I thinks it’s worth having a blanket thread to cover both the ice cream (1255 Cambridge St.) and the specialty foods (1297 Cambridge St.), a short block away from each other. We were at both today, but it’s the food store (still called “Spices”, although it now carries a lot more) that I want to talk about. I hadn’t been since soon after they moved to their present location some years ago (when, backing up to get a better look at their shelves, I almost fell down their back stairs), and I was very impressed with the range of things they carry. Their website tells part of the story, but it leaves out some of their strengths. Several things are available in small sizes, for example, ideal for experimental cooking: small bags of various types of rice, beans, lentils at $2–3 apiece, a tiny bottle of Red Boat fish sauce, etc. And there are several unusual items – I came away with a jar of a Calabrian Chili–Sardine spread and a ghost pepper ketchup (paging @tomatotomato).
If you go there, do post about what you find.
And, of course, there are the creative ice creams at the other store, not always successful, but always inventive. I had an excellent rose-apricot sorbet today and a less superb lychee.
I don’t recall our most recent visit, which was maybe 4 months ago? Anyway, really impressed with the range of products, more choices of almost everything, and found the enhanced website helpful for choosing stuff to search for once in the store. Got some frozen lime leaves by asking for them; not obvious anywhere they were available. Since Russo closed in Watertown, I’m always looking for lime leaves.
We’ve been happy customers of Christina’s Spices for over 30 years. So glad it’s still around! I still order some stuff online occasionally and also go to Curio Spice in Cambridge first for some spices. Christina’s has a broader product line, however.
I don’t really ever find myself in their Cambridge store, but I do love their kulfi ice cream which is regularly available around the corner from me at Q’s Nuts. Heavy on the cardamom, worth a try if you like that.
I knew the time would come when there would be something on which we’d disagree, and that time is now. (I’d say “respectfully” disagree, but the last time I used that adverb the recipient left HO in a huff after PMing me that it was because of my post. I decided that it was the “respectful” that had been the tipping point.)
Let me mildly say that Christina’s version of kulfi is not what’s generally called kulfi in India in that it is not made with properly reduced milk. It is very cardamom-y, as you observe, and somewhat gritty with chopped nuts. To me it’s palatable – if I don’t think of it as “kulfi”. Oddly, they do know what “proper” kulfi is. Over a decade ago they supplied kulfi to a chai and snack shop in Arlington Center, and that version was the genuine article. But that shop has closed and with it that kulfi died.
There were reports last year that “genuine kulfi” was available locally, but I have not verified. I can’t off-hand think of a local restaurant that now offers it, but I haven’t eaten in at an Indian restaurant in three years.
Well, I have no kulfi expertise or basis of comparison and have never been to India. I suppose I think of Christina’s as no more than a flavor of ice cream which I enjoy, and it sounds like you’re saying kulfi is entirely its own thing, and Christina’s only marginally qualifies. So we don’t necessarily have to disagree- we can agree on both of those points.
I did a taste comparison of the chili-sardine with this:
that I happened to have on hand.
I followed the advice of spreading both on buttered toast. The Chili-Sardine was distinctly fishier with a definite sardine-like flavor and had more bite. But the competition was, I thought, more complex.
Neither keeps for long, though, so for $12ish each they’re both splurge items.