Bread - Watertown Armenian, Arax, Sevan
Arax had pocketless pita today to reference an earlier thread.
Also, of all of the Watertown Armenian and places, the bread scene plays out as follows:
Sevan bakes a few of their own breads daily. The ring, sesame bread in particular is very good. Also, the (chorek?) sweet bread is amazing when they make it. They also occasionally fill their breads with things, olives, cheese, etc. When they have those they are worth getting for sure. They have some pita, etc. but not tons.
Arax ahh Arax is my personal favorite in many ways. When the mood strikes the owners wife she bakes little sweet rolls with black sesame seeds that are very nice. In addition, several times a week they get fresh deliveries from bakers far and wide. Trucks come from Quebec, Worcester, Lowell, and all over. Pocketless pita, fresh bread reminiscent of the stuff from Helmand, Lavash style breads from various bakeries, pocketless-pita-style breads infused with olive oil and saturated with the Armenian spice mix called zaatar are a personal favorite (link to wikipedia page on Zaatar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Za'atar ). Ask for the Zaatar bread, it is worth it. Typically they have the stuff that arrived that day segregated a bit from everything else. When I buy bread I ask "what came in today" and I assure you, that bread, whether it came from Lowell, or Montreal, left the oven <20 hours prior to my purchase.
Eastern Lamejun Co. They make darned good Lamejun, and anything they make themselves is good. Otherwise they can't really compete with Sevan and Arax.
On an additional aside. As a rule I get prepared food from Sevan. If you can figure out what is really fresh at Arax, they make wonderous stuff when it is fresh. The stuff in the cooler case is not so rigorously disposed of when it has passed its sell buy date.
Coincidence -- I was there today too. First at Sevan for their great stuffed grape leaves, stuffed eggplant, bulgarian feta and some olives. I bought a package of the pita crackers from on top of the case -- sprinkled with spices and deliciously oily. Fresh pita was being delivered as I was leaving so I picked up a pack of that too. Then to Arax for more bread -- the long flat loaves of Armenian bread are fresh daily. Some garlic spread and baba ganoush from the cooler, a few small lemons. Tonight I'm making a spread with lamb burgers made from Stillman's lamb, stuffed into pitas and lathered with garlicky tsatziki I just whipped up with cukes from Union Square's farmers' market. Opa!
I just loooove those pita crackers from Sevan - the red pepper (spicy) ones are my favorite over the ones with just oil and herb seasoning.
I also love that long rectangular flat bread covered in caraway seeds. I only see it periodically at Arax, though. Has anyone seen it elsewhere? It might be one of the brands from Canada.
Striperguy and yumyum,
Thanks for the helpflul info on the breads. I'll have to ask what's fresh next time I'm in the stores.
From my recent experiences, I pretty much agree with your assessments, except that right now my personal overall favorite is Sevan. I have to say that from what we've had, the prepared foods there seemed very fresh, while what we got from the refrigerator case at Arax seemed off and we tossed it. We also couldn't find a sell-by date on some of the stuff. The produce prices were great, though.
So for now, we'll stick with Sevan for the prepared stuff. We had a real feast with our take earlier in the week. The grape leaves and feta-garlic-red pepper spread are to-die for, and were great with some homemade tzatziki and cumin-flavored turkey meatballs on grilled pocketless pita. Rounded out with hummus, various stuffed veggies, and some baked eggplant, we were mighty happy eaters.
I'm guessing it's safe to try the lamejune at Arax, then. We love the lamejune at Eastern Lamejun, and liked Sevan's version too.
Not Armenian, but in the neighborhood on Belmont St. is Sophia's Greek Pantry. She has the pocketless pita in the freezer case, and suggested sticking it in the oven after topping it with olive oil, garlic, feta and olives. Sounds great. Also, the "superior" kalamata olives are really, really good, and quite reasonable.
OK I have to put in a good word for Massa's ("Massi's--eh?) Sometimes I like a less stimulating experience, and it is a quieter store, but they have most everything I need. I especially like the different fetas, and the lavash, and that killer walnut/pomegranate spread, and their choice of olive oils. They are all great stores, and the owners are very personable. I've been going there since my boys were babies, over 20 years ago, and the owners are the same, even if the stores have shifted around a little.