Long before I worked in Brooklyn, Sahadi's
was a part of my pre-party grocery shopping. This amazing middle eastern market has a selection of super-fresh, authentic bulk foods, imported specialty items and delicious house-made dips. Sahadi's is a true hostess's gem - with delicious offerings and great deals. In college I worked on a Kibbutz in Israel, where I picked fresh dates from the trees, and they melted in my mouth like a warm spoon-full of maple brown sugar. The dates at Sahadi's remind me of those dates, as do the figs and fresh nuts. Sahadi's sells a huge volume of bulk food so their stock is always fresh. There are two down sides to their offerings: (1) the dried fruit tends to go rancid quicker than other store-bought pre-packaged brands because most of their dried fruits are preservative-free; and (2) the lines can be really long (though it's worth the wait). If you hit the store in the late afternoon - after the lunch crowd has been served and before the post-work shoppers descend, you can get it and out fairly quickly and the nice gentlemen at the bulk section may even give you leisurely samples as you order your bounty.
Here is a short list of my favorite items to buy at Sahadi's: Dried dates, dried figs, dried strawberries, organic dried apricots, Turkish pistachios (for the Zenobia cult-following - you know who you are - these are the real deal), Armenian string cheese (caraway seeds and regular part-skim), hummus, labna (a thick, garlic yogurt dip), za'atar spice mix (Arabic spice mixture made from sesame seeds, sumac, salt and other spices - awesome on pita with goat cheese), olives, French feta (ask to taste the different feta cheeses - this one is my favorite) and pomegranate molasses.
If you don't live in the NYC area you will miss out on the whole Sahadi's experience, but you can still get in on some of the fun by ordering online. Their online selection is limited, but you can still find some of their signature items that are worth the shipping cost.