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Russian/Armenian/Eastern European Market

lil mikey | Aug 10, 200508:00 PM

I finally tried the little Eastern European deli-market on Garfield just north of Hollywood Boulevard. I’ve been meaning to try it, as every time I walk by, I gaze at the deli case.

So last weekend, I stopped in.

It’s a little shop, with a little wiry man behind the well-stocked deli case. He speaks with a little accent, but is very nice and quite helpful. I think he must be the proprietor.

The deli case has many kinds of cold cuts and cheeses, as you’d expect. But what first caught my eye were the 5 different kinds of Feta cheese. They’re obviously fresh, sitting in water baths, and there are big chunks of the white cheese in each bin. The difference between them is the saltiness. So I said “not too salty” and was given the second one in. The flavor is clean, maybe too clean. There’s actually not much flavor. I like it, but now I want to try the others.

They also have Basturma, both with fat and without. I learned that Basturma, also Bastirma, is air-dried meat with seasoning on it. It’s kind of like Serrano ham, but with seasoning. The seasoning they use is a little spicy, like it has some paprika or cayenne or something. It’s not hot spicy, it just has a little zing to it. And it’s quite fragrant. I got the one with fat, and it’s okay. I like it, but I think my palate is more used to the Serrano flavor. Like the Feta, I want to try other preparations.

He also has a selection of fresh olives (I say fresh in the sense they are not canned, but they are brined). I got some really good kalamatas that are plump and juicy. Yum.

My best find was the salami. This is by far the best salami I’ve ever tasted. It comes with a layer of fat around it instead of a skin. The meat inside is ground so fine that there aren’t the big chunks of meat and fat that you normally find in salami. And it has a very delicate smokiness to it that makes me want to just finish the whole bunch right away.

He also had some very fresh peaches for 99 cents per pound that were much better than the ones we had just bought at our usual market. I had to buy 2.

There are also all sorts of canned sardines, and other canned stuff that you never see anywhere. And I’m probably forgetting over half of his deli case. For such a small market, he has a great selection of non-grocery stuff.

I love little stores like this. They specialize in a certain thing, and do a great job at finding the best of that thing. In this case, it’s the deli and to a lesser extent the produce.

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