Food & Drink

Best things I ate in August: Cookies, beans and, oooh, lemon ice

The crumbly, sugar-snowy version of kourabiedes at Mocca Bistro each has a whole almond tucked inside.
The crumbly, sugar-snowy version of kourabiedes at Mocca Bistro each has a whole almond tucked inside. Kathleen Purvis

One problem with being a food writer: You’re always finding small, wonderful things that don’t fit in other stories. My three favorite finds in August:

1. Kourabiedes at Mocco Bistro, 4004 South Blvd., $15 for 10 large ones, $1 each for smaller ones.

I love a secret, especially a place or a food with a surprise tucked inside. Mocco Bistro, the little Greek coffee shop and bakery, is easy to miss, tucked into a strip of shops next to an auto parts store on the busy section of South Boulevard near Scaleybark. Inside, the pastries cases are a revelation, with Chaido Lianou’s fancy tarts and chocolate creations, even pudding-like cups called baklava cheesecake.

The winner, though, is the simplest: Her version of the shortbread cookies kourabiedes (AKA qurabiya, polvoron, wedding cookies or sandies). Each one is covered in a Swiss alp of powdered sugar and has a secret – a whole almond tucked inside. Don’t wear a black shirt when you grab one of these beauties to enjoy with your coffee. (But if you do, it’s still totally worth it.)

Rancho Gordo’s yellow eye beans pack more flavor than most dried beans. Kathleen Purvis

2. Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans, $23.40 for four (1-pound) bags on

It’s a terrible thing to find the love of your life and have it snatched away. I was Earl’s Market in Elizabeth not long ago when I spotted a bag of Rancho Gordo, the heirloom-variety beans from California. I had never heard of “yellow eye,” but Rancho Gordo can be hard to find, so I snapped up a bag.

One night in a slow cooker without even soaking them and I had discovered the bean of my dreams: A rich, creamy flavor and a better texture than any bean I’ve ever cooked. Sadly, Earl’s no longer has them, although they stock other Rancho Gordo products. Happily, though, Amazon does, and at a pretty decent price for gourmet beans. Now that fall isn’t far off, I’m loaded up and ready for baked-bean and cassoulet weather.

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On a hot night, you can keep cool with a simple cup of lemon ice. Kathleen Purvis

3. Lindy’s Lemon Italian Ice, $5 for two 6-packs at Harris Teeter.

Of all the flavors, the one I can’t resist in my sweets: Lemon. Yes, I’d rather than lemon than chocolate, especially in the summer. While we sweltered through the hottest part of the summer, I found my happy spot was out on the deck with a cup of Lindy’s Lemon Italian Ice.

A single cup only has 100 calories, and it takes a while to scrap away a small frozen spoonfuls. (A little of Doc Porter’s lightly sweet vodka poured over the top doesn’t hurt to hurry it along.) Even better: Lindy’s is based in Charlotte and the ices are made here. Toss in a couple of Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger cookies and it gave me the will to live through a hot summer.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis