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Best butter in Boston area?

smartperson Mar 9, 2011 12:31 PM

Having recently come back from vacation in a country with excellent dairy (Iceland), I am craving a source of incredibly delicious butter in or near Cambridge/Boston, or even anywhere in the Greater Boston region.

Does anyone have any suggestions? The best I've had so far is Kate's which I found in Whole Foods.

  1. Locutus Mar 9, 2011 12:34 PM

    Kerrys Irish Butter is excellent
    can be found at Market Basket and Stop and Shop
    I think i saw it at Russos

    1 Reply
    1. re: Locutus
      BobB Mar 9, 2011 04:15 PM

      That's Kerrygold, not Kerry's. And I agree, their salted Irish butter is my favorite, really delicious, and pretty widely available - in addition to the places Locutus mentions, Whole Foods carries it, as does Trader Joe's (at least sometimes). But then, my wife prefers Kate's unsalted. So we're a two-butter household.

      You can also find Smjör Icelandic butter at Whole Foods.

      Trader Joe's
      1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

    2. j
      Jenny Ondioline Mar 9, 2011 12:45 PM

      Don't think you'll do much better than Kate's, which is outstanding.

      You should also try their buttermilk, which unlike just about everything else you can buy bearing that name really is nothing but the liquid expelled by their butter making process.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
        three of us Mar 9, 2011 02:40 PM

        Just used Kate's Buttermilk to make my fried chicken. Wow, what a great buttermilk! Very fresh.

        1. re: three of us
          Jenny Ondioline Mar 9, 2011 04:48 PM

          Hint: any cake recipe you make--right down to boxed mixes--replace the liquid with Kate's buttermilk. The change is amazing.

          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
            three of us Mar 11, 2011 06:01 AM

            File this under "why didn't I think of that", it's a great idea.

          2. re: three of us
            cambridgedoctpr Jan 29, 2012 08:59 AM

            try to buy butter at a place where it moves rapidly and then store it in the freezer

          3. re: Jenny Ondioline
            ziggles Mar 14, 2011 08:21 AM

            Any suggestions on where to find Kate's buttermilk? I pretty much only shop at Russo's and occasionally WF, and haven't seen it at either place, but would be willing to make a special stop to give it a try. I love good buttermilk and have often wished High Lawn would start producing some, so maybe Kate's is my answer!

            1. re: ziggles
              Allstonian Mar 14, 2011 08:38 AM

              Shaw's/Star and Stop & Shop both carry Kate's buttermilk.

              1. re: ziggles
                PinchOfSalt Mar 14, 2011 08:38 AM

                Most Market Baskets that I have shopped at carry Kate's Buttermilk. Occasionally they run out, though. The stores in Burlington and Woburn seem to be fairly reliable sources.

                1. re: ziggles
                  stomachofsteel Mar 14, 2011 10:18 AM

                  I've bought Kate's buttermilk at either the Shaw's or the Stop & Shop that are down the street from Russo's on the Waltham/Watertown line. I know for sure the Shaw's carries it (although they were out when I looked on Saturday) and I think the Stop & Shop may have it too.

                  1. re: ziggles
                    kobuta Mar 14, 2011 06:00 PM

                    Maybe not in your neck of the woods, but spotted Kate's at the Fruit Center at Milton Marketplace.

                2. itaunas Mar 9, 2011 12:46 PM

                  Are you looking for a cultured butter like Vermont Butter & Cheese (available at Whole Foods) and some imported butters? A salted spreading butter like Kate's and most of the recommendations you received? Or a high-fat (baking) butter like Cabot 83 and Plugra and a few others ("organic family farms" or something like that is occasionally carried)? Each of these are covered in past threads. You might also check with Sherman Market in Somerville or City Feed in JP. There are some farmers market options in season, but I am not up on winter farmers markets... and its not that difficult to make your own from local dairy which has also been covered in some detail.

                  Sherman Market
                  22 Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143

                  1. MC Slim JB Mar 9, 2011 01:12 PM

                    South End Formaggio and Cambridge's Formaggio Kitchen carry some lovely, expensive butters, both imported and from American producers. The water buffalo one from Italy is amazing.


                    South End Formaggio
                    268 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                      9lives Mar 9, 2011 01:16 PM

                      Lots of good butters out there; many already mentioned. I also enjoy the Polish butter from Baltic Mkt and an Italian butter at Bina Osteria.

                      Bina Osteria
                      581 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111

                    2. MichaelB Mar 9, 2011 01:20 PM

                      Kate's is great - and widely available (my Shaw's carries it now) - but my favorite is the Amish country roll butter available at Russo's. It's *quite* salty and a little bit funky/cheesy (note: I have very occasionally had some with too much barnyard taste, but that's rare). Last time I put some out for dinner my friends couldn't stop slathering it on bread. Also, it's pretty cheap - about $4/lb. I've never seen it anywhere but Russo's.

                      I've also noticed that the Polish markets near Andrew Square have lots of kinds of butter I've never seen - I got some once and it was good but unremarkable - I don't know if there are any especially good Polish brands to look out for.

                      32 Replies
                      1. re: MichaelB
                        9lives Mar 9, 2011 03:32 PM

                        I don't recall the brand I bought at Baltic. It was recommended by the saleswoman.

                        1. re: MichaelB
                          nsenada Mar 9, 2011 06:43 PM

                          I think I saw that Amish butter at Baza in Newton. Was thinking of trying some.

                          30 Tower Road, Newton, MA 02464

                          1. re: MichaelB
                            okra Mar 10, 2011 05:25 AM

                            I'll second the Amish rolled butter @ Russo's. It is produced by the Minerva Dairy in Ohio who use naturally cultured cream, churn it in small batches and season it with sea salt. Russo's cut the rolls into ~ 1# pieces. Yes, it is salted, but, it tastes... like BUTTER! We put it in a covered crock, leave it on the counter, refill it as needed.
                            You know that Irish soda bread you're going to make next week? It is improved greatly by a schmear of this butter!

                            560 Pleasant St, Watertown, MA 02472

                            1. re: okra
                              scotty27 Mar 10, 2011 05:28 AM

                              The Amish are great at the farmed products and homemade tasting food one craves. And Russo's, unlike some places (FK), profits from wholesale and offers great retail pricing. Once you try the Amish butter, bet you don't use other butters. I was in Iceland many times the past 10 years and love their dairy products: This Amish butter is more rustic, but first-rate.


                              1. re: scotty27
                                misscucina Jan 28, 2012 08:37 PM

                                I've got that Amish butter in my drawer along with some leftover Trader Joes and Kates. Since I find the Amish butter has a very pronounced flavor, I only use it for putting on bread or sometimes to cook eggs or throw on a steak.

                                Market Basket has the tub of Kate's and the pounds for dirt cheap (under $3), that's about $2.50 less than Whole Foods. Stock up there.

                                1. re: misscucina
                                  opinionatedchef Jan 29, 2012 12:12 AM

                                  missc, had no idea! thnx so much.

                              2. re: okra
                                viperlush Mar 10, 2011 05:50 AM

                                At Russo's is it w/all the other butters or in the cheese case?

                                1. re: viperlush
                                  scotty27 Mar 10, 2011 05:55 AM

                                  It's with all the butters, top shelf, I think. What's amazing about it, too, is that it is so rich, so much the butter of childhood, that you don't need as much compared to others butters to create flavor. So: It has economical and health factors added to taste. To say nothing of buying from US farmers rather than the EU. Not that I don't love the EU...but this is closer to home, n'est-ce pas?


                                  1. re: scotty27
                                    viperlush Mar 10, 2011 06:10 AM

                                    Cool, thanks. I've been on a butter tasting kick (shopping at Russo's and WFs on River), but I think I've missed that one. I go through so much butter baking that I tend to buy only unsalted butter (Cabot or LOL, whichever is on sale). But, I do like to keep a good salted butter on hand for spreading on bread.

                                    1. re: viperlush
                                      scotty27 Mar 10, 2011 06:17 AM

                                      Yeah, this is butter for cooking vegetables, spreading on Hi-Rise rye or walnut bread toasted, or just gazing at. Not baking material.

                                      1. re: viperlush
                                        nsenada Mar 10, 2011 07:00 AM

                                        Cabot 83 is my favorite for baking, and it eats nicely, too. If you're heading to Russo's, they also have a heavy cream (local I think) that is unbelievable. It's golden, and absolutely blew my mind with how fresh and deep tasting it is. They sell it in plastic bottles right near the butter (heck, maybe you could make your own butter from it).

                                        1. re: nsenada
                                          scotty27 Mar 10, 2011 07:16 AM

                                          I agree about Cabot's. Wow, heavy cream. What, are you Satan?

                                          1. re: nsenada
                                            StriperGuy Mar 10, 2011 07:20 AM

                                            For the Cabot 83 fans, Restaurant Depot (Tax ID number required) has it for super cheap, something like $3 a pound.

                                            1. re: nsenada
                                              PinchOfSalt Mar 10, 2011 07:26 AM

                                              Is that the cream from High Lawn Dairy?

                                              1. re: PinchOfSalt
                                                nsenada Mar 10, 2011 09:10 AM

                                                I think so - it is devilishly good.

                                                1. re: PinchOfSalt
                                                  nsenada Mar 10, 2011 09:12 AM

                                                  Confirmed - High Lawn Dairy: http://www.highlawnfarm.com/products2...

                                            2. re: scotty27
                                              Ali G Jan 22, 2012 06:34 PM

                                              I've been buying this Amish butter from Russo's since reading these posts and love it. However, it's been gone the last three weeks. Anyone seen this anywhere else? I asked the guy stocking the dairy about it this morning and he wasn't sure if it was coming back. He said maybe next week, but seemed like he was guessing.

                                              1. re: Ali G
                                                smartperson Jan 23, 2012 02:17 PM

                                                That is concerning news. Please keep us updated. I've been busy with my current pound for the past few months…

                                                1. re: smartperson
                                                  Ali G Jan 28, 2012 04:40 PM

                                                  Ok..I was at Russo's this morning and they were fully stocked with about 20lbs of Amish butter. Crisis averted. Great stuff.

                                                  1. re: Ali G
                                                    nsenada Jan 30, 2012 06:57 AM

                                                    Yup - grabbed some on Saturday. They also have Grillo's pickles, which I hadn't noticed before.

                                                2. re: Ali G
                                                  MichaelB Jan 23, 2012 08:11 PM

                                                  I've noticed droughts in the Amish butter supply at Russo's in the past and it's always come back. I like to think it's because the cows are taking a winter break but I don't really know. In any case I wouldn't panic just yet.

                                              2. re: viperlush
                                                okra Mar 10, 2011 05:57 AM

                                                It's on the top shelf of that dairy case between the few prepackaged meats and the yogurt. It has gone away for months at a time in the past, so... I hope increased demand will result in an equal increase in supply.

                                                1. re: okra
                                                  scotty27 Mar 10, 2011 06:07 AM

                                                  If you ask the owner, bet he'll buy it. Dude is very chill.

                                              3. re: okra
                                                MC Slim JB Mar 11, 2011 02:45 PM

                                                Just scored some of this Amish rolled butter at Russo's today: looks great. I've bought just about every other butter in that section, never noticed this stuff or overlooked it as some other kind of product. Thanks for the directions, Hounds!


                                                1. re: okra
                                                  smartperson Mar 24, 2011 07:39 AM

                                                  Wow. I picked up some of that butter this past weekend. What an incredible specimen of butter! My sister (a huge butter lover) is in town and now she wants to take the whole pound I purchased back with her to New York! This was an excellent tip, Chowhounders! After she takes all my Amish butter I will try one of the other suggestions you guys provided :-)

                                                  1. re: smartperson
                                                    threedogs Mar 24, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                    I also got some of the Amish butter at Russo's. I need to freeze it, because I'm eating way too much, and I just decided I have to work at taking this weight off, not putting on more.

                                                    It's actually cheaper than the generic, store brand at the local Stop & Shop!

                                                    Not to make my fellow chowsers jealous, but I actually now live in the neighborhood. :D (After being isolated in what was really a culinary wasteland for so long, I feel like I'm in heaven). In fact, I could actually walk there in good weather (as long as my knee heals, and *if* I could haul back my findings without killing myself, haha). Russo's is amazing - what's so terrific is they have great things like this that's competitive w/the local grocery stores. The milk they carry that's from local dairies costs about the same as the Stop & Shop brand, the farm eggs cost less - oh, today I noticed that the fresh ginger is $1.50 a pound - in S & S it's $3.49!!

                                                    1. re: threedogs
                                                      Jenny Ondioline Mar 24, 2011 01:27 PM

                                                      Their prices are *more* than competitive: this afternoon, I bought a couple pounds of gorgeous green beans for 98 cents a pound, a lovely bunch of beets with gorgeous greens (and another bunch of greens because some damn fool had torn them off and left them there) for $1.49, two heads of leaf lettuce for $1.49 each...Russo's is a goldmine. My only worry is that more people will discover both its awesomeness and its relative ease to get to and thereby make it even more of a madhouse than it can sometimes be already. Although this afternoon at 2 it was a breeze.

                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                        threedogs Mar 24, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                        Oops - I just sent my son down to buy some more veggies. Hoping he doesn't get the madhouse.

                                                        I fortunate that I can go first thing in the morning (which varies according to how awake I am). Never have a problem with crowds. Shhh - this is our secret, OK? ;-)

                                                        1. re: threedogs
                                                          Jenny Ondioline Mar 24, 2011 01:49 PM

                                                          I definitely know when to go and when not to, but even when it's busy, there are tricks to get in and out quickly. There's one register that's always open and almost never has a line, for example, although that's one I'm keeping to myself.

                                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                            threedogs Mar 24, 2011 01:53 PM

                                                            Hahaha - ah, I see that I am only a grasshopper, oh wise one! (Hmm, going to look for that register now..)

                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                              stomachofsteel Mar 24, 2011 02:17 PM

                                                              I see I am not the only one who has developed a set of Russo's strategies. My wife and I always go in with a game plan -- we have this stuff down to a science.

                                                        2. re: threedogs
                                                          StriperGuy Mar 24, 2011 02:06 PM

                                                          Gotta love Russo's. Aside from killer food, their flowers are some of the best in Boston at Great prices.

                                                  2. w
                                                    wonderwoman Mar 9, 2011 02:33 PM

                                                    i love the unsalted kerrigold, kate's and plugra european, and pick them up on sale when i can.

                                                    but, nothing -- and i mean NOTHING -- beats the plastic container of shaw farm butter i picked up at kickass cupcakes/dairy bar last week. at $8/pound, it is ridiculously, though understandably, expensive. but for special occasions, or treats...

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: wonderwoman
                                                      teezeetoo Mar 9, 2011 04:51 PM

                                                      i actually dislike Kate's which I find greasy in texture. Go to the Russian markets: try a variety of Baltic or Danish butters and the wonderful Russian full fat sour cream.

                                                      1. re: wonderwoman
                                                        greygarious Mar 10, 2011 11:00 AM

                                                        Shaw Farm is in Dracut. I live too far away to qualify, but they DO have a home delivery program which I'd join if I could. Their milk and ice cream I have bought at East Street Farm in Tewksbury was excellent.

                                                      2. s
                                                        smartperson Mar 9, 2011 05:55 PM

                                                        Thanks everyone! I didn't expect such passionate (and varied) opinions! I go to Russo's every two weeks so next week I'll check out their butter selection. I really am a 'good' butter neophyte, and it seems like I have a lot of tasting to do! Maybe I should have a butter-tasting party...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: smartperson
                                                          opinionatedchef Mar 9, 2011 07:46 PM

                                                          I too had a butter crawl period, during which i really enjoyed kate's unsalted, VTbutter and cheese, russian and the very expensive SH... farm ?(from MA) from Formaggio.Plugra and Kerrygold didn't do it for me. i ended up back w/ kate's unsalted. have fun! while you're at it, you might like to delve into the amazing line of breads at Pigs Fly!

                                                          note: Somerville Davis Sq. location as well

                                                          When Pigs Fly Breads
                                                          1378 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                                        2. s
                                                          scotty27 Mar 10, 2011 05:25 AM

                                                          I've been buying hunks of delicious Amish butter at Russo's: salty and thick with a texture approaching cheese. At $2.98 a pound, blows away all the fancy versions elsewhere. Far superior to stuff about 4x as much at FK. If you want to go wild, roast a chicken, Amish style like they sell at Reading Terminal, with this butter tucked under the skin.


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: scotty27
                                                            GilbyEast Mar 13, 2011 03:47 PM

                                                            I absolutely love this butter. I used to bring it back with me every time I found myself in PA. One year I gave 2 pounds to mother for Mother's Day.

                                                          2. 5
                                                            5thAndNowhere Mar 10, 2011 06:50 AM

                                                            i dont know what base they start with, and you cant really buy it, but the honey butter that comes with the biscuits on many Atwoods brunch plates is DIVINE.

                                                            1. globalgourmand Mar 14, 2011 09:16 PM

                                                              I'm not a butter connoisseur. I do usually buy Kate's, the Icelandic Smjör, or any cultured buttter but frankly I've never paid close enough attention to really notice the difference at home. I will say a friend recently let me sample the goat butter I've seen at WF Dedham and I really enjoyed it. The unique piquancy of goat's milk carried through.

                                                              15 Replies
                                                              1. re: globalgourmand
                                                                opinionatedchef Mar 14, 2011 10:17 PM

                                                                that's really cool to know about. i had some really good ripe runny goat brie from Russo's yesterday (as opposed to the severely(and perennially) under- ripe goat brie from TrJ) so i'm v. game to try goat butter. thanks much!
                                                                p.s. looks like your pouncer just finished filming a segment w/ tony bourdain's leftovers!

                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                  globalgourmand Mar 21, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                                  I ought to send a thank you back for an inspiration to pick up some of that goat brie from Russo's! We're big fans of goat-anything in this household. If my kitty wasn't snoozing so hard right now I'm sure he would agree.

                                                                  1. re: globalgourmand
                                                                    teezeetoo Mar 21, 2011 11:44 AM

                                                                    I'm curious about the price of your goat's butter gg. I get St. Helen's Farm goat's butter, which I like a lot, at my local Russian store (Bazaar) but it's pricey (6.99 for something like 10 ounces I think).

                                                                    1. re: globalgourmand
                                                                      y2000k Mar 21, 2011 02:41 PM

                                                                      Is it the one made in Vermont?

                                                                      1. re: globalgourmand
                                                                        opinionatedchef Mar 22, 2011 04:19 PM

                                                                        gg, that's great that you were reminded. i polished my piece off at one go, so it's actually on my list to see if somewhere closer to me, WF or Formagg., might sell it.

                                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                          opinionatedchef Mar 23, 2011 03:21 PM

                                                                          Fr P WF has 2 goat bries; today I bought the same one i got at russo's(soignon) $15 lb. WF also has goat butter for $16 lb. Formagg camb. does not sell goat brie.

                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                            teezeetoo Mar 23, 2011 03:39 PM

                                                                            as noted above, bazaar has goat butter for 6.99 for 10 ounces. can't see why you'd pay wf markups.

                                                                            1. re: teezeetoo
                                                                              opinionatedchef Mar 24, 2011 12:16 AM

                                                                              wouldn't and didn't.

                                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                                teezeetoo Mar 24, 2011 07:23 AM

                                                                                dont' get me wrong opchef: I shop at WF and pay the markup too when it's convenient (it's down a few blocks from my home) but I try my hardest to find and give business to places like bazaar, baza, arax, russos, where i don't feel quite so taken advantage of and where i think their is a real owner not a corporate board of directors.

                                                                                1. re: teezeetoo
                                                                                  nsenada Mar 24, 2011 10:25 AM

                                                                                  I grabbed some of the Amish butter at Russo's, just to see what the fuss was about. It is pretty awesome, but I accidentally grabbed the salted version. I gave away a bunch of it, as I am not too keen on dying soon. Very interesting-looking stuff, you can see the striations in the butter, like a tree stump.

                                                                                  Not to veer further off-topic, but I shop at all of the above as well, and haven't been to a WF in over a year. Mostly because I find the leadership there repellant and predatory, but also because our local supermarkets won't let them (or any other operation) in to gain a foothold.

                                                                                  1. re: nsenada
                                                                                    opinionatedchef Mar 24, 2011 10:40 AM

                                                                                    we asked for an unsalted amish but were told it was only salted. we bought it anyway though i never use salted butter. did someone else find an UNsalted amish butter at R's?

                                                                                    OT- Predatory?

                                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                                      threedogs Mar 24, 2011 12:40 PM

                                                                                      I'll ask about unsalted, too, the next time I go there. I got the salted because that's all there was when I looked.(I usually buy unsalted).

                                                                                      1. re: threedogs
                                                                                        MichaelB Mar 24, 2011 04:23 PM

                                                                                        It's all salted. A LOT. Deliciously so. I usually buy unsalted for baking but in the right recipe (cookies, for instance) the Amish salted butter works great as long as you account for the extra salt.

                                                                                        1. re: MichaelB
                                                                                          FoodDabbler Mar 25, 2011 07:04 AM

                                                                                          "It's all salted. A LOT. Deliciously so."

                                                                                          Probably "Delicious *because*". The salt supports and enhances the flavor.

                                                                                  2. re: teezeetoo
                                                                                    opinionatedchef Mar 25, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                                                    I admire and encourage your good heart. the more immigrant grocers we support, the more welcoming will be our country and the better will be our food.

                                                                    2. g
                                                                      Gour875mand Mar 26, 2011 10:02 AM

                                                                      Wilson Farms in Lexington has a variety of imported butters that look good but I've never tasted them.

                                                                      Wilson Farm
                                                                      10 Pleasant St, Lexington, MA 02421

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Gour875mand
                                                                        teezeetoo Mar 26, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                        tried the amish butter at Russos. Wish I liked it as it is a bargain. Had my hubby do a blind tastetest with vermont butter, amish butter, and goat's butter. The vermont butter won for him hands down, with the goat next (he liked the texture and the bit of "cheesiness" in the goat). he thought the amish butter was salted land o lakes: too salty and too greasy in texture. that's the conclusion I came to as well.

                                                                        1. re: teezeetoo
                                                                          sallyt Jan 31, 2012 04:50 PM

                                                                          Thanks for the VT rec for butter - I tried and LOVE it!!

                                                                      2. c
                                                                        collie Jan 23, 2012 11:05 AM

                                                                        Try: all of these are offered localy and high quality but not over priced.
                                                                        Vermont Butter and Cheese co.
                                                                        Highlawn farms
                                                                        Kates of Maine

                                                                        1. KWagle Jan 31, 2012 11:50 PM

                                                                          I'm a big fan of Plugra, which Shaw's has in half-pound foil wrapped packages, both salted and unsalted. I haven't found the 1# blocks recently--Restaurant Depot claims they can't stock it up here because the shipping cost is too high, but they do stock clarified Plugra, and have the 1# at the DC location.

                                                                          RD does have Cabot 83, but I found it pretty boring, which has proven to be true of most Cabot products, aside from their cheddar and 10% milk fat Greek style yogurt.

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