Further Exploration at the Super King
In a hurry to get food us before the start of Yom Kippur, I hit the Super King, which is, now that the crappy Albertson’s on Figueroa is gone, my closest large grocery store. I have had pretty good luck with the prepared foods there in the past but Sunday, they were kind of lackluster. I ordered chicken lula which had a weird acrid bite that none of us liked and some beef filet kabobs which were sort of on the dry side. The rice they serve is plain white, unseasoned, the pita wasn’t particularly fresh, the hummous was ho-hum but the grilled pepper and tomato accompaniment was nice enough and added a nice flash of color to the Styrofoam assemblage. I’ll give it another chance because previous dinners have been pretty good and the attraction of the meal being prepared while I shop is pretty irresistible.
The shopping itself is pretty wondrous and the conglomeration of folks from all over the planet makes an incredibly rich multicultural experience, even for L.A. The Trader Joe’s in Silverlake has this (pretty snarky, actually) display with products purchased from the Gelson’s across the street, compared with the same products from T.J.s. The bill from Gelson’s was over 40% higher. I like the service and a lot of the quality at Gelson’s but it will be a long time I think before I do another major shop there again. This summer we were vacationing in Santa Barbara and I fell in love with a store called Lazy Acres which makes Bristol Farms look like Food4Less. I remember looking for a jar of honey and finding nothing on the shelf for less than twelve dollars. I found a gorgeous jar of pure Acacia honey at the Super King for $3.69.
The Super King also has a great collection of bulk spices. I purchased annatto, sesame seeds, sumac, garam masala and stick cinnamon all for less than two dollars a pack. I found a nice bottle of Armenian Avshar brandy for $15.99. This was the five year old. There is also a three year old variety for a couple dollars less. I’m not a big spirit head, but this tasted delicious to me, and I macerated some raisins in it for my break-the-fast kugel and it imparted a really lovely flavor.
There is an excellent selection of California and imported olive oils. I bought a handsome bottle of Saifan extra virgin for $5.49 and shudder to think what Gelson’s would charge for the same item. I haven’t made a dent in the cheese department yet but I got an amazing French feta for $4.79 and a pot cheese/raisin spread called “Farmer’s Sweet Kiss” which I put on toast for a big treat. There is also a daunting selection of yogurts which I intend to mine a bit more as well.
I need to spend more time there. I bought a jar of preserved young walnuts that I have not the foggiest idea what to do with and I want to explore the other preserved fruits and jams they offer, not to mention dried fruits, frozen appetizers like blintzes and boureks and all manner of things that can (economically) add sweetness and savor to our new year.
I’ve started a little myspace page which contains a blog with some additional food writing. Plus other stuff.
Slow Foodie -- I agree! We have spent many hours wandering the aisles of the montrous and packed-full market. What fun! You described the patrons perfectly as a wonderful mix of many cultures, and the items on the shelves are the same. I love chatting with some of the customers who seem to know what they are purchasing. I ask them what they are going to do with 20 lbs. of that fruit that I don't recognize, and I learn a lot! For the most part, I find that being in a market is like being at the watering hole: it equalizes everyone. We are all shopping and searching for good food, and most people are quite willing to share their ideas on how to make that happen!