Thursday, April 08, 2004

New World Market Shop

I love international travel. Who doesn't? I crave getting on a plane and going some place where everything is unfamiliar and new. But when I can't quite manage a trip I make a little excursion that helps satisfy my wanderlust. I head straight for an ethnic grocery store. Granted there are plenty of things that are poorly labeled and I have no idea what they are or might be, but I have also discovered some real treasures that make me want to stop by on a regular basis.

I have shopped Italian, Latin American and Asian grocery stores for quite some time. I particularly enjoy finding ones with delicatessens where I can try some prepared foods. Here in San Francisco we are blessed with many different kinds of delis. The latest discovery for me has been a Russian grocery with a deli counter that runs the length of the store.

The first thing I go for is the homemade sour cream. I realize this is an exotic ingredient for some, but growing up in a second generation American family, sour cream was a staple item in our house. The homemade sour cream is rich and thick and tangy, so much tastier than what you can find in the supermarket, and about half the price. I also like to buy various types of "farmer cheese" something that can be hard to find on the west coast and is crucial for making blintzes. There is even a spreadable version that is very similar to cream cheese, only much lower in fat.

The other favorites are smoked fish, both wild smoked salmon for only $7.99 a pound, cheaper than Costco, and for a few dollars more, a mixed tray of smoked fish which includes trout, sturgeon and other delicacies. I also like browsing through the myriad of pickled vegetables, the kinds that Russians depend upon to get through the harsh winters.

The last thing I indulge in is various kinds of dumplings. In an Italian deli, one buys ravioli, in a Chinese deli one buys dim sum, but in a Russian deli it's pelmeni and vareniki, two kinds of Russian dumplings. Vareniki come with sweet fruit or savory fillings, pelmeni are smaller and come stuffed with savory fillings. I especially like the potato, mushroom or meat filled ones.

But the store is so big, there is still a lot to explore. I still have to get my nerve up to try the cured meats, including Russian style bacon and various salads and who-knows-what-all-else inside the glass cases....

New World Market
5641 Geary Blvd. (at 21st Avenue)
San Francisco