One of the things I’ve found difficult about this blog is squaring my ideals with my reality. As of right now, we are staying in an area known as Kilburn, in northwest London which isn’t exactly know for its great access to quality food ingredients. We are also living on a budget of about £30 per day, which has to cover three meals a day for two people and a dog as well as any other purchases we need to make (like soap and toilet paper).
I wish I had the money and the time to source every product I use from local farmer’s markets and high-end butchers, as I would if I were purchasing for a restaurant, but for now Sainsbury’s and the Discount World Foods store in Kilburn is about all I’ve got to go on. Thankfully, Sainsbury’s marks most of their products with their origins, so I usually can grab food that has been grown in the UK, or in the case of some Italian or French ingredients I at least know they’re coming from the right place. Cage-free eggs and free range chickens are thankfully easy to find some of the halal butchers in the neighborhood have some pretty decent meat and game.
The trick has really been about finding the gems. Just because you’re shopping in a massive corporate owned chain store doesn’t mean they don’t have anything good, you just have to pick and choose, stick to items that are seasonal and pick while items are fresh. One trick I always employ is digging to the back of the shelf for the latest date, which generally ensures are fresher product.
I certainly miss the days at Restaurant North, walking across the street to the Armonk farmer’s market, or getting deliveries from Guy Jones’ farm, but that sort of idealism only works when you have someone paying $28 for a plate, but at home, when all I get is my wife’s love and adoration I’ll stick to sales and coupons. When I get back to work and have a little extra cash on hand, I’ll treat you and my wife to some great produce from Borough Market, but until then, it’s the two for one special for us.