I am a bit of a foodie. I cannot hide my passion for great food and wine that has been made with quality ingredients. The provenance of great food makes me happy. To be able to know the story behind where the ingredients I use come from contribute to me being a happy home cook! Whilst contemplating why I am writing this blog I wrote a list of what makes me happy. Good food and amazing flavours were amongst the top ideas of my list of what makes me smile.
Being from the UK means that we have such close access to Europe that there is a great selection and range of European products that I certainly took for granted before I moved to America. Being able to buy the most incredible buffalo mozzarella (my most favourite food in the world) was as easy as going to our local shops. Here in the USA mozzarella is a very different product and good luck finding the buffalo variety here in Arkansas. We enjoying trying new foods over here but sometimes a taste of home is just what you fancy.
Where to find great food products
There are a number of stores here that sell great European food products but they sadly come with a very inflated price tag. Those of you who have shopped in Home Goods will know what a treasure trove that shop can be. (For people reading from the UK Home Goods is owned by TJ Maxx or as you know it TK Maxx. If anyone knows the reason behind the different initials in the two countries I’d love to know why!) I think I’m slightly addicted to this store and it is nigh on impossible to come out of here with an empty shopping cart! Well a while ago I discovered the food section and it has been a revelation to me!
Home Goods stock a wide and ever changing range of international foods at very reasonable prices. There are some products that I will make a trip specifically to Home Goods to buy. Sparkling elderflower drinks are almost always on the shelf and this for me is a taste of home as we had many elderflower bushes on our farm from which I would harvest the elderflowers to make my own elderflower cordial! My expat friends are often unbelieving when I show them what British foods I find in there and I am excited to be able to share them with my American friends too. There’s something nice about sharing tastes and flavours from your home country with other nationalities.
Here is a list of my latest top food finds in Home Goods:
1. Bottle Green Sparkling Elderflower Presse $2.99
Made with British spring water and hand picked elderflowers this tastes like the British countryside in a bottle. It great served on its own over ice or mixed in with your favourite spirit or champagne for an elegant cocktail. In the photo I mixed the presse with lime and mint for a lunchtime drink that felt very special and it was alcohol free so perfect for that time of day.
2. Virginia Baci di Dama $4.99
These small Italian biscuits (or cookies as Americans would call them) are the sort of thing that once you start the packet it is hard to stop! Definitely open the packet when you have friends round so they can share the calories with you. The hazelnut biscuits are sandwiched together with a chocolate spread. They have a very soft texture, almost melt in the mouth. This beautiful box of them would make a lovely gift for when you visit friends. Virginia is a very well known company that has been creating delicious sweet delicacies since 1860.
3. Olli Salamini Pepperoni $2 (in clearance)
Olli Salumeria specialise in slow cured meats. I have picked up different varieties of their salami before and they have always been great. Ready to eat, bite size pieces of salami which are perfect for snacking on and taking out and about. I have used them to add to a meal to give it the extra Italian feel and wow factor. These meats are made in Virginia but for me are as good as any I’ve had the pleasure to try in Italy itself. I love the provenance of these Olli products using recipes passed down in their family for over 160 years and that the pork they use is from USA pasture raised pigs that are fed on a vegetarian diet with no nasties in it. Don’t walk by this on the shelf!
4. Calcutta Kitchens Makhani Tikka Simmer Sauce ($5.99)
We do miss the easily accessible Indian food that can be found in the UK. Sometimes we really fancy an Indian meal so to find this was a lovely surprise. This sauce describes itself as mild and creamy but our sensitive palates found it quite hot despite adding a little sour cream. If I were to feed this to my family again I think I would add about 1 cup of plain yogurt to make it more enjoyable for me and my girls. The aroma from the sauce when it was heating up was incredible and everyone’s mouthes were watering before dinner! Every ingredient on the label is something that you know off. Nothing nasty at all has been put into this product so this makes me very happy. The company was set up by Aditi Goswami. She was a corporate business woman who became a full time mom before adapting to be an entrepreneur. Having grown up in India Aditi has used her love of food and flavours to bring Indian flavours to the American dinner table. I will definitely be looking to try more of her sauces.
5. Butternut Mountain Farm- The Vermont Maple Sugar Company – Maple Syrup ($6.99)
We love making pancakes for breakfast but are not big fans of the syrup that goes on them. For us nothing can beat pure maple syrup so when my girls found this bottle of maple syrup in the pantry they were excited to make pancakes for breakfast today! The Marvin Family who own the company have been involved with the maple sugaring industry since the 1940’s and they are very proud of their heritage and legacy. They are very passionate about their employees and the farmers they work with. The farmers work with care and consideration for the forests of trees and the greatest commitment to the quality of their maple syrup.
6. Little Pasta Organics Gluten Free Mini Gnocchi ($1.99)
My girls love Italian gnocchi as do I! This gnocchi was made in Italy so it is the genuine thing. It is a perfectly sized serving would feed two little children or one growing teenager. The gluten free was an added bonus as Kate’s tummy is happier if she avoids the gluten in food. It is so quick and easy to cook and is ready to eat in 2 minutes. With no added salt or sugar in this gnocchi it is a great dinner for anyone! The Little Pasta Organics brand care greatly about properly made organic food which is both delicious and healthy for children to eat. After tasting this myself it should not be only for children!
7. Luke’s Organic Protein Chips ($2.99)
I was slightly wary of the unique ingredients in these chips as to whether they would taste good? Blue corn and red lentil was a combination I hadn’t tasted before and I have to say that I loved it! The chips are the idea of Luke who has coeliac disease and wants to find great tasting gluten free snacks. The snacks are all organic and allergen free including no nuts. He has definitely found a great flavour combination in these chips and they are miles apart from others that just resemble cardboard! One other great and timely fact about these chips is that Luke donates part of the proceeds of the sales of his chips to the Red Cross for severe weather disaster relief.
8. Danielle Tangy Pineapple Chips ($2.99 reduced to $1.00)
Everyone knows the feeling when they just want to snack on something sweet. It is easier to resist temptation when there are healthy snacks in the pantry that are ready to go and easy to eat. These pineapple chips are made without any of the preservatives that are commonly found in dried fruit. They are 100% natural with no trans fat or gluten. Danielle is a company that started as a small local business venture selling small batches their products and has grown into an international business producing great quality premium fruit products. Food that comes with a story cannot be beaten!
9. Jacobsen Salt Company – Pure Kosher Sea Salt (reduced to $3.99)
I find that really good salt is very expensive to buy in the United States so I like to choose one to try from the wide range of salts that can be found at Home Goods. This salt has been hand harvested by Ben Jacobsen’s company which is based in Netarts Bay on the Oregon coast. Ben Jacobsen’s story of the provenance of his salt is fascinating. He has the first company to harvest sea salt in the Pacific Northwest since Lewis and Clark! The top quality salt is produced by using a hand harvesting technique which creates a product which cannot be achieved by a mechanised process. The shiny, white pure sea salt flakes are so simple and so perfect. Such a simple ingredient such as salt is so much better when it is as good as Jacobsen’s salt is. Jacobsen Salt Company has grown from a small local business in 2011 to become America’s leading salt maker producing salt that is used by professional chefs and home cooks worldwide.
Ever changing selection provides introductions to new foods
The selection of great food products at Home Goods is always changing so the products I have shown here may not be available the next time I visit the store. What I find in Home Goods has provided me with the opportunity to try products from producers that I otherwise would not have known about. Visiting the websites of these companies and learning about the stories of the passion they have for their products and the provenance of them, coupled with how good they taste will encourage me to look out for these products again in other stores or buy direct from their own websites in future. I love my food to have a story behind it. I can share this story with my friends and family and we can all feel good eating these great foods together!
Have you found any great food finds that you’d like to share? Please comment below so we can all share it too!