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For this month’s spotlight, I decided to broaden my horizons and go somewhere out of my normal lunch rotation. I chose Pita Kabob in Downtown Crossing, where I somehow have yet to eat, despite walking past it frequently for nearly a year. Conveniently located on the same block as the Chauncy Street exit of Downtown Crossing, it offers Persian food, as well as a handful of standard American deli options. It’s a great menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

PitaKabobexterior

The interior is spartan, but the staff is welcoming. You order and pay at the cashier first, so you’re good to go on your way once your order is ready. For my first foray into their menu, I decided to try the falafel pita wrap ($5.85).  I’m no falafel connoisseur—in fact, I don’t actually like falafel all that much and always seem to forget that—but I really enjoyed it. It’s baked instead of fried, so wasn’t crispy like it often is, but still had a nice texture and flavor. The toppings were what made it excellent, though. The tahini and hot sauce were delicious and the lettuce and tomato, oft-neglected wrap elements, were impressively fresh.

I definitely want to go back to try some of their other offerings. They have nine different options for pita fillings, most of which can also be ordered on a salad, or served as a platter with Basmati rice and hummus or salad (shirazi, garden, or yogurt). The price for a pita wrap depends on the filling, and ranges from $5.25 for hummus to $8.55 for salmon kabob. Most of their other items fall within that range as well. They also serve breakfast and all their breakfast sandwiches are under $3.00—it’d be a convenient stop for Red Line riders on their way to campus in the morning.

I can’t offer much insight into their speed at busy times, as I was the only customer in line and enjoyed a leisurely conversation with the owner as he prepared my order, but their setup looks like one that could handle a high volume of customers with ease.  There’s some counter seating inside, but it’d also be an easy walk over to the Common, Post Office Square, or the Greenway, where I decided to take mine.

Nota bene: Be sure to grab a bunch of napkins! Although the wrap was well-constructed, I couldn’t simultaneously eat and read without adorning my magazine with hot sauce and tahini. You may not want to eat it at your laptop.

Pita Kabob. 2 Lafayette Ave, Boston, MA (entrance on Chauncy St) Monday-Friday 7:30am-5pm. Accepts cash and credit cards with a $15 minimum.

What do you think of the baked falafel? Have you tried their breakfast? Do you have a suggestion for the next place we should try? Write to us!

Previous entries:
Al’s South Street Cafe

Chacarero

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Leo is back to answer more of your questions about library policies and procedures!  Catch him in episode two where he discusses how to use Tufts Tools and announces our new computers!  Remember to submit questions to AskLeo@tufts.edu or write out a question and place it in our designated box on the 4th floor library service desk.  Enjoy!

Ask Leo Episode Two: Tufts Tools from Tufts HHSL on Vimeo.

Summer is here and everyone at HHSL is looking forward to the 4th of July. There are so many options for celebrating in Boston that it can be overwhelming, so we asked some staff members for their recommendations:

8974292557_575cd8ac84_zBoston (Dylan Pech)/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

My friends like to rent a kayak or canoe and watch the fireworks from the river!  

-Becky Philio, Library Assistant

You can reserve a boat ahead of time, if you’re feeling nautical.

7511427816_92e3b0b2b1_z4th of July 2012 in Boston (Sayamindu Dasgupta)/ CC BY SA 2.0

I like to watch the fireworks just standing on Memorial Drive. They pipe the music from the Pops along the Cambridge side of the River, so you can enjoy the spectacle without having to camp out all day for a spot on the Esplanade. 

-Katherine Morley, Administrative Coordinator

If you do decide to enjoy the Pops on the Esplanade, this handy guide has all the info you need.

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USS Constitution fires a 21-gun salute toward Fort Independence during the ship’s July 4th underway (US Navy) / CC BY 2.0

Go check out the Old Ironsides turnaround cruise. You can book a ticket on a boat that follows her around the harbor or just watch from shore as the world’s oldest commissioned warship takes her annual voyage to Castle Island. This is the year to do it, though–she’ll be undergoing restoration until 2018. 

-Becky Morin, Head of Research & Instruction.

More information here. Interested in other historical events? Here’s a big list of tours, talks, and tastings happening throughout the city this week.

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Ready to Eat (David Remsen) /CC BY NC 2.0

I’m not a native New Englander, so I was really excited last year when I was invited to a community clam bake for the 4th of July. Even though it was deathly hot (near 100 degrees F), it was really fun to celebrate with the whole neighborhood out on the rocky beach, eating all of the food everyone made. It was also really interesting to watch the evolution of the fire pit throughout the day. I’m not a big seafood eater, so I didn’t partake of the steamers and lobster, but everything looked and smelled amazing!

Katie Houk, Research & Instruction Librarian

Don’t know anyone with beach access? You can attend a clambake on Spectacle Island on the July 3rd, or any Thursday throughout the summer.

 

What’s your favorite thing to do on the 4th? Let us know!

 

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It is finally summer and I am convinced the weather will get hot at some point. However, we all need to make sure that we, and our loved-ones, know the dangers of UV radiation and play it smart when we are enjoying being outside all summer and fall. You can use the following infographics to teach your friends and family to be safe in the sun!

DontFry

Sunscreen-Infographic-Flyer

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 sunglasses

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Welcome to the first episode of Ask Leo.  Leo (our friendly skeleton) will be answering questions that patrons have regarding library policies and procedures.    Please feel free to contact him by sending an email to AskLeo@tufts.edu with the subject line Ask Leo or you may drop off a question in our designated box at the 4th floor library service desk.

Ask Leo Episode One: Summer Hours from Tufts HHSL on Vimeo.

 

This month, our Under10 Spotlight is Chacarero, a popular lunch spot on the edge of the Financial District. The walk is a straight(ish) shot from campus down Harrison and Chauncy to 101 Arch Street—about 8 minutes, give or take.

chacarero

Chacarero’s signature item is…the chacarero, a classic Chilean sandwich. My favorite part is the bread, which is baked fresh daily. It’s round, sort of flat, and manages to both dense and light at the same time. For the main ingredient, you have a choice of plain or bbq grilled beef or chicken (or both), or grilled vegetables. It’s topped with tomatoes, muenster cheese, avocado spread, green beans, and their secret hot sauce. You can also add a super spicy hot sauce that I wasn’t brave enough to try, but hear is very good.

A small sandwich ($6.35-$8.95) is the perfect size for lunch, but they also make a large size ($7.45-$10.00). They offer assorted sides, desserts, and beverages, as well as a number of breakfast items.

 fork perspective

The lunch rush is tackled with an impressive display of assembly-line sandwich making. The line was out the door when I arrived at 12:45pm, but it took only five minutes to get up to the cashier, where I ordered and paid. I was outside with my meal in less than four minutes after that. Other times when I’ve gone later in the afternoon, there’s been no wait, so I’d recommend going closer to 2pm if you’re short on time.

There’s a decent amount of seating in the air-conditioned restaurant but one of my favorite spots to eat in the area is not far away. If you have time, continue on Arch St and take a right down Franklin St for about two blocks to Post Office Square. You can enjoy your sandwich on the lawn in the park—be sure to grab a free cushion from one of the bins to protect your clothes from the grass!

Chacarero. 101 Arch St, Boston, MA. Mon-Fri 8am-6pm.  They accept cash, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.   

Have you braved the super spicy sauce at Chacarero? Do you have a suggestion for the next place we should try? Write to us!

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This delicious, flavorful Vietnamese dish is a personal favorite shared by a close friend. It’s a soup to make any time of the year to enjoy among family and friends.

vietnamese beef stew

Prep time: 1 hour and 15 mins.

Cook time: 2 hours

Marinade

2 tbs. reduced sodium soy sauce

3 stems of green onion, chopped

1 tbs. beef spice (Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho)

1 tbs. sugar

¼ tsp.   salt

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1lb beef stew meat (chuck)

Marinate beef with sugar, salt, beef spice, soy sauce, green onion, and garlic for at least 1 hour. For best flavor, marinate overnight in the fridge.

Soup

1lb carrots, chopped

1 stem of lemongrass, cut into 5 inch pieces

1 tbs. canola oil

2 tbs. beef spice (Gia Vi Nau Bo Kho)

1 tbs. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 clove of garlic, chopped

6 (8oz)cans of reduced sodium chicken broth

1 pkg rice noodle (Banh Pho Tuoi)

water

herbs (mint, cilantro, and/or basil leaves)

1. Brown garlic with oil in a 6 quart  pot, after it turns a golden color, put meat in.

2. Cook meat thoroughly, and then add 4 cans of chicken broth and 4 cans of water.

3. Add beef spice, sugar, salt, and then stir.

4. Add pieces of lemon grass stem (only used for flavor, to be discarded upon serving).

5. Let simmer for about 1 ½ hours.

6. Add carrots, 2 remaining cans of chicken broth and 2 cans of water.

7. Let simmer for ½ hour more, stirring occasionally.

8. Cook rice noodles as indicated.

9. Discard lemongrass pieces and serve soup over noodles in a bowl.

9. Garnish with mint leaves, basil, or cilantro.

Yields approximately 4 quarts | Serving size: 3 cups | Calories per Serving: 306 | Servings: approximately 5

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We’re lucky that campus is so close to so many great dining establishments, but lunch choices can become routine. It’s no easy feat to choose from such a wide range of options when you have limited time and a limited budget. In this series of blog posts, we’ll highlight lunch spots where you can get lunch for under 10 dollars in under 10 minutes(ish). Is there a place you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the chance to yet? Let us know and we’ll check it out for you!

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Al’s South Street Cafe

Al’s South Street Café is right around the corner from South Station and is a sure bet for a quick and delicious sub. Walking in for the first time during the lunchtime rush can be a bit daunting, as it is packed with regulars who clearly know what they want and where to stand to get it. To maximize efficiency, there are two lines–one to the right for cold subs and one to the left for hot. I’d recommend standing back to study the menu before jumping in line, as it moves fast (really fast!) and the staff, while pleasant, are committed to speed and will start making your order the moment you appear in front of them.

 I am always impressed at how quickly they assemble the cold subs. Hot subs take a bit longer, naturally, but really don’t require a much longer wait. A small sub, measuring in at 10 inches, is more than enough for lunch, and at $6.50 is a great value. For $8.00 you can get any small sub or wrap, a 20oz soda, and a bag of chips. If you’re feeling hungry (or want leftovers for later), you can pick up a large sub for $8.50.

My favorites are the Al’s Café Special (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar) and the chicken salad (“Best Chicken Salad in Boston” according to their menu). Being somewhat of a creature of habit, I must confess that I have yet to try any of the hot subs, but a friend and fellow Al’s-devotee recommends the Chicken Arianna (grilled chicken tenders, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and buffalo blue cheese) or the Chicken Pesto (chicken tenders with—you guessed it—pesto). They also offer a selection of salads (standard sub shop varieties like Greek, Caesar, etc) and soups.

Some seating is available inside, but you ought to get away from the noise and sit outside in Dewey Square or by the Chinatown Gate if the weather’s nice. And of course you can always bring it back to the library to resume your studies and make everyone jealous of your delicious lunch.

Do you have a favorite sandwich at Al’s? Do you have a suggestion for the next place we should try? Write to us!

Al’s South Street Café. 179 Essex St. Boston, MA 02111. Mon-Fri 10:30am-3pm. They accept cash, credit cards, and LevelUp. 

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Passover begins Monday evening, April 14th and here is an easy matzo bark recipe with that appealing sweet and salty combination.

Matzo recipe

3 sheets matzo
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c pecans, toasted
1/2 c unsweetened coconut, toasted
1 chocolate covered toffee bar (such as Heath or Skor), chopped
2 tsp flaky sea salt

  • Heat oven to 350 F. Place matzo on baking sheet and bake until golden brown (10 minutes)
  • Sprinkle chocolate over the matzo, return to oven and bake until it melts (about 30 seconds)
  • Remove the baking sheet and spread chocolate over the matzo with back of spoon or spatula
  • Sprinkle with pecans, coconut, toffee bar and salt. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes
  • Refrigerate until firm (at least 10 minutes) and then break into pieces and enjoy!

 

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