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Georgian home cooking on Neptune Ave


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Georgian home cooking on Neptune Ave

plum | Apr 25, 2004 08:17 PM

Cruising out along Neptune Ave in Brighton Beach, we saw an unfamiliar blue awning with Georgian letters over a little deli.

It's a small bakery/deli with a prepared foods and cheese counter. We knew we had a good thing as soon as we went in - a man was just bringing out a tray of hot khachapuri. It's only good straight from the oven, and theirs is flaky and stuffed with buttery sheep cheese curds.

No one really spoke English but the owners were friendly - not the 'Martians have descended upon us' vibe you can sometimes get at these little out of the way places. They were very generous with samples and eager for us to try everything.

You can get very depressed about Russian and Caucasian food shopping out on Brighton Beach Ave. None of that here. Everything tastes like coriander, dill, walnuts, fenugreek, celery leaves, sour plums, pomegranate seeds, sheep's cheese, sunflower oil - in short, real, honest Georgian cooking.

They were selling obviously home made soups from clay pots and plastic containers. The first was lobbio, a red kidney bean soup, velvety and mildly seasoned with onion and coriander. The second, kharcho, was chock full of fatty bony cuts of beef and rice in a tangy, spicy broth - a lady in the shop translated when the man told us that it was a traditional Georgian cure for "unhappy desparate love" - although it'd finish off a hangover too I reckon. Sold. The third was white fish in an herby green sour broth.

Don't miss marinated mushroom (soko) - deep tasting sliced mushrooms with plenty of chopped onion, dill, parsley, coriander leaves and red pepper.

The eggplant salad (badridzhani) is fantastic - eggplant roasted and mashed with coriander leaves, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. A second eggplant salad was mashed with leeks and parsley, but we were overwhelmed by that point.

There is fresh Georgian bread (puri) on the counter. They also sell Georgian cheeses: something feta-like, suluguni (salty fresh vaguely mozzerella-like cheese) and bryndza (sharp salty sheep's cheese).

Prices are very reasonable, although due to language problems and the generosity of the owners, we got more of some stuff than we'd meant. Not a problem for us, but be firm if you only wanted a little. It would be helpful to bring along a Russian speaker, although any Russian at all is enough to get by.

In addition to the prepared foods, there is a small selection of Georgian groceries and papers. Real red and yellow tkemali sauces for $3 a bottle - not the sad stuff so common in Russian groceries.

Georgian Bread / Gruzinskii Hleb
265 Neptune Ave (between Brighton 4 and Brighton 6)
Tel. 718-332-8082

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