Made the trip into Queens last Saturday morning to visit Northern Boulevard (86-17), right next to the bagel shop on the corner. There's no sign out front, and they keep the metal security curtain down so you can't see in. It's a small shop, filled with wonderful spanish food items - cheeses, serrano ham, boquerones, olives, piquillo peppers, olive oil, various sausages (made on site) and a large selection of casuelas in different sizes/shapes. A small tapas bar was set up on one side, with bread, chorizo, cheese, serrano, and wine. Although it was 9:30 am, as soon as I walked in the door, I was handed a large cup of a nice fruity rose. When in Rome....(or is that Barcelona?!)
Anyway, there were lots of spanish guys (and one woman) gossiping while picking up their food orders for their restaurants, and I think a few people shopping for themselves. The atmosphere was social and quite pleasant, with everyone trying to be helpful and laughing. There was a bit of a language barrier, so I had trouble figuring out if they in fact sell retail, although it would appear that way. Most items can be bought in different quantities/sizes. The smallest cheese portion you can buy is a 1/4 wheel, but for a party it would be ideal. I purchased tetilla, idiazabal, and manchego, and all were delicious and in good condition. The quality of the serrano was high, and while we bought a whole one, I did see others buying cryovac portions of hams. The chorizos are really tasty, too!
There was a stack of empanadas for sale from a local shop (I couldn't get a clear answer as to where this shop was) in a variety of flavors from bacalo to chicken to spiced meat. Tasty, but the dough was a bit on the sweet side for my taste, as was the sofrito that was part of the filling.
It was a terrific experience, well worth the trip in on Labor Day weekend.
I had to make a stop over by Roosevelt Avenue at Patel, next to the Jackson Diner. It was fun to see all the places in that neighborhood that have been discussed on these boards, and I wished that I had the time to hound around. Next time!