A friend with a CAR brought me along to New World Market a couple of days ago and I was so happy to be able to buy far more than I could manage on MUNI. My freezer is groaning with piroshkis (baked, not fried!), borscht, varenekis and pilmenis at this very moment! I couldn't get over the fact that the place seems to be expanding their inventory and the goofy Russian emigre slightly churlish party vibe has only intensified since my last visit about a month ago.
When we arrived, a tall middle-aged woman in hot pants and big red hair was trying to light a cigarette, while the smallest dog with the biggest rhinestone encrusted collar I've ever seen was trying its yippy best to get her attention. Once inside, it was time to grab a basket and press the flesh! Do you speak Russian? No? then do not ask too many complicated questions, tovarich. You will never find out (unless you buy) what distinguishes the "Siberian" pelmeni from the regular meat pelmeni - they contain the same ingredients, and both are home made at New World. I was able to establish a consensus that the mushroom potato varenecki were the ones to try and that the pork - beef pelmeni were also fabulous. Perhaps they're all fabulous, but there must be 20 varieties and I had to start somewhere. Next time I'm going for the sour cherry varenecki. Apparently, if you buy them, they also throw in a free container of sour cherry juice in a separate container.
The cheese counter holds some amazing treasures. FARMER'S CHEESE, chowhounds! Real farmer's cheese...I could cry. Full fat, "lite" and fat-free - the choice is your's. All the same price. My spanakopita recipe can now be completely authentic. And New World has generic sour cream that tastes like what real sour cream ought to taste like. I got enough for the borscht, the varenecki, the pelmeni, AND the herring. The herring! No sour cream herring, but that's OK I'll make my own - with apples and onions. But, like maybe two dozen different herrings to chose from. I am not exagerating. I eventually opted for the whole one in the shrink-wrap that now stares balefully at me whenever I open the fridge. It probably weighs three quarters of a pound and was $1.81. what a deal. Thank you, herring - for giving up your life for me.
I will try to make you into something worthy of your sacrifice.
There's a refrigerator case with scores of interesting sausages bearing no descriptive labelling whatsoever. I saw several elderly men wearing interesting headgear buying various sausages and was tempted to start asking, probably fruitless, questions about their personal selections, but then a spot opened up on the cashier's line.
So I stood there waiting to pay, staring at the most eccentric bakery case I've seen in quite a while. Either these cakes represent some dessert genre with which I'm not familiar, or there's a mad baker at work behind the scenes at New World. All the cakes are huge slabs, and I suppose you just specify how big a hunk you want. It's almost February, but one
cake was festively decorated with plastic holly. Another bore the scrawled-in-icing inscription "Versace!" There are strudels, and something that looked like a cross between a napoleon and a multi-layered cream cake coated with graham cracker crumbs.
Did I mention that New World has pickled tomatoes just like you get at the NYC "appetizing" stores? Half-sour pickles as good as Gus and Daughters'? Whole dried kasha for 89 cents a pound? Weird looking Russian-style alcoholic items including "Noah" brand fruit flavored liquers, authentic big rubbery-in-a-good-way rye bread, giant platters piled high with kebabs on what look like Soviet army surplus swords.
You could spend a long time just enjoying the infinite variety of possible fruit preserve selections - many of which I've never even heard of. Would you believe midget 2 inch long eggplants in a sugary syrup? Perhaps on your waffles?
I love New World Market! It's on the south side of Geary near 19th. Ave., next to the kosher meat market.
Now if somebody would just try ALL those sausages and tell me which ones are the tastiest...