Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lab Picnic

Everyone has something they do that helps them get through the day. Some have secret chocolate stashes, some smoke, others drink heavily at breakfast... Oh. Is that just me? Kidding. Three guesses as to what I do... Yea. Eat. By 10:30AM Jonathan, Lisa, and I were ready for a pick-me-up. A really robust one,that can make you forget that you're sitting around a conference room table with an un-identifiable sticky substance permanently fused to its surface, and that the lab has much less oxygen than is minimal for supporting life... But I digress.

On the menu for this much needed lab break were a few things that Lisa and I got at the largest Whole Foods I have ever seen. Who would have thunk it? In the middle of Cambridge, stands a giant grocery store. In addition to the gorgeousness that were the produce, wine, and cheese sections were these two words: parcel pickup. I had never heard of this before. You buy things (many many things, in my case), hand them over to the nice lady at the register, pull your car around, and they put the bags in the car for you! How awesome is that? No more pushing the rickety shopping cart down the street, trying to steer around potholes... It was wonderful.

Again with the digressions. Sorry. Onto our purchases. The first up is sushi grade tuna (above). It was a very deep purplish-red, with no visible stripes of white, and absolutely no smell - which is always a good sign in fish. This particular well-chilled piece of tuna was served on the finest china lab had to offer (i.e. Dixie plate) with prepared wasabi paste and soy sauce. I cut the tuna up and was naive enough to think we would use forks to dip it into the soy sauce. That was just silly of me. Hands work far better. The tuna was very tender - there was hardly any chewing to be done. And the taste... I can describe the taste of many things, but I find that sushi stumps me. I think it's a very personal experience... especially when eating at Oishii, where we have been known to make less than appropriate noises. If you have never had sushi, I just don't know what to tell you. I would say it tastes of the ocean, but it doesn't (that's oysters). I would say that it tastes like fish, but it seems hardly related to cooked fish. Let's just say that more inappropriate noises were made... by me... and the morning improved markedly after the tuna was all gone.

But we still had the cheese! After the harassing the remarkably slim man behind the cheese counter at Whole Foods (how can one be slim when surrounded by cheese all day? Unless it makes you have nightmares... Sorry) Lisa and I settled on a Sottocenere with truffles, which you see pictured above. This is a semi-soft, aged cow's cheese, from Venice, Italy. It is aged in a grey ash rind and is, as I am sure you can tell from the picture, studded with fairly large pieces of black truffles. My whole fridge smelled of truffles after this cheese spent one night in it! Although we tried cheeses that had an almost overwhelming truffle flavor, this one was more subtle, although still rather potent, as evidenced by my now-fragrant refridgerator. The cheese itself is very mild and creamy, serving as a backdrop for the truffles. You can't really feel the truffle chunks, but the flavor permeates throughout. The conference room, albeit a less than ideal setting for a picnic, smelled of the woods, and happy people eating cheese with truffles at 10:30AM on a random Thursday. Sottocenere would greatly benefit from a big glass of full red wine, but we made do with bread. Maybe the next mid-morning-lab-pick-me-up will be a bottle of Barolo. Who knows??

1 comment:

anthony griffiths said...

in case any potential graduate students read this, not all labs do this sort of thing. I would hate for you to be dissapointed.