What to expect: Unlike the city's many Asian and Hispanic markets, there's not a "typical" European market experience. While you can find imported Italian and British groceries in some of the specialty grocery stores, they're not going to offer the immersive experience found at the area's other ethnic shops.
But there are a few exceptions. Seek out one of several Mediterranean stores for a good selection of Greek specialties. They're great for picking up vats of olive oil, huge jars of roasted red peppers and tahini for making homemade hummus. Or you could try one of several Russian markets, where you'll find goodies like sour cabbage, smoked whole mackerel and jars of beets ideal for making borscht.
Romashka International Deli
2400 W. Dublin-Granville Rd., Linworth
Tucked inside a converted yellow house with cheery turquoise trim, this tiny deli also carries a bunch of imported Russian groceries. The deli counter is the biggest draw, selling a variety of cured meats and a bunch of veal products, including frankfurters and bologna. The freezer cases are also full of fun finds, ranging from mushroom pierogies and cheese blintzes to puff pastry dough and Siberian-style dumplings. Kids will love a section of mix-and-match Russian candies, and adults might want to try Natakhtari, a carbonated tarragon-flavored drink from Georgia.
Mediterranean Food Imports
2647 N. High St., Clintonville
This tiny store is a little intimidating from the outside (bars cover the front windows much of the time, and you have to ring a doorbell to be let inside), but the staff is very friendly and the selection is great. A table up front is always loaded with tons of fresh pita breads, and you'll find more breads, like paratha and lavash, in the freezer case. The refrigerator is full of specialty cheeses like Greek halloumi and manouri, and you'll find the city's biggest selection of fetas (Egyptian, Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian and French) behind the counter.
WILL SHILLING PHOTO
571 S. Third St., German Village
This charming three-story shop is the best place to head if you're looking for gifts you can pass off as having picked up on your European getaway. Customers love the French jacquard tablecloths and the hand-painted Italian pottery. French cuisine aficionados will want to peruse the selection of Pillivuyt porcelainware, which includes a European-style hot chocolate pot and an escargot tray. Don't miss the year-round Christmas room on the second floor, full of hand-carved German nutcrackers and Polish glass ornaments. For a more affordable stocking stuffer, check out the wall of Chateau de Bois lavender-scented products from Provence. Caterina is the only store in North America that sells the line of soaps, lotions, shower gels and shampoos.
Also worth checking out:
Juergen's German Bakery, 525 S. Fourth St., German Village; 614-224-6858
A favorite spot for German pastries and coffee drinks; there's also a small selection of imported German groceries and gifts, like beer steins, marzipan sweets and loaves of pumpernickel.
Zeta's European Emporium, 751 N. High St., Short North; 614-421-7122
This Short North hot spot is a reliable provider of packaged Greek appetizers like baba ganoush, tabbouleh and dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves. They also carry a few European wines and beers, including Keo Beer from Cyprus.
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