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[Photographs: Jake Lindeman]

These days, local tortillas, rounds of cotija cheese, and fresh serrano chiles are about as difficult to find in a supermarket as a box of Domino sugar. Neverthelss, as Mexican ingredients become more available, it can still be difficult to find the rare stuff. Enter Atlixco Deli Grocery, a grocery with two locations, one in Sunset Park and another in Jackson Heights, sprinting above and beyond in their selection of obscure Mexican goods.

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On a humble corner of 5th Avenue, Atlixco looks like any other Mexican grocery, with stacks of fruit outside. There are a number of eminently stocked stores in this neighborhood, aiding both locals and those that own multiple Rick Bayless cookbooks, in their searches. Inside, there's a refrigerator case with a swath of wild Mexican herbs; in the back left corner, dozens of dried spices; and on a shelf upfront, over a half dozen brands of tortillas.

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There's purple ayocote beans and manual tortilla presses, but it's not only a great place to shop, but to snack as well, while perusing the esoteric. The bags of fried chicharrones ($3.50) with bubbly mottled skin have a crunch you can hear from the other end of the store. Upfront, a mountain of ripe prickly pear fruits ($.50), are waiting; if you ask nicely, a worker might slice into one so you can suck at the ruby flesh. The grocery is named for a colonial town in Southern Mexico, that the owner is from, so there's sure to be Puebla-made candies, like camotes ($1), cylindrical taffy-like candy made from sweet potatoes.

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And inside a white Styrofoam box, there are frutas crystalizadas, cloaked in wax paper. The whole peaches, oranges, plums, and spears of pineapple are cooked for hours in syrup and are then dried, another Poblano delicacy. The entire fruit hardens into an edible jewel, completely preserved by sugar. Sweet shopping.

Atlixco Deli Grocery

5623 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (map)
718-439-0575

About the author: Scarlett Lindeman is a food-writer based in Brooklyn. She is also the recipe editor of Diner Journal, a food/arts quarterly. E-mail her at scarlett.lindeman@gmail.com.

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