Taste of the Week: Falafel sandwich and sesame treats @ Mediterranean Market and Deli

Sesame seed snaps and store shelves at the Mediterranean Market.
John Lehndorff

During this season of carbs and sweets, the lunch I craved needed to be satisfying while also being substantially healthy. That took me to an old favorite, the under-the-radar Mediterranean Market and Deli, 2690 28th Street, for a falafel sandwich. Garbanzo and fava bean patties—crisp on the outside and soft on the inside—are tucked inside a warm pita bread with the fresh crunch of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cukes. You get the tart creaminess of hummus, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce. For more greenery, I added a tender filo-wrapped spanakopita and grabbed some sweet honey sesame seed snaps in three flavors.  

Other Mediterranean Market menu items include Greek salads, gyros, beef samosa, and a rarely seen delight: merguez lamb sausage sandwiches. Sweets include pastries like baklava and European chocolate bars including uncommon Kit Kat flavors.

On the Saturday afternoon I visited a steady flow of customers checked out flatbreads (including Turkish semit), Eastern European cherry jams, olive oils, date syrup, pomegranate molasses, and bins of fresh olives and blocks of Bulgarian feta.

Roadfood attractions: Ethnic bakeries

I’ll excuse the many newcomers, but I get mighty irritated with locals who whine that the Boulder/Denver area doesn’t have the great ethnic neighborhood bakeries like they grew up with back East or out West. If they had poked around a little, they’d know there is a wealth of independent bakeries in the Boulder-Denver area run by immigrant families. This is the season to visit and taste the authentic pannetone, buche de Noel, king’s cake, and other special goodies that make the holidays.

Cinnamon loaf from Ana’s Norwegian Bakery. Photo John Lehndorff

For instance, there is a tiny Norwegian bakery hidden off I-25 in Centennial offering treats from Norway. Ana’s Norwegian Bakeri offers authentic iced lemon cakes, cardamom-laced boller buns, and a remarkable yeasted loaf that is swirled with cinnamon, sugar, and raisins and dusted with lots of cinnamon. It makes truly exceptional toast and French toast. 

This bakery hosts a Norwegian conversation group on Saturday mornings. One of the charms of visiting the following spots is that you will often hear casual talk in other languages, a reflection of the state’s many large immigrant communities. 

Here is just a sampling of the other local ethnic bakeries:

Mexican: Sabor A Mexico Bakery, Boulder; Panaderia Guanajuato, Longmont 

German: Rheinlander Bakery, Arvada; Old Fashioned Bavarian Bakery, Longmont

French: Le French Café, Boulder; Babette’s, Longmont

Japanese: Enchanted Oven, Broomfield; Tokyo Premium Bakery, Denver

Argentinean: Rincon Argentina, Boulder

Italian: Dolce Sicilia, Wheat Ridge

Danish: Taste of Denmark Bakery, Lakewood

Greek: Omonoia Greek Bakery, Denver

Polish: Royal Bakery, Arvada

Armenian: House of Bread, Denver

Cuban: Cuba Bakery and Cafe, Aurora

Peruvian: Azucar Bakery, Denver

Dutch: Boonzaaijer Dutch Bakery, Colorado Springs

Holiday hack: How to roast chestnuts

Roasted chestnuts. Photo John Lehndorff

You’ve heard the holiday tune every year, but have you ever actually roasted chestnuts over an open or closed fire?  

First, get fresh chestnuts and cut an X shape into the round side of each to vent steam. You can roast them in a perforated pan over a gas burner or on a grill, fire pit, or camp stove allowing the flames to briefly flame the nuts. Using an oven is easier, but you don’t get that smoky, singed flavor. Some cooks toss the chestnuts in oil, salt and herbs before roasting. Roast chestnuts on a baking sheet on the top shelf in a pre-heated 425-degree oven for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the oven. It has to be long enough to make sure the interior has softened and gotten toasted. Roasted chestnuts make the season bright if you peel and enjoy them while they are still warm.

Culinary calendar

After two years of necessary caution, 2022 will be a year of expanding educational opportunities in Boulder County and beyond that when it comes to culinary learning opportunities. For an upcoming feature, we want to know about local cooking schools, classes, immersive learning experiences, apprenticeships, and internships that involve food, beverages, baking, dining, farming, and food insecurity on any level. 

Send details to: lehndorffj@aol.com.

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