by Allison Yan ’19
Sometimes, after a grueling day of classes and office hours, all you need is a good dinner to make everything better. Annenberg definitely came through Thursday night with the New England Harvest dinner, presented as a precursor to National Food Day on October 24th. The menu, consisting of Maine lobster bisque, mussels in white wine and local marinara, and gnocchi with sage brown butter and diced butternut squash, to name a few, seemed like items off the menu of a cozy restaurant that I could bring my parents to for Parents’ Weekend. In short, my taste buds have never been so satisfied with an Annenberg dinner.
I decided the best way to go about the fare was to sample a bit of everything. I greedily loaded one plate with herb roasted all-natural chicken hailing from New York, scalloped potatoes from Maine, and mussels. Before I sat down, I told myself I would be rational about this and not force myself to stomach everything if I was full, but I cleared my plate quickly. The chicken was juicy and richly flavored, with just the right amount of saltiness. The potatoes were surprisingly soft and easy to bite into,. Eating the chicken and potatoes in little bites back and forth was such an amazing combination. I finished that plate by nibbling on the mussels I had scooped up, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the general positive opinions on New England seafood were true. The mussels were tangy and chewy, and balanced the hearty taste of the potatoes and chicken well.
My second plate consisted of Maine-based tomatoes, which I paired with the dining hall’s rice (a surprisingly good compliment to the tomatoes!) The tomatoes were fresh and well-cooked, bringing together the natural sweetness of the fruit with the salty flavorings.
I finished off my cafeteria quest with a bowl of lobster bisque soup and a breadstick. In all honesty, I nearly wept when I found that the breadstick was soft and warm – it was the best side to the bisque soup, which was one worthy of New England restaurants anywhere. It was creamy without being too thick, and definitely not too watery. I complemented the soup and breadstick, and everything prior, with a generous serving of warm apple cider.
The food doesn’t end there: in the Annenberg seating area were more options that I couldn’t resist. After cleaning my two plates and soup, I went for the wonderful spread of crackers and cheddar, pepper jack, and goat cheeses. The cheese was filling and a classy, appreciated additions to such a hearty meal. The freshly made gnocchi I went for after was equally great, and a total treat for my taste buds. I told the kind chef who was scooping the gnocchi that I was so full, but would love to try the gnocchi for the Crimson Crave, so he scooped a tiny bit (re: two little pasta pieces) for me. After I took my first bite, it was all over: I asked for a full serving. The gnocchi was a treat, far superior to the daily Annenberg pastas, with the perfect amount of butter and squash to balance the pastas.
Finishing off my extensive yet great meal was a sundae bar with Richardson’s Dairy Ice Cream. The sundae bar was just as extensive, boasting creamy and textured ice cream and a variety of toppings to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. I had one scoop of butter and one scoop of vanilla ice cream, lightly topped with caramel syrup. The ice cream had a firm yet creamy consistency that definitely surpassed typical soft serve. It all goes to show that Massachusetts knows how to do their ice cream.
My Annenberg dinner was a blessing and a truly great day to relax from a long day. While I’m probably just as uninformed about National Food Day and what it means, I’m now very informed about the godsend that is HUDS’ New England Harvest dinner. I’m looking forward to it in the years to come.