Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gastronomy Day

Yesterday was a good day, foodwise. As the weather was unseasonably warm, The Boy and I walked down to Harvard Square to have lunch for the first time at Cambridge 1. We really should have checked it out before now--especially as it's owned by the people who also run two of our favorite bars, Middlesex and The Miracle of Science--but for some reason we'd never got around to it.

Well, now we realize we need to make up for lost time. The menu is small in choice--pizza or salad--but inventive in range (pizza toppings include potatoes, arugula, rosemary, bresaole) and the crust is thin and buttery. Ah,
read Robert Nadeau's review. I had the sopressata-topped pie, which went well with a glass of crisp, tart Sauvignon Blanc, and The Boy had the bolognese version and a very soft Chianti.

While we were there, a French(-Canadian?) photo-shoot started happening a couple of tables down. The photog and his assistant were all rumpled, unshaven, black-leather French stereotype artistes; the model was a Charlotte Gainsbourg waif with impossibly long, shiny, chestnut hair. They shot lots of moody, shadowy angles. We pretended to be cool in the corner ...

After lunch, we checked out the leftovers at Tower Records (going out of bidness). I picked up a "best-of" by The Beat (sorry, that's The English Beat) and also the Brazilian Girls album, which I suspect will become a fave.

In the evening, we wandered up the street to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Tu y Yo, which we love because a) it's five minutes away and b) there's always something unusual on the menu. This is not your extreme-fajitas place (there used to be a sign on the door that said, "We do not serve burritos"); many of the recipes come from the owner's family, and date back to the 1920s. They feature a different special every week, and are big into complex sauces, braised meats, and the whole
Slow Food concept.

This weekend, they were hosting the second annual celebration of Mexican gastronomy. We went last year, and were fed crunchy taquitos filled with crickets in a mole sauce, and soup served in hollowed-out gourds. This year, the prix-fixe menu looked like this:

Cocina de la abuela
~
Appetizer
Picadas (tortillas topped with tomatoes, jalapeños and cheese)
Garnachas (tortillas topped with potatoes, beef, salsa and cheese)
Plátanos stuffed with cheese

~
Soup
Chayote and cilantro
~
Entrée
BBQ pork ranchero style (with tomatoes, chiles and garlic)
Squid stuffed with avocado and cilantro paté
Chicken Queretaro style

~
Dessert
Estela’s dessert

We assumed you had to choose, but no: they brought out everything. The soft corn tortillas were hand-made (you could see where the chef's knuckles had kneaded the dough into circles); the pork was served in tender chunks, sitting in rich, dark, spicy-sweet juices; the tiny squid came whole, three to a plate, their heads full of buttery, intense green sauce.

Dessert was a small bowl of shredded carrot, raisins, almonds, coconut, apples and cream--it wasn't particularly sweet, but worked perfectly to end the meal on a lighter note.

On our way out, the owner asked how we liked the meal, and reminded us that tonight's eight-course menu would be completely different. It sounds delicious, and includes pork loin in huitlacoche and mole with epazote (pork, chicken and beef with Mexican herbs), but frankly, I'm not sure I can eat that much again for a while ...

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