Grocery stores

What to buy in a New Mexico grocery store

What to buy in a New Mexico grocery store

Sometimes we get a little carried away. On one of our first visits to New Mexico, we became so enamored of the flavor of green chile that we filled a couple of big cardboard boxes with fresh chiles and checked them through as baggage on our flight back to Cambridge, Massachusetts. We soon discovered that it's a lot more trouble to roast the chiles ourselves on a Smoky Joe backyard grill than it is to buy them already roasted from one of the growers at a farmers market. Now we try to be a bit more restrained. Even in a standard grocery store, there are plenty of products that will pack a punch back home. And the good news is that the most essential don't...Read More
What to buy in a Scottish grocery store

What to buy in a Scottish grocery store

It's really no surprise that we bring foodstuffs home from all our travels. It's not just that we love reliving taste memories. There's a practical side to grocery shopping on the road. We live in a small space and we don't have to commit to long-term storage (or dusting) of nifty food items that we buy as souvenirs. Even the lovely city of Glasgow (above) couldn't tempt us with durable souvenirs. Consumables also make great gifts. Much as we enjoy prowling specialty food shops, even a chain supermarket can yield a shopping basket full of goodies for yourself and your friends. That's just what we did at a branch of Britain's largest retailer, Tesco, on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. Here are a few of the...Read More
Relicatessen: heavenly products for earthly delights

Relicatessen: heavenly products for earthly delights

Relicatessen in Barcelona solved a problem for us. When we're in Spain for any extended period, we enjoy seeking out the cookies, sweets, and other foodstuffs from the country's 38 monasteries and convents that make products for sale. Often that means placing money on a revolving window (called a retorno) and getting a box of cookies, a jar of jam, or a pot of honey in return. But we're not always in a town with a cloistered order that makes products for sale. Thank god (so to speak) that Francisco Vera opened Relicatessen ( three years ago in stall 988 in the Mercat Sant Josep, better known as La Boqueria. Located right on La Rambla in a Modernista-style iron frame shed, the Boqueria is one...Read More

What to buy in a Nassau grocery store

Bayside Food Store (242-323-2911) is located on Frederick Street, just steps from the souvenir shops and high-end jewelry stores on Bay Street. It's the largest supermarket in downtown Nassau. Locals stream in to pick up take-away lunches and shop for the fixings for dinner. The store has a few shelves devoted to products that represent the taste of the islands. For visitors who have come to love Bahamian hot spices and sweet tropical fruits, it's a good place to purchase a few items to bring back home. Best of all, most of the products are seasonings that pump up the flavors of a dish without a lot of effort by the cook. A couple of local companies offer a broad array of products. D'Vanya's Spices...Read More

Shopping for signature tastes of New Orleans

The New Orleans School of Cooking (524 St. Louis Street, 504-525-2665, is located in an early 19th century molasses warehouse in the French Quarter. Every day of the week, its hands-on and demonstration classes introduce folks to the fine points of such Louisiana classics as jambalaya, shrimp remoulade, pralines, and bread pudding. Its Louisiana General Store, located in the same building, is also the most convenient place to peruse a carefully curated selection of food products essential to Creole and Cajun cooking. The shelves are packed with the products preferred by—and in some cases developed by—the school's instructors. I stopped in one afternoon and soon found myself engaged in conversation with staff member Cierra Briscoe (above). She is equally fascinated with food and fashion...Read More

Sawers gourmet shop in Belfast champions Irish flavors

Sawers was established in 1897 to bring gourmet foods from around the globe to the people of Belfast. It is the oldest deli in Northern Ireland. The purveyor even provided the R.M.S. Titanic with game, seafood, cheese and other delicacies for its infamous maiden voyage. The people of Belfast can still rely on Sawers more than a century after that ship's larder full of caviar and pheasant ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic. They can stop by to shop for Spanish hams, Italian pastas, French pâté and escargot, Greek olives, and Turkish candies. At the holidays, the place buzzes with people filling gift “hampers” with exotic gourmet goodies. But Sawers also cherishes great Irish foods, making it a must-stop for overseas gourmands. The...Read More

Find homey holiday tastes in these New England stores

As the Eating Season approaches, we start craving certain flavors that we associate with the winter holidays spent with family. We want the taste of home—whether that's a cuisine from the country where our ancestors originated or something forged by Norman Rockwell and Betty Crocker. Truth is, we love to forage for festive foodstuffs. As a service to our New England readers, here are five essential shops around the region where we find special holiday foods. This post is adapted from a piece we wrote last year in the Boston Globe travel section. BRITISH AISLES Denise and Gerry Pressinger founded British Aisles more than two decades ago so that ex-pats like themselves could get everyday British foods such as HP Sauce and the pickled onions...Read More

San Antón: Madrid’s best market makeover

Madrid has been renovating and updating its historic fresh food markets in recent years, starting with the transformation of Mercado San Miguel next to Plaza Mayor into a jewel box full of tapas bars and high-end deli food. But we're even more impressed with Mercado San Antón in Chueca. The market is a symbol of how that neighborhood—once the part of town where you went to buy sex or drugs—has become one of the hippest and most gentrified parts of the central old city. FYI, about the nastiest stuff you'll find on Chueca streets these days are some shoes with 15-centimeter spike heels in the shops on calle Augusto Figueroa. The Mercado San Antón isn't exactly a temple of food like La Boqueria in Barcelona...Read More

Pomodorina belies canned tomato image

Pomodorina is tomato sauce rethought, and it's my most unexpected find on a recent research trip to Modena. We've already written about “What to buy in an Italian grocery store,” but here's a product I'd definitely add. Pomodorina has been the best-selling product of one of Italy's best food factories, Menù, since it was introduced in 1967. It's made only during the roughly six-week tomato harvest season and combines freshly harvested and cooked tomatoes with celery, carrots, onions, fresh basil, and some olive oil. Menù sells it as a base ingredient for sauces, but I discovered that some restaurants consider it good enough to sauce pasta on its own. That's spaghetti sauced with Pomodorina above, and it was delicious. Menù ( is based in Medollo...Read More

What to buy in a Dublin grocery store

Whenever we visit Dublin, we make sure to enjoy lots of incredible butter and cream since we can't bring any home. (U.S. Customs frowns on such dairy products.) Fortunately there are lots of other good Irish foodstuffs that we can pack in the suitcase. For cheeses, we make our purchases at Sheridans Cheesemongers (see earlier post), but here are some of the things that caught our eye in a neighborhood Dunnes grocery store: Irish soda farls Pat's mother still remembers her own mother, who hailed from Northern Ireland, making soda bread farls in a round pan on the top of the stove. First she would shape the dough into a circle and then cut it crosswise into four pieces, the so-called farls. This style of...Read More