Picco pizza in the South End

There is snow falling on my wordpress dashboard, but none as yet in Cambridge, Mass.  I’m told to expect snow this weekend, but I’m not going to get too giddy when the weather here is so fickle.  The past few days have taken a noticeable turn for the colder, which will soon mean concocting ever more excuses to stay in and also to build up my stomach padding.  But yesterday, I managed to roll out of bed and score some cute trinkets and things at the Bazaar Bizarre.  My impulse buy was a funky long-sleeve dress made of recycled clothes that I will probably never wear but like to think I may someday.  Other than that misstep, I was pleased with my purchases, which will make for some nice presents.

My shopping companions and I broke for lunch at Picco. Roasted beet salad and the Alsatian pizza with gruyere, bacon, creme fraiche, caramelized onions, garlic = best of both worlds. You know which worlds I’m a talkin’ bout.

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More pics after the jump!

Spring, pizza, friends

The highlights of my weekend, in reverse order :)

I spent most of the weekend in New Haven visiting L and J, along with M, who came down from Boston as well.  Getting out of town was the perfect antidote to a rocky week and I couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to do so.  To top it off, they were all kind enough to indulge me and my pizza-only dictum while we were there.  As a result, we had pizza on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening, from three different spots.  And I had leftover pizza on Sunday morning before we left New Haven for the drive back.  I nibbled on some cheesecake and oranges along the way, but that’s probably the most success I’ve had with sticking to an eating regimen.  Never mind that the regimen was a 48-hour pizza spree.

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First stop: BAR.

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Gran Gusto: the remains

So stupid for not bringing my camera with me on my inaugural visit to Gran Gusto, but I take refuge in the fact that I’ll be back soon enough.  The inside walls are painted to draw you into a quaint countryside setting, and it was the perfect spot for lunch with the girls on a balmy spring afternoon.  I zoomed in on the pizza section of the menu, planning to order the margherita for a first taste test, but a conversation on arugula turned the tides, and I ended up with the Arugola pie: tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan.  And I didn’t look back.  The pizza there is just about the way I like it.  The dough is pliant and chewy and seasoned just so; toward the center of the pie it’s a bit soft with some noticeable sag, but the crust has a lovely crackle.  The tomato sauce I honestly didn’t give much thought to, lost amid the silky mozzarella, salty prosciutto, and plentiful arugula.  I think that’s a good thing, though, because it also means it didn’t get in the way of the other ingredients.  I got dreamy-eyed when an entire pie of this stuff materialized before me, and it was just as delicious as it looked.  It’s a rare thing in this world when something/someone does not disappoint, which makes me appreciate this pizza on a level beyond it being just a good plate of food.

The remains of the day, subsequently devoured in the night.

This place deserves a better post, as if I need an excuse to return.

Gran Gusto
90 Sherman Street
Cambridge MA 02140

A weekend in NYC

The thankfully not so impressive line at Shake Shack.
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My first Shake Shack burg.  Satisfying but not worth the hype or the wait, yet another thing about New York (and New Yorkers) that perplexes me. The vanilla frozen custard with toffee and Valrhona chocolate chunks, on the other hand, I want a deja vu of that mouthwatering stuff. Loved the variety of textures and the strong presence of vanilla in the base (rather than a generic sweetness).

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Latte from Joe the Art of Coffee

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Momofuku cookies.  L to R blueberry cream, cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow, and compost. Again, unimpressed with the much-hyped Milk Bar. My favorite of the trio was the cornflake one b/c of the unique texture from the interplay of the crunchy-chewy cornflakes and melted marshmallows, but they were all toothnumbingly sweet, unnecessarily so (and L concurred). Will definitely keep your sweet tooth in check for a long while.

My foot in union square on a picturesque Sunday afternoon. That, a Giants win, and a home-cooked meal with friends = a happy day.

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Dinner at Nicks Pizza.  Homey but sophisticated ambience with solid thin-crust pizza. Would not make a trip up to there just for the pizza, but would definitely go back if I am in the neighborhood.

Pokemon creature in the bread basket..

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A stellar portobello, parmesan, and wilted spinach salad.

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Small Margarita pie and a large 1/2 eggplant 1/2 sausage pie. That the Margarita was clearly not straight out of the oven was my only main complaint. The pizza had a crisp, flavorful crust and tasty toppings (both the eggplant and sausage were prudent additions).

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Nosh nosh.

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Unabashedly homemade pizzas

On Saturday I celebrated my singlehood by a night in with some friends.  We decided to make pizzas from scratch, which gave me a chance to try out Jim Lahey’s recipe for no-knead pizza dough.  In the end, we added at least an extra cup of flour to the recipe, as the proposed ratios yielded an unmanageably wet dough.  I also ran out of AP flour and had to use some of the whole wheat, which likely contributed to the degree of wetness.  Might as well start with 4 cups of flour to the 1 1/2 cups water to avoid overhandling the dough like we probably did.

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