Europa Delicatessen & Gourmet Market- South Beach

Friday, January 23, 2015

This delicatessen was uncovered on my Instagram feed--the power of social media! Someone I follow kept posting photos of this scrumptious international cuisine from faraway countries like Serbia. Let the food adventure begin!

Europa is inconspicuously tucked in a row of restaurants but strategically just south of the main 5th Street in South Beach--the trendy SoFi area. (translation Sofi = South of Fifth Street).  The décor immediately transported me to old world Europe, the warm, brick walls lined with shelves and occupied by rows of wine bottles.

From the glass case I chose the inviting Burek -fine golden brown layers of phyllo dough, interspersed with a white cheese.  A cuisine from the former Ottoman Empire, the Börek is a family of pastries with variations in countries of former Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia), other Balkan countries (Turkey, Albania, Armenia, Assyria, Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Crimea and Moldova) and North Africa  (Tunisia and Algeria).

The most popular and common version is a soft, white cheese filling either feta cheese, or ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, and a leafy green like spinach or parsley.  On the side I was served a type of yogurt. My burek was the Serbian variation cooked in a round dish with white cheese and spinach.

While thin in appearance it was rich, very rich but delicious. The idea of minced meat or diced lamb as served in East Arab left me wanting to sample more.

Other cold case displays were sheep’s milk cheeses, caviar, salmon paté, pickled herring, stuffed cabbage and basturma (dry cured spiced beef). Adorning the case are jars of cherries soaking in a bath of rum! (I want to be a cherry).

A white wine would have been a better complement but red wine is their house special. Enjoying a late lunch around 3pm. I had the whole restaurant to myself. While I dined, a gentleman walked in and ordered a German specialty to go. It was evident that the restaurant is frequented by locals and knew the owner, Timea, on a first name basis.

My palette and adventurous spirit elevated by the experience, I studied the blackboard menu and asked Timea for other suggestions. She convinced me my next order will be Cevapi, a small veal-and-beef sausages served with Serbian lepinja pocket bread, raw onion shreds, kajmak (sour cream cheese) and red pepper spread. SOLD! Doesn't take much convincing as a meat lover.

For dessert, she recommended custard-filled Hungarian Napoleons called kremes. My waistline is beckoning an end the culinary trip to Europe. My food explorations mean more gym time.

Europa is added to my preferred list of local establishments for authentic international, neighborhood cuisine. I look forward to returning soon! (Thank you Sasha!! aka Alex)  Who's ready to join me?

Europa Delicatessen & Gourmet Market
425 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

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