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Frugal Forager: Latham deli evokes memories of mom’s kitchen

Sunday, June 29, 2014
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Euro Deli and Market

WHERE: 231 Wade Road Extension, Suite 106, Latham. 785-0103, www.EuroDeliandMarket.com

WHEN: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday

HOW MUCH: $26.60 with tax and tip

MORE INFO: Parking, all major credit cards and EBT accepted

— If sister Janice and I had walked into the Euro Deli and Market with our eyes closed we would have sworn we had been transported in time and space to mom’s Hungarian kitchen on Easter Saturday. But this time the smoky blend of garlic and paprika signaled Poland, not Hungary.

The deli is the only establishment in a small strip of stores on a lonely section of the Latham Retail Center off Route 7. The huge parking lot contained only one other vehicle the afternoon we were there.

Possibly the smallest restaurant I’ve ever visited, there are only two small tables in the compact space against the windows to the left of the front door. Coolers of mostly smoked meats (I estimated over a dozen varieties of kielbasa alone) lined the right wall, while the remaining 80 percent of the floor space was taken up with jars and cans, boxes and bags of mostly Polish food stuffs. Freezers stocked with 16 different kinds of pierogies and other Polish delicacies occupied the rear wall.

Beets, thin noodles, herbal teas, pickled vegetables wearing colorful labels lined the shelves.

We had arrived hungry and headed for the counter. The trifold menu and brimming display case made it difficult to choose from the array of soups, cold and hot subs and sandwiches/wraps, salads and daily specials.

Janice chose a cup of red beet soup (a generous 12-ounce bowl for a reasonable $1.99) and a 6-inch (they also come in 12 inch) Euro Deli Mix sub ($4.25) with lettuce, tomato and red onions. She could have added roasted red peppers, cucumbers, banana peppers, bacon, black olives or hot Jalapeno peppers to her sub of garlic ham, salami and sharp cheddar cheese.

When a menu is new to me, I opt for a sampler if it is available. The Polish Sampler Plate — stuffed cabbage (golumpki), kielbasa, 4 pierogies, and sauerkraut (bigos) for $7.95. I also ordered pickle soup with croutons.

Pickle soup?

We decided a side of three pan fried potato pancakes with sour cream ($1.99) would be a special treat. The dish arrived hot out of the pan, crispy and perfectly browned on the outside, tender inside.

A cooler by the meat case was stocked with the usual soft drinks and water, but a small bottle of Tymbark labeled “apple lemon mint” for 99 cents attracted our curiosity. We helped ourselves and found a gentle blend of the three ingredients with no one dominating. Unusual. Refreshing.

Soon after we sat down, Jola (pronounced “Yola”) arrived with our steaming soups. I tentatively sipped a small spoonful and smiled. A taste thrill. Hot, sour, a light sweetness with tiny cubes of carrots, potatoes, onions and, yes, pickles slightly thickened with flour, and liberally seasoned with dill.

I found Janice’s beet soup with bits of green beans, carrots, and of course, beets, lackluster by comparison. There was nothing wrong with it, and my sister proclaimed it better than mine. Perhaps it might have fared better had I reversed the tasting order.

My sampler arrived on a bright turquoise dish — a Polish feast! The kielbasa, split lengthwise, was made especially for grilling, Jola later told me, and the crisscross grill lines attested to the fact.

The single golumpki topped with tomato sauce would have survived Mom’s Wall Test (throw the tightly rolled stuffed cabbage against a wall and see if it holds together). Not only sturdy, the mostly ground meat filling was savory and satisfying.

Of the potato pierogies Janice mused, “When I think of pierogies, I think of very bland, doughy dumplings. These are flavorful and buttery crisp.” Amen.

The sauerkraut was mildly spicy, seasoned with paprika and studded with bits of smoked meat.

As for Janice’s well constructed mixed sub, it was a sandwich of epic proportions constructed of quality ingredients.

The abundant leftovers were wrapped to take home to brother-in-law Bill.

Neither of us had room for dessert and none was listed on the menu.

But I noted blueberry, strawberry and cherry pierogies were available in the frozen food case. Taken home, sautéed in a little butter and served with powdered sugar and sour cream, these would make a luscious ending to a meal.

The Euro Deli and Market is clearly more market than restaurant. But well-prepared Polish food in this area is scarce and the Euro Deli shines if you crave Eastern European soul food.

Polish dill pickle soup was a revelation. Essentially a vegetable soup with pickles, all the recipes I read required some variety of root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips), plus seasonings like onion and of course dill (preferably fresh), broth and thickening (flour, sour cream). Some recipes called for ketchup or meat.

Pickle soup was what you made when there wasn’t much in the house — the equivalent of Hungarian “Nothing Soup.”

 

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