Boston Eats

I’ve been living in Boston for a solid few months now, and I’ve managed to make some good food finds. My busy class schedule and decreased budget has led to me eating out far less than I was last year in Jerusalem, but Noah and I have still had the occasional meal out!

One of the most exciting food finds in the city is the newly-opened Boston Public Market. Opening just this past summer, the Boston Public Market is an indoor food hall featuring local vendors. There are produce, meat, and cheese vendors as well as specialty food shops and a variety of prepared food stalls. The inside of the Market is busy and colorful with seating areas smattered throughout the floor plan:

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It was hard to choose what to get for lunch, but eventually Noah and I settled on some top-notch items. Noah got a mac and cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hills (from Vermont!) stall:

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I ordered a smoked bluefish roll from the Boston Smoked Fish Company:

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The sandwich was messy – but delicious! Noah and I also shared a brown-butter hazelnut crunch Union Square Donut.

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Union Square Donuts is based in…you guessed it!…Union Square in Somerville, and it is an extremely popular, local donut shop with lots of funky flavors. The donut was certainly good, although I don’t think donuts are my favorite sweet treat.

Noah and I also discovered a great diner in Watertown – the Deluxe Town Diner. We went to Deluxe Town Diner in a little bit of a pinch. Friends were in town visiting and we had ignorantly assumed that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a brunch spot in Cambridge without a two-hour wait. Turns out reservations are a must, and we had to drive out to Watertown to find good food with friendly wait-times. By the time we were seated, our brunch had turned into lunch time, so everyone was hungry! We ordered coffees and milkshakes to start:

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Followed by an assortment of eggs, potatoes, toasts, and pancakes:

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So so so good. I would love to go back here from another brunch!

Speaking of brunch, after the failed attempts to go to a Cambridge brunch (as described above), Noah and I were eager to try one of the places we had originally intended to go to. On top of my brunch-planning game now, I made a reservation at Cafe Luna for a couple weeks ahead. When we eventually had a meal there, it was clear why it’s so hard to get in! The food is great, but the space is also pretty small so there’s not a ton of table turnover. Noah and I both ordered egg dishes and shared a half order of stuffed french toast (with lots of fresh berries!).

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Definitely another winner!

I’ve also had some great dinners in the area. Two of my favorites places so far are just around the corner from mine and Noah’s apartment. The first is Cambridge Common. It’s a very casual bar/restaurant with really high quality, homey dishes. Noah and I ordered a salmon and rice dish, cheese ravioli in a pesto sauce, and sweet potato fries to share:

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The other nearby gem is Giulia. Giulia is an Italian restaurant that is a bit more fancy but still reasonably priced. I would also generally suggest a reservation to eat there (we were lucky to get a seat at the bar!). 

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We shared pasta and fish (which was amazing!):

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And since we were celebrating (first week of the semester!), we splurged for dessert with a chocolate torte and affogato (ice cream and espresso):

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Giulia was an instant favorite for me – definitely a great date night locale.

Finally, City Girl Cafe in Inman Square was another instant favorite. The menu at City Girl is on the shorter side, but all of the dishes looked really good and it was hard to make an order decision. I went with a friend who recommended it, and we enjoyed sharing a few dishes: fried ravioli, a quinoa/vegetable bowl, and Nicoise salad:

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And…although it’s not really a restaurant, Noah and I had a fun date night at the Downeast Cider House cidery. We had a tour of the cidery (complete with samples!) and then enjoyed a couple glasses of classic and pumpkin Downeast Cider.

These are the fermentation barrels:

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And the bottling machinery:

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Enjoying cider! Can you spot the photo bomber??:

 

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Great times eating and drinking around Boston!

 

 

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New Master Cook

Since my grad school schedule has been busy and I had class into the evening a few nights a week, Noah has been cooking more the past few months. And he is my new favorite cook! Noah has some classic dishes – such as tuna pasta – that he likes making all the time…

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But he’s also been trying his hand at some more challenging dishes – such as pizza! Noah makes the dough from scratch (yum!) and has been experimenting with different topping levels and baking methods. For Chanukah, he got a pizza stone (thanks Paul and Eve!) and the most recent pizza was oh so crispy! The role of the stone is to absorb heat in the oven prior to putting the pizza on top, so then the pizza crust cooks evenly and quickly from underneath – just like a brick pizza oven would do!

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Since we’ve been missing Israeli cuisine, it’s also been good to have Noah’s homemade shakshuka:

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Finally, this beet “reuben” was seriously one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had – roasted beets with melted swiss, sauerkraut, and russian dressing on a baguette:

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Thanks for all the great meals, Noah! I appreciate all the delicious food. 🙂

Jerusalem Cafes: Round 6

I haven’t done a Jerusalem Cafes post in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been accumulating visits to blog-worthy cafes! I have a lot to catch up on…but here are recaps from four cafe visits that I’ve really enjoyed! Most of the places are repeats of places I’ve been before (it’s nice to have been in Jerusalem for so long that I have favorites!), but there is a new cafe as well!

1. Caffit

An Emek Refaim classic, I’ve already blogged about Caffit once…okay twice. But it is oh, so delicious. Maybe I should really make a “best of” list instead of only honoring one “best breakfast in Jerusalem.”

Caffit has it all, but the assortment of dips/cheeses/spreads that accompanies their Israeli breakfast is the prime winner in my mind.

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2. Cafe Hillel

Cafe Hillel is a coffee/food chain around Jerusalem somewhat in the vein of Aroma. I’ve posted about Cafe Hillel before, but I gave a recap of some lunch items in that post. On my more recent visit, I ordered a breakfast dish: focaccia topped with 2 eggs. My dining companion ordered the Israeli breakfast.

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Everything was delicious! The focaccia was so tasty…probably because of the copious amounts of butter that seemed to be dribbled on top.

3. Kalo

Again, Kalo is somewhere that I’ve visited in the past – once and twice. Again, Kalo is so good that I want to show you more mouth-watering photographs.

Pictured below is an eggs benedict dish with smoked salmon (which I loved because they didn’t smother it in hollandaise as so often happens in the U.S…) as well as an Israeli breakfast.

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4. Cafe Yehoshua

Last but not least, Noah and I branched out from our typical digs and went for breakfast at the new-to-us Cafe Yehoshua in the Rehavia neighborhood. Friends had raved to us about Cafe Yehoshua for months, so we were eager to try it. They had a pretty extensive menu, serving all meals of the day. I went for the basic breakfast which was great (and even included a small piece of grilled cheese with a tomato soup shooter!), and Noah ordered a steak sandwich.

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The food was yummy, but the restaurant isn’t kosher which makes me feel less inclined to re-visit. If kashrut isn’t your thing, though, you would probably enjoy a visit!

If you missed them, check out my other Jerusalem Cafe posts here:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
Round 5

Best Breakfast in Jerusalem

Breakfast in Israel is amazing. The Israeli Breakfast is double amazing.

eggs+cheese+bread+spreads+veggies+coffee+juice+other rotating goodies = yum/love

Noah and I have thoroughly enjoyed going out to breakfast at various locations around Jerusalem throughout this year (see here and here and here).

All of these breakfasts are delicious and – let’s face it – pretty similar. Yet, one cafe stands out as my favorite place for breakfast in Jerusalem.

The winner is….

KADOSH!

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Kadosh is located on HaMalka Street, relatively near to Mamilla Mall. It has the standard coffee/juice/bread/spreads/eggs/cheese/salad situation, but there is something about it that is unbearably delicious.

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Like other cafes that serve breakfast, Kadosh serves two eggs (cooked your way) with their Israeli breakfast. In addition to just choosing a simple cooking method though, Kadosh has a collection of egg dishes you can select to fill your egg order, ranging from omelettes to fried eggs within brioche:

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Another great thing about Kadosh is that they serve breakfast all day! I have been there 4 times now, and three of the times I was incapable of getting off the breakfast kick, but on my most recent visit I ordered a salad with poached egg, sweet potato, and tahini (Noah stuck with the breakfast!):

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Noah and I will be going to Kadosh for my birthday dinner next week – I’ll post about whatever our meal ends up being!

If you are in Jerusalem for breakfast – or, really, any time of day – I definitely suggest that you hit up Kadosh for a meal. You won’t be disappointed!

Traveling to Amsterdam, staying at the ‘t hotel

Sorry for the break in blogging…I’ve been out of town! First, I was on a tiyul to the North with Pardes for three days (posts about that trip coming soon), and then Noah and I took a trip to Amsterdam for 5 days. We were extremely busy – rushing around to see lots of sites, visit museums, and enjoy exploring. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great during our visit to Amsterdam, and most days it was fairly cold and rainy. Nonetheless, we had a great time!

We left last Friday morning bright and early. Noah wasn’t feeling well so he tried to sleep during most of the flights.

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After a fairly full day of travel, we arrived to the Amsterdam airport shortly after 5:00pm.

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The Amsterdam airport is fairly unique in that it is very close to the city center. In fact, it takes slightly under 15 minutes to get from the airport train station (Schiphol) to the Amsterdam Centraal station in the Old City Center.

That is if the train is working….

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We waited for about 15 minutes by the tracks until someone came and told all of the would-be passengers that the train wasn’t running. After trying to figure out the bus system, we gave up and ended up taking a taxi into the city. The ride wasn’t too expensive though because two people behind us in line (a couple of travelers from Spain) asked if we wanted to share a cab!

I will say that the public transport train system in Amsterdam was pretty terrible from our experience. During our 5 days, we tried to use the train 4 times. 3 out of those 4 times the train wasn’t working (!!!) – something we discovered after buying tickets and spending time waiting around for the train. Fortunately, the train service desk was always very willing to give us a refund. Still, I hope our experience isn’t reflective of standard transit service, or I imagine it would be very frustrating to be an Amsterdammer.

After an unfortunately long amount of time, we finally made it to our hotel: ‘t hotel. Noah found ‘t hotel online while he was looking for a canal house we could stay in during our trip. The hotel is also a tea/breakfast shop, and the adorable sitting area greets you upon walking in the door:

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Our room was lovely – fairly spacious with a hot water station and comfortable bed (although there was some pretty gaudy wallpaper). The only downside of the room was that there was very little lighting (hence why the pictures are blurry/dark). I will, however, take full responsibility for the mess. 🙂

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To get to our room, we had to climb two extremely steep sets of stairs, a typical feature – we would soon learn – of canal houses:

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After dropping our stuff at the hotel, it was time to PLAY!!

We walked around and looked at some fun shops including this store which seemed to be one big, hot-food vending machine of sorts:

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We also stopped into a candy store and saw this funny display of American “candy:”

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Eventually we went to dinner at an Indonesian restaurant called Puri Mas. Indonesian food is very popular/common in Amsterdam (Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony), and we read about the traditional rijsttafel dinner in our guide book. Rijsttafel is a Dutch word that literally means ‘rice table,’ and it’s basically a sampler dinner of sorts – small servings of different meat and vegetable dishes accompanied by rice. We ordered the rijsttafel dinner at Puri Mas and it was delicious (although some dishes were a bit spicy):

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Post-dinner included a little more window shopping and a walk through Leidseplein – a square in southern Amsterdam with lots of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The area seemed to be very popular among tourists, and we spotted one of these pop-up urinals:

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Exactly as it sounds, this urinal pops up from the ground at night to provide a place for people to relieve themselves that is more pleasant (for others) than the ground. We also saw these warning signs all over the place telling people to be careful about what drugs they buy (apparently some people were sold heroin as cocaine and died):

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I guess the rumors about people going crazy in Amsterdam are true…

Not everything in the square was so edgy though…such as this Mini Cooper store:

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Eventually, we were exhausted from the early start to the day and headed back to the hotel for some sleep.

In the morning, we got up fairly early to have breakfast before our 9:00am pre-arranged ticket time at the Van Gogh Museum. Breakfast was provided at the hotel and included juice, yogurt, coffee or tea, and – Noah’s favorite breakfast! – bread and cheese:

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While good, the breakfast got a little redundant after 5 days…I sure missed my yogurt and oatmeal. 🙂

Check back soon for the first day’s activities such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and Keukenhoff Gardens!

Other Amsterdam Posts

Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Keukenhof Gardens
Canal Cruise, Museum of the Canals, and the Old Jewish Quarter
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam City Museum, and Oude Kerk
Day trip to Rotterdam, architecture tour

Eucalyptus and the International Book Fair

Last week, Noah and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by going out to a fancy dinner at The Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is a restaurant in Jerusalem located within the artist’s row on the outskirts of the Old City. I had read about Eucalyptus a few times since being in Jerusalem, and it was often listed as among the best restaurants in the city.

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Eucalyptus is a kosher meat restaurant, and I saw online that they did a few different tasting menus. Noah and I were excited at the prospect of ordering a tasting menu since in the U.S. we usually can’t do that sort of thing since the tasting menu typically includes some sort of trefe (non-kosher) food. It’s sooo nice not having to worry about that sort of thing here in Israel! 🙂

We settled on ordering the Shir HaShirim feast which was the mid-level tasting menu, including assorted appetizers, three entrees, and a dessert platter.

This was one extravagant meal – definitely an experience for a special occasion!
Side note: the lighting in the restaurant was dim (ooooh, how romantic) so the photos aren’t very high quality

The meal started with some breads and dips as well as a wild kale dish:

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The next round of dishes included roasted eggplant and roasted cauliflower with tehina:

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The last round of the ‘appetizers’ course was a trio of soups, including lentil, tomato, and artichoke soup as well as figs stuffed with chicken and something that vaguely resembled an egg roll (unpictured):

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The entrees were roasted duck with mashed potatoes, lamb neck in a stew with a pastry top, and a chicken and rice dish (which was served upside down in a pot and the waitress told Noah to make a wish on it before we ate!). This is the lamb stew:

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The meal ended with a dessert platter that included sorbet, chocolate souffle, something that vaguely resembled flan with a berry sauce, tiramisu, and roasted pears:

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Wow! What a meal. 🙂

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On our way home, we stopped by the International Book Fair which was a cultural event happening all of last week in Jerusalem. The event was hosted at the Tahana Rishona, and the book spread was even larger than I had anticipated.

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The fair was held indoors in an extremely large tent, and the book displays were divided up according to country or topic:

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In addition to books, there were also some stands selling various types of art, posters, etc. Unfortunately, we were there shortly before closing time, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to look around and find something to buy. Nonetheless, I’m glad we went! I love that Jerusalem has so many cultural festivals and activities year round (and that so many of them are nearby to my neighborhood!).

 

Masada and FOOD

In addition to hiking in Ein Gedi, my family also did a hike up Masada during our Israel travel.

Masada is a flattop mountain in the Ein Gedi area that has earned fame for its role as the site of Jewish rebels’ last stand against the Roman Empire. A magnificent palace was first built atop the mountain by Herod the Great in the 1st century. Years later, after Herod had died, the Jews rebelled against the Roman Empire in 66 CE. The Romans destroyed the second temple in 70 CE and essentially ended the revolt then. A group of slightly less than 1,000 Jews, however, fled to Masada where they – historians believe – lived for over a year. One might think, why would the Roman army even bother with them anymore? I don’t know…maybe it was a matter of pride or finishing the job ‘right,’ but the Romans pursued the Jews to Masada and built eight camps around the mountain as they spent months preparing an assault ramp that would enable them to ambush the mountain.

All that is known about Masada’s tragic end comes from one survivor. The story states that, knowing the Roman forces couldn’t be held off for much longer, the Jews atop Masada decided that they would rather take their own lives in freedom than serve the Romans as slaves. Lots were drawn to determine 10 men who would kill the rest of the community, and, then, a final lot was drawn to determine who would kill the other nine and then commit suicide. One of the most interesting archeological finds from the site were pottery shards bearing names – generally thought to be evidence of the lots.

Today, Masada has become a site emblematic of both bravery and tragedy within the Jewish community during the time of Roman rule (and, more broadly, throughout history). The mountain is a popular site for Birthright groups, children having their Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Israel, and essentially any Zionist trip touring Israel. The iconic Masada experience is to hike the mountain just before dawn, reaching the top for sunrise.

Despite the pre-sunrise hour, my family acquiesced to hiking the mountain bright and early. The hike up the mountain took about 40 minutes at a pretty quick pace, and we reached the top a few minutes before official sunrise:

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Unfortunately, it ended up being a cloudy day and the magic of the sun was fairly obstructed by the clouds. Nonetheless, it was still a great hike with awesome views from the top…and, even if we didn’t get the full splendor of a clear sunrise, it was neat to see everything come into full color! 🙂

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Me with my “baby” bro:

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This is a picture of the tiered palace that served as Herod’s living quarters when he resided on the mountaintop:

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With all the hiking, biking, and swimming, there was – of course – also lots of eating during this vacation. A few quick highlights include…

Fresh honey at the cafeteria at the Ein Gedi Kibbutz:

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Yemenite street food in Tzfat. We ate a Lachuch Original where we had sandwiches made with malawa bread and filled with vegetables and cheese:

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Finally, we ate at a meat restaurant called Habikta in a town called Ramot by the sea of Galilee. The restaurant offered a broad menu of smoked meat dishes, burgers, homemade bagels and a salad bar:

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In closing, I must share the incredible coincidence of finding this poster hanging in a small lodge in the northern Galilee:

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This poster recalls the capture of the Jesse James Gang in Northfield, MN – the site of my alma mater. The historic capture continues to be remembered even after all these years through the annual ‘Jesse James Days,’ and I have very fond memories of attending the festival each year as a college student. 🙂