Ice cream + Donut = A Double Chin Specialty

by Audrey Thorne ’19

Upon walking into what appeared from the outside a tiny store, I was excited by the vast and chic interior. Toting a wooden bench swing, almost lantern-like lights, both low and high tables, and an open connection to the bakery next door, the space is stunning.

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When asked what flavours were available for their ice cream donut sandwiches the man at the counter handed me a menu of the four donut sandwiches offered and informed me that the red velvet had run out. That meant that made my choice easier. Now I was stuck between three options instead of four. Though the image of the Galaxy was visually stunning, I finally decided to get the Nutella and the Matcha. I ordered one of each to go.

I tried the Nutella first. The flavour was reminiscent of a dark hot chocolate and had an overall smooth consistency. There were no surprises to the bite. The chocolate donut matched the chocolate ice cream. The rainbow sprinkles on top gave it a bit of texture. It was not too sweet.

Next I tried the Matcha. The first thing that hits me in the strong matcha flavour from the matcha powder topping the donut. The vanilla ice cream complements the matcha donut well. The donut is moist and the matcha powder is delectable. It is sweeter than the Nutella and more unique. The more I eat it, the more I want.

As far as ice cream donut sandwiches go, I have reached the verdict that the two together are exponentially better than either alone. They’re my favourite couple this Valentine’s Day.

Gâté Comme Des Filles and Somerville Chocolate: Your Valentine’s Destination

By Saranya Vijayakumar ’18 and Sara Surani ’181

We decided to cover Somerville’s chocolates again for Valentine’s day! During the winter months, Lizzy’s ice cream turns into a pop-up chocolate shop. The chocolates are made in collaboration between Alexandra Whisnant’s gáté comme des filles and Somerville Chocolate. The chocolates are made at Aeronaut, the brewery that also has a restaurant and somerville chocolate within the building.  

The woman running the shop is named Fallon and is absolutely amazing. Her fiery red hair and welcoming personality make the hole-in-the-wall treasure trove feel more like a chocolate home than a chocolate shop. She took us around the store and showed us the handmade chocolates. She gave us a few to try, including the white chocolate cardamom, the hazelnut praline, the vanilla bean, and the meyer lemon. Our favorites were the meyer lemon, with gold leaf on the top, and the hazelnut, which tasted like nutella…but better.

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The pop up lasts only until the end of February, when the shop becomes Lizzy’s ice cream again. It’s the perfect place to get a Valentine’s Day gift, with adorable Alice in Wonderland wrapping and tasty chocolates!

If you’re curious on what chocolates to try, gift to your loved one, or surprise your favorite galentine with, here are some of our suggestions!

Hazelnut praline:

Are you a Nutella-lover? Well, look no further! This all-organic, freshly made chocolate tastes just like nutella… except better. It has the warm soul-sensation of a Ferrero Rocher, but is both fluffier on the touch and gentler on the palate. It’s a classic crowd pleaser and brings back hints of nostalgia with its tones of crisp hazelnut. The nutella-like flavor hugs your tastebuds and doesn’t let go–much like your Valentine’s day date won’t let go after you two share this lovely treat together!

Lemon meyer:

Do you like your sweet with a hint of sass? Then the lemon meyer is your go-to! While this chocolate has a nice milk chocolate exterior like the other chocolates, the puckering tinge of lemon sets it apart from the rest! (Not to mention the delicately crafted gold leaf on top!) Not only does the lemon-y taste catch you by pleasant surprise, but the citrus-y taste lasts long after your chocolate has disappeared! The best part? It is all-organic, made with fresh meyer lemon juice, and is vegan-friendly!

Vanilla bean:

Want to stay on the safe side but still want to feel warm inside? If so, you can’t go wrong with the vanilla bean bonbon! Immediately upon biting into the creamy chocolate, you taste warm tones of both organic chocolate and Costa Rican vanilla bean. The two flavor duo compliments each other better than any of your two favorite duos–Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet, Barak and Joe, you name it! This soothing flavor, accompanied by the dark valrhona chocolate ganache is a perfect chocolate for a snowy day!

White chocolate cardamom:

Are you a fan of Starbucks’ dirty chai latte? Then the white chocolate cardamom bonbon is perfect for you! This beautiful snowflake-colored bonbon has a glimmering creamy exterior and and an even creamier and fluffier interior. This hearty treat exudes warmth and content-ness with its smooth white chocolate hard shell and its strong flavor of cardamom on the inside. Even though though the tones of cardamon are strong, they gently dance on your tastebuds. Having a bad day? Wait no longer, this white chocolate cardamom is a great pick-me up and can turn any sub-par day into a stellar one!

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This tiny shop should not be overlooked. It’s a cozy place to go for a quick treat in the snowstorm, so check it out before it leaves for the year!

Also, Fallon has an art show on February 25th from noon to midnight at Warehouse XI. Everyone is invited. She’s super cool, so visit her at the chocolate shop and go to her show!

Life Pops Up at Life Alive

by Joseph Winters ’20
At 5:57 PM, I sidled into my seat at a communal table next to Kendyl from California, who had been a vegan for four years, and Steve, who said he kept Kosher, but also called himself a flexitarian, a flexible vegetarian. A few minutes later, “Same” sat down to my right. I looked at his name tag and wondered how to pronounce such an unique, ethnic name.
“It’s Sam,” he said. “They got it wrong.”
Whoops, I thought.
Sam’s sister, Thuy, came next, and finally Krystal. The six of us were sitting around a circular table in the basement of Life Alive, a vegetarian/alternative restaurant in Central Square. Life Alive’s regular menu includes a variety of vegetable/grain bowls full of yummy sauces like “Ginger Nama Shoyu,” as well as a wraps, salads, smoothies, and juices. That night, January 25, they were having a four-course pop-up dinner crafted by “culinary guru” Leah Dubois, with each course paired by a special mushroom tea mocktail from Tamim Teas, a Cambridge-based tea company started by a Harvard graduate who had studied urban planning.
We all sat around the table a little awkwardly at first. Inevitably, the conversation turned to food—what else could have brought us all together at a gourmet vegetarian dinner? Most of us had experimented with some kind of reduced-meat diet before—Kendyl with her veganism, Sam’s “hardcore” vegetarianism (as described by his sister, Thuy), my pescatarianism (no meat, but fish and shellfish are okay), and the Kosher keepings of both Steve and Krystal.
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Our conversation became more relaxed as we began to nibble on the first course: deviled eggs. But in true Life Alive fashion, they weren’t ordinary deviled eggs. Apart from being free-range eggs, the filling was made from cashew aioli and mustard, and they were topped with house-made pickled jalapeños and sprouts. There were plenty to go around, whetting our appetites for the rest of the meal.
As we munched on our eggs, we were introduced to the owner of Tamim Teas, Liat, who started drinking mushroom-infused teas for their health benefits (not the taste, which, as she writes on her website, is less than appetizing). But, as Liat later discovered, mushroom teas could be made really tasty by using local fungi and “balancing the flavors of mushrooms with a unique array of organic, caffeine-free herbs, [to make] them safe and accessible to a wider demographic.” For our first tea, we tried an astralagus-infused blend made from maitake shrooms, locally-sourced ginger and goji berries. Lost yet? So was I—astralagus is apparently a root with lots of medicinal properties, and maitakes are a kind of mushroom apparently renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties. Goji berries just taste good, I guess (plus they’re a berry, so they’ve probably got some great antioxidant properties or something). The tea was warm and soothing, and paired well with the deviled eggs.
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Next we had the “Life Alive version of dahl,” Leah explained to our table. It was made with black lentils, sautéd fresh ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, cumin seeds popped in coconut oil, and rainbow carrots from a local farm. It was topped with house-made pickled mango, cayenne pepper, cilantro, and radish sprouts. Everyone at the table loved the dahl. I’m pretty sure I overheard Steve whisper “they hit a home run with this one” into his bowl. Very soothing and mild, I really enjoyed the tang the pickled mango gave it.
Liat came by again, this time with a cold tea. It was called the Lion’s Share Blend, and had lion’s mane mushrooms, local turmeric, black peppercorns, and green rooibos. The roobois was interesting because it’s generally sold red—this is because, as Liat explained, it’s easier to sell rooibos in burned form, maybe because it has to be shipped all the way from Africa, where it is mostly grown. You’ve probably had rooibos if you’ve ever sipped on specialty herbal teas infused with fruity flavors like pineapple or mango.
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Salad was next, featuring—believe it or not—more mushrooms! Maitakes made an appearance in whole form, having been roasted to delicious tenderness and finished with alfalfa and radish micro greens, citrus slices, and a lemony vinaigrette. This was really light and fruity, an interesting contrast to the soothingness of the dahl.
Liat’s tea pairing was called Shiitake Uplift, including rooibos, ginger, lemongrass, lemon peel, and a touch of kombucha for fizziness. The fizz went perfectly with the lightness of the salad, and the citrus matched the lemony dressing. This “tea” (it was more kombucha-y than tea-like) was probably my favorite, possibly because it was pretty sweet.
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For dessert, Leah brought us these gorgeous mini jars full of coconut milk-based lavender gelato, speckled with crumbled pistachios and coconut flakes. The gelato was phenomenal—super creamy, coconut-y, and sweet. I’m not sure if I could tell that there was lavender in the gelato itself, but there were little pieces of whole lavender petals (if they’re called petals) between the pistachio and coconut flakes.
Our gelato was paired with Reishi Delight, apparently made from a mushroom that is one of the oldest fungi used for its medicinal purposes. It was combined with African honeybush, two types of cinnamon (one of which was in whole form), and orange peel. It was served warm and contrasted well with the cold gelato. It was especially good after Liat poured in some of Life Alive’s house-made almond milk.
According to Leah, these kinds of pop-up dinners are going to become monthly-occurring Life Alive events, possibly in partner with different local businesses like Tamim Teas.
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As I polished off the last scoop of lavender gelato from the bottom of my mini Mason jar, Kendyl said goodbye to our little group of new friends. I followed soon after, leaving the others to continue their scintillating conversation about the challenges faced when home pickling watermelon rinds. I had a great experience—great food, tea, and cool people. I will definitely keep checking my Instagram for news of future Life Alive pop-ups!

Mei Mei Pops Up at Shepard: Shepard and Mei Mei Team Up for Dim Sum Brunch

By Bovey Rao ‘19

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What exactly is a pop-up restaurant? Most people do not know this terminology, as they are a relatively new development. Pop-up restaurants are when kitchens are lent out to other restaurants or chefs for temporary residence. While this seems like an extravagant venture, many great restaurants (Mission Chinese, NYC) have emerged from pop-ups, and many great restaurants (Aliena, Chicago) have hosted pop-up sessions. Usually, the menu is specially prepared for each individual session. Thus, when I heard that Mei Mei was hosting a pop-up at the nearby Shepard, I quickly booked a reservation.

Entering Shepard, we were greeted by the two teams and were seated after a brief wait. Glancing at the menu, I was immediately drawn to the unique fusion dishes. However, glancing at other tables, I noticed that the portions were a little small and ordered accordingly. After we ordered a long list of various dim sum dishes, I waited excitedly for our mix of buns, dumplings, and vegetables.

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The dry aged lamb buns were a delicacy with complex savory notes of Chinese five-spice. While incredibly soft and moist, the order only came with three relatively small buns, which was unfortunate for my party of four individuals. Later, we would discover this applied to most dishes we ordered. The corned beef and xo dumplings similarly had rich, savory flavors, but texturally the shredded beef was not the most appealing. As the dishes continuously arrived, I enjoyed the mildly spicy beef tendon. The gelatinous texture melded perfectly with the crisp skin that garnished the dish.

Still insatiated, I salivated as stuffed chicken wings and Carolina gold rice were placed at the table. Chicken wings filled with a smooth chicken mousse with a sweet glaze proved to be one of the highlights of the brunch. While rice may seem to be a peculiar dish to order, Carolina gold rice is a specific breed that garners significant national attention for its flavor. Anson Mills, a seed restoration group, found and revived this heritage breed and distributes it to many of the United States best restaurants (notably, Husk). Thus, I was excited to see them on the menu with a soy butter. While it may not taste empirically different, I had a profound appreciation of the crop, which may have altered my perception of the dish.

After these courses, we added rounds of cabbage, leek, brined duck egg dumplings, lily shoots, and lo bok go, parsnip cakes. Dark green dumplings quickly reached the table, and we dived in. Freshly steamed, the dough was stickier than I was normally accustomed to but were appropriate to hold the looser filling. While the lo bok go were respectable, the accompanying fermented black beans were truly delicious. A light acidity complemented the natural creaminess, and I snacked on them thorough the meal. My favorite dish of the day was actually the lily shoots with fried shallots. Dark soy sauce provided the perfect salinity for the chewy but smooth shoots. I honestly was tempted to order more sets of lily shoots with rice but instead settled with the select dessert courses.

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The fried sesame balls and egg custard tarts proved to be elevated versions, but nothing that truly affected me. Delicious and simple, we enjoyed them as a solid finish to the meal. Overall, I was slightly disappointed with the size of the dim sum and the unequal portions for the table. I expected that they could accommodate a table of 4, since that is a standard party number. Regardless, the dishes proved to be soundly delicious with a few notable standouts. Mei Mei is arguably one of the most important restaurants in Boston, and I am glad they decided to come nearby. Hopefully, they will return soon with yet another nuanced menu. Shepard is one of the newest restaurants in Cambridge, and I hope people will join them for dinner one day.

 

Shepard

Location: 1 Shepard St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Reservation: OpenTable or Call (617)-714-5295

 

Mei Mei

Location: 506 Park Dr, Boston, MA 02215

Reservation: Reserve or Call (857)-250-4959

Stand-Out Dishes: Lily Shoots, Carolina Gold Rice, Stuffed Chicken Wings

Overall Rating: 4/5

Food: 4/5

Service: 3.5/5

Atmosphere (Shepard): 5/5

 

Feel free to contact the writer at boveyrao@college.harvard.edu with food musings, dining requests, or any restaurant advice!

Theory Kitchen: A Dining Experience Unlike Any Other

by Caroline Gentile ’17

On a recommendation from my blockmate, I decided to escape the Harvard bubble and attend a pop-up dinner at an apartment in Central Square, hosted by Theory Kitchen.

After a cursory Google search of Theory Kitchen, I learned that the founder, Theo Friedman, is a recent Tufts grad with a passion for experimental cooking. While he was a student at Tufts, Friedman hosted several pop-up dinners and taco nights with the help of fellow students. In fact, for his senior thesis, he made a 20-course meal to highlight how the industrial food system disconnects diners and the people who make their food. After graduating, Theo took to operating Theory Kitchen full time, hosting pop-up dinners all over New England. No two dinners are the same; the menu and location change every time.

I knew this was going to be good. Anyone who finds time to cook anything, let alone a full gourmet meal, while in college must have a true passion for it! And Theo’s passion certainly translated into skill.

Although Google told me that Friedman was only 22-years-old, upon walking into the apartment, I was surprised to see someone so close to my age prepping an eleven-course meal. His workspace, complete with serving equipment as well as Tupperware containers filled with the elements of each course, was impeccably organized—even more impressive considering the kitchen in which he was working was totally new to him.

And then the dinner began. Before each course, Theo explained the story behind the food before us. The salmon dish, he told us, was inspired by bagel and lox. The last course, a kumquat and rhubarb fruit roll-up, was inspired by his childhood love for fruit roll-ups. In addition to deconstructing the story behind each meal, we were also able to watch them be prepared. This interactive environment with the chef himself created a level of intimacy in this dining experience that I do not think is possible at a restaurant.

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Bagel and lox: salmon coated with everything bagel seasoning, a savory bulgur mixture, salmon eggs and roe (photo courtesy of Theo Friedman)
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Gourmet fruit roll-ups (photo courtesy of Theo Friedman)

Not only did each course have a unique story, but each also boasted unique flavors and textures. The first course was a warm sunchoke soup with cold scallops, both of which were savory, paired with sweet pomegranate seeds. Another course, a favorite among all of us dinner-goers, was a soy-flavored, poached egg, with yolk oozing over kale and crispy shiitake mushrooms.

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Sunchoke and scallops (photo courtesy of Theo Friedman)

Of note, in my opinion, were the desserts. This may be because I have an insatiable sweet tooth, but I found Theo’s three desserts to be especially creative. First came his grapefruit, fernet, and dill dessert. Never had I expected to eat dill for dessert, and in a meringue no less! Then came rice crispy treats, another childhood-inspired dish, which combined crispy pork skin and creamy dulce du leche. Finally was my favorite dessert: a chocolate and peppercorn cake with preserved strawberries.

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Rice Crispy Treat (photo courtesy of Theo Friedman)
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Grapefruit, fernet, and dill dessert
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Preserved strawberries, cream, and chocolate peppercorn cake

The other event attendees, many of them also undergraduates, were just as in awe as I was of Theo’s creative cooking skills. Each course brought an exciting new combination of flavors and textures that we could not believe he had put together in such a deliciously harmonious way. Although we had all been complete strangers before the dinner, by the end, we had all shared a novel culinary experience together, and bonded over our admiration for Theo and his cooking.