In early September, the Astronomer and I spent a week in Boston visiting friends and family. Whereas our previous travels were centered around eating and lots of it, this trip was about reconnecting with loved ones whom we don’t get to see nearly enough. While this trip wasn’t as food-centric as those in the past, we still managed to eat very well. After all, catching up with old friends is best accomplished over a long and delicious meal.
One of our most memorable dinners was eaten street side at the Clover Food Lab, a bright white vegetarian food truck parked on MIT‘s campus. The truck was founded by MIT graduate Ayr Muir. After earning an MBA from Harvard, he worked in marketing at Patagonia and as a consultant with McKinsey and Company. In 2008, he decided to leave the corporate world behind for new challenges in the culinary field.
To make his dream a reality, Muir teamed up with Chef Rolando Robledo (@RolandoRobledo), a one-time poissonnier under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and an instructor at Johnson & Wales University. Together, they created a temporary “food lab” out of a truck to test recipes for a soon-to-be launched chain of vegetarian restaurants. The truck opened for business on MIT’s food lot in September of 2008 and closed down seven weeks later as planned. However, customer protests made the two reconsider their initial plan. The truck reopened in March 2009, and they have since expanded to two trucks.
By the way, I read in an article on MIT’s campus news site that the truck’s exterior pays homage to Muir’s MIT past. It features a dry-erase board menu, which Muir says reminds him of the problem sets he faced as a student. I ♥ nerds.
The Clover truck, which runs on biodiesel (a fuel made from used vegetable oil), serves moderately healthy, meat-less fast food fare with a focus on seasonality and locality.
Continue reading ‘Clover Food Lab – Boston (Cambridge)’
The Astronomer and I were gifted a 20 inch-long, five pound zucchini from our friends Andrew and Miri a few weeks back. They had forgotten to pluck it from their garden prior to leaving on vacation, and as a result, the zucchini grew without bounds for weeks on end. I had initially hoped to bake several loaves of zucchini bread with the monstrosity, but my plans were squashed (pun intended) once the heat wave hit.
After a bit of Seoul searching, I decided to make Hobak Jeon (Korean Zucchini Pancakes) instead. This recipe was originally developed by Maangchi.com, the ultimate Korean recipe site. I followed it as written and the results were just as I had hoped. The texture was properly crisp around the edges, while the batter was mild enough for the zucchini to shine through. Maangchi recommends serving these with a soy-based Korean dipping sauce (recipe below), but I quite loved them with a ladle of nước chấm chay. Either way, these pancakes are a savory delight.
- 1½ cups zucchini, julienned (approximately 1 small zucchini)
- ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup water
- Sesame oil
- Vegetable oil
This is the giant zucchini that Andrew and Miri’s garden produced. The soil in Eagle Rock must be fortified with steroids.
Begin by julienning a small zucchini.
Continue reading ‘Hobak Jeon – Korean Zucchini Pancakes’
Last month when I traveled down to San Diego to visit family, my aunt sent me home with a generous tub of bi chay (a vegetarian version of a very porky dish) and verbal instructions on how to prepare its accompanying sauce (nước chấm chay). I was a little nervous about making nước chấm chay with neither my mother nor my aunt supervising, but with some peer assistance from Tam of A Little Bit Burnt, it turned out well-balanced and very delicious.
After I polished off the bi chay, I used some of the leftover sauce to saute green beans and on a different occasion, to stir fry noodles. The best pairing though was with the hobak jeon (Korean zucchini pancakes). It’s really impressive how versatile this spicy, sweet, and tangy sauce is. After such a terrific first batch, I soon whipped up another because I love the way it brightens up every dish it’s paired with.
- 1/2 cup soy-based seasoning sauce (like Golden Mountain)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 limes, freshly squeezed
- 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons chili paste or finely chopped fresh or dried chilies
Dilute the sugar with hot water and set aside to cool. Once it is cooled, add the vinegar, lime juice, and soy sauce. Lastly, mix in the garlic and chilies.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed: If the sauce tastes too concentrated, dilute with a little water. If it tastes too sweet, add more lime juice or vinegar, then add soy sauce to balance. If it tastes too sour, add a little more sugar and soy sauce, and a bit of water to balance.
[For Printable Recipe Click Here]
If things go according to plan, the entire city of Los Angeles will be amped up on sugar and good spirits this weekend courtesy of the Eat My Blog charity bake sale. This time around, we’ve teamed up with Tender Greens in West Hollywood. It might seem strange to hold a gluttonous event at such a virtuous venue, but I assure you that it all makes perfect sense. After all, what better way to counteract the damage of downing a dozen cupcakes than by consuming a plateful of organic greens afterwards? Guilt assuaged.
While scoping out Tender Green’s space last week, I went against my carb-loading ways and ordered a salad for lunch. I could’ve eaten local albacore tuna, barbecue chicken, or even flat-iron steak, but decided to step completely out of my comfort zone and went with The Happy Vegan ($10.50). I have never felt more like a stereotypical L.A. gal than I did that afternoon eating a vegan salad in the middle of West Hollywood. At least I didn’t have a small dog with me.
The platter was comprised of four different salads—farro wheat with cranberry and hazelnuts, quinoa with cucumbers and beets, green hummus, and tabouleh. A pile of romaine leaves, along with a large house made crouton, rounded out the plate. Each salad struck a nice balance between healthy and tasty, but my favorite was the the green hummus. I haven’t a clue what’s in there besides lots of chickpeas, herbs, and garlic, but my oh my, was it moreish to the max. I washed it all down with a most refreshing mint-infused lemonade.
Continue reading ‘Tender Greens – Los Angeles (West Hollywood)’