A Deeper Dive Into Crossroads East Shopping Center (Bellevue)

At 900 160th Ave NE, in Bellevue, just north of and set back from the strip housing Dough Zone, is a remarkable triumvirate of specialty food outlets.

I had previously discussed this place on CH, when assisting in the search for lavasch, or expressing in 2010 my own confusion about the name and provenance of one of the businesses. But today, I had the chance to take a closer look, and liked the results quite a bit.

The identity of the Armenian/Russian deli/grocery joint remains elusive, although it is typically named as “Armenia Gastronom” on at least a few aggregation sites (not to be confused with “Gastronom” or “Bellevue Gastronom” in nearby Lake Hills, since closed). I went inside looking for a certain brand of Turkish red pepper paste and found the very one and several others. I was reminded of a certain Roads and Kingdoms article on adjika, a Caucasian herb and pepper paste, and I asked the shopkeeper if he had any, showing him a photo from the article. He was candid about not having the author’s favored brand of adjika (which I understand is generally unavailable in the U.S.) but he did point me to some other options, including one that is part of a Canadian line of products, Zakuson, favorably reviewed on Amazon, FWIW. Have not dipped into it yet.

I always appreciate a thoughtful blend of commercially produced and house-made products, and Armenia Gastronom offers fresh salads/pickles, sausages, charcuterie, smoked fish, caviar, and more.

Next door is La Superior, a Mexican/Latin grocery that is filled to bursting with a panopoly of Latin-American foodstuffs. I had previously wandered in here on a targeted mission for Mexican drinking chocolate. Today, I browsed through the top-loading coolers and confirmed a good presence of tropical fruit pulps, Peruvian products (the subject of years of past CH discussion), Columbian sausages, and much more.

The small coolers at the front had epazote, whole and chopped nopales, and guaje, the latter which endures for me as a benchmark of a quality tienda. I remarked to the proprietor about this, and he told me some interesting things about the divergent attitudes of regional Mexicans toward the plant, as well as another that he usually stocks, pápalo.

The third place is Old Country Bakery, discussed in a CH post above, and overachieving source for cakes, pastries and Armenian/Eastern European breads.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold