I am almost coming home. It’s been a great business trip but my body and mind are growing tired after being away for almost 2 full weeks (the third-such stretch since early November). There have been lots of great and interesting discoveries – many of them related to food and drink.
Some of the discoveries have come through local grocery stores. The closest to my hotel is a very urban store – and very small. It’s selection is tiny but I did manage to find a few things that I thought may be of interest here. Some are simply because they are local to Scotland and the UK, one because it will inspire future preserving projects that you will see here (or perhaps already do) and one because it was none of that but it opened my eyes to a simple pleasure that I haven’t thought of in all my years of business travel.
Younger of Alloa – Sweetheart Stout (Glasgow, Scotland)
I found this in a different small grocery store – the only can or bottle of local beer that I found for sale for ‘take away.’ I learned very quickly that Sweetheart was more than a simple name – this stout tastes more like candy than the traditional dark beer I am accustomed to by this name. I adore the packaging and thought it was simply wonderful. I even missed that it was a 2% stout. Unfortunately this isn’t a beer for my pallet but if you like super-sweet things, you may love this lass.
Pimm’s and Lemonade
There is a lot of alcohol on this list. It’s tough to cook anything when in a hotel room and you are lacking so many things (like a fridge, oven, pan, fire pit or utensils) so booze is simply portable – and it keeps cold between the layers of glass that insulate your room from the outside world. Pimm’s is simply a UK staple and finding a single-portion ready-to-drink can makes this all the more accessible.
Small bottles of Wine
This was the eye-opener. I don’t know of Scottish wine so these were imported but I’ve never paid attention to single-serve wine bottles before (except for cooking and even then I’m more likely to open a full bottle to have something to sip). Despite multiple business trips a year I’ve never thought of buying 1-2 small bottles for the room should I fancy a wee dabble. This will likely be a discovery that will continue on future voyages.
Lazy Red Chillies
I don’t know what makes these pepper flakes lethargic but I’ll take that at face value. I couldn’t believe I was buying these as they’ll be so much easier to make than to transport 3,000 kilometers but I thought they were worth sharing. Chilli flakes stored in white wine vinegar. Why have I never thought of this? It just seems to obvious – the longer they sit, the more they rehydrate and plump slightly and they will impart more flavor – as will the remaining wine to things such as stir-frys. My hot peppers may never be the same again. These are similar to oil that we see in many Asian cuisine but take a whole new dimension by adding such an acid to them. I look forward to experimenting and making my own (I’ll just store them in the fridge).
“Golden Shredless” Sweet and Smooth Marmalade
I need another jar of jam – especially commercially made – like I need another hole in my shed (thought I was going to say something else, no?) This is definitely inspiration for later. It is an orange jelly. I am sure marmalade purists (and I do know several) will argue that this atrocity is not at all a marmalade but I love the idea and I think this could covert a lot of people to citrus spreads who avoid the rind. I’m just fascinated by the idea and don’t think I’ve run in to such an idea before. I am very curious about adding this to things I wouldn’t add the chunky stuff to – like tea.
I suppose my bounty isn’t legendary this time but I do love to visit grocery stores when travelling (ironic because we barely ever shop at them at home) – and there will be one more stop before I leave for my obligatory bottle of Scotch.
Have you ever found something that inspired or excited you while travelling through distant grocery stores? I’d love to know…