Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sel de la Terre

1245 Worcester Street
Suite 3032
Natick, MA 01760
Tel: 508-650-1800
Website: http://www.seldelaterre.com/

After a day's worth of shopping at the Natick Collection (I still call it Natick Mall), Ced and I decided to treat ourselves to a late dinner at Sel de la Terre. They were promoting $1 oysters and 1/2 priced tapas Sunday-Thursday from 4pm-9pm.

Check out my full review on Yelp. http://www.yelp.com/biz/sel-de-la-terre-middlesex-3. Apparently I didn't do a good job reviewing my entry and I eventually had to submit an edit to change Middlesex to Natick. I'll update the link once that's been updated.

I used a digital SLR for these photos. I'm taking a beginners course so I've been messing around with it when I can. The photos look grainy because I didn't use flash so I bumped up the ISO. Enjoy! (3.5/5 stars)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Addicted to Dunkin Donuts

While their main business is coffee, I only go for their donuts and oven toasted items. I don't like coffee. My weaknesses are their Boston Kreme Donuts, Blueberry Muffins, and Hash Browns. So delectable yet heartbreaking at the same time. Reality slapped me on the face when my friend saw me eating a Reduced-fat Blueberry Muffin at work one day...

Both of us had been on Weight Watchers and successfully lost weight. She went back on it recently after gaining weight though she'd been exercising more. She walked up to my desk area to chat with me and my other friends until she saw the muffin. She asked if I wanted to know the point value. Reluctant, I had her look it up. My beloved muffin had a high point value in WW. I can't remember the exact point value but I surely wasn't surprised nor did I want to acknowledge it. My heart sunk. I asked her to look up the point value of my other love, the Boston Kreme Donut. It was 6 points. My heart sunk a little more. The biggest shocker was the point value of the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese on a Croissant. 16 POINTS! The daily point value for someone my size, 5'3" female at around 135lbs is about 20-21 points. A day's worth of food intake was in that delicious sandwich. Good thing I eat this once every other month! But, no more sausage, egg, and cheese on a croissant for me. I occasionally get the flatbread sandwiches but I only like the veggie. The turkey sausage is very bland. The donut, muffin, and hash browns are now on my once-a-month list.

Luckily, I've been good about choosing foods at DD but I try to avoid the place when I can. Most of my visits are on Sunday mornings before Ced's softball game during the season. Yesterday I caved and ordered hash browns to share with Ced. But who was I kidding? I ate 90% it.

One thing I learned is that I could never cut out DD cold turkey. I have to have it but I just have to be smart about it. As long as I continue to live a healthy lifestyle, I think it's okay to splurge once in a while as long as I keep it under control.

Man those hash browns were good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fish Market

170 Brighton Ave
Boston, MA 02134
Tel: (617) 783-1268
Website: N/A

This is one of my new favorite sushi spots. Located in the heart of Allston, this small restaurant goes unnoticeable driving by since their sign looks generic and they're also situated along a row of small restaurants. The interior decor is bright and contemporary. I would not advise coming here with more than 4 people since their tables can seat 4 comfortably. There are about 6-8 seats at the bar so you can watch the chefs at work. Apparently the owners used to work at Oiishi. I've only been to Oiishi once but I hear it's great.

I've been here twice already and my favorites were the super white tuna nigiri1, foie gras with truffle nigiri2, sake (salmon) nigiri1, and baked spicy scallop maki3. The complimentary appetizer on my first visit was fluke tempura with stuff on it4. I apologize for the lack of details but the ingredients completely slipped my mind. It was delicious! On my second visit, I believe the complimentary appetizer was a super white tuna with jalapenos and a ginger sauce5. It was really good! Service is great and the chefs truly enjoy serving quality food. Although on my first visit, the kobe beef maki6 was overcooked so that was the only negative about them. Fortunately, they got it right the second time around. Jalapenos seem prevalent in their dishes which gives them a nice kick. They're having a "Grand Opening" promotion until the end of August so be sure to visit them to receive a complimentary appetizer and/or dessert. Enjoy! (4.5/5 stars)


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Food allergies

Growing up, I had sinus problems all year round. In high school, I kept a box of Kleenex in my locker and always carried napkins in my backpack. I once got caught steeling napkins from the cafeteria and had to give half the stack back. I speculated it was a sinus infection, but never went to see a doctor to confirm. I continued to take OTC and sucked it up for years to come.

During college, I experienced two of my worst food allergies. The first was with cherries. It happened in a meeting at my internship. My manager passed around some cherries. At the time, I hadn't eaten a cherry in years so I ate one. A few minutes later my lips became swollen and my throat closed up. My co-worker told me to take some Benadryl from the emergency kit in the kitchen. Once taken, my symptoms slowly subsided. The second was with peaches. I took a peach from Ced's house to eat for lunch since I hadn't had one in years. While eating, my neck became itchy, my nose started to run, and my eyes became watery. Remembering the cherry incident, I ran to the kitchen to take some Benadryl where once again, my symptoms slowly subsided. I haven't eaten a cherry or peach since.

Later in 2007, I finally had enough of the sneezing, congestion, and runny nose. My physician recommended me to an ENT. To examine, the ENT stuck a tubular microscope down my nose. It was quite uncomfortable since the tube hit the back of my throat. He told me that my nostrils were severely inflamed and that I should see an allergist.

My allergist saved my life. At our first meeting, I gave her a list of my symptoms. While most people get tested on their arms, I was tested on my back. She tested me for all allergens available in the area, which was about 50 or so. I expected the worst when the first prick of extract burned on contact. I had to lie there for 20 minutes for my body to do its work. Those 20 minutes felt like an eternity. The results?

  • Severe allergies to dust mites
  • Mild to severe allergies to 12/13 types of tree pollens
  • Mild allergies to 2/3 types of grass
  • Mild to slightly severe allergies to all weeds
  • Mild allergies to 4/12 types of molds
  • Mild to slightly severe allergies to cat hair
  • Mild allergies to dog hair and mouse

She told me that I had Oral Allergy Syndrome, which explained why I broke out eating certain fruits and vegetables. She explained that depending on the pollen levels, my reactions to certain fruits and vegetables could vary. However, I explained to her that when the fruits were cooked, I experienced no symptoms. She explained that cooking kills the proteins. Perfect! I was so happy when she finally applied Benadryl cream to cool my back. The best part was I went back to work after the appointment. My shirt was sticky the whole day!

I went back to test for food allergies. Because I was diagnosed with having oral allergy syndrome, it was a no brainer that I was allergic to tree fruits such as cherries, apples and peaches. I'm also allergic to carrots, shrimp, crab, clams, scallops, and believe it or not, soy. What's a Chinese girl to do if she's allergic to soy? Fortunately, it's only a mild allergy. Although my food allergies aren't severe, she gave me an Epipen for emergencies since food allergies can become life threatening.

Given the severity of my allergies, I started immunotherapy around the winter of 2007. Immunotherapy is supposed to build up your tolerance to allergens. It may or may not cure you but the best case scenario is that your symptoms decrease. It started off on a weekly basis, so for me I received 4 shots once a week. Depending on how your body reacts to it, you can move on to higher and concentrated dosages. The treatment could take a few years depending on how your body reacts. I'm currently in maintenance (4 shots every 3-4 weeks) and I'm the best I could ever be. I haven't gotten sick this year which is amazing. I did however, discover new food allergies.

One of the major burdens of having food allergies is that I'm restricted on the foods I eat. Exploring cuisines can have its complications. I'm adjusting to the fact that it is what it is. If I was willing to suffer the consequences of eating, say, one jumbo shrimp, it's my responsibility. I'm risking the possibility of a symptom that could be minor or life threatening. Usually I try not to take any chances but once in a while, the little dare devil in me says to just eat it. Editor's comment: I should stress that I do not encourage anyone do what I have done. I've been basically putting my life at risk here, even if the reactions were just small. I've been fortunate that my allergies to such foods aren't severe but why be stubborn about it? There are lots of other foods out there waiting to be eaten. I probably should mention I also have a mild case of eczema which I believe may play a part in my allergies. But anyway, abstinence is key!

As a foodie that's allergic to almost everything, I want you to be informed about food allergies. While many believe it develops in children only, it can actually develop over time, especially as an adult. If you notice any symptoms, even minor, take note of it. This could help with the diagnosis.

My allergist provided me with tons of information so if you have any questions about it or about my experience, I'll be glad to share it on this blog.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blue Ginger

583 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
Tel: 781-283-5790
Website: http://www.ming.com/blueginger/

I've always enjoyed watching Ming Tsai on PBS way back when. I remember the first time I saw him around Christmas time in high school. My girlfriends and I had just finished lunch in Chinatown when we saw him with his family in a parking lot. To my surprise, my girlfriends had never heard of him. As we walked by, I yelled "Hi Ming!" to which he responded "Hi and Merry Christmas!" with a smile and a wave. He might have been my first celebrity sighting---well maybe second---if you count Tram-Anh Tran from Ghost Writer. Moving on.

My boyfriend Ced and I had been wanting to dine at Blue Ginger for a while now. After hearing mixed reviews, I decided to make reservations for his birthday. Psyched? Why of course!

The restaurant was easy to find since it's right off a main street. We went on a Tuesday night so parking was plentiful. However, I can't vouch for parking during the weekends since it was my second time in Wellesley. We noticed outdoor seating on the way in. Must be nice to dine outdoors there during the summer. When we stepped in, we noticed the modern Asian decor. The hosts were friendly and we were seated right away as we were on time for once (ha!). We heard Ming stops by sometimes but that night, he was no where to be found. Sigh.

Our waitress was friendly and hospitable. I ordered a glass of '06 Haart, Piesporter Treppchen Riesling which was delicious. Light, fruity and not dry which I prefer. Ced ordered a Magic Hat beer which he enjoyed as well. We were given a bread basket as well.

For our first course, we ordered Ming's Tea-Smoked Salmon & Beef Carpaccio with Fresh Wasabi Emulsion. The salmon and beef were delicious. However, I felt the wasabi emulsion overpowered the dish. My mouth burned from the heat and sourness---perhaps from the juice of a lime?

For our second course, I ordered the Rice Paper Wrapped Salmon with Lobster-Sake Sauce, Wild Mushroom Risotto and Shaved Fennel-Herb Salad. To be honest, the best part of the dish was the salmon that was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. The funny thing is, I prefer my salmon cooked well-done. For some reason the sauce tasted like orange marmalade. The risotto wasn't great. The fennel-herb salad was actually decent. The rice paper was pointless. I felt it didn't add anything special to the dish other than presentation maybe. I felt sorry for the dish. It was trying too hard. A woman sitting across from us, who also ordered the salmon, was raving about it while we ate. Did I lose a taste bud or two?

Ced ordered the New Zealand Lamb Rack with Soy-Sake Demi, Soba Noodles salad and Mango Salsa. Coincidentally, he felt the same way about his dish as I did mine. The lamb was delicious, soba noodles overcooked, too many clashing flavors. Oh we lost another taste bud to flavor confusion.

At this point we hoped that dessert would lift our spirits. We decided on the Sesame Macadamia Caramel Nut Tart with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream, Housemade Hot Fudge, Gosling’s Rum Caramel and Bananas. Did it lift our spirits? Yes, but we were still haunted by the disappointment earlier.

Ming's food tasted better on tv. They do offer a lounge/tapas menu. Who knows. Maybe we'll meet again. (2/5 stars)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Coming Soon!

After much thought, I've decided to start a blog about my food adventures and triumphs and downfalls in the kitchen.

I have yet to figure out how to structure this blog so please come back soon for the first official post, hopefully soon.