September 15, 2009 | 11:00am
Middle East Best Food (1711 Coral Way) is an ethnic food shop, a bakery, and tribute to owner Ali Aziz's iron clad work ethic. He has run three stores in Miami over almost 40 years and quips "I could be a millionaire, but I don't want to. I love my work. If I was a millionaire I wouldn't have to do it."
Aziz, a Palestinian, says "I open 1972. I used to be Oriental Bakery on 3rd ave and 17th road. I sold in 1974 (to my aunt) and I open across the street and call it Mediterranean Bakery. I was 16 years over there, but the landlord start asking too much money, so I move here. I move here in 96' and I been here since."
Middle East Best food sells a variety of products from henna hair dye, to yogurt drinks, to dates, to olives, to nuts, to homemade hummus, tabbouleh, babaganoush, and pastries. The place seems to have it all.
Here are some pictures from our recent trip to the place...
View from Coral Way, (a quarter block west of 17th ave on SW 22 St)
Inside the store, facing the street.
Ali working the register.
A variety of breads at the counter.
Regular customer Berta says "It's great. I've been coming here for about a year. The spinach pies are the best, the yogurt is the best, and Ali is the best." She pays for her order and gives him a kiss on the cheek. Ali says "You see, my customers they treat me like family."
A pistachio-crumble topped cakelike pastry.
Nut sacs, get your nut sacs.
Not sure what's a Deglet Nour, but according to the box it's "100% Natural High Quality."
Home made tabbouleh in the cooler.
Mmmm live probiotic cultures.
Olives the size of a baby's fist.
Don't forget the grape leaves.
A 1950's picture of Ali working as Pastry Chef at the Hotel Intercontinental of Jerusalem.
Ali keeps an envelope with this document from his time as a Pastry Chef at the Hotel Intercontinental in Jerusalem in 1954.
Not sure what this document is, but it was definitely banged out on a typewriter, it's not in English or Arabic, and it appears to describe some of the menu items Aziz was to prepare.
Miles of fresh baked. Spanakopita foreground.
A pan of naked Warbat. Warbat is a cheese filled pastry, dressed with syrup and pistachios.
Ali hooked it up with a fresh baked Warbat. He makes the cheese himself out of cowmilk. It tastes incredible. Picture a Middle Eastern danish.
Ali making the chocolate ladyfingers what they are.
Goes on almost everything.
Cutting into Namoura - made with semolina, almond, coconut, and homemade syrup.
Ali's ad in a local Arabic newspaper.