Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
For B Metro
Nabeel’s Market brings imported foods and beverages to Homewood. Here at Nabeel’s Market, you can also take home many of the same dishes served at Nabeel’s Café next door. I have shopped at Nabeel’s for years and found products that I cannot get anywhere else in Birmingham. International beers and cheeses, as well as their own dressing, soups, dips, spreads, and salads are among the popular cold case items. Their gourmet to-go also includes entrees from the Café, and it’s an herb and spice market in itself.
Nabeel’s Café & Market is a family-owned business, not a publicly traded one. John and Ottavia Krontiras developed the idea for the market from their family’s philosophy. The Krontiras family wanted a place in Homewood much like they had in their hometowns of Patras in Southern Greece and Trieste in northern Italy. There the whole family could browse for the items and be warmly treated by the shop owner as a person, not just another ticket passing through the checkout stand. Today their son, Anthony, owns the market. He and his mother run the market and they know customers by name, including myself. My purchases typically include a friendly chat with Anthony or Ottavia. Customers, including myself, trust whom we are buying from and what we are buying at Nabeel’s.
Today markets such as Nabeel’s are needed more than ever. The U.S. Senate passed the DARK Act in July, endangering state food labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). This came after the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a likely carcinogen in March 2015 and after 64 countries have labeled or banned GMOs. Yet at Nabeel’s Market, I feel safe buying products imported from countries where GMOs are labeled or banned, such as France, Greece, Italy, and Russia, among others. Sales of GMO-free products in Italy saw double-digit growth in 2015, making it the most dynamic segment of the otherwise stagnant food retail sector. France is currently banning glyphosate weed killers. In 2004 all Greek prefectures declared their areas GMO-free zones, and in Russia, GMOs are banned.
Some of the fresh items on the menu at Nabeel’s Café that can also be found in the market include their famous chicken salad, Avgolemono soup, Tzatziki Dip, Taramasalata Dip, Hummus Dip, Tabouli Salad, Pimento Cheese, and Pita Crunchies. Even frozen food is also gourmet. They prepare everything in small batches daily with the fresh, quality ingredients. Foods are immediately sealed and frozen in ready-to-heat-at-home containers. And like all their other foods, their frozen foods contain no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. Among the most popular Nabeel’s Café items available in the freezer section include Chicken Picatta, Chicken Tetrazzini, Mousaka, Pastitsio, Eggplant Parmesan, Margherita Pizza, Chicken Ruzicka, Spaghetti and Meat Balls, Eggplant Parmesan, and their famous Tyropita and Spanakopita triangles. Other unique finds are European cheeses including the most beautiful French Valbresco feta, Italian tomatoes and sauces, the only non-frozen phyllo in Alabama, Russian chocolates, fresh herbs and herb plants, nuts, extra virgin cold pressed olive oils, olive oil soap, and the best Greek cured olives ever.