Saturday, July 22, 2017

Amazing Cambodian Food at Elephant Walk in Boston's South End

My wife and I have been working on a project with our niece to have a meal from each country alphabetically. You can check out our progress on Instagram with the hashtag #a2zdinners. We usually cook the meals ourselves. Cambodian meals are characterized by having a variety of contrasting textures, flavors and temperatures. We decided that if we wanted the authentic experience we would do better to eat out for a change,so we went to lunch at Elephant Walk in Boston's South End. It was a highlight of the project so far, which is saying a lot, since we have made some outstanding meals.

Our niece is gluten free. You would think that would make the project difficult. For most countries it hasn't been a burden at all. In most countries their starch is based on rice, not wheat. This is also true for Cambodia. Elephant Walk was notably careful to label the menu with the items that were gluten free or could be made gluten free. There was good range of choice with more choices on the dinner menu.

The staff was very friendly. If you are a beer fan, they have an outstanding beer menu. We were surprised to see that there was only one other group in the whole place. We can't see why this place wouldn't be packed.

We started out with an appetizer called Nataing. It was ground pork simmered in a thin sauce of coconut milk, garlic, peanuts and probably fish sauce. The gluten free version was served with rice cakes for dipping. The flavor pallet was like a savory Thai iced tea.

There were three soups on the menu that all looked good, so we ordered one of each. Each was excellent, and we all preferred one of the three. There was B'baw Mouan, listed as "the essential Cambodian rice soup." It had a thick rice base, like a potato soup and had chicken, fried garlic, and lime. It also came with cilantro, so if you don't like that, ask them to leave it off. The second soup was Somlah Machou with big shrimp and tomato slices. It was like a Thai Tom Yum soup, but tangier. It was delicious, but even better with a dollop of the red hot sauce our waiter recommended. Finally was the Soupe Phnom-Penh "Kuy Tieu." Our waiter called it the healthiest of soups. It had a slice of pork cutlet, rice noodles and bean sprouts.


That might have been enough for lunch, but we had came for variety, so we got two entrees: A chicken dish with a lemon curry sauce called Poulet À La Citronnelle, and a beef dish called Loc Lac. The chicken was served with sautéed vegetables and the beef with a bed of greens. Both were amazing with meat that was melt-in-your-mouth tender. It's hard to imagine better dishes, but our waiter said the non-gluten free version of the Loc Lac was even better.

Since everything was so good, we splurged on dessert. We got a traditional coconut custard and a flourless chocolate cake. Both were rich and tasty. The chocolate tasted like fudge and we tore through it. The custard was notably not overpowered by coconut flavor like we prefer and also had the right silky texture that is so hard to get in restaurant custard.

Overall, Elephant Walk gets five stars from us for both the food and the friendly attentiveness they showed to our gluten free needs. It is a place that deserves to be busier.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cod Liver with and Open Mind

I wasn't so sure I wanted to try this. A colleague from Russia, who knows I am an adventurous eater, gave it to me. Cod liver oil has a reputation as the medicine a mean parent gives to their kids because its "good for them." It was difficult to try this with an open mind.

I steeled myself as I opened the can. I anticipated a strong iron flavor of calf's liver mingled with the over-ripe flavor of Thai fish oil. Instead I was delighted with a delicate tuna fish flavor with the silky texture of a perfectly seared foie gras.

Experiences like this are why I am an adventurous eater. This is simply delicious. If you get a chance, and can get over your fear, I highly recommend trying this.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Discovered Pig Rock Sausages

We went to Wilson Farm today where Art Welch, the owner of Pig Rock Sausages was grilling up samples with help from his son. We liked them so much we took home three packages; chicken & maple, chicken & apple, and chicken & spinach. Pig Rock does have pork sausages with a bratwurst, chorizo and both hot and sweet Italian sausage, strange that I just tasted the chicken.

The chicken was not the typically dry, healthy tasting sausages we are used to. They had the same richness and naughty flavor of any good pork sausage. My favorite was the chicken & spinach, which tasted like you might hope a mixture of good sausage and creamed spinach would taste. Yum.

Pig Rock Sausages are made in Boston, and it's always nice to find a new local product to support. These are going to taste delicious from our grill.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 19

Advent Beer Day 19:
Trifecta from Night Shift Brewing

Anna asks, "Why Trifecta." The label says it's a Belgian style pale ale with vanilla, so my best guess is it will be like a tripel. A quick look at the ABV; only 6.7% so too light to be a tripel.  I really have no idea why it's called "Trifecta." The website clears it up saying it is also made with three Trappist yeasts.

This beer was beautiful. I could taste the vanilla, but only when I concentrated on it. The flavor blended well with the traditional Belgian flavors. Although, I didn't taste any of those classical Belgian yeasty characters in this beer. That's a bit surprising given the use of three transit yeasts. It was very smooth and easy to drink. I have yet to have a bad beer from Night Shift.

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 18

Advent Beer Day 18:

This is described as brewed with juniper and piney hops. I got a hint of those flavors, but not as much as I expected. Certainly hops can have a piney character, so I was hoping for that flavor driven over the top, especially with the addition of juniper. it was a nice dark ale with IPA flavors to it, but surprisingly mild counter to my expectations. I was hoping for a "pine bomb."

Labeled as a dark IPA, without all the pine-hype, I would have loved this beer.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 17

Advent Beer Day 17:

The label calls this an India Style Red Ale. I'm thinking IPA hops on top of a red character beer, which is exactly what this is, and done really well. I must say, I'm a bit confused though about why this is in the Advent Box. It is a year round beer from 21st Amendment, albeit one I haven't tried. It does have a warm set of flavors like I'd hope for in a winter ale: green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower. it certainly works as a winter beer, but it doesn't evoke Christmas to me. Could it be they were triggering on "red?"

The beer has a long-lasting, lacy head, a beautiful red tint and is slightly hazy. It has a nice creamy effervesce followed by a lingering bitterness across the whole tongue. You can almost chew this one. I'm trilled to have tried this, but don't think it was an excellent fit in the box.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

2016 Craft Beer Cellar Advent Box: Day 16

Advent Beer Day 16:

I was anxious about this beer. The label says it is sour at a level of 5 out of 5.  The web suggests that this is the sour beer by which all sour beers should be judged. I'm not a sour fan.

While this still isn't my thing, it was not as scary as I was led to believe. It was sour, like a strong barleywine or like sucking on a clover stem if you've done that. It also had some other flavors that stood out, notably new oak and grapefruit with a very slight black pepper taste.

I can tell it is very good. I still don't love sours.