What the Hey? Can One Find Excellent Pesto in Boston?
- opinionatedchef Jul 24, 2013 09:28 PM
I think I now know what my grandmother felt like when, after being raised in a world of good old pure butter, she suddenly saw the new world embracing margerine. My last batch of pesto lasted a very long time i guess, so earlier this month,i surprisingly found myself in the position of wanting to buy some. I thought my requisites were simple: basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, parmigiano regiano. What's so hard about that?
As I happened to be at Formaggio's, I bought some of theirs and found it to be very good. The only catch was that it was $12 for 8 ounces. I thought I remembered that the Bear Pond pesto was excellent (and half the Form. price) so we bought some at WF and also picked up some from TrJ, to compare. Tonight I tasted them as the pasta was boiling. Well, the Tr J went right to the trash and after much doctoring of the Bear Pond (adding Parm/Reg, garlic, chopped basil, evoo, and toasted pine nuts- we had ourselves a pesto pasta dinner. But whew, not the simple prep i was hoping for. So it looks like I'll be buying a case of basil and freezing puree for the millenium, but before i do, has anyone found some excellent pesto in Boston? TIA!
I've used Restaurant Depot basil for pesto before and it was quite satisfactory. It's available all year 'round, so you don't have to freeze it, you can just make it fresh. Of course you need a RD membership, but from your nick I would assume you have access.
I can't imagine anything easier in the kitchen than making pesto. Toast some pinenuts in a dry saute pan, smash a couple of garlic cloves, pick over a bunch of basil leaves, pull out some good EVOO, grate some cheese. I made some last night in about ten minutes (a good food processor helps, but I've gotten good results with a blender and a spatula, too).
I got my basil at the Chelsea Market Basket; $2.50 per huge bunch. Garlic from Kam Man, pennies. The Parmigiano Reggiano came from either Whole Foods or Russo's, probably $8-$10/pound. The EVOO was Trader Giotto's, $6/quart or so. Pine nuts are a bit trickier these days; it's getting harder to find them from sources other than China, and Chinese pignoli carry the risk of pine mouth. I believe mine came from Russo's.
If you need a quick fix and don't have the ingedients, Villa Francesca on Richmond St. in the North End does a pretty fine version.
OpChef, if you feel like driving, Tuscan Kitchen Marketplace in Salem NH has a kickass selection. Nice place to browse, too.
I was at Shaw's this eve and they had a tasting of RANA products: tortellini and pesto made with Genovese basil. I won't rule out the possibility that I was hungry, but I thought the pesto was excellent and actually bought one. $5 for 7oz pesto.