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Europa, Europa

European markets, bakeries, and restaurants have come and gone in Indy over the years. We’re still mourning the passing of Russia House, with its mushroom soups and tangy cherry dumplings. And Slaviansky Bazaar in Carmel barely got up and running before it closed, taking its Russian beers, stuffed zucchini rolls, and delectable veal roll with it. Now Lou Mladenovic, who has long operated a beloved deli, bakery, and Old World market in Crown Point has opened a second location of Taste of Europe (4320 W. 96th St., 334-8797) just west of Michigan Street on 96th.
Tucked into an old one-story house with a fireplace and broad windows overlooking a crop of cattail near the parking lot, Mladenovic’s new shop, which offers plentiful free samples of cured meats to customers, is as cute as it comes. Products available derive from all parts of the old continent, but most come from Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Poland, Russia, and even Mladenovic’s native Serbia, in the former Yugoslavia.
Noodles, coffees, cookies, jarred peppers, fruit juices, and a whole array of cured meats and cheese in the deli make this a lovely spot to browse or grab a sandwich for lunch. Even crusty homemade breads are available. Almost before you drive up to the place, Mladenovic has sliced you samples of delectable pork shoulder or Hungarian sausages with different levels of spice. He also offers a buttery cheese spread to go with his meats. The kitchen is still being finished, but Mladenovic hopes to offer goulash, stews, sausages, and other traditional recipes from Eastern Europe in his deli before too long. For now you can stop in, order a sandwich and a bottle of Cockta (a bubbly Slovenian soft drink with a bit more vanilla than Coke), and sit at one of the few tables in a spartan back room. Close your eyes, and you’ll be eating that sandwich along the Danube in Budapest or in an open-air café in Prague.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.