Noms in the Boston area

May 26, 2019 • 11:00 am

He who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.
—Samuel Johnson

The main goal of my trip to Cambridge and Boston was to relax in the company of friends, and I’ve met that goal very well. I haven’t done much sightseeing despite a nice trip to Salem (photo tomorrow, I hope), but I’ve eaten well. Here are some of my meals in restaurants and friends’ homes:

My first dinner, cooked by my friends Tim and Betsy. Tim describes it this way, though I didn’t show the okra:

For this meal the salmon steaks are from The Joy of Cooking with a tomato, basil, olive oil, lemon, and tamari sauce. The rice-lentil dish with fried onions is from the Jerusalem Cook Book.  And the okra is just chopped roasted okra tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.

As always, I took my friends to Christina’s Home Made Ice Cream emporium in Cambridge. I consider it the best ice cream shop in America. (I haven’t been to them all, of course, but I’ve been to many renowned shops, and this is the best.). There’s always a line, but it’s a small shop, and there are no branches. The flavor board is at the far end; this photo was taken through the front window:

It’s very hard to choose your flavors (I always get two scoops). On one night I had their best flavor—burnt sugar—along with salted caramel. On the second visit I had the flavors in the second picture.

A good mixture: green tea  (the best exemplar of this flavor I’ve had) with azuki bean. A culturally appropriated treat!

After our visit to Salem, we stopped at perhaps the most famous seafood shack in Massachusetts, Woodman’s of Essex, specializing in fried seafood. Here it is by the roadside:

The house speciality is fried clams, which is what I had; they come with onion rings and fries. I like the clams because they leave the bellies on:

Fried scallops:

. . . and fried shrimp:

Boiled lobsters to take home:

Lunch yesterday at Mix It, an Asian restaurant and sushi bar on Mass Ave in Cambridge. We started with miso soup, a salad dressed with sesame oil, and shumai dumplings:

Then the main course: sushi with salmon and tuna, a tuna roll, ginger, and fruit:

Dinner with my friends Naomi and Andrew. Naomi is a terrific cook and always goes to a lot of trouble making dinner for guests. Knowing that, I said I’ll just take leftovers, hoping that the preparation would be minimal. But this is what Naomi does with leftovers.

Artichokes with lemon butter sauce, roast chicken with basmati rice and gravy, roasted corn with okra, fresh heirloom tomatoes with avocado, and a dessert of mango and apple-pears:

This was almost too pretty to eat:

And, as always, there is Weetabix for breakfast, Andrew’s favorite food. He ate this British cereal three times a day in college, with a record of 18 Weetabix in one sitting (he has only two for breakfast now).

Andrew’s stash of Weetabix, which he buys at Trader Joe’s, supposedly half the price of any place else:

I’ve shown this sequence before, but for new readers Andrew positively insists that I show the proper way to eat Weetabix. He claims this is the objectively correct way to eat them, but of course this is a subjective matter.

#1. Put two biscuits into a bowl. (I like three, and Andrew and I always fight over the proper number: I like them a bit soggy, but Andrew says two is the proper number to maintain crispness.)

#2. Bananas are not essential for Weetabix, but Andew says that “bananas were developed with Weetabix in mind.” The cut up banana is laid atop the dry Weetabix.

#3. Pour whole milk (never skim or 2%) over the biscuits. Milk should be poured over each biscuit, but not enough to cover them.

#4.  Only then do you add the sugar, for, as Andrew says, without sugar “they taste of nothing”. Then the biscuits must be consumed quickly so that they don’t become soggy. Andrew recommends tilting the bowl toward you, and then taking a bit of the biscuit with a spoon and running it through the milk before consuming it.

#5  Enjoy!

Finally, Andrew took this photo in Australia, where they have an oxymoronic GLUTEN FREE WEETABIX. In other words, they contain no “weet”.

UPDATE: Sunday lunch at the Istanbul’lu Restaurant in Teele Square, Somerville. Eggplant lunch special with salad, rice and yogurt, finishing off with Turkish coffee for me and baklava and tea for Andrew:


64 thoughts on “Noms in the Boston area

  1. Lovely food, as usual. And quite envious, also as usual.

    Weetabix is likewise one of my regular breakfast comestibles, also purchased at Trader Joe’s. However, much to my horror, my last visit turned up a shelf with some other inferior products where Weetabix ought to have been and thus I have have to do without. I was out of sorts for the rest of the day. As for the eating, I find two are sufficient, but use honey rather than sugar, and prefer much thinner banana slices. Blueberries will do, and sometimes strawberries, but no matter what the topping, soggy is the way to go. Never more milk than what the two bix can soak up without losing their structural integrity though, and in cooler weather I might pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds. I’m probably considered a heretic for that last method…

    1. We have Weetbix in NZ, which is the same, but made by a different company. We ate it all the time when I was a kid. I also had it a bit in my 20s. I haven’t had it for many years now though.

      I agree with the method and type for the milk, and it must be before the sugar. However, especially in winter, we often had hot milk on our Weetbix. That’s the flavour I remember best, and how I would make it if I had it now.

      I agree with you about thinner banana slices too! 🙂

  2. Weetabix says everything about the way my dad’s generation thought about food.

    1. Anything that tastes great is suspicious – and probably gay in some non-specific way.

    2. The only savoury flavour types worthy of consideration are ‘salt’, ‘vinegar’, and ‘spicy’.

    3. Eating breakfast should be analogous to exercise – if you’re enjoying it you’re doing it wrong. Weetabix was therefore his favourite, and if he couldn’t get that he’d have porridge. In the absence of either of those things I honestly think he’d have rather eaten plastering mix than give in to something as crazily bacchanalian as Raisin Wheats. Coco Pops would have made him develop a twitch.

  3. Oooohhh, burnt sugar ice cream. Does it taste like crème brûlée? Crème brûlée is among my top three favorite desserts, so long as it’s done properly (not made earlier in the day, but caramelized right before it’s served. Cold crème brûlée caramelized earlier in the day just ain’t right, especially at a restaurant that costs $200 for two people).

    1. Once, on the first camping trip of the year I prepared crème brûlée to bring with. I packed the sugar, the custard & the kitchen torch. After dinner had been cleared up, I brought them out, caramelized the sugar and passed them around. It was only then I realized I had forgotten to pack spoons 😉

        1. When kiddo came along, rather than lamenting the loss of backpacking days, I rather embraced the low-key, well-prepared adventure that car camping can provide. Dutch oven? Check! Box of wine? Check? Spoons? Forgot to check!

      1. Ha! That’s a good one. I’m sure everybody deeply appreciated the effort, though. Plus, I’d rather eat a properly prepared crème brûlée without a spoon than an improperly prepared one with it. I mean, I assume you had some forks, or knives, or…something?

        1. Knives turned out to work the best, and they were all devoured. The first trip of the year is always a good one to work out the kinks.

    2. Yes, it sort of tastes like creme brulee. It’s the best flavor of ice cream I’ve ever had, bar none. People who try it get addicted, and it’s now hard for me to order anything else.

  4. That salmon dish looks absolutely delicious.
    I think deep-fried seafood can be VERY tasty, but generally when grilled or put over the coals it is even better. I didn’t realise this before I once had a calamari dish in three: deep-fried, grilled and Cajun (also grilled, but with a spicy marinade). Since then I never order deep-fried seafood anymore.
    About 5 years ago I gave my opinion about Weetabix (called Weetbix here) on this site, but my 2 young sons (5 and 8) swear by it for breakfast. When I get cornflakes or porridge I’m in deep trouble. Who am I to dispute?
    The sushi looks great. What sake did you drink with it? Here in SA we can only get Hakutsuru, which is, btw, not a bad sake.

    And then those lobsters, the North Atlantic ones (genus Homarus} shown in the picture are simply beyond comparison, alas also beyond my purse.
    Thank you for this ‘delicious’ post.

  5. In a moment of horrible disappointment, I stopped at my local Trader Joe’s a couple of days ago for the sole purpose of stocking up on Weetabix.


    What am I going to do now?

      1. It’s like a slightly upscale Aldi or Lidl found in middle class neighborhoods here in the US. And I do mean “slightly”, but it’s enough to make hipsters and the middle class yoga and granola set feel good about eating cheap, processed, pre-packages foods. They have good things, decent produce, organics, and such, but are best known for cheap two-buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) wines.

        1. Ah, okay. I thought it was the place where Kramer goes on a bulk-produce binge in an episode of Seinfeld, and then has so much leftover Beefaroni(? don’t know what that is either) he has to give it to a horse.

          I swear that about 90% of my knowledge of American foodstuffs comes from The Simpsons and Seinfeld.

          1. Beefaroni is a portmanteau of “beef” + “macaroni” served swimming in tomato sauce. It’s what moms in the Sixties would open a can and feed their kids for lunch when they were sick of cooking. (Now don’t you wish you hadn’t have asked?) It’s produced by one “Chef Boyardee” (and don’t ask about that either).

            Though it might be something your dad would’ve eaten. 🙂

              1. Yeah, I didn’t want to break it to SST all at once. Too depressing.

                If I had to — I mean really, really had to, like starving in a fall-out shelter, day 64 had to — I’d take the canned ravioli over the other two. YMMV.

    1. I feel your pain! I had the same experience. I suppose one could order online, or try World Market? They sell a lot of UK foodstuffs, but at a higher price, although I’m not sure if they sell Weetabix. I’m hoping one of the city grocers in a hipster/yuppie neighborhood carries it, perhaps at Whole Foods or another “health food” shop.

      1. World Market doesn’t carry it, or at least they didn’t a few months back when I learned (here on WEIT) that I could find it at Trader Joe’s.

  6. I’m surprised to learn Weetabix isn’t an imported American cereal to these isles. All my life I have believed otherwise. It must be the cockeyed spelling.
    I’m afraid I just slop on milk and sugar and gobble ’em down, as most people do. If you are brave and have run out of milk you can lightly butter them and cover with jam(jelly).

    1. What is weird is that Weetabix is now owned by an American company, Post. I think Post bought them to gain access to the British market for Post products and has little interest in selling Weetabix in the USandA.

    2. My brother used to eat Weetabix spread with butter. one of his favourites along with baked bean toasties and bananas in milk.

  7. Meyer Lemon(!) and Ginger Molasses for me please! I was going to say Chocolate Banana, but I LOVE lemon ice cream. Baskin Robbins used to have a seasonal Lemon Chiffon that is my favorite ice-cream ever.

  8. Now I’m intrigued

    What are the dimensions of one Weetabix?

    And what are the dimensions of the ideal bowl?

    1. 9.5cm x 5cm according to Wikipedia but bowl size is probably personal preference, as long as it can accommodate the bix both width and lengthwise.

      1. It’s 2” X 4” so two side by side produce a satisfying approximation to a square.

        Three would produce an unsettling quadrilateral.

        Thus I can understand why two is the correct number to prepare at one time, in a bowl with perfectly circular cross section.

        The bowl size, however, might change that.

  9. Okra twice? I can’t find any out here in western Washington. Maybe it’s a Boston thing…is it a seasonal vegetable? I love fried and pickled versions.

    I love Green Tea ice cream, and have never had a gourmet version. That looks fantastic.

    1. I’ve found it frozen from the grocery store – but it just isn’t very good that way (imo). Maybe an large produce market?

      1. Coincidentally I have okra in the sink ready to be stir-fried Indian -style with garam masala. It stays crispy. None of that slimey s**t for me.

        1. I like okra every which way, including slimy-style stewed with tomatoes. Church’s Chicken — the fried chicken chain of choice in black neighborhoods — even serves it deep-fried. There was a Church’s that opened up around the corner from me while I was in law school, and I’d partake regularly.

          1. The deep-fried sounds good. Our Indian “local” stopped making theirs, but I can whip so e up in 5 min.

          2. It is quite good when grilled or fried (whole) with spices. Keeping it dry during preparation avoids slime-generation.

        2. Indian cuisine okra is sublime…always fried (I also don’t like the slime) perfect in bismati rice pilafs.

      2. Yes, okra is a soul-food staple, but I was curious as to why the popularity in Boston…they got soul, but they aint got soul food afik.

  10. What lovely plates and serving dishes in several of the photos. You commented that one was almost too pretty to eat. The plate comes close to saying, “Do not disturb.” The bowl used for Weetabix is a very soulful shade of blue (thanks Buffy Saint Marie).

  11. With all respect Jerry to your expertise in food, I’ll go with Andrew as the world’s leading expert on Weetabix matters (I have no idea about them, as this doesn‘t feature in Frühstück).

  12. We always used to end up at Toscanini’s in search of an ice cream fix. Something I dearly miss living now in Idaho.

  13. Wait, Weetabix is fit for human consumption? I thought it was for patching fiberboard.

    The seafood looks great — raw, fried, and boiled, all of it. The tomato and avocado salad, too.

  14. I have to say, the word Weetabix is delightful – I think it’s the double e sound followed by the “ix” sound, in a triplet rhythm. The word Weetabix is bright, and, happy sounding, yet crisp – rhythmic, with a satisfying finish sound “ix”… the. “ee” sound makes one smile as they say it… literally “weeee” as in a thrilling exclamation.

    1. Not enough to make either edible. It’s the difference between chowing down on drywall and sheetrock. 🙂

  15. Those Australian “Gluten Free Weetabix” actually say “Gluten Free Weet-Bix”. Looks to me like someone is ripping off the Weetabix people; would Weetabix really change the name of their product in a different country? Maybe, but not likely.

  16. Weetabix is the dietary fibre of the Devil – used. I grew up in an area permeated by the smell of the Weetabix factory from one direction, the butyl ester plant in the opposite direction, the bone rendering plant and maggot farm in a third direction, and of the three, the butyl esters are by far the nicest.
    One good thing does come from Weetabix.

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