Flavor Excursions: The Greek Store

When Georgette asked me to find a Greek market for a Flavor Excursion, I knew I couldn’t let her down. And find I did just off the Garden State Parkway exit 138 in Kenilworth, a real gem of a store with most things Greek. Don’t be put off by the somewhat tacky storefront; just forge right past without paying too close attention to the fading photographs of Greek ruins, plastic (or stale) loaves of bread and an unseasonal Happy Easter sign in the front window. Step inside The Greek Store and you’ll discover an extraordinary market worth traveling the 20 minutes south.

This Mediterranean market is packed with specialty foods imported from Greece — from olive oil to pistachio nuts, Nescafe coffee (they even have a Nescafe shaker to make those fabulous iced coffee frappé drinks Georgette just wrote about) to banana and chocolate Pamellina (our version of Nutella), home baked breads and multiple types of pita, a bakery section with just baked cookies such as Kourambiethes and sweet filo treats like baklava.

There’s a freezer section filled with homemade meals like spanakopita, lentil and bean soup, Greek meatballs, shish kebab and an array of mini phyllo hors d’oeuvres. And there’s an olive bar packed with every kind of olive you can think of, all colors, sizes and flavors. And how about the cheese section with six types of feta cheese, numerous types of hard and soft sheep’s milk cheese and even a handful of Italian and French cheeses!

In the back of the store you’ll find a huge selection of canned and jarred imports. From stuffed grape leaves (doulmades) to tahini, anchovies to sardines, you can really stock a delectable Mediterranean pantry. And don’t let me forget about the homemade dips: Greek yogurt Tzatziki, Red Pepper and Feta, Kalamata Olive Hummus and Artichoke Lemon Spread. I loaded up on an assortment of dips, imagining them on a platter with olives and pocket less pita.

The prices seemed reasonable, with some of the specialty items a bit pricy but most of the homemade food a bargain. The Greek Store has been around since 1950, probably when they first did their storefront display. Since it’s not even a mile off the parkway on Boulevard, I’m planning to stop by on day trips to the beach to get picnic foods. My friend Debbie, who joined me for this outing, plans to shop later in the year for specialty ingredients like shredded filo and puff pastry to create cocktail party foods.

Whether you’re looking for some unique appetizers for an upcoming teacher toast or graduation party or some Souvlakia (Greek shish kebab) for a summer BBQ, I’m pretty sure you’ll like what you find at The Greek Store. And it’s not very far out of the way, especially if you’re headed down the shore.

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