Blue Ginger, 3 July 2012

While I was visiting New England, I made a stop at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA.  Ming Tsai, once on The Next Iron Chef and other Food Network shows, opened this spot in 1998.  My friends had been raving about this place for awhile, so it was on our to-do list while I was out there.

The Blue Ginger kitchen working hard.

We started out with a couple of drinks from Blue Ginger’s creative cocktail menu.  I got the Thai Coconut Martini, which consisted of cilantro- and chili-infused vodka, Coco Lopez coconut milk, and lime…great flavor combination.

Thai Coconut Martini. “Creamy, spicy, delicious,” per the menu…I concur.

This was my first opportunity to obtain foie gras since the California ban on the delicacy went into effect, so I went a little overboard and both of the options.  Blue Ginger has two starters with foie gras, including a Foie Gras-Shiitake Shumai in Sauternes-Shallot Broth, and the Blue Ginger Charcuterie Plate.  The latter consisted of duck prosciutto, foie gras torchon, and country pâté.  Both were good…I especially liked the sweetness of the Sauternes broth with the shumai dish.

The Foie Gras Shumai. The shumai themselves came out in a dim sum bamboo container, and then were moved into the broth.

Charcuterie with delicious foie gras torchon (bottom right).

Seeing the need for another cocktail at this point, I chose the Gosling’s Gold Iced Chai Latte – chai-infused rum with Bailey’s and honey syrup.  Again, really tasty.

Gosling’s Gold Iced Chai Latte.

Moving onto the entrees…I went with the Grilled New Zealand Rack of Lamb, and my friends went with Szechwan Chicken and the Sake-Miso Marinated Alaskan Butterfish (two of the house specialties).  All of these were excellent.  The lamb was exceptionally prepared – juicy and tender – and was served with a crispy taro-corn cake, asian chimichurri, and adobo cream.  The butterfish was incredible.  I was a little jealous I didn’t get that myself, and if I go again that’s what I’ll be getting.

My rack of lamb.

Szechwan Chicken with Lapchang Sticky Rice and Sautéed Mustard Greens. Served with Garlic-ginger-soy syrup and sweet chile sauce.

The incredible butterfish, served with wasabi oil, soy-lime syrup, and vegetarian soba noodle sushi.

If rhubarb is ever on the dessert menu, I get it.  Blue Ginger has a Crème Fraiche Cheesecake with Rosé Sobet topped with gingered rhubarb, strawberries, and candied pistachios.  Also good was the Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with cardamom ice cream and chocolate ganache.  Great end to the meal.

Ming Tsai has some of his recipes (including a few of the ones featured at Blue Ginger) on his PBS show “Simply Ming“.  A few of the episodes are online on his website, which I’d encourage you to check out.

Blue Ginger
583 Washington Street
Wellesley, MA 02482
(781) 283-5790

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French Cooking Class, 27 May 2012

Not having much experience in the cooking arena, I have been spending some of my free time taking classes to improve my skills.  LivingSocial’s 918 F Street has held a few, and I’ve been attending as many as I can.

On 27 May, I went to a French cooking class at 918 F Street taught by Chef Bernard Henry.  French food sort of intimidated me – I was expecting it to be fairly difficult – but I was surprised at how easy our dishes were to make.

LivingSocial has a great setup for their cooking classes.  There is plenty of space for each group of two to get their cooking on, and you generally end up making enough food for dinner, as well as lunch the next day.  Everyone generally has a partner, which tends to remove some of the intimidation factor for those who don’t cook very often.  All of the ingredients are pre-measured by the kitchen team, and there are plenty of LivingSocial staff members available to assist in answering any questions or providing spare kitchen implements or ingredients.  Besides all that, either beer, wine, or cocktails are provided while cooking and eating (depending on the cuisine).  Additional drinks from the 918 F Street bar, staffed by Jon Arroyo‘s mixologists, are available for a fee (they’re good, so I’d recommend you try them).  The classes seem to be about 50/50 males and females, singles and couples…the courses are perfect for a date, and if you’re single they could be good opportunities to meet your future ex.

A shot of the kitchen space for LivingSocial’s cooking courses…

During this class, we learned to make Zucchini-Basil Soup.  Really tasty hot (as we made it in the class), but it would be a great summer-time soup when cold.  Again – it was so easy to make…after cooking onion, garlic, and zucchini in a saucepan for a short time, everything goes into the blender to be puréed.

Prepping soup ingredients…

…sweating the onions and garlic…

…and the finished product. Tasty Zucchini-Basil Soup.

We also made lamb skewers with a green olive and mint tapenade…so good, and again, really easy to make.  I could eat the tapanade by itself…it was that good.

Lamb getting its seasoning on…

…tapenade…so tasty. I was eating it right out of this bowl before it got plated…

…drinking wine while cooking helps the process…

The lamb skewers plated. They came out medium rare, and were excellent.

Entree number two was  was sautéed cod with asparagus sauce and fennel.  I don’t think I was a fan of fennel until I cooked my own…it goes very well with non-oily white fish.

Fennel cooking…

…Chef Bernard Henry demonstrating proper fish cooking technique…

…the final product.

For dessert we cooked up some rum raisin bread putting (from what I’ve learned at these cooking classes, dessert is what you make first, as they generally take longer to cook.  This one took 30-40 minutes to bake in the oven, for example).  I actually forgot to put milk in this (oops), but it was still good…just a different texture (perhaps a little less flavor?) than you’d normally get.

A good dessert to end our French meal.

This particular class went for $79.  I’d say that between the social interaction, education, and large quantity of food produced that the price was worth it..the price also seems less than some other cooking schools in the area.  If you enjoy cooking, or would like to start getting into it, I’d recommend you check them out.