I first discovered Birlik Market when I (ECW) moved to Sunset Park in 2002. It’s a Turkish market on 8th avenue and 60th street, and was easily on my walk home from the 8th avenue “N” train stop. The most remarkable feature of the market was that I could load up on groceries, but never seem to spend more than $5!
Neighborhood sources say that the market now has Chinese owners and the prices are even cheaper. Cheap prices aside, it’s the products that kept me coming back. It was the first place where my former roommate found Ajvar, a sweet red pepper spread her father used to eat in Hungary and is also eaten throughout the Middle East, along with bulk herbs and spices (more on that later).
Alas… I moved away from 8th avenue’s bounty and closer to 5th avenue and so Birlik fell out of my orbit. Last spring out for a long Brooklyn stroll with SMH we passed by it and I insisted we go in. I’ll let him tell you what we found…
SMH chiming in here: If you are of any of sort of Middle East descent as I am, you will find the following items at this amazing market:
Every kind of fava bean in cans with sauce to make breakfast foul. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foul_Madammas
Every kind of spice you need to make any Middle Eastern dish such as Sumak, Zatar, Corriander, and 100 others, for cheap!
Discount bulk lentils, farina, long grain (basmati) rice, and, once again, fava beans.
Amardine, apricot paste for breaking your fast during Ramaadan.
That tangerine soda that I used to get as a special treat when I lived in Saudi Arabia.
Basturma (Middle Eastern pastrami that’s way more spicier and flavorful than anything New Yorkers are used).
Jameel soup base mix. When you really want to go there.
Check it out:
Later we conferred with a Turkish friend who lived in Dyker Heights and asked if she knew about Birlik. She confirmed all we felt about the market. She also let us know I’d been saying the name of the market wrong all these years. It’s pronounced “Beer-lik” not “Burr-lik” like we’d been saying.