Prepared Food from Bazaar, in Brookline
Okay, I took my own advice, and headed over to Bazaar International, in Brookline, for my prepared food NYE feast.
We jumped into the Soviet era line, and switched out to do recognizance missions around the store. They had a load of NYE specialties, and I glommed onto most of them...
The dinner itself began with a platter comprised of this amazing smoked-trout, hardboiled egg and dill salad, mushroom pâté, with a mellow undertone of garlic that made it addictive, and a taramasalata (in a jar, from some eastern European country), all scooped up with matnahkash, that Armenian/ Russian bread that is a little like ciabbata, but not..
Next course included smoked salmon and sturgeon, each $10.99 a pound, (make sure you get the house-sliced salmon on the bottom shelf), on their exemplary, and imminently reasonable, store-made blini. Huge and thin. And crème fraiche, from Vermont Butter and Cheese, the closest you can get to smetana in this country.
We proceeded to a cooked course, meat pirogin, for my beloved, and potato for me, both frozen, and made by bazaar. I boiled them, then sautéed in onions and butter.
Then, the piece de résistance, the fish in bondage! Actually, I was going to get some of their homemade gefilte fish, but I ended up getting a true, gefulteh, or stuffed fish. A whole Lake Trout, head to tail, sitting up in swimming position, trussed in string. Turned out, it was totally, deboned, including the head, except for the boney cheek-plates, stuffed with wild mushrooms, crumbs, and hard-boiled egg, and then the whole thing was smoked, so that the whole fish was colored by its pink flesh. I served it at room temperature, and you could cut it into slices. And this work of art, for there is no other way to describe it, was $5.99 a pound! The whole fish was $8 and change. We also popped the cheese-filled bread, whose name I don’t know, into the oven at this point, a slightly rich dough, flat, but the size of a dinner plate stuffed with some blend of mild cheeses...Mmmmmmmm.
And the beloved finished with the sour-cherry pastry, wrapped in a very thin skin, that’s also customary for NYE. Plus, of course, he insisted on breaking into the chocolate that the wonderful lady at Bazaar gave me for New years...
All washed down with my homemade cranberry vodka...
Guys, spend your money on the food and do not buy the wine! In Marty's you can get a much better deal if you are prepared to pay $20 for a bottle of wine. Georgian reds are overpriced here, they tend to be overly sweet and do not really go well with these salads and such. Kindzmarauli is indeed a very well known label, and used to be one of Stalin's favorite wines, but what you can get now has very little to do with its past glory. Sometimes you buy it here and it is not even drinkable. Stick with vodka or get a simple bottle of Cote-du-Rhone, and you will be better off!
I was in recently on a Saturday and my gesturing and pidgin Russian was interrupted by a slightly Boston-accented "I speak English" from a nice young woman behind the counter. On other occasions I have found other English speaking staff as well. Don't let a language barrier scare you away from some really good and often ludicrously cheap food.
Agreed, those were fantastic, and at 3.99 a pound they may take care of my crepe needs forever. I'm curious, they didn't appear to be made with buckwheat flour, were they? Or do they have some that are? Anyone know?
I also thought that the cabbage salad, the armenian bread, and especially the mushroom pate were all great.
I haven't been to the other similar shops, but I love Bazaar for exactly this kind of grazing nosh. The mushroom pate is absolutely delicious and cheap. The chicken liver pate is not my favorite of all time (chowmom's is), but it's also cheap and cheerful and good to round out a buffet with the excellent bread. The eggplant caviar is great and there is a cabbage slaw that is chock full of fresh dill that adds a little crunch to your otherwise creamy spreads. Just point and gesture at the tubs behind the glass. The blinis were a nice addition this year, and quite excellent spread with the mushroom pate and rolled and sliced into pinwheels. I was all steeled to fight the crowds and have strange conversations about vodka like last year, but it was pretty mellow on this New Year's eve -- we were in and out within 30 minutes. I didn't receive the complementary chocolate, but then my humongous bag of vittles was only $20 so maybe that's why. Or maybe they just appreciated galleygirl's enthusiasm and rewarded her accordingly.
As for salamis Joanie -- there is indeed a huge case of them but we noticed that many of them looked dried out, like they hadn't turned over in a while. If the communication was easier, I'd ask them to take off the end before they sliced my portion, but given that it's a little touch and go it could be tricky. Great selection if you know what you're looking for.
Yes, Bazaar is definitely my favorite, altho Berezkha sometimes has a few more pastry type filled things, like coulibiac(pastry stuffed with salmon), Bazaar's seem a little fresher, to me, and they have way more variety on the prepared salady things, so dear to the Slavic sould...Lots of zakussky! ;)
I know they're all somehow related, but for the novice (and believe me, this takes practice!) bazaar is a little easier to handle. DON'T go on a Saturday!
Frozen pirogin are $3.99 a bag, for 12 or 15 or so...They had sour cherry ones, too, that were smaller.
Blini were $3.99 a pound, which would be fun for a party, with a little inexpensive, salmon roe instead of caviar.
They have a whole case of those salamis and cured meats; I saw a woman going through a whole tasting to make he selections the other day. And, of course, every kind of smoked fish.
My whole, no-holds-barred shopping trip came in at $46 dollars. We're still eating leftover...Their wines are a little on the high side, I'd go elsewhere and get assistance...Altho, what _is_ wrong with vodka? ;)
Do you think this is the best Russian store? I need to pick up some things for our eastern european themed party (he's part Czech, I'm part Russian tho I prefer my Swedish side) and I have to get smoked trout and pierogis somewhere (Mrs. T's isn't out of the quesiton). What was the price on those things? Do they have that nice salami (I know that's not your thing)? Are there any good eastern European wines or should we just stick with Riesling? I know the JP Blanchards doesn't have Eastern Eur. wines. Thanks.