Welcome Back to Harvard! Here’s What’s Happening

By Bovey Rao ‘19

As the summer draws to a close, many may be wondering what on earth has happened to Harvard Square. Many beloved restaurants perished with the remodeling of the Smith Center. Student favorites like Al’s are now gone, so our stomachs may be running a little on empty. A few other promises of summer openings were left unfulfilled, but this guide is perhaps a glimmer of hope for what has and will come to Harvard Square.

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Image from Tom’s Bao Bao

 

Tom’s Bao Bao – Chinese steamed buns, baozi, are the specialty of Tom’s Bao Bao. Various unique fillings are enveloped by airy white dough before being steamed to perfection. From the upscale lobster to the decadent chili beef, there are plenty of excellent options for a quick meal or snack. While slightly pricey, Tom’s Bao Bao is a great addition to Harvard Square for the adventurous student.

Waypoint
Image from Waypoint

Waypoint – Alden & Harlow is not only one of my favorite restaurants in Harvard Square but is one of my favorites in all of Boston. Michael Scelfo, the chef behind Alden & Harlow, recently opened a seafood restaurant, Waypoint, near Harvard Square. Following a similar small plate concept, Waypoint will hopefully become another Boston staple as it opened with excitement.

Upcoming

B. Good Google Maps
Image from Google Maps

B.Good – One of the favorite destinations for students seeking a healthier alternative to fast-food, B.Good was missed when it closed due to the Smith Center renovations. However, it is scheduled to return in a short while at the former O Sushi space. The fresh burgers, salads, and fries are things to look forward to in the near future.

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Image from En Boca Cambridge

En Boca – Mediterranean flavors are coming to Harvard Square from En Boca, a restaurant by the team from The Asgard and The Kinsale. Deviating from their other Irish pubs, Classic Restaurants Concepts is creating En Boca with Devin Broo from Bar Boulud. Originally slated to open in August 2016, the restaurant appears to be close to opening.

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Image from DavidsTea

DavidsTea – DavidsTea is a tea store that was started in Canada and has begun expanding into the United States. With other locations in Massachusetts, DavidsTea specializes in various tea related products from teas themselves to mugs and other accessories. The store is slated to finish in September 2016.

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Image from The Hourly Oyster House

The Hourly Oyster House – In the former Kennedy’s on the Square space, the Grafton Group is creating an oyster bar known as the Hourly. With well-established restaurants like Russell House Tavern, Park Restaurant, and Grafton Street, the Grafton Group continues to expand their empire with a seafood specialty restaurant in Harvard Square. It promises to provide extensive take-out options, perfect for students in a hurry. The Hourly is looking to open in early fall 2016.

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Image from Tatte Bakery and Cafe

Tatte Bakery & Café – It is obvious that I am a fan of Tatte Bakery and Café and perhaps was one of few students who was happy when Panera closed. Tatte will bring their fresh pastries and other delicacies to Harvard Square with a weekend brunch menu and cooking lessons. The space is currently under construction and hopefully will be opening in September.

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Image from sweetgreen

Sweetgreen – A large salad chain started by a group of Georgetown graduates is coming to Harvard Square. With the success of Sweetgreen in Back Bay, the chain planned to expand extensively in the Boston area. Highlighting local purveyors like Iggy’s Bread and Ward’s Berry Farm, Sweetgreen is bringing accessible farm to table to the square. Look for it to open in the fall.

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Image of Rialto from Forbes Travel Guide

Benedetto – With the closure of Rialto, Harvard Square lost one of its long-term residents. After providing upscale Italian cuisine to the community for over twenty years, the restaurant did not wish to continue after the departure of chef Jody Adams. Giulia chef and owner, Michael Pagliarini, plans to open Benedetto in the Rialto space, which I believe to be an exciting transition. Giulia has garnered stellar reviews, and hopefully Benedetto maintains the legacy of Rialto. The current opening date is ambiguously set in fall 2016.

Flour
Image from Flour Bakery + Cafe

Flour Bakery + Café – Harvard graduate and star baker (James Beard Awardee), Joanne Chang, is bringing her Flour Bakery + Café to Harvard Square. From the famous sticky buns to excellent sandwiches, Flour has become a Boston staple, and it was great news to hear that one is coming to Harvard Square. The Harvard Square branch is projected to open in October 2016.

Island Creek Oyster Bar Taste Savant
Image of Island Creek Oyster Bar from Taste Savant

Restaurant from Island Creek Oyster Bar/Row 34 – While the opening date remains the most distant, I simply wish to show my excitement for another restaurant by this group. Island Creek Oyster Bar is my favorite seafood restaurant in Boston after numerous memorable experiences. I look forward to what concept will be devised.

 

Featured Image from Wikimedia

First Time at the Berg

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18

This weekend, students from all over the world are coming to campus for Visitas, Harvard’s admitted student weekend.  You can see them grouped in front of the John Harvard statue, loitering outside of Canaday, or sitting in on a class at the Science Center.  It’s a weekend of firsts for these students: first friends, first time getting lost on the way to Quad, and, most importantly, first time eating at Annenberg.

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Actual Instagram from my first time at Annenberg because I was the coolest pre-frosh in town

I remember my first time walking into Annenberg.  It was overwhelming and exciting, much like the rest of my Visitas experience.  I walked in to the Berg (which I was too scared to call it at the time in case I sounded like a try-hard) and felt like I had truly made it.  I had a very basic meal – spaghetti and tomato sauce – because I have this theory that you need to start at the basics to really get the sense of a place.  I stayed there for hours, meeting new people and basking in the light of the stained glass windows.

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But when I came to school that fall, I slowly began losing that wonder.  Instead of looking up at awe, I would groan when they ran out of carnival cookies and run to Expos.  I would be there, but never be there, taking it all in.

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My pre-frosh’s first bites of HUDS cuisine

Yesterday, I spoke with a pre-frosh who had just had her first meal in the Berg.  She spoke of it as a thing of beauty, as if it was magical.  Her food was amazing, she met so many people, and she even proudly recounted ordering from the grill (something I finally got the nerve to do freshmen fall).  It reminded me of the wonder I felt the first time I was there, living those experiences, taking my first bites of HUDS food, and freaking out when I realized I could even have Coke with my breakfast.  It’s funny to think about how much has changed in all of our lives since the first time we ate at Annenberg.  That’s why I think Visitas is timed perfectly timed.  Sitting in between midterms and finals, when we’re really feeling grumpy and tired, it reminds us of that wonder.  At least it certainly did for me.

FLP Thai Cooking Class

by Hayoung Chang ’18

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Today, I ventured down to the depths of Northwest Labs to attend a Thai food cooking class. Led by a Thai chef, the class was filled with a diverse mix of people including hungry college students like me, grad students, as well as old people. After a swift safety briefing, we familiarized ourselves with the authentic Thai ingredients, utensils, and layout of the cooking lab, a neat and comfortable space.

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Following the instructions of our instructor chef as well as the recipe, we got to work. Chopping vegetables and mixing sauces, I was glad to get my hands dirty with some Thai spices. My partners prepared the vermicelli noodles. Mixing it all together, the fresh peppers, hint of spice and succulent noodles combined to create a wonderful dish. I could hardly believe that I had cooked it myself!

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Next, we started preparing the curry by warming some coconut milk. The fragrance bubbling up from the pot was enough to make my mouth water. With my stomach growling, we added dollops of spice and sauces, plopped in some tofu, tomatoes and pineapples, and brought the curry to a gentle boil. Once the consistency was just right, we sprinkled some basil to finish it off. 

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The taste was amazing, to say the least. Perhaps the fact that we had cooked it from scratch had heightened my senses. The curry was just the right amount of spicy, creamy and silky smoothness. The warm and soft tofu complemented the sharp sweetness of the pineapple. Drizzled over jasmine rice, the dish was a huge success.

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Overall, I immensely enjoyed the experience. Not only did I learn how to make some great curry, I also learned to appreciate food, and real food. These days, we consume so many processed and pre-cooked foods, that we often forget where food comes from. By partaking in the process of transforming fruit, vegetables and grain to a delightful dish, my eyes were opened to the true nature of food. Perhaps that’s a little too cheesy, but hey, at least I got the best curry recipe under my belt.

Gluten Free Matzo

by Danielle Leavitt

Matzo, pronounced “mat-zah,” is a special type of bread made with no yeast or leavening. It is the traditional bread of the Jewish holiday Passover, which will be celebrated this year on April 22nd, lasting for 8 days. The history of matzo goes back to when a Pharaoh governed Egypt and the Jewish people living in the land were his slaves. The Pharaoh decided at one point to exile the slaves. Story goes that they left to cross the Sinai desert to the land of Canaan in such haste, that they had no time for their bread to rise, and thus matzo was born! Flour is used as a main ingredient along with water, oil, and salt. Finally, there is now a gluten free counterpart to those that have this dietary restriction!

 

Ingredients in gluten free matzo are tapioca starch, water, potato starch, potato flakes, palm oil, natural vinegar, honey, egg yolks, and salt. These flat bread matzos can be used to make sandwiches, a matzo egg scramble, or just eaten plain. They are great tasting and only 125 calories per piece! A gluten free Passover is now possible!

 

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Brunch with a Beat

by Audrey Thorne ’19

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My parents and brother came down for opening weekend of my play. When asked where I wanted to go for brunch, I quickly answered Beat Brasserie. From the outside it looks hip and too fancy for a casual college student meal, but as a foodie, Beat Brasserie struck my curiosity.

Beat Brasserie is divided into booths, tables, and high tops. Upon our arrival we were seated promptly in a booth. The waiter brought us menus, then water. He came to check if we wanted anything to drink, then if we were ready to place our food order.

The menu was eclectic. I wanted to try everything. Between the four of us we ordered a Sophia’s Greek Yogurt, a mushroom soup, steak frites and eggs, oysters, and shrimp tacos. While we waited for our food to be cooked we listened to the smooth live music.
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The fruit in the fruit cup was ripe, fresh. The yogurt was tart and the granola crunchy. I stole a few perfect bites from my dad.

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The mushroom truffle soup was beyond description. Warm and creamy, it was a god send, especially with my side of crispy wheat toast.

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My brother ate the oysters so quickly I was not able to steal one away from him. I have deduced that they were pretty good, but I hope to try them for myself next time.

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The shrimp tacos were flavourful and filling, with juicy shrimp, crunchy lettuce, cheese, sauce, and a myriad of other ingredients. Honestly, I could not pick up on every individual flavour but the combination was delectable.

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The steak frites and eggs came with the wheat toast, which I dipped in the mushroom soup, a nice, light mixed salad, a flavourful side of joint dressing/steak sauce, french fries, and steak. The steak was tough but flavourful, with a kick coming from its peppercorn rub. The fries were not too crispy, nor too salty, but just right to complement the well seasoned steak.

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With an atmosphere that cannot be beat, Beat Brasserie is a great place for a celebratory meal with the family, or even a fancy date.

Chicken & Rice Guys, D-hall Style

by Michelle Chiang ’19
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.

Ingredients:

grilled chicken
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!)

White Sauce:

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.)
Enjoy!
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Crave Follows the Freak Frappe Craze

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18

If there’s one thing New Yorkers do well, it’s setting trends. Let us never forget the cronut, a humble combination of a croissant and a donut, that caused New Yorkers to lose their minds a couple years ago.

There is one food trend Caroline and I can get on board for, however, and it’s the not-so-humble milkshake.

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This trend originated in Black Tap Burgers and Beer in NYC and has found its way to our very own Boston Burger Company!  Dubbed “freak frappes,” these milkshakes are topped with m&ms, brownies, toasted marshmallows, and even bacon. Caroline and I decided to investigate these high-calorie treats to see if they were worth the hype.

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Pro tip: do not attempt to tackle a freak frappe if you are even a little bit full.  I couldn’t even finish mine (the Nutella frappe with chocolate cookies and m&ms), which is saying a lot. The real MVP would have to be Caroline, who fearlessly conquered an Oreo frappe with every cookie offered, a toasted marshmallow, and a brownie.

These milkshakes will look incredible on your Instagram feed and taste equally as good.  Be wary of the pricing, however, because it’s easy to get carried away with all the delicious toppings and lose track of it all. Boston Burger Company is already known for their crazy burger options (the 420 burger has mozzarella sticks in it!), but they have really outdone themselves here. Midterms got you feeling down? Grab a friend, grab a burger, and grab a freak frappe at Boston Burger Company.  I guarantee the sugar rush is powerful enough to overcome any stress that’s coming your way.

South Indian Cooking

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18 and Caroline Gentile ‘17

It’s always fun to venture to the other side of the table are cook rather than consume. For Caroline and me, the Food Literacy Project’s South Indian Cooking Class was definitely a voyage into the unknown. South Indian cuisine always reminds me of color, flavor, and, above all, danger. The dishes were classic: chapatti, raita, all of the makings of a good South Indian meal. Our only mistake?  Forgetting to always watch your back in the kitchen – constant vigilance.

The cooking class was divided into teams, each one tasked with making coconut chutney and sambar.  The coconut chutney was made with no complications.  My main task was to cut up green chilies, which is something I have seen people in my family do since I was a little kid. I carefully replicated the proper technique: cut the top off, use the back of the knife to slide the seeds out, and then cut into smaller pieces.  Caroline helped with the chutney itself, slowly stirring it over a low simmer until the coconut smell filled the room.

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Coconut Chutney

Up next was the sambar, a classic South Indian lentil dish that’s infused with spices and vegetables.  Now experts at our crafts, Caroline and I cut up the onions, bell peppers, and chilies that were cooked in an oil with spices, which really enhances the flavor of the dish.  I took a break to brag to my parents about my killer chef skills and, a split second later, heard an unusual shriek – Caroline had gotten green chili in her eye, which is literally so painful.

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PSA: do not handle green chilis (pictured) and subsequently touch your eyes…

After a quick Google search, we had Caroline pouring milk in her eye (it actually works, something about neutralizing the chemicals in the chili – check out this sick Life Hack if you don’t believe me) and she recovered gracefully.  Now having really earned our meals, we returned to the class to finish what we started.

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A heaping plate of sambar and coconut chutney

The food turned out great, mostly due to our friends that really carried the team during our little crisis.  We made plates of rice, sambar, chapattis, raita, and fried chickpea snacks.  People always say that it’s more satisfying to cook a meal than to just eat one.  In this case, I would have to agree.  We fought with sweat, milk, and tears for our food.  And it really was worth it.

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Heart-shaped chapati

 

Gluten-Free Cheerios

A quick breakfast is often necessary for a college student before early morning class. I have always searched for a delicious gluten-free food that I can quickly consume for breakfast. Fortunately for all gluten-free eaters, five new flavors of gluten-free Cheerios are now available: Apple Cinnamon, Frosted, Original, Honey Nut, and Multi Grain. The Cheerios can be found at CVS in Harvard Square. Several of my friends who do not eat gluten-free have not been able to taste the difference between regular Cheerios and gluten-free Cheerios. I enjoy eating the Honey Nut Cheerios with lactose-free milk and bananas, but the Cheerios can also be topped with several other types of fruit. Many of my friends like the Apple Cinnamon flavor the best. Additionally, the gluten-free Cheerios are a great snack for in between classes.

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The process of how the gluten-free Cheerios are made is quite interesting. Wheat, rye, and barley grains are removed from the regular oat supply to make the Cheerios gluten-free. First, the oats are harvested. Normally, many farmers who grow oats rotate their crops, meaning they also grow grains like wheat, barley, and rye. These other grains normally get mixed in with the oats during harvesting and transport. To make the Cheerios gluten-free, wheat, barley, and rye are separated from the oats by a sifter. Each batch of oats is tested to make sure that on average, for every 15,000 grains of oats, there can be no more than 1 grain of wheat, barley, or rye. The oats then go to a mill that makes gluten-free flour. The flour is then checked to make sure it is gluten-free. The flour travels in dedicated gluten-free trucks, and finally the oat flour is puffed and toasted into gluten-free Cheerios. The finished Cheerios are tested to ensure they are gluten-free (http://www.cheerios.com/ourgfprocess.aspx).

Gluten-free food lovers should definitely try these five new flavors of gluten-free Cheerios. Whether you are looking for an easy and tasty breakfast or a yummy on-the-go snack, these gluten-free Cheerios are the perfect option!

Photo 1 taken from glutenfreehomemaker.com; photo 2 taken from bringmethenews.com.

Lunar New Year: A Labor of Love

by Allison Yan ’19

Every Lunar New Year, I look forward to food. Friends, family, and fun, too, but mostly food.

Even though my parents immigrated to America years ago and proudly claim to have assimilated to American culture, celebrating Lunar New Year with the people we love has always been a staple of our heritage. The Lunar New Year parties are always an amazing festivity, and the potluck style of the dinner guarantees a variety of wonderful dishes to satisfy anyone and everyone’s cravings.

The preparations for these parties are always a labor of love (emphasis on the labor). It is like Thanksgiving dinner preparations, but the Asian version. My mother, a frequent host of the parties, often spends days in advance preparing the house, and the two days leading up to the party meticulously cooking enough dishes to feed a group of at least 60.

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Meats of any (and every!) kind are a cornerstone of the dinner. My mother has always been partial to smoked salmon, and is known among her friend group for having the best salmon dish in town, but she, and all of the other wonderful mothers contribute plentiful types of meats.  From spicy chicken to pork to pig ears, there’s something for everyone.

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The meat dishes are, of course, supplemented by plentiful amounts of vegetables, noodle dishes, and bao zi (Chinese rolls). My parents and their friends take their spicy food seriously, and it’s not uncommon to see pepper or some other spicy-looking sauce liberally tossed on top of most dishes. The lotus and cauliflower and leeks and chicken dishes are favorites of my family’s. Spicy tofu soup is also a staple of every year’s dinner. As someone who unfortunately can’t handle much spicy food, I usually try to mitigate the burning sensations of too much spicy with copious amounts of rice.

I’ve always had a weakness for the dessert options at these parties. The soft sweetness of the red bean cakes and handmade red bean mochi by family friends complement an otherwise very savory and rich meal. Red bean filling is the most unique part of an Asian dessert dish.

There’s one more dish that I haven’t mentioned: the pork dumplings that my family makes. These dumplings are particularly special to me, because my family actually comes together to help mix the filling, knead the dough, and fold up the finished dumpling into their signature bow shapes. It’s almost difficult to eat the dish that so accurately represents the labor and love that goes into creating a Lunar New Year Dinner.

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I have always looked forward to celebrating Lunar New Year with my family. The food, of course, is wonderful, but the sense of joy and community of so many people coming together to eat and celebrate is something unique to this special day.