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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I think I died and went to sausage heaven...

My lifestyle is definitely not conducive to staying immobile for long periods of time. Hence my part-time job as a waitress, my addiction to working out and my life-long desire to give up my car and move to the Amalfi coast where a trek up and down 10 flights of stairs are a part of each and every outing from your house. My mom, always sympathetic to this (and not a fan of putting up with my crankiness when I'm stuck indoors for too long), allowed me a short adventure today as I nurse my swollen face thanks to my wisdom teeth removal yesterday...of my favorite kind...a food-filled trip to Starsky's. Starsky's is an Eastern European grocery store located in Mississauga. Since my nickname growing up among my family members was always the Polish Princess (and the Pasta if they even fit together?), it was like going back to the motherland for me. It was my second time visiting the store and this time was somewhat more painful. With my stomach rumbling for lunch, I slowly perused the deli, cheese and bakery counters, unable to pick up any of the numerous samples due to my inability to chew.

I whipped out my little Canon, excited to document my trip, only to be greeted by the dreaded "Change battery pack" notice as soon as I turned it on. Fortunately, I had my trusty Blackberry with I got to take some half-decent shots...until that little bugger died too:(...

Pickles and pickles and....pickles?...oh my! Yes, in true Eastern European fashion, there was a whole aisle dedicated to anything and everything pickled. They even had a jar of Grandma's Salad!! And can you guess what the ingredient list was on that one? If you guessed pickled cabbage and beets, you win the prize!
My mother, elated and just as excited as a "kiddy in a candy store" (those were her words, actually), debated on which type of pickled beets to take home...deciding on the shredded beet root with horseradish (for a kick). She wasn't too happy with the end result of her purchase...but that's a problem I will be more than happy to take care of for her.

We were on a mission, however, so spent little time in the aisles and most of our trip at the pride and joy of Starsky's: The Sausage Counter. Well, it wasn't just comprised of sausage, I have to admit, there was cheese and regular deli meats, too but the sausage counter was definitely where it was at. I actually had to battle through quite a few elbows to get a shot of it. (I'd also like to note that this was on a regular Wednesday afternoon at around 12:30pm....kudos to those who brave this place on a Saturday)

This is only a small portion of what Starky's offers by way of sausages...(and yes, those are the forbidden tempting samples you see on top of the counter). I actually couldn't get in to take shots of all of them, but they also had a variety of dried and vacuum-sacked sausages at the end of pretty much every aisle gondola.
I've never visited an Eastern European country, but this reminded me of all the meat and cheese shops in Italy. Displays are not just limited to behind the glass cases, but hung and shelved in every square inch of space available. Not sure about you, but it definitely adds to my appetite.
This lady made me laugh: a) why grab a toothpick if you're going to pick the meat with your hands? b) clearly blatantly disregarding the signs posted everywhere asking customers to "use a new toothpick with every sample they take'. Regardless, I was pretty jealous of her...
Ahhh, this is what we came for. Tucked neatly beside the plethora of cheeses (I guess they group their items according to strength of smell), was the smoked fish section. We went home with fillets of smoked mackerel, rainbow trout, sea bass and white fish. (My mom is hosting a lunch on Friday for some Lithuanian relatives visiting from Chicago) Seeing this took me back to the days when I would walk in the door after school and get slapped in the face with the odour of  fish courtesy of my dad's smoker in the backyard. I loathed it at the time, the look of the glossy-eyed dead little buggers, the smell that seeped into the walls (and my hair and clothes), the fact that I had to monitor it once my dad left for work...But there was something about those fish in that case that looked sub-par to me. I suddenly began to miss what I used to dread and found myself wishing I went on at least one of those fishing trips, helped make at least one catch and been a bit more eager to participate in a process my Dad enjoyed as much as he did...

I actually laughed when I saw this...Eastern Europeans, marinating in vodka!?...Why am I not surprised...

Obviously we had to hit up the salad bar...not the typical couscous, pasta and potato salad variety was offered, though. We went home with a big tub of creamy coleslaw (not as good as expected) and sauerkraut with wild mushrooms (which was amazing, even though I could only have a little bit as it acted as an immediate magnet to the back of my mouth).

Any food adventure is not complete without a trip to the sweet boutique. The language barrier continued to plague me in this section (did I mention that almost every label in the store is written in Polish, or some other foreign language, with translations into English sparse). We did not splurge on any desserts (we plan on making one of our own) but I thought I'd show you the type of selection available. Unfortunately, I have no idea what any of these words mean, but that doesn't mean they didn't look or smell incredible...

My picture may not be clear enough, but the cakes I have pictured here are the Smietanikov Cake (top right), Napoleon Cake (top left), the Wiedenski Cheesecake (a Polish Viennese cheesecake made with either vanilla or chocolate creme) (bottom left) and the Sernik Brzoskwinia (a Polish peach cheesecake) (bottom right)

The "Napoleon" cake was somewhat familiar to me. Lithuanians call it 'Napoleonas': a torte painstakingly made by stacking individually baked layers of pastry and cream. (Might I add that my Mociute is a master at this one...)

These smelt amazing! Traditional polish doughnuts..filled with "budyn" a Polish custard. Reminded me of the famous Bombe from waistline is thanking my face for being so swollen right now, that's for sure.

I ended my visit with a trip to the soup aisle, hoping I could find something exotic that would spice up my otherwise bland diet right now. Sadly, my mission failed. Oh, if only I spoke Polish as well as the folks at Knorr do...

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