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Mike’s Pastry blows us away

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t says: g and I like cannoli.  They make us happy.  They’re hand-held, and, if made correctly, are guaranteed to bring smiles to everyone.  My (and g’s) fave-of-all-time was Vaccaro’s in Baltimore for three reasons:
1)  They keep the shell and cream separate until you order so they can minimize shell sogginess.
2)  They offer a chocolate-dipped option, in which case the shell is dipped in chocolate (and hardened) before the cream is added
3)  The filling is rich and studded with chocolate chips, offering a luscious texture that has as of yet been unmatched.
Bonus reason: if you go to Vaccaro’s on your birthday, you get all-you-can-eat dessert for free.

In Philly, we’ve been known to go to Isgro for their marscapone cannoli.  They’re not quite as good as Vaccaro’s because they pre-fill them quite early (so the shell is a bit softer than I’d like), but they hold their own.

Upon hearing of an impending trip to Boston, newfound friend bw suggested that we try “Mike’s Pastry” in Boston.  We trust bw’s opinions, which was confirmed by k and seemingly everyone else we met who had spent time in Boston, so g put it on our itinerary as the last thing to do before we left.  When g and I arrived at the shop in Boston, we felt a whisp of doubt as wesaw mounds and mounds of pre-filled cannoli.  That, my friend, is strike #1.  As we waited in line, I prepared for mushy cannoli shells, wondering if we had been led astray.  The second strike was that there were a bajillion different “flavors” of cannoli … which to me is a little heretical.  For me, cannoli comes in either a vanilla or chocolate creme, with the shell either plain or chocolate dipped, and with/without chocolate chips (and maybe an occasional pistachio sprinkled on top).  That’s it.  But at Mike’s they got all kinds of crazy stuff going on.  But g and I kept it “real” and ordered the classics.  Scratch that – let’s just say that because g left the ordering up to me, I kept with the classics … the “craziest” I went was one of these:

pistachio cannolo

To put it bluntly, the above-pictured cannolo rocked my world.  But not like a Vaccaro’s cannolo rocks my world.  With Vaccaro’s, it’s so rich and thick and dense, and the shell is so crunchy that after just one cannolo, I’m done for at least 6 hours.  But Mike’s is very different.  It might even be “opposite”.  The shell is very light and airy (akin to a potato chip) – how they filled it without breaking it, I’ll never know.  The cream was similarly light-and-fluffy, which was a change from Vaccaro’s, and while not necessarily superior, gave Mike’s cannoli a kind of “shtick” that I really appreciated – especially because now I was able to consume two cannoli within three hours (and was still hungry for dinner later!).

I still give Vaccaro’s a slight edge (their cannoli cream tastes a bit more flavorful – a more vivid vanilla), but I now know of at least one place to eat something should we ever be stranded in Boston again … and maybe I’ll even try a fancy flavored one … ?  Or not …

Oh, and Mike’s also had this:

boston cream puff

g, in an attempt to eat a unique-to-Boston food, figured that a Boston cream-containing pastry was the way to go.  From what I can tell, she enjoyed it very much – I didn’t even get a taste (not that she didn’t offer – but I was pre-occupied with cannolo at the time).  That said, after her reaction to the cannoli, I’m pretty sure that it just doesn’t hold a candle to those lovely Italian “little tubes” …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

24 September 2012 at 11:04pm

Cabot’s Ice Cream: A Boston Classic

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k says: A friend recently told me she was visiting my home town in MA, which got me feeling nostalgic about my most favorite ice cream store in the world.  I can’t imagine why you would care, but let me tell you about it anyway.

Cabot’s Ice Cream is a classic ice cream parlor. I don’t think the menu or the prices have changed in the past 2 decades at least. They serve old fashioned sundaes. There are red stools at the bar, a huge ice cream cone clock on the wall, and framed photos of the youth baseball teams that Cabot’s has sponsored through the years. They serve child-sized sundaes with two M+M’s for eyes, a cherry for a nose, and a cone for a hat. They serve these insanely huge buckets with 100 scoops of ice cream, 20 candy and nut toppings and 10 wet toppings for big parties where the goal is apparently to make people sick. They have ice cream concoctions with ridiculous names like “Chocolate Suicide”, “The Taj Mahal”, and “The Dentist Disaster.”

They also serve crappy greasy food but why would you ever go for food when you can fill up on ice cream? There is an old lady who has worked there since I can remember whose job it is to seat you, and don’t you dare try to seat yourself. And then there is the old lady’s mother, who is a really, really old lady. Her job is to sit on the stool and give dirty stares to the pre-teen customers who are goofing around and to the teenaged waitresses flirting with the bus boys. It seems impossible, but just as the prices haven’t changed, neither has the age of the old lady.

Cabot’s has been the site of many memories. When we were kids, we used to go to Cabot’s after big soccer tournament wins, elementary school choir concerts, and many, many piano recitals. Later, it was the place I went to on my first “boys and girls hang out”. There’s nothing like a lot of sugar to make a group date a little easier for a bunch of awkward teenagers. Much later, I went there with cm and our good friend b for the famous ice cream competition of 2005. (b and cm ordered different ice cream sundaes with equal prices and had an eating competition. Unfortunately b’s was absurdly large, and madness ensued.)

But none of these details really matter. I go to there for one thing only – mint chocolate cookie frozen yogurt. This is made with thin mint girl scout cookies mixed in smoothly with vanilla frozen yogurt in an old time ice cream machine. It is delicious. It’s not exactly a novel idea, but it’s superior for a few reasons. One is that it actually tastes like mint cookie ice cream, rather than vanilla ice cream with mint cookie chunks haphazardly folded in like at Cold Stone Creamery. And, unlike other stores that use a mixing machine, the selection of flavors to mix in is very wide including candies, fruits, brownies, and the will do it with a vanilla or chocolate base of ice cream or different types of frozen yogurt for those picky people like me.

I should say also that I am not just a casual ice cream eater. In Massachusetts, people take ice cream very seriously. It is not just a summer treat where I come from. Ice cream can be eaten in any weather, any time of year, and on certain occasions can take the place of meals even.  There are many ice cream stores that I like in the Boston area – Lizzy’s has great hard frozen yogurt flavors and a chill feel in Harvard Square, Christina’s in Inman Square is also delicious (cm and I visited there often the summer he lived right next door), and White Mountain Creamery across the street from Boston College where they make the ice cream fresh in the store is a solid second choice for a Monday night in Newton (Cabot’s is closed on Monday’s.)

JP Licks- I will never go there despite their popularity because I am loyal to the Baskin Robbins that used to be in that locations before they took over… the Baskin Robbins where the owner would give you another scoop if you dropped it on the ground, where a kiddie size was $1, where my sister had her first summer job. JP Licks is lame and expensive and smells like too much sugar.

But despite all the options, nothing is like Cabot’s. Sometimes I sit in the booth looking at the menu, pretending to consider ordering a different flavor, but let’s be honest, I’m obviously going to order the mint chocolate cookie. It’s predetermined. Sometimes when I go with my sister, she likes to order a side of hot fudge to share. The hot fudge is a deeply rich dark chocolate that is so good, but in my opinion masks the goodness of the mint chocolate cookie itself. A bunch of years back, when I introduced cm to my love for Cabot’s (a very meaningful experience), he found a way to take it up a notch. cm surprised me one birthday with a mint chocolate cookie frozen yogurt cake (made to order). Amazing. Since then we have celebrated many birthdays with a Cabot’s cake. So, early in the stages of planning our wedding, we (I) had already decided Cabot’s mint chocolate cookie ice cream cake would be our featured dessert. Yes, I know it’s not a classic wedding cake. But in my opinion, your wedding is your opportunity to eat the foods that you love most in the world and everyone else has to eat it because it’s your wedding. And believe me, I don’t think anyone really complained, because that cake was devoured. Plus I like the weird look I get from people when I tell them we had an ice cream cake as our wedding cake.

So, after this review, I hope you’ve been convinced to try Cabot’s Ice Cream on your next visit to Boston. Try not to do anything to piss off the really old lady.

t says: Yea ... that cake at their wedding was hellawickedgood.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 May 2010 at 7:10am

O Ya: Oh Yeah!

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t says: We wanted to go to Cape Cod for k’s wedding last year – we were excited for the event and had also never been to the Cape before!  But, when planning our trip, we had a big decision to make …  With limited funds, we could either stay in a mediocre hotel and eat a medicore meal the night before, or stay in a very “inexpensive” hotel and splurge on dinner.  As you might have guessed – we went for option 2 (that’s just our style).  I’ll spare you the details of the hotel, as they are not appetizing (but g and I were fully prepared – we had brought our own soaps, towels, pillows, and sleeping bags – we could have just slept in our car), and just tell you about dinner.

We read that this little restaurant called O Ya was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in all of Boston.  It was new, trendy, and tasty.  What really interested me was the type of cuisine – a modern take on classic Japanese (sashimi with a twist).  We had never had raw fish that had been “fooled around with” so extensively.  Well, that’s not completely true – we had had ceviches, but this promised to be an entirely different animal altogether.

9/2009, Friday Dinner, Party of 2, Chef’s Tasting Menu.  The chef’s tasting menu is supposedly created “on the fly”, however, we found that it was essentially composed of several options straight from the normal menu.  The format was 18 courses, but each was either one or two bites of food per person.  But, because these were “bites” of sashimi/nigiri, they were large bites.  With so many courses, there’s no way that I’d be able to even begin to remember them all.  There were oysters and squid and fish and kobe beef and truffles and even foie gras.  I wish only that I kept a copy of the menu or the receipt so I could give you more details.  In summary, this meal was the intersection of decadence and raw fish.  And the depth of flavors  were so expertly coupled with fish – there was everything from bright citruses to deep truffles.  The kobe beef was superbly cooked, and the chocolate-foie gras dessert (it’s pretty much an obligatory dish should you go – they’re famous for it) was both intriguing and actually quite tasty – and I must confess that I’m not a huge fan of foie gras (it reminds me of butter+tofu).

As much as we loved the dinner, there were a few cons in the meal.  I felt that salmon made far too many appearances (?4?) for an 18 course meal.  Additionally, by course 14 or 15, we kind of really wanted a nice slice of “plain” fish in lieu of the doctored creations put out by the kitchen (n.b. anyone expecting classic Japanese sushi/sashimi is going to be severely disappointed with the entire experience) – I just needed to press the reset button once because my palate was getting a little tired.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience – we’ll remember it as our first trip together to Boston and a great preamble to a wonderful wedding.  But, I don’t think we’ll end up going back anytime soon … unless someone else is paying.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 March 2010 at 11:15pm