Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Jewish Cuisine Food Tour in Brookline
This tour was run by the same company that did the Russian Food Tour I went on in January. Before we get started I have to say right away that my objective with the Jewish Food Tour was very different from the Russian Tour. I knew very little about Russian Cuisine and I feel like I know Jewish Cuisine very well indeed. So instead of discovering new things to eat, I wanted to discover where I could go to get some of the Jewish food items that I love.
Brookline is about an hour from where we live in New Hampshire, so unfortunately I'm not going to be popping down to a deli there on a random afternoon to get corned beef or bagels. BUT, now that I know where to go it would be easy to stop by one of the stores we visited if I happen to be in the Boston area.
We met at the corner of Harvard and Commonwealth Avenue. Brookline is a close-in Western suburb of Boston. I'm starting to feel more familiar with this area. The Missouri Alumni Association has their watch parties at a bar in Allston, which is right next to Brookline, and Newbury Street, with the best Boston shopping, isn't far away either. Its taking awhile, but it seems like Boston's confusing streets are slowly falling into place.
The entire tour took place on Harvard Avenue. This area of Brookline is very Jewish. It seemed like almost every store we passed had some sort of Jewish affiliation. We started the tour at Rubin's, a Kosher deli. We didn't actually taste anything there, but we peeked inside and were treated to a basic explanation of what keeping Kosher was all about. From Rubin's we walked down Harvard to a beautiful store called Kolbo, that specializes in Judaica, which is anything Jewish. They sold dishes, Seder plates, candlesticks, mezzuzahs, you name it. Their stuff was really nice!
Now it was time for the first tasting on our tour. Kupel's Bakery has lots of delicious treats, but we had bagels with lox and cream cheese. The bagels were excellent and so was the lox. Yum!
Right after this we went across the street to The Butcherie, an kosher butcher and grocery store. This store was similar to the Russian grocery store we visited on the Russian Tour, but instead of lots of items with labels in the Cyrillic alphabet there were lots of things with Hebrew lettering. One thing I saw here that I'd never seen before was frozen gefilte fish.
From the Butcherie we were able to try several different food items. We tried a roasted eggplant dip, hummus, and chopped liver. I LOVE chopped liver, and we had leftovers so I got to take them home with me! I'm still enjoying chopped liver on crackers as my afternoon snack!
We also tried an Israeli snack called peanut butter puffs. They looked like cheese puffs, but they tasted like peanut butter. At first they tasted odd to me, since the taste and their look didn't coincide, but once I got over that they kind of grew on me.
After this we walked on down Harvard, past a Conservative synagogue, on to Coolidge Corner, where Zaftig's and Rami's could be found. Zaftigs is another Jewish deli and restaurant, and Rami's is a falafel stand. We sampled Zaftig's matzo ball soup. It was excellent! From Rami's we each had a pita sandwich, consisting of lovely fluffy pita bread, hummus, falafel and salad.
Our final stop was a Boston ice cream shop called JP Licks. JP Licks is Kosher, so it fit right into the tour. We sampled maple walnut ice cream, red velvet cake ice cream and another chocolate type of ice cream. It was just as yummy as everything else on this tour.
There was supposed to be a Jewish wine tasting at the end of this tour, but alas, that shop had gone out of business, so this was the end.
The food on this tour was really, really good, and I definitely met my objective as far as knowing where to go in Boston for good Jewish food. But, unfortunately it was pretty cold on the day of our tour, and for some reason on this tour we were not allowed to actually eat inside any of the establishments whose food we sampled except for Kupel's bakery and JP Licks. Our guide said it was because they were too crowded (and they were), but its just too bad they couldn't have figured out a way to accommodate us. We ended up eating our samples huddled on nearby apartment stoops, and attempting to stay warm. Other than that this was a good tour, but if you are interested in going on it you might want to wait until it is a bit warmer outside!