Carbavores in search of old-world bread — have I got a place for you. A reader tipped me to a newer bakery and grocery store in Fife that makes the kind of bread that is densely textured and rich in flavor. It’s sturdy enough to hold up on a panini press and hearty enough to sop up the richest stew.
The bread at Kusher Bakery is made simply, using a fermented dough mixed from straightforward ingredients with no preservatives: flour, water and salt. The recipe is Ukrainian — a family method handed down through generations.
Owner Anatoliy Zaika has been baking the bread for five years in the South Sound. He previously operated Kusher as a wholesale bakery in Federal Way for four years before opening his Fife Ukrainian bakery and grocery store to the public less than a year ago.
“It’s healthy, it’s simple ingredients,” is how Zaika described his bread, which he makes in about a dozen variations — from savory to sweet. While the bakery may be known for its bread, which is sold at several local European and specialty markets around the South Sound, Kusher also produces Ukrainian cookies. Everything is baked in their Fife bakery and store, which is located in the most unexpected of places — an industrial park in Fife. Beware of road construction nearby, it makes for a bumpy — but worthwhile — ride.
It’s been slightly easier in recent years to find the kind of bread baked by Zaika in the South Sound. Within the last year, two Ukrainian and Russian leaning grocery stores and bakeries have opened, joining Friendly Foods, a European bakery and grocery store with an attached cafe that operates on Center Street in Tacoma.
If you’re a fan of crusty bread, smoked herring, old world smoked meats, pungent cheeses and liqueur filled chocolates, it’s worth a field trip to explore one of these stores:
Where: 7214 26th St. E., C-102, Fife, 800-445-0655 or kusherusa.com
Must buy: Derevenskiy, a naturally fermented rye bread perfect for Reuben sandwiches or morning toast.
Bakery: A dozen kinds of breads, both savory and sweet, and cookies in large boxes.
Deli: Smoked meats and bacon, cheeses, pickled and smoked herring, sausage and all kinds of cheese in an enclosed walk-in refrigerated room (be careful of the slippery floor).
Canned goods: Broad selection of pickled vegetables and more.
Produce: Small selection of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Chocolates: An outstanding selection of bulk chocolates and pre-packaged boxed chocolates. For the over-21 crowd, they carry those European chocolates filled with liqueurs.
Marvel Food & Deli
Where: 301 133rd St. S., Tacoma, 253-537-1008 or marvelfoodanddeli.com
About: This Parkland outpost of the Auburn grocery store has an adjoining reception hall with an on-site caterer. It opened in July 2012 and is one of the larger Russian grocery stores in the region.
Must buy: Jelly roll cake with fruit filling, made by Inessa Cakes, $7.99.
Bakery: Selling cakes made by Inessa Cakes. They also sell a few kinds of bread baked at Marvel foods, as well as bread from other bakeries. A wide range of pastries for sale, as well as cookies from Kusher and other bakeries.
Prepared foods: A steam table with ready-made food items, such as roasted chicken, cabbage rolls and stews. Also for sale was a selection of cold deli salads. The cabbage rolls were outstanding — filled with rice and ground meat, with a sweetened tomato sauce ($6 bought a half dozen). They also sell baked piroshky and other savory pastries, as well as individually portioned desserts, such as rum balls and cream-filled pastries.
Deli: Smoked meats, cheeses, smoked herring, other fish.
Freezer case: Frozen pelmeni and pierogi — the largest selection I’ve seen in the South Sound.
Canned goods: Extensive array of pickled vegetables, preserves, sauces and more.
Produce: A small selection.
Chocolates: An entire aisle filled with bulk candy and an impressive display of boxed chocolates. Best selection I’ve seen in the South Sound.
Where: 3612 Center St., Tacoma, 253-752-5649
About: A small grocery store with a deli next door.
Must buy: Meat, potato or cabbage piroshky, 99 cents-$1.29 each.
Cafe: Next door to the grocery story is the Little European Cafe serving economically priced steam table food, such as cabbage rolls, soups, meatballs and braised meats. Lunch can be had for under $7.
Bakery: Fresh-baked breads made at the store, as well as fried piroshky made there (and served next door at the affiliated cafe). They also bake cakes and individually sized desserts.
Deli: Smoked meats and cheeses, sliced as you like.
Freezer case: Frozen pierogi.
Canned goods: Pickled vegetables and prepared foods.
Produce: Small selection.
Chocolates: Bulk and pre packaged chocolates.
In search of a German deli or bakery?
If we’re talking European groceries, two Lakewood businesses have to be part of the food conversation. While Hess Bakery & Deli and the German Pastry Shop don’t specialize in the same kind Russian or Ukrainian items found at the above stores and bakeries, both businesses carry or bake German and European deli items and baked goods that are not oft found around the South Sound.
Hess Bakery & Deli
Where: 6108 Mount Tacoma Drive SW, Lakewood, 253-584-1451 or hessbakery.com
German Pastry Shop
Where: 6108 Mount Tacoma Drive SW, Lakewood, 253-588-5777
Hess Bakery & Deli and German Pastry Shop are unaffiliated businesses operating out of the same building. At Hess, find a deli case brimming with German cold cuts and cheeses, potato salads and snack items like landjaeger. Sandwiches are made to order and cost less than $5. The bakery produces freshly baked rolls, breads and the best pretzels you’ll find in the area. Across the hall at German Pastry Shop, find more sandwiches and a display case that holds shelves of freshly baked cakes, strudel and pastries. Sit and stay for lunch or get something sweet from the case. The atmosphere is pure coffee shop.