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All About Food: Area markets full of ethnic food delights

April 13, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • The Euro Market and deli at Old World Village in Huntington Beach on Monday.
The Euro Market and deli at Old World Village in Huntington… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

When was the last time you feasted on blinchiki with red caviar, freshly made burrata cheese, real sacher torte, house-made chorizo or live crabs just picked out of the tank? We have the good fortune to live in an area of great ethnic diversity, and although many of you have enjoyed dining at the plethora of restaurants serving these interesting cuisines, how many have had the adventure of exploring and shopping in their ethnic markets, where you will discover a profusion of riches that you can't find at Ralphs?

We had a great time making the rounds of delis and markets in our area and want to pass on to you some of our finds. This is the first of two installments.

The new El Metate Market at 817 W. 19th St. in Costa Mesa is one of the biggest and best. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the mountains of fresh produce with nary a pre-packaged container in sight. A vast array of chilies of every color and size from the hottest to the mildest, as well as vats of dried chilies for making enchilada and mole sauces, were simply dazzling. Nopales, bins of dried beans, pozole and peanuts in the shell, giant aloe vera leaves and giant Mexican papayas were a few of the many items on offer and all for a staggeringly low price.

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On the other side of the market is a deli case with many different fresh, white Mexican cheeses and sausages including house-made chorizo as well as exotic ingredients like three kinds of tripe and several kinds of feet, some pickled, some not. Over all wafts the smell of corn tortillas, growing stronger as we approached the table where they were stacked. We were surprised and delighted to find that they were still warm! Also, we must tell you that their tortilla chips and tostada rounds are the best ever. In the center of the store are all the pre-made and canned items: moles, hot sauces, pipians and adobos, etc.

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