Story and photography by Manos Angelakis
1029 Brighton Beach Ave.,
Harrod’s in London is famous for its food halls.
Usually, the focus of my visits to Harrod's falls squarely on the food; an all encompassing assortment of tempting items ranging from sweet to savory, hot to cold, and familiar to very exotic.
I always considered the food halls the most impressive collection of luxury foodstuffs I've seen assembled under one roof, including the best foie gras, charcuterie, winter and summer truffles, smoked and pickled fish, chocolates and other luxury items. It takes about an hour to walk around this glorious tribute to great comestibles and is usually the most popular area for tourists to go to.
However, the recent opening of Gourmanoff in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach rivals Harrod’s in product quality and variety. Gourmanoff has 15,000 square feet of space in which it stocks a most unique selection of upmarket domestic and imported delicacies.
The immediate area is inhabited by Russian and middle-European émigrés, so such delicious tidbits as fresh, smoked and/or pickled fish – sturgeon, mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, swordfish; sausages, hams and other pork products; assorted cuts of prime beef; a multitude of cheeses; caviar -- red and black; truffles; outstanding backed goods; domestic and exotic fruit and preserves -- black cherries, fresh figs, apples, pears and rambutans, fill the shelves and showcases.
Even cooked foods are available, from roast chickens, to paella, to prime ribs, to grilled lamb sashlic and double baked potatoes to green salads and wraps.
The prices are moderate, and the quality is high.
The only thing I have to comment about is the black caviar. There were samples to taste but most seemed to be from farmed paddle fish, hackelback or farmed white sturgeon. Even the imported sturgeon caviar tasted farmed, not wild caught. There is considerable taste difference between caviar from farmed fish and caviar from wild caught, with the wild caught having a much sharper and definitive caviar taste while the farmed – and they are now farming fish for caviar in California, Florida, Germany, Canada, Siberia, China and other places – is drier and has very little taste. Red caviar (brick) was also amply there in both farmed and wild caught varieties. Nowadays there is also imitation black caviar (vegetarian!) made from Kelp (seaweed) in Canada and Israel, but I thankfully did not see any of that at Gourmanoff.
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