By Tom Hanchett
The red neon written in Russian caught my eye first.
Russian?? In a nondescript shopping plaza along Old Monroe Road where suburban Matthews blends into semi-rural Stallings?
The sign heralded tidy little International Grocery. Translated, the neon says “Russian Products” but petite dark-haired Sevilya Gadzhieva behind the counter is truly international. Of Turkish background, her family lived in the Soviet province of Georgia, then got relocated by the authorities to Uzbekistan. Then again to Russia itself. Then exiled altogether.
Her shelves offer pickled pickled vegetables from Turkey and salamis from Hungary. Coolers hold Russian soft drinks and Russian ice cream sandwiches made with wafer cookies. You can buy traditional biscuits for your teething baby or corn-curls with a bright-colored cartoon Russian princess on the box.
When I was there, Gadzhieva’s mother-in-law Latifa was hanging out, her hair covered with the old-fashioned Russian kerchief called a kosinka.
I headed home with a tall tin of feta-like white cheese from Turkey, a tub of crisp and garlic pickles, plus some halva candy. And one of those Russian ice cream sandwiches for the road.
But before making it back to the car, I spied pictures of kabobs in the windows of Athens Pizza across the parking lot.
Kabobs?? In a nondescript shopping plaza along Old Monroe Road where suburban Matthews blends into semi-rural Stallings?
More on that in next week’s column.
Monday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday Noon – 9 p.m.
2910 Old Monroe Rd.
Matthews, NC 28104
Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico + Greece = holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam
Little corner of El Salvador
Arepas from Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Nigeria in east Charlotte
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews
Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
Guatamala in east Charlotte
North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Grits & cornmeal
Laos in Kings Mountain