Category Archives: Spanish

Dali – Spanish restaurant and tapas bar

Last night my boyfriend and I went to Dali, a tapas bar located near Boston, to celebrate four years together. I had been dying to try a real tapas meal for the first time (aside from the appetizer I had with Reid at Bocado), and after reading all the stellar reviews for Dali, I was sold. Everyone mentioned how wonderful of a date place it was and how amazing the food was, so it sounded like the perfect restaurant for celebrating a special occasion. So during the day yesterday, I was browsing through Dali's online menu, trying to think about which dishes I wanted to try, and by the end of the day I have to say my mouth was watering with anticipation. Since tapas tend to be pricey ($5-10 for a small portion), we decided to limit our meal to 6 dishes. After comparing notes, we decided on 6 dishes that we were both interested in trying, and off we went towards Dali!

(disclaimer: I was unable to take any pictures at Dali, but just to give a little flavor of the night I have included a couple of pictures that I did not take)

I was able to get to Dali via public transportation, as there was a bus line that had a stop literally right outside Dali's front door. How convenient! The exterior of the restaurant was not very lavish, and actually made the place look very small (albeit quaint). I thought it was interesting that the entrance to the place was located at one corner of the restaurant, which made it a tight squeeze for patrons to get in and out of the place.

Greg and I arrived at Dali at about 8:15pm, and waited another 10 minutes or so for a table to open up. The first thing you notice as you enter the restaurant is how dimly lit it is, and then you hear the loud and lively Spanish music, and the uproarious laughter of the patrons as they wined and dined. It was definitely a place with character. All the waiters and waitresses were dressed nicely in Spanish-influenced clothing, and they spoke Spanish to one another, which was also great. When we were ready to be seated, we were taken to the back of the restaurant, where it was cozy and full of other tables, but also romantic with its soft candlelight and tiled tables. Our waiter came to take our order, and I listened as Greg used his high school Spanish skills to order all of our dishes in Spanish (this is encouraged, apparently).

We started off with a glass of Sangria each, which was nice and fruity, although I'm not terribly fond of red wine, which is the dominant flavor in Sangria. I think I liked white wine Sangria better. Next time I might try the Cava Sangria that Dali offers (I believe it's champagne-based). A small bread basket came soon after, with a bit of garlic hummus for spreading. I'm not that big on hummus myself, but I thought it went well with the bread, which was crusty on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside (it would have made for great fondue-dipping bread).

Next came our first tapas dish: tortilla espanola, which is a cold tapas described as an egg/potato/onion omelette. In actuality, it was much more like a slice of a crust-less quiche, but with an equal ratio of eggs to potato to onion, and without cheese. I was really fond of this dish, as it reminded me of a Chinese breakfast item that I've eaten before. In any case, it was not cold, but rather just mildly warmed, and came topped with some soft tomatoes and red peppers, which went perfectly with the omelette, whose flavor was lightly salty… quite savory for something that only has eggs, potatoes, and onions in it. I also really liked the thin skin surrounding the slice, which was nicely browned and slightly crispy egg.

The second dish that came was costillas de vaca, which is beef short ribs in a Rioja wine sauce. This hot tapas is normally on the late night tapas menu, but we were surprised to find it available for dinner, and so we were definitely excited to try it. We got two big meaty pieces attached to 2 segments of rib bone, sitting in a lovely brown sauce with stewed vegetables. The beef itself was completely tender and falling off the bone, and well-marinated with a mixture whose wine flavor I could taste quite prominently. It was a great balance of salty, sweet, and tart. We also dipped our bread pieces into the wine sauce, and concluded that the sauce plus the stewed vegetables tasted kind of like beef stew, but the beef itself had that different flavor from being marinated.

After the first two dishes, the next 4 came out together, and we were tempted to try a little bit of each thing. Our second and last cold tapas dish was a patatas ali-oli, which is cubed potatoes in a homemade garlic/caper mayonnaise. The potatoes were boiled and cubed, then tossed in the described mayo dressing, then sprinkled with a lot of a green herb, which may have been dill, but I couldn't tell. The flavor of garlic was very strong in this dish, as it was a raw garlic flavor. Greg really liked it, because he found the potatoes and garlic to be refreshing. I would say this was my least favorite dish of the night (though it was by no means bad), just that it reminded me exactly of the potato salads that my mom likes to make, so it wasn't that exciting or new of a flavor to me.

Next we had vieiras al azafran, which is scallops in saffron cream. This was a simply fabulous dish, where we got 7 large scallops smothered in a fragrant seafood cream sauce that was lightly charred by a torch prior to serving. The scallops were deliciously tender, and the sauce was what made the dish so amazing. It was infused with a rich flavor that reminded me of lobster (in fact, I felt like the sauce was a thicker version of lobster bisque), but at the end of each spoonful you could taste the lovely aromatic contribution from the saffron. Just absolutely wonderful. We ate the scallops slowly, and dipped our bread into the sauce until it was all gone. Mmmm….

For our poultry dish, we ordered codorniz de castilla, which is broiled herb and garlic quail stuffed with bacon. The stuffed quail was rather small, about the size of my fist, with small legs and wings extending from it. It was de-boned except for the legs and wings, so it was easy to split up. There was bacon rolled up inside the cavity of the quail. Quail meat has a really nice smoky flavor that was definitely different from chicken but not gamey in any way. Its savory and smoky flavor made it a great pairing with the bacon, and the dish came the drippings from bird, which were great as well. And it was certainly interesting eating a tiny little quail drumstick haha.

Finally, and I saved the best for last, we got queso rebozado con miel, which was a dish of fried Spanish cheese with honey and sweet onions. This dish was amazing. You got three small round cheese nuggets about one inch in diameter each, and they were lightly breaded and fried so that the outside was crispy, yielding to a soft and smooth cheese interior. I'm not sure exactly what kind of cheese it was, but it had a flavor that was similar to goat's milk cheese, except not as strong, and it was quite creamy. But it was exactly this tart similarity to goat's milk cheese that made the cheese pair so perfectly with the sweetness of the honey and the delicate softness of the sweet caramelized onions. I was absolutely in heaven eating this dish, and I only wish I could have had a second plate of it haha. It was a great dish to finish off the meal with as well, since it serves so well as a dessert dish.

So all in all, we ordered 6 tapas, had 2 glasses of Sangria, and ate 1 and a half bread baskets. We were both satisfyingly full by the end (not stuffed, but full enough to feel quite good, with no room for dessert). The total came out to about $58 before tip, which is pricey but certainly not unreasonable for a special occasion dinner. I'd have to get rich before I could come here and happily try every single dish whenever I feel like it though lol. It was a fantastic dinner, and a really great restaurant. There was not a single thing that I disagreed with, and it only makes me excited to come back and try others. The atmosphere was fun, and although you have to shout to hear each other, once the food comes that's where the focus lies :)

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Reunited with an old friend

Whenever I come home for breaks, I make it a point to meet up with old friends from high school, since most of us have traveled to various corners of the country for college and rarely get to see one another except for during breaks when we are all back in town. My friend Reid and I have kept up this tradition for five years now, getting together a few times a year, catching up, enjoying each other's company when there's nothing else to do in my hometown, and sharing some good times of course. As I look back fondly on our times in high school, we have certainly grown and changed a great deal since going to and finishing college. But there are aspects of ourselves that never change, and then there are those aspects of us that grow together. I'm glad to have the chance still to continue to nurture this friendship and watch us step out into the real world and fend for ourselves.

Last night, Reid and I went out for the night, stopping first at pretty much the only Thai restaurant in my hometown for dinner. The pad thai there was flavored just right, but the noodles were much too mushy for my preference. I enjoy a little chew to my noodles. I tried to order duck pad thai, but the waitress insisted that it wouldn't taste good (um… that must be why I love getting duck pad thai elsewhere…), so I stuck with chicken. After spending nearly 2 hours in the restaurant chatting away, we headed out for dessert at Friendly's. It's a pretty popular haunt in my hometown, because it's located everywhere, and has both food and dessert at a very reasonable price. Surprisingly, there are no Friendly's in Boston, which made me a little sad. Anyway, I was craving a brownie sundae, so I ordered their fudge brownie sundae, which came with chunks of dense brownies that were not heated up, layered between scoops of chocolate ice cream and hot fudge. I think that was a bit too much chocolate, as I was completely chocolated-out by the time I finished it haha.

Then we went to a movie theater to watch Charlie Wilson's War, which was actually pretty entertaining. I was little bit lost at first, as the film moves fast with brisk dialog and lots of history and politics spun in, but I found the movie to be quite witty and as always, I loved Tom Hanks. You almost start to forget that this was based on a true story, and it's not until the end of the movie that you realize how relevant the content of this movie is to the present state of the world, and then you feel a little sad that so much has resulted from one political mistake at the end of the Cold War.

We didn't quite want to call it a night, so Reid took me to a tapas bar in town that he really liked, called Bocado. It was a trendy, semi-upscale lounge type of bar, and I really liked the atmosphere inside: ambient, busy but not too noisy, roomy, with an air of sophistication but not snootiness. I had never had tapas before, since they tend to run on the expensive side, but we just got an appetizer, which was a roasted garlic, spinach, and feta dip served with warmed pita wedges. I got a sparkling mojito and he got a mango flavored Sangria, both of which were delicious.

The appetizer was also great, although I wish they had given us more pita wedges to go with all the dip we got. It was definitely a nice place to go and relax, and probably also a great first date place as well, which is surprisingly difficult to come upon in my hometown.

Finally, in noting that my glass is empty in the picture below, I would just like to add that I have the rare but coveted resistance to Asian glow :) I have no idea how, as both my parents tend to turn red, but I'm certainly not complaining haha.


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