At TNT we’d love to get a round the world ticket and hotfoot it around the globe seeing the sights, and almost as importantly, trying every delicacy on the menu. Well, perhaps next year..! But in the mean time, we’ll have to stick with the UK’s plethora of speciality markets – things are a little easier these days with all of our favourite curiosity-cuisine shops now selling online too.
Want to know where to find Octopus Tenticles or Matcha Kit Kats? TNT counts down the websites to get your taste buds tingling in a journey around the culinary world, from the comfort of your own home!:
Italy: Valentina Fine Foods (http://www.valentinafinefoods.com)
Opened all the way back in 1991, Valentina – a name shared with the daughter of one of the founding families – is today run by third generation family members: Fabio, Gabriella, Antonio, Marco and Carmine. They’ve made their way into the modern age of online grocery, stocking over 1000 items including all the classics of Italian fare from pastas and tomato sauces to fresh cheeses and hard-to-find delicacies like traditional fregola, millefoglie, amaros and bottarga!
Japan: When in search of natto (a heady mixture of fermented soy beans), sweet potato Kit Kats orMatcha tea, …or all the kit needed to make sushi at home! There’s one place that immediately springs to mind: The Japan Centre (www.japancentre.com/), which has been bringing the very best of Japanese food and culture to the UK since 1971 – coming up to 45 years! With 1,795 products in their online store, there’s little you can’t find, wasabi Kit Kat anyone?
France: Natoora (http://www.natoora.co.uk), founded in 2001 in Paris with a network of 120 French farmers delivering fresh food to Paris and later the whole of France. In 2004, the concept was brought across the Channel, and for the last 11 years they have delivered the most delectable of French foods across the UK from French poussin and cultured french butter to that most Gallic of snacks, goose salami.
Middle East: No longer do we have to scour the shelves of far-flung delis, Ottolenghi (http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/pantry) brings the flavours of the Middle East to our store cupboards with his online store, selling everything from barberries and freekeh to pomegranate molasses and preserved lemons.
Mexico: Importers of the UK’s first and only tortilla machine, Cool Chile Co (http://www.coolchile.co.uk/) sell everything from hibiscus flowers to tomatillos; they have seen demand soar with their online business and their tortilla machine (a UK first), El Monstruo, runs 5 days a week producing 3500 fresh corn tortillas an hour.
Spain: Known for their exemplary tapas, Brindisa (http://www.brindisa.com/store/) are purveying the finest of Spanish fare to the nation via their online store – think fresh chorizo and morcilla, pimenton and octopus tentacles.