracker-like capabilities. Enter: Red Onion Baked Brie with Matzah Crackers.
You may remember that one of my closest friend Siena’s mom, Melissa, has served as inspiration for me when it comes to cooking—especially when it comes to her world famous deLisser Family Pasta. Not only does the woman know how to cook, she is also an entertaining guru in every sense of the word. A dinner party for Melissa deLisser means a dinner party in the Italian sense: heaping apps, meat and potatoes, pasta, salad, dessert—and a pat on the back when it’s all down the hatch. The best part is that when you get to Melissa’s for a dinner party, the dirty work is already done. All that’s left to do is eat.
Mama deLisser’s baked brie is another legend in her well-fed inner circle. The caramelized red onions tangled on top give it a really luxurious look, but the truth is that it’s the most simple thing to serve. The only occasion my roommates and I were entertaining was a reprieve from boring Passover grub—and the fact that brie was on sale. Please, I don’t need a special occasion for baked brie.
The Shopping List
Courtesy of Melissa deLisser
+ 1 large red onion, sliced
+ 1 wedge brie cheese
+ Olive oil as necessary
+ Matzah in 2x2 inch-ish squares (or slices of crusty baguette)
Preheat oven to 375°. Meanwhile, cook sliced red onion in a skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil, until the onions caramelize and reach a cross between purple and brown. Slice the wax off the top of the brie, leaving the bottom with wax intact. Scatter cooked onions over the cheese. Cook the brie in the oven for approximately ten minutes, or until the brie is melted but not runny. Serve with matzah crackers—or, preferably, slices of a crusty baguette.
It’s the fifth day of Passover—but who’s counting?!—and this is where I’m at. My world is matzah right now. Lots and lots of matzah. To mask the consistently burnt taste of each square, one has to go ham (in the kosher sense) on the toppings. None of these are rocket science, but they’re tried and true. They get you through the eight days without a sweat.
1. Hazelnut spread with sliced strawberries
2. Marinara and mozzarella
(aka matzah pizza, a Passover staple)
3. Smoked salmon and Philadelphia cream cheese
4. Smashed avocado with sea salt and chili flakes
I’ve reached this precarious moment in my matzah munching when the squares left in the box are no longer, in fact, squares. Plucking a whole piece from the box without breakage requires a level of dexterity that I’m not capable of when my blood sugar is low. Instead, it all splits into brittle Tetris pieces that make no sense for a meal. But smearing a fragment of matzah with cream cheese—and going overboard because “you deserve it”—makes all the pain go away. Smear that on a bagel, however, would most likely make the pain go away faster.
These classic matzah toppings have gotten Jews through Passovers since the dawn of time. Because, you know, if the Israelites didn’t have time for bread to rise as they were bouncing out of Egypt, they definitely had time to microwave matzah pizza, smoke some salmon and ripen some avocados.
Tonight, everything I know and love will come to a screeching halt. It’s Passover, and that means no bread, corn, rice, peanuts, legumes or anything good for the next eight days. Needless to say, I typically react very, very poorly to this. That’s why I’m in Espresso Royale right now, devouring the biggest everything bagel they had in stock—no joke. Should I be embarrassed that I confessed my Passover plans to the barista? That I had him make special note that this bagel would be my very last? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Post-bagel, I have no regrets.
Espresso Royale, 736 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts
The Mem. Drive Sandwich
over medium eggs + bacon + cheddar + avocado + sourdough
By the looks of this, I doubt you’d guess spring break is coming up in just three days. This girl’s ditching the blizzard for some SPF 60 because, if you’re asking me, a bikini after bacon is a beautiful thing.
Miami, here I come.
Darwin’s Ltd. 148 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts