Monday, October 13, 2008

Russian Store

Scattered here and there in the strip malls of every major metropolitan area are Russian stores. Maybe you’ve never been to one. You may not understand their signs.

You may not even notice them at all.

The storefronts tend to be rather nondescript and unassuming. But if you pay attention, you’re certain to find one. It’s worth looking, for these Russian markets and delis hold many tasty treasures within.

The meat case alone makes the trip worthwhile.

It seems to go on and on forever.

It’s loaded with an endless variety of cold cuts, hams, bacon, smoked sausages, dried sausages, and pork in every guise. Happily, the delicious sausages, with names like Maskoska, Estonska, Moldavska, and hunter’s, are quite affordable for any budget.

Another case holds a rainbow of pickled vegetables.

The olives, wild mushrooms, green tomatoes, sour apples, salted cabbage, and various salads are just like homemade. Bulgarian, French, and Greek fetas are sold by the pound. All sorts of other cheeses are available as well.

Salted and cold smoked fish are plentiful.

Choose from mackerel, whitefish, whiting, salmon, vobla, and more. And, I’ll let you in on a little secret, Russian markets are always a great source for caviar, both black and red.

The Russian store’s pastries and cakes will, no doubt, tempt you.

And the bread is brought in fresh daily.

If you make it in before noon, you may be able to get some while it’s still warm.

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? Well, that’s just the deli counter. Let me tell you about the rest of the store. The selection of canned goods is astounding.

There are aisles full of jarred vegetables, fruits, pickles, and preserves.

The pitted sour cherries in light syrup are particularly delicious.

They’re perfect with a cup of hot tea. Of course, you can pick up your tea at the Russian store too.

In the freezer section, you’ll find ready-to-cook stuffed dumplings called pelimeni and vareniki.

Last, but certainly not least, every good Russian store will stock a fantastic assortment of sweets and candy.

Bin after bin of yummy chocolate, wafer, fruit, nut, and marshmallow candies with fun and whimsical names like bird’s milk, clumsy bear, cow, lobster tail, and squirrel and with colorful, shiny wrappers are guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again.

A Russian store has all this to offer, and lots more. I crave this kind of food, I grew up eating it. Find the Russian store near your neighborhood, explore and taste your way through it, and I’m sure you’ll love it too.

Anoush Deli (6808 NE Fourth Plain, Vancouver, Washington, 360-693-4359) happens to be my personal favorite Russian store, and my family shops at Euro Deli Too (6832 Coit Road, Plano, Texas, 972-312-0244).


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