Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lassie, come home...

Sometimes a restaurant surprises you in way you can never imagine, and so too, the Critical Palate. Last Saturday, kind readers, we went to “The Elephant Walk” in Cambridge (Massachusetts) with some friends, which features “French-Cambodian” cuisine. This is probably different from “French-Asian” or “Frasian”, and I tell you, I don’t think there was one of us who weren’t nervous. Not so much that the Khmer Rouge was going to take over the place, but with dishes with names like “Trey Tuk Peng Pah” (one of the easier ones to spell…and say), I’m surprised the bill didn’t say “that wasn’t chicken” or “hope you enjoyed Lassie”. Pleasantly, no such surprises were sprung upon us.

Without a doubt, I am glad we went, and had an excellent meal. In fact, we give it eight thumbs up (because 8 of us went, not because I’m an octopus). All of us had some sort of starter (I had an excellent chicken soup-“B’baw Mouan”-a hearty rice soup with chicken breast, cilantro, scallion, bean sprouts, fried garlic and lime) and “Loc Lac”, which contrary to you Scottish readers, is not “Lake Milk” but caramelized peppered beef. Every dish on the table was presented nicely, and by all accounts, tasted just as it looked.

One criticism, because this isn’t the “Critical Palate” for nothing, was the waitress. She was aloof, and hence, annoying. In the middle of talking our order, she left to bag some leftovers for a different table, and bring drinks to another. Then she came back and finished taking our order without so much as a weak apology. She just seemed a little disconnected, which appeared to be her affect. Other than the fear that the food might have previously contained the essence of “Milkbone”, it was a great meal with equally enjoyable company.


Ode to a Dog…

No, I’m not referring to Winston the Wonder Dog…I am referring to everyone’s favorite dog…the Hot Dog!

I am a big, BIG fan of the hot dog. Let me say right out…only Kosher dogs! The last thing I want to eat is rat hair and pork “by-product”. What part of the pig is the “by-product” anyways?

Years ago, my in-laws introduced me to “Best Kosher”, formerly available at B.J.’s Wholesale Club. Over the years, I’ve grown fond of “Shofar” brand, and of course, number one in your hearts and in your stomachs…Hebrew National. I’ve tried others along my journey to hot dog Nirvana, and though the Heeb National dogs available in your local supermarket pale in comparison, about a year ago, I discovered the King of the Hot Dog Hill, so to speak—Hebrew National, deli-style, natural casing hot dogs. People, you have no idea what you’re missing!!! These dogs have completed my “gastronomical” life.

Admittedly, kids and some other weak-minded souls may not like the “natural casing”, because we all know where that comes from. Also, whereas a normal dog has a soft feel when you bite it, when you bite into a natural casing dog, it practically bites back. A real snap. While it probably sounds questionable, I assure you, is quite delicious. Then again, we’re people that eat “kishke”. Google that!

Last summer, I bought 72 of these bad boys from my kosher butcher. Right now, after several refill orders, I have about 48 in my freezer, vacuum packed (and hermetically sealed) for my pleasure. An orgiastic feast for the senses…

Back by popular demand…The Gratuitous Shout-Out:

Next time you’re in the mood for a dog, call Larry Levine's Kosher Meats and Deli. 474 Lowell Street, Peabody, MA, 01960. Tel: 617-884-1406-speak with Todd. Tell him I sent you.

You’ve been a great audience…enjoy the magical feats of Kobayashi!

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