Saturday, September 29, 2012

Magnificent Muffins & Bagels, Somerville

Long wait on Saturday morning before Tufts' homecoming

Why, yes. That was quite a mouthful. Magnificent Muffins & Bagels. Let's just call it MagMuff. What a glorious name for a tiny breakfast stand in the middle of Teele Square. One of my biggest adjustments from living in New York to Boston is the lack of delis. Yes, that's right. I RELY ON DELIS. Who doesn't? Who wouldn't want a nice sausage, egg, and cheese on a bialy with a small black coffee on Monday mornings? Or every weekday morning? So I thought all hope was lost... until I was introduced to Magnificent. Not only does MagMuff have super affordable breakfast sandwiches, bomb iced coffee, and actually magnificent muffins, BUT THEIR BAGELS ARE ALSO SO SO LEGIT. I tell you, it's not easy to get a quality bagel in these streets. 

About their magnificent muffins: for the chocolate chip, the muffin top tastes like an actual chocolate chip cookie. Then the core of the muffin is always moist and never lacking chocolate chip in every bite. I don't even like chocolate chipped things ... or muffins! 

If you're in Teele Square (let's be honest, it can't be that often), and it's before noon, you must stop by here for a breakfast bagel sandwich. It's a sad day when you walk in at 11:45am and all the bagels are gone and you have to settle for Renee's (okay, their omelets are quite good) or Dunkin (not going unless you buy me 50 Munchkins). 

My usual order? A tomato, egg, and cheese (also with sausage when I'm good) on a scooped out* everything (or spinach!) bagel with a medium iced coffee and a chocolate chip (or cinnamon French toast) muffin (don't judge me... it's for snack). 

*I've come to realize that most people have no idea what a scooped out bagel is. Maybe it's a New York City all girl school thing, but basically, when you slice a bagel in half and rip out the "meat," that's a scooped out bagel. A typical bagel can be as much as 3-5 servings of carbohydrates a day (1 serving= 1 slice of bread, USDA recommends 6 servings a day), so gotta do. 

Indeed they do have the best sandwiches in the city!

check out all the bagel choices

breakfast in the library (sorry, Tufts.)

Why Mag Muff is special to me: 
When I was a senior in college (why was that so long ago?), my suite mates and I would always try to make it to MagMuff before noon every weekend. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but when you're up until 5 or 6 every night, waking up before noon is a serious feat. Sometimes we would wake up at 11:30 and rush there to grab a few sandwiches, head back to bed, then all have breakfast together in a few hours. 
OR if we were up until 6 or 7, we would drive there on cold winter mornings and be the first ones there to grab their fresh muffins for breakfast. 
AND There were also many mornings where I would wake up to find a muffin and iced coffee on my desk, courtesy of Nikki who seemed to always get breakfast there, and those would be the best mornings. 

Well, even though I'm not in college anymore, the same staff is still working there, and their sandwiches are still just as delicious. Definitely worth waking up for. 

Magnificent Muffins & Bagels
1118 Broadway
Somerville, MA 02144

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Amsterdam Falafel Shop, Davis Square

I was pretty skeptical at first. I mean, "inspired by the falafel shops throughout Amsterdam"... is falafel a thing there?? I don't know; it seems pretty questionable. But let me assure you that this place is legit. 

I previously wrote a not so flattering Yelp review on Falafel King, and I've had a few conversations recently about my expectations versus the reality of the falafel industry. In short, the few falafel joints in the Boston area that I frequent always leave something to be desired (Falafel Corner, Pita Kabab, Harvest, Thinking Cup, Oleana). I always go in ready for some fresh, crispy, aromatic mashed chickpea balls, only to be disappointed with dry, mediocre, flavorless chickpea mush. But it should be simple, no? So I still keep at eating falafel and expecting more. 

And then I went to Amsterdam Falafel Shop. Their falafel are balled and fried fresh, and you can choose to have it in a white/wheat pita or in a salad bowl. Their pita is not those large tasteless wraps, they're the breadier pocket types that I prefer (points for that!). Then comes the generous topping bar, where you can pile on as many toppings as you want for a flat price. Not a bad deal at all! I crushed my falafel balls and then went in for the baba, hummus, yogurt dill, pickled cabbage, parsley and garlic, and garlic cream sauce. Man was that a delicious combination. I'm still thinking about it. For all of you who have spent months and year searching for that crunchy mouthwatering falafel ball, don't search past Davis Square. Only con: I'm used to having falafel as a fast food. Though I appreciate the freshness, those balls took a tad too long to fry. 

Oh, they also have Dutch fries and mayo. So Amsterdam. 

Warning: you will have falafel burps for hours on end after eating here

Amsterdam Falafel Shop
248 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Totto Ramen

Now that the weather is getting cooler and gloomier, there's this one thing that is always on my mind... ramen. 

Looking for a really good bowl of ramen? Got an hour or two to spare? Then get your butt to Totto and put your name on their waiting list. Anyone on the island of Manhattan that vaguely appreciates ramen has definitely heard about the magic that is Totto. 

Their ramen is bomb. It's prepared fresh, it has a nice bouncy bite to it, and it's not too starchy. Their chicken broth is rich and subtle, meaning it isn't severely infused with sodium (it happens) and the soup does not take away attention from the noodle. Furthermore, Totto's char siu is prepared with a handheld blow torch. How gangster is that? Okay, so gangster might not be the appropriate descriptor word in this situation, but blow-torching works for this majestically char-grilled fatty goodness. 

Seriously, I'd be here all the time if it weren't for the extremely limited seating (~15 people?) and extensively long waits. 

Char siu preparation

Char siu

Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen with corn

Totto Ramen
366 W52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

Thursday, September 13, 2012

West Bridge and the Friendly Toast, Kendall Square

Now that I'm officially back in Boston for graduate school, it only makes sense that I start posting more about my dining escapades out and about in Beantown. 

One late night, Michael and I made the trek to One Kendall Square (I found this to be quite a walk from the Red Line T stop) to try out West Bridge. Their food can be best categorized by the ambiguous "new American" or as American tapas/ small plates. Regardless of the name, I was thoroughly impressed. Their stuff is delicious. 

We started off with complementary chilled melon soup, which was the seasonal amuse bouche. I hear that it used to be crab toast, which sounds mouthwateringly good. But anyways, check out the photo below of the bread basket. Why is that amount of butter necessary? Given that it's nicely creamed and all, but still. Talk about excessive. Moving on. 

We decided to share a handful of appetizers because were were quite set on heading to the Friendly Toast for dessert. We started with the cauliflower, which left me quite speechless. It was charred with bone marrow and served with verjus grapes and sherry vinaigrette. Honestly, I've never had such delicious cauliflower in my life. Be back soon for more. 

The duck liver terrine was a simple dish served with toast and puffed chickpeas. The spread was very rich and buttery, and they did a great pairing of apple sauce with it. 

The egg in a jar was such a delight. It was, as titled, a duck egg in a jar with pomme puree (pureed potatoes), hen of the woods (a mushroom), and crisp duck skin. In short, it was a glorified modern shepherd's pie. In long, it was a deliciously layered dish featuring a mixture of textures. The crispy duck skin offered great bursts of flavors with every bite, and the liquidy egg yolk brought it all together. Damn, it was good.   

Most creative? Definitely the calamari "tonerelli." Think pasta, except it's made with shredded calamari. Now toss that with whelks, cockles, and juicy sweet 100's (tomatoes) in a fragrant wine and garlic sauce. Are you drooling yet? 

I've been aching to return to West Bridge, and I'm sure I will soon. But just a quick side question: why are all the diners over the age of 40? I'm sure the younger set would definitely appreciate the innovation and flavors here as well! 

Chilled melon soup

Bread and butter

Cauliflower and duck liver terrine

Egg in a jar and Calamari "Tonerelli"
West Bridge
One Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02141

As I mentioned, we saved some of our stomachs so we could get some French toast at the Friendly Toast. I think it was close to midnight by this point, and we were the only diners in the sizable joint, but it was pleasant eating in an empty retro-themed diner.

I was really tempted to get the pumpkin pancakes, but I settled for the anadama (a classic New England bread made with oatmeal and molasses) French toast with vanilla ice cream, and Michael got the same but with cinnamon-raisin bread. I don't know which one I preferred more! The anadama makes great French toast, but it wasn't quite as flavorful or spiced as the cinnamon-raisin. But whatever, the matter is that I love any place that serves breakfast all day.

Note: do not order the strawberry milk. It tastes artificial beyond belief.

Interestingly curated kind of forced retro decor
Late night french toast a la mode! 
So friendly! 

The Friendly Toast 
1 Hampshire Street
Cambridge, MA 02141

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What I ate at Six Flags; Funnel Cake

I guess this isn't a real post because 1. I'm not telling you where to get the best funnel cakes in the world, 2. I don't teach you how to make funnel cakes, and 3. This is going to be a very malinformed and biased post. But I just really want some dessert right now and I can't seem to get myself out of bed. ...Don't judge me. 

Anyways. Here is my ode to funnel cake. Funnel cake is one of those treats that pretty much everyone enjoys. Why is that? Is it the fried loopy maze of crispy doughy goodness? The endless flurries of powdered sugar? The nostalgia? 

I had two of them a few weeks ago at Six Flags. Were they always $8.50 each? Whatever. It was freshly prepared (I guess the oil might not have been fresh...), mouth wateringly delicious, and so worth it. 

Traditionally a state fair food, I only now ever get to consume it at amusement parks or street fairs. Yes, you heard it here first: I LOVE FUNNEL CAKE. But would I still love it as much if it were accessible whenever and not only at the happiest places on earth? Thoughts? Don't you want one now? With a frozen lemonade? 

Happy end of summer and first week of school! 

Six Flags Great Adventure's El Toro

How it's done


A groundhog enjoying a waffle fry while I eat my funnel cake (true life)