Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cheap Eats: Burtons Grill

If the thought of huge holiday meals has you looking for smaller dishes to tide you over between parties, Burtons Grill has a new bar menu to keep your stomach and your wallet full. Each plate is priced at $4.95 and holds a generous serving. Two plates would definitely make a decent meal.

Although there are only five choices on Burtons' Small Plates menu, the options are diverse enough that anyone could find something to like. The warm goat cheese salad was this Bostonist's favorite - two disks of cheese, coated in crunchy panko breadcrumbs, and a well-dressed spinach and bacon salad. We also enjoyed the scallop crostini (above) - thin slices of warm scallop on crispy bread with a drizzle of lemon cream sauce. The buttermilk-battered fried feta was the most decadent of the bunch - who eats 8 or so ounces of feta at one time? - but if you're looking for a salty, crispy treat, this is the one to order. The BLT was on the small side (although well constructed), but the huge pile of onion strings on the side more than made up for its size. Finally, the firecracker shrimp were a little too spicy for us, but boasted well-cooked shrimp, a crispy exterior, and plenty of hot Buffalo sauce.

Burtons Grill offers their Small Plates menu everyday from 3pm until close (10pm Sundays, 11pm every other day). They are located at 1363 Boylston Street, near Fenway Park.

Originally published on Bostonist.

Burton's Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cranberry Orange Jam

A few weeks ago, I was wandering through one of the last farmers markets of the year and came across a huge bin of fresh cranberries. They were so beautiful - bright and plump - that I couldn't help but bring some home. Which is funny, because the only thing I could think to make with them was cranberry sauce. I'm pretty sure the only person who will eat cranberry sauce in my family is my father. So I started brainstorming (ie doing internet searches) for other ideas and came across a few recipes for cranberry orange jam, or more like cranberry marmalade. Since being diagnosed with canning fever this summer, I jumped at the chance to put a cranberry concoction into little glass jars. The recipe below is what I cobbled together, and I think it's pretty tasty (although I think it serves as a better accompaniment to savory dishes, like maybe alongside a roast pork, than on toast or something sweet).

How do you like to use fresh cranberries?

Cranberry Orange Jam
8 cups (about 2 pounds) fresh cranberries
3-4 small, thin-skinned oranges (like clementines or tangerines)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup white wine (I used a Riesling, because it was what I had on hand, and it added some sweetness)

Wash and pick over berries, removing any that are soft. Dice whole oranges, removing any seeds - since the rind doesn't decrease in size as it cooks, make sure you cut it to the size you want in the final product. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking until cranberries pop open and mixture thickens, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick.

While jam cooks, fill the largest pot you have with water and place some sort of rack on the bottom (I use a lobster pot that comes with a fitted strainer, so I just use that strainer). You don't want the jars to touch the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Place clean glass jars in the water and boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. Water should come to an inch or two above the tops of the jars. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's instructions.

Remove jars from water when the jam is done. Fill jars with jam, leaving 1/4 inch headroom on top. Wipe the rims of the jar so they're clean and place on the lids on the jars.

Place the jars back in the boiling water, put the cover on the pot, and process for 10 minutes (start timing when the water returns to a boil if it has become cooler). Carefully remove the jars from the pot and place on a kitchen towel to cool. You will hear the jars seal shut as they cool.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday I'm In Love... with Kozy Shack Pear Mangosteen Pudding

I was walking through the supermarket the other day and came to a screeching halt next to the pudding section. Kozy Shack's new Simply Well line has colorful packaging and, more importantly, flavors that make it stand out from the crowd on the shelf. The words "pear" and "mangosteen" jumped out at me - these are not things that usually describe pudding - and a package made its way into my basket in a split-second.

And after popping a cup open, it became clear to me that this pudding was more than pretty packaging. Both the pear and the mangosteen flavors are clear and distinct, and yet they work together in harmony to create one hell of a pudding. It's light and refreshing and yet filling. The texture in the package is a little thick (hence no picture), thanks to tapioca starch and added fiber, but the mouthfeel is just right.

I found my pear mangosteen pudding at my local Market Basket (which is quickly becoming a great place to shop for speciality items), but you could ask for it at any store that already carries Kozy Shack puddings.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bar Snacks at the Regal Beagle

On Monday night, I met up with my friend Melody and the wonderful Erin of Erin Cooks for a screening of Babette's Feast at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. I felt like a bad food writer for never having seen it before. Of course, we couldn't go into a movie about food without eating something first, so we decided to meet up at the newly opened Regal Beagle just down the street.

The Regal Beagle is a warm and homey spot - the lush red wallpaper makes it very cozy. The layout is a little counter-intuitive, with the bar and lounge area in the back, but it also makes for more secluded drinking.

I tried a couple of the cocktails, which were strong and tasty, but the food was the real winner. We stuck to the bar bites menu and loved every bit.

The crab rangoon empanadas were a delightful twist on the typical crab rangoon - the dough was light and crispy, and although the filling was a little thin (it could have used some chunks of crab or even celery), it was quite flavorful. They were also the most expensive thing we tried, at $8 for 3. The other dishes were a much better value.

I loved the tempura sweet potato fries, which weren't like sweet potato fries anywhere else. The potatoes were cut into thick chunks and were soft and sweet inside the light tempura batter. Five dollars for a heaping plate was fantastic. The dates, stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon, were very rich and perfect for sharing (and were only a dollar each!). The pumpkin hummus was also a treat, a little sweeter than your typical hummus and topped with finely chopped cucumber, red onion, and feta and served with crispy pita chips.

I'm glad to see an interesting place like the Regal Beagle in Coolidge Corner, and I think it's a great option for a bite before a movie. I'd love to see even more variety on the bar bites menu, as the entrees are a little higher priced than I thought they would be (they hover around $20).

Regal Beagle on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vote for my PAMA Recipes!

Just a note to say that voting has begun on the PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur contest. You must have a Facebook account to vote, and you can vote once daily from now until December 15th. You can find all the entries here, and my entries are the Pomegranate Paklava and the Phyllo-Wrapped Brie. Thanks!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pomegranate Paklava

Paklava just doesn't photograph well, does it?

As a second entry into PAMA's Pomegranate Month recipe contest, I decided to update an Armenian classic with Pomegranate Paklava. Armenian paklava is usually less sweet and gooey than Greek baklava, which I am in favor of, but I've still never really liked it. My mother makes it with walnuts, possibly the worst nut out there (I'll eat Brazil nuts before I eat a walnut!), and I've always felt that pistachios are a more fitting nut for this pastry anyway. Adding pomegranate seemed like a natural step. I'm really happy with how this turned out, and although I'm still not a fan of paklava in general, I'd be much more likely to eat this fruitier version.

Pomegranate Paklava
2 cups chopped pistachios
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 lb. phyllo dough
2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup PAMA Liqueur
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar

Combine chopped pistachios, 2 Tbsp sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Unroll phyllo dough and cover with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying. Brush melted butter over the bottom and sides of a 13×9 pan. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan and brush generously with butter. Repeat with two-thirds of the phyllo sheets, ending with a brushing of butter. Spread the pistachio mixture evenly over the dough, making sure to spread all the way to the edges. Top with the remaining sheets of phyllo dough, each brushed with butter. Cover the pan and refrigerate for an hour to let the butter harden.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cut the paklava into squares or diamonds, making sure to cut all the way through to the bottom. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

While paklava is cooling, combine PAMA Liqueur, water, and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour hot syrup over paklava; if you like a paklava that is a little less sweet, use less of the syrup. Re-cut the paklava (the edge of a spatula may give you better leverage than a knife). Serve on a platter or in individual paper baking cups.

Phyllo-Wrapped Brie with PAMA Drizzle

Happy Pomegranate Month! If you're seeing a lot of pomegranate recipes out there, it's because Pomegranate Month is in full swing (not to mention that pomegranates are just plain delicious).

PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur is celebrating Pomegranate Month with a recipe contest. The only requirement for entries? Using 3 tablespoons of PAMA. Thankfully, the sweet and tart liqueur pairs well with a lot of flavors.

My first entry, Phyllo-Wrapped Brie with PAMA Drizzle, is kind of a mishmash of ideas. I wanted to use phyllo dough because it always looks fancy, and it's pretty easy to use (even if a lot of people are scared of using it - just give it a shot!). I figured a version of individual brie en croute would be a great appetizer - I love the idea of brie en croute, but I don't like the idea of putting pastry on top of a cracker. This eliminates the need for crackers, making the entire thing hand-held. As for the PAMA sauce, I kept thinking of an amazing steak I had in Italy, covered in a balsamic vinegar reduction that tasted like rich chocolate. A thick sauce like that, but with more fruity flavor from the PAMA, seemed like a perfect pair to the pastry.

Apparently I hit this one out of the park. Our usually loud and boisterous group didn't make a sound when these finally hit the table. The one vegetarian, who ate these as her main coarse, was literally scraping the plate clean of every last drop of sauce. I'm so glad these worked out well, contest or no, and I have a feeling these will be on my holiday table in the next few months. If nothing else, the combination of PAMA and balsamic vinegar makes a sauce that would be killer on just about anything.

Phyllo-Wrapped Brie with PAMA Drizzle
1 lb. phyllo dough
10 oz. brie, cut into 10 long slices
2 sticks butter, melted
pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Unroll phyllo dough and cover with a damp cloth to prevent from drying. Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on work surface and brush generously with melted butter. Lay a second sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first and brush with butter. Place one slice of brie lengthwise along the bottom edge of the dough and top with pomegranate seeds. Roll the brie in the dough two turns, fold in the sides to seal the ends, then continue rolling the brie. Trim the end to lie neatly beneath the pastry, and place seam-side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and brie. Brush completed pieces with butter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. While the pastries are baking, prepare the sauce by combining the PAMA Liqueur, balsamic vinegar, and salt together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until thick and syrupy.

To serve, drizzle sauce over the pastries and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

*NOTE* If these are too big, you can make smaller ones, but use just one sheet of phyllo - two might overwhelm a smaller piece of cheese.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cooking with Harbor Sweets

Twitter has led me to some of the coolest events as of late. A while ago, I saw a tweet from Harbor Sweets, an amazing local candy company, announcing a cooking class that they would be hosting in their factory. Cooking with Sweet Sloops, my favorite of their chocolates, made with almond toffee crunch, white and dark chocolate, and pecans? Sure - imagine the amazing cookies you could make with them! But no, the class was going to focus on a full menu of recipes, not just desserts. When I saw the words "Sweet Sloops Pad Thai," I knew I had to go.

So last Saturday, after getting more than a little lost, we arrived at Harbor Sweets' factory in Salem only a few minutes late. The small room was packed with tables and people, and we squeezed into our seats as the chef starting talking. The afternoon was led by Chef Bill, a local personal chef, and he taught us a lot about cooking with humor and verve.

We started with dates stuffed with goat and gorgonzola cheeses, bacon, and Sweet Sloop Crunch. I thought I wouldn't like these, but surprisingly, this was my favorite dish of the day. The saltiness of the cheese and bacon were married perfectly with the sweetness of the candy and the dates, and the bacon and the Sweet Sloops added plenty of texture to an otherwise soft dish. These would be perfect for a holiday appetizer, as you can make them ahead and just pop them in the oven to warm through. Since this was my favorite, the recipe is below.

We then moved onto Pad Thai. A lot of people seemed skeptical about pairing candy with pad thai, but I thought it would be a great match - there's already sugar and peanuts in pad thai, so why not? In fact, Chef Bill took out both the sugar and the peanuts and used the Sweet Sloops to provide those flavors - it worked perfectly, although I can't see making this routinely. It's definitely a conversation piece, though, and would be great to wow your friends and family with.

For dessert, we actually tried two different dishes. Chef Bill passed around Toll House cookies that were made with Sweet Sloops Crunch instead of chocolate chips. They were delicious, as I expected them to be, and is probably the recipe that most of the attendees are going to try at home. We also had Bananas Foster, with Sweet Sloops Crunch used as a garnish. (Above, Chef Bill gets ready for some flambe.) I'm not crazy about cooked bananas, but I loved the Sweet Sloops over ice cream.

So, as if I didn't already love Sweet Sloops, I now have even more excuses to buy them.

Can you see the chocolate all melty and delicious in that picture?

Dates with Goat and Gorgonzola Cheese, Bacon, and Sweet Sloops Crunch
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
3 oz gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup Sweet Sloops Crunch
15 Medjool dates

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix together the two cheeses, then mix in cooked bacon and Sweet Sloops Crunch. Make a slit in the top of each date, keeping the bottom intact, and remove the pit. Put one teaspoon of the cheese mixture into each date. Place dates on a sheet pan and bake for less than 5 minutes, until cheese are heated through.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cheap Eats: Daily Grill

A restaurant called Daily Grill sounds nothing if a little generic. Luckily, their food is anything but. While the Daily Grill is a popular chain on the West Coast, it's rather new to the East, and the Daily Grill in the Prudential Center is their only New England outpost.

The best deal at the Daily Grill is their Social Hour menu, offered weekdays 4-7pm, Saturday 12-5pm, and all day Sunday. The page-long menu features small plates for only $2.95 (a hot dog, hummus plate, beef sliders, meatloaf sliders, a chicken quesadilla, fried calamari, and mac and cheese) and $3.95 (spinach artichoke dip, crab cake sliders, tuna sashimi, and chicken pot pie). Order a drink and you get your first plate free. Bostonist enjoyed the calamari, some of the most tender we've had, and the sliders, which could be paired with another dish to make a full meal. The chicken pot pie, though, was the real standout, and probably the best deal. For only $4, you get a big bowl heaped with chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and mushrooms in a cream sauce and topped with flaky puff pastry, a perfect antidote for the cold days that are sure to come.

If you're willing to spend a little more money but still want a good deal, try the Daily Grill's Supper Menu. For $28, you get a choice of any salad on the menu, one of five main courses (such as filet mignon with a bleu cheese crust, ala cart at $25), and your choice of a dessert or a glass of wine. That's basically three courses for the price of one - not a bad deal in our books.

Daily Grill is located at 111 Huntington Avenue, at street level below the Prudential mall. They are open Monday-Thursday, 11:30am-10pm, Friday and Saturday, 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-10pm.

Daily Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bacon Vodka, the Oddest Drink I've Had in a Long Time

It's been, oh geez, a month since I went to my first tasting at Downtown Wine & Spirits in Davis Square. I used to shop there frequently during college, but it was rather inconvenient when I lived in Brookline. It took a mysterious tweet from Citysearch Boston regarding a bacon liquor tasting to get me back in there.

The tasting was a great time - a bunch of people crowded around the small bar, shuffling around patiently to try tastes (big tastes) of three different beers, three different wines, and a homemade bacon vodka. The beers and wines were only bacon-y in spirit - smoky aroma and flavor can go a long way, especially when you already have bacon on the brain. I thought the vodka, though, was pretty awesome. Well, maybe not that vodka, but the concept of bacon vodka? Yep, pretty cool.

So when my older brother's birthday rolled around only a few weeks later and I had no idea what to get for him, I thought I'd try my hand at bacon vodka and give him something to talk about with his poker-playing buddies. Making bacon vodka is SIMPLE - there's probably only about 30 minutes of work involved.

When it came time to actually drink the vodka, though, I wasn't sure what to do. It was too salty to drink on its own (and god knows I love me some salt!). I stumbled across some recipes from Bakon Vodka (as far as I know, the only bacon-flavored vodka available in stores) and decided to give the prosciutto-wrapped bacon cocktail a try. I've tweaked it a bit below to better suit my tastes. Their drink list is intriguing, though, and I really want to give the Irish Boar a try too.

The thought of salty vodka may turn some people off, but it's worth giving a try. If nothing else, it's certainly a conversation piece. And if you're interested in other tastings (strange and straight forward alike) from Downtown Wine & Spirits, keep an eye on their website and Twitter.

Bacon Vodka
3 slices of bacon, cooked and grease blotted off
about 2 cups vodka (something you would drink on its own)

Place the cooked bacon into a pint jar or a similar non-reactive container that can be sealed. Fill with vodka. Place the jar in a dark cabinet for one week, then place the jar in the freezer overnight to help the fat solidify. Pour the vodka through a paper coffee filter (once or twice) - the resulting vodka should be clear with no little fat globs floating around. Clean out the pint jar, then pour vodka back in and store in the freezer.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Bacon Cocktail
3 parts bacon vodka
3 parts melon liqueur (like Midori)
splash of lime seltzer

Combine bacon vodka and melon liqueur with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into a martini glass and top with a splash of chilled seltzer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pomegranate Baba Ganoush

I'm Armenian and I love eggplant, and yet, it has taken me this long to make baba ganoush. I feel like a slacker. But don't worry, I've definitely made more than my fair share of the dip in the past few weeks to make up for it.

Baba ganoush is a Middle Eastern dip or salad which, at its most basic, consists of mashed eggplant and spices. It's an easy enough recipe that only takes a few minutes to put together (minus the roasting time, of course). It's simple, and yet, no one can decide on one recipe. My Armenian cookbook has four different versions (of course, that cookbook typically has four different versions of every dish, so this isn't saying all that much). I've played around with the recipe enough that I think I've found my version of baba ganoush. How do you like to make baba ganoush?

Oh, and seeing at pomegranate season has officially begun (I recently picked up a HUGE pomegranate from Pom Wonderful at the supermarket and couldn't wait to start peeling), and that means it's time for me to start throwing pomegranate arils into anything and everything I make. So into my baba ganoush went a handful of arils, along with some on the top for garnish, and it was love at first bite. The body of the dip is garlicky and salty with an unctuous creaminess, and the pomegranate adds little bursts of sweet freshness that makes this dip a little different (it's the same concept as my pomegranate guacamole).

Pomegranate Baba Ganoush
1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
arils of 1 pomegranate, divided
3/4 cup parsley, finely chopped, plus a few whole leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°. Prick the eggplant with a fork, then set on a rimmed baking pan with 1/2 cup water. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the eggplant is soft all the way through. Add more water to the pan as needed; the steam will help the eggplant cook.

Let eggplant cool until it can be handled, then peel off the skin. Combine the eggplant, tahini, 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and garlic in a blender (or a large bowl if you are using an immersion blender). Blend until smooth and combined. Stir in 3/4 of the pomegranate arils and chopped parsley. Add more salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

To serve, arrange baba ganoush in bowl, drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil, and scatter remaining pomegranate arils and parsley leaves on top. Serve with sliced vegetables, pita chips, or just a fork.

Monday, November 2, 2009

ONCE Upon a Midnight Dreary

From the very first time I heard about Cuisine En Locale's ONCE, I've been dying to go. ONCE stands for One Night Culinary Event, and the concept is that JJ Gonson and her friends put together a special dinner party (with some loose theme) for that one night only. So I've been longing to go to one for about a year now, and between my schedule conflicts and other ONCEs filling up too quickly, ONCE Upon a Midnight Dreary (hosted the night before Halloween) was the first one I could make.

The first email I got from JJ just said that the night was going to be scary. I can handle scary, I thought. It wasn't until a night or two before that I realized just how scary this night would be.

I like to think I'm pretty open-minded about a lot of foods - I'll give most things at least a taste. But this meal, focusing on offal (oh, and bugs!), really pushed my limits. Having said that, I'm pretty damn proud of how much I did end up eating.

I'm looking forward to JJ's next ONCE that is perhaps a little less trying. I loved everything about the evening except some of the ingredients, so I'm definitely excited to see what else JJ and her crew can do.

I had invited some friends to join me for the evening, but in the long run, I'm glad they didn't come. So I walked in alone and stood there awkwardly for a minute before being intercepted by JJ. We had emailed back and forth a few times, and I was excited to finally meet her. She directed me over to a table right next to the kitchen so I could see everything that was going on. I settled in, opened my wine, and started talking with my fellow diners (all first-time ONCE attendees). Sitting next to me was Benjamin Eckstein, a video photographer and producer, who took amazing photos all night - some of his photos can be found on LimeyG's blog (who also has her own great write-up for the night and was sitting at the table behind me).

The meal started innocuously enough - chicken liver pate on amazing fresh baguettes. That bread proved to be my saving grace for the evening. The pate was quickly followed by a Thai-spiced soup featuring fish heads and hoisin-glazed chicken feet. The soup was so wonderfully spiced, heady with fresh ginger and peppered with super-thin slices of veggies (I avoided a fish head, much to my relief). The chicken feet, made with homemade hoisin sauce, were most definitely not my kind of thing - I don't even like chicken wings - but now I can say I've had them (that kind of thinking came up a lot during the night).

Beets in aspic were up next, and were featured more for their creepy looks than their actual grossness. The beets were tender and sweet, and the blood-red aspic was surprisingly salty.

And then things got really weird. JJ introduced David Gracer as "the bug guy," and he started serving up the bugs. Crickets and mealworms were sauteed into some rice, and then cockroches and giant ants were passed around. They all grossed me out, and I silently promised myself that I wouldn't try one. But when one of my fellow diners said the crickets weren't that bad and had the texture of roasted asparagus tips, I gave it a shot. Can't say I'm not going to think of them the next time I have asparagus, though... (To learn more about eating bugs, watch David Gracer on The Colbert Report - thanks again to LimeyG for finding the video!)

A little earlier in the evening, a dish of offal had been passed around the room, and everyone took guesses as to what it was. Someone at another table guessed buffalo spinal cord, and they were right. It went into the oven (for only about a minute), was cut up into tiny little bites, and was passed around as another tasty treat after the bugs. It looked much better once it was cut up. It tasted a lot like an oddly cooked egg - chewy on one side and like undercooked egg whites on the other.

Courses started to come out a little slower as they were more time-intensive to make. That was fine for me, as it gave me plenty of time to drink more wine (and prepare myself for what was to come). Skewers of chicken and rabbit hearts were brought out (the chicken was the smaller of the two) and served alongside black beans and chorizo. ("You'll eat chorizo but you won't eat hearts?" JJ asked.) The hearts were meaty but rubbery (obviously, because of all the work they did prior to their second life as dinner). We also had sauteed kale with some kind of larvae - I usually love kale, but I couldn't make myself eat more than one bite of this.

Next out was the kidney fricassee, served on puff pastry. Um, I liked the puff pastry :)

Tongue was yet another dish I figured I wouldn't like at all, but surprisingly, this was my favorite dish of the whole night. The lamb tongue was served as paper-thin slices in an open-faced Reuben sandwich (featuring homemade Thousand Island dressing and sauerkraut). The tongue was amazing - it was so tender, it completely melted in my mouth.

The pig head cake was the final savory dish of the night. It was composed of all the meaty bits of the pig's head, bound together with a bit of aspic, then fried. Everything is better when it's fried, but still wasn't big on the whole eating-a-head thing.

Dessert was simple and elegant, even though it contained bugs (at least one, possibly two kinds). A slice of watermelon, topped with a small piece of giant water bug, and a poached pear with creme de marrons (pureed chestnuts which may or may not have contained some worms). At this point, I was tired and pretty grossed out by everything that had crossed my plate during the night, so I only nibbled on this.

When it was time to go, I made sure to give JJ a big hug and let her know that, while there was nothing in our meal that I would ever order, I loved having the opportunity to try everything. I'm definitely looking forward to attending another ONCE (albeit one with more typical ingredients).