Getting Some Fun Out of Life

When I say “Southie,” is this what you think of?Me either, but here lies a segment of West Broadway. Once again, I’ve had to face the fact that watching Good Will Hunting twenty-three times has not made me an expert on this city. I’m sure some real locals will tell me that I wasn’t actually in Southie, or that the new Southie is different than the old, original, awesome, Southie, but what the heck, at least it’s south-er than South Station.

Granted, all I saw of the place was this historical sign in the T station.

(Can you look at this without hearing a WWI-era woman sigh and say, “Dear Old Boston,” buttoning her gray gloves and situating her shawl? I haven’t yet figured out if that’s historically possible/likely, but let me imagine what I choose to imagine.)

And this diner.

I didn’t go any deeper into Southie. I stopped at Mul’s–partly because I didn’t need to look any further for the brunch experience I was looking for (and believe me, people in this town know brunch), but mostly because I would have been forced to roll there. There aren’t even photos of the food. All I can say is $6.50 got me two eggs, sausage, breakfast potatoes, a triple stack, and a coffee. It was gone in less than 7 minutes. I’m not exaggerating–there were buses to catch. And the service was seriously speedy. Mul’s is not a place you visit for lox and capers, and I’m not sure I’d even branch out into the omelettes–it’s where you go when nothing else will do–when you need butter, grease, flour, and sugar, in equal proportions, and stat.

The different, niche-y little neighborhoods are the most exciting part of living here. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine moved to Watertown, a neighborhood west of Cambridge–look at me, talking about directions as if I know which way to find my feet–and it’s pretty cool. First off, the streets have tricolor lines. Secondly, there is this:

And here I thought tomato season was over. That’s a pint of organic (I don’t know what that means anymore) tomatoes from Russo’s, a market that will make you wonder why you ever tolerated any other grocery store–ever, ever, ever. I won’t tell you the cost of these because it will make you cry bitter tears of regret at the amount of money your grocery store of choice has cost you. I didn’t think it was possible, but Russo’s has wrenched me away from the farmer’s market, and I don’t even feel guilty.

I ate some of those tomatoes raw, which was delightful, but the rest became key components to pasta dishes–the fate of most of my produce. In one of the pasta concoctions, I used orecchiette, a type of pasta that is shaped like a tiny cup, and I think translates to something like “ears” or “little ears.” To me, it translates to, “So tasty, with a perfect texture.”

I’m off to Russo’s again tomorrow, but first:

Brussels Sprout & Baby Roma Tomato Orecchiette
Translation: Pasta with Brussels sprouts and tomatoes
Serves 2

½ box of orecchiette (approx. 2.5 cups dry)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ medium onion, about a half cup, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups/about 10 medium Brussels sprouts – washed and halved lengthwise (toss out the outermost skins)
½ cup chicken/vegetable broth
6 baby roma tomatoes, or 1 cup chopped tomatoes (seeds/googly parts removed)
¼ cup parmesan (from a block – that’s an order), grated
½ lemon for squeezing
2 Tablespoons “good” olive oil (has flavor)
Salt & Freshly-ground black pepper

1. Boil water in medium pot, when boiling, add orecchiette and cook according to package directions.
2. Heat first 2 T oil to medium. Sweat onion for 1 minute, or until slightly translucent
3. Add garlic, cook 1 minute
4. Add halved Brussels sprouts, turning up the heat to brown edges
5. When edges of sprouts are browned, stir once, brown again, and then add chicken broth, deglazing pan (scraping crustiness off the bottom and stirring).
6. Reduce until liquid is almost gone, then add ¼ c of pasta water from the pasta pot (to thicken).
7. Add tomatoes, cooking until just warmed and wrinkles begin to form on the skin
8. Toss vegetables with finished pasta in the vegetable pan.
9. Plate in a shallow bowl, spritz with lemon, drizzle with good olive oil, dust with cheese, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. That’s right, I know lots of verbs.

I served the final product with a simple salad of mixed greens.

Arrivederci, till next time, and don’t forget to try new places–habits get boring.

13 comments

  1. Alyssa Gomez · · Reply

    Girl. I love this blog. I literally laughed out loud when I read, “it’s where you go when nothing else will do–when you need butter, grease, flour, and sugar, in equal proportions, and stat.” Your photographs are stunning, and the orecchiette looks absolutely delicious. I am definitely going to attempt the recipe soon. Keep the posts coming!

    1. Thanks, girl! I’m so glad you like it!

  2. Rhonda Dube · · Reply

    I will be doing this for dinner soon. I think I may eventually get Michael to start eating real veggies with your recipes.

    1. Why thank you! Tell Michael to look at the beautiful green color of the brussels sprouts and know they must be delicious. Also, may I point out that putting a lid on the green veggies makes them turn all icky green, so avoid that at all costs!!!

  3. Russo’s is the best. Once you go there, you will never be happy at any other grocery store ever again! I can’t wait to go to Russo’s, buy these ingredients, and make this pasta dish.

  4. Leigh Brin · · Reply

    Thank you! I love brussel sprouts and have been looking for a new way to prepare them. The blog is beautiful, I am adding you to my “Bookmarks”. Another “must read” to avoid work!

    1. Thanks, Leigh! So glad I can help you procrastinate…

  5. When is the next blog. I am on pins and needles.

  6. Oooh, next time you’re up for an adventure in Southie try the fried ice cream at Amrheins Restaurant – right at the Broadway T stop. I worked near here about a decade ago…and since leaving Boston I have dreams about this place. It’s so weird. There are definitely a few regulars there that claim to be related to various members of the New Kids on the Block.

  7. Julie, that sounds awesome. What’s better than a local place with fried fare and quirky regulars? Seriously, though, I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that fried ice cream is possible. Fried butter is a whole different thing, though–oh, Texas.

  8. […] was I doing this time last year, you ask? I had just been to Southie (and apparently struggled with lighting), made orecchiette with Brussels sprouts and cherry […]

  9. […] was I doing this time last year, you ask? I had just been to Southie (and apparently struggled with lighting), made orecchiette with Brussels sprouts and cherry […]

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