• Lacomka Bakery and Deli, 2050 N. Semoran Blvd 140, Winter Park, Fl 32792 www.lacomka-orlando.com

If it wasn’t for the warm Florida sun that shines over the parking lot full of cars, I could actually be convinced I am in Russia.

Lacomka Bakery and Deli, the place I chose for my lunch in Winter Park, maintains an authentic Russian flair 18 years after its owners moved from a town close to Moscow.

Cyrillic alphabet signs decorate the rooms, which is packed with every kind of traditional Eastern European items: from Matryoshka dolls to Balcanian cured meats.

After studying the menu for a while, I know exactly what I want. A nice lady, with a detectable Russian accent, takes my order.

“That’s a very good choice, but it takes ten minutes to be cooked. Maybe you want to try a Pirozhki before?” “Sure, why not!’.

A minute later she hands me a freshly baked, light-as-a-cloud bun, filled with cheese. The little taste of butter on the surface adds a scrumptious touch to it without making it greasy.

The center is not stuffed with a glob of melted cheese, which usually happens in cheese bread kind of products, but there’s an aery mixture with a milky and fluffy consistency. My starter, slightly warm and perfectly flavored, makes me suppose that the rest is going to be at the same level.

When my order arrives, I realize I am wrong: it’s way better! Blinchiki is an interesting combination of a pancake dough with meat and mushrooms. The shell, really basic in the flavor, lets the savory ground beef filling prevail. The sour cream on top is just as the icing on a cake, it complements it perfectly, adding a different taste to my mouthful.

Golubtsy, stuffed cabbage with rice and ground meat seasoned in Georgian spices, is insanely good. One has to have it to understand. The extremely thin vegetable shell wraps a very loose filling that tastes incredibly light and allows all the ingredients to better blend together in a wonderfully flavored bite.

The shredded broiled carrots sprinkled on top enrich the dish with their sweet aroma. While I am savoring my last piece, I consider ordering a second one, but desserts deserve a try too.

I order a Black Russian Tea accompanied by their hand made baked products.

While the tea, delicately scented with berries and naturally sweet, is really enjoyable, the cookies are not as enticing as the food.

I try the lemon and cherry flaky pastries, which are supposed to be crunchy, but instead are chewy and too moist.

The plum and poppy seed cookie has the right bite, but the paste is overpowering and none of the filling’s ingredients are detectable.

The walnut one is the best: a bird’s nest shaped cookie with walnuts ground up in the batter. Even if it should be more nutty, it tastes good… but I’m still hungry for something more surprising.

I stroll around the isles debating about getting some truly Russian item: chocolate treats of all kinds, little snacks with unreadable names… the decision is tough. “Ever had Halva?” asks a voice coming from the cash desk. “No, what is it?”

“I can’t tell you, try it”, she says cutting a piece out of a solid grey-yellowish block of something. “I savor it slowly while it dissolves on my tongue. ‘This is delicious!!” Sweet and salty in the same time, I can detach a familiar flavor but I can’t recognize what it is. “Give me at least a clue!” I praise. “Sunflower seeds” is the answer I get.

I take the rest of the Halva and get back to my table, relishing little by little this weird but delightful confection. I google it and discover it’s a sugar and sunflower seed butter mixture, baked with spices such as cardamom and saffron.

It has the oddest consistency ever, in between yeast and meringue cookie. As it lays on your tongue it turns in a luscious powder. Simply toothsome.

Now I am finally ready to go. This was right the perfect ending I was looking for to complete my meal .


It would have been better if… I had skipped the pastries and gotten another Golubtsy.