Thursday, May 19, 2011

Favorite Things #5, 6, and 7

As the content of every travel guide I've ever read seems to prove, a major part of the experience of any place is the food. I'm moving home to a place with such outstanding, diverse, and crave-worthy food that I've missed that aspect of it almost as much as all the others combined. But there is also food in Cambridge, which isn't even particularly renowned for its dining, that my heart absolutely aches to think of leaving behind. So I want to dedicate a couple of Favorite Things to that.
1. The Veggie Bill Clinton at Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, the tiny greasy-spoon establishment on Massachusetts Ave. just east of Harvard Square. I'm really struggling to get used to the idea that I may never have a veggie burger this satisfying again in my life. The Bill Clinton, named in gentle mockery of a public figure like all the other "gourmet" menu items at Bartley's, is smothered in barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. And like every other burger there, you can order it with a veggie patty instead of meat. I'm sure some Bartley's acolytes think this is total sacrilege, but at a place whose offerings are so clearly about the delicious and creative toppings anyway, and for a dish that tastes so meaty and traditional and un-vegetarian without actually violating my chosen diet, I'm happy to tell them all to bite me. At least until I one this great in Austin, and then I can just shut up about my beloved "Veggie Bill," as the waiters call it.

2. The breakfast sandwiches on homemade English muffins at Crema Cafe. This wonderful coffee shop and bakery had just opened when my mother and I made our inaugural visit to Harvard back in May 2008, when I had just been admitted and realized I needed to find an apartment pronto. Because it was the first place we ever ate on that trip, and because we discovered it all by ourselves, we've had some sense of ownership or investment in its success ever since, and we shamelessly plug it to anyone with any opportunity to go. Happily, it is always jam-packed with people today - undoubtably due in part to the english muffins, ridiculous as that sounds. These things are like nothing you've ever tasted, totally incomparable to the store-bought variety. Tangy like a buttermilk biscuit, but more buttery (yes, that's possible) and less dense, they combine with the gooey cheese and peppery, always searing-hot eggs in such a simple yet wonderful way that it's difficult not to go back and order seconds. Maybe the staff will give me the recipe if I explain that I'm leaving forever and may wake up in tears on some future Sunday morning otherwise.

3. Everything on the menu at Dali, the eclectic and always absurdly crowded tapas place three blocks from our apartment. Every time I've been, whether for a friend's birthday, a date on some special occasion, or an end-of-week happy hour courtesy of Russell's boss, I haven't been able to shut up about a single thing on my plate. From the powerful sangria to the spicy potatoes with tart aioli on top, the rich tortilla espanola, the broccoli-cauliflower fritters, and most of all the creamy, sweet fried goat cheese we almost always order twice, I have never had a meal there not worth the high price and long wait (nor has anyone else, I think, based on the unsolicited effusive praise most people offer when they find out I live so close to the place.) I'm so glad we have plans to eat there one more time before moving!

Well, wow - can you tell I've been eating a lot of my own lower-calorie cooking lately in hopes of looking a little slimmer in all the pictures I'll be taking around graduation? I guess I should be careful not to undo all my efforts by scarfing everything in sight from the moment I land at Logan Airport! Maybe a post about the fantastic eating in Austin, just to remind myself not to seize too frantically on all my last opportunities to enjoy these foods, is in order. (:


Lynnette said...

Hi Lea,
I've been reading your blog for a while now on my Google Reader, ever since you were one of the HLS student bloggers, and I've really enjoyed reading about life at HLS through your eyes and hearing all your enthusiasm and candid thoughts. I just got accepted off the waitlist about a week ago (a totally unexpected dream come true), and it feels crazy that now I can actually frequent places like Crema Cafe (which I visited the one time I was in Cambridge about a year ago and could absolutely imagine going to on a regular basis). Over the past year, I've starred some things here and there and this is definitely one entry I'm starring to make sure I try those other places. Thanks for all your thoughts!


Sharon Will said...
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