Tag Archives: spanish

Casa B, Union Sq

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Where: Casa B – 253 Washington Street, Somerville MA 02143
When: June, 2012

After my failed attempt to go to Casa B a few weeks ago I jumped at the chance to to go again, this time with a reservation. We got there for 7pm and were taken downstairs, which seemed to have a pretty different feel to it (cozier and more intimate than upstairs), to be seated. Originally we were taken to the bar to sit in this double bar stool thing which was a bit awkward so we requested, and were granted, a table. Thank god.

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We started with the Tabla de Ceviches which is an assortment of three ceviches, marinated in citrus, root vegetable chips. The three ceviches were langosta (lobster), merluza (hake) y salmón (salmon, obviously). They were all really good, fresh, light and zesty but the hake was probably my favorite. The trio of ceviches was served with plantain chips which were crunchy and earthy, a nice compliment to the lightness of the seafood.

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Next we got the Bacalaitos Fritos con Brandada y Alioli de Cilantro (salted cod fritters, brandade, with cilantro aioli). I expected these little deep fried fritters it to be really incredible but it fell a little flat for me. It was crispy and had the potential to be amazing but it was a little heavy and flavors a little muddled. The aioli was really good.

This was my favorite dish of the night. Camarones Rellenos de Yuca Envueltos en Tocineta con Salsa de Cilantro y Jengibre (Yucca Stuffed Shrimp wrapped in Bacon, Cilantro Ginger Dipping Sauce). The shrimp were succulent; yucca, earthy and bacon, salty. The sauce mellowed the flavors out and gave it a burst of freshness. I could have eaten a couple dozen of these.

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Next, we got the Albóndigas en Salsa de Guayaba (Meatballs in Guava Sauce). The meatballs were tender and juicy with the sauce adding a sweetness to balance them out. I thought that this was an unusual menu item for a tapas place, but what do I know? It totally fit and worked.

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For dessert, we got the Tres Leches – Leche Condensada, Evaporada,  Clásica Decorado con Merengue (Three Milk Cake: Condensed, Evaporated, Cream, topped with Meringue) which had come highly recommended from a friend. This little cake was really good – moist, soft, light, and fluffy. It satisfied my need for something sweet at the end of ever meal.

Overall, the service was great, atmosphere vibrant yet intimate, and food above average. Great for groups, a date, or just out with a friend. I’d definitely go again.

How did Casa B measure up? 4 Spoons!

Casa B on Urbanspoon

Toro, South End

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Where: Toro – 1704 Washington Street, Boston MA
When: May, 2012

Toro, one of the most talked about Boston restaurants, has been on my “must-go” list since they opened. The need to get to Toro only increased after seeing chef Jamie Bissonnette on the Food Network’s Chopped (he also won Food & Wine’s 2011 People’s Best New Chef award) and after going to Coppa, Jamie’s and Ken Oringer’s other restaurant, which was fantastic.

I got plenty of warnings about the extra long wait times so we made sure to head over right after work on a Tuesday to be safe. We were seated immediately as they had plenty of open tables (which did not last long). We sat at one of the large family style tables in the middle of the room where I strategically placed myself facing the open kitchen. The only complaint we had was that there wasn’t a place to hang our jackets or put our bags so we had to put them on the floor (thank goodness we weren’t in Brazil as that’s a clear “I’m a prostitute and available” signal). We started off with Gypsys all around. Whats a Gypsy, you ask? Its a delicious cocktail of Death’s Door gin, Yellow Chartreuse, and St Germain. Its so good, in fact, that I had another two which made me the friendliest person in the room chatting with our neighbors as well as asking our server to introduce me to Jamie Bissonnette, who I could see was working in the open kitchen. He said I could just go up and say hi myself but, oh no, I needed an introduction. This was a big deal! I got one and Jamie was super nice as I gushed about what a big fan I am. At this time our dinner neighbors leaned over to my friends to announce that Jamie is married so I just want to reassure everyone jumping to any conclusion that even though he seems like a lovely person, its his food skills that I am completely lusting over.

We decided to pick two items off the menu each so we would have a variety of tapas to try. And this is what we got…

Boquerones – White anchovies in vinegar and olive oil. In 2011 I took on two new lovers: anchovies and oysters. I almost don’t remember what I was like before these life changing foods came into my life but I am sure I was not nearly as happy. That being said, I had to get the anchovies and introduce Daniela to them, who I believe may be a new fan. These were great, nice and salty and perfect alone or with some of the bread served with our tapas.

Queso de Cabra – Vermont goat cheese with pistachios and tomato honey. There isn’t much that makes my mouth water more than the combination of cheese and honey so I was really excited about this dish. The cheese was great as were all the components but I found myself wishing out loud for MORE tomato honey and MORE pistachios.

Tortilla Espanola – Egg, potato and onion omelet with aioli. This dish was Daniela’s choosing, saying Tortilla Espanola may be one of her favorite dishes ever. No pressure, Toro. No pressure. I generally like Tortilla Espanolas but its not something really crave worthy for me so I was really surprised by how much I loved this one. The tortilla was really moist and creamy. Just lovely. The aoili, which came on a few of the dishes was a really great compliment for it and just the right amount of garlic. I could eat that shit on everything!

Datiles con Jamon – Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano. Holy moley, guys. These dates were phenomenal! Seriously. They were so good that before leaving I insisted that our new dining neighbors get them. Insisted. The saltiness of the ham with the sharpness of the cheese with the sweetness of the dates all came together really well. My only complaint is that there were only two of them; I could have eaten a half dozen easily. I’m a little embarrassed to say that between three college educated, well traveled, career women we couldn’t figure out what dates are. Were they dried plums? No, those are prunes. Dried figs? No… I had to google it to find out that dates are… dates. Waking up and opening my safari browser to find “Whats a date?” made me feel like a genius.

Asado de Huesos – Roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade. The bone marrow was Olivia’s pick and although none of us really knew what to expect, I was looking forward to trying something new. I had never had bone marrow before and expected it to be somewhat mousse-like for whatever reason. It was not mousse-like at all, it was fat -ike. Very very fat-like. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it after the first bite but after the second I decided bone marrow is not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love fat but this was just too much for me. The oxtail marmalade on the other hand, I could eat by the bowlful.

Anna’s Empanadas – Chicken and potato empanadas with salsa rojo and aioli. I’m dying to know what sort of pastry these empanadas are made of as it wasn’t at all what I expected. In high school, in Panama, I would take my $1 a day lunch money to buy two empanadas from Oscar’s food cart (and spend the rest of cigarettes – $.10 each) and they were these really flaky buttery pastries. That’s what I always tend to expect when I hear empanadas but this was different – they almost tasted as though the pastry was made with corn or yuca or something. I could be off but either way, they were really good. And, again, they came with that phenomenal aioli.

Maiz Asado con Aioli y Queso Cotija – La Especialidad de la Casa. Grilled corn with aioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese. Amy first introduced me to Elote at Ole in Cambridge and since then I have been hooked. I even have a couple recipes saved but something about smothering corn with cheese and mayo at home just seems a little too indulgent to me. This was super messy but equally delicious so was happy to have aioli across my cheeks for the experience.

Churros with chocolate sauce. Toro has one dessert and that’s all they need. The churros are light and fluffy on the inside and the chocolate sauce rich and velvety. We actually all agreed that although the chocolate sauce was delicious the churros were so good that we preferred them on their own. That’s saying something.

Overall, I thought the service and atmosphere at Toro was great. The drinks were delicious (and helped me meet a famous chef as well as have a heart to heart with a very sweet homeless man, Ritchie, on my way home). The food was all very well prepared and flavorful. I’d recommend it for a group of friends or coworkers or even on a date although be warned that a community table isn’t particularly cozy or romantic. I’d definitely go back but I do not think I would wait hours in their famous lines for a table. Don’t get me wrong, its great food but Boston has enough great restaurants that I am rarely willing to wait more than 20 minutes to be seated.

How did Toro measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Toro on Urbanspoon

Cuchi Cuchi, Central Sq

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Where: Cuchi Cuchi – 795 Main Street Cambridge, MA 02139
When: January, 2012

I’ve been itching to go back to Cuchi Cuchi since Libby and I were there last weekend for a drink after going to Bondir. With some plans having gone pear shaped at the last minute, I found the perfect opportunity to go last night.

Cuchi Cuchi is such a charming restaurant. The staff’s fanciful clothing (flapper dresses, feathers, pearls, and even a tutu!) matches the restaurant’s whimsical décor with stained glasses windows, overflowing vases, antique tables and jeweled lighting. And… no TV in the bar!! It has quickly gotten itself a spot up there with Upstairs on the Square and the Beehive, my favorites.

We got there about 45 minutes before our 7pm reservation and sat at the bar for cocktails. What a selection! I had a Pimm’s Cup which was great. At 7 the hostess told us they had a table for us but if we wanted to wait 20 minutes more they would have a better table. Sounds like a good deal to me. We ordered a bottle of wine, Quinta da Alorna ’08 from Portugal, at the bar while we waited.

Once we were seated at our especially nice table we pored over the menu trying to narrow down which tapas we wanted. So many options! I really, really wanted to get the Ceviche from Panama as it’s not often you see a dish from Panama on a menu in Boston (or anywhere in the US for that matter) and it reminds me of a lot of good memories as a kid. I lived in Panama for 13 years while until I moved to the US when I was 16. Ceviche reminds me of days spent out on the ocean or Gatun Lake with my family on our boat, the Eek-e-de (Originally called “The Weekender” but it lost a few letters). We would come into dock sleepy and warm from a day in the sunshine and it would be the perfect, zesty, fresh end the day. It cooled you from the inside out. Alas, the ceviche at Cuchi Cuchi was made with scallops which I am allergic to so that wasn’t going to work. I actually considered still getting it, telling myself maybe I was over my allergy but that wouldn’t have been smart.

We narrowed it down to four selections:

  • Brie en Croûte – Brie, walnuts, bacon in puff pastry
  • Fried Artichoke Hearts – filled w/ gorgonzola, pistachios & basil
  • Bracioletta Ripiena di Maiale – Grilled pork rolls stuffed w/pecorino cheese, pancetta, sautéed garlic
  • Potato Croquettes

I am not sure I can even categorize the above selections from my favorite to least favorite, they were all phenomenal. The brie was a lovely combination of salty and sweet and served with green apple for a little tartness. The artichoke hearts were lightly fried with a burst of gooey cheese and basil that sort of exploded, in the best possible way, in your mouth when you bit into it. The bracioletta was a little heavier (everything else was surprisingly light considering they were deep fried or wrapped in puff pastry), heartier and nice and salty. Being in the shape of an eggroll I kept expecting a dipping sauce but clearly they were not eggrolls and they did not need a sauce, they were plenty moist but still not fatty. If I had to choose a favorite I think it may have been the potato croquettes. I love anything croquettes. They were light and fluffy on the inside while crispy and golden fried on the outside. They were served with two sauces – a creamy alfredo and a zesty marinara. I saved one for my very last bite as that’s the flavor I wanted to be left with (until dessert that is).

Our waitress had recommended the French Banana Bread Extravaganza for dinner claiming she could eat one every night for dinner but we still, ignorantly, ordered the Tiramisu instead. We immediately regretted it as it just wasn’t that good. Sensing my disappointment and seeing me put down my spoon for the first time with a dessert on the table, my dinner date quickly flagged down our waitress and ordered the French Banana Bread Extravaganza. My hero!

The French Banana Bread Extravaganza came out practically on a platter. It was huge! There was no way we could finish the entire thing. Oh wait… yes, we could. The bananas were fried and caramelized and served with ice cream and whip cream and there must have been some bread in there somewhere. I didn’t stop long enough to really get a good look. This, along with a cup of coffee, was the perfect way to end a wonderful evening and an amazing meal.

I need to go back soon. Very soon.

Now for the pièce de résistance, the French Banana Bread Extravaganza in all its glory. Try to wrap your head around that.

How did Cuchi Cuchi measure up? 4.5 Spoons (too bad for that Tiramisu or it would have been 5)!

Cuchi Cuchi on Urbanspoon

Kika Tapas, Kendall Sq

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Where: Kika Tapas – 9 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, MA 02142
When: December, 2011

I’ve been walking by Kika Tapas on my way to work since they started building out the space a couple of months ago. The last month has been pretty exciting watching them install the painted wooden floors and apply the awesome “Almodovar-like” red and white wallpaper, which I love. Until I heard someone refer to the décor this way I didn’t put the connection together between the restaurant name and Almodóvar who directed the film Kika. Until I put this together I wasn’t really crazy about the name but it makes a little more sense to me now.

I saw that Kika Tapas opened last week so was excited to go there with Libby for our holiday-y dinner. I really liked the restaurant decor, its fun and funky but clean and simple, if that makes any sense at all. I dig it.

We started with a bottle of the Las Rocas Garnacha which I didn’t recognize the name of but I knew as soon as it came out that I had had it before and liked it. Its still driving me crazy as to where I previously had it.

When I was a vegetarian I used to hate going out for tapas as the table would end up sharing multiple items but with only which about 1/4 of them being vegetarian. So I’d share those and still get stuck with 1/2 of the bill and a 3/4 of an empty belly. You do the math. I now love it as I get to try so many things in one sitting instead of just having one plate of food in front of me.

We ordered the Boquerones, marinated fresh anchovy filets, while we looked over the menu. I think I have previously mentioned my newly found affinity for anchovies and you can always count on a tapas place to have them on the menu. They were garlicky and salty, just as they should be.

We then got the Gambas al Ajillo, Sizzling Garlic Shrimp, which came out just as they should – piping hot. The shrimp were really garlicky and well cooked (lucky thing we weren’t planning any canoodling with all this garlic). Next was the Ravioles de Mariscos, Lobster Crab Raviolis in a Langostino Sauce, which I think was my favorite dish of the night. I am a sucker for these rich tomato cream type sauces and this one was good. Not too heavy and just right to compliment the delicate pasta as well as to be mopped up with extra bread, one of my favorite parts of any sauce.

The next round was the Mejillones a la Salmorra, Steamed Mussels in a Spicy Tomato & Wine Sauce, which I was a little apprehensive about after my experience at Abigail’s but I am glad I plowed through it as they were really good. The sauce was, again, garlicky and a little spicy and also great to use up that second basket of bread we asked for. Last but not least we had the Queso de Cabra Montañes, Baked Goat Cheese in Tomato Basil Sauce, which surprised me every time I took a bite. I knew from the description that it was goat cheese but for some reason every time I took a bite I expected a milder cheese, like a mozzarella. Each time I was like, wow, this is goat cheese!

The only off putting part of the evening is that the waiter would only look at me when he came over to our table. Granted I did order the wine, taste the wine, and order all the food but I felt as though I was on a date and I was the man which was a little awkward. Libby ended up putting dinner on her card so there’s a lesson to you all to look at both parties in the eye when talking to them!

Overall, I loved Kika Tapas and am excited to have them in my work neighborhood. I see many lunches, drinks, and dinners happening here. Its perfect for groups, friends, or even a date (although careful with all the garlic!).

How did Kika Tapas measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Kika Tapas on Urbanspoon