since i swiped most of my ideas for this jaunt from this very board there may not be much new here for the chowhound vets--but as i spent yesterday strolling to some spots in the area i thought i'd throw out some thoughts just for posterity. maybe some out there will find value in these half baked notes!
took the 71 bus from harvard square out to watertown square since it was such a nice late winter day yesterday to check out some spots that i don't get to a lot. got off right where mt auburn meets main street, and commenced to peer in the windows of an iranian place (molana) and a venezuelan joint (la casa de pedro) to see what i could see, since i was too early to eat lunch. both looked fairly promising--though they didn't have any takeout menus outside--and are now noted for another day. next stop was tabrizi bakery at 56 mt auburn--a nice little iranian bakery where i bought some chickpea flour cookies, a hefty piece of baklava and some other treats the names of which i was told but have propmptly forgotten. this is a great little spot with interesting wares, and i'll certainly be back.
continued to walk down mt auburn a good bit until i hit the 600 block and the raft of armenian markets there. bought labneh and carp roe and lamejun and walnut maccoum (sp?) at massis, then hit arax for a whole slew of pickled treats (yum, eggplant stuffed with walnuts), olives, feta cheese and baked goods. was tempted to buy some really delicious looking goat yogurt too, but since i was on foot i was afraid that it might explode in my bag on my long walk, so i left that exploration for another day. arax is just a great market, though--when posts here talk of the incredible wave of spice smells that will great you as you enter this place, they ain't kidding!
as i had already bought baked goods at three places, i then decided to leave the last market (sevan) out here for another day, though i was sure being teased by the inexorable pull of the smell of good baklava....
anyway, i denied that impulse and tossed sevan in with the deluxe town diner and coolidge provisions for places to scope out on my next walking tour of this burg. continued down mt auburn towards cambridge a ways and then cut over left to belmont to the much ballyhooed shangri-la and bought a pig ear salad and some stir fried watercress for lunch. i was disappointed that they only have the xiao long bao here on weekends, but the other food was tasty. the pig ear salad is a cold appetizer, thin strips of spicy and interestingly textured pork with a few shredded scallions on a bed of lettuce. very nice. the watercress was a bit more pedestrian but still fine, the greens retained their crunch and were cooked with garlic in a juicy broth tha seemed chickeny in composition. a solid two dishes, look forward to trying out more food here in the future. went next door to lamejun bakers to check it out, though i already had my lamejun from massis. good looking little store where i grabbed some lapsang souchong just for kicks.
from this point came the long stretch of strolling, getting from belmont st back to porter via huron ave. after a fairly lengthy hoof, i found myself here being pulled in by the amazing bounty of formaggio's kitchen, but since i was already bearing feta and labneh and still have a block of great blue cheese that i bought at salumeria italiana just last week, i forced myself to walk on by. (and it's not easy for a cheesehead like me to pass this shop!) i could not manage to steel myself enough to avoid hi rise bakery, however, so when i made it up to concord i was forced to pop in here for a delicious "concord loaf", a brilliant sourdough concoction from these fine bakers. just can't pass this place by, absolutely love the wares here.
whew. still had some clicks to cover and i was now loaded down with a large variety of varying foodstuffs and was much poorer than when i began...i had initially envisioned trying out the banh mi at sweet tea as a final capper for my gustatory journey, but looking at my swelling bags o' stuff i postponed that bit for a later date. besides, my feet were getting sore. still and all, this pedestrian pilgrimage through some local neighborhoods bore much fruit and was really a great way to spend a gorgeous and workless february day. it's great to have such a wealth of nice places just out there for the visiting.