Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

‘Rock’ Revival–Jules is really cookin’ at Harvard Divinity School caf√©

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Artisan bread is a staple

What better way to start the new school year than by breakfasting on steel-cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts–or by nibbling on a fresh-baked muffin, a French-toast croissant, or a hot¬†frittata?¬†All this while enjoying a cup of¬†Red Barn Coffee, a fruit smoothie, or…the list goes on.

Harvard Divinity School’s revamped Rock Caf√©, in Rockefeller Hall,¬†offers a lot, including:

  • Hot and cold breakfasts and lunches¬†
  • Menus with plentiful choices for omnivores and vegans¬†
  • Ever-changing weekly specials (two at breakfast, two at lunch)
  • Freshly prepared food for eating in or taking out

Two varieties of hot soup, all-beef hot dogs on the grill, rice-stuffed heirloom tomatoes, pasta, and more

And the good news for non-students is that the bright, shiny café with vast windows, intimate booths, and outdoor seating is open to all.

Pierre Berastain and Maritza Hernandez are all smiles because "everything tastes great!"

¬†How’s the food?¬†we asked MDiv Candidate Pierre Berastain and HDS¬†Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services, Maritza Hernandez.

“Can I have the recipe for the falafel?” quipped Pierre.¬†

“I’d like all the recipes,” Maritza smiled.

Feast your eyes on ‘fresh’

Because ‘guilt-free options’ are just as appetizing as ‘guilty temptations,’ it’s as easy to crave super-healthy food as it is to indulge. The problem is, how to decide?¬†

Three types of fresh-baked muffins are offered daily, as are bagels, fresh fruit, and assorted premium teas.


Time it right and you can pluck up a cookie still warm from the oven. Fancifully decorated madeleines and fresh-baked pastries are offered, too.


Ready for lunch? The Mediterranean Salad Bar (just 50 cents/ounce) features–among other really cool items–hummus, taboulleh, vegetarian grape leaves, and tzaziki.


In a hurry? Freshly prepared breakfast and lunchtime offerings are always at the ready in the Grab ‘n’ Go display.


If you’re grabbin’ and goin’, be sure to check out the wrapped sandwiches. Though composed of nutritious ingredients, they are really,¬†really¬†fatand¬†fresh!


For those who crave salty snacks, mixed nuts and homemade potato chips are irresistible. 

All this is just a mini-sampler of what’s now available at the Rock Caf√©¬†

A caf√© manager who knows the meaning of ‘fresh’

We know all about Jules Catering’s commitment to fresh food and superb service, but we were eager to better acquaint ourselves with Jos√©¬†Lopez, the fellow who will be managing the caf√©.

“I grew up in very humble family in a town on the¬†south-central coast of El Salvador,” Jos√©¬†told us, “on the Bay of Jiquilisco. It is a beautiful place. My father was a farmer and a fisherman. He grew corn and beans and rice–and he caught whatever he could get: red snapper, queenfish, swordfish. But what we liked most of all was when he would bring home the special types of crabs that grow and live in the mangrove¬†forests. Those crabs were good!”

Lucky you, we observed. You’ve known fresh food from birth!

“Everything was always fresh,” Jos√©¬†confirmed.

Rock Cafe Manager Jose Lopez relishes the opportunity to be part of the HDS community

You’ve been working with Jules Catering for 20-plus years.¬†Tell us what’s special about this new venture.

“One challenge, which we are happy and able to meet, is that we are providing food for many palates. In keeping with Harvard Divinity School’s diverse population, we are respectful of and sensitive to all dietary requirements. And we are so happy to have¬†the opportunity to do this and to serve clients who have such a strong sense of community. We feel honored to have been invited to be¬†part of their daily lives.”

What else should we know about you, José?

“Maybe that my mother was a great cook who passed along her philosophy to me. She said, “It doesn’t matter what you are cooking or even if you are just following a recipe–at least half of the ingredients must be love.”

And if you cook with love–?

“Everything will taste awesome!”

Why a fresh start?

HDS Operations Coordinator Cathleen Hoelscher

Cathleen Hoelscher, HDS Operations

Replete with great food and good vibes, we checked in with HDS Operations Coordinator, Cathleen Hoelscher, to ask this very question:

“We were eager to distinguish ourselves by offering something different. Our hope is that by bringing in a new vendor–Jules Catering–we will provide incentive for people to¬†make the journey¬†from the center of campus over here, to the Rock Caf√©, in Rockefeller Hall.” ¬†

A quick look back…and ahead

Ralph Waldo Emerson

No story about food at Harvard Divinity School would be complete without at least brief mention of:

Have we piqued your curiosity?

Well, this post is running long so the story is to¬†be continued…but not ’til July! ¬†(If you can’t wait, click here for the popsicle connection and read–at the very least–paragraph 5.)


The Rock Café is located on the first floor of Rockefeller Hall, 47 Francis Avenue, between Kirkland and Museum Streets.


Photo Credits:
Rock Café food and portraits: Liz Muir
Eastman Johnson’s 1846 portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Wikimedia Commons¬†

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Tears of Chios Cocktail

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

We love our bubbly, but when recently celebrating New Year’s Eve in Athens, our drink of choice was the Tears of Chios Cocktail served in the Roof Garden Bar atop the historic Hotel Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square.

Day or night the view from the Hotel Grande Bretagne Garden Bar intoxicates

Hotel Grande Bretagne Roof Garden Bar with Acropolis view

At first sip we knew we were onto something special, but we were puzzled….

The cocktail menu itemized ingredients, but what accounted for that that elusive taste?

Luxury cocktail menu Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens

Was it the Skinos mastiha?

Tears of Chios Cocktail Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens

The Tears of Chios cocktail we sipped in Athens also featured muddled mint and grapes


In Greek,¬†mastiha¬†(pronounced MAHS-teeh-hah) is an aromatic resin harvested from a shrub in the pistachio family¬†that grows on the island of¬†Chios¬†in the northeast Aegean. When the bark of this shrub is slashed, globules of sap form the mastic ‘tears’ used by the makers of Skinos¬†mastiha.¬†In her encyclopedic journey of a book¬†The Glorious Foods of Greece,¬†Diane Kochilas¬†writes that “in a way, the trees have to ‘cry’ for mastic to be harvested.”

Mastic "tears" and shrub

Mastic 'tears' and shrub

Kochilas goes on to explain that in cooking, “the rock-hard, somewhat sticky crystals have to be pounded to a fine dust, usually with a bit of sugar, to keep them from sticking to the mortar and pestle or spice grinder.”

Anthropologist-author-cook Susanna Hoffmann also waxes poetic (without being “sappy”) on the topic of mastic resin. In¬†The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking, she writes: “I place small open jars of the sap in my kitchen to scent the atmosphere…. Mastic tastes like lush piney vanilla. It smells like the perfume Shalimar, but with a conifer tinge. It is irresistible.”

Which brings us back to our¬†cocktail, because when mastiha is mixed into a refreshing beverage, “irresistable” says it all.

Made in Chios, available in U.S.

When we returned to Boston we placed¬†Skinos Mastiha¬†at the top of our shopping list because we knew that even without an Acropolis view Tears of Chios would taste pretty great. But the key ingredient wasn’t available! At least not at first try, when we stopped by our neighborhood store.

Greek tragedy? Not at all, thanks to the hugely helpful Jeff Dolin, a buyer at¬†Blanchard’s Liquors, in Allston.¬†On our behalf Jeff initiated some online research, placed a special order, stocked his shelves, and…voila!

Variation on Tears of Chios cocktail with muddled pomegranate seeds

A variation substitutes muddled pomegranate seeds for grapes

Tears of Chios Cocktail Recipe

2 ounces Skinos mastiha
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 ounce agave (diluted 50/50 with water)
muddled grapes or pomegranate seeds and mint

  1. Dilute agave syrup by adding an equal part of boiled water. Stir.
  2. Muddle grapes or pomegranate seeds and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and ice and shake.
  4. Serve on the rocks in a double Old Fashioned rocks glass.
  5. Garnish with bamboo skewer through a grape and mint leave, or–if you’re making the pomegranate variation–just the mint

Yield: Serves 2
Anita Baglaneas, Owner-Chef of Jules Catering, adapted this recipe from a cocktail menu at the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, Greece

Not just for cocktails

In case you were wondering… The Greek origin of the word ‘masticate’¬†derives from¬†mastichan¬†(to gnash the teeth), which is related to¬†masasthai¬†(to chew). If you’re looking for something¬†tangible¬†to chew on and you happen to find yourself in Manhattan, head down to the Lower East Side and stop in the¬†mastihashop New York, where you can¬†purchase mastic chewing gum and other¬†mastiha¬†products from the island of Chios. And if you’re inclined to delve further, two books that features¬†mastiha¬†recipes are¬†Mastiha Cuisine Cookbook¬†and¬†The Greek Vegetarian.

Photo Credits:
Mastic ‘tears’ and shrub: Wikimedia Commons
All other photos: Liz Muir 

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