Places that Matter
Place Matters Profile
The scent of coffee grounds mingled with cardamom, the sight of 150 varieties of cheese (including five types of feta), the briny tang of an olive in your mouth: Few places tantalize like Sahadi’s Specialty and Middle Eastern Foods. It’s the mainstay of Atlantic Avenue’s Middle Eastern shopping strip in downtown Brooklyn, and it draws eager food-lovers from all over the city.
This is the place for bargains on bulk-rate grains, spices, and olive oil–at least twenty-four kinds of olive oil, in industrial tin vats and svelte glass bottles with herb sprigs suspended inside. Pass under a brick archway strung with baskets and you’ll find a room that contains more than one hundred containers of raw and roasted nuts, jars of dried fruits, bins of rice, oats, flour. All around are sacks of herbs, dried vegetables, and spices (including a special flavoring made from cherry pits). There are candied treats worthy of “The Nutcracker:” Turkish delight, halvah, pastel Jordan almonds. Racks are stacked with bread, from traditional round loaves and baguettes to sheetlike Afghan handkerchief bread, which folds into quarters and can be used to scoop up the garlicky hummus that you’ll find in vats at the back of the store, alongside baba gannoujh and tabbouleh flecked with parsley and cherry tomatoes. In the middle of everything a ticket machine spits out paper numbers to lines of customers, while blue-aproned employees scoop and weigh and pour. The lines can get very long over the holidays but, miraculously, everyone stays friendly and calm.
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