Liquiteria: Difficult to Say, Easy to Sip

By Dana Ferrante ’17

One week ago today, Liquiteria opened its doors to the public for the first time, its bright blue and yellow interior the only beacon of hope on the otherwise dismally cold June day. While the New England weather may not always show it, Liquiteria radiates the tastes and smells of summer, offering an extensive variety of smoothies, cold pressed juices, cleanse kits, and to-go food items.

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Sitting on the corner of Mass Ave and Church St. (translation: right near the once 24-hour CVS, or 20 steps from Johnston Gate), this outpost is the first to open in Massachusetts. The original three locations reside in New York City where Liquiteria began as cold pressed juice shop. Cold pressed juices became very popular a few years ago, as big names such as Starbucks and ‘the west coast’ caught on to the trend, and Liquiteria seems to have benefitted from the juices’ widespread success.

So what’s the difference between cold pressed juice, and well, regular old juice? Chances are the apple juice your mom used to buy at Walmart is ‘hot pressed juice,’ made by heating, boiling, or steaming the fruit so that its skin and pulp will separate. The pulp then becomes very easy to press, making for a smooth, skinless juice. However, with the benefit of easy-pressing comes the risk of losing flavor and nutrients. When juice is heated, volatile flavor compounds are the first to go. (If you are familiar with the use of what are called glass, or cellophane, noodles in Asian cuisines, these noodles absorb the volatile compounds released while stir-frying vegetables, retaining the flavors that would otherwise be lost in the cooking process. This is conceptually similar to what happens when making a hot pressed juice, except these compounds are lost.)

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Cold pressed juices are a different story. To eliminate the negative effects of heating, thousands of pounds of pressure go into squeezing all the juice possible from the fruit or vegetable, a method known as high pressure processing. Furthermore, as compared to hot pressed juices, much more produce goes into a single bottle of juice. For example, some companies claim that up to 6 lbs of produce can go into one 16 oz bottle of cold pressed juice, whereas Tropicana orange juice (a hot pressed juice) has less than 2 lbs of oranges per 16 oz bottle.  Thus, cold pressed emerges as the nutritionally, and most likely flavorfully, superior choice.

Liquiteria offers twelve different juice flavors daily, ranging from the obligatory All Greens (Kale, Spinach, Romaine, Parsley, Celery, Cucumber) to some funkier blends, such as Turmeric Tonic (Turmeric, probiotic, lemon, maple syrup), the unfortunately-colored Skin Trip (Parsley, Spinach, Cucumber, Carrots), and my personal favorite, the refreshing, much-needed-wakeup-call-to -your-taste-buds, the Killer XX (Apple, Lemon, Ginger, Cayenne). As a seasonal extra, they are currently offering Watermelon juice, which essentially is like drinking the 4th of July from a plastic bottle. Each juice flavor comes in a 16 oz bottle, and is always available in the grab and go section.

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A particularly intriguing set of options on Liquiteria’s menu are the fruit juice cleanses, sold in either 1 or 3 day packs. Four cleanses are available, ranging from the introductory/beginner level in which one is still allowed to snack intermittently throughout the day, to the final level which is described simply as “aggressive.” If you’re interested in giving your body a boost, or just want to see if you can “drink your body weight in ounces of spring or purified water per day”, check out Liquiteria’s website for more information. 

While I was only able to try one smoothie flavor during my visit, the smoothie options seemed on the whole very promising. Whether you’re feeling fruity, craving peanut butter, dreaming of açaí, or still can’t get enough of kale, there’s a smoothie for you. Even if you’re not sold on the pre-made combinations, you can customize any of the smoothies to your liking, as well as substitute almond butter for peanut butter if you have an allergy. There is also the option to add boosters to your smoothie—chia, vitamin c, aloe vera, spirulina (a blue-green algae purported as a “superfood”), bee pollen, and flax seed oil, to name a few—and many of these ingredients are also featured in the 1 oz juice shots in the grab-and-go section.

Sure to be a campus-wide favorite, during my visit I decided to try the too-good-to-be-true Hangover Cure smoothie. While I admittedly did not have the proper qualifications to participate in a controlled study of its efficacy, I can attest to its perfectly blended texture, and mild, satisfying taste. I would say this smoothie as a whole lacked any sort of “wow” factor in terms of taste, but this may be mainly the fault of the typically milky taste of its main ingredients: papaya, peaches, and bananas. 

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Hangover Cure Smoothie.

[But then again, no one who actually needs this smoothie would want anymore surprises after hearing from their blockmates what happened last night…]

The service at the newly opened location is the perfect blend of excited and sassy. Having gone through an extensive training before the opening, the staff have memorized the ingredients of each item and are also capable of speaking to their health benefits. They also have had time to pick favorites. One staff member raved about the PB&J Parfait, as well as the Blue Velvet smoothie, which she said tastes like you’re sipping blueberry cake. Sounds good to me.

Besides the great staff recommendations, Liquiteria is notably staffed with enough people, and also enough blenders, to get the orders out quickly. This cannot be said of all smoothie places— I know I have waited considerable amounts of time for blended drinks, as most places only have one or two blenders, and not always enough staff on hand.

So… what’s the catch? As you might have already suspected, Liquiteria is not exactly a bargain like our beloved Noch’s or Felipe’s. While theoretically we should all invest in our general wellbeing (remember, there could be up to 6 lbs of produce in one 16 oz bottle of juice), up to $9 for a juice or smoothie seems outrageous for the average college kid on a budget. With that being said, the staff were quick to mention that many of the smoothies contain whey protein, meaning they can serve as a meal substitute in terms of the nutritional content. In that sense, $8-9 does not seem too terrible, especially if you are in a rush between classes and don’t have time to chew.

Only time will tell if Liquiteria lives up to all its pulp and circumstance.

To give you a better idea of how Liquiteria fits into the current smoothie-scene on and around campus, check out the chart below!

Smoothie chart

*Walking distance with Harvard Yard as the starting point.

Sources:

http://www.quora.com/What-is-cold-pressed-juice)
http://www.livescience.com/48853-spirulina-supplement-facts.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/07/cold-pressed-juice_n_4911492.html
http://www.liquiteria.com/smoothies/
http://www.lifealive.com/LifeAlive%20Poster%20Menu%202-23-15.pdf
http://www.o2yoga.com/o2-vegan-cafe/cafe-menu/
http://franchise.bgood.com/ourmenu.php
http://www.allmenus.com/ma/cambridgre/353082-boston-tea-stop/menu/

Beyond the Salad Bar: Arugula and Sweet Potato Salad

sweet potato d-hall hack

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Many times, the salad bar in the d-hall seems a bit lackluster. After looking at the same vegetable options each day, it often feels like there isn’t a single thing you could put on your greens to make them taste better.

It is for this –and many other reasons– why sweet potato night is one of my favorite days of the week. Each perfectly browned cube holds the potential to make your salad the best one you’ve had all week. Not only are sweet potatoes a super-vegetable, packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, but they are also an oh-so-sweet source of fiber.

 

You’ll need:

-2 bowls (for optimized salad tossed-ness)

 

Ingredients:

-2 cups of arugula

-1 cup of sweet potatoes

-one large serving spoon of feta cheese

-one large serving spoon (or however much you can personally endure) of red onions (either raw or in olive oil)

-olive oil to taste

-grounded black pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1.) Take a large bowl, and fill it with arugula, sweet potatoes, feta and red onions.

2.) Season with olive oil and grounded black pepper.

3.) Grab another large bowl. Cover the salad with the bowl, and holding down the sides, gently toss the salad.

4.) Enjoy!

 

Inspired by a recipe from the kitchen of Chef Diane Kochilas. Check out her website here: http://www.dianekochilas.com/.

Leveling the Culinary Playing Field

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Among many falsehoods perpetuated by cooking shows on TV, the true ratio of men to women in the culinary world seems to be one of the most blatantly disregarded. It is not that there is a dearth of women interested in the industry, as shown by the equal enrollment of both men and women in most culinary schools, but a lack of women in the leadership roles, such as executive chef or general manager. There are no doubt some extremely successful women in the industry— anyone who has been to Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery or Jody Adams’ Rialto knows this to be true — yet it is the ratio of women to men that reveals the underlying problem.

According to ROCUnited, only 19% of chef positions are held by women. If that doesn’t convince you, consider the Best New Chef winners for Food & Wine Magazine: within the past 26 years, less than 40 out of the 250 winners have been females; that’s a mere 20%. Furthermore, within the past quarter of a century, the yearly James Beard Award for outstanding chef (as a comparison, think the valedictorian of your graduating class) has only been awarded to three women. Though it is unfortunately not that hard for anyone to believe that men outnumber women in this industry, the enormity of the gap makes it something truly hard to ignore.

If you do just a quick google search on this topic, you will quickly find dozens of articles, editorials, and blog posts recounting stories of women who have faced gender discrimination and sexual harassment from the time they entered culinary school. Most have the same major themes, such as women being given lighter fare, receiving less responsibility or being told to not “cry about it.” Who would ever want to work in such an environment?

Of course, there are several other equally important factors at play here, none that involve discrimination, but women’s personal decisions outside the kitchen. To put it lightly, the culinary industry is not known for its employee benefits, meaning maternity leave is nonexistent. As with many industries in today’s world, a choice must often be made between raising a family and pursuing a demanding career. Even further exacerbating the issue, the hours of typical food establishments are incompatible with most childcares services, as kitchen workers generally have to work long nights and weekends. This doesn’t make things easier for any woman, or man, to reach their full potential in the culinary world and still raise a family.

In the end, the gender imbalance and difficulty of raising a family was not created by one entity. Changes need to be made from all ends of the spectrum in order to truly make the food industry a better place for its workers. The leaders of the industry and restaurant general managers need to rethink the way their employees are treated. Furthermore, the same opportunities and support should be available to all genders aspiring to join the industry, at all stages of their careers. That way, those in the industry can focus on what really matters: the food.

 

Source: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20131111/OPINION/131109832/why-arent-more-women-among-the-gods-of-food

http://rocunited.org/tipped-over-the-edge-gender-inequity-in-the-restaurant-industry/

Harvard Square Feature Food: Orinoco’s Datiles

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Chances are, you’ve already walked by Orinoco about 20 times this semester without even knowing it. Located at 56 JFK Street,  it’s not in a place that most people look when trying to find somewhere to eat (i.e. down an alley), but that ends today.

Orinoco boasts an extensive menu of Venezuelan food, so it’s easy to overlook the bacon-wrapped and almond-stuffed dates, or datiles, and go straight for the arepas without giving it a second thought. You’re probably second guessing it right now—what actually is a date? Doesn’t my grandmother eat those? I can eat bacon with fruit?

Put your questions on hold, take a bite, and just enjoy the perfect combination of sweet and savory. The salty bacon and crunchy almonds offset the chewiness and the rich, brown-sugary sweetness of the dates. This dish has it all: flavor, texture and most importantly, the ability to be eaten without silverware. The only downside is that one order only comes with four datiles. Order a dish for your party of four or, better yet, just for yourself, since you probably will not want to share.

Unfortunately, Orinoco does not offer a vegetarian version of this dish (at least that we know of), but luckily another menu item, the maracuchitos (cheese wrapped in sweet plantains) will still give your taste buds a run for their money.

Saint Anthony’s Feast & Saint Lucy’s Feast: A Double Header of Italian Street Festivals

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Unlike a restaurant, food truck, or vending machine, the opportunity to go to saint feasts only comes around once a year. No cancellations, no rain checks. These feasts come, they conquer, and they make you wait a whole year for their next appearance.

We don’t want you to miss out, so mark your calendars for August 29th-31st, when Saint Anthony’s Street Festival takes over Boston’s North End. For anyone out there who has never been outside Harvard Square, the North End is basically Boston’s “Little Italy.” It’s where you’ll find the city’s best cannoli, more fettucine alfredo than you’ve ever thought possible, and of course, gelato on every street corner. While we highly recommend that one day you make your way to Hanover Street (essentially the Appian Way of the North End) to discover for yourself what treasures lie down its winding alleyways, there’s no better time for an introduction to this Italian-American village than Saint Anthony’s feast.

Source: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/st-anthonys-feast-boston?select=rHKXTUiPcgzSv9HoDyUK9A#rY0IvspFhTGUc4ReRNSBVA
St. Anthony’s festival in the heart of the North End/

Opening ceremonies begin with a small procession of Saint Anthony on Friday at 7pm, with a musical performance starting soon after at 7:30pm, but the real party starts (and practically never finishes) on the weekend. By noontime on Saturday, the Streets will be flooded with white stalls, as local businesses offer their best to the hungry crowds. Arancini, calzones, cannoli, calamari, hazelnuts, sausage and peppers, torrone, pizzele, clams, caprese sandwiches —and that’s just the beginning.

Source: http://discoveringflavor.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/cannoli.jpg
Stacked cannoli shells, ready to be filled with a creamy ricotta filling.

Throughout the entire weekend, Pizzeria Regina will be at the open air piazza selling pizza, Stella Artois, and of course, vino, produced by The Naked Grape. This year’s festival also features a tasting tent and culinary stage sponsored by Filippo Berio Olive Oil and New England Center for Arts and Technology. While at the tasting tent, you can try several varieties of Filippo Berio olive oil using Parziale Bakery’s freshly baked bread and learn useful olive oil tricks and tips. And if you like cooking just as much as you like eating, don’t miss the culinary stage, where local chefs will be showcasing their best Italian dishes. Demonstrations and tastings will run throughout the entire weekend, so whether you attend on Saturday, Sunday, or both, you won’t miss out on any of the culinary spectacle.

Amidst this gastronomical playground, there will be live music, masses, processions, dancing, carnival games, confetti, and of course, a giant statue of Saint Anthony covered with paper streamers by the time Sunday night rolls around.

And there’s more. The party and religious devotion continue onto Monday September 1st , with the celebration of Saint Lucy, complete with celebration and music throughout the day and a nighttime feast. If you didn’t have room for a sfogliatelle (also called a lobster tail) or arancini the first two days, you have one more chance to fill yourself up with Italian deliciousness.

In summary, these back-to-back saint feasts offer great food, a lively atmosphere, and a perfect opportunity to use that Italian accent you have been working on.

 

For a full schedule of events and times, check out the festivals’ website at: http://www.stanthonysfeast.com/schedule.html.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Nothing tastes more like summer than a bite into the juiciest, pinkest, piece of watermelon and having that sweet pink liquid drizzle all down your face and hands. But watermelon is more than just a sticky finger food: try this simple recipe for watermelon salad, and turn a summer snack into a refined, fork-worthy dish.

But first, what makes or breaks any watermelon salad is, of course, the watermelon. Picking a watermelon is always a gamble. You see a flawless, green speckled watermelon skin and you think “This is going to be the best watermelon I will ever have.” Soon after, you discover the watermelon to be subpar, not nearly as mouthwatering as you had suspected. Here’s how to prevent any further watermelon-induced disappointment:

Step 1. Find a watermelon. Pick it up. Is it heavy? It should feel heavier than you would have suspected for its size. Is it shiny? It shouldn’t be if it’s ripe.

Step 2. Turn the watermelon around until you find the field spot, or the side of the watermelon touching the ground as it was growing. Just like this pictures shows, the field spot should have a yellow, creamy color. The darker the yellow, the better, since more time on the vine means more time to ripen.

watermelon field spot
A cream-yellow field spot.

Step 3. Knock on the watermelon rind with your knuckles. You shouldn’t hear a dull thud, but a lovely hollow sound that means your melon skin is firm and ripe. It’s almost as if your knuckles bounce off the rind when the skin is good and ready.

Now that you know how to pick the perfect watermelon, it’s time to learn how to turn that giant green melon into a succulent salad.

You’ll need…

-a cutting board

-a chef’s knife

-a salad bowl

Serves: 6-8

  • 1 small seedless watermelon (or half of a large seedless watermelon)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 ½ cups of Greek feta cheese (not pre-crumbled)
  • ½ cup of basil (or mint)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime (or ½ lemon) OR 1 tablespoon of lime (or lemon) juice
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Cut watermelon into 1-inch cubes, or use a melon baller to make bite size pieces. Slice red onion into half moons. Slice the block of feta in ½-inch cubes. Chiffonade basil (or mint). Then, put all these ingredients into your salad bowl.

Drizzle EVOO, lime (or lemon) juice and balsamic vinegar, and then toss. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper to your liking.