The Weekly Dish: More than a deli, a worldly foodie treat

The Weekly Dish: More than a deli, a worldly foodie treat

By Lauren Dodd and Brandi Haskett

Abbie’s Imports strives to introduce Southeast Texans to wordly delicacies. Located just off Walden on Fannett Road, Abbie’s Imports is a small specialty food market and Mediterranean deli offering products from more than 53 countries. There’s something here for every inquisitive shopper, and things you might not have ever heard of. Plus, Abbie caters!

From chemical engineer to cheese master

Owner Abbie Baradar opened Abbie’s Imports after learning his career of choice, chemical engineering, wasn’t “his cup of tea.”

“I like to do this because I like people,” explained Abbie. “I opened my own business because I like talking to people.”

Abbie, who started with only $200 worth of inventory, now offers a wide selection of European jams, quality meats and fine cheeses. Abbie’s Imports is the No. 1 place to go for a taste of the exotic with down-to-earth pricing.

Abbie prides himself on his cheese selection, saying, “We try to introduce different cheeses to the American people.” If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry. Abbie encourages everyone to sample his goods; he wants his customers to know what they’re getting. Try out Abbie’s Imports’ cheese of the week deal, in which each week a new cheese is selected and discounted $2 per pound.

Not your average deli

With all the decadent cheeses, meats and tasty desserts Abbie’s offers, it’s easy to forget that Mediterranean food is actually good for you. The deli at Abbie’s Imports serves up a wide range of traditional Mediterranean fare such as stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, falafels, lamb and beef gyros and of course, our favorite — Baklava. In addition to the Mediterranean staples, Abbie’s menu is filled with various pizzas (some with a Greek flair) and a few southern items like the corned beef and the All-American sandwiches, sure to please every appetite.

Abbie says his deli selections are fresh and free from preservatives. If he wouldn’t eat it, he doesn’t serve it.

We ordered a few traditional and not so traditional Mediterranean dishes to get the full range of what Abbie’s offers.

Gourmet Pizza ($6): puffy gyro bread topped with freshly sliced pepperoni, melty mozzarella cheese, and marinated sun dried tomatoes. This isn’t the average pizza; you can taste the quality of each ingredient, from the pepperoni to the crust. No larger than 5-6 inches in diameter, this is the perfect personal pizza.

Summer Salad Plate ($6): A perfect way to sample the four popular salads – Persian Salad, Orzo Feta, Orzo Fruit, and Tabouli. A dollop of hummus and warm gyro bread are served with the festive plate.

Orzo Feta Salad –a mixture of orzo pasta, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, capers, olive oil and spices.

Persian Salad – comprised of fresh cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices.

Orzo Fruit Salad – Orzo pasta tossed with apricots, golden raisins, black currents, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, drizzled with 12-year-old balsalmic vinegar.

Tabouli – bulgur wheat with tomatoes, parsley, green onions, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices.

This is the dish to try when wanting to experience Mediterranean cuisine. From the herby bulgur wheat in the tabouli to the crunchy cucumbers in the Persian salad, the different textures and taste give the customer a wide spectrum to sample.

Gyro ($6): Warm gyro meat (beef or beef/lamb) served with Tzatziki sauce, fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and feta cheese rolled in fluffy pita bread with olives, and bag of chips on the side. This isn’t the kind of gyro you get from a vendor at a fair or festival; this gyro means business. The hearty mixture of beef and lamb had a robust flavor and a smooth texture. The crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes blended well with the cool, garlicy Tzatziki sauce. Also, the wrap was huge!

Turning skeptics to believers

Not too keen on Mediterranean food? You should still go to the shop, simply for the experience of talking with owner Abbie Baradar. He is a personable man and graciously offered us sample after sample – often taking packages of international delights right off the shelves for us to try. Spanish dark chocolate almonds dusted with cocoa, fig cake from Spain, Vermont alpine cheese from Spring Brook Farms — Abbie simply loves introducing doubters to a realm of new cuisine. We could talk to him about teas and olive oils all day long! We even received labeled to-go containers, a personal touch. Give them a try and tell him Brandi and Lauren sent you by.

We want to know where you like to go! E-mail suggestions for next week’s adventure to weeklydish [at] theexaminer [dot] com