Specialty And Gourmet Foods Cuenca Shopping Guide (part 2)

Specialty and Gourmet Foods: Cuenca Shopping Guide (Part 2)

At last, what you have all been breathlessly waiting for these many months. We previously published Part 1 of Specialty and Gourmet Foods: Cuenca Shopping Guide with a promise to return with more places to get your gourmet “alimentos”.

Writing on this topic is a great joy for me despite the frustration that I will never be able to finish because the large number of places with so many new ones coming makes it tough to finalize a comprehensive, well researched list. Luxury problem, I know!

We totalled some 80 sources before we started the series. So, maybe we will just keep extending the series until I keel over or until we reach the end of the list, whichever comes first. I am fairly certain there will be a Part 3 and maybe 4 but who knows beyond that. 

I will continue focusing on my go-to’s, but I’ve also linked to some others with excellent reputations, even though I may not be personally familiar with them.

As promised, here are 6 places featured in this article. Enjoy!

  1. La Salumeria Cuenca 
  2. Filippo Deli
  3. Matthews Bagels and Deli
  4. Onigiri Asian Food Products
  5. Bernan’s Home Canned Foods
  6. Gramm Bulk Shop

Plus, as a little yapa or bonus, here’s two more:

  • Luvimar Gourmet Foods
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Let’s do this!

Deli in La Salumeria Cuenca Restaurant 

La Salumeria Cuenca Restaurant

Chef Massimo Palazzi recently moved his excellent, venerable Italian restaurant and deli from its former location on Paseo de los Cañaris to a bigger and more accessible one for most expats on Luis Moreno Mora near Cornelio Merchan. Here he is featured (along with his deli case) in his Facebook video.

I have celebrated several birthdays in the restaurant’s prior location and it is nearly impossible for me to escape a restaurant meal there without bringing home some of his delicious Italian and Spanish cheeses and meats, desserts and other delights. Favorite cheeses include Manchego, Gorgonzola Blue cheese (incredible), Fontina, and Parmesan.

A lot of expats I know never heard of Salumeria or its deli but the ones who do remember it with great enthusiasm. Many of the imported ingredients Massimo uses in the restaurant are for sale separately. I only wish he had been able to maintain his satellite shop in the Las Americas Mall but it seems the pandemic negatively impacted trade there.

Where to Find La Salumeria Cuenca Restaurant and Deli

Filippo Wine, Cheese and Bread

Filippo Wine & Cheese Cuenca

A better known Italian pizza and pasta restaurant and deli is Filippo Wine, Cheese and Bread. The owner, Filiippo Fradano, known to most only as “Filippo” stocks imported ingredients used in his famous pizzas and other dishes and offers them for sale. Many of them are shown in the photos. He is a premier cheesemaker of many varieties including Parmesan, Cheddar, Gruyere (sometimes), Gorgonzola and Fontina.  

And I suspect, based on his limited presence in the restaurant and the extremely high quality of his cheese, that he spends most of his time making cheese. The list of imported goodies is also very long. In addition to cheese he offers homemade salami, Cuenca’s largest gourmet olives, wines and of course, delicious breads.

Where to Find Filippo Wine, Cheese and Bread

Matthew’s Bagel Store and Bakery

Matthew's Bagels Cuenca

Jennifer Rodriguez, the store owner, is one of the hardest working and most conscientious people I have met in Cuenca. The deli food quality is extremely high and perfect to take home. Her place actually is a little slice of New York as she puts it, real, honest to goodness New York deli right here in Cuenca. Her new location on Los Alamos just south of Ordonez Lasso in gringolandia is more accessible than before and her place is stocked with mountains of delicious foods that many of us expats miss and crave from the “old country.”

As the name of the business states, there are many different kinds of bagels made the right way including my favorite, the Everything Bagel.

Warning to the reader: the following information may engender a strong desire to relocate to the same neighborhood as Matthew’s Bagels. It has happened! Or maybe just take up residence at one of the tables and help Jennifer’s son Matthew with his homework. The food is spectacular and portions are enormous. One of her sandwiches is easily enough for 2 people.

Baked goods are made fresh daily including bagels, breads and cakes, muffins. pies and cornbread and brownies. Then there are the breads: zucchini, banana, chocolate blueberry, pineapple and coconut. Some breads are available gluten-free. And don’t forget gourmet popcorn, potato chips and other snacks. Also available are amazing pot pies each a generous individual portion.

The newly expanded deli section includes amazing salads: potato, tuna, chicken and macaroni as well as cole slaw.

And you will be smitten by the back-home styles and brands of cheeses, yogurts and other dairy like the homemade cream cheese spreads found in great abundance and variety. Of course, there are also soups: chicken noodle and chicken tortilla along with jams, spaghetti sauces, meatloaf and meatballs, ricotta cheese penne, chicken parmesan and mac and cheese, all ready to smuggle home with you.

And just in case you weren’t aware, Jennifer smokes many of her own meats including corned beef, pastrami and roast beef. Delivery is also available for a small extra charge.

Where to find Matthew’s Bagel Store and Bakery

Onigiri Asian Food Products

Onigiri Cuenca

If you like to cook Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai and other Asian food at home, this will become your ingredient treasurechest. Supermaxi has some Asian sauces and spices but Onigiri is a one-stop shop for all the exotic products you want and which you might only find in Chinese or Korean grocery stores in the U.S., for example. 

Great product section on the website, complete with quality information and images.

And you can download their entire catalog to view offline.

The extensive product selection instore shows the owners have really done their homework across multiple asian cuisines and have done a superior stocking job.

Premixed sauces include oyster, katsu, stir free, eel, teriyaki, fish, anchovy, spring roll, sriracha, hoisin and, naturally, many different brands and types of soy sauces.

Oils and vinegars include sesame, many different light and dark rice vinegars, japanese mirin, and chinese cooking wine.

Condiments include red and green curry paste, tahini sauce, Korean hot sauce, hondashi and bonito fish broth, soy cream, bean paste, wasabi and Ichiban 7 spice.

They also stock rice and rice derivatives, noodles and flour, frozen ingredients, vegetables preserves, snacks and cooking implements and utensils

Where to find Onigiri Asian Food Products

Bernan’s Home Canned Foods

Bernan’s Home Canned Foods Cuenca

Missing the flavors and foods from home in your at-home meals? Those days are gone when you connect with Bernan’s Home Canned Foods. Bernie and Nancy Hemingway have developed an incredible variety of comestibles to satisfy your stateside cravings, right in their own kitchen and pantry. And please note the phrase Canned Foods is a bit narrow to describe their selection. In truth, visiting them can be a real eye-opener when you visit their pantry. In addition to visiting, you can also order and Bernie will deliver to your door for a modest charge. You can find the October product/price list here

Here is a sampling from each of the categories which I can personally recommend from experience:

  • Dry Mixes: Breakfast sausage spice mix (awesome mixed with ground pork. Call me Bob Evans.) Beef Gravy, Chili con carne, Italian sausage, Old bay, Onion dip, Taco Seasoning
  • Meat: Corned Beef Hash, Sloppy Joes
  • Pickles: Hamburger pickle slices, Sweet relish
  • Beans: Baked beans, chili beans, pork and beans
  • Sauces: Enchilada, Mexican hot, LITE pancake syrup, taco, prepared horseradish
  • Soups: Cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, pea and ham
  • Miscellaneous: Frozen pie shells – Just $1.75 and great for non-bakers who want to bake at home.
  • Jams: Blueberry
  • Fruit: Blueberry pie filling, blueberries in water.
  • Pies: Nancy is whipping fully cooked and frozen pumpkin pies for the holidays. 

Free delivery on orders of $25+ or $2.50 for smallers orders. Deliveries made Wednesday through Saturday between 10 and noon.

Where to find Bernan’s Home Canned Foods

Gramm Bulk Shop

Gramm Bulk Foods Cuenca

Gramm is an eco-friendly space, free of plastic, with a refill your own container or bag approach. They offer only high quality natural products, high nutritional value and gourmet foods, compatible with healthy lifestyles and special or vegetarians diets.

I personally love their sugar-free granola and the two bi-lingual women who own and run the shop are super-friendly and helpful.

Superfoods, spices, seasonings, nuts and teas are some of the popular products available including:

  • Nuts: Almonds, apricots, raisins, brazil nuts, cranberries, cashew nuts, dates, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecan nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds,  etc.
  • Dry beans: Amaranth, lentils, chick pea, pinto bean, pop corn, peas, quinua, rice.
  • Gluten free flours: almond, rye flour, rice flour, chickpea flour, faba bean flour, whole wheat flour.
  • Spices: Chili powder, garam masala, tandoori masala, italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, pumpkin pie seasoning, five chinese spices, falafel seasoning, pickled seasoning, ground clove, allspice, star anise, cardamom, vanilla, fennel, dill, fenugreek, coriander, garlic, ginger, turmeric, mustard, paprika, cinnamon, etc.
  • Seeds: chía, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, fennel, dill.
  • Dehydrated fruit: apple, banana, Golden Berry, mango, papaya, strawberry, black Berry, sweet ginger.
  • Tea: Guayusa, coca leaves, hibiscus, chamomile, mint, green tea, black tea, lemon Grass, matico, boldo.
  • Dark chocolate covered nuts: Almond, raisins, peanut, hazelnut, mint, Orange, macadamia, etc.
  • Miscellaneous coffee, pine mushrooms, psyllium,nutritional yeast, maca, moringa, mashua, granola (free oil, free sugar).

Food handling is done under hygienic standards. Nobody touches your food and it is always fresh. They use paper bags and customers are invited to bring their own bags or containers.

Watch for informational posts in the expat press highlighting specific products such as their posts about Mashua, Tarragon, Hemp seeds, Coca leaves, Moringa, Brazil Nuts, Marjoram, etc.

Open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM and Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM.

Where to find Gramm Bulk Shop

Luvimar Gourmet Market

Luvimar Gourmet Market offers lots of different goodies including domestic and imported cheeses, popular sauces like horseradish, fish sauce, and a wide variety of other items like cayenne pepper, hummus, mustards, nuts, dried fruit, honeys, seafood, meats, pastas, nuts, olives, chocolates as well as Asian and Mexican products, wines and other gourmet foods.

Cheeses available include gruyere, emmental, Fontina, Extra Ripe Gouda, camembert, brie, pecorino, manchego and others. (I have noted that locally produced cheeses are not as flavorful or mature as imported ones by the same name.) 

Seafoods come frozen and include shrimp, croaker, tuna, salmon, tilapia and octopus and scallops.

You can order from the complete selection shown on the website using the Whatsapp messaging feature there or by emailing for either pick up or delivery. Or drop by their location on Luis Moreno to peruse all the gourmet goodness where you probably meet the friendly bilingual proprietor, Luis. 

Where to find Luvimar Gourmet Market

Don’t forget your yapa!

Get 6% off & a free gift when you use your YapaTree card at Luvimar. Full deal details.

Fruits and Vegetables – Your local Fruteria

Some expats like to brag about getting “great deals” like spending $2.34 for a truckload of camote at huge ferias like the one at El Arenal or one of many others named after ecuadorian holidays. I find some of the ferias exciting in their own slice-of-life way and will occasionally buzz through them for the sites and sounds… but I do not buy food there because I just can’t get past the overpowering smell of unrefrigerated meat. If it does not bother you, go for it.  

So, I buy fruit and veg at the supermarkets or increasingly at my local fruteria. Everybody has a local fruteria. Mine is called La Fruteira. It’s worth shopping those in your neighborhood until you find the combination of quality, variety, freshness and helpful attention you want. Our Cuenca grocery price comparision study also found they tend to be cheaper than the supermarkets too.

Note – two things about these places tweak me:

  1. They don’t sell mushrooms; and
  2. They don’t sell “gringo” style sweetcorn on the cob which means I have to hit a supermarket or Italdeli separately. One of life’s little tradeoffs and actually worth the little extra effort despite my petty complaints.

Photos and details for my frutería appear below. There are no doubt dozens of others in Cuenca but I am plugging my local because they do a great job with fresh stock and service and they are open 7 days a week!

Where to find La Frutiera

  • Address:  Av Augustin Cueva y Alfonso Moreno Mora (Google Maps)

So, there you have it fellow foodies! Another thrilling installment on the topic of gourmet food shops. I hope you find it helpful and at least moderately entertaining. Feel free to post your favorite places in the comments below and I will add them to the research list if I don’t know them.

More details will appear about the following places in future installments. For now follow the links for some other great places for foods to cook with and consume at home.

Next time:

  • Casa Yangoe: Beautiful, new place in el centro for organic veggies, chocolates, vast numbers of condiments, cheeses, beers, wines
  • Los Perniles and Los Perniles de Gato: fantastic hot roast pork and turkey by the pound
  • Pacari: Chocoholic paradise
  • Salinerito: Good local cheese shops with truly aged cheeses
  • Sunrise Cafe’: Deli items like hams, sausage, coleslaw, etc.
  • Cafe San Sebas: Dairy products like cream cheese, yogurt and other goodies
  • Troya: Baking supplies, spices and more spices

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