Market offers European meats, sweets, other treats

Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 11:26 p.m.
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Andre and Yulia Strekalov offer a variety of European meats and sweets at their World Food Store off NW 23rd Ave. Some of their famous products are dark chocolates, blintzes, and perogies.

DANNY GHITIS/Special to The Sun
Andre and Yulia Strekalov are from Russia, a country whose cuisine is peppered with canned fish, pickled vegetables, smoked meats, fragrant cheeses, robust wines, icy vodkas and red and black caviar.
But most of these could not be readily found in Gainesville. Without driving long distances, the Muskovites couldn't find their favorite foods, including luscious dark chocolate. They had to ask friends to bring some back from a trip to their homeland.
Neither could the resident Polish people find their pates, nor the Hungarians their salami, nor, for that matter, Yugoslavians their beloved fruit juices.
The Strekalovs perceived a need, and they met it by opening late last year World Food Market, a Russian food and European delicatessen catering to Old World taste buds.
"Gainesville has so many international residents," Andre said. "It's such a diversified population, with many Russian and Eastern and Western European people.
The store in Glenwood Plaza off NW Second Street and 23rd Avenue is stocked with more than 750 different items, not including books and newspapers. Refrigerators house European style cottage cheese similar to German quark, a fermented milk called kefir and a lot of pickled herring.
Every week a shipment of heavy bread comes in from a baker in New York City. Cold cuts including bolognas, sausages and crackly skinned wurst fill a cooler. There are nearly 20 different types of cheese, many low-sodium, Andre said. Condiments such as mustard and horseradish line shelves along with guilder rose juice, Ukrainian beer and Moldovan and Georgian wines. There are blintzes with sour cherries, real Russian ice cream and huge wafer cookies.
Other cultures can find key ingredients for meals, Andre said. Italians can find bruschetta and Sicilians caponata, "and Asians - they buy cold smoked mackerel," he said.
The Strekalovs have a large book in which they write special requests and try to fill them.
"A third of what we have now on hand is special order," he said.
Recently they were searching for a special sheep cheese called kashkaval for a Bulgarian customer.
Yulia, 25, was raised in Moscow but has lived all over Europe and can understand German, Polish and other European languages, at least enough for her to decipher what a foreign customer is looking for. Andre, 35, has lived in Gainesville for 15 years and, among other things, has sold cars.
"For some, this (shop) is a relief, to find something from home. For others, if they've never been farther than North Carolina, this is something to experience," Yulia said.
Marina Blomberg can be reached at (352) 374-5025 or

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