Guest Post: The Seventh Sphinx talks Ginger

Ginger is such a great flavor. I know many people who are head-over-heels for it.  Next Monday I will be eating my weight in Ginger while I support a good cause: the Joslin Diabetes Center at Spoonful of Ginger – their annual benefit at the MFA to support the Asian-American Diabetes Initiative. I love to help out places like Joslin because Diabetes research is SUCH AN IMPORTANT CAUSE. We all know someone affected by either type 1 or type 2 Diabetes and it’s becoming more of a problem all the time. So go, get a ticket, eat some delicious ginger infused dishes and help Joslin find a cure.

My big sister, who you’ve heard me talk about here in the past, has recently started her own blog, called donatio olfaciendi causa – a lifestyle blog, she writes on style, perfume, makeup, books, and other miscellany. She and I share a very similar palate so when she was talking about writing a post on ginger as a condiment and flavor I suggested she do it as a guest post for me. I love it almost as much as she does! 


I like ginger a lot.

A relative of turmeric, cardamom and galangal, this spicy rhizome can play for both the sweet and savory sides. Compelling and versatile, it is available in many forms, most of which I have in my life.

Here are some favorite incarnations:

raw: The spice impact is at its best. Peel it with a spoon and then: steep it to make tea, put matchsticks in your stir fry or curry (or salad!), add peelings to mixed drinks…and pretty much anywhere you add garlic, just add ginger, too. Ginger is good for you.

ginger juice: A great way to add a touch of ginger to beverages and soups.

minced ginger: The tough fibers make it kind of difficult to puree ginger yourself, and I find I’m more likely to use it if I have something ready to go. I like the Ginger People brand for being organic and having really powerful spicy flavor across their range, but I’ll take anything I can get.


pickled ginger: This is the classic sushi accompaniment but I could eat it anytime, anywhere. I maintain that it plays well with any combination of rice and soy, and is a wonderful palette cleanser as well. It’s not too difficult to make yourself, either. The only difficult part is cutting the ginger thin enough, a job for a mandoline.

powdered ginger: Get high quality and it will show in your baking. I like Penzey’s best so far.

[powdered galangal: Galangal is a relative of ginger but more powerful, spicier, entirely distinct. It comes up in Asian cuisine, and is for me associated predominantly with Thai notes. Substitute for ginger sometime and see what happens.]

tea: Great when you’re sick, a good alternative to lemon for a toddy, and just…good. Provided you like ginger. Especially with honey. Straight or blended, I like. Can also be added to certain soup stocks (think ramen, or chicken soup) for a great, diffused flavor.

cookies: There are snaps, of course, which I love, but lately I gravitate toward these Ginger Thins from Trader Joe’s. Dead ringers for Anna’s ginger thins. These are what made me realize what great friends ginger and cheese can be. On a slightly unrelated note, the Coconut Thins are also extremely good.

crystallized: Snack on them or chop them up and put them in cookies.

jam: you know, jam… (mix it with a berry jam to make things in the world of toast more interesting)

lip balm: If you like ginger or mango, this lip balm is the one: Kiss My Face Ginger Mango lip balm 

fragrance: Ginger is, sadly, not the most popular perfume note. I don’t know why, though. It’s spicy and fresh at once, unisex, akin to citrus but more interesting, on account of not being citrus… Have found one I like, this Marc Jacobs Cocktail Splash. Dominant notes of ginger, citrus, and rhubarb (Rhubarb! Really! Go smell it.). Unfortunately only sold in this enormous bottle. I am testing out a lot of other supposed ginger fragrances, some of which have potential, but this is the only one I own so far. Origins also do a ginger line (perfume, lotion, etc), though I say it is too sweet, and not gingery enough. That said, this Paul Mitchell wild ginger line smells just like the Origins ginger perfume, and I am loving it. [Finding great smelling hair products is a bit more difficult, I think, so my standards are lower.]

And of course there is ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger chews, ginger liqueur, ginger essential oil, ginger soap, ginger syrup…


Look for my follow-up post next week where I’ll share my recipe fro candied ginger! So good!

Dining-Out: Common Ground, Allston

Common Ground Sweet Potato SoupI cast a fairly critical eye on everything. Yeah I eat out fairly regularly but I don’t do so lightly. BF makes most of our income right now which means that I’m (we’re) extremely tightfisted with spending. For me to put the effort in to go out on my own dime the food has to wow me. Common Ground did not. I could see what Common Ground wanted to do, I could even appreciate it, but I found their food to be mediocre at best and a tad pricey. In essence I wasn’t a fan. I enjoyed the very first taste, Sweet Potato soup (not too sweet and still solidly filling and creamy) and that was pretty much it. They also whipped cream perfectly – which is something I always look for, so kudos to that. For a more comprehensive grasp of my feelings on Common Ground check out this review of the brunch and lunch that the restaurant offers.

I was provided a full six course tasting menu by Common Ground in Allston free of charge. I was not compensated in any way to write this post. I really did find the food totally unremarkable.

Taste of the Nation

I grew up in a very small, very poor town.  This meant that I frequently saw kids I knew hungry and in need of a good meal.  It also meant that I saw the kids that came to school with a lunchable everyday as kids to be envied.  I was a kid on that cusp growing up – I was never hungry but I was never the kid with the Lunchable and Capri Sun in my bag either.  I was one of the kids who got lunch for free but never mentioned it.

Over the past couple of years I have seen many people that either went to Taste of the Nation or were telling their story of childhood hunger to raise money for Share our Strength.  Being a food blogger means my world revolves around food, which means I take it for granted quite frequently that I always have food – whether it be a PR dinner or a press pass to a grand tasting event, I tend to luck out.  So it was that I found myself at Taste of the Nation – taking the No Kid hungry pledge and sampling gourmet fare from all over Boston and it’s suburbs.

Going to events like this as “Press” can be a bit overwhelming – you show up looking nice but then have a garish camera dangling off your arm or else ther’s an awkward bag to hold said camera.  And of course there’s the fact that you are probably wandering around this crowded space with a friend (or two).  And that you have to make said friend be patient and NOT EAT THE DELICIOUS FOOD while you photograph it and make sure you got just the right shot while hoping that it stays warm.  It’s tricky.  Also its a matter of pacing yourself.  We started the night out right – sleeping baby and quiet sips and nibbles in the VIP area (a Privateer cocktail (created by John – the head bartender for Drink), a glass of champagne, and some raw oysters with mignonette). Then we wandered “farther afield” into the greater tastings – as our tiny companion woke up we wandered, attempting to pace ourselves while still stuffing our faces.

The highlights of the night:
-The Korean BBQ Pork Sloppy Joe at Myers and Chang (How have I now gotten over here yet?!?)
Turkey Shore Distilleries Ipswich Rum, both in cocktail form and straight-up delicious! I need their spiced rum in my life full time please.
Citizen Public House’s Ice Luge which shot a perfectly created Strawberry Cobbler cocktail into a glass for me. Swoon. Their crispy fried pigs ear was quite good as well!
Trina’s Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese, comfort food to the MAX.
-And Glutenus Minimus‘ Gluten Free Maple Bacon Cupcake – it may have been my favorite bite of the evening.

And, of course, running into some of my internet favorites – among them Brian, Bianca, David, and Pam.

Attending Taste of the Nation was definitely the highlight of last week for me – and it reminded me to be appreciative that I am not food insecure. It also reminded me to be more food conscious.

I attended this event free of charge on a press pass but all of the opinions listed here are my own. Thanks to all the chefs for a wonderful evening.

A little food for thought.