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May 12, 2011 06:50 AM

In praise of Arax fruit

I know, I know, I'm a broken record.

On any given visit, Arax will consistently, all year long, have at least one or two fruit that blow my mind. Recent examples: tiny French plums, Haitian Mangos, Fragrant pears, Kiwi Berries.

I thought I knew fragrant pears. Had them a hundred times. The ones I had last week were the best I have ever eaten.

Here's the VERY important secret:

Ask the BIG young guy, one of the three siblings now running the place, which fruit he recommends. Heck, he's at the Chelsea produce market every morning at 4:00am tasting and buying the stuff, then driving the truck on home. He has never failed me. If he says its GOOD, it's better than good.

Whew, glad I got that off my chest.

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  1. StriperGuy is correct, beautiful fruit at Arax. Amazing that they can keep their produce costs so low and the quality high. Instead of eating the horrible Star Market/Stop & Shop stuff sold as fresh produce, or battling the mobs at Russo's, I just walk around the corner to Arax. And don't get me started on their other foods, we are loving the Armenian salad and spicy cheese spread and...well, go and check it out.

    11 Replies
    1. re: varraspa

      Last 3 years in a row, I've needed some mint for a Derby party, and the stuff at Russo's looked like.. merde. Arax saved me.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          I got a huge bunch of gorgeous fresh oregano the other day for next to nothing. It wasn't located with the other herbs, but was in a large plastic bag on the counter. They also had really nice looking heirloom tomatoes for $1.49/lb. The prices are great.

          1. re: bear

            Aaaah, they often have the more herbal herbs (as opposed to parsley and cilantro) up front. Keep an eye out for the amazing fresh Tarragon, HUGE bunches, that they occasionally have.

            Also up front they sometimes have rather unusual greens: purslane (yummy in a salad, I just pick mine wild cause it grows in my driveway) Egyptian Spinach, and others.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Good to know. My son and I were cooking a Portuguese fish stew and really wanted some oregano. I thought we'd hit Arax and take a chance, rather than head to Shaw's. We got our other produce but figured we struck out on the oregano, only to catch a glimpse of it hiding in a large bag as we were checking out. I guess there are other goodies not to be missed up front.

              They also often have great prices on pint containers of berries on the checkout counter as well.

              The grape leaves we grabbed helped to stave off hunger until our stew was done.

              1. re: bear

                If you like grape leaves, make sure you try the veggie ones. The meat are good, but the veggie, with pine nuts and currants are the best I've had.

      1. re: varraspa

        Yes -- the spicy cheese spread is fantastic.

        1. re: chickendhansak

          How do I find that (the spice cheese spread)?

          1. re: threedogs

            it's in the refrigerator cabinet on the back wall, across from the olives.

            1. re: Madrid

              It is a mix of feta, red pepper and spices... some find it kinda salty, just be conscious of what bread/cracker you spread it upon.

              FWIW, I'm finding that my homegrown tarragon is coming back like gangbusters, despite its reputation for not being all that hardy in this zone...

              1. re: okra

                Also get the garlic spread. It's white. Delicious in anything.

      2. As I was browsing the French melons last Saturday (2 - $5), big guy said "those are really good melons." He sure was right.

          1. re: scotty27

            Dad's still around, just not as often.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Right, but not running the show. Love him, put him on the radio three times.

          2. Thanks for the tip, StriperGuy! Had my son drive me over last night - I was tempted by those fragrant pears, but didn't buy any (they looked like they needed to sit & ripen a bit), so I passed for now. Got some oranges instead, but even those are delish.

            I've noticed that the veggies are amazingly good, too.

            3 Replies
            1. re: threedogs

              there are so many things i love about this place, including the owners and the folks who work there. In addition to the gorgeous prepared stuff, the olive bar, the fruits and vegetables, the fresh and dried herbs and spices, there's the feta cheese, the homemade jam, my source for pomegranate molasses, olive oil, dried limes, fabulous halvah, and something new to try each time i stop in. We are so lucky to have stores like Arax, Severn, Baza, Bazaar, Indian market in Waltham, etc. Makes shopping and cooking a pleasurable adventure.

              30 Tower Road, Newton, MA 02464

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  yes yes yes yes yes. Our son adopted from foster care is now at the therapeutic day school on the McLean campus...he is on an abbreviated starting schedule so we drop him off and have just enough time to go to Arax and I get to spend a nice long time browsing before it's time to pick him up. Such a treasure. On other days we go to Russo's or another of the ethnic markets and today we dropped off knives for sharpening at Stoddard's. But I insist on Arax at least twice a week. My son likes it too....his bio parents are of Puerto Rican descent but he has an unusually narrow of the owners asked him if he was Egyptian a few years ago and he is still totally charmed by that. *Always* check the stuff at the register, as others have said, very special things there. They spend lots of time sorting through the produce discarding the wearing items. I don't know where they get those great strawberries...better than the strawberries I got when I lived in Northern Calif. and they mark them down by half when they are still utterly delicious.

            2. Ahhh, I miss Arax. I used to live 2 blocks away and they were my "corner store" They were always so friendly- more so than several of the places around there who gave me a bit of attitude, plus they were open later.

              It's always an adventure what you might find there- chinese long beans, saturn peaches, those AMAZING french Melons, fresh (uncured) olives, fresh almonds... Also an adventure is that you might not find what some markets consider "standard" there might not be broccoli or carrots for example.

              I wish I lived closer so I could stop by more often!