Taste of Cambridge

Sorry for the month-plus hiatus, folks. As you might know, I have a new job, which is taking up a lot of my time. Summer also seems to have arrived and I’m kind of excited to get out and enjoy the nice weather for the 15 minutes that it’s here.

Anyway, my new job is in Camridge, a foreign land that I know practically nothing about, food-wise. Sure, I’ve been to East Coast Grill and Elephant Walk, but I have no idea what to do with myself when lunchtime rolls around or after work when I’m craving something quick alongside a cocktail. So when Taste of Cambridge rolled around, I was excited to go. Afterall, what better way to discover new haunts than to have the opportunity to try a bunch all at once. Granted, this is just a sampling, but I think you can get a good idea of what a place is like based on what they decide to offer up at an event like this.

By the time I arrived, things were in full swing. An army of grills were smoking and people were crowded around drinking beers, taking pictures and snapping up little plates of this and that.

Since I’ve just returned from eating my way through New Mexico, I set a few ground rules for myself. First, I’d only eat things that I hadn’t tried before; things that looked unique and that might lure me to a particular restaurant. Chocolate chip cookies, pizza and ribs were out. Second, I’d focus on the food, not the abundant drinks. Yes, Harpoon is a tasty beer, but I’m pretty sure it tastes the same at TOC as it does any place else and I didn’t want to waste precious stomach space.

The event was spread out over two courtyards at the Charles Hotel. I wandered around, sampling this and that, taking notes when something was particularly good. It was a hot day and gazpacho/cold soup seemed to be a favorite: Legal Seafoods had shrimp gazpacho while Ten Tables offered up a zucchini-basil soup and Cragie on Main had a Rhubarb and Hibiscus Tea Soup with buttermilk foam. The latter was a refreshing twist, cool and slightly sweet, but not overly so. The buttermilk foam offered some savoriness to the dish, while rhubarb lent a satisfying crunch.

I nibbled on a lamb sausage slider from Harvest and a veggie burger from Red Line.  But my favorite was a rather simple grilled bread topped with arugula, fresh fig and prosciutto from Bambara. The bread was chewy and crispy at the same time, imparting a bit of smokiness from the grill. Arugula cut the sweetness of the fig, while the saltiness of the meat offset the bitter greens. I could have made a meal of just that. I only indulged in one dessert: rhubarb and strawberry crisp from Henrietta’s Table. Served in a corn husk and topped with whipped cream, it burst with flavors of summer.

I have to admit there was a lot I didn’t try. With the hot and humid weather, I couldn’t stomach the idea of trying much from any of the Indian restaurants there (and I LOVE Indian food) likewise with the falafel. Grafton Street’s grilled corn, while looking delicious, also didn’t make the cut, mostly because it seemed messy and my hands were full, but also because it looked very similar to something I’ve eaten umpteen times at Toro.

I left TOC feeling that I’d accomplished what I set out for. My belly was full and I had a few new restaurants on my list of places to try. I’m not sure I could have asked for much more.


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