Amid various restaurants and coffee shops on Teele Square and at walking distance from Tufts University, a restaurant that looks a lot like a dining room focuses on serving Thai food at its most authentic.
Tip Top Thai is family-owned and specializes in Thai food, noodle dishes and Japanese Sushi for eat-in and take-out. This month, Nung Bunaiamsri, manager, and Monk Sakthanaset, owner and chef, who are married, celebrate three years of business in the city.
“I know it looks like a home. We’re just a small business and I need to take care of my kids; customers, they know, they understand,” said Bunaiamsri.
The couple’s three children, on break from school, run in and out from the back room of the restaurant which boasts of decorative pieces from Thailand, like a carved elephant, and where Thai music is playing.
When it comes to cooking Thai food, Sakthanaset said, preparation is key. He worked in the restaurant business for 15 years before he launched his own, he said. Chefs don’t typically spend a lot of time preparing food and often take the faster way out. It takes a lot of time and gas, he said which can cause some restaurants to make instant soup instead of traditional Thai soup. For this reason, he said, Thai food is often cooked in ways that it resembles Chinese, Japanese, Italian or even American cooking styles.
“I try to make things different. If you’ve gone to Thailand and you’ve tried Thai food and you come here, you are going to love our food,” Sakthanaset said.
The Ward 6 alderman spoke at The Somerville News contributors’ meeting held Feb. 8 at Davis Square's Mr. Crepe shop.
“Ever since I saw the movie ‘An inconvenient truth,’ I’ve been talking excessively about the environment, what we can do on the local level to make change and to address this problem that inches closer toward a crisis,” said Rebekah L. Gewirtz, Ward 6 alderman.
Gewirtz said she agrees with the film’s consensus that people go from disbelief to despair once they understand global warming, but never stop to take action. One of her goals, as alderman is to counteract this attitude of discouragement and to promote engagement in environmental issues, she said.
In January, the city joined over a 100 other communities across the country in a nationwide green-cast to discuss ways to address environmental concerns, she said.
“I’m very happy that the president of the board of aldermen decided to convene a committee on environment and energy and appointed me to that committee,” Gewirtz said. “I’m looking forward to the follow-up from the meeting.”
As the budget session approaches, Gerwitz said the environment is not the only issue she is concerned about.
She is enthusiastic about the changes in Davis Square, including the construction of the new building at 1 Davis Sq., which will house a CVS and a Boston Sports Authority, in addition to the non-profit organizations formerly located at this address, she said.
Gewirtz said she plans to support Marty Martinez in the upcoming special elections for the position of alderman-at-large.
“Marty Martinez is a tremendous asset to the city of Somerville. He
is committed to values I care about, that I share. I would be glad to
have him as a colleague on the board of alderman.”
A chocolate factory on Windsor Street capitalizes daily on a non-traditional way of grinding, giving people a unique taste of chocolate.
“We are chocolate men,” said W. Alexander Whitmore, who runs the Taza Chocolate factory in Union Square with Laurence J. Slotnick.
Whitmore said the entrepreneurs use millstones imported from Mexico to meticulously cut cacao beans. The stones cut the beans and grind the chocolate just right in a fast mill-rotating process, he said.
Initially, the beans contain water and are hard to grind, he said. When roasted, the cacao beans are chemically changed and, once ground, the chocolate renders its natural oils.
“I haven’t tried their chocolate but these guys sound like they really pay attention to detail in the manufacturing process. They sound like they are true artisans,” said Steven B. Almond, author of Candyfreak. “Chocolate is such a sophisticated and complicated medium to work with.”
In a typical day, Whitmore said he spends 11 hours inside the chocolate factory where he handles the roasting, the grinding and the mixing. “It’s a passion in my life,” he said.
A local writer and teacher spoke at The Somerville News contributors’ meeting held Feb. 1 at the Mr. Crepe shop.
“Something different about writing is, this isn’t true in newspaper writing, it’s true in creative writing, that you’re very autonomous. You are the boss. You are like the God of a very obscure little world,” said Steven B. Almond, author of “Candyfreak: a journey through the chocolate underbelly of America.”
Almond said narcissistic, headstrong writing types usually don’t work well together, but that his recent collaboration with author Julianna Baggot on the epistolary novel “What Brings Me to You” ultimately had positive results. “After a certain grace period, we were at each other’s throats. It got very nasty, but we both realized the conflict was making the book less gimmicky and more authentic.”
Almond moved to the area in 1997 and became a founding member of the Grub Street writers program based in Ball Square, he said. He decided to teach because of his students’ promising potential and because he enjoyed an appreciative audience, not to make money, he said.