Please sir, may I have some more?

Russian Passport

Once upon a time, when I was a broke-ass college student living on bagels, instant ramen, and cheap Chinese takeout in the upscale culinary wonderland that is New York City, I got a taste of the good life -- literally -- when an old high school friend called me up, saying he needed a date for a work-related event. Turns out, he was handling the Rolex account for a major ad agency, and had to schmooze with his clients at a private party hosted by the Forbes family. The soiree was held in the Temple of Dendur room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and since the highlight of the night was a private showing of the Faberge collection -- display cases full of diamond and jewel-encrusted eggs -- the party had a Russian theme.

I couldn't believe the spread -- platters of blinis, bowls full of glistening black caviar, and plenty of champagne to wash it down. I'd only ever tasted caviar as a precious garnish on a few dishes, so being able to eat all I wanted was unreal. And can caviar make you high? I don't know -- maybe it was the champagne -- but after eating enough of it, I started to feel a kind of restless, giddy energy coming on. I floated through the rest of the night. It ruined me, it spoiled me -- ever since then, I've had a thing for that pretentious delicacy.

Well, now I know where I can stock up on caviar and other Russian treats. I recently stopped by a shop called Russian Market, and was blown away by how many interesting products they packed into two tiny rooms -- meats and cheeses and cookies and chocolates, shelves full of Russian beer, and exotic-looking bottles of wine. There were all kinds of kitschy mystery products emblazoned in colorful Cyrillic text, but I had no trouble ID'ing the caviar. Gratefully, it wasn't priced for billionaires.

Russian Market's at 7828 N. 19th Ave, near the southwest corner of 19th Ave and Northern. Call 602-433-2525 for info.

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