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Specialty stores spice it up

You can have all the recipes in the world, but if you don’t have the ingredients, you can’t cook them. There are specialty stores in the Charlotte area that cover ingredients from almost anywhere you can name. These are some of our favorites:

Compare Foods. Say it “com-PAH-rey.” This chain has a Latin American focus, with ingredients from Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean. Everything from Peruvian quinoa to Colombian crema. The hot-food and produce sections are particularly popular. Multiple locations, including 818 E. Arrowood Road, 4300 N. Tryon St., 3600 N. Sharon Amity, and on Cherry Road in Rock Hill, or use the store locator at www.comparesupermarkets.com.

Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market, 20910 Torrence Chapel Road, Cornelius, www.ferruccis.com. Fresh meats, cheeses, olives, pastas and prepared foods. There are several popular Italian markets, but owner Tony Stafford and his late wife, Maria Randise, opened one of the first, in 1999. (If you’re east of Charlotte, Enzio’s, 4420 Potter Road, Stallings, has a similar selection.)

Golden Bakery, 3145 N. Sharon Amity Road, 704-537-4857. This halal bakery touches on a half-dozen countries, including Syria and Lebanon, with fresh pitas and baklavas, stuffed fatayer, lahm be’ajeen and little noshes like kibbeh.

Grand Asia, 4400 Potters Road, Stallings; www.grandasiamarket.com. This well-run and well-stocked Asian supermarket has large produce, meat and seafood departments, a bakery and café and a wide selection of products from all over the world. The staff is particularly helpful.

Pasta & Provisions, 1528 Providence Road, www.pastaprovisions.com. For 20 years, the little market on Providence has made its own fresh pasta and sauces, as well as stocking everything to go with them, from sausages to cheeses, even a great selection of olive oils.

Patel Brothers, 10701 Centrum Parkway, Pineville, www.patelbros.com. With an extensive population of people from India and surrounding countries, there are many Indian-focused food businesses. This store is larger than most, though, with an extensive selection, from dals to Indian mangos.

Super G Mart, 7323 E. Independence Blvd., supergmart.net. The “g” stands for global, and it certainly is. Asian, Latino and Caribbean products, including a Korean café and a Mexican-style bakery. One handy feature in the seafood department: A picture guide to how to get your live fish cleaned, so you can say “No. 1” and get it scaled and whole with the fin still on.

Zygma European Groceries and Deli, 212 N. Polk St., Pineville, www.zygmapolishdeli.com. Polish, German, Russian and Slovak food products, but the meat case is the thing, with sausages, hams and wursts. Good beer selection, too.

Kathleen is the Observer’s food editor.
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