The Best Middle Eastern Specialty Store: Sahadi's

In 2011, I found myself in the Middle East three times. A magical trip to Jordan, 8 days in Dubai, and a stop in Doha, Qatar.  After Jordan, I couldn't look at falafels, pita, or cucumbers in yogurt. I was off of anything Middle Eastern.

Slowly, I'm starting to crave chickpeas and hummus again.  Last week, I showed where I find a taste of England in New York. This week, I returned to the Middle East in New York at Sahadi's, a specialty food store that has been operating in Brooklyn on Atlantic Avenue for almost 60 years. There are hundreds of bulk bins filled with treats like dried fruit, nuts, chocolates, and coffee beans. You can find any grain or spice that you want in huge glass containers...and you can get a lot or a little! Your choice.

Head to the back for prepared falafel and sandwiches, generous scoops of hummus, and cheese.  We're talking hundreds of varieties of cheese-many from the Middle East that you may never have heard of.  I loved looking at all the different types of feta, something I use almost every week on salads.  Turn left out of Sahadi's and walk a couple of doors down to Damascus Bakery for delicious pita bread.  The Sahadi family is originally from Lebanon (I desperately want to go to Beirut) and still continue to bring that Middle Eastern flair and taste to New York.

If you don't live in New York, they'll ship anywhere in the continental 48 states! They have great gift baskets, like "Breakfast in a Bag" and "Coffee Lover's Delight."

National Geographic: Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Last week, my gift pick for travelers was included in National Geographic's Holiday Gift Guide 2011, with ten top gift ideas.  While I love a gift card as much as the next person, I was inspired by the other ideas on this list, like adopting an olive tree.

My pick was timely, as I had to buy a new laptop this week and needed a great new case.

Click here to read the rest of the list.

Knomo Laptop Case: Annie Fitzsimmons

"I am a new owner of the ultimate travel laptop, the MacBook Air– after my old, heavy MacBook had an angry run-in with a full glass of water. To protect my purchase (aka lifeline, home office, third arm), I found the most gorgeous line of cases from Knomo London that I will now be giving as gifts this season. I chose the sleek brown leather envelope with velvet lining. It makes me feel more organized than I actually am, and ready to write and work around the world. Knomo also has a great line of luggage, iPad cases, and men’s messenger bags. Even their name, Knomo, is perfect for travelers– it comes from combining “Knowledge” and “Mobility.” MacBook Air Envelope from Knomo London, $79.95"

Friday Links to Love, With New York City Food Gifts!


Photo: From when I made chocolate treats with Jacques Torres!

I recently gave my aunt a thank-you-for-letting-us-crash-at-your-house bag full of NYC foodie gifts, things that are from New York or the Hamptons.  I added a Dean & Deluca mug and NYC postcards.  I really want her to come visit and am hoping they entice her to come sooner rather than later! 

For future gifts, I made a list of NYC items that are easy to ship or pack for out-of-town relatives and friends:

  • Tate's Bake Shop cookies from Southampton, NY: Addicting! And if you find yourself in the Hamptons, you can visit the bake shop that started it all. They have nice holiday cookie packs too.
  • Jars of Hamptons Honey: Delicious honey for your tea from Southampton, NY
  • Fat Witch Bakery Brownie Mix: At Chelsea Market and on some grocery store shelves
  • Sarabeth's Jams: One of the city's great brunch spots
  • Jacques Torres Chocolate: I had a wonderful time making chocolate with Jacques Torres himself a couple of months ago. The DUMBO outpost is great. 
  • Jars of Rao's pasta sauce: The vodka sauce is the best jarred sauce you'll ever taste. So if you can't get into Rao's (someday I will), you can buy the sauce. 

So it will come as no surprise that one of the links I loved this week was a slideshow from SeriousEats with gifts for NYC food lovers! Their list had more perishable items (cheese, bialys, pastrami) on it but it's a nice round-up.  SeriousEats slideshow

More fun links: 

  • From The Huffington Post comes a cool video of Washington, D.C. at night (time-lapsed shots)
  • This week, NASA announced the discovery of the first EARTH-LIKE PLANET outside of our solar system and that all the components are right for life: "Such planets have the right distance from their star to support water, plus a suitable temperature and atmosphere to support life." Too bad it would take us 600 years to get there IF we could travel at the speed of light.
  • A great piece from The Atlantic on how growing food organically, without cancer-causing chemicals, can actually double or triple crop yields and feed more people in a better way: Organic Can Feed the World
  • This hotel freak loved drooling over Conde Nast Traveler's picks for Most Gorgeous Hotel Bathrooms (I love the Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental in New York)