Step 1: Place the ground beef in the pan and turn the heat on high. Use the spatula or fork to break the meat into smaller pieces, as small as possible. After about ten minutes, all the meat should be brown.
Optional Step 1.5: If you want low fat tacos, you can remove the excess fat using a paper towel and replenish the moisture with approximately 1 cup of water. Let most of this water absorb into the meat before moving on to step 2.
Step 2: Lower the temperature to medium. Add taco seasoning mix and stir it into the meat.
Step 3: Warm your shell of choice for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Step 4: Take your shell of choice, fill it with your seasoned meat, and add your toppings of choice.
As of late, the food scene in Harvard Square has been bleak. With the onset of construction and subsequent mass exodus of restaurants, there have been significantly fewer options to choose from. Add into the mix that HUDS is on strike, and the options further dwindle. Thankfully, as of Thursday, October 6th, there is a new restaurant in the square: En Boca.
Originally in the building that used to be Sandrine’s, En Boca was purchased by restaurant developers Bill Goodwin and Peter Sarmanian, who are also behind two well-known Irish pubs in Boston, in March of 2015. Unlike their other restaurants, En Boca is far from an Irish pub. Goodwin’s goal in creating En Boca was to serve “creative, farm-to-table food with a Mediterranean influence” in an ambiance that is “classic with a modern feel,:
Crimson Crave co-President, Richa Chaturvedi ‘18, another friend, and I decided to check it out. Upon walking into the restaurant, we were struck by how beautifully decorated it is. We immediately felt transported from the grind of the Harvard Bubble, despite being a stone’s throw from the River Houses. We sat by the large window overlooking Holyoke Street, which was truly a treat, even with the construction across the street.
En Boca’s menu mostly consists of small plates; our server recommended we order three or four plates per person. “It’s all about the sharing experience,” Goodwin explained to me over the phone, before I even set foot in the restaurant. With this in mind, my companions and I ordered seven small plates, and one of their larger, yet still shareable, dishes.
At En Boca, everything comes out to the table as soon as it is ready. Before we knew it, our table was adorned with several small plates. The first thing we sampled were the patatas bravas, which were paired with aioli, tomato, and sweet pepper. The potatoes were cooked perfectly; the skin was crispy, but the potato itself was tender. To me, the highlight of the dish were the sauces, though. The sweet pepper sauce and creamy aioli not only complemented each other, but also the saltiness of the potatoes. Overall, this dish was delicious and simple. I imagine it will be a popular menu item as time goes on!
Next up were the crispy brussel sprouts. It seems as though the chefs at En Boca have realized the truth about vegetables, particularly brussel sprouts: they are much, much tastier when paired with bacon. The brussel sprouts themselves were beautifully browned and lived up to their description as crispy, but I stand by my assertion the bacon was the star of the show. Of all the small plates, my dining companions and I agreed that this was one of the best.
One of our fellow diners would argue that the best dish was the chicken liver pâté. In fact, she refused to share it because she liked it so much, and claimed it was some of the best pâté she has ever had!
Another standout dish was the local halloumi cheese. For anyone who has never tried halloumi, ordering it at En Boca is the perfect opportunity. The small plate gives you just a taste of this delicious, salty cheese along with notes of hazelnut. After your first bite, you’ll wish this dish came with more than just three pieces.
The charred cauliflower, while not quite a standout, was still quite delicious. Lightly fried, the cauliflower itself was not particularly flavorful, but the accompanying sultanas and labneh, which is basically a creamy mediterranean aioli, really made the dish. In fact, the labneh also paired extremely well with the falafel. Without dipping it in the labneh, we found that the falafel was too dense and dry, but it was elevated to new levels once we realized this unexpected yet harmonious combination.
Of all the dishes, the baked farm egg with chorizo dressing and polenta was our least favorite. Though it sounded good on paper, this dish lacked the texture and flavor that the other dishes so beautifully capitulated. The egg was well-cooked (complete with plenty of yolk porn), but blended in too much with the polenta, resulting in a mushy texture and bland flavor. The chorizo was more salty than it was flavorful, and did nothing to salvage the dish. However, I liked the idea of a poached egg on the menu, and hope that the chefs will find a better way to serve it.
Our final savory course was the half roasted chicken with a sunchoke reduction. It seems as though the chefs had saved the best for last. After all, there are few things better than flavorful, juicy chicken covered in crunchy, briny skin. The sunchoke reduction amplified the chicken’s flavor perfectly. Though we were already pretty full by the time we got our final course, the chicken was one of the best dishes we had, and we made sure to make room. However, since this dish was advertised as one to share, we think that the presentation could have better reflected the sharing aspect. The chicken was served on the bone. In order to share it, we had to cut into it with our own utensils, which, if you were not dining with close friends or family, could get awkward. Given how delicious it is, leaving people to their own devices to cut the chicken could create a hunger games-esque situation. If this chicken were sliced before it were served, then it would probably be more socially acceptable to eat in a group!
In terms of drinks, En Boca is technically a wine bar, and boasts an extensive wine list, including plenty of fine wines by the glass. However, only one member of our group was over 21, and she does not like wine. Thankfully, En Boca offers many other options, including cocktails, beers, and ciders. She decided on the strawberry peach fizz cocktail. After her first sip, she decided it was both too sweet and too strong; the overwhelmingly saccharine aftertaste did not mask the taste of alcohol. Upon noticing that our friend was not drinking her drink, however, our server offered to get her another one that she might prefer.
This is just one example of the outstanding service at En Boca. While aspects of the menu are still a work in progress, one thing that En Boca has mastered is its service. Our server, Isabella, was polite, knowledgeable, and attentive. She truly made our dining experience as enjoyable as possible.
As for dessert, chef Bryan Jacobs, who used to be the private chef for both George Bush and the Anheuser-Busch family, is still experimenting with the menu. He served us a palate-cleansing dessert as well as an Egyptian cake. The palate-cleanser consisted of a quince sorbet with tahini shortbread, hazelnut and mint oils, and chantilly. While on paper, this combination may sound strange, it was one of the most unique desserts we had ever sampled; light, refreshing, sweet, and tangy.
The egyptian cake, made with semolina, and run, had a wonderfully crumbly texture without being dry. To achieve this texture while still maintaining the flavors of the cake, chef Jacobs used a brown butter reduction as his base, instead of the tried-and-true method of creaming butter and sugar together. Paired with the the airy chantilly, made using an oxygen gun, this dessert was also light, and the perfect amount of sweet. Though at this point in the meal, we had sampled at least nine different dishes, we were not completely stuffed to the point of feeling like we needed to lay still for hours. To achieve desserts that are both decadent and light is quite a feat, and chef Jacobs certainly accomplished it.
Two hours and $103 later (a reasonable price for such a high-quality dinner for three people), we left En Boca, stomachs full of delicious food and a desire to come back soon. While some of the small plates were not quite perfect, the chicken and the desserts were more than enough to keep us coming back for more. Before En Boca officially opened its doors, Goodwin acknowledged his excitement about opening and “correcting our mistakes as we go.” With its outstanding service and talent in the kitchen, En Boca has a great deal of potential, and we can’t wait to see how it evolves in the coming months.
On a night when there was no pizza to be found in the dining hall (a very sad night indeed), I struggled to put food on my plate that seemed appetizing. And then – genius struck. I could make my own pizza! I poached some marinara sauce from the spaghetti station while I waited for my bagels to toast, and asked the grille for two slices of cheese. Just a few minutes later, I was enjoying my pizza bagel while my blockmates drooled in jealousy. Soon, they too made their own pizza bagels, and together we marveled at how delicious they are, yet so easy to make. So the next time you are at a loss for what to eat for lunch or dinner, consider the pizza bagel. It won’t let you down!
A bagel, cut into halves (use either plain or whole grain)
Cheese (either from the sandwich bar or from the grille)
Bacon or other toppings that you think would make your pizza bagel even better (optional)
Toast the bagel until it is well-toasted (a little more than golden brown). You want to ensure that it will not get soggy when you put the marinara sauce on it. Then, add the marinara sauce, about a spoonful for each half, or more depending on your preference. If you are adding toppings, place them on top of the marinara sauce. Place one slice of cheese on each half. Put the prepared pizza bagel into the microwave for 20-30 seconds or until the cheese is sufficiently melted. Wait for the pizza bagel to cool for as long as your self-control will allow you (no more than a few minutes though, thank god) and enjoy!
It’s Wednesday at 12:10pm. You’re in the servery. Well, it’s not just you, but about 30 other people who decided to eat at 12:10 just like you did. (How inconsiderate of them! #butactually.) First the trays run out, then the forks, and finally, your patience is gone.
Then, from the end of the line, you see a mouthwatering mountain of sweet potato fries…Heaven. It’s finally your turn in line, and everything is right with the world.
This d-hall hack is for the days when you want sweet potato fries, and sweet potato fries only. This fry/nacho hybrid is quite simple, low-commitment, and only involves 2 seconds of your precious, between-class time.
A nice big plate of sweet potato fries
Cheese: feta from the salad bar, cheddar from the chili station, American/Swiss cheese from the sandwich
Scallions from the chili station
If you like it hot… Try some chill powder, hot pepper flakes, anything you can find.
How it’s done:
Get some sweet potato fries. Pile on any cheese you’d like, some scallions, and anything you can think of that tastes good with cheese and potatoes.
Throw it in the microwave. 45 seconds will do it.
Dipping Sauce Ideas:
Sour cream mixed with dill (you know, those spices you always think about using but never do?)
I’m often wary of repeating myself. Honestly, I’m a busy student with limited time in a day and repetition hinders my ability to do everything I need and want to do. So I’ve resolved to cut out the unnecessary time spent doing things multiple times, and I’m here to share my tricks with you.
1. It’s not chai tea.
Don’t even bother with this useless repetition. In Hindi chai means tea, so you’re basically just saying the same thing twice. No, you don’t want a tea-tea latte – only one tea will suffice. So save yourself the time and trouble next time you find yourself in line at Starbucks (so tomorrow?)
2. Nope. Not naan bread.
Naan is Indian style bread that is usually paired with different combinations of vegetables and lentils. So don’t say naan bread. It’s weird and it sounds silly. You’re basically talking about bread, and then clarifying that you’re talking about bread, all in the span of two words. That’s called overkill.
3. Cheese quesadilla? Try again.
The word quesadilla literally has the word “queso,” meaning cheese, in it. So I think it’s safe to say that your quesadilla will have cheese even if you choose not to add the extra clarification. Guacamole is still extra, though.
Eliminating these redundancies can be a huge time saver. Maybe you’ll do all of your reading! Maybe you’ll make it to the dining hall before they run out of carnival cookies! There are so many possibilities and, for once, so much time.
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.
A couple of weeks ago, the Freshman Dean’s Office organized a food walking tour that took students to a variety of Cambridge’s best cafes, restaurants, and markets. Below is a list of the places that the group visited followed by a brief description of the food that is served so that when your palate is wanting something different and delicious, you know where to go:
Clover (7 Holyoke St.):Known for using locally grown produce to create delicious vegetarian dishes, Clover is the best place to grab a quick and healthy sandwich on the cheap.
Broadway Market (468 Broadway):Across the street from the Harvard Art Museum, one of the most affordable markets near the Yard. It has everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, cheeses, sushi, and more.
Savenor’s Market (92 Kirkland St.):A butcher shop that was supposedly a favorite of Julia Child, Savenor’s sells a plethora of meats. If you’re feeling adventurous, my most exotic finds were Pheasant, alligator, foie gras, rabbit, and buffalo.
The Biscuit (406 Washington St, Somerville, MA): Just a few blocks from Annenberg, The Biscuit is a great café to go to for a nice cup of coffee and a delicious baked treat that is off the beaten trail.
Shiso Kitchen (374 Washington St., Somerville, MA):For those who weren’t able to take Harvard’s Science and Cooking course this semester, you can go to Shiso Kitchen and learn how to prepare foods from places like France, Thailand, and Italy for a variety of occasions. A typical class is anywhere from $50-$100.
Reliable Market (45 Union Square, Somerville, MA):A wonderful Asian food market that sells an endless amount of ingredients commonly used in the preparation of Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese dishes.
Capone Foods (14 Bow St., Somerville): A charming store that specializes in selling fine Italian wines, homemade cheeses, meats, and pasta sheets! This is also the place to get cannolis when you tire of Mike’s Pastry!
Union Square Donuts (20 Bow St., Somerville, MA):A gourmet donut shop that sells delicious donuts including flavors like: Brown Butter Hazelnut Crunch, Sea-Salted Bourbon Caramel, and Boston Cream. You can visit their store (address above) or catch them at the weekly farmer’s market on campus!
Bloc 11 (11 Bow St., Somerville, MA):Not only does Bloc 11 brew amazing fair-trade coffee, it also pays its employees a living wage and benefits while providing them with a comprehensive training program that will prepare them to work in any position in the restaurant.
Whether you are new to the Harvard campus, or are simply cooped up in the Quad working on problem sets, you may not have had the opportunity yet to attend a Lowell House tea – and you’re certainly missing out. Every Thursday at 5 o’clock sharp, the kettles are whistling and the students are hustling into the beautiful home of Lowell House Masters Diana Eck and Dorothy Austin.
The weekly gathering is a long-established tradition for Lowell students, but Eck and Austin kindly open their doors to non-House members as well. After waiting in line for several minutes with anticipation building, you are ushered into Lowell’s beautiful courtyard (weather permitting), and from there the opportunities are endless.
The green enclosure is a small departure from the rest of the event. There, a linen covered table offers tortilla chips and guacamole. However, in keeping with the elegant standards of this house affair, there is also a bright punch bowl of lemonade to keep guests hydrated and to serve as an option for the non-tea drinkers out there.
Inside, the real delights appear. Popping your head through gaps in the throng, you can spot Lowell’s famous monkey bread, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter brownies, and some apple crisp – all fresh out of the oven. The warm, gooey pastries are the product of eager Lowell House student-chefs, fondly dubbed “Lowell Elves.”
Lowell resident Anne Mathews ’16 is baking for the first time this year. “Some things, likes the scones and cheesecake bars, are Lowell traditions,” Matthew explains. “But my favorite thing to make is sugar cookies.” Indeed, the cookies are a crowd favorite. Master’s Residence Manager Charlotte McKetchnie is in charge of the beloved function, though student bakers can be seen scurrying out the kitchen and into the parlor to replenish any plate looking too bare.
And if cookies aren’t your cup of tea, there are several cake options throughout the hour. First, a beautiful wedding cake. (Yes, Lowell tea offers a small, white wedding cake.) Then, a decadent chocolate slice awaits. Finally, for the third restock, another beautiful yellow cake adorned with flowers. All of the food looks so professional, you would think Harvard offered a culinary class.
For the savory fanatics, there is the extremely popular baked brie and crackers. Be warned: if you’re not there within seconds of this platter being put down, you won’t even be able to find a trace of the delectable cheese. In keeping with the tradition of high tea, there is also a platter of finger sandwiches, ranging from a classic cucumber to a trendy Nutella.
And the attendees, hosts, and bakers aren’t the only ones enjoying themselves every Thursday.
“Dorothy and Diana have an adorable polydactyl cat named Willy who gets underfoot in the kitchen,” Mathews said.
One of the best meals I had in Italy this summer was not what I or most people would think of as typical, delicious Italian food. It wasn’t a bowl of beautifully crafted pasta tossed in just the right amount of mouthwatering sauce. It wasn’t a perfectly crisped and topped pizza. In fact, there weren’t many carbs at all.
Maybe if we went back five centuries or so, this would’ve been standard fare (it was, after all, a medieval restaurant). If this is the case, take me back to the 1500s. Because arguably the best dish I had during eight weeks in Italy (excluding the daily gelato, of course) was a simple plate of warmed and slightly melted pecorino fresco, served with lightly baked pears, all drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Maybe it sounds weird. Maybe you’re thinking Italians should’ve stuck to what they do best: pasta. But I, and my even-now-watering mouth beg to differ. There was something about the combined creaminess of the pecorino with the sweetness of the pear and honey and the warmth of the cinnamon that made this simply divine. The disappointment was audible as everyone scraped their plates clean with perfectly-spiced bread, wishing that they had made it last just the slightest bit longer.
So now as I sit in lecture, daydreaming of all the food I ate and asking if this summer was even real, my mind is running, thinking of ways I can transport this simple dish forward through time and across the Atlantic. And I think I have an idea that might just satisfy my longing and hopefully satisfy your taste buds.
Italians have little concept of breakfast: colazione is often nothing more than a cappuccino or espresso at a bar, perhaps paired with a simple brioche. Though I would rarely make it to breakfast during college, even I somehow felt the absence of this “most important meal of the day.” So when I finally started going to breakfast this year, I realized peanut butter oatmeal can get pretty boring pretty fast and decided to draw inspiration from the Italians. Pears and cheese, but now for breakfast – as toast. It’s the tiniest bit indulgent, but perfectly filling and the much-needed pick-me-up to get me ready for the day.
1.) Toast two slices of multigrain bread to your liking. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each slice.
2.) Cut a pear into thin slices and arrange on top of toast.
3.) Drizzle with honey and warm slightly in the microwave.
Feeling fancy? Grab a nice baguette and a soft cheese. Lightly toast the bread, then immediately place thin slices of cheese on top so that the cheese melts slightly. Top with pear slices and lightly dust with cinnamon. Drizzle with honey and the slightest bit of balsamic vinegar (the more aged, the better!). Enjoy. You’ll never need Crema sandwiches again!