Hi all! I’m back from another weekend in Boston and my face hurts from smiling so much. Everything I ate or drank was a miraculous palate pleaser. I’m not exaggerating; know how I know? My friends will corroborate my story one hundred percent. We can start with a late night dinner at Sarma in Somerville.
I’d read about Sarma months ago and there was instant salivation. I pestered my friend into going there on the coldest night Boston has seen this winter. It’s a bit of a hike (bus service only) but once you enter, a buzz of excitement and waft of Turkish spices will shake off the -8 chill.
We were told the wait could be forty five minutes but then, perhaps of good karma, we were seated within ten minutes. TEN MINUTES. This is a place that has a nightly wait of an hour and half, reservations booked weeks in advance. WINNING.
I could have closed my eyes, pointed to anything on the menu and enjoyed it immensely. The caliber and complexity of each dish outdid the last. In addition to the menu, there are 3-4 nightly specials that the chef puts together and has servers offer them to each table. When we visited there was a cured meat platter with various citrus segements and pistachios (which I got), a sesame fried chicken of some sort and an eggplant item. They’re not complimentary, the server tallies them onto your bill, but it is such a refreshing experience that I wouldn't be surprised if more restaurants picked up this practice.
We ended up with an intense mix of dishes: Pumpkin fritters (in abstract cube form), a fragrant yet delicate mixed cauliflower curry, potato spanakopita, chickpea crepe with superbly spiced lamb, and an herb salad with mandarin oranges and goat cheese.
The fritters are a bit of a misnomer, they were more like a soufflé with a browned exterior but they were rich and savory nonetheless. The purple, green and orange cauliflower curry with mixed nuts impressed me since curries can overwhelm vegetables if the spices are too pungent. This was a lighter version that let the nuts do the grunt work.
The potato spanakopita was like a mini baked potato with spinach; I enjoyed it but I think I would have enjoyed the rabbit ravioli more. The chickpea crepe with lamb sounded heavy but, like the curry, was surprisingly light. The lamb was expertly seasoned and cooked making a well-rounded dish. Lastly was the herb salad with mandarin oranges, goat cheese and quinoa. It was so exquisitely refreshing that it was like someone took the essence of summer and packed it into this dish.
The next day was equally as cold and miraculous. We went to Newburyport for the day and while we didn’t stay long, I could tell there were exciting culinary discoveries to be made. I’m talking about places like Agave Mexican food for lunch and, in warmer weather, a delectable ice pop from Ice Lollies. Their flavors such as spicy pineapple and peanut butter dipped in chocolate are a guaranteed smile. If you need caffeine fix head over to Soufflés. The gingerbread chai I had was magical. I believe my exact words were “This is like a Harry Potter beverage!” It was so darn scrumptious it effectively ruined all other chai for me. I’m serious. New York needs one of these, stat.
For dinner, we went to Pastoral, an artisanal pizza and pasta establishment. This is also known as “the best pasta dish of my life” establishment. Let’s get something straight. I’ve had a LOT of really good pasta, and it’s always better when it’s homemade. That being said, my tagliatelle with wild boar and rosemary fried egg was indescribably delicious. My taste buds were ecstatic with each bite. A friend who ordered the tagliatelle dish as well also found himself swooning over this dish. The tender, flavorful wild boar chunks swam in the cracked egg yolk and rosemary was infused into every indulgent forkful. When we were asked about dessert, my friend and I seriously considered ordering another bowl of pasta. Demented? Maybe. Delicious? Heck.yes.
Thank goodness that was the end of the eating extravaganza. I think my stomach would have been disappointed with anything that followed. I always look forward to my New England jaunts but eateries like Sarma and Pastoral make the visits all that much more enjoyable. Until the next dish, ciao!