Monday, December 26, 2005

Big tubs of olives

Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is a lot like Chicago's Division Street. Both extend over too many neighborhoods to be classified, yet despite being huge and hard to miss, contain the sort of off-the-beaten-path shops, restaurants, and street life typical of side streets. Atlantic Avenue, however, has the benefit of big tubs of olives. Along with hookahs, chain drugstores, hipster bars, antique shops, a notary-type storefront offering "Middle Eastern Services," and a prison, there are stores which sell more Middle Eastern food than I would know what to do with, and I don't think I'm especially flummoxed by Middle Eastern food. But how does one serve, say, "Sultan's Paste"? Or dried flowers?

While Sahadi's was closed, Katherine and I found another, far smaller but perhaps more overwhelming store across the street, where I got smoked almonds, dried apricots, and black-purple olives, all about the best I've ever tasted. We were given samples of just-roasted cashews, and, while neither of us are big fans of cashews, we were both nevertheless big fans of these particular cashews. Not a good store for those with severe nut allergies, or those who mind buying olives from large white buckets so low to the ground that there's sure to be some mingling of whatever's on the bottom of shoes with whatever's in the tubs.

The back of the store was filled with so much baklava and similar that, had I not been occupied with the aforementioned cashews, there would be a tray of it in my apartment right now. And then there was the zatar bread, again, had there not been the cashews...

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