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Eat This, Riverside! German Hot Dogs, Hungarian Sausage, and Russian Cured Lard from the European Deli Market

In springtime, it’s natural for a young person’s mind to turn toward grilled meats and smoked sausages. In this week’s “Eat This Riverside,” Seth Zurer shares his favorite source for Eastern European charcuterie and pantry staples, the European Deli Market.

I used to host an annual backyard barbecue that I jokingly (not jokingly) called The Festival of Encased Meats. It was, for lack of a better term, a real sausage party. I’d gather sausages from purveyors from miles around and grill, smoke, and simmer them to the delight of my sausage-loving guests. For me, part of the process and pleasure of getting to know Riverside has been working to build up my new personal sausage database so that when the time comes to host the first annual Wood Streets Festival of Encased Meats, I’ll have my supply chain up and running.

I’ve got a source for funky fermented Thai sausages in Moreno Valley and a solid option for spicy Italian sausage in San Gabriel. But I’m very happy to have the European Deli Market at Washington and Indiana so close to home to meet my mittel-European sausage needs.

This tiny, well-organized market has the best selection of Eastern-European-style encased meats in Riverside. German knockwurst, girthy and garlicky, spicy house-made Hungarian kielbasa, flecked with red pepper, head-cheese, rosy-pink doktorskaya bologna, mild veal franks and half a dozen types of Hungarian salami are all on display in their pristine deli case. I’ve been working my way through the offerings over the last two years, so I’ll have my plan in place when Sausage Fest rolls around.

The European Deli Market was opened ten years ago by Aura Stoian, a bubbly and enthusiastic shopkeeper who takes obvious pleasure in sharing her Romanian culinary traditions with her Southern California clientele.

Born in Romania, Aura’s parents brought her and the family to California in search of a better life in 1989, just before the revolution that ended Romania’s Communist era. Opportunity here has taken many forms for Aura. She spent years “confined to a cubicle” as a CPA but always dreamed of having a place where she could “share my Romanian background with the American crowd,” she says. “Something that I love to do is cook and share Eastern European delicacies like cold cuts and cheeses and sweets and candy and chocolates. And kinda educate the American crowd about it”.

Browsing the deli case is a delicious education indeed, if you want to learn about Eastern European charcuterie. Besides sausages, European Deli Market offers a carefully curated menu of cold cuts, cheeses, and cured meats. I am particularly fond of their dry German Black Forest “schinken” ham, which is somewhere between an Italian prosciutto and a Virginia country ham. This is no processed, pulverized, reconstituted pork powder - it’s a lovingly salt-cured boneless ham with deep, complex flavors, perfect for wrapping around a slice of ripe cantaloupe or a juicy fig or for draping across a just-baked sourdough pizza.

For lovers of pork fat, the market offers a rare and delicious treat: imported salo mangalitsaa cured hunk of pure white leaf lard laced with bay leaf and black pepper, in the same tradition as Tuscan Lardo di Colonnata. It’s a treat best enjoyed in thin slices on warm toasted bread with a sprinkle of flakey salt. The pork fat melts away into the bread and all that’s left is a pleasant greasiness and deep pork flavor that’ll stick with you for the rest of the night.

The market offers a small menu of sandwiches. All are served on pleasantly crunchy sub rolls made to Aura’s specifications by the bakery at Loma Linda Market. The rolls are unavailable for sale anywhere other than in sandwiches from this deli. I like their muffuletta (even though its resemblance to the New Orleans mainstay after which it’s named is limited) - mortadella and genoa salami sliced to order and topped with a tangy olive salad. But the best sandwich I’ve had at the market is the German Hot Dog, a scored and griddled garlic knockwurst stuffed in a roll and topped with tart sauerkraut and grainy mustard.

Don’t overlook the grocery aisles - the shelves groan with varieties of ajvar and lutenitsa (regional red pepper spreads), fruit cordials, fizzy bottled kvas and tarragon soda, as well as pantry staples from former Eastern Bloc countries like Vegeta all-purpose seasoning (Croatia’s version of Mrs. Dash), smoked Riga sprats in oil, as well as buckwheat groats and twenty different shapes of egg noodles.

The refrigerated case offers a few tantalizing Greek and eastern European specialties - taramosalata, Bulgarian goat cheese in a tin, salmon caviar and rich plugra European-style butter. I also like the freezer case -- phyllo dough shares display frontage with frozen pelmeni dumplings and packaged Lithuanian ice cream bars.

Every month or so, Aura stocks the freezer with a batch of freshly made mititei, diminutive Romanian sausages (with no casing) made from ground meat and garlic, ready to be grilled at home and enjoyed best, as Aura says,” with mustard and a little bread and a cold beer … gotta have the cold beer”. They were all out when I visited recently; “people love them so much, I can’t keep up,” Aura says with a smile.

Jeez, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. European Deli Market (ph: 951-274-9100) is located at 7120 Indiana Ave., in the little mall at the corner of Indiana and Washington. They’re open from 10am to 6pm Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays. Call in advance to pre-order sandwiches and plan to eat off your trunk or in a nearby park - the European Deli Market has no seating area.

Well, Riverside, what do you think? Do you have a source for encased or cured meats that I oughta add to the sausage database? Where do you go when you need to stock up on Borodinsky-style rye bread and Soviet ice cream bars? Let me know with a comment below or an email to

And keep those suggestions coming for places you’d like to see covered in this space - hole-in-the-wall restaurants, ethnic specialty markets, taco stands, cottage food operations, and micro-enterprise home kitchens are all things that I’d love to investigate and share with Gazette readers.