While recently running some errands I noticed the new European Grocery Market in Cape Coral on SW Pine Island Road. I’ve posted a few photos here but please visit them to see much more. In the background, I’ve provided some marvelous music from Czech composer Antonín Dvořák from his Slavonic Dances, No. 2., Opus 72.
I couldn’t resist going in when I saw the sign and sandwich board on the sidewalk. Upon entering I met the friendly young proprietor named Tito, born and raised in Bulgaria. After pointing out some specials and delicacies from the Baltics, he explained that he opened the market just a few months ago.
The variety of delicious foods from places like Riga, Latvia was immediately apparent.
Catering to a community with newcomers from northern cities makes sense as there has been a continuous large influx of people arriving for the climate and tax environment. I continually hear former Northeasterners and Chicagoites asking for recommendations on where to find exotic cheeses, hot pastrami, rye bread, babka, and blintzes, like those served at the Second Avenue Deli in Manhattan. How about shish-ka-bob, pizza, pierogis, hand-rolled fresh pasta, kielbasa, potato pancakes, and the like? Here’s a photo of my favorite pierogis from their wide selection.
Perusing the variety of products and noticing the freshly baked bread and pastries, I thought of my mother long ago telephoning me to determine when I was arriving so she could time taking fresh babka out of the oven as I walked into the kitchen. She would mix white raisins in the rich batter as they were my favorite. I also recalled the old Lithuanian bakery on Inslee Place in Elizabeth, NJ in the parish of St. Peter & Paul (circa 1896) which now sells fresh goods online.
People who grew up in Elizabeth’s Italian neighborhood still talk about their ventures to the 100-year-old Spirito’s pizza on 3rd Avenue in Elizabeth.
In Elizabeth, just like in other cities, each neighborhood was set up with its own church, bakery, markets, and occupants from the same part of the world. Immigrants from all over the world frequently worked together in long-gone local factories like Singers Manufacturing which provided income, a medical clinic, and a dance hall. Of course, many 1st, and 2nd-generation children moved out of the old neighborhoods as school, jobs, and relationships drew them away.
I mentioned to Tito my grandfather’s preference for black bread and pigs’ feet, but apparently the appeal of these products has waned for American born generations.
The European Market has a well-stocked deli and meat counter, fresh bread, and fresh pastries. The young lady at the counter, Veni, noted that dads have been picking up products for children’s snacks. Here’s a Lithuanian favorite she noted followed by my favorite biscuits with chocolate and orange jelly. The cabbage rolls are from the 50% off counter.
Since the Soviet Union withdrew from the Eastern European states and East Germany in 1989, these countries have revitalized and openly embraced their cultures. They can now proudly share their specialties with the world. It is a delight to see their products follow their former citizens and flow freely to our shores and shelves.
Here’s Tito’s business card. I highly recommend you drop by soon.
For waterfront dining see our review of Rumrunners HERE. Readers may enjoy some of our Florida restaurant reviews: Two Meatballs in the Kitchen, Miami’s Sagra Pizza Bar, Los Cabos Cantina, El Tropical Cuban Restaurant, and Bonefish Grill.