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.)

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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 Amazon.com.

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

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