Drove my sweetie to work this morning, and thought I'd take the opportunity to check out the Cuban market on Victory Blvd., especially as I'd seen some Cuban recipes in Chow magazine that called for ingredients I hadn't noticed elsewhere, most notably a variety of yam called "boniato". Well, Gigante it ain't, but there's sure a load of good stuff there. Nice selection of hot foods and pastry items on the south wall to your left as you walk in (including a couple different guava things I *GOTTA* try), very comprehensive if compact produce section straight down from there, including a 3-lb red football, my boniato! Lots of good-looking meat, fish and poultry, including bagged stewing hens - all RIGHT! - and then across past the meat and up the north side, heading back towards the front, a large open case with all kinds of cheeses and cured meats, including a good number of Eastern European things - Hungarian-style chunk bacon and sausages, Spanish chorizo, then the freezer cases with all the "normal" veges plus lots of yucca and things of that sort. Just about everything Goya sells, of course, both in the freezer and on the shelves. I did not check out the middle too thoroughly, but while the layout is mostly in the usual supermarket categories, there are also numerous enclaves pitched toward one culture or another. Plenty of coffee al gusto Latino, including the El Pico brand I used to buy in Nashville, though not for any $5.95...but this is a lot farther from New Jersey.
I couldn't stay too long; my boniato was joined by a rope of that chorizo, a chunk of the Hungarian bacon, and two cans of spicy-hot Portuguese sardines in olive oil, and I was either gonna have to get a cart or leave. I can see I'll be making trips to NoHo whether Tania's working there or not. It's not stunningly cheap - the boniato was .79/lb, and my smallish square of bacon was almost seven bucks - but it's gonna be a good source for stuff my nearby barrio market doesn't even know about.
El Cubano Food Bag Market
11350 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood
(nearest major cross-street is Tujunga)