Sahadi’s: Brooklyn, NY
Sahadi’s, a Middle Eastern Mecca in downtown Brooklyn, is known for their dried fruits (try the amazing unsweetened pineapple $4.50/lb, and the inexpensive no sulfur apricots, $2.60/lb), nuts and olives, all of which you can buy in bulk. But there is an amazing array of other products too.
They started as a Middle Eastern store and then expanded in the 60’s to include other specialty items. That would explain why you can also find chocolate twists (a bit like chocolate Twizzlers), tofu shirataku (noodle-shaped tofu, $1.60) and blackberry syrup ($3.75).
But probably the best reason to go out of your way to Sahadi’s is for the hard to find spices and herbs. You can find fenugreek for your Indian curry, asafoetida for your lemon rasam (see last week’s post for a lemon rasam recipe) or juniper berries for a loin of venison.
Part of Sahadis’ charm is its other-era feel. You still take a number and wait for someone to scoop you slivered almonds ($4.95/lb), sesame sticks ($1.80/lb) or coffee ($4.99/lb) and you can still find Charles Sahadi unpacking boxes of Swedish cookies. Charles is the sort of store owner you can tell loves his job and the type to occasionaly spout mottos like “Friend first, customer second,” that you imagine him good-naturedly lecturing his employees with. And he’s full of store history. The abbreviated version being that his father opened up Sahadi’s about two blocks from his uncle’s place that was called A. Sahadi and Co., in Manhattan in 1941. A few years later his father moved the store to its current location and Charles took over many years after that.
In addition to the retail store, they also have a wholesale and distribution center called Sahadi Fine Foods. You can buy a limited number of products, including gift baskets, online at Sahadis.com.