Annenberg Cook-Off

by Audrey Thorne ’19

The basic structure
Five teams, three judges, one winner. The teams were given from 4:30 pm until 6 pm to cook and plate their dishes. Each team must incorporate apples into their dish.

The teams
Al Dente Al Fresco, Working Title, Shakers and Bakers, Ratatouille, and Fernando the Destroyer.

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The judges

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The winning dish
Working Title won for their Chicken Cordon Bleu in a honey mustard glaze, with a provolone melt and a side of maple whipped sweet potatoes with sage butter and a Fall salad.

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Ingredients
Each team received $18 in plastic Farmer’s Market currency to buy fresh ingredients from the fair. All spending in the market was rounded up to the dollar and had to occur before 4:30. In addition to produce bought at the fair, the teams had access to Annenberg’s salad bar, raw eggs, milk, and the secret ingredient: apples.

image8 image9 image10 Crunch time
“I had class from 3-5pm, so I had to buy my ingredients in advance and start cooking just over a half hour late. My group, Ratatouille, purchased homemade rigatoni for $6.50, a fresh sweet potato for $2, and seasoned almonds for $3.”

What did it feel like cooking in front of a crowd?
“Exciting. I ran in just past 5 pm to see a full production: five tables tended to by guys and girls in white aprons and hats, scurrying about, chopping and simmering. Others strolled from table to table cooing and inquiring. Friends came by taking photos. My teammates plated the pasta and uncooked apples, followed by the seared the chopped apples and sweet potatoes. To our right one team seared scallops and whipped sweet potatoes. To our left the girls cooked cranberry sauce and assembled three swans out of apple slices, one on each judge’s plate. Each team’s dish looked so different, not just in how it was cooked but also how it was presented, despite the similarities in ingredients.”

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Hot Tamales at the Farmers Market

by Audrey Thorne ’19
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I love the Farmers Market. More specifically, I love to wander around the Farmers Market to kill time between morning and afternoon classes, before Annenberg opens for lunch but after they have closed for breakfast. I tend to stroll and admire the booths, but practice restraint. If I let myself have free reign I would end up taking home half of the food from the fair. Still, the red and white chalk declaring TAMALES $4 caught my eye – glaring from the “Tex Mex Eats” booth. I had never had tamales.

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What exactly are tamales? Mexican, I knew. Handmade, the sign explained. Also gluten free. Hmm. Were they spicy? I do not always do well with spicy. I used to think Chipotle was too spicy, although I have of course learned the error of my ways.
I stood uncertain long enough for two customers to go before me. One looked hard at the sign before asking for two bean and cheese. The woman running the booth spoke quickly, asking if she wanted it wrapped up, asking if she wanted to pay with cash or card. “Wrapped up,” the first customer said. “Cash.”
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The woman running the booth pulled out two cylinder shapes with spring roll textured wrappings. The next customer orders a traditional pork to walk with and a corn wrapped up without a single glance at the sign. The woman running the booth quickly pulled out another cylinder, peeled of the wrapping, and handed it to the woman. She then retrieved an unsealed cob of corn, a tub of butter, powdered cheese, and red powder. She peeled the corn, painted it all the way around with butter, lies it on tin foil, and coated it evenly with both powders. She looked down at it again. Added more red powder. Then she sealed it all in, wrapping the tin foil tightly around the yellow and white kerneled corn.
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I decided to be adventurous. “A traditional pork tamale, a bean and cheese tamale, and a corn on the cob. And can I have it wrapped up?”
Because I have always loved Mexican corn and I was still tentative to try something new, I started with the corn. The surface was thick with butter and the red powder, the corn itself juicy, hot, and fresh. The red powder made me nervous. It reminded me of hot curry powder. And it burned my lips, set my mouth aflame, but in the best way. I devoured all but the patch of burned kernels. Then, after turning and turning the cob as if more yellow corn would magically appear and deciding that such a method would not be successful, I ate a few of the blackened ones in the absence of more yellow and white kernels. I rewrapped my empty cob in its buttery foil and returned it to the brown bag the woman at the booth had given me. I retrieve my next trial, the tamales.
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I peel off the outside wrapper, uncertain of what to expect. Inside of the more solid wrappings, the tamales are sweet potato orange and soft. I opt for bean And cheese first, thinking it safer. It burns sweet and spicy on my tongue, stronger than the corn. The traditional pork is more savory, dissociating in my mouth. I slice a few pieces of both, eat them together so the flavors can play off each other. The traditional pork balances the spice of the bean and cheese, but I find I like each better individually. Even though the bean and cheese hurts me, I cannot stop. I alternate between the two so as not to be overwhelmed by the spice of the bean and cheese or finish the traditional pork too quickly.
Next time I see the booth I am likely to order a few traditional pork tamales to go. It was nice to try some new foods, but the spicy life still isn’t for me.

Basia’s Scoop (#3: Christina’s)

by Basia Rosenbaum ’18

There is a Cambridge debate over ice cream: Toscanini’s vs. Christina’s. Central Square vs. Inman. Cocoa pudding vs. chocolate mousse (below left, along with cactus pear, right).

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A couple weeks ago I went to Toscanini’s, and this week I tried Christina’s.

Starting with location, Christina’s takes it. Just 10 minutes down the road from CGIS, I wondered why I didn’t go to Inman more often. Fun restaurants (including Punjabi Dhaba serving great cheap Indian food), cute shops, and a branch of the always amazing 1369 Coffee House.

Walk inside and Christina’s has a completely different vibe. Whereas Toscanini’s feels almost hipster—minimalist décor, flavors written in chalk, people coding over ice cream—Christina’s feels like an institution. This is not a shop designed to impress; rather meant to let the flavors speak for themselves.

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The range of flavors at Christina’s is impressive and there is an excellent combination of standard favorites with creative offerings. There’s maple walnut, black raspberry, rum raisin, and pistachio. But also Adzuki bean, banana cinnamon and Khulfi.

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Butter almond and peanut butter chip

Some of the flavors were amazing; some were less impressive. The butter almond was fantastic, but after a few bites I realized the peanut butter chip wasn’t one to order again. Cactus pear sorbet? Such an interesting option (and color). But while yummy initially, it was just too sweet and left me with a taste of pure sugar. The chocolate mousse is fantastic (better than Toscanini’s cocoa pudding in my opinion) and their chocolate chip cookie dough is great (as all chocolate chip cookie dough flavors are).

My best advice is to taste before you buy (and taste extensively). Depending on what flavor you order, you will leave with an entirely different impressive of Christina’s. Find the right flavors and this might be your favorite Cambridge ice cream.

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Chocolate chip cookie dough

You can also find Christina’s at the weekly Farmer’s Market in the Science Center. Albeit serving just a few options, the mobile Christina’s is great way to try the ice cream closer to campus.

Toscanini’s vs. Christina’s. I’d have to say that I come out of the side of Toscanini’s. But when we’re talking about good ice cream, why would we even have a debate? The more good ice cream options, the better.