Since Thanksgiving, Dan's birthday, my birthday, Christmas, and New Year's didn't seem like enough for a one-and-a-half-month period, we thought we'd squeeze in a trip to Boston in the middle! (Because when else but December would you go to New England!? It's not cold at all or anything.) We've been meaning to make a trip back for ages to visit with friends, and we finally made it. We stayed with Rachel and Rob in South Boston, but were able to reconnect with several other great folks, and even made a quick little trip to Rhode Island.
Back in college, Rachel and I studied abroad together in China. Harbin, China to be more specific. (A city most Americans have never heard of even though it's population is larger than New York City's.) In Harbin, we ate a lot of dumplings, noodles, and fried rice. Fried rice with an egg on top. The best thing ever. A lot of bonding happened over those meals. And so, 10 years later, when Rachel and I get together, there pretty much has to be Chinese food involved. This visit was no exception:
^^The day after we arrived, we hit the subway and the streets with Willa in the Ergo and made our way to Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe. The name is a bit odd in English, but even if we'd been worried Rachel would lead us astray (which we weren't), the crowd packed into the tiny Xi'an noodle shop assured us this was the place to be. We contemplated leaving, but ultimately stuck it out and hoped some table space would open up once we'd ordered. Thankfully it did, and we were able to inhale our noodles before they got cold. There are few things that could taste better on a cold winter's day than hand-pulled noodles. I had their simple "Hand-Pulled Noodle," while everyone else tried the Cumin Lamb Hand-Pulled Noodles. Both were delectable. My only complaint was that mine could have had a few more vegetables to accompany the noodles. Molar-less Willa couldn't tackle the doughy noodles, but she enjoyed the tea eggs and the flatbread pork sandwich. She did her eating standing up on a stool at the high counter. It was a tad bit stressful, but the noodles eased our nerves.^^
^^On Saturday morning we hit up Great Taste in Chinatown for dim sum. We were luckily able to get a table on our second try. They were full when we got there, but then the second place we tried essentially refused to seat us due to our littlest diner. So we went back to Great Taste, and they had the perfect table and a high chair. And thank goodness it all worked out how it did, because it was some of the best dim sum I've ever had. Dumplings, taro cakes, scallion noodles with tofu, crab rolls, Chinese broccoli, steamed buns, milk tea...^^
^^We stayed in one evening, but there were still Asian noodles in play. We cooked Phat Thai out of the new Pok Pok cookbook. In the past I haven't had much success making Pad Thai...getting the tamarind paste just right is so tricky! But this recipe was spot on (no surprise there!) and we thoroughly enjoyed two batches of hot, sweet-spicy noodles. Cooking in batches in a wok is the best; just when you're sad it's all gone, you fire up another round! (We also made the Herb Salad from the same cookbook, and it was equally if not more delicious.)^^
^^We didn't eat only Asian: one night we went to the South End and enjoyed a dinner at Coppa. Everything we ordered was delicious, but my favorite dish by far was a chestnut pasta with rabbit, kabocha squash, cranberries, and bianco sardo. I definitely ate more than my fair share.^^
^^Not only were R&R fantastic hosts and friends, as always, but they also taught Willa lots of new things. And introduced her to her first lobster.^^
P.S. The trip brought Willa's state count up to 17, which kind of boggles my mind but makes me quite pleased as well.