Provisions: Sultan Gourmet Market

This is where to find ingredients only Amazon can seemingly produce.

Sultan Gourmet Market
Sultan Gourmet Market owner Halit Bozlagan / Photo by Aaron Spicer

The riddle of a recipe ends with Sultan Gourmet Market. Scanning the shelves of the crowded minimart, it became clear this is where to find ingredients only Amazon can seemingly produce. There’s not only pomegranate molasses but also mulberry, grape and carob molasses. There’s not only rose water but also oregano and orange blossom water. There’s not only apple cider vinegar but also pomegranate and grape vinegar.

Sultan Gourmet Market
Canned meals of eggplant stuffed with rice and white beans in tomato sauce / Photo by Aaron Spicer

Fans of Mediterranean cooking and those with roots in Turkey, just like owner Halit Bozlagan, will appreciate the stocked shelves: bulgur ranging from light and extra fine to dark and coarse; more than a dozen varieties and brands of red pepper paste, including a fiery housemade version of hot breakfast sauce dotted with walnuts and feta; and jarred olives in shades spanning green, brown and black. Many imported items bear no English, like the canned meals of eggplant stuffed with rice and white beans in tomato sauce that, according to the owner’s friend who acted as interpreter for this interview, is what students subsist on in Turkey, like America’s version of ramen.

Sultan Gourmet Market
In-house butcher / Photo by Aaron Spicer

The proof of the in-house butcher is watching the meat case fill up in the morning as lamb chops get trimmed and beef gets pounded and squiggly brains are shrink-wrapped just like chicken wings. The meat, of course, is halal.

Sultan Gourmet Market
Simit / Photo by Aaron Spicer

Many of the baked items are brought in from Manassas, like simit, a skinny, bready ring covered in sesame seeds. There’s multiple versions of baklava, like a pistachio-flavored iteration. Near the bakery display are cases and cases of sweet, fleshy dates and a fridge full of labneh and other spreadable cheeses.

Sultan Gourmet Market
Pistachio-flavored baklava / Photo by Aaron Spicer

Right now coffee and tea, including Turkish varieties, are only offered in 1-pound bags, but Bozlagan is applying for permits to add tables outside. He hopes shoppers, many of whom come from Maryland and D.C., can snack on Turkish desserts and drink coffee before the drive home. // 10560 Warwick Ave., Fairfax

(August 2017)

Sultan Gourmet Market
Dates / Photo by Aaron Spicer
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