Sunday, January 15, 2012

From Russia (and Arvada) With Pastries (and Sausage)

Life with babies is one random adventure after another. Such it was that we were in Arvada a few weeks ago with the goal of buying used children's clothing (nothing's too good for my little guys). As we pulled up to another mostly-empty suburban strip mall parking lot in our station wagon that every day looks alarmingly more and more like the Griswold's Wagon Queen Family Truckster, I killed the engine and we felt instantly odd. It took a minute to process the unfamiliar vibe we were sensing. It was silence. Both boys were fast asleep in the back. As my wife ventured in to shop I was charged with staying in the car, as apparently, unlike their canine counterparts, it's not considered kosher (or legal) to leave human babies alone in the car--even if you crack the window a bit and leave them some water.

You think you hate it now? Wait 'til you drive it.

So I stayed put, as I am not your ordinary, everyday fool. I fumbled with the radio and mostly twiddled my thumbs, then started noticing that most of the traffic in this lonely out-of-the-way shopping strip was funneling in and out of the business next door. I craned my neck to see what lucky business was able to maintain a steady flow of clientele in this location. It was a Russian grocery store.


When all the clothes were bought and the babies awake we wandered into the small store to browse the unfamiliar aisles of undecipherable but familiar enough sodas, candies and canned goods. The friendly proprietor of European Delicious motioned us up to the counter and showed us his dazzling array of smoked and cured meats behind the glass where he stood. He talked me into buying a 3lb link of Keilbasa. It wasn't all that hard.


As far as I know (I don't really know) much of Denver's Russian community is concentrated in Southeast Denver and neighboring Aurora, but as I learned from the proprietor of European Delicious there are a handful of Russian churches in Arvada that keep his aisles bustling with expats.

I also grabbed some peach pastries off the counter. He warned me that I might find them a little dry (by design apparently), and that just a few doors down there was a great Russian bakery owned by two young women. We thanked him and headed immediately over there.


Kavkaz Bakery turned out to be a pleasant little shop featuring loads of fresh-baked Russian and Eastern European delights. It was hard to resist choosing from their dazzling selection of expertly decorated cakes, but I restrained myself and stuck with the smaller sweets.


The flaky, empanada-like sweet pastry stuffed with a sweet ricotta-like cheese filling was my absolute favorite. The friendly young lady who co-owns the bakery told me its name--at least three times--but being over a month later it escapes me. 


Another highlight was this crunchy donut-shaped cookie covered in shaved almonds. It was a delicious dunk into my morning brew and I only wish I had brought home several more. 


Also delightful was this strudel-like fruit-filled pastry. The layered dough was buttery and flaky; and the filling was sweet--but not overly so--letting the fruit flavor really stand out.


The next morning I polished off what was left of the pastries from Kavkaz Bakery with mug of black coffee. I picked at the peach pies all week--they were indeed dry--but good enough with morning coffee. Also lasting at least a week was that lovely Keilbasa. It felt like I had it at almost every meal: Sliced cold with mustard on sourdough, pan fried with eggs, grilled on a bun with sauerkraut. It was a little much, but I'm not complaining.

Thanks to my babies, I found a wonderful slice of Russia in a far-away pocket of Arvada. Here's to many more new experiences in the year to come.

Kavkaz Bakery on Urbanspoon

7 comments:

  1. European Delicious! That's a awesome name! I'll at least check out the bakery.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have sent a link to this post to my Russian-born neighbor in case she doesn't know about these places & gets nostalgic for Russion food. - Claire at www.culinary-colorado.com.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Be sure to check out the Ukranian Market just down the street. Their honey cookies are delicious.

    Christine from Going Global, Looking Local

    Our review: http://ggllblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/tale-of-two-markets-part-two.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another fine off-the-beaten-path expose... there are so many great cultural pockets in Denver that many are unaware of (myself included). Thanks for keeping us honest, and for keeping the Smurfs in business with that EPIC coffee mug.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for this valuable information, I hope it is okay that I bookmarked your website for further references.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the post. I had been looking for something related and found your web site in the process. I will definitely be back for more.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I feel satisfied after finding this one.

    ReplyDelete

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