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Special meals deserve specialty markets • Brooklyn Paper

Special meals deserve specialty markets

Blue Apron Fine Food owner Alan Palmer will help you with all your gourmet needs this holiday season.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

These next few months, it’s all about food. And if you’re planning a feast for friends and family, you can stock up on flavorful, local products, find choice cheeses, and even pick your own turkey at these specialty food stores across the borough. Or, for non-entertainers, you can find the ingredients for an enviable gift basket. Here’s our guide for putting together the perfect spread. Dig in.

BEER

Park Slope’s Bierkraft holds the answer to all your hoppy needs. Among the many brews available this season is ‘T Gaverhopke’s Xmas Ale from Belgium, a strong and deliciously spiced choice; Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ A Saison Darkly from Maryland, which is brewed with rose hips and hibiscus; and Ale Project’s Baba Yaga, a Russian Imperial Stout flavored with rosemary. And don’t forget the eight-beer menorah from Shmaltz Brewery, appropriately named Vertical Jewbelation ($43.95).

Bierkraft [191 Fifth Ave. at Sackett Street in Park Slope, (718) 230-7600].

CHEESE

For a nearly overwhelming amount of cheese, head to Cobble Hill favorite Stinky Brooklyn. “One of my favorites is Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue Cheese from Oregon,” said assistant manager Erin Amey. “The wheels of blue cheese are only released at the end of the year. It’s a real treat.” Also check out Epoisses and Vacherin Mont d’Or (prices vary), two soft and stinky cheeses from France. Both are great with bread or fruit after a big holiday meal. For a quick, non-cheese fix, look for the Brooklyn Basket ($100), comprised of locally made chocolates, pickles, coffee, crackers and mustards.

Stinky Brooklyn [261 Smith St. between Douglass and Degraw Streets in Cobble Hill, (718) 522-7425].

MEAT/SEAFOOD

Tired of Perdue and Butterball every year? Check out La Pera Brothers Poultry in Borough Park and experience what a bird is supposed to taste like. “My mother only believed in buying the freshest foods, and I stay true to that,” said manager Carlo Formisano. Thanksgiving week, the company slaughters anywhere from 800 to over 1,000 birds on the premises. You even get to pick your own bird. Beyond turkey, there’s squab (young pigeon), quail, duck, fowl, pheasant, lamb, goat, rabbit, partridge, capon, and even goose.

It’s all about the lamb this time of year at Balady Foods. The Bay Ridge store serves cut or whole lamb ($3.99/pound) especially for the holiday season. On top of that, they get in a seemingly endless supply of semolina wheat, pistachios, and pitted dates, which are the main ingredients in ma’amoul, a fantastic little shortbread pastry that goes great with Arabic coffee — which they also conveniently have!

As the name implies, at Mill Basin’s Landi’s Pork Store, there’s plenty of meat, including sweet and hot fennel sausage, cheese and parsley, sundried tomato and basil, mozzarella, pepper and onion, and chicken and broccoli. For roasts, there’s crown roast ($3.49/pound), rib eye roast ($14.99/pound), and stuffed loin of pork roast ($5.49/pound). Not a land lover? Check out the wide assortment of seafood, including fried calamari, flounder, and shrimp, as well as mussels marinara, five fish salad, and shrimp and crabmeat salad.

La Pera Brothers Poultry [1373 61st St. between 13th and 14th avenues in Borough Park, (718) 438-2577]; Balady Foods [7128 Fifth Ave. between 72nd Street and Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge, (718) 567-2252]; Landi’s Pork Store [5909 Avenue N at E. 59th Street in Mill Basin, (718) 763-3230].

Two-fisting: Cellar manager Matthew Barclay shows off just a small portion of the holiday selection at Bierkraft in Park Slope.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

DESSERT

Pumpkin reigns at the Little Cupcake Bakeshop in Fort Hamilton, with pumpkin white chocolate bundt cake ($25), pumpkin pie ($10-$17), and pumpkin cheesecake ($4 a slice) making an appearance. There’s also a variety of pies, gingerbread cake, cobblers, and gingerbread men. While there, enjoy the peppermint hot chocolate.

Up in DUMBO, one of Foragers Market’s best finds is the Rustichella d’Abruzzo’s panettone ($29.99), a sweet bread from Italy that comes in original, cherry, and chocolate flavors. “I’ve been in the food business for 30 years, and this is, without a doubt, the best panettone I’ve ever had,” said manager Stuart Tarabour.

The Little Cupcake Bakeshop [9102 Third Ave. at 91st Street in Fort Hamilton, (718) 680-4465]; Foragers Market [56 Adams St. at Front Street in DUMBO, (718) 801-8400].

EVERYTHING ELSE

At Blue Apron Fine Foods in Park Slope, staff favorites include Stony Brook Wholehearted Foods’ Butternut Squash Oil, as well as D.P. Chutney Collective’s wide assortment of chutneys; the green chili and cranberry chutney which looks to be a big hit this season. Not to mention D.P. also makes a plum ketchup — an exotic answer to the family member who takes everything with the ketchup. Laura Santtini’s Easy Tasty Magic Umami Paste and My Friend’s Mustard are other choice condiments. For that pesky sweet tooth, Akinoise Chocolates’ chocolate hazelnut spread is a must.

Sahadi Importing Co. is the sultan of grocers on Atlantic Avenue. The Middle Eastern shop boasts a variety of olives and olive oils, bread, sheep’s milk cheese, coffees, seafood, dried fruit and nuts, and too much more to list. For those in rush, be sure to pick up some octopus salad, or one of the old-fashioned meat terrines, in the prepared foods section.

Open since February, the Ditmas Park-based Market is gearing up for its first holiday season, with plenty of cheeses and fresh breads (don’t miss the Royal Crown chocolate bread at $7 a loaf), meats, pickles (both McClure’s and Brooklyn Brine), Stumptown Coffee, and, as they’re owned by the same people who run Mimi’s Hummus next door, Middle Eastern spices, halva and pita. “It’s 250 square feet — it’s so little. People are amazed at how many different items we fit in the store,” said manager Alana Phinney. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, chances are, they’ll order it for you.

Blue Apron Fine Foods [814 Union St. between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Park Slope, (718) 230-3180]; Sahadi Importing Co. [187-189 Atlantic Ave., between Court and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 624-4550]; Market [1211 Cortelyou Rd. between Argyle and Westminster roads in Ditmas Park, (718) 284-4446].

For fresh homemade Italian sausage, such as this cheese and parsley blend, nothing beats Landi’s Pork Store in Mill Basin.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

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