Noms: Cambridge and Somerville

I’m not fasting while in Cambridge, as it would be foolish to miss out on some good meals that I couldn’t get in Chicago.

One was last night, when I took my hosts to dinner at a highly rated Mexican restaurant in Somerville, right next to Cambridge. Tu Y Yo (“You and Me”) was said to serve authentic Mexican food, so I tested that out by getting a michelada (beer, tomato juice, lime juice, Tabasco sauce, and spice)—a drink I first had in Mexico—and chile relleno en nogada, described on the menu as “poblano pepper stuffed with ground beef, almonds, raisins, peaches and cheese, covered in a sweet creamy sauce with pomegranate and cilantro on top. (available on fall and winter season)”. I had that dish in Puebla, Mexico, where it was supposedly invented, and wanted to compare it with Tu Y Yo’s version. It was just as good; a superb dish. Here it is, served with black beans and rice.

My friend Tim had mole suave, which I can’t find on the website menu or anywhere else. It was a chicken breast made with a complex mole that included pumpkin seeds. He pronounced it delicious:

We didn’t have dessert there as we all went to Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream (again), as that was the last chance I’d get to go before heading back to Chicago. I always have one scoop of “Burnt Sugar” (a life-changing flavor that I’ve never seen elsewhere; why doesn’t some company like Haagen Dazs make it?), but deciding on the other scoop is always hard, for that they have about 30 flavors and all of them are good.

Here’s the outside of Christina’s; if you’re ever in Cambridge, GO, and get burnt sugar. That’s my friend Betsy pointing at the sign:

. . . and the unprepossessing inside, hiding ambrosial delights (my friend Tim at the left):

In the end, along with burnt sugar I got “carrot cake”, which I swear tasted just like a good carrot cake, complete with carrot shreds, cream cheese, raisins, nuts, and, I think, bits of cake. The dark flavor here is burnt sugar:

A slightly out of focus shot of the carrot cake flavor:



  1. Barry Lyons
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Damn, decades ago I worked in Cambridge (at record stores), and for a brief period I lived in Somerville. I don’t know either of these places! When I visit my parents for Thanksgiving, I’ll try to visit both.

  2. Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I recently made some burnt milk ice cream (recipe from Pati Jinich) which was pretty good. I compared that recipe to one I found for burnt sugar ice cream and the main difference seems to be in one step.

    In the burnt sugar ice cream the hot caramel is poured into the milk mixture. In burnt milk the milk is poured into the hot caramel.

    Is the end result significantly different?

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      The only people who could answer that question are those who have tried both flavors.

      • Rita
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Ben & Jerry’s makes creme brulee ice cream, maybe you could try that and let us know if it’s similar.

    • Martin X
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Suspect it’s just how dark the sugar gets.

  3. mirandaga
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Christina’s looks nice, but to me the only ice cream parlor in Somerville will always be Steve’s Ice Cream at 191 Elm Street (I lived at 123 Elm St. for many years in the ‘70s). Steve’s influenced Ben and Jerry and was famous for its Heath Bar smoosh-in, which started a whole new spin-off in the ice cream industry. I know it’s no longer there, but it lives in the memories of the many of us who waited in long lines to build our own sundaes. RIP.

    • Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      That’s gone now, and I used to hike up to Steve’s (a 45 minute walk) from where I lived in graduate school, even in midwinter, and there were always lines. There is one “Herrell’s” left, but it’s it Northampton.

      Steve’s was THE place to go for hot fudge sundaes, and I went there dozens of times. Then when it closed and moved to Harvard Square, I went to that one. But, sadly, there’s one left and it’s not within striking distance.

      I never had a better hot fudge sundae than at Steve’s, especially with malted vanilla ice cream.

  4. darrelle
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    You forgot the umlaut!

  5. dabertini
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing. I love authentic Mexican food. Those dishes look fantastic. As for burnt sugar ice cream well it sound more than a little intriguing.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    You goin’ for a pie at Santarpio’s in East Boston? When I used to visit Beantown regularly a few years ago, my friends who would take me there always claimed its pizza was “the best.”

  7. BJ
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    “…chile relleno en nogada, described on the menu as “poblano pepper stuffed with ground beef, almonds, raisins, peaches and cheese, covered in a sweet creamy sauce with pomegranate and cilantro on top. (available on fall and winter season).”

    That. Sounds. Amazing! I had a similar dish years ago (I remember the raisins in the beef), but I can’t remember where. I think it was at a London restaurant.

    • Luis Servin
      Posted October 23, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      One thing missing from the description is that the “sweet creamy sauce” is actually made with fresh walnuts, one of the reasons this dish is seasonal.

      • BJ
        Posted October 23, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        Well, that just makes it sound better.

  8. Matthew Jenkins
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I love reading Professor Coyne’s foodie stuff. Today I took my children to Exeter (UK) to explore the medieval tunnels below the city which once carried its water supply in thin, permanently leaking lead pipes (which didn’t do much for life expectancy). After, we went to Buffet City, a Chinese all-you-can-eat which, I can proudly say, was the worst restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, so awful you should go there just so you can tell your grandchildren about it. Reading PCC’s post about chile relleno en nogada really made up for it!

    • darrelle
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      I’ve been to a few places like that. I can brag, for example, that I’ve eaten breakfast at Ed’s Eats before. I’ve got an iron gut.

  9. Helen Hollis
    Posted October 23, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I thought you did not like cilantro. In fact, you spoke about it many times here.

  10. Lurker111
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    If I had a kid and took him to a Mexican restaurant, I couldn’t keep myself from saying something like, “Oh, look! They have chicken with mole sauce!” Pronounced “mohl.”

    And the kid would go, “No, they don’t!”

    I’d say, “Sure! See the menu? M-O-L-E sauce. Made fresh. They take the little critters while they’re still squirming, rinse them off under the tap, and then toss them into the blender. Push the button, WHIRRRRRR, and presto! Mole sauce!”

    Okay, some mornings I feel evil.

  11. Posted October 24, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Mole sauce for mole day!

  12. bobkillian
    Posted October 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Those pumpkin seeds look suspiciously like sesame or sunflower seeds.

    • Luis Servin
      Posted October 24, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      The sauce is made with ground pumpkin seeds, and the dish is decorated with sesame seeds.

      • bobkillian
        Posted October 24, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. I’ve forwarded the post to Somerville/Watertown friends and relatives.

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