Welcome to “Taste Budz,” a blog series from a restaurant and hospitality publicist, Chris Haynes, and a longtime foodservice journalist, Susan Holaday. We’ll take you on a series of culinary adventures to stimulate your ‘taste buds,’ as we seek spots and show you some off-the-beaten-path or talked-about restaurants.
We all love adventures – and what’s more fun than finding a spot where you can discover new foods, a different culture, and meet an extremely- outgoing, warm and welcoming chef, all without paying for an airplane ticket!
We first met Marie-Claude Mendy, a native of Dakar Senegal, when a mutual friend of Chris’ introduced them in 2009 — she was a hot-shot, downtown financial analyst, and was looking for advice on opening Boston’s first Senegalese restaurant, which would later become Taranga. Teranga (the Wolof word for hospitality) brings the culinary traditions of Africa’s West Coast to the city as it incorporates culinary influences from France and Vietnam — a better union could not be executed.
Marie-Claude, whose name could also be Teranga because she’s all about hospitality, grew up with an interest in food from an early age, and began trying to recreate her mother and grandmother’s dishes when she was only 11. Many years later, after coming to Boston, she worked in financial services, and took on the challenge of being a first-time restaurateur in the middle of an economic downturn. She did so by introducing a new cuisine, which has been well-received by the neighborhood and beyond.
At Teranga, the food is an “Afro-fusion,” with ingredients shipped bi-weekly from Senegal (we’re told by Marie Claude’s mum). The average price of menu entrees is $15. Most symbolic of the foods of her native country is Thiebu Djeun, the national dish. This dish — one of the owner’s all-time favorites (and one of ours) — consists of white fish stuffed with herbs, and prepared with vegetables in a tomato broth, served with broken jasmine rice. A grilled chicken dish from the South of Senegal, Yassa Guinaar, is offered, as well as Mafe and Dibi.
Marie-Claude also cooks Senegales “bites,” such as a collection of tasty and healthy sandwiches that she will soon be introducing to the restaurant’s Lunch Express menu.
“Due to our unique history, Senegalese cuisine incorporates culinary traditions from around the globe. You can see both French and Vietnamese influences in our food, which come together to create a clean, distinctive cuisine that is sure to please any palate,” Marie-Claude tells us, and it certainly pleases our ‘Taste Budz.’
Chris had to order a second helping as Susan had already scarfed down the first order before he could try it!
Teranga’s menu, which features the Salade Ordinaire (it’s anything but ordinary), is comprised of mache mixed with potatoes, beets and boiled eggs tossed with coconut-lime dressing, offering combinations of traditional ingredients and flavors to satisfy adventurous palates.
The lunch entrée menu has stews served with rice and vegetables, and fish such as the Yassa Djeun, marinated, grilled Tilapia cooked in a lemon and caramelized onion sauce.
For dinner, we also tried the Brochettes, grilled skewered cubes of tender, tangy beef served with yucca fries, an onion and mustard-spiced sauce, Michoui, and marinated, roasted lamb shank stuffed with herbs and served with a caramelized onion reduction and Moroccan couscous.
Taranga offers wines by the glass and the bottle – and a selection of specialty beers from Africa. The restaurant is decorated with Marie-Claude’s own art collection – clearly the woman has great TASTE!
Meet the ‘Taste Budz’
Chris Haynes, founder of CBH Communications: Since 1998, Chris has offered clients a wealth of experience, as well as the personal care, attention to detail, and follow-through with his work at CBH Communications. Among Chris’ passions are exploring food and fashion around the world.
Susan Holaday, editor & publisher of Foodservice East: Susan joined Foodservice East in 1972, bringing a long background in business and financial reporting. She became editor in 1975, and editor and publisher in 2007, and seeks to bring breaking industry news to readers on the News Bytes page of www.foodserviceeast.com, as well as industry analysis, new product information, personnel changes, and more both on the website and in five annual print issues.