Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moving On and Up . . . and over to African Studies!

Amazing coworkers sending me off right!
Given the title of my blog, I suppose I owe everyone an update on my academic life as well, given you know probably everything there is about my life with food! I've managed to find a good way to relate the two though. My first day of my new job starts tomorrow - I'll be working at the Committee on African Studies, focused in part on their student programs and grants. I'm very excited to get back to a more student-focused position and be more integrated into campus life than in my prior position in development/fundraising. I've found myself even more excited now, following a delicious brunch with good work friends at Teranga, a Senegalese restaurant in the South End, which I've written about before! I also had a wonderful friend treat me to dinner there the other weekend as a congrats on my new African job!

Such a great place, made even greater following a visit from the owner Marie-Claude this morning! She is an impressive woman and pulled up a chair to chat with us this morning. Last summer she debuted on 'Chopped' and kicked butt, winning the competition and a whopping $10,000 that we hope she is using to open a 2nd restaurant, fingers crossed, in the Cambridge area!!

This was all of ours first time checking Teranga out for brunch and we certainly were not disappointed. We all left so full and satisfied, especially after Marie-Claude sent out lovely desserts for us to try on the house! We also had the whole place to ourselves, like a private seating just for us - I think because we went around 11am which is early for the South End maybe. The menu is divided into two sections - Plats Sucres and Plat Sales (sweet vs. salty). The dishes are considered small plates, so the server recommended ordering two each, or sharing. I ended up deciding on the Croque Monsieur -  a grilled hot ham and cheese breakfasty sandwich and the Steamed Yucca, served with a cilantro infused olive oil. The sandwich was very rich and cheesy, but tasted great, as did the yucca - though I forgot how starchy yucca are, so my combination was a pretty heavy pairing.

Marie-Claude had been regaling us with stories from her Chopped Competition taping - about how she messed up the 2nd round, how weird some of the ingredients were to put together, about being confident after getting positive comments in the 1st round, and her choice to go for crepes in the dessert round. So fun to hear her talk about the behind-the-scenes of the competition taping and then she sent me out a side of the sauce she made on Chopped to try with my yucca dish. Gotta love having connections with the restaurant's owner!
A few of the ladies got various kinds of French Crepes - nutella, fresh fruit, ham and cheese. They were all deliciously happy with their selection from the menu. I will admit that the 'Omelette sur le plat' wasn't exactly an omelette and more like a sunny side egg. My friend described the 'scrambled eggs au fromage' as the best scrambled eggs she'd ever had. Some other dishes that the table tried - Sauce Niebe - stir fried black eyed peas with onions and plum tomatoes, Plantain Bouilli - steamed plantain served with onion tomato sauce, which I accidentally started eating because I thought it was my yucca, oops! The plantain had a bit of a kick to it and the black eyed peas must have had a fish sauce in the dish, as it had a slightly fishy taste to it. Everyone loved everything though - I didn't her a single complaint the entire two hours!

As I mentioned above, we were also treated to some desserts to share - and they weren't even the usual desserts on the menu, even better! One was a rum soaked sort of sponge cake with lots of fresh fruit and the other were these sort of petit-fours sort of cookie/cakes with fresh berries, mint and an orangey sort of sauce drizzled on top. Both were delicious and moist and topped with beautiful edible flowers.
So take my advice and head over to Teranga on Washington St. any time of the day - for lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and you won't be disappointed! Just in case it's of interest - they also have a catering portion of their business, apparently in much more demand after we started using them at a couple of African events at Harvard!

Probably worth noting they don't take reservations and the place is small, so pick your timing wisely!

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