Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Clear Flour Bakery

Clear Flour Bakery has been one of my favorite bakeries since we discovered it a year ago. The overwhelming scent of freshly baked bread and pastries drew us in. They retail shop is very small, but crammed with delicious baked goods. Whenever we go there always seems to be something fresh from the oven, and still warm in its paper bag. We were in the neighborhood after eating at Dok Bua and decided to stop by.

The chocolate bun was wonderful, a pan au chocolat taken to the next level. It had a bun similar to a croissant, that was perfectly moist and flaky. The inside was filled with rich, dark chocolate filling and roasted almonds.

The chocolate shortbread was very rich, with a very deep dark chocolately flavor. Unlike most shortbread, it was not incredibly sweet or buttery.

They make wonderful seasonal fruit tarts and the plum tart was no exception. It had a wonderful flaky crust, unlike most, which have no function other than being a platform for the filling. The plums were juicy and tart and perfectly offset the rich crust.

Canneles are little baked custards that I've seen at only one other place in Boston, but Clear Flour's are superior. They are slightly burnt on the top, but it only adds a nice caramelized flavor. The canneles were chewy and moist and weren't waxy.

The baguette was good, but nothing out of the ordinary, and there are better in Boston.

The lemon roll was good and had nice lemony flavor with a average roll

The buckwheat walnut roll was rather flavorless, but slighlty acidic.

Clear Flour has some wonderful pastries and is one of the best bakeries in Boston. However, some their bread is not up to par with their other goods. Pastries are abot $2-3 depending on each one.

Clear Flour Bakery
178 Thorndike St.
Brookline MA 02446

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dok Bua

Dok Bua is considered one of the best thai restaurants in the Boston area. I'd read countless raves about it and finally got around to trying it for lunch. The service was rude and it took a while for them to take our order. The decor here is hilarious, a combination of fishtanks, electric palm trees and vampire figurines. The menu is a large as a photo album and not arranged very well, but we eventually decided what to order.

We started with the Miang Kum, which is dried shrimp, peanut, lime, chili and Chinese broccoli wrapped in a leaf. It has many popular ingredients in thai food, including lime, ginger, and chili and was refreshing.

Next we had Pad Ki Mow, which is sauteed rice noodles with basil, tomato, onion, green pepper and chili paste. This was our favorite dish, the noodles had a slightly sweet flavor that was irresistable.

We also had the Rendang curry, which is chicken in a curry sauce topped with toasted coconut. It was a good curry, but was too sweet.

We also had Tom Kha Gai, the traditional coconut chicken soup. It was one of the better versions, with a strong citrus flavor and mushrooms.

Yum Nua is a beef salad with cucumber, tomato, onion, lime sauce and chili. The lime sauce was flavorful and went nicely with the beef.

The worst dish was Yum Woon Sen, which was glass noodles with ground pork, shrimp, peanut, chili sauce and lime juice. The lime juice was extremely overpowering and tasted more like household cleaner than anything else. It made the whole dish inedible.

There were one or two good dishes, but nothing worth going back for. It was about $12 a person including one dish and tax.

Dok Bua
411 Harvard Ave
Brookline, MA, 02446
P: 617 232 2955, 617 277 7087
F: 617 232 2250

*Pictures from Dok Bua's website

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Forest Cafe

Forest Cafe is a kitschy Mexican place a few blocks away from us. Recently its famed chef Jim Fahey returned to the kitchen and this was our second visit since then. At five-thirty the restaurant was suprisingly packed, and we were seated at the last table.

To start I had the green beans with garlic and lime. They were amazing, seared until crispy and dripping with lime and garlicky oil. A great, creative way to serve green beans. We also had two specials, the shrimp with an orange colored pumpkin seed sauce and pork with bean puree in corn tortillas. The shrimp were okay, a little spicy, but didn't have much flavor. The pork was great, smokey and spicy with tons of flavor wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla.

For entrees we had the shrimp with a green pumpkin seed sauce. The shrimp were very fresh tasting and the sauce was great, especially when mopped up with the rice. The pork with the chocolate hazelnut mole was great. The pork was nothing special, but the mole was some of the best I've had. The deep chocolate was balanced by the hazelnut and was pretty spicy.

It was a good,casual meal in a fun atmosphere. There were some standouts that are will make us return. Dinner was $20-25 a person, including an appetizer, entree, and tax.

Forest Cafe: 1682 Massachusetts Ave,
Cambridge MA, 02138
Phone: 617 661-7810


Oleana is a cozy restaurant serving interesting Meditterean food that is different from anyplace else. This was our 4th visit and it has become one of our favorite restaurants. The service was lovely, our waiter made honest reccomendations and chatted for a bit. From the cushions near the litte stove fireplace to the samples of wine, they go out of their way to make you comfortable.

There are two dining rooms and a outdoor patio that is lovely in the summer, especially when they have the band playing outside. However, the dining rooms are equally nice, warm and cozy with comfortable benches and seats.

I opted for the vegetarian testing menu, and the first course served was a spicy carrot puree & egyptian spice mix with nuts and olive oil acommpanied by the armenian bean and walnut pâté with pomegranate seeds and homemade string cheese. The naturally sweet carrots were perfectly balanced by the spices and fragrant olive oil, a great blend of sweet and spicy. The pâté was rich and nutty and the juicy pomegranite seeds and salty string cheese contrasted nicely.

The next plate was greens with pecan labne, apple, fennel, & pomegranate. The creamy labne combined with the crunchy, fresh tasting greens and crisp apple to make an ordianary salad seem luxurious.

The two appetizers came next, the tamarind glazed beef with smokey eggplant puree and the cabbage dolma with lamb, butternut sqaush & turkish red pepper broth. The tamarind beef was wonderful, the tamarind added a acidic touch to the rich and flavorful braised beef. The eggplant puree was quite smokey, but was light and smooth. The cabbage rolls were very good, especially the buttery butternut squash puree and the pepper broth played along well the the meat filling. A well-done spin on the old classic.

The next course in the tasting menu was the spinach falafel & watercress salad with tahini, yogurt and beets, which were the best falafel I've ever had. They were hot and crunchy on the outside, but creamy and flavorful inside. The cool beets and yogurt made them even better, the contrast of smooth and crisp was wonderful.

The fried haloumi cheese, flambeed with ouzo & grilled pear with spiced dates arrived bursting with flames and aromas. The chewy, moist cheese and tart unripe pear made for quite a textural contrast, but the dates were cloying sweet, yet bitter, almost inedible.

The entrees arrived next, but weren't as strong as the appetizers. The flattened lemon chicken with za'atar & turkish cheese pancake had an exotic flavor from the spices on top and was moist inside. However, the cut of chicken was strange and made cutting it a challenge. The crispy duck with celery root skordalia, forest raised shitakes & rigani was indeed crispy and had a rich duck taste, but was slightly dry.

The next course was the ricotta & bread dumplings with red wine, porcini and kale, which were amazingly rich and flavorful. The dumpling were airy, yet creamy and sauce was fabulous, and full of lake and porcinis.

For dessert we had the chocolate hazelnut baklava, made only for chocolate lovers. The crunch of the pastry and nuts was a nice contrast to the smooth chocolate filling. The salted hazelnuts served on the side were great, especially with the sarelle cream. The pomegranate granita with künefe and rose petal jam was just as good. The icy, sweet granita, rose petal jam,and creamy künefe were an unusual, yet wonderful combination.

The food here is very unusual and served in a welcoming environment. Many of the dishes will blow you away in their subtle complexity. Dinner is around $50 a person, including a three course meal and tax.

134 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139
P:(617) 661.0505 F:(617) 661.3336