The ten minute walk between my New York City apartment takes me past a string of businesses as ethnically diverse as the population of the city itself. First, I pass the Italian Fraternal Society, outside which 70-year-old men can regularly be spotted at 10pm sipping espressos and conversing nostalgically in rapid Italian banter. Then there’s the Korean barber shop with bright waving kitty figurines lining the front window. On the left is a one-aisle store stocked with all things Greek and staffed by a robust, long-haired Greek who knows two words of English. You can’t forget the Italian grocery with hand-stretched mozzarella, the health food store run by an Indian family, the Irish pub, or the Thai restaurant whose dim interior creates a mysterious vibe that someone repels and entices the potential diner at the same time.
As you near the subway station, one last grocery store beckons the hurried commuter with its big green awning and bold white letters: Parrot Coffee Market. The two aisles are tight but nobody seems to notice after the counter worker greets you with a warm hello. At the front of the store are bins of nuts and dried fruits. Further back are barrels of international coffee beans, vats of olives of all varieties, and candies whose foreign labels are unrecognizable but whose shining wrappers are universally enticing. And on the right, you’ll find the deli case stocked with imported cheeses of all varieties: aged Dutch cheeses, soft Italian sandwich cheese, and at least ten varieties of feta.
A recent pre-picnic visit to Parrot with my brother (visiting from out of town) led to the purchase of the cheese that looked the least familiar to us. When in doubt, buy something completely strange and obscure, I guess.
Week 2: Bulgarian Dunavia Feta
Purchased at: Parrot Coffee European Grocery
Cost per pound: $3.99
Aging time: Likely several months
Milk type: Cow
Rating (of 10): 6
Firm for a feta, but still very spreadable. Overall it had a slightly sour milky flavor, and the texture was noticeably grainy when crumbled. The pronounced flavor made us glad we had bread to spread it thinly on; it would have been even better with a slice of tomato, too. The internet offers very few resources explaining what makes a Dunavia and Dunavia–if you have any knowledge of this Bulgarian cheese, feel free to share! The stunning whiteness of the cheese caught our eye, and the low price will certainly make me think about buying more the next time I take a pre-picnic stroll past Parrot Grocery.