on the menu: Alden & Harlow

Alden & Harlow is one of my sister’s favorite restaurants in Harvard Square, and it’s easy to see and taste why. She took me out recently and it was just as good as promised.

I started with a lovely rosé cava from Catalunya, and here is the order of operations from there:


A starter of pickled green beans (this is what they put on the table in lieu of complimentary rolls or some such)

I’ve always loved pickled green beans (pickled anything, really), my mom makes them and I think I prefer her dill version to this sweet one. Still very good, though.


Pickled Verrill Farm Corn Pancakes with Buttermilk, Maple, Shishito

Corn cakes topped with popcorn! So crunchy and delicious! A balanced blend of savory and sweet. The takeaway lesson here is, instead of just putting maple syrup on your pancakes, make a semi-spreadable emulsion of maple syrup, cream, and butter. An all-in-one you can really pack on to each bite. I just love pancakes. I just love breakfast. 


Crisp Potatoes, White Miso, Sour Orange, Toasted Benne Seeds

PAPAS! So basic, so good. A lesson in the power of aioli and condiments in general.

Then there was this really good grilled avocado and chickpea special I failed to capture, we ate it so fast. 

So ugly, too.

House Made Squid Ink Bigoli with Snails, Pork Belly, Breadcrumbs, Green Garlic Pesto 

The only dud of the lot, with the squid ink pasta kind of chewy and hard, and the snails kind of chewy and hard…good flavor but unpleasant texture. We gave ourselves points for adventurousness.


Butternut Squash Salad with Raisins, Pecorino, Hazelnuts, Brown Butter

My favorite dish we tried, and the one I am going to try to approximate later. The squash is raw (maybe macerated a bit), and the key to the dish is the delicate strands that make the rawness approachable, and allow the softening agent (vinegar, lemon) to act quickly and effectively. Sweet with the raisins, hazelnuts, and brown butter, savory with the pecorino and frizzled sage…Must get a julienne peeler.


Mesquite Tortellini with Grilled Broccoli, Bianco Sardo & Colatura

This was fantastic, and my second favorite? I think so. So many excellent cheeses out there to try. Really though, they had me at tortellini.


Olive Oil Cake Panzanella with Rhubarb, Harry’s Strawberries, Fennel & Frozen Creme Fraiche

This was an excellent end to the meal. I think I would have liked just the olive oil cake and the creme fraiche ice cream alone but the rhubarb and fennel had been sliced incredibly thin,  macerating with the strawberries and certainly some other delicious things (lemon, mint) for so long that they had only the slightest hint of crunch and tang (raw rhubarb being basically inedible without considerable alterations, it draws all the moisture right out of your mouth and is super sour). Beautifully done, and ideal for the warmer weather.

bon anniversaire mon blog!

One year ago I transferred a handful of wordpress blog posts over to theseventhsphinx.com, and the rest is all there in the archives.

My little blog is growing up.

This calls for…



At kathycancook’s recommendation I used the excellent yellow cake recipe (black and white cake) from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours (an excellent book all around), which—a bit tragically, given how well it was going, really on the road to being the the nicest cake—I overcooked slightly.* Alas. Pardon, mon blog!  Not to worry, a bit of ice cream and a dousing of salted caramel improved matters. This is that kind of rich chocolate frosting you start in a double boiler with butter, unsweetened chocolate, and milk, then add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar, and it sets up as it cools.  You know the kind? I like that kind.

*This means that the next time I make it, it will be sublime.


Let’s see, shall I recap some favorite posts? Definitely the turban (more head wraps are in order), the sweater dress (I should wear that again soon. I love that dress), the tuxedo stripe leggings (there will be more wigs), Halloween, getting my bike (which it’s finally getting warm enough to consider riding), various posts with my beloved leather jacket (which it’s finally getting warm enough to consider wearing), the bandeau top, the baseball cap, that other wig, the massive floppy hat, that mango guacamole burger…so many, really.

Do you have a favorite?

Lot’s of plans for the upcoming year in the universe of the blog, and lots of stuff I can’t wait to show you.

Thanks for reading!