Gazpacho Stalker Part One- Almond Gazpacho. Regal Beagle, Brookline MA
I don’t know when it began. I don’t know how it began, considering I have a primal aversion to raw tomatoes. (Sauce is fine; a bloody mary makes me happy; but keep that beefsteak away from my burger, please.) But somehow I’ve become obsessed with the emperor of summer soups, chilled gazpacho.
Every June, as the thermometer inches into the upper 80s and higher, I start to creep through the (cooler) shadows of Boston’s neighborhoods, peering at menus, watching for the return of the blessed G-word. I have my favorites; I’m always on the lookout for something new. So this summer, I’ve decided to chronicle my travels, and to take some friends along.
This summer started off unusually, a couple of weeks ago, with guest stars Mary-Ann and Wayne, at the Regal Beagle in Brookline. We were planning to go to a sushi place across the way, but were waylaid by the promise of Almond Gazpacho with coconut milk, pickled ginger and coquitos.
“What the hell are coquitos?” I asked Mary-Ann, who (uncharacteristically) was stymied also. Wayne’s iPhone was low on power, so we had no choice but to investigate first-hand (my bet was on some kind of small shellfish).
We entered a cool, dark, stylish interior with a surprisingly large server-to-seat ratio (and they are very good servers indeed). We all opted for a meal composed of small bites and sides: a plate of olives, small pork meatballs, grilled asparagus, green garlic potato cakes. We had them bring things willy-nilly, which ended up being a little hilarious as the table filled with tiny plates. (Perhaps it was more hilarious after the “Sassy Coworker” cocktail, a combination of gin, elderflower, lime and basil that was delicious and potent.)
I allowed the almond gazpacho to be my first of the summer, as white gazpachos based on almond are perfectly traditional. The pickled ginger and coconut milk aren’t, but I didn’t care. This was a perfectly white puree, with a beautiful, delicate, exotic flavor. Less sweet than I expected, thicker than most pureed gazpachos, it was refreshing for the warm day (in June before the heat had really kicked in). The coquitos turn out to be tiny raw coconuts with the thin brown skin still on. I’d rather they had been roasted, which might have increased their flavor and given our jaws less of a workout. They did look very pretty, though, and didn’t get in the way of the soup.
Having started the summer in such an outlandish (if delicious) fashion, I needed a healthy dose of something more traditional. It’s sitting in a big bowl in my refrigerator now...