Thursday, April 14, 2011
Mark’s and Spencer’s (Marks & Sparks) is an established brand in British clothing and over the last decade or so, this institution of value for price, has made a big splash on the food industry in the British Isles. I’ve reviewed their fair trade chocolates and now I’d like to share a few thoughts on their house brand products in general. They are the excellent!
Take for example the “biscuits” represented in these photos. They are made of all organic ingredients and the recipes are clearly unique. Once, while on vacation in London, I decided to buy a small snack and ended up buying 8 boxes of cookies to take home, once I had tasted my snack of Scottish shortbread, where the butter did all but drip from the box. I have never had better. Luckily, I have twice had friends buy more for me while visiting both England and Ireland. This Pear and Ginger cookie was in the first purchase I made, and it’s still one of my very favorites.
But seeing as I prefer milk chocolate, this next biscuit is my absolute favorite, so far.
If all the imported cheeses we are privileged to to be able to consume in this country, Dubliner, a white cheddar from Ireland seems to be the only Irish cheese to make it across the pond, with the exception of Cashel Blue. Luckily Kerrygold is a large enough operation to manage and satisfy the terms of the export contracts. Kerrygold, the same people that bring us fresh, Irish butter, both sweet and salted, certainly makes a case for more Irish dairy imports. Out of the imported cheddars, Dubliner is more robust and flavorful than the cheddars from Canada, Britain or Whales that I’ve personally tried. I recently used it in a macaroni and cheese recipe I was developing and it was the only option I had considered.
I can’t seem to get away from buying and testing candy bars, while on vacation for two very good reasons. Firstly, my walking increases and stimulates the appetite, while I’m burning infinitely more calories than I do at home, so I can afford the fat calories I’m certain to ingest. Secondly, they make nice little gifts to bring back home and share with friends. Friends, who at this very moment are wondering if they ever received a chocolate from me, and why not. Okay, you caught me, unless I buy multiples, they just never seem to make it home.
This Sublime bar caught my attention in a low end grocery store somewhere near the foot of Rue Cler in Paris and it was so very good with toasted coconut and almonds, that I’m certain to look for it again, and furthermore, if I manage to find it, I’m going to bring many bars home, really.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
But for the most part Ferry Plaza attracts small producers that are content to sell exclusively at the Saturday or Thursday market. The Thursday market is much smaller than the one on Saturday, and it's seasonal, not year round. New vendors are allowed to sell on Thursdays until they graduate to the Saturday market.
Some of the small producers sell specialty produce, much of it organic, not usually seen elsewhere.
But the market is not limited to fresh produce. There are meat and poultry producers
Several dairy operations providing yogurt, cheese, and butter
Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar producers
Flower growers and pizza vendors
Ranchers marketing preserves, nuts, candies and dried fruit
Smoked fish producers who also sell sandwiches
There are vendors selling fresh and dried herbs as well as flavored salt
The list goes on and on, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll be posting a slide show of Ferry Plaza Farmers Market soon.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
The imports are even better than the deli and I was delighted to pick up a few items I've never seen before, either in Italy or at our import stores.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Can meat get any better than this? For the first time in 20 years, I made my grandmother's pasta sauce with a B.B. chuck roast from grass fed beef and it finally tasted like hers. As I forked over the money for it, I couldn't help but think that I could have purchased 2 from Costco for the same price. I could have but it would not taste the same. This says something very negative about agribusiness and their insistence on feeding cheap, subsidized corn to cattle )who cannot digest it properly), for better profit, not better animal husbandry or taste.
The bakery department is also filled with products that are of better quality than we expect from a supermarket.
Just look at these photos for a sample of the variety of products available to a shopper for one particular item. The top left photo is just olive oil and vinegar, the top right shows the bulk olive bar. For someone who collects different types of pasta, this store makes it easy to purchase something new. And tomato sauce; the selection is so broad, it includes my grandmother's favorite brand "6in1" that I seldom find, except in specialty markets.
Produce at Berkeley Bowl is so special they even have multiple varieties of each fruit, and that is not limited to 3 or 4 Apples. I once counted 8 varieties of mangoes. Vegetables I have never even heard of before are abundant, but don't let me tell you, allow me to show you. I'm putting together a photo montage on the side bar of this blog. Here are just a few examples:
Pears and Apples