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The Bridgeview store is the company's first U.S. outpost, and though it's tiny, stepping through the doors is like beaming into a small corner of Istanbul's Spice Bazaar. To the left: glass display cases sheltering pyramids of multicolored rolled and cubed lokum, or Turkish delight. To the right: a case loaded with all varieties of roasted and flavored seeds and nuts, everything from smoked watermelon seeds to Turkish hazelnuts. In the back there are shelves of the store's proprietary chocolate brand, Amore, and a coffee roaster turning over Turkish beans.
But the lokum display in particular is arresting. You can find stale, boxed, and beaten-up versions of this elastic gummy treat around town, but I've never seen this variety or freshness: sugar-dusted and cubed or rolled up around nuts, sliced to order, and weighed out by the pound (b/w $7-$15 per). Shujaeih flies it in from the town of Safranbolu, on Turkey's Black Sea coast, in typical regional flavors like pomegranate-pistachio and rose-walnut, and more surprising ones like banana-caramel and chocolate-apple. Chewy and fruity, these sweets are likable precisely because they don't have a painful sweetness, tasting more like the essence of their particular flavors.
And newly in this week: four varieties of the thyme-and-sesame-based spice blend known as za'atar. Usually you have to buy this smothered in plastic bags, but these are potently fresh and lemony. I'm particularly fond of the brown-colored nutty grind from Gaza known as duqqa. To breathe in the scent of these, which wafts over the shops and mingles with the roasting coffee and sugary air, can trigger an out-of-body experience.
The Nut House, 7281 W. 87th, Bridgeview, 708-233-6887