Food Diary, Day One.

7.40 am: A really tart grapefruit and two Tylenols. I think my brain is trying to squeeze its way out of my skull, via my eye sockets.

10.10 am: Banana. On Fridays I try not to eat a lot in the morning because that is the day we have lunch delivered at work, and I am almost certain to overeat then.

10.40 – 11.51 am: Sumo skim latte with a shot of sugar-free vanilla from Zing! in Porter Square Books. I am very particular about my coffee, but not in the sense that one would imagine. I don’t know anything about Tanzanian Peaberry or Hawaiian Kona. I just like my coffee to be at a specific temperature — warm enough that I can still enjoy its heat, but not so hot that I burn my mouth. And never, ever cold.

12.35 pm: Lunch is supposed to arrive at any minute and I am scared that I won’t be able to hold out.

1.02 – 1.50 pm: Nibbles of shahi paneer, chicken tikka masala, naan, vegetable pakora, aloo gobhi and basmati rice. We had lunch brought in from Desi Dhaba in Central Square, which was good, but I much prefer Tanjore or Tamarind Bay, both in Havard Square, depending on whether I’m in the mood for something more traditional or more eclectic.

2.24 pm: An extremely sweet D’Anjou pear whose juice threatened to trickle down my arm and into my sleeve, reminding me of that small scene in Memoirs of a Geisha:

…I stepped into the kitchen of the okiya and found one of the maids leaning over the sink, trying to cover up the ripe pear she held to her mouth, its juices running down onto her neck. She’d had such a craving for it, she’d said, and begged me not to tell Mother.

4.17 pm: One Dove dark chocolate square from the office candy tray. I am desperately in need of something sweet, and while I am staring at another D’Anjou, I don’t think fruit will quite cut it at the moment.

4.45 pm: The chocolate fails to do its job. Time for Pear, Take Two.

5.03 pm: Two Advils. Surely this is how Wyle E. Coyote feels after the Roadrunner is done with him.

6.48 pm: A honking piece of mozzarella cheese while I write out my grocery list. I am starving, and tired. Tonight I just want to cook some food and go to bed.

9.42 – 10.26 pm: Diet Coke and dinner of a quick stir-fry of brown rice, chicken, edamame and walnuts, the recipe of which I pinched from an old issue of Bon Appétit. I’ve included it here, below.

Brown Rice + Chicken Stir-Fry with Edamame + Walnuts
Makes six portions.

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons soy sauce, ideally low-sodium
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, sliced thinly crosswise
1 teaspoon honey
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (I like a lot of ginger, so I might use even more than this.)
3 garlic cloves, minced (I like a lot of garlic, so I might use even more than this.)
1 ½ cups short-grain brown rice cooked, cooled
2 cups shelled cooked edamame beans
1 bunch chopped scallions (Keith likes scallions; Bon Appétit calls for 2/3 cup, chopped.)

  1. Stir walnuts in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted, about three minutes. Drizzle two tablespoons soy sauce over walnuts; stir until soy sauce coats walnuts, about forty-five seconds. Let cool. (This step can be made up to three days ahead. Store at room temperature in airtight container.)
  2. Combine chicken, two tablespoons soy sauce and honey in medium bowl, and toss to coat. Let stand fifteen minutes.
  3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry for about two-three minutes. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry for thirty seconds. Add cooked rice and edamame; reduce heat to medium and stir-fry until heated through, about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; mix in walnuts and scallions, serve.

Dinner at Clio.

Kelly and Nancy invited us out to dinner to celebrate Nancy’s birthday; though there was much discussion regarding the restaurant, ultimately Clio won out in the end.

Once we were seated, we placed our cocktail orders — I settled on the Ginkgo-bai, which is as fun to say as it is to drink. Described as a mixture of “plum-infused sake and Asian pear sake with mountain peach and a sugared rim,” it is absolutely delicious… and incredibly strong. Kelly was the only one of our group who chose one of Clio’s liquid nitrogen cocktails; at eighteen dollars, it raises the question: is a chemically-infused cocktail worth its price tag? If the nitrogen makes a difference to the quality of the drink, my vote is yes. However, if it is novelty for novelty’s sake… to quote The Wizard of Oz, that’s a horse of a different color. Was Kelly’s cocktail better mine, or Nancy’s, or Keith’s? Clearly it’s a matter of taste, but I don’t think any amount of nitrogen could have made another drink as tasty as mine.

As I’ve said before, I admittedly have the tendency waffle when in front of an appetizing menu. In this instance, it was the choices for first course that had me flip-flopping. Did I want the special, a cassolette of sea urchin and lobster? Or the foie roulade? Considering my love of foie, one would think the foie would easily blow past the urchin; actually, I weighed the pros and cons for quite a bit before finally deciding on the liver, which was served with smoked beef tongue, red apple and “grains of paradise,” and came with a mini “shooter” of apple essence ($23.00). The liver-tongue combination was fantastic — earthy, rich and densely flavorful — but the thick, candy-colored syrup was far too medicinal for my taste. The shooter, though, was a great palate-cleanser.

While I yoyo-ed over the appetizer, I experienced no indecision when it came time to select my entrée, for nothing on the menu called out to me. For want of anything else, I chose the kabayaki-glazed short ribs ($38.00), and was terribly disappointed. Though the presentation was pretty — I particularly liked the looks of the tiny, purple-veined leaf floating alone at the bottom of the plate — the short ribs were truly lacking. Where was the flavor? If anything, I should have tasted the saltiness of the soy, but even that was missing. Granted, the meat was so tender that a knife was superfluous, but I would have rather sawed into a savory brick than eaten something so bland that fell apart at the merest touch. To be fair, the razor clams, the greens and the purple Okinawa sweet potato purée were practically sublime; why wasn’t the dish composed solely of this? I couldn’t even bring myself to finish what was on my plate, and foisted my picked-over meat on Keith and Nancy.

Disenchanted, I tried to cheer myself up with the thought of dessert… only to be let down again. Like the entrée before it, the milk chocolate palet d’or ($11.00) was dazzlingly pretty on the plate; the entire dish literally glittered, from the artful golden swirl to the encased chocolate custard. Even the tangerine and white beer sorbets seemed to glisten. My taste buds, on the other hand, were not blinded by the glow — except when it came to the wonderful citrus sorbet. I would have be thrilled to receive a dish comprised exclusively of that, and to have not had to bother with anything else. The beer sorbet tasted flat and metallic (unintentional, I’m sure), and the chocolate was duller than ditch water.

To top it all off, the service was uneven. Nothing bothers me more than waitstaff who ignore their tables for most of the meal, only to reappear, attentive as a mother hen, just prior to delivering the bill. If that’s not a poorly disguised ploy for a princely tip, I don’t know what is. I have yet to fall for it.

Clio
370 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
617.532.7200
cliorestaurant.com

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