Brooklyn Capers II –Atlantic Avenue — Salaam Aleikum


In these bitter cold days, when some of us have been felled by the flu (despite flu shots and bundling up)– it helps to remember the second half of our trip to Brooklyn. The first half, you may recall, was the visit to the Transit Museum, a post that seemed to have unlocked a lot of memories.

The second half of any trip should always be food and this trip was no exception. You will be happy to hear that Atlantic Avenue is very close to the Transit Museum, a quick walk even in these icy days. On our way, we passed a wonderful set of Greek murals tucked into an alley way, a tribute to another immigrant population influx. Apparently, “Brooklyn’s Greek-Americans live throughout the borough, but their businesses today are concentrated in Downtown Brooklyn near Atlantic Avenue.” (whatmickeyeats.blogspot.com)

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Mary Lou and Ed, our Brooklynite cicerones, led us to the true heart of Atlantic Avenue, the still very Middle Eastern street of groceries, restaurants, smoking supplies, home goods and–I am delighted to say–the full panoply of baked goods, all fresh. Our first stop was a Yemeni restaurant, the appropriately named Yemen Cafe.

Image (Source: tripadvisor.com)

The food was good, cheap and plentiful. In the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that the foaming fenugreek was somewhat strange to my untutored tastebuds but the restaurant’s local population loved it, especially the immense baked flat breads you could dip in their soups and sauces.

Image (Source: urbanspoon.com)

Our next stop was to the beloved Sahadi’s, Atlantic Avenue’s answer to Zabar’s, and an emporium of more than ordinary foodstuffs.

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They carry everything, from the biggest selection of olives, nuts and fresh condiments I have ever seen,

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to a fine group of coffees

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and of course pastries.

We had also seen pastries at a number of other stores that we never passed by but always entered, reviewing various types of baklawa made with semolina and nuts,

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and date cakes.

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We also passed retail stores with an interesting variety of hookahs, belly-dancing costumes and musical instruments.

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We went in search of a certain Middle Eastern pastry called harisseh; Rory found it in a wonderful local grocery store called OrientalImage.

Pastry and Grocery. We hit the trifecta here as they not only carried it, but made it themselves and sent it to such far away places as California.Image

The owner, Anas, served us a mammoth one-pound portion for under $10 and I regret to say that we ate it up in less than 24 hours.

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One slight change–today, Anas makes his harisseh not with the extremely expensive pine nut but with the equally delicious almond. We received warm welcomes everywhere we trekked and it was a rewarding, delicious odyssey.

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