We’re actually pretty amazingly lucky with how many specialty ethnic markets we have around the Capital District.
The one that we visit most frequently is La Mexicana Restaurant & Grocery on State Street. It is one of our go-to places for take-out and it’s where I go to pick up Crema Mexicana for our Mexican Street Corn and the queso de frier we used for that new salad we like to make.
Also, if you haven’t tried Farmer’s India Market on Central Avenue in Albany, it is huge and pretty much overwhelming, but a great spot for general produce as well as Indian food. The first time I ever visited, I was intimidated by the massive variety, but in October I got the chance to visit while toting along a visiting Rotary exchange student from India. She’s staying in a fairly small Upstate NY community, so when she came to visit G and hang out with us for the weekend, she was thrilled when we ordered Indian take-out and even more psyched when I remembered the India Market and brought her there.
If you are trying to get your kids to be more adventurous eaters, one great way to do it is to give them the chance to try different comfort foods, snack foods, and candies from different countries (that’s why I love Universal Yums). If you need a suggestion for what to try at India Market, we followed our friend’s suggestion and got some Maggi Masala Noodles — think ramen noodles, but with Indian flavorings. We also picked up a variety of different chips to try:
I’ve got to tell you: we were all big fans of the Lay’s chips, and I’m a little bitter that they don’t offer them wherever we find Lay’s chips. Just finding and adding this picture is making me want to go back and buy some more.
But that was a rather long digression! What I meant to say was, when we first met G’s new host family, they told us that there is a Brazilian Supermarket in Clifton Park, and we decided that we absolutely must go with G so she could tell us what to get.
First of all, if you want to get enough rice and beans to get you through an apocalypse, this is your go-to spot. And if you’re on the hunt for sweets and treats, you can absolutely find plenty of them.
G was very excited to see plenty of pao de queijo, Brazilian cheese bread, in the freezer section. This is a favorite of hers, and she says it’s not so easy to make, so of course we had to pick some up. After trying it, she gave it a good review, so that’s excellent. Truth is, the rest of the family was not wild about it: we expected it to be very cheesy, but it was surprisingly (too) eggy.
And finally, there appeared to be an entire section of ingredients for brigadeiro, a classic traditional Brazilian dessert that G and J made during G’s first week in the US. Speaking of getting picky kids into new foods, making some brigadeiro would be a fun kid project, since it’s sort of cooking and sort of working with playdough. And of course they’re delicious!
Here was our haul from the store. Which reminds me, one of the weirdest items, in my opinion, was the Yoki Tapioca Semi-Pronta. G was very excited to get her hands on some of this stuff, which is basically tapioca flour. She poured the crumbly-powder-looking-stuff onto a non-stick skillet and heated it up until it just sort of fused together, kind of like a thick tapioca crepe. She explained that you can add savory or sweet fillings. She added some goiabada, which is basically a guava paste or thick jelly. We also added the goiabada to our cheese plates, and it went really well with the cheeses, kind of like how you’ll see people making fancy charcuterie platters with figs or dried fruits.
G was thrilled to find Batata Palha, basically Brazilian potato sticks, because they’re the topping for the Brazilian stroganoff that she wanted to cook for us. They really did make the dish.
The shop owner was working as cashier, and he let us know that the plan is to add a small bakery & restaurant to the grocery store as well. We’ll definitely be checking in so we can go back to get some freshly-made Brazilian food.
Can you recommend local ethnic markets that you love? If so, tell me what to buy there! It’s intimidating walking around when you don’t know what anything is.