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Wild for local shopping

KYSHA HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 6/2/2011, 9:23 p.m.
Wild for local shopping

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Wild for local shopping

I hope everyone enjoyed the hot and humid beginning of the summer holiday weekend. I attended the wedding of my girlfriend Maura and her newly betrothed, Art, in Hershey, Pa., amongst friends and family and copious amounts of chocolate. My favorites were the crostini hors d'oeuvres with Brie, chocolate and strawberry preserves and their gorgeous dark chocolate wedding cake with cream cheese frosting. Congratulations always and forever, Maura and Art!

Now it's back to the reality of a non-chocolate flavored city. For me, that reality is switching out my winter clothes for the bright colors of summer (finally...), putting some air in my bike tires and riding to the grocery store to replenish the kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer.

Thank goodness Harlem is on the come-up with relatively new grocery stores. I remember my youth and suffering through the limited healthy choices in supermarket chains found mostly in low-income areas. I was resentful that we needed to go downtown to get good tasting produce and specialty items.

Now, I do love me some Fairway. Y'all know that. However, one doesn't always want to go to the river to shop. Now thanks to some relatively new grocery stores in Harlem, one doesn't have to.

By now I am sure you have heard of Best Yet Market on Eighth Avenue between 119th and 118th streets. The Long Island-based chain got its humble beginnings in Brooklyn by a man who saw a need for fresh produce in his community. That simple need grew to include organics, freshly prepared food and specialty items. It has also brought Harlem Best Yet's first Manhattan location, and it seems the community has responded and even asked for more.

That "more" can be found at 10 E. 125th St., between Fifth and Madison avenues, and its name is Wild Olive Market. It is the second location for Greek owner Taso Mastakouris. The first is on 94th Street and Columbus Avenue.

In the year that it has been open, I have passed by a handful of times, never going in. A few weeks ago when returning from the Harlem Metro North station, I decided to see what was hiding behind the fresh flowers and fruit veneer. Glad I did.

Once inside, my first vision was of produce stacked plentifully and neatly. It called me further inside to see what else this space might be offering my neighbors. I rounded the corner to find even more produce with a sign stating their credo: "We support our local farmers!" They get their produce fresh from Long Island and upstate New York, thereby guaranteeing the customer in-season quality and decreasing their carbon footprint.

Fine...so they have produce, but (most) wo/men cannot live on produce alone. What else might they have that I would be looking for at my normal shopping hole? I meandered the aisles, recalling my regular shopping list, and was pleasantly surprised to see most, if not all of my grocery items like humus, nuts and grains, low-sodium canned beans, organic milk and dairy and specialty condiments. There were also plenty of other goods and brands that piqued my interest.