The shops were pretty awesome, packed with the weirdest stuff you just can't find other places. Don't get me wrong, for day to day I'd still prefer Wegman's. But this is a cool treat.
We went into a Chinese grocery that had everything from canned quail eggs to dried cuttlefish. There was fresh tofu, which had obviously just been made, cut and on a board so people could pick and bag their own pieces. We found a whole section of dried seafood, including squid and octopus, as well as what can only be described as jellyfish jerky. There were multiple offerings of preserved duck eggs, the kind that they bury in the ground and call Thousand Year Eggs. (The whites become a creepy grey and the yolks a worrying shade of brown.) It also sold all kinds of noodles made from all kinds of stuff. There were big sheets of green bean starch and dried lotus leaves. They also had a big section of fresh veggies--we couldn't resist the long beans! (Or the black vinegar, or the dried chili plums, or the frozen galangal...) On ice, they carried fresh fish. But why buy fish there, when right next door is Wholey's?
I was very excited to see Wholey's, the fish market. I could go on and on about all the many fresh fish, the sushi bar just feet away, the cool everything. I will restrain myself, though, and just talk about the tanks of live fish. I mean, it just doesn't get fresher. Ever wonder what tilapia look like? They're actually kinda cute. They look like aquarium fish, actually. With big kissy lips. My mom always says tilapia is "very mild, no bones." I used to think of this whenever I saw tilapia fillets. I now will think of this:
We found harissa at this Mediterranean store, as well as something I hesitate to even mention. Darling Husband has an insatiable curiosity for foreign drinks, which has led some interesting places. This time it picked up yogurt soda. Mint flavored yogurt soda. In case you're wondering, no, it's not better than it sounds. It's exactly what it sounds like. The ingredients are milk, yogurt, soda water, mint and salt. And that's what it is. Salty, tangy, carbonated dairy with medicinal mint flavoring. It's upsetting and sour. It made us want to gag. Sorry; you should know I'm editing out what I really think of it. I have a terrible analogy that really fits but that grosses me out and is entirely too crude. It's not good. Let's leave it there.
On a positive note, we went to Penzy's Spices. It's a playground of herbs and spices and it smells awesome. We were tempted by the vindaloo powder (incredibly intense and flavorful curry) but the price was a bit too dear. We settled instead for a few varieties of dried chili peppers.
Can't wait to go back!