Category: eating

Happy pi approximation day

Today, July 22, or 22/7 as the Eurostyle daters would have it, is pi approximation day. Why? Because 22/7 = 3.1428… which is a an approximation of pi, one that’s a bit bigger and a lot less irrational than the real pi. If this shakes your faith in religion or something, you can refer to this song for something approximating solace:

A little bigger
I’m bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
I’ve circumscribed too much
I messed it up

Or maybe not. Perhaps you prefer the wisdom of a couple of dinosaurs on the topic of pi day vs pi approximation day:

Dinosaur comics approximates pi day

That feels a bit more satisficing, but what would really hit the spot is something that’s almost pie, but not pie and just a bit more than pie. Maybe that’s pie a la mode, or a crumble or a brown betty. Call me irrational if you like, but I’m going to look into this and get back to you before next March 14, approximately.

Five years later, my cupcake prophecy is fulfilled

Just about five years ago on this very blog, I called peak cupcake and announced the age of pie. Finally, the world is catching up. You can scoff at me five years ago, but behold the WSJ delivering the truth earlier this month:

Crumbs "signature happy birhtday" cupcake, in cross sectionBut the popularity of high-end cupcakes—embodied by chains such as New York’s Magnolia Bakery and Los Angeles-based Sprinkles—has waned in recent years, even as new players crowded into the field. Crumbs posted a loss of $18.2 million last year, layered on a loss of $10.3 million in 2012, according to securities filings. Its cash on hand fell to $893,000 at the end of 2013, down from $6.3 million the prior year.

If you hadn’t caught the headline, Crumbs global cupcake empire was reduced to its namesake particles as it was delisted from the NASDAQ and closed all its stores. As of this writing, nobody told their webmaster that cupcakes are over.

Really, when you think back on it, end-of-days pastry like the cronut should have tipped us off.

Shao Bing? Sure Thing!

I was expanding the horizon and expanding the parameters of my on and off sandwich obsession and found myself at Foumami, an “asian sandwich bar” on Franklin street. I had been thinking that the scallion pancake sandwiches at Mei Mei were the best thing since sliced bread, at least in the asian sandwich arena, but Foumami’s shao bing has given me something else to chew on, as it were.

I had the Braised Beef Brisket shao bing, with chilled braised beef brisket, scallions, kirby cucumber, and cilantro, for $7.95.


Foumami explains their bread thusly:

Shao Bings, the unleavened bread somewhere between focaccia and pita that makes all of our breakfast and lunch sandwiches special. Two separate sets of dough are combined and rolled out again to create a consistency that when baked at a high temperature is crisp and flaky on the outside, while soft and chewy on the inside.

Two different doughs? Color me impressed. As billed, the bing is flaky on the outside like phyllo and pancake chewy inside. The brisket was tender and not overcooked (though maybe a little overportioned) and nicely balanced with cool cucumber and scallions. The always-controversial cilantro, I could take it or leave it. The sandwich looks small in plan but it’s large in profile and quite satisfying. I will be back for more bing, that is certain.

The evolution of the savory scone at Darwin’s

Darwin’s on Cambridge street, a new stop on my Cambridge coffee circuit, features a high community table with not enough chairs that seems to attract the standing desk crowd. More on that another time, this is a savory scone update.

Proscuitto scone at Darwin's

Behold the prosciutto scone. It’s savory all right, salty and hammy but not overpoweringly so. Only the smallest bits of ham are visible but the essence runs throughout. The dough is flaky and buttery as these things should be. The cheese is largely in the background but globs of it are evident here and there.