This week I found the new tile floor is almost complete at the Essex Street Market, and they are preparing to re-open the seating area at the North end.
Speaking of the North end of the market, I noticed the Tra La La Juice Bar is now making cupcakes, along with their famous muffins. I had a blackberry (in season!) cupcake for a mere $1.25, and noted that Ron (co-owner of Tra La La and Rainbo's Fish) has also included some "animal free" cupcakes. This week, he is offering animal free apple orange cupcakes and animal free mocha cupcakes for $1.50 each. Ron did a lot of experimenting until he got them to taste right. He uses a combination of olive oil and vinegar instead of butter, milk, or eggs. He was also offering a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting for $1.25 that looked delicious.
I noticed that it does pay to compare prices at the fruit and vegetable (grocery) stands because they do vary. Today mangos were selling for $1 each at Viva Fruits & Vegetables and $1.79 each at Essex Farm Groceries. But Viva was selling Rice Dream (in their new organic section) for $4.19 while Essex Farm sells it for $3.99.
Ronnie Sue of Ronnie Sue's Chocolates is now making cookies. I tried a chocolate chocolate chip cookie that was moist and delicious. They come in a $2.00 bag with six cookies. Another great deal.
After the cookies, I ventured over to Formaggio Essex, a specialty store that has been based in Cambridge, Mass for over 30 years (they've been at the Essex Market for about three years). They specialize in exclusive imports, from artisan cheese to olive oil to jelly. You can always find a unique import to sample. Ayse (the Cambridge store owners' daughter) offered me some palacio chorizo from Spain ($6.95 whole or $3.50 for a half) and some Basil Olive Oil from Chile ($11.95 per bottle). I also noticed some lovely preserves, "Configures de Raphael" from Brittany, France. The organic fruit Raphael uses is from his farm in Brittany and is boiled in a copper cauldron over an open fire.
For more cheese I visited Ann Saxelby at Saxelby Cheesemongers. She had me try a delicious Brebis Blanche, a fresh, cultured sheep's milk cheese, made by 3-Corner Field Farm in Shushan, New York. ($8.50 for 4oz or $4.25 for a half round). It was light with a citrus flavor, and seemed perfect for a salad or with a little honey, as a snack.
Also, in case you are wondering, you can get a $10 haircut from Aminova (men only!) at Aminova's Barber Shop while you are doing your shopping.