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Published January 07, 2013, 11:35 PM

New Russian grocery store gives a chance to expand culinary horizons

FARGO - Ask a local here what they know about Russian or Eastern European cooking, and the answer will likely be: vodka, borscht and vodka.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

FARGO - Ask a local here what they know about Russian or Eastern European cooking, and the answer will likely be: vodka, borscht and vodka.

Neither of these is currently stocked at European Market, the new grocery store on Eighth Street, just off of Main Avenue in downtown Fargo.

A quick stop in the small spot can serve as a wonderful education as the store is packed with dried and canned goods, frozen foods and deli cases packed with meats and cheeses.

Owner Katerina Berg is quick with a sample from the deli case and says she plans to start cooking classes to further educate on the flavors of Russian cooking.

For now she relies on goods shipped in from either New York or Chicago, and after filling many party orders over the holidays, the inventory was a little picked over.

Still, there were loaves of Russian rye bread, cans of caviar, bottles of pickled porcini mushrooms and other delicacies. On the other side of the room, coolers are stocked with bags of frozen pierogies and blintzes, and sweets like chocolate cakes and tubs of cherries.

In the spirit of improving relations between my stomach and the closest grocery store to my apartment, I sampled a small selection from the deli cases, a box of chocolates and some other sweets.

Alef Chicken Cervelat

Don’t let the look and feel fool you – this isn’t a run of the mill American baloney. Yes, the texture is smooth and juicy, but bite in and a nice, mellow smokiness emerges.


Lithuanian cheese

At first there’s a similarity to Swiss cheese, but it’s less firm, more crumbly, with a bolder, lingering taste. Not as tangy as Swiss or sharp as cheddar, but lovely by itself or a wonderful pairing with a stronger sausage.


Andy’s Smoked, Cooked Bacon

You taste the smoke, not the salt. Fatty, yes, but don’t let that get in your way of enjoying this. Berg says she fries it up like breakfast bacon, but it can be eaten straight by the slice, like a ham.


Old Kiev Salami

This dry pork salami may taste the most familiar of the deli meats here as it’s similar to the sausages hunters are known for. Indeed, check out the smaller packages of Hunter Sticks. Old Kiev, however, includes a mix of spices and a splash of cognac to give it a sweet kick.


Chocolates with Cherry in Cognac Liqueur

This sweet packs a punch. Bite in and the first sensation is the crunch of the dark chocolate, followed immediately by the sensation of a liquid exploding in your mouth. The cherry cognac is like a sharp shot cutting the chocolate, creating a great-tasting sensation.

$4.95 a box

Vanilla gingerbread

A wonderful powdered sugar crust gives way to the vanilla-flavored dough. Light, but substantial and certainly not delicate, this one goes great with or dunked in coffee. At less than $3 a dozen, this would’ve worked as an easy replacement for some people’s Christmas baking.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533