From the Bees on the Fifth Floor: Smoothies and Popcorn


One million bees live comfortably on the fifth floor of the Boston Seaport Hotel. Their stay is forever free of charge – as long as they produce honey.

To many of us, the idea of hives around the city is strange. But urban beekeeping is a growing trend, and it’s making plenty of local honey while helping boost the bee population.

The hardworking animals at the Seaport Hotel produce an average of 1,000 pounds of the sweet nectar every year. And Edwin Medrano, the man behind it all, let me have an exclusive look at his operation.   Continue reading

picture of Tunisia

Dangerous Books and Tunisian Eggnog

This is a guest post by my friend Bruce MacDonald of Postcard from the Edge, who graciously contributed this Tunisian street food recipe because he thought it was well-suited for Cooked in Allston. I agree, and I’m very thankful to Bruce.

Dangerous Books and Tunisian Eggnog
By Bruce MacDonald

Can books change your life? Sure, if you’re lucky, or you find them at the right time.

Vagabonding book coverAs an 18-year-old college freshman, I discovered Ed Buryn’s Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa. The book is long out of print – this was 1973, mind you – but you can still find the odd copy on eBay.

To call Vagabonding a guidebook is like calling the Bible the chronicle of a late-Bronze-Age tribe. And it is equally dangerous. Buryn was a Zen Master of backpacking the world. After reading it, I came within an inch of dropping out of school.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. Stay in college, my parents suggested; go abroad for your junior year. I took their advice and reward, and at Christmas during that year abroad – granted a glorious month-long reprieve from Oxford and my literature studies – found myself in Tunis. Continue reading

La Pastafrola: Quince Pie


This is always a childhood throwback – for those of us who grew up in Argentina, that is. After all, you cannot spend your childhood in that country without trying – and almost certainly falling in love with – this sweet quince pie.

What the heck is quince, you wonder? It’s a fruit that resembles a pear, but you’d be crazy to eat it fresh. When cooked, it has the most delicious floral aroma, sandy texture, and tangy taste. I’ll tell you more about it at the bottom of this post.


Anyway, if you live in Allston you are in luck: Mayfair Foods – a small grocery store with a great selection of Latin American products, including many from Argentina: alfajores, yerba mate, dulce de leche, tapas para empanadas, pascualina – carries sweet quince paste, which is the main ingredient of a good ol’ pastafrola.

If you’re not an Allstonite, do not despair. Other stores in the Boston area carry the product. Just do a quick Google search and you’ll see. But, if you can’t find the damn quince – mom, cover your ears – you can use guava paste, dulce de leche, or any other (firm) fruit jelly of your linking. Okay, that probably just offended a bunch of Argentines. Continue reading

The Banana Bread Mystery

Cristina in NYC circa 1973

Cristina and daughter in New York City, circa 1973

New York City, 1973. Cristina, Carlos, and their newborn daughter huddle together on the couch at their small apartment on Hudson and 12th West. Sitting across from them, a German man who has been backpacking across the United States and is now staying at their place for a few days tells them about an amazing banana bread he recently tried: a lady who hosted him before coming to New York made it for him. It was so good, he asked for the recipe. Cristina makes the treat. She says this is the best banana bread ever. Period.

The thing is, though, nobody knows where the original recipe comes from. Continue reading