January 23 2010
Dean & Deluca is three blocks away from my house in New York’s Soho, but I still make a pilgrimage to Sahadi’s in Brooklyn, a 30-minute trip by subway, when I want to shop for gourmet food. Founded in 1898 by the namesake family, Orthodox Christians from Lebanon, the store moved from Manhattan to the borough in the 1940s: it’s now the anchor of an unofficial Middle Eastern enclave along Atlantic Avenue.
Tackling the bustling, bazaar-like space can seem daunting, but it’s easy if you follow a two-step process. First, grab a number from the machine by the door. Then head to the deli counter at the back for homemade kibbi (aromatic ground lamb and bulgur wheat meatballs), salads, and, of course, hummus (stir in some fresh lemon at home before serving).
By then, your number will have been called by the counter out front: one of the staff will ask what you need from the jars of dried fruits, nuts and pickles that fill the rest of the store. I always bulk-buy: dried cranberries for a couple of bucks a pound (less than a quarter of the cost at my supermarket), trays of sticky figs, toasted salty pistachios (just $5.75/lb) and tubs of briny, meaty olives.
I make a final pitstop at the Damascus Bakery next door: everyone knows that the spinach pastries there pip Sahadi’s. Then I head back home, arms groaning, straight past Dean & Deluca.