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I dashed out this morning for bread, sardines, canned hummus, spinach pie and Lebanese extra-virgin olive oil from Fattal's Syrian Bakery in Paterson, then went looking for breakfast.
I drove a few blocks to Luna Bakery & Sweets (1071 Main St.), and asked for a Turkish breakfast (thick bread, hard-boiled egg, cheese, tomato and cucumber, and strong tea).
Not wanting to turn a customer away, the Syrian baker served me tea; strained yogurt with nuts, which I ate with a spoon; a round, thin, flat bread spread with the thyme-based za'atar mixture; dough and cheese baked into a boat shape, and a pizza made with Syrian and mozzarella cheeses that was dusted with mint and a little red pepper.
There was enough food for two and I took a few items home. After I told the baker my parents were from Aleppo, he said he was a native and described the many changes he's witnessed. Change also was evident around his business in South Paterson, he said, but he believes the quality of his dough has kept him afloat.
Across the street, the shuttered Syrian bakery Mondial is getting a makeover and a stylish, brick restaurant called Grill House is expected to open soon. On Getty Avenue, near Main Street, a storefront that once claimed to have the best falafel sandwich in the world has closed.
At Fattal's (975-77 Main St.), the sardines from Morocco and canned Lebanese hummus can't be beat (99 cents a can). Three liters of La Ziza-brand Lebanese extra-virgin olive oil rang up at $17.49. Six of Fattal's long, sesame-seeded spinach pies are $8.99, and freeze beautifully.
I turned off Getty at East Railway Avenue to check out produce in the Farmers' Market. But I ended up buying a small dogwood tree at Brothers Produce for $10, and driving home.
(Photo: Aleppo, Syria)