No bigger than your average living room, Le Petit Corner Store sits on a picture-perfect Georgetown block, saving residents from the ten-minute walk to Safeway. Besides carrying essentials like canned goods and wine, the shelves are stocked with rare Turkish foodstuffs such as rose jam, Narnia-reminiscent Turkish Delight candies, and bags of dried fava beans. Shop managers Ray and Anna Sohielinia aren't Turkish (they're Persian), but their landlord is–and he wanted a Turkish market.
Fridges against the wall offer pint-sized yogurt drinks and blocks of the pungent tek sut, Turkey's take on feta. Pomegranate juice sit in glass bottles a few fridges over, but it's not the familiar POM brand, it’s Turkish-imported Marco Polo. It sits alongside other flavors like apricot nectar and cherry. Cans of Coke Zero and ginger ale are wedged in between.
In the canned goods department, look for grape leaves and Eastern European-style red beans in tomato sauce. One daily luncher requests his beans heated and "soup-ified" in the back deli microwave. Others request a schmear of siyah zeytin, a black olive spread sold in jars, on the roasted pepper and goat cheese sandwiches that are made by the Sohielinias on the spot. The deli also sells Anna's homemade borek, the Turkish spinach pie.
The aisle wouldn’t be complete without pistachios and green and black olives, which Ray Sohielinia orders for each bi-weekly delivery. His dried orange lentils came with a special recipe suggestion—he cooks them at home in chicken broth. Clearly the store's Eastern flavors have rubbed off on him– a few summers ago he surprised his wife with a trip to Istanbul. Turkish customers assume the two speak the language. They know a few words, and use their Farsi to fake the rest.
So…how often do you really need a jar of rose jam? Probably not too regularly. But isn't it fun? Instead of a Snickers, grab an imported white chocolate wafer candy bar or Eti-brand biscuit cookies (the Mediterranean counterpart of British digestives). Dip them in Turkish coffee—the grounds are located in canisters on the bottom shelf.
Le Petit Corner Store, 1643 34th Street, NW; 202-338-7555.
Open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM; Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Mondays.