Hussein and Hassan Mehaydli, twin Lebanese owners of Tarragon Middle Eastern Market, make this spot an especially welcoming place to grab a falafel or stock up on fig jam, olive oil and fresh pita. Fresh hummus, baba ghanoush and stuffed grape leaves are laid out, along with triangular pocket pies, baklava and other delicacies. There are a few tables and take-out is available.
Depending on the season, you could find here green almonds, small sour plums, baby eggplant or fava beans in the pod, grown by Armenian-Lebanese farmers in Fresno, Calif. The well-connected brothers also supply bottled, preserved and pickled imports from Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, North Africa, Turkey and Greece.
Some of the specialties to seek out are cri cri, roasted peanuts encased in a brittle semolina shell, pomegranate molasses (good in tangy vinaigrette dressings or drizzled over fried eggs and used to glaze roast chicken), dried and salted black jarjear olives, zaatar (wild thyme) sold dried and pickled and malban sweets — chewy candy made from dried fruit, nuts, sesame seeds, coconut shreds and cornstarch. The dairy case holds labaneh (thick yogurt spread), various feta-like cheeses and yogurt drinks.
As I wandered the aisles, the taste of the green almond I nibbled when I arrived remained. As with many seasonal foods, blink and you miss the chance to taste it, but there’s always another to try here.
Tarragon, 6623 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest; 305-663-1121; 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Mon-Sat, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sun; shawarma $5.99; pocket pies $1.75; meat-stuffed grape leaves $8.99; dips $6.99.
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