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Taste of Allston

June 27, 2010

Marc with Garlic 'n Lemons Sampler Plate

What a hot weekend it’s been! We are sitting in our bedroom, sealed up with our window AC, cooling off after sitting outside in the hot sun at today’s Taste of Allston festival, held in lower Allston at the Harvard University sports complex. We are both too stuffed for words, and in full-on food comas. This was actually the 13th year of the festival, which is slightly sad news to me, because I have always been a proponent of the always-authentic always-awesome food scene in Allston and feel I’ve missed out!

We ate some very tasty food and had a couple of (small) drinks, and thankfully there was free water bottles to keep ourselves quenched and hydrated as we moved around to the various food and alcoholic beverage tables.

Grain and Salt, an Indian/Pakistani restaurant, was our first stop, and set the stage for quality with a vegetable pilaf called Tehari, a spinach, asparagus and cheese roll, and chicken dahi, prepared in a flavorful yogurt curry sauce with bell peppers and onions. Next we headed to Yo Ma, a Burmese restaurant, and had some potato curry on Burmese bread. The potato curry was good, but the real star of the show there was the bread, which was fresh, flaky, and delicious. We then got some sushi and shumai from Fish Market, a newer Japanese restaurant. While the quality of preparation was certainly good, we felt that the hot environment probably didn’t do the freshness of the fish any favors and tasted a slight fishiness in one of the pieces we ate.

After refreshing our water supply we headed to what was definitely the highlight of the festival, Garlic ‘n Lemons, a Lebanese restaurant. Their sampler plate, which was more of a bowl, was an incredibly generous portion of mixed spreads and grains (hummus, taboulleh, a version of majudarrah, cous cous) with a tiny piece of spicy chicken schawarma on top. Everything was full of bold flavors, very fresh, and put a giant smile on my face (see above). To top if off we got a coupon each for a free falafel sandwich! I will be looking for my first opportunity get to this restaurant as soon as possible.

After this the order of places blurs a bit to me, possibly due to the sangria that we had from one of our favorite places, Sunset Grill & Tap on Brighton Avenue, but here were some of the other bites we had before we were too stuffed to walk properly. Korean Garden served us a generous portion of bulgogi beef, glass noodles and kimchi, all of which were excellent. From Deep Ellum I had a flavorful chipotle deviled egg, which Elysabeth dutifully avoided because eggs are not her jam. Mount Everest Kitchen had some momos (dumplings) and grilled lamb and chicken, all of which were decent but not entirely memorable. The White Horse Tavern had some buffalo wings, which were yummy, and thoughtfully provided some moist towelettes which were necessary. Taqueria Carrizal had pupusas with various fillings, steak empanadas, and beef taquitos, which weren’t bad but weren’t anything special.

To finish off the day (1 hour of small nibbles = very full tummies) we got a second beverage at Sunset, and had some of their ribs and coleslaw. These ribs were finger-licking good and were a perfect way to finish off the day. They also gave me an opportunity to see my beautiful and perfect wife gnaw on some tasty meat on a bone!

Elysabeth eating a rib from Sunset Grill & Tap

All in all this was a fun experience, a tremendous value ($15 tickets in advance with 3 drink tickets, free water, and free parking), and I was quite happy we made the trip!

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