There are a lot of scallion pancakes out there, but not all are made equal. We, the Crimson Crave Board, set out to find which scallion pancakes reigned supreme.
To keep things fair, we set up a blind taste test. We randomized and assigned letters to scallion pancakes from five locations: 9 Tastes, Cilantro, the Kong, Spice, and Dumpling House. A silent tasting and voting period yielded shocking results.
Pancake A: Spice
Caroline: These are pretty doughy and small, which I’m pretty thankful for because I don’t have to commit and suffer through eating a large but mediocre scal-pal.
Saranya: Where are the scallions? This is underwhelming.
Siqi: These pancakes are not crispy at all, but they have a good onion taste.
Pancake B: Dumpling House
Sara: Definitely a taste explosion and great mouthfeel. My oh my! There are scallions everywhere! Just the right amount of scal, just the right amount of pal.
Richa: Yes. This is correct.
Bovey: Nice and chewy, but the sauce is a little vinegary.
Caroline: I love how these have a mixture of textures, the perfect balance of crispy and doughy, packed with that addictive scallion flavor. The scallions in the soy sauce are also a nice touch.
Pancake C: The Kong
Richa: I’m actually offended by these. They taste like regret.
Sara: Mild on the palate, but so mild that it feels like it’s not even there. I feel like there’s no scallion in there… BUT, if you drown it in soy sauce it’s pretty good!
Caroline: These are super fried and basically taste like generic fried dough from the county fair. No scal either!
Pancake D: Cilantro
Bovey: Nice and crunchy, and good scallion flavor too.
Siqi: Good smell, super crunchy, and I really like the soy sauce!
Saranya: Almost too fried? But still really good.
Pancake E: 9 Tastes
Sara: Thick, nice shapes, cute… but lacking serious scal. Floury. The shapes are cute, and almost make up for the lack of taste explosion.
Richa: Same as the first one EOM
Siqi: Not crispy at all, and the salt definitely isn’t equally distributed.
In the end, Dumpling House and Cilantro tied for first and – brace yourselves – Dumpling House was far and away the worst (oh the humanity!) with a nearly unanimous vote. If you’re as shocked as we are, take comfort in Sara’s analysis of the results: “At the end of the day, Kong delivers to your door at 2am and Dumpling House is far. So there’s that.”
I found heaven tucked between a Starbucks and pizza parlor.
Its name? Somerville on the Charles – a charming chocolate pop-up shop that is making its winter home on Harvard Square’s Church Street, keeping the space normally occupied by Lizzy’s Ice Cream cozy during the colder months.
The shop, which is open 11am to 11pm, seven days a week from December to February, is a collab between Gâté Comme des Filles and Somerville Chocolates, each run separately by chocolatiers Alexandra Whisnant and Eric Parkes.
While the storefront only spans the width of a door and window display, its quaint, unassuming appearance by no means embodies the bold flavors of its chocolates.
There are two main types of treats – French-style bon bons (provided by Gâté Comme des Filles) and chocolate bars (provided by Somerville Chocolates). Bon bons are creamy ganaches hand-dipped in a thin chocolate coating. With only two ingredients, cacao and sugar, the bean-to-bar chocolate brings sweetness down to its core raw goodness. The shop’s most popular items are the Hawaiian chocolate bar and honey-walnut and vanilla bean bon bons.
Everything is made in small batches, so flavors rotate daily. In addition, ingredients are chosen with great care – in fact, the honey, peppermint, and thyme are all sourced from right here in Cambridge.
Somerville on the Charles also offers to-die-for brownies and a rich, decadent mousse that’s scooped into cones like ice cream (what more could you ask for?!).
And if you’re looking for a holiday gift, check out the 4-piece giftbox or a combination of the Nicaraguan and Hawaiian chocolate bars.
At least for the next three months, I know where I’ll be going to satisfy my sugar fix.
Flour Bakery and Café will be open starting Tuesday, November 1st at 114 Mount Auburn Street from 7a-8p (based on website hours).
This past Sunday, Flour Bakery and Café held an open house event for their new Harvard Square location, and CrimsonCrave was invited to attend!
Entering Flour, we were promptly greeted by the founder, Joanne Chang, as she shook hands and welcomed everyone in. I instantly noticed the classic menu in the back and the counter that is normally lined with pastries like in the other locations. On the left, there was the ubiquitous wooden table alongside shelves stocked with cookbooks and prepared pastries like biscotti. To the right, there is the sandwich counter and seats alongside the windows and a small alcove with tables. Immediately, I was impressed with the modern space and relaxed environment. Natural light poured into the café as it bustled with activity. Friends, family, and staff happily engaged in conversation, while snacking on savory and sweet treats prepared by Flour.
While I was exploring the space, staff frequently came by and introduced themselves. Despite this being an open house, the staff was happy to converse with the guests and attentively monitored the many platters. The general manager was clearly excited about opening this store as she gestured for us to try the food that was prepared.
Savory items ranged from pizzas to their signature sandwiches and large bowls of their salads. As I began sampling through the selection, I noted the soba salad and the stuffed breads as some of my favorites. The roasted lamb sandwich with goat cheese and tomato chutney is one of my old favorites.
For sweets, there was a wide selection of Flour’s specialties such as muffins, brownies, cupcakes, mini tarts, and their famous sticky buns. These expertly crafted treats can satisfy any sweet tooth as there is such a large selection. My favorites include the pumpkin muffins, pain aux raisins, and obviously the freshly baked sticky buns.
My criticism of Flour was the size; however, this may be due to the activity and sheer number of people at the store. When I sat to talk to my friends, the alcove seating area was relatively cramped, so this Flour location is likely better suited for smaller groups. Most of the tables are designed for two people, which makes Flour excellent for breakfast or lunch meetings with a friend. At these tables, I conversed with some incredibly individuals, so I included their picture.
If the open house was a trial event for Flour Harvard Square, I can only say that it was a tremendous success. The staff were warm and welcoming, and the food was clearly prepared with care. I am beyond excited for the official opening of Flour and welcome it to Harvard Square.
However, these are simply my musings, so for a true assessment, you must visit it yourself!
Author’s Note (Bovey Rao)
Two years ago, I was in Boston for a high school research program. While working on my final paper, I tried to see the city that I had essentially ignored over the course of the program. After a productive morning at the Boston Public Library, I went for a lunch break and began wandering the streets of Boston. For me in high school, I was not yet the intense food lover as I would describe myself today, but I still sought a good lunch. While wandering the vibrant neighborhoods of Back Bay, I stumbled upon Flour Bakery and Café. Seeing the long line, I was enticed by the promise of a popular lunch destination. After receiving my lamb sandwich, I found a seat at the communal wood table, took a bite, and the rest is history.
Flour Bakery and Café has been one of the staples of my time at Harvard. While the nearest branch is near Kendall Square and MIT, I frequently made the trek for lunch with friends, grabbing birthday cakes, or indulging in a sweet morsel (normally sticky buns or banana bread). In my countless visits to Flour, I can happily say that I only have positive memories associated with the space. When I heard Flour was coming to Harvard Square, I could barely contain myself with excitement.
Last week, I became communicating with Joanne Chang about interviewing her about the new Flour, and she graciously agreed. Furthermore, she invited me, Richa, and Caroline to the open house on Sunday. Joanne Chang is the founder of Flour Bakery and Café and a Harvard graduate in Applied Math and Economics in ’91. She maintains a strong connection with Harvard by teaching lectures for the Science and Cooking series. This past Friday, I was blessed with the opportunity to have a conversation with her so we could discuss the path to opening the Harvard Square branch of Flour. Then on Sunday, we attended the open house to have a glimpse of what was to come. I cannot be unbiased when I talk about Flour due to my history of positive experiences, but I think it will suffice to say that I am exuberant to showcase the opening of my favorite bakery and café from Boston in Harvard Square.
Much love to Marcella Park and Cynthia Gu, who visited Flour with me this Sunday.
The Chicken & Rice Guys food truck is a familiar sight in the Science Center plaza. Nonetheless, I had always somewhat ignored the block of sunny yellow. Compared to Vietnamese sandwiches and gourmet grilled cheese, who would want to spend money on boring chicken and rice?
My opinion changed the moment I actually tasted that “boring” chicken and rice. The chicken was tender, flavorful, and warm; the rice, lettuce, and sauces blended perfectly into a crisp, smooth mouthful of deliciousness. It got me wondering if I could recreate the taste in the d-hall. Who wouldn’t want to eat Chicken & Rice Guys all the time?
After doing a bit of research, I’ve concluded that perfectly recreating the dish is impossible without considerable amounts of time, effort, and spices (to prove my point, here’s a recipe for a similar halal food truck in New York City). However, it IS possible to create an approximation that isn’t too shabby. Best of all, you won’t need to buy anything on your own, and you can substitute ingredients and alter proportions to make it as healthy or indulgent as you want.
lettuce (and any other vegetables you want)
rice (I used brown rice for my meal, but feel free to use any other kind of rice!)
1 /2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice (Yes, they have this in the d-hall.)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoons vinegar (Yes, they also have non-balsamic vinegar in the d-hall. HUDS is just full of surprises, isn’t it?)
2 tablespoons ranch or blue cheese dressing
salt and pepper to taste
(Helpful tip: 1/2 cup is about half of a d-hall soup bowl. You can use the d-hall spoons for teaspoons and tablespoons.)
We’ve all been there – you walk into the dining hall, and nothing really piques your appetite. You could settle for a salad, but that’s hardly satisfying. You could splurge and eat out, but you don’t want to spend money. What to do?
Fortunately, there’s a third option that’s ALWAYS available: make your own meal. More specifically, make your own fried rice.
Fried rice is unbelievably easy to make. At home, my family often makes it with whatever ingredients are at hand: rice (of course), steamed vegetables, egg, leftover meat. Here’s my dhall version of fried rice.
(Feel free to add, remove, or change any part or the recipe! Everything is entirely up to you and your tastes.)
I’ve always loved peanut butter – so much so, in fact, that for my 11th birthday I asked for peanut butter as a present. I also really like cookies. Put the two together, and you achieve perfection: peanut butter cookies are heavenly. Unfortunately, they’re also nowhere to be found in the dining halls. To date, I only remember HUDS serving peanut butter cookies twice, and they were a far cry from the melt-in-your-mouth masterpieces found at places like Insomnia Cookies. It’s culinary discrimination. Chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin get their fair representation, but when that peanut-butter-cookie craving strikes, where can a desperate student turn?
They say that desperation is the mother of invention, and this article is about to prove that saying true.
I think inspiration struck one night in Dunster dining hall. Brain break featured a tray of Ranger cookies, a sugary offering to the bleary-eyed students running on three hours of sleep. While Ranger cookies do have strong points, such as their satisfying crunch and slight hint of coconut, they obviously lack peanut butter. I picked up a cookie. My gaze landed on the ever-present container of peanut butter at brain breaks. I smeared a plump dollop of peanut butter onto the cookie, hesitantly took a bite, and…
Sweet, sweet success.
The creamy peanut butter provides perfect contrast to the crunch of the Ranger cookie. It also makes overbaked and dry cookies seem softer, more soothing on the tongue. Both organic peanut butter and normal peanut butter work; since the cookie contains more sugar than is probably necessary, the organic peanut butter will also taste sweet.
Veritaffles are a staple of the Harvard student diet – there’s nothing like a warm, carbohydrate – infused start to another long day of problem sets, and club meetings, and all of the other delightful things an overbooked undergraduate has to look forward to.
But sometimes, you need to spice up your Veritaffle. A plain waffle is just not enough. That’s where the amazing oatmeal peanut butter Veritaffle comes in. It’s a quick and easy d-hall hack to make your breakfast and brunches heartier than ever.
1 medium size bowl of the waffle mix
2-3 scoops of oatmeal
2-3 spoonfuls of peanut butter
These are very straightforward: all you need to do is throw in a couple extra ingredients into the pre-made waffle batter!
1. Obtain the bowl of waffle batter. (If anyone who looks at you strangely while you’re pouring the waffle mix into a bowl, just tell them that you eat your waffles nice and raw.)
2. Add the oatmeal, and mix thoroughly so there are no clumps of batter or oatmeal.
3. Add the peanut butter, and mix thoroughly once more so the peanut butter is evenly mixed into the batter.
4. Pour into waffle maker, wait those anxious 2.5 minutes, and enjoy!
Optional Waffle Toppings:
Sliced banana and honey
The tried-and-true whipped cream and syrup combination