This spice olive mix at Arax Market is a favorite with the BostonZest team.
Board member Klunco asked, "There are so many little grocers in a small area and was curious if anyone could give a run down of the strengths or must try items at each?" The responses from a number of regulars, who have won my trust over the years, were detailed and fabulous.
I had to admit that I do tend to buy the same things in the same places. The Chowhounds have inspired me to get out of my rut and do more comparison shopping. I tend to buy ingredients like those in the photo above. However, on a recent visit, I brought a friend who was drawn to the prepared foods and gave them rave reviews.
I made a quick visit last week, specifically hunting for Rose Harissa, and once again was thrilled with the outstanding service at each shop.
If you want to try something like the authentic string cheese soaking in a brine bath shown above, ask about it. Where does it come from? How do I store it? How do I prepare it? I did that many years ago and when a discussion popped up on Serious Eats, I was able to sell my editor on a feature on this treat. I just had to stop by and review what I knew with the experts in the shop.
My current favorite falafels from Fordee's.
I now have a list of prepared foods that I'll buy on my next visit based on the recommendations offered by other food lovers. I also plan to do a few taste-offs. I'll get fewer of my old favorites and try the comparable product from one or two other places.
One bonus Chowhound tip: like any public forum there are great resources, people with a single agenda, trolls, and time wasters. Over the years, I've learned which members I can rely upon for good information and which ones will waste my time with worthless or inaccurate ramblings. I read Chowhound on an RSS feed and watch the source of comments. I click right through to my favorites and don't read or respond to those who offer nothing of value to me.
What's on your Food Lover's shopping list?
Words: Penny Cherubino
Photos: ©2010-2013 Penny Cherubino