Monday, June 2, 2008

Exploring East Boston

Over the years my list of places to eat has had a noticeable bulge under the "East Boston" category. East Boston has always been a far away and unknown world, relegated to airport travels. But I never had the time to drive there, to explore or to satisfy my culinary cravings.

Yet, when I found myself particularly overwhelmed this mother's day, I decided that I would give myself a mother's day treat: A day to myself to explore this part of the foodie landscape. Thus, last week both children went to day care so that I could recharge my batteries.

The night before I spent considerable time preparing: doing last minute Chowhound searches, checking addresses and phone numbers, hours open and plotting on my map. Armed with a good plan, I headed out, making it to my first stop by 9:15. There, I discovered a foodie nirvana: Betty Anne's bakeshop on Bennington. Easily missed as it looks just like a house, it is the simplest bakery I have ever encountered. In front of a cash register and refrigerator from the 1930s sat a case with 2 types of cookies, 2 types of bars and 5 types of donuts. I ordered one of each donut, despite the fact that they never seem quite worth the calories.

But, OH, were these worth the calories! Still warm from the fryer, the jelly donut was, unquestionably, the best I have ever had. Moist and light, incredibly tender and perfectly sweetened, it was almost impossible not to eat it in entirety. The owner explained that they are made with fresh eggs ("Unlike other places that use powdered eggs.") While it meant R. couldn't eat them, I knew my husband would appreciate warming the plain cruller in the toaster.

With ethnicities ranging from Guatamalean to Peruvian, Columbian to Mexican, East Boston was a world within a world. From there I tried a pupusa at Rotisseria Cancun, checked out bakeries and taco stand and multiple roast chicken joints. Ultimately, I bought 2 roast chicken halves. The first, garlicy and moist was from Betos, while the second was from Rincon Limeno. The highlight was a garlicy sauce that came with the chicken.

One of the best parts of the trip was a much anticipated meal at Angelas. I had read about this place on multiple occassions and couldn't wait to try the authentic Mexican. Ultimately it was more than I had hoped. First, the owner, Luis was as kind as I have ever met. When I expressed that I wanted to try multiple items on the menu, he literally made me chicken with 4 kinds of sauces! My favorites included the moist and flavorful gordita, the simple black beans and the complex mole.

Will I return? Perhaps. We still need to try the infamous Santarpios. But was it worth the exploration? Absolutely!

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