If you go
Anyone who wants a little culinary world culture needn’t look any further than Davis Boulevard in East Naples. Here, at Old World Market, a bounty of European cuisine prevails, with an emphasis on the flavors of Old World cooking.
Just a few of its prepared items include freshly baked spinach and cheese pies, spreads and canned peppers, tomatoes and just about anything, except produce, a cook may need to prepare a gourmet meal. Looking for Cornish pasties? They’re here. Polish meat spreads? Absolutely.
Much of what’s available at Old World Market is closely aligned in the Mediterranean diet, however. One snack, the lutenitsa spread, which those in know slather on toast, is something Old World Market owner Momtchil “Moe” Dimitrov has to keep in stock. And during season, he has to order extra because it has become so popular.
“This is a traditional snack we eat all the time, and our customers really love it,” he says.
For Dimitrov, the myriad ingredients from all over the world make his store unique. But if he had to choose one favorite “secret ingredient,” it would be feta, and lots of it. On any given day, he has upward of 20 different kinds of feta cheese. Some of Dimitrov’s recent feta cheese specials have included Bulgarian cow milk feta, Bulgarian sheep milk feta and Valbresso French feta. Adding a few feta crumbles to a lutenitsa toast makes that snack even more flavorful.
The way the feta is produced is what makes it creamy. Skim milk feta will be less creamy than high fat. The creamier the feta, the higher fat content.
“Some prefer way creamier feta, and some prefer much firmer feta, and they are all different,” said Dimitrov. “That’s why we have tastings, so customers can try them and learn what style they like, and we have cow, goat and sheep feta, just very general, by milks, and then you have French, German, Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish, milder and less content of fat and those that have higher content of fat.
“Every country, every producer has his own explanation of feta — creamier, double cream, triple cream and so on,” said Dimitrov. “You see, I’m Bulgarian, so we eat feta in many ways, including on a salad, baked, very specific dishes include ones we make in our pottery pots, spanikopita, which are the spinach and cheese pies.”
The tastings Dimitrov is referring to are intended for his customers to familiarize themselves with his cuisine and wine choices.
He hosts the tastings at Old World Market every Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., during which he provides sample trays of cheeses, meats and phyllo pastries, among other bites.
Wine is also an important part of the retail operation at Old World Market. Dimitrov sells wine from rare Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian and Montenegro wineries.
“We have some amazing wines from all over the world, as well as from California, Chile and Argentina, at discount prices,” he says. Recently he offered a Santa Carolina 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva for $4.99, and a Finca El Origen Torrontes 2008 Reserva for $4.99, a “buy in small quantity, sell out” strategy that works well for the independently owned market.
“I always tell people to please remember that our quantities are very low and when we are out of stock, we are out of that wine and most likely we will never have that particular wine on that price ever again.”
“It’s a very enlightening experience to try different wines and Bulgarian foods and meet people from all over — it’s just wonderful,” said Chris Hill of Naples Awards Co., who enjoys attending the food and wine tastings at Old World Market. “We’ve been coming for the last four week and we just love Moe.”
Many members of the Hamilton and Thompson families of Naples attended Dimitrov’s last wine tasting along with other relatives and friends, including Mack Hamilton of the “Them Hamilton Boys” Southern rock band.
“With the photos of Old World countries and the food and wine, they have a great ambience for learning about the cuisine,” Lisa Hamilton said.
“This is the first time we have come here and it’s been delicious— the wine is very good and the food is very good — we ended up buying a lot of wine and buying a lot of cheese,” Cathy Thompson said as she sat among family and friends outside Old World Market on Friday.
Other prepared dishes shoppers find at Old World Market include a shepherd’s pie pasty and a curry pasty. He also offers a less-exotic, although just as flavorful, chicken and vegetable pasty.
Carp roe dip, which Dimitrov keeps in stock, is commonly known as Taramosalata. It’s a creamy topping customers often enjoy with raw vegetables or toasted Krinos pita bread.
Along the aisles of the market, the hundreds of canned peppers, ingredients and spices — especially the tall stalks of authentic Greek oregano — call to diners to be adventurous and try something new. And Dimitrov is there, happy to explain just how you can do it.
Baked feta in pottery dish
2/3 pound feta cheese
¼ pound kashkaval (kasseri) cheese or any other mild cheese
1-2 hot peppers (optional)
2-3 sliced tomatoes
2 chopped roasted peppers
oregano, parsley or any other dry green spice
■ Layer feta cheese in the small clay pot (“gyuveche” pot), available from the Old World Market.
■ Layer peppers and tomatoes and more cheese on that. Cover with clay lid.
■ Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
■ Break the eggs on top of the food and cook without the lid till the egg becomes cooked to your desired consistency.