Cambridge, Massachusetts is a beautiful and interesting little city, separated from Boston by the Charles River, and built on a series of squares. Although many people come to Cambridge for its excellent universities – both Harvard and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology are located in Cambridge – here at Local Pickins we have other reasons to be interested in the city: its amazing Farmers’ Markets and local food purveyors! Although you can land just about anywhere in Cambridge and find something good to eat, some areas in particular are simply overflowing with unusual and delicious treats. Recently, Local Pickins decided to take a stroll through Inman Square, and pick out all the ingredients for a perfect summer dinner. This is the story of our foodie walk! We began in Harvard Square, where there is a wonderful Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays. Should you find yourself craving Farmers’ Market goodies on another day of the week, though, never fear! Cambridge hosts a Market in a different location every day of the week.
Our first stop, as we made our way down Inman Square’s bustling main thoroughfare, Cambridge Street, was Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods, which specializes in unusual grains, flours, spices, and sauces. We were intrigued by the shelves full of almost magical seeming ingredients, feeling as though we had stepped into a real-life version of Harry Potter, and could have spent hours browsing the shelves. As we mentally conceived of the dinner we would prepare that night, we decided that this would be an excellent place to pick up a gluten-free grain to prepare as an accompaniment to fish or chicken. Now, would organic red quinoa or polenta be better choice?!
Right next door to the Spice & Specialty Food Shop is is Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, which has over 50 tasty, unique kinds of made-in-house ice cream and sorbet. Their flavors include Adzuki Bean, Coconut Butterfinger, and Fresh Rose, and they serve up these delicious creations in cups, cones, or in pints and quarts to take home and share (or not!). I picked up a pint filled half with their tangy Cinnamon Ice Cream (made with real, strong cinnamon from the spice shop) and half with Ginger Ice Cream, which was made with real chunks of ginger in it. It was the perfect, unexpected desert for a weekday dinner, and I knew my family would love the treat.
As I continued my stroll down Cambridge Street, I came to Royal Pastry Shop, an authentic, neighborhood Italian bakery which has resided in this East Cambridge location since 1942. At Royal, small, almond-y cookies are sold by the pound, biscotti is covered in colorful frosting, cakes are customizable, and staff engages in friendly banter with customers. A few cookies or a slice of cake from Royals is the perfect accompaniment to some Christina’s Ice Cream!
The next stop on my walking tour of Inman Square, a couple blocks down from Royal’s, was the one I was most excited about: New Deal Fish Market. New Deal is one of the oldest, and most reputable, fish markets in Cambridge, and they always have an excellent selection of fresh seafood, including some interesting fish that even the biggest foodie may have never heard of!
Besides always having a host of amazing seafood on offer, New Deal is notable for its impressive, super helpful staff. New Deal employees are friendly, efficient, and always ready to provide quick, off-the-cuff instructions on the tastiest way to prepare anything you might choose to buy. Furthermore, they’re always eager to tout something that is particularly good that day: if you’re not careful, you might walk in looking to pick up some Salmon, and leave with a beautiful piece of Mahi-Mahi!
New Deal is also well-stocked with a basic selection of vegetables, sauces, pastas, and broths, should you require any to accompany your future fish-y meal.
We couldn’t resist buying eight super plump, local scallops to take home and serve as an appetizer that night. We walked out of the door with the raw scallops on ice (the ice was helpfully provided by a New Deal employee who inquired as to the length of our walk home) in hand, and huge smiles on our faces.
The last stop on our trip was Mayflower Poultry, a veritable treasure-trove of ultra-fresh chicken, turkey, and other poultry. Mayflower is the perfect place to go for main course meat: you can buy full birds, half birds, or just about any cut you need to make your dream recipe a reality. Plus, Mayflower has been in Cambridge since 1932, its’ iconic exterior and unpretentious vibe makes it worth a visit as a historical landmark alone.
Next time you’re in the mood for a great walk through a funky little city, and in need of dinner ingredients, take a foodie stroll through Cambridge’s Inman Square. You’ll experience a bustling, vibrant neighborhood, and pick up some great eats in the process!