I know, with all the Bulgarian discussion going on, on this board, people have been clamoring for a decent shop for Bulgarian staples. Serendipty brought me there.
Yesterday, we needed to travel north. How convienient that Gene and Jude's is on the way to the expressway. When we passed G&J, however, there seemed to be a huge backlash to the backlash. I have never seen the place so crowded. The parking lot was full and the line was snaking beyond the door. Hungry, we skipped Gene and Jude's.
The bad part of my day is I agreed to go to Wendy's for the kids. The good part is that I found a small store specializing in, of all things, Bulgarian Foods. It is called BB Speciality Foods and it is in the strip mall with an Aldi, on Irving Park Road just off of River Road, in Schiller Park, Illinois. Not too far from O'Hare if you need to make your own bistro meal prior to a flight.
To be honest, I purchased only two products: Bulgaria's version of the Turkish preserved meat that would eventually become pastrami, and a jar of garlic eggplant condiment. The pastrami thing is made on premise, the eggplant is shipped in from the mother country.
I ate them both for lunch today. The beef is very lean, not like "modern" pastrami with a touch of exotic spice and more than enough pepper. I avoided the deli mustard, it had so much flavor punch on its own. The funny thing about the eggplant was how the label totally missed a couple of key ingredients. For instance, the lubricating olive oil, not listed, and the bits of ham, also not listed. Regardless, the stuff also packed a flavor wallop.
Wait, I forgot, I did purchase and eat on the spot, one of those Polish mardi gras donuts (do not ask me to spell it, you know punch-key's). Filled with fig nevertheless. There were all sorts of jarred goods like pickles and whole whortleberry's in syrup, plus some good looking eastern european breads. The meat counter had a dark, heavy beef sausage as an alternative to the pastrami as well as fresh sausages, similiar to cevapci (or kefta). There were regular deli fare like ham and salami as well. Of course, there was Bulgarian feta.
Changing tack, there was a whole aisle of Mexican goods like canned chipoltles and a small produce selection. You just never know what you will find when you skip Gene and Jude's.
Strangly, at 9:30 at night, when we were driving home, Gene and Jude's was still amazingly packed.