SHOP TILL YOU DROP: Eastern European delicatessen worth the line for fresh breads, sausages, sodas

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In the “Shop Till You Drop” series, staffers visited grocery stores and markets that offer goods from around the world. This is the final installment. 

Ever had a craving for beef pelmeni and smoked fish? Want to wash that down with a cold glass of kvass?

If so, Neroe’s Bakery (6451 Fair Oaks Blvd.), founded in 1996, sells and bakes a variety of Eastern European foods (and some Middle Eastern and Mediterranean).

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Nikola kvass

Their frozen beef pelmeni (meat dumplings) make for a tasty and quick lunch, especially served with Russian mustard or sour cream. Shelves are lined with Russian tea, kvass (a soda made of fermented bread – I’d recommend Nikola), and sparkling lemonade that tastes vaguely of cotton candy.

In the back of the store, there is a glass-case counter displaying sausages, salami and homemade cheeses. The sausages are labeled in Russian and English with city names such as Warsaw, Minsk and Kiev.

The only salami I’ve tried is the one labeled “Jewish,” as my father and I assumed that this was the only kosher meat in the whole selection.

But I can attest that this specific salami is flavorful and great in solyanka (a spicy meat soup with pickles and mushrooms).

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I also definitely recommend Neroe’s challah (braided bread) and smoked fish. The fish is just as good as pickled herring! But if you don’t want your breath to smell like Fisherman’s Wharf, I suggest you sample sushki (pretzel crackers in the shape of a circle) and Alyonka chocolate afterward.

There’s also lots of hard candies! If you can’t read Cyrillic, just look at the pictures of fruit on the wrappers to know which flavors you’re buying.

One drawback is that although the store is large and carries produce, beverages, meat, freshly baked bread, homemade cheese, candy and canned goods, I’ve seen only a maximum of three people working there at a time

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Thus the line to check out can be very slow (up to 10 people), especially around the Russian Orthodox holidays (Christmas and Easter usually come a week after Western Christianity’s because Russian Orthodoxy is based on the Julian calendar).

However, not only Russians shop there. It would seem that all of diverse Sacramento shops there. The workers speak both Russian and English and are more than happy to help.

By Nicole Wolkov

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