A is not for "apartment house" with a commercial tenant tucked in the prow; A is for "Aztec architecture" enlivened by a chile-pepper apostrophe. As you've guessed, the deli counter focuses on Mexican fare. (A supplemental menu offers Dominican lunch specials, also prepared by an able hand; shards of concon, hidden behind the counter, await those who know to ask.) The edifice of my torta de lengua con todo ($7), a beef tongue sandwich with the works, was demolished in short order.
Andrea's Deli Grocery 1182 West Farms Rd. (at Home St.), Foxhurst, Bronx 718-589-2409
Some of these Afghan kolcha (about $8 per pound) will remind you of familiar American cookies, particularly the pale, pistachio-topped, melt in-the-mouth items up front. The brittle triangles are a little less sweet; their golden color presages the flavor of corn. The smaller round variety, whose indented tops sport a patch of nigella seeds, are actually salty; the counterman proclaimed them "good with tea." Over the course of several days, to my surprise, they proved to be the most compelling of the lot.
Look past the visual clutter outside this Israeli-American kosher market. Beside one doorway, the cellotape residue of previous flyers throws shade, literally, on a current special.
My dining buddy and I took note, and made haste; a few minutes later we pulled over to a quiet patch of sidewalk a half-block from Holon. Our plastic spoons were next to worthless for photo styling, so there's little to see here, apart from a pistachio garnish, of the orange blossom and mastika ice cream by Joy Betesh (pint, $4, unlabeled and very possibly underpriced by the cashier). So take my word: The orange is wonderful. We made a good dent in this pint before packing it up; my buddy doubled back for another, to hold in reserve.
Holon Middle East Groceries 527 Kings Hwy. (East 3rd-East 4th Sts.), Gravesend, Brooklyn 718-336-7758 Also at 809 Ave. U (East 8th-East 9th Sts.), Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn 718-627-5878 Closed Saturday www.HolonFoods.com
Previously: Crystal-clear Limonade La Gazelle (the photo is of a full bottle, $2) would be welcome alternative to Vimto, and housemade sorrel and ginger drinks, served in many West African restaurants. For widest Stateside distribution, however, this Senegalese soft drink would need to offer a list of ingredients more complete than "pur sucre."
Adja Khady Food Distributor 243 West 116th St. (Adam Clayton Powell Junior-Frederick Douglass Blvds.), Manhattan 646-645-7505
Bubur sumsum (Boo-bor Soom-Soom, shown after stirring, $3.50), an Indonesian rice-flour pudding, is lightly flavored by pale green pandan and sweetened by brown sugar. "Sumsum," Indonesian for bone "marrow," gives a good sense of the texture, which is creamy and yet a little slippery, too.
Born in Arizona in 1938, this brand of grapefruit soda branched out to Mexico in 1955. By many accounts this imported version, free of corn syrup, tastes a lot like the original — if only it had some unfiltered bits of grapefruit pulp, too. Cane-sugar Squirt in swirled-glass bottle (12 fl. oz., $1.50).
Que Lindo Es Puebla 6040 Palisade Ave. (at 61st St.), West New York, New Jersey 201-861-5556
This came from that — message seen and understood. Agua de chilacayote (Chee-lah-kah-Yo-tay) is prepared from a squash also known by the English names figleaf gourd, Malabar gourd, and cidra or sidra. And, yes, it tastes like squash, in a full-bodied, sweet, refreshing manner all its own. My cupful was compliments of the proprietor and his family, whose shop features a variety of Mexican clothing, kitchen items, and keepsakes as well as a smaller, selective inventory of hard-to-source produce and other edibles. Many of the foodstuffs, alas, come and go very quickly.