Normally I am all about buying local and seasonal foods, but every once in a while it’s good to experience something new. My spouse had the most amazing idea for us to make an Ethnic Market tour in our area, in Burlington, Vermont. If you want some ideas to spice up your cooking, check out what we found and what we bought.
Our first stop was Gagon Asian Market. Although this shop was not new to me (this is where I get all my Indian spices), this trip I snagged some cumin and my favorite Madras Curry Powder. Curry powder is a mixture of spices and it can be tough to find a combo you like. This one is a mix of fenugreek, nutmeg, clove, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, salt, red chili, dry ginger, mace, garlic powder, turmeric and asafoetida. This is the curry I use in my Red Lentil Curry with Coconut milk recipe. Gagon Asian Market, 1293 Williston Rd., S.Burlington, VT 05403
Next stop was Mawuhi African Market. I loved this shop, but I must say I was a bit disappointed with the food and spice choices; there was far more hair products, wigs and extensions! But I did find Blue Mountain County Jamaican Jerk Seasoning to add a West Indian taste. This seasoning is a mix of pimento, hot peppers, garlic, onion, thyme and salt. I’m planning to try it out on some roast chicken tonight. I was also surprised to find some Autica Salina Course Sea Salt from the ancient saltpans of Trapani & Marsala, Italy. People really underestimate the importance of using salt to season food. Mawuhi African Market, 160 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington, VT 05401
The old North End of Burlington has always been a hub for ethnicity. We found two wonderful markets on North Street. First was the Himalayan Food Market. This shop was rather small, but still held some treasures. Here, I was able to stock up on some dried kidney beans, black eyed peas and red lentils. We also picked up some Ginger Chai Indian tea, but the most interesting of all was a piece of dried coconut that we were told was used to grate on different food. Because it was dried all the juices were sealed inside so it held much flavor. Himalayan Food Market, 28 North Street, Burlington, VT 05401.
Right across the street we found Thai Phat Market. This amazing little market was by far our favorite and I’m sure we will frequent it often. Here we bought some Canton noodles that look amazing. I had to get some of my absolute favorite Sweet & Sour Tamqrind, seasoned with brown sugar and a touch of Thai spice. Believe it or not my great grandmother used to give me tamarind. I have no idea where she got it but I grew to love it. This is a sweetened sort of candy but still yummy! We also picked up some Koon Chun Thin Soy Sauce from Hong Kong. We wanted soy sauce, but there were so many to choose from we had no idea which to chose. A knowledgeable and friendly shopper helped us to decide. Several months ago we had two Japanese exchange teachers stay with us and I was lucky enough to get a lesson in making Nori rolls. I can’t wait to set a menu and do some shopping here again! Thai Phat Market, 100 North Street, Burlington, VT 05401.
Okay, all this shopping warranted a a break so we didn’t hesitate to stop when we spotted the Block Gallery and Coffee House in Winooski. What a wonderful little gem to enjoy tea and coffee as well as a nice glass of wine ( savored a nice cup of steamed milk with honey and cinnamon) all while checking out the amazing artwork, jewelry and a number of other artisan treasures. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. Block Gallery & Coffee House, 1 East Allen St. (top of the round-about), Winooski, VT 05404
Now fortified with steamed milk and chai tea, we headed to Cheese Traders & Wine Sellers in S. Burlington. We were looking for something simple to make for dinner after our day of driving and shopping. We couldn’t have been more surprised to find a plethora of ethnic products as well as Vermont specialties. We opted for Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce from NY, NY. All ingredients are imported from Italy. This sauce is served at the famous Rao’s Restaurant in NYC. Along with the sauce we chose a nice Maplebrook Cherry Smoked Handmade Mozzerella from Bennington, VT. Can you see where this is going? I knew I had a nice whole grain pizza dough from Maine in the freezer at home. Just for the fun of it I snagged a bottle of Haddon House Non Parcil Capers, a product of Spain. We had heard that this shop now carried our favorite American Sparkling Wine, Gruet Blanc de Noirs. This is produced and bottled by Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For dessert we grabbed a package of Toblerone of Switzerland chocolates, swiss milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat. Wow! Cheese Traders & Wine Sellers, 1186 Williston Rd., S. Burlington, VT 05403
Of course after all this shopping the thought of driving home to cook was last on my list. We decided to pop in to one of our favorite restaurants, Tiny Thai in Essex, VT. Some Spring Rolls, Satay Chicken and Tofu and a nice garden salad with peanut dressing later we were happy to head home with all our goodies.
Tonight I am making that pizza with the dough from Maine, the cherry smoked mozzerella from VT, the sauce from Italy, and my very own basil. I’ve heard it takes a village to raise a child… sometimes it takes several continents to feed two people!