Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Before my Russian shopping adventure this past weekend I stuck with the familiar when shopping for Russian groceries. I bought farmer's cheese to make blintzes. I bought the best tasting homemade sour cream. I stocked my freezer with various types of meat and potato dumplings called pelmenyi and vareniki to boil up and serve with a dollop of the aforementioned sour cream. I sometimes bought a slab of Russian bacon or some smoked fish. Baffling to the uninitiated, too many other items in Russian specialty shops have all Cyrillic labels with no English translation and even if they are translated their usage remains a mystery.
But shopping with Alenushka and Sour Cherry as they are known on the Craigslist Food Forum was a great opportunity for Pozoleboy and I to unlock many more secrets of Russian specialty store shopping and expand our culinary horizons. Our first stop was New World Grocery where we learned that Russian candy is often named after animals--such as bears or cows. We nibbled some rich candy called "syrki" a round chocolate covered delight filled with a sweet creamy center that tasted something like a fruity ricotta only creamier. I hope no one else was hoping to buy some as our little troop cleaned out the store's supply. I picked up a sour plum sauce that was recommended for barbecuing or serving with meat. I also noted for future reference a jar of honey with pine nuts floating in it. This is spooned on toast for a decadent breakfast. I also bought some of the yogurt which I did not realize until I got home was not low fat! At only $2.29 for a 2 pound container it was priced right but will be more of a treat than an everyday staple.
My other purchase was tea. It shouldn't have been such a surprise to find tea, after all Russians are famous for their samovars. The package says deluxe Ceylon but it is also flavored with bergamot like a traditional Earl Grey. And deluxe it is, when you see the length and quality of the tea leaves you know it will brew a top notch cup of tea!
The meat counter usually has a platter of slices of various meats to try, but the helpful women behind the counter are also perfectly willing to serve up tastes of almost anything you want. Don't miss some of the smoked and spiced beef like Russian versions of pastrami.
More on the Russian shopping adventure to come...check back Thursday.
5641 Geary Blvd. @ 21st