Here’s a place I plan to visit often. It’s International Market & Deli, a compact store with exotic and hard to find products, both canned and fresh, and a delicatessen with meats, cheeses and prepared food items that you can purchase to take home or have heated to enjoy right there.
It isn’t a large place, but you could spend a lot of time just looking at the labels of the colorful jars, and in some cases trying to figure out just what they are and what you might use them for.
There was a refrigerated case with cheeses and salamis, and there was a freezer compartment with what appeared to be frozen prawns and whole eels inside. And there are also hard-to-find beers from around the world. Behind the counter I spotted a bevy of drugstore type items — cough syrup and cold remedies — in various languages.
But the thing that got me the most excited was a shelf with tubs of green pickles. Not just any pickles, half-sour pickles. Every time I visit a deli in New York I wonder why we can’t get the wonderful half-sour pickles that are a staple there. Half-sours have a rounder taste than your basic dill pickle. Publix carries a product that is labeled half-sour, but they’re terrible — fully sour and loaded with way too much garlic. The pickles I bought at International Market & Deli, packed in unmarked plastic takeout tubs, are the real deal.
IM&D occupies the space where Blue Bistro used to be. The front windows have been blocked out, but the space is brighter and fairly sparkles. The rows products on the shelves are neatly arranged to an anal-retentive degree. There are a few cafe tables in one corner for folks who want to sit and have something to eat.
I wish I had eaten the pierogies I ordered there instead of taking them home. I got two varieties: the Polish pierogi most of us are familiar with, little half-moons of dough filled, in this case, with cheese and boiled; and a Russian version, which are entirely different.
The Russian pierogi was something akin to a fried donut — a long john donut, if you will — filled with a mixture of finely chopped chicken. The reason I wish I had eaten them there at the market is that they would have properly reheated them for me. When I got them home I had no instructions for the best way to get them to eating temperature. Let me tell you right now: nuking them is not the best way.
So I’ll go back and try them again, there in the tidy cafe. And I’ll probably sample a few dozen other things that looked delicious. Like I said, I’m going to be spending a lot of time here.
I should also mention that the folks were as friendly and welcoming as they could be, one man went out of his way to say “thanks for coming in.” Isn’t that refreshing?
International Market & Deli is at 815 N. Mills Ave., Orlando. It’s open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 407-228-2821. Here’s a link to their Web site.