I thought I'd check out Bavarian Breads at European Foods. All I can say is Nyet!! The shelves were newly stocked and the bread still looked stale and dried out, even in the plastic bags.
After the Eastern European food wonderland at WinMart in Sunnyvale, I thought I'd take another look at European Foods on Clement. Still disappointing. WinMart is twice as big and the deli five times as large and a lot more appetizing looking.
So, I thought I'd check out the other Russian stores in the nabe. The find was New World Market on Geary. A little smaller than European Foods it had a bigger and fresher looking deli. It was no WinMart, but the best I've found in SF.
They even had seven kinds of caviar. Huge bowls like the type that Andronico's or Safeway keep potato salad in. The caviar ranged from $9.99 to $24.99. I'm not sure how much you got for those prices. I've never seen such huge bowls of orange fish eggs. I was distracted by the display.
They even had what I would call a Russian salad bar. A little island of serve yourself hot dishes. The stuffed cabbage is probably the best I've had in the city (but second to WinMart). It was the tomato based non sweet type. Not greasy like some. They also had some excellent stewed cabbage with chicken in it. Sort of a hot vinegary cabbage. There were six other dishes. Something called Plov that looked like rice and beef. Some chicken breasts smothered in onions and mushrooms. I forgot what else was there, but it all looked tasty. Pretty reasonable at $3.99 - $4.99 a pound.
Large selection of cold food, smoked fish, cold cuts. Quite a selection of horseradish with and without beets. There was even a pleasant pink horseradish with cranberries. A side note, Sauls in Berkeley makes an excellent beet horseradish.
And then there was the liquor department. I forgot Manishewitz came in flavors besides grape. There is also cherry, lingonberry, blackberry, blueberry and, my personal favorite, medium-dry concord grape. Checking the spelling, I came across the winery. Seems they have a white and cordials. See link below. I like the descriptions where they talk about the confectionary notes, pleasant mouth feel and smooth aftertaste of their products. There's recipes to match to your Manishewitz.
New World Foods carried Wegerman's bread which seemed a little better than Bavarian breads, but still looked dried out.
Checked out a number of other Russian deli's and cafes, but none I would buy anthing at. With my Eastern European looks, a number of stores talked to me in Russian and once in Yiddish. I tell you, if you go to that Jewish store next to New World, there is no such thing as looking. The owner pointed out everything on the shelves. Gefelte fish, look at all the types we have ....
Another decent place was the Moscow and Tbilis Bakery Store. This is about as good rye bread as you'll get in the area. The shelves are lined with fresh baked loaves. They run them through the bread slicer if you like, just like the Polish bakeries of my childhood. Love those bread slicers. Will have to try their Challah in the future. Looks like good, if not great bread. At least it's fresh. Sort of reminds me of the Russian version of some of the North Beach bakeries.
They also had these donuts that looked like Polish punski. Huge yeasty donuts filled with custard or cherries. Very good if a little greasy. Also had some impressive looking cream cakes. This is more of a Russian thing than a Polish thing. Hmmm, a cuisine even more unhealthy than Polish ... in addition to sausages, sour cream, potato salad, butter, and eggs there's HUGE whipped cream cakes covered in chocolate and soaked in liquor. Sometimes I think if it wasn't for smoked fish, cabbage and cole slaw, Eastern Europeans wouldn't make it through their twenties without clogged arteries.
Moscow Bakery is almost across the street from New World Deli. Near the theatre on Geary and Gaspare's. I'll be back at both.
Some of the other worth while stores are Sekow Sausage. This is basically a Polish store. THey have a number of types of kielbasa. I've soured on them a little when I bought a bad ham there once. It was green ham and eggs, so to speak. However, they have an unmatched selection of dried mushrooms. Better than anything I've seen anywhere in the entire country. They also have a wonderful Polish cheesecake on weekends.
The other place for some goodies is Quality Market on Irving near Andronico's. They have an in-store bakery and some of the best strudel in the city. Today I had a poppy seed roll hot from the oven. Seems like what gets baked is the whim of the owner. Sometimes it's strudel, sometimes turnorvers.
There were some excellent blinzes, sort of a Russian version of spring rolls. There were two types today. One filled with ground beef and potatoes. The other with mushrooms, eggs and dill. That was pretty tasty. They also carry the best kielbasa in town that is imported from New York. They carry some nice cold cuts and some Bobak sausages.
However, none of these places match WinMart in Sunnyvale. THe places in the city I think you would need to be a fan of Eastern European food to appreciate. With WinMart, I'd recoomend them to anyone. I'm going to have to ask how they thought of that name It just doesn't sound Eastern European.