Wandering off the street, you may expect Asian goods at a
place named Oriental Bakery & Grocery, but this place is pure Middle East,
offering a great selection of Syrian, Greek, and Armenian grocery items,
cheeses, breads, and desserts. Come for lunch, grab some goods, and don't
forget to hit the baklava selection on the way out.
Ghee ($8.99) is clarified butter, made by slowly simmering
unsalted butter until the water boils off and the milk solids and impurities
separate. Why cook with ghee? It has a much higher smoke point than normal
butter and most vegetable oils, allowing you to cook at temperatures that would
normally cause your butter to burn while still incorporating buttery flavor
into your dish. We don't usually recommend you follow the wisdom of Paula Dean,
but when it comes to her stance on butter, she's right
Taramosalata Caviar Spread
Need something new to dip you cracker into? Try this
traditional Greek spread ($9.99) made with fish roe, which you may know better
as those salty little orange eggs on your sushi. The roe is mixed with oil,
lemon and spices and emulsified until creamy. It may not be beluga, but caviar
always sounds classy.
Oriental Bakery has a great selection of fetas, but for something you may not have tried, check out shankleesh ($9.99), a
yogurt-based cheese made with thyme, pepper and other spices. Grab some
fresh-baked pita while you're here, and fill it with shankleesh, cucumbers,
mint and olive oil.
No visit to Oriental Bakery is complete without hitting the
lunch counter in the back. We recommend the killer shawarma (AKA gyro) Platter
($7.99), which puts that spinning mass of meat you may have tried in the past
to shame. With your two side choices, make sure one is their fresh tahini-heavy
hummus. And trust us, average eaters will have half left over for later.
After lunch, check out the selection of desserts ($1 to 1.50
per piece) near the door. All of the 15 or so selections are worth the
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calories, but our pick is the baklava with pistachios. This version features an
almost equal ratio of phyllo to pistachios, is perfectly bathed in sugar syrup
to avoid that stale baklava chew, and literally melts in your mouth.