Way to Yuga: Eastern star in York Place
So tucked away is the new international food shop, X-Yuga, that it took me a few months as well as a little nudge from a fellow reporter– to discover it. But the 400 or so Charlottesville area families who once called the "Ex-Yugoslavia" home have been paying regular visits to the Downtown Mall's York Place ever since Croatian sisters Duska Burruss and Tihana Macakanja opened their little market on April 26.
Named after the affectionate term for the now-defunct, war-scarred nation, X-Yuga caters not only to Eastern Europeans but also to Americans with a curious palate.
"We knew there were a lot of Bosnians and Croatians around here who wanted familiar products from home," explains Duska, while rocking and kissing her five-month-old daughter. "And we thought Americans would like to try some new stuff, too."
She says her Eastern European customers are especially crazy about the store's selection of smoked and cured meats. The deli case lists products in English "Smoked Beef" and "Dry Pork Sausage" as well as Serbo-Croatian "Sufo Govedje" and "Lukanka," to make everyone feel at home.
As she led me around the small, well-stocked store, Duska pointed out the virtues and common uses of each product, from medicinal herbal teas ("We'd much rather try tea before medicine") to the line of baby and children's products (Bambi biscuits and Chocolino cereals, drinks, and lollipops) to corn and wheat flours, seasoning products ("Once you cook with Vegeta, you can't cook without it"), tubs of halva (a sweet made from ground sesame, honey, and nuts), jars of pickled vegetables, cans of smoked fish, and an abundance of cookies and chocolates.
As I examined the labels– in part to appease my frustrated wanderlust– and admired the colorful packaging, a curious 65-year-old Russian woman wandered into the shop and began to inspect the shelves.
"You're new, so you'll be expanding, right?" she insisted. "You have Russian foods soon, right?" Duska pointed to the case of Bulgarian sheep's cheeses, which seemed to appease the customer for the moment. For now, X-Yuga will focus on expanding its supply of products from Eastern Europe alone, but who knows? A Russian market could be next!
IY's new Monkey Business
If you're a regular of Integral Yoga Natural Foods on Preston, you've surely noticed the supermarket's new footprint. Vitamins now sit where the bulk bins items used to be, the cheese case either shrank or disappeared altogether, and my favorite carrot juice migrated along with most of the other cold drinks– to the wall opposite check-out. Produce- the sacred heart of the store, evidence of its commitment to local farmers and to a vegetarian lifestyle– remains virtually untouched.
To understand the reasons for the store's updated look, you need only glance next door. The Preston Plaza's corner space, the former home of both Veggie Heaven (and its 2005 incarnation, the IY Café and Bookshop) and Integral Yoga's vitamin and supplement shop is now vacant and locked.
Integral Yoga's new general manager, Jaya Deva, says we can expect a new South Indian vegetarian restaurant to open in this spot in mid-late August. (Apparently the café-bookshop concept wasn't in sync with Yogaville's philosophy and thus got the boot.)
Though Deva couldn't reveal too many details, he did confirm that the new restaurant will be run by a Yogaville devotee with a restaurant background, that its name will be Maruthi (the quick and agile Hindi monkey god) and that a signature dish will be dosa. Typical of Kerala and Tamil states, dosas are rice and lentil flour pancakes which are fried, folded, and served with a variety of chutneys.
Since Maruthi will be strictly Indian, Integral Yoga will likely procure sandwiches, salads, and hummus from places like Breadworks and Pita Inn. "Our mission continues to be promoting our vegetarian philosophy and serving the community," Deva says.
Expansions are likely down the road, as Yogaville recently took over another sizeable space in the plaza, behind the current holdings.
Duska Burruss and daughter at York Place's new international market.
PHOTO BY CHRISTINA BALL