Thursday, February 16, 2012

South End Wandering

A friend and I went walking in the South End at the spur of the moment today.

After coveting it for about a year, I finally broke down and bought a tiny Pillivuyt "Brasserie" pitcher at Michelle Willey. It matches my beloved "Brasserie oval casserole dish:
It will look so much better holding warm maple syrup than the Pyrex measuring cup we currently use.

We both liked Hudson's handsome new space on Union Park Street. They turned three deep window openings at the back of the shop into dramatic, efficient book storage.

Can one try this at home, I wondered? I think so, as long as you think of books as your window on the world and you won't be stuck reading in the dark.  If you keep a window with a deep frame covered by curtains because you hate the view or want privacy, here's your next project.

I think the trick is to always have a few stray books lying around, so you can replace any book you remove with another to keep the arrangement from collapsing.

Incense filled the air at Old Japan, also on Union Park Street. We admired their display of Lucky Cats, usually a calico, and always with one paw in the air. Wendelina Pantherina, our resident calico, occasionally raises one paw in a similar fashion; it's kind of unnerving. To read the legend of Lucky Cats, go to this page of the Old Japan website.

Our next stop was the Wholy Grain Bakery, where I bought a Jordan Marsh blueberry muffin. I used to buy the originals from the department store's gingham-lined baskets on the way to work, back in the day. I'm sorry I couldn't keep the muffin intact long enough to photograph it — it was so good. Huge, sugar-dusted, bursting with berries, and just like old times.

I picked up vinegar and Armenian string cheese at the Syrian Grocery at 270 Shawmut. When I walk into the store, the strong scent of spices reminds me powerfully of Egyptian souks, where spices, dried herbs, and natural dyes are sold from heaping, aromatic barrels. You can get all sorts of Middle Eastern delicacies at the Syrian Grocery, from apricot paste to za'atar, along with European gourmet items, fresh figs, inlaid backgammon boards, shisha pipes, and tagines. It's a unique and very friendly place to shop. If they don't have what you're looking for, South End Formaggio, next door, might — especially if it's cheese, fresh bread, or some pricey gourmet product you're after.

South End Formaggio also sells cookies from Lakota Bakery in Arlington — among the best cookies I've ever eaten and certainly the most outstanding bakery cookies you will find. I am not a true foodie; I have low tastes — but even I can taste the purity and freshness of each ingredient, especially sweet butter, in Lakota cookies. And how nice that we city folk don't have to go all the way to Arlington Heights to get them. We have so much that's good and even great — right here.

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