Saturday, March 1, 2014

Silly Things I Sometimes Miss Having (Ode to US Grocery Stores)

I've pretty much got the whole shopping thing sussed here in the UK.

I know which stores to go to for the "good" peanut butter, where I can find tempeh and soy-based meat alternatives, and I even found kale at someplace other than the market square which only sometimes has kale on the odd Friday. Cambridge Friends: All these things can be found at either Arjuna Whole Foods, Revital or Holland & Barrett. The kale I buy can usually be found at "big" Sainsbury's and it's called Cavolo Nero. (Do I sound like one groovy hippy from this list or what?)

I have moments where I find myself missing certain products that I bought regularly, or occasionally at home. Sometimes it's not a particular product I miss so much, but  the abundance of variety and choice one has in the US/Bay Area (20 choices of hummus anyone?).

Oh Berkeley Bowl . . . I took you for granted.

So for this misty, foggy and altogether grey Saturday morning in Cambridge I'm going to make a little list of the things I miss buying when I'm back home.

The A List

Frequent Purchases: I always had these in my cupboard.

Seitan: BBQ seitan sandwiches were a staple dinner at our house.

Dill Pickles: I know you're thinking I could make my own or "Surely the UK has dill pickles!". But I don't want to make my own, I want to buy them cause I'm lazy and the pickles we've found here are vinegar soaked only. Not dill. Not good. Sigh, pickles.

Photo Credit

Trader Joe's Dried Mango (and the whole wall of dried fruits and nuts)
This wall . . . If I could hug this wall . . .

Trader Joe's Tahini Dip
My go-to after work snack, this stuff smeared on a toasted tortilla = Heaven

Trader Joe's Dolmas
Sometimes I'd even smash some of these on the tahini & tortilla. So tasty and satisfying.

Trader Joe's Tortillas (flour and whole wheat)
Simply so good. Minimal ingredients. Fresh. Yum

Trader Joe's Salsa (red and green!)
Drool. The best salsa I've found here (besides the one batch I made from scratch thanks to my step-mom's recipe (Thanks Yne!) is . . . are you ready for it? Doritos brand. Yeah. Ew.

Lagunitas IPA
Beer. Lagunitas Beer. All the kinds, but especially this one. I can smell the bay area and back yard BBQs just thinking about this beer.

Field Roast & Tofurkey Sausages
Believe it or not Linda McCartney has a line of veggie products here in the UK that have a variety of veggie dishes and faux meats. But they just aren't the same as Tofurkey and Field Roast.

Berkeley Bowl Dark Chocolate Covered Caramels (in bulk)
No photo for these delicious drops of tasty joy, but probably better off for it since I can't get my hands on any. But DAMN are they a good treat.

Berkeley Bowl: The Entire Bulk Section
Anyone who knows The Bowl knows my longing for this section of the store. Okay, for the entire store, especially the BB West.
Friends who frequent the BB, please do me a favor: Even though the store is crowded and frequently a nightmare of a place to shop, do not take it for granted!! Next time you're there, think of me shopping at Sainsbury's in the UK (think Safeway) and remind yourself how good you've got it.

The B List

Rare Purchases: Bought infrequently, but always comforted to know I could get it when the urge struck. (Going to the movies, afternoons shopping at Target, or over-hungry while grocery shopping)

Hot Tamales: I love putting these in warm popcorn. I think I originally got the idea from my Aunt Angie. She puts these in popcorn as well as M&M's which are both genius moves on her part. I believe the Hot Tamales addition stems from my Grandpa Bob (her Dad), who used to eat Red Hots mixed together in a bowl with salted peanuts. Another genius move, well done Grandpa Bob.

Peanut Butter M&M's
Oh sure, I eat the regular peanut M&Ms too, but the PB ones are probably my favorite because peanut butter. Duh.

Veggie Jerky (Primal Strips)
I have a strange relationship with these things. Sometimes I love them so much and they taste so good to me (usually on long hikes or camping trips) but other times I smell them and think, ew. What is this stuff. When you're really hungry though, and need a protein pick-me-up these guys do the trick. I like other veggie jerky brands too, but I can't remember their brand names. Veggie Jerky . . . I'm a strange vegetarian.

Ben and Jerry's Everything But The . . . 
I mean come on. COME ON!
If you're going to bother to import Ben & Jerry's all the way to the UK how can you not bring in this flavor?? They have a smattering of B&J flavors here (excuse me, flavours), but never this one. And none of them, I repeat, NONE OF THEM are as good as this one.

The C List

Daydreaming and Generalizing (foods and beyond)

A wall of hummus flavors and brands.
Tortilla chips of all shapes, sizes and quality.
The plethora of organic products, fruits and vegetables at your fingertips. (California)
Target. (Just because.)

Ugh, the restaurants:
  • Soley Vegan
  • Herbivore
  • The Cheeseboard
  • Cha Ya
  • Cha Am
  • Pizzaiolo
  • Burma Superstar
  • Lanesplitters
  • Bobby G's
  • Mexican food. ALL THE MEXICAN FOOD!
Getting pedicures with my girlfriends.
Book Club.
Colleagues at CHO.
Walking Mountain View Cemetery.
Piedmont Avenue.
Tilden Park.
San Francisco.
The Greek Theatre.
Driving to Yosemite.
The Friends.

As you can see I've gone off topic so I think I'll end here.
We hope to have a busy afternoon of Skyping with friends and family back home to do some serious catching up with people. Despite the weather I hope to get outside and eek out some vitamin D through these clouds. 

Next weekend we might have a fonude part with some of Devin's colleagues, and the following weekend we head down for two nights in London to see the Banff Film Festival! Yahoo! 
While in London I hope to check out a few places we've not been to yet, namely: The Borough Market and Wahaca! a restaurant of Thomasina Mier's (Mexican food!)

Anything else you think we should make a point of seeing when we're down in London? Restaurants to try? Shops to see?

Thanks for reading!