Shopping for Ingredients in Chicago's Albany Park: Andy's Fruit Ranch and Al-Khyam Bakery

A recipe for vegetable skewers with muhamarra – our new favorite dip – from Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson sent us to Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood this weekend. We were in search of one authentic Middle Eastern ingredient in particular – pomegranate molasses. But as usual, we found many more irresistible buys on a small strip of Kedzie Avenue.

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Our first stop was Andy's Fruit Ranch, where we were overwhelmed by gorgeous produce and quickly started adding more items to our weekend menu. The mini cucumbers were just begging to be pickled, and the fava beans had us envisioning a satisfying springtime pasta dish. A mound of fresh chickpeas looked so inviting and soon had us in search of new recipes.

In addition to hard-to-find produce and a variety of Middle Eastern ingredients, Andy's Fruit Stand carries many grocery staples. We were also impressed with their selection of craft beers.

Next, we headed across the street to Al-Khyam Bakery. We found our pomegranate molasses and some herb-marinated braided mozzarella, but the real draw was in the bakery section. We were lucky to be there early and found fresh sesame seed- and herb-topped flatbread coming out of the oven. We foolishly only bought two, which promptly disappeared as soon as we got home.

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As always, it left us wanting more and planning our next trip. The best part? Both stores are located just steps from the Kedzie Brown Line stop.

Related: D.I.Y. Baba Ghanoush

(Images: Joanna Miller)