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Recipe for Love

Many of us are familiar with the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. However, I would argue that a few others should be added to the list, notably food. Love can be demonstrated both by gifting food and cooking food together. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Matthew Riccio, a Graduate Fellow with the National Science Foundation said “[Cooking for others] can help to encourage a sense of trust, community, meaning, purpose, belonging, closeness, and intimacy.” In fact, human evolution, literature, psychology, and the science of memory all provide evidence that cooking together should be a central part of any relationship.

While cooking and eating food are now  essential parts of daily life, humanity was not always centered around cooking. A study on cooking and the ecology of human origins found that “sexual alliances emerged from the adoption of cooking, particularly of plant foods.” They  concluded that “cooking, whenever it evolved, led rapidly to the evolution of males’ scrounging from females and thence to sexual alliances.” Although relationships are far more than mere sexual alliances, the argument that cooking was a formational part of the creation of such partnerships suggests that cooking should be an integral part of any relationship.

It is unsurprising, given the interconnectedness of cooking and relationships throughout history, that many believe the way a couple works together in the kitchen reflects their relationship as a whole. In The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, one of the characters, Lillian, “wonder[s] why psychologists focused so much on a couple’s life in their bedroom. You could learn everything about a couple just watching their kitchen choreography as they prepared dinner.” Cooking is a very personal act because it is centered around the chef’s preferences. The way in which those preferences are shared between two people can be very telling of their relationship. 

The link between cooking and relationships is strengthened by the connection between cooking and memory. John Allen writes that the hippocampus, a part of the brain central in creating and maintaining memories, relies upon the parts of the brain focused on emotion and odor, both of which are strongly related to food. Whether it’s the smell of brownies wafting from the oven or lemon zest lingering on fingertips, scent becomes more potent when a couple takes the time to cook together. The odor is not merely delivered on a plate and sent away, but it invades their bodies, their kitchen, and perhaps their whole house. Emotion too has the potential to be strengthened when a couple cooks together. The memory is no longer only sharing a meal together, but includes the walk to Trader Joe’s for ingredients, dancing in the kitchen while cooking, and the pride resulting from working together to create a product of beauty. 

image courtesy of AuburnHomes

We have all been immediately transported by the whiff of a scent; even if we cannot place the memory attached to it, we feel the scent’s familiarity. In Space and Place, geographer Yi Fu Tuan reflects upon the various senses that lead to the creation of an experiential sense of place. “Odors lend character to objects and places, making them distinctive, easier to identify and remember,” Tuan notes.  A sense of place is so much more than an understanding of one’s surroundings; it is created by the people, the experiences, the scents, and more that give rise to emotion within us. Cooking together allows one to create a sense of place⁠— a knowledge of who they are in their relationship. By prioritizing cooking together, a couple creates a place to build their relationship because, just as Bauermeister noted in her novel, a couple’s interactions in the kitchen are a reflection of their relationship. 

French author Marcel Proust beautifully articulates the emotional impact of food, a feeling common to many of us. He writes in Remembrance of Things Past of the memory that springs to his mind when he tastes a tea-dipped madeleine. Immediately after indulging in the madeline, he experiences an emotion much greater than the mere sensation biting into a madeline could have evoked. Although he is unsure at first of the specific memory that connects to this feeling, he describes the pleasure that invades his body as “having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal.” The taste of food can transform one’s entire emotional state and when shared, links that feeling of joy described by Proust with the other person. When a couple takes the time to cook together, they create more opportunities to share tastes, for example when they lick the batter off of the spatula. Furthermore, cooking together allows couples to personalize the taste of the food they will be sharing. Making memories is an integral part of building a relationship and sharing meals; food that has been cooked together especially allows for the formation of more vibrant memories.

image courtesy of paliodiet.gonzales

Harry Connick Junior’s song “Recipe for Love” breaks love down into ingredients just as a traditional recipe would. The title of his song points to the importance of cooking in relationships. By taking the time to cook together, couples can improve their relationships and create beautiful memories together. Thus, cooking should not only be added to this list of love languages, but should also be included in every relationship as part of the recipe for love—even if there is no true formula for it.

Cover image courtesy of goodhousekeeping.com

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Tasting Notes #1 – Coffee and Chocolate

In a year where so much has been so frustratingly unpredictable, we’ve entered a period and an environment of relative stability. The grass is covered in a heavy blanket of snow, the sun has become a reclusive monk in the monastery of the sky, and our social circles have shrunk to where they more resemble social specks. 

But I, in this period of frigid confinement, have found a nice routine. I invariably get up and make my coffee to drink  with a Trader Joe’s mini biscotti, and I invariably make myself some dinnertime Franken-meal grounded by rice, udon, or ramen. 

So, in commemoration of the boring and the not-so-bad, I’ve compiled ten of my favorite food-themed songs of the moment. They range from the despondent to the blithely pleasant, much like life itself in this cursed decade. Enjoy in the morning, at night, or anytime in between.

One More Cup of Coffee for the Road- Bob Dylan

We all make our daily trudges to the valley below. The titular cup of coffee represents, to me, a respite before the weight we carry makes its load known to us. A quotidian struggle that we shrug off with stoically downturned eyes, faces buried in scarves and parkas. Enjoy that last cup before you go, my friends.

Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

If Dylan’s song is Wednesday at 8 a.m., Jack Johnson’s ode to the iconic breakfast is a lazy Sunday morning. Johnson knows that his song is nothing other than the backdrop to the spectacle of light hitting the fresh pancakes, a supporting actor in the performance we give to others and ourselves when we go through the work of making pancakes. It’s cheesy, it’s glorious, it’s replete with contentment.

Agua De Beber – Astrud Gilberto (or Antonio Carlos Jobim)

The grooviest melody on this list —and possibly of all time?— is reserved for a song dedicated to the most boring way of caring for yourself: Drink water. Beneath the melody that has squatters rights to your head, though, is a song about the importance of opening your heart. The act of vulnerability and opening yourself to the love of others is, as Jobim and Gilberto imply, a thing just as crucial and strangely quotidian as the act of drinking water itself. And just like drinking water, we so often forget to do it, going days without it until we’re too parched to ignore it. Wherever you are reading this, make sure to stay hydrated. Drink some water.

People Eating Fruit – Caribou

What does the color green sound like? In my opinion, it’s the gentle beep-boops of this song, a verdant song that, when coupled with a glance out of the window, becomes an ode to the beauty of mundanity. The way someone’s hair bounces when they walk, the way the bare trees cast a spiderweb of shadows on the snow, the beautiful geometry of the buildings we walk by every day. Or, someone peeling and eating a fruit, enjoying the bounty of the natural world for everything it has to offer.

Bittersweet – Lianne La Havas

The most direct way that food and taste relate to the human experience, at least on this playlist. Beyond Lianne La Havas’ effortless oscillation between the bitter and sweet sensation of a goodbye that hasn’t fully happened yet, the song is like biting into a square of 90% dark chocolate. Powerful, distinctive in its flavors, it’ll leave a gorgeous tapestry of taste in your mouth.

The Chocolate Conquistadors – BadBadNotGood and MF DOOM

One of the last songs MF DOOM recorded before his passing earlier this year, this song seamlessly combines BBNG’s signature jazzy odysseys with Doom’s ever-intricate flurry of internal and multisyllabic rhymes. It’s two artists working overtime to provide us with a 7-minute jazz analysis of colonialism. The title, itself a reclamation, references chocolate’s fraught history as the product of conquest in the Americas. Though not at all about food, it reminds us that food history is everywhere, inevitably.

Coconut – Harry Nilsson

Coconut Schmoconut. That’s what Harry Nilsson would’ve said about it, anyways.

Tasty Cakes – Idris Muhammad

What do you mean this song isn’t about food?

Savoy Truffle – The Beatles

A mystery: What’s George Harrison’s goal here? Ostensibly, this is a song about various fancy desserts. But then he hits you with, “You might not feel it now / But when the pain cuts through / You’re going to know and how / The sweat is going to fill your head / When it becomes too much / You’re going to shout aloud.” Is this the hangover after so many motley desserts? Is it a damnation of the gentry that takes these sweets for granted? Or is it just a nifty little tune?

What’s in a quarantine? Is it a chance to enjoy the minutiae or is it the swing of a sledgehammer on our passions and hearts? Like the Savoy Truffle, it’s both and it’s neither. Maybe it’s, as Wikipedia says, just about Eric Clapton’s fondness for chocolate.

Live on. Drink your coffee and eat your chocolate. Everything is changing.

Find the full playlist here:

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Mucho Gusto Announcement

At Gusto, our mission is to connect people through stories about food. And it’s easier than ever to give in to the dread of isolation and forget that we are still part of a community. That’s why we’re starting #MuchoGusto, a recipe campaign where we want to hear what you’re cooking and build a collective cookbook that anyone can access.

It’s never been more important to be able to feed yourself. With #MuchoGusto, we’re going to be compiling recipes from our editors, staff, and from you, and we’ll feature it all on our Instagram page and website starting this Monday (April 6, 2020). If you have a recipe you’d like to share, DM us or email borbolla@bc.edu to get it published .

Eventually we hope to have a collection of diverse recipes that anyone can access. For now, remember to keep cooking, eating, and being well.

-Nico Borbolla

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The Best Breakfast Sandwich Recipe

Emmalie Vanderpool

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine with breakfast foods and grow tired of simple eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt. This breakfast sandwich recipe is balanced enough to satisfy a craving for sweet or savory, and can be tweaked to fit individual flavor preferences. Switch out different meats, veggies, hot sauces, and jellies to guarantee a different and delicious sandwich every time.

(Makes one breakfast sandwich)

Put a frying pan on medium heat and cook two slices of bacon to your desired crispness. While it’s cooking, chop up ⅕ of a green pepper and ¼ of a small white onion into small cubes. Once the bacon is done, let rest on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil. After removing most–but not all–of the grease from the pan, throw in the veggies and cook on medium heat for around five minutes. Next, turn down the heat to medium-low and crack two eggs over the pan, letting them cook for a few seconds as they are. Add shredded cheese and begin stirring the mixture until the eggs are scrambled and cooked through, but still appear to have a little moisture left (this takes about one minute). Remove the frying pan from the burner and season the eggs with a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toast a bagel and spread jam on one side, hot sauce on the other (my favorite combination is raspberry jam with peach and vidalia onion flavored hot sauce). Construct your final product by layering the bacon and egg mixture on top, and sandwiching it between both ends of the toasted bagel. Then enjoy your delicious breakfast!

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Peach Panzanella Salad

Yiwei Li

Originating from farmers in 16th century Tuscany, panzanella salad was made with ingredients pulled straight from the ground. This summer favorite relies on simple fresh ingredients to create a salad that is truly delicious. But, I have some good news for you: this is a bread salad. Yes, you heard that right. A bread salad. With the anticipation of tomato and peach season, this is the perfect way to showcase seasonal summer produce and of course, bread.

Salad:

2-3 tomatoes (preferably heirloom), diced

½ of red onion, thinly sliced

1 loaf of slightly stale bread (Italian, ciabatta, or baguette), cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup fresh basil, torn

½ cucumber, halved and sliced

½ ball of mozzarella

1 peach, diced

Vinaigrette:

6 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar/champagne vinegar

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tsp salt, pepper to taste

Instructions:

Chop the bread into 1-inch cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and toast the bread over medium to high heat until golden and crispy.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Combine the chopped tomatoes, peaches, red onion, cucumber, mozzarella, basil, and toasted bread in a large bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Let the panzanella sit for 10-20 minutes, tossing occasionally to allow the bread to soak up the dressing prior to serving.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Chickpea Burger

Emily Stevens

Creating a veggie burger that is flavorful and holds its shape is no small feat. We believe we’ve achieved the seemingly impossible with these chickpea burgers infused with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs. Topped with a simple garlic basil aioli, this plant-based entrée is easy to prepare and even easier to eat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor or blender, combine one 15 oz can of chickpeas (rinsed, drained, patted dry), ½ cup chopped red onion, 4 cloves minced garlic, ⅓  cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and 1 cup packed fresh parsley and blend until smooth. Transfer chickpea mixture to a medium bowl. Add ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 Tbsp ground cumin, 1 egg, salt, and pepper to taste and mix until everything is evenly incorporated. If the mixture remains too wet, add breadcrumbs by tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate the mixture for half an hour to make the burgers easier to shape. Using dampened hands, shape into 4-6 patties, each about ½ inch thick and place onto a parchment paper-lined pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping half-way through until golden brown. While the burgers bake, pulse 1 cup fresh basil, 3 cloves of minced garlic, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt in food processor to create the aioli. Serve on your favorite bun with your toppings of choice; we were craving a poppy seed bun with fresh microgreens, heirloom tomato, red onion, and a drizzle of the garlic basil aioli.

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Food Allergies at BC

I was the kid who could never eat the cake at birthday parties. I was the kid who had to always have the school nurse accompany me by my side on all the class field trips. I was the kid who was forced to sit at the “peanut-free” lunch table in elementary school. I was the kid who had mastered the “fine” art of injecting an Epipen. This was all because peanuts were and are still the enemy. Well, not just peanuts. Peanuts, tree nuts, soy, beans, seeds; the list goes on endlessly. Having dozens of severe food allergies has become second nature to me at this point, for I have grown up having them throughout my entire life. And although I am completely accustomed and in control of them right now, growing up with food allergies was not always the easiest task. I used to think of myself as “weird.” An outcast. An anomaly. It took awhile for me to understand that food allergies are more common than you may think, and while they can be life threatening and sometimes an inconvenience, I came to realize that there are far worse conditions out there in the world.

Growing up, my allergist (a man who I visited quite often) taught me about the “Big Four.” Not the group of top Allied leaders from World War I, but rather the top four most dangerous types of food places for people with severe nut allergies to go to. In no particular order, they are as follows; ice cream shops, bakeries, candy stores and dining halls. Ice cream shops because they often do not sterilize the scooper and cross-contamination between peanut butter ice cream and other flavors can easily occur. Bakeries because nut-containing desserts are often made on the same equipment as other products. Candy stores because there are usually not ingredients printed for each item. And dining halls for a combination of the three previous reasons; the risks of cross-contamination, shared equipment and/or the lack of posted ingredients. This is not to say that all ice cream shops, bakeries, candy stories and dining halls are a no-no for people with severe nut allergies. It is just to say that they are places that should be preceded with caution and careful consideration.

Upon coming to Boston College, I knew that it contained one of the “Big Four”: dining halls. Both my parents and I were apprehensive about dealing with my various food allergies here. I was aware of everything that was safe to eat at home, but going to a new place with new foods was a notion that gave us all some worry. I had never really eaten in a large dining hall before, and was anxious to know what I could eat, as well as how carefully BC Dining handles food allergies. Before moving in my parents and I joked about how I was going to have to find the “peanut-free” table at the dining hall. The “peanut-free” table is one of my childhood memories that I cringe to look back at. Back in elementary school I was forced by the school nurse to sit at this table. Although it probably was not, my haunted mind remembers it as being isolated in the deep, dark corner of the lunchroom. I was allowed to bring only one friend to sit with me, and I was even required to eat my lunch on a special placemat given to me by the school nurse that read, “NO PEANUTS” in bold, black letters and had pictures of dancing peanuts with fat red X’s over them. In short, it was humiliating.

After moving in freshman year I met with Kathryn Sweeney, one of the nutritionists here at Boston College with a speciality in food allergies. After meeting with her, I felt so much more at ease. She gave me various handouts on what foods/stations were safe given my specific allergies and even added me to a food allergy focus group. And although I was slightly humiliated at the time, I got a detailed tour of the stations at Mac dining hall as well as the kitchens in the back to show me just how careful they are with how cook their foods. Fun fact: there is a secret fridge in the back he showed me that is filled with allergen-free foods, and I was informed that I am have special permission to walk back and grab stuff from it whenever I liked.

Allergies are one of those things that most people don’t think twice about. Yet I’d like to think that having them, and many of them in my case, has made me much more careful and apt to pay attention to the details.

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In the Name of Late Night

Allie Coon

Past the hour of 9 pm on a Friday or Saturday night, hungry BC students no longer trek to Lower and Mac for sustenance. They journey, quite intentionally, to Late Night. The label shift- subtle but ubiquitous- signals that a kind of weekly transformation takes place in the hallowed halls of BC dining. And perhaps it does.

To an outsider, the dining halls themselves don’t feel much changed, though the smell of frying oil is slightly more prominent than usual. The décor is limited, and your dining options are arranged in rows of the same metal trays most of us have seen since hot lunch in elementary school. In front of these hangs a long plate of glass, a faint reminder of the ever-present threat of norovirus on the petri dish of a campus which we all call home.

This austerity is not a direct signal of quality- there are esteemed restaurants which operate out of subway stations or grocery stores or farms. But Late Night does not provide a culinary experience in the same ways that these do. Your mozzarella sticks will be called mozz sticks, and the cheese within will stretch roughly as long as their abbreviated name. You will be unsure, at times, if your chicken strips are cooked all the way through. Your French fries will be more potato than Pomme frite, and your flatbread most likely will not transport you back to your semester abroad in Parma. Neither the food, nor the location, nor the ambience seem particularly worthy of being rallied around. Yet, when BC dining attempted to change late night at the beginning of this year-replacing chicken strips with sandwiches and mozz sticks with wraps- rallying is exactly what we did.

The Late Night insider is not looking for Italy or acai bowls or the types of civilized culture that the core curriculum so eagerly attempts to impress upon us. The night has gotten too boring, too loud, too busy, or you are, quite simply, very hungry. As you ascend the steps to Addie’s or approach the counters at Mac, fluorescent lights and glowing menu boards illuminate your friends’ faces. You notice where your makeup has melted off in places, you hide behind your roommates from that guy you hate in Globalization. You can hear everything clearly, for probably the first time since you left the house that evening. The voices of your peer’s blend together into the night’s final song.

The food in front of you glows with what you crave: fat and salt and warmth. You are free to order fried carbs in all their glorious forms without the haunting specters of the salad bar and the hordes of students returning from the Plex. A server hands you a plastic boat of food, holding it high like a bowl of holy hosts. Freezers hum with Powerade (your personal cup of blessing) and containers of leftover cake. You stand in the middle of it all, uncontained. The promises of university life are delivered in flawed and fleeting glory- because this is late night, after all, and you weren’t expecting much.

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Publick House: A Traditional Temptation

María Clara Cobo

Before house-made infusions of muddled herbs and huge plates scattered with colorful, high-fiber ingredients became trendy, The Publick House welcomed Bostonians to experience the art of the golden Belgian craft-beer and crispy, greasy, carb-loaded dishes.

In the mid 1800s, Irish pubs started to become popular in the United States, with around 46 percent of all immigrants coming from Ireland. Newcomers, fleeing from the potato famine that took over their country, often visited pubs, which served as places for entertainment in order to cope with their struggles as they settled in a new country. Irish pubs then became centers of community and entertainment, a tradition that has long lived to this day.

When looking for an Irish pub in Boston, the problem is not so much finding one as it is deciding on which one to visit. Our small corner of the country has over one hundred medieval-looking pubs scattered amidst the modern buildings of the city. This precisely why it is extremely important to know how to choose your bar. It might be tempting to step inside the overcrowded pubs that line the streets of Faneuil Hall and the Financial Center. But if you venture on the T through the green line, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you find The Publick House.

The dark oak-bar and the arched windows, make this temple of beer seem like a treasured antiquity, but the Brookline pub has skillfully created an authentic culinary scene, drawing a stream of hungry customers through its black-bordered doors for the past fifteen years.

At the Publick House, beer geeks and football fans alike hustle to find a spot. A wall, stacked with bottles full of different tones of amber liquid, looms over the tightly spaced tables, dimly lit by a faint candle. Laughter and conversations overpower the music. Loud voices swirl to the beat of the waiters’ rushed steps, moving from table to table, making sure to keep the plates and glasses full.  

No matter the time, the Publick House seems to encapsulate the entire city of Boston in one place. I looked around the busy tables. A family wearing BC sports gear passing around a hot skillet whose barbeque infused scent roamed its way around an old couple eating side by side, hunched over their meals as they studied the piles of ingredients stacked inside their burgers. A group of young men collapsing with helpless laughter as they sipped on their heavy glasses of beer, next to a couple who seemed to be struggling to hear what they had to say. Yes, the noise level can be high, but it’s an essential part of the ambience.

Although the restaurant is renown for its craft-beers, you won’t see shots or pitchers here, just as the the vigilant sign perched above the back bar says. Awarded 2010 Best Beer List by Boston Magazine, the Publick House offers nearly 200 different types of beers and ale, the vast majority of them from Belgium and Germany, and as tasty as the food they are served with.

As iron skillets, loaded with a mysterious mixture of food, dripping hot cheese off of their sides, make their way out of the kitchen, it was impossible to choose what to order. The menu is divided by sections, including an entire section dedicated to add-ons. However, the appetizer section is the best reflection of the Publick House’s cuisine. Most dishes are an ode to potatoes and cheese, making everyone surrender to the temptation of breaking the streak with their healthy-eating habits.

The monks frites had my name written all over them, and it was definitely one of our favorites. Hand-cut Yukon potatoes are double-fried until golden brown, served in a traditional Belgian paper cone, dusted with sea salt and come with a choice of two dressings. We ordered the truffle ketchup and the blue cheese dip. Steam rose from the velvet-red ketchup container and cheese oozed from the inside of the blue cheese. I couldn’t resist to combine both flavors, saturating the potatoes in the rich and gooey sauces. The warm mixture was pure ambrosia in my mouth, so delicious that I even dared to double dip the chip.

We followed our server’s recommendation for our next selection from the appetizer section: a short-rib stew on an iron skillet. I was pretty skeptical of this particular dish because by the description, it seemed as if the chef had tossed every single ingredient in the kitchen: oven roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables blended with slow-cooked short rib immersed in sweet barbeque sauce and topped with a fried egg. I was disappointed when I cut through the yolk and the drool worthy goodness of a perfect fried egg didn’t appear. But even though the egg was a bit overcooked, the thin slices of meat were fabulously succulent and tender, melting in my mouth with the crunchy crust of the potatoes.

The harvest salad was the ideal half-time star of the show. A pile of greens laying next to a steaming short-rib skillet and golden fried potatoes, this salad still managed to appeal to our tastes. The combination of the dark and leafy arugula, tossed with fresh apples, dried cranberries, blue cheese and roasted walnuts was a refreshing break from the overwhelmingly heavy start. Still, we could not leave without having a bite of the famous Publick House Burger. Unlike the other dishes, this one allows customers to create their own burger, stacking it up with all of their favorite ingredients. In fact, there is an entire section in the menu devoted to list all the different ingredients you can add to it. There is an ample selection of dressings, including bacon horseradish aioli, and a Wostyntje beer mustard to bring you back to the award-winning beverage that has earned the restaurant its fame. A few extras, such as caramelized onions, grilled Portobello and avocado are also available to decorate your beef patty. Despite all the possible add-ons, I think the burger itself was neglected in the process; the beef didn’t have a lot of personality, as it was missing a touch of seasoning. Nevertheless, when I took my first bite, it exploded with a chin-dripping juice that marked my satisfaction.

Few Irish pubs are packed on a late Saturday afternoon. The Publick House is definitely one of them. It normally comes alive every day from the moment the clock strikes 5 p.m., offering their never-ending selection of craft-beers and their potato-loaded dinner menu. However, weekends are special at the Publick House, since they are open for brunch until 4 p.m. before the dazzling Boston nightlife takes over the casual lunch scene.

The Publick House, 1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445