Christmas isn’t Christmas unless you’ve had my mother’s egg rolls, sticky rice and shrimp with broccoli. Luckily, Jon and I were able to escape the fog in London and spend time in New Hampshire with my family.
The weather was pretty warm (in the low 60s), so of course we had to rent a copy of An Inconvenient Truth and contemplate global warming. You know, it really is a surprisingly good movie. I say “surprisingly” because you don’t expect a film that consists of Al Gore giving a powerpoint presentation to have any entertainment value. I respect that the guy gives his global warming presentation 1,000 a times a year, bc to me that’s a pretty good sign the guy is sincere.
Anyway, Jon and I were almost giddy to be back in the US. We spent the first couple of days shopping all the big-box places we loved to disdain when we lived in our East Coast city – Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Costco (well, I’ve never disdained Costco, actually).
The day before Christmas Eve, we tried out the Fremont Pizzeria, which came highly recommended by someone we know who grew up in the area (my parents moved to NH only after I graduated from college). We so hoped for a slice that approached New York goodness, but we were disappointed to find a thick, fluffy crust instead. Still, the pizza had a good sauce, and the crust, while not New York-thin, was still tasty in an oily Pizza-Hut-like way.
We also managed to meet our super good friends Rachel and Tom in Boston (which is a convenient midway point between where my parents live and Tom’s parents live in Rhode Island). Because the weather was so mild, we walked the Freedom Trail. It’s a self-guided walk through Revolutionary War-related sights in Boston. You follow a red-brick “line” that is sealed into the sidewalks and streets.
Though we had a hard time spotting some of the sights in the dark, it was good to walk and talk in the balmy winter weather. And we did manage to see Faneuil Hall (no great shakes when you see the rotunda is now a foodcourt) and Paul Revere’s house. Of course, at Paul Revere’s house, all I could think about was the restaurant, One if by Land, Two if by Sea, which sometimes goes by the weird acronym, OBL TIBS.
With some time to kill before our dinner reservation, we had drinks at the Copley Plaza Westin Hotel because it turned out the sushi restaurant we’d chosen, OSushi, was in a shopping mall. Sheesh! A top-rated sushi restaurant in a big shopping mall. What’s the world come to?
My nose was sticking way up in the air until Jon pointed out that my favorite restaurant meal, ever, took place in a shopping mall. (That would be at Per Se Restaurant in the Time Warner Center, for those of you dying of curiosity). Damn that Jon and his deflating comments.
Osushi is definitely aiming to be trendy, but this just meant that the lighting was too dim. I could hardly see the food, much less read the menu. Do I sound like an old person yet?
We ordered a mix of sashimi and then six or seven maki, including something the restaurant calls “crazy maki.” The wine list was a little odd in its lack of price range – I don’t remember seeing anything for less than $40, but on the other hand, nothing seemed to be more expensive than $70. We ordered a bottle of Evolution chardonnay, which turned out to be way too sweet, and our meal for four came to $180, which seemed a little steep for pretty fresh but not super-creative sushi. So the next time I’m in Boston, I’ll probably try a different sushi place. Desperately seeking a Tomoe-like value proposition!
The sticky rice is my childhood comfort food – gooey “sweet rice” with aromatic shitaki mushrooms and dried shrimp, (preferably fatty) pork bits, and just the right touch of soy sauce for saltiness and color.
The other one of mom’s many dishes for Christmas (that I love to death) is her shrimp and broccoli. She sautees the shrimp separately until it’s just pink and juicy, and then she adds the shrimp to broccoli that’s been already blanched so there’s still crunch, and it’s all brought together with a light, smooth sauce whose makeup I can’t break down (a little ginger, a little wine, a little sesame oil, corn starch . . . ).
Ahh, Christmas with my family – great homemade Chinese food and time with my parents, brother and my brother’s wonderful girlfriend, Jen. Who needs snow?