The coronavirus pandemic brings many challenges. And of course there are many more important things than a gourmet continuing to enjoy their favourite foods. However, a lot of people are finding ways to treat themselves to raise their spirits a bit, and treating myself to some of the gourmet foods I was missing was a nice challenge to take on … how could I source some of the things I’d run out of? So I turned to looking at where I could order direct and – much to my delight – I found I could order quite a few things I’d been missing, or having difficulty getting hold of, direct from the producers.
Many people are doing a lot more cooking than they do normally. For the experienced and enthusiastic cook, there’s a certain pleasure in taking up the challenge to do things a bit differently, whether it’s because you can’t get hold of some foods or because we’re all ‘making do’ more – not wasting food and cooking from what’s available to us rather than what we fancy. But there’s no substitute for some things … even if they amount to treats! So … what can’t I live happily without?
Lavazza Coffee Pods
My son and daughter would tell you that Mum without coffee in the morning is not a person you want to be with! And it has to be good coffee. I would go without rather than have instant or some dreadful concoction with flavourings and half a cow of milk.
I bought myself a new coffee machine a few months ago, choosing a Lavazza one simply on the basis (with my environmental hat on) that I could use compostable pods and also that I could easily buy them in Waitrose. Well, I had to wait nearly 4 weeks for a Waitrose delivery and my pod supply was running low, but by looking on the internet I found I could order direct from Lavazza. So I did! And a box containing a supply of coffee pods was soon with me. Oh … and another thing about Lavazza is it’s based in Turin … a city I love … and I may have had to cancel my trip to Turin in late March because of the virus, but I could still drink Turin’s coffee!
Plenish Almond Milk
Of course drinking almond milk has become a bit of an environmental issue due to the surge in the demand for almonds that’s brought about some bad farming practices. However, I’ve been using this organic almond milk for a while for my morning cereal (it’s pretty pure with no extras – just almonds, water and sea salt). I usually buy it in my local health shop but a search online found I could order some direct from Plenish. I have to say that unlike some of the other direct buys, it was more expensive doing it this way … but I ordered quite a few to spread the delivery cost and make each one cheaper. And I’ve now got plenty to last me a number of weeks.
I’m a great fan of Odysea Greek foods: their olive oil, their olive meze (tapenade) … basically pretty much anything they sell! It reminds me that when I holidayed in Kardamyli a few years ago – just an hour’s drive from Kalamata – I ate the most wonderful olives I’d ever had. And I still think of them being the most wonderful olives I’ve ever had (taggiasche olives in Liguria come a close 2nd). These lovely Odysea Kalamata olives transport me back to Greece … and their other meze mixes, oil and foods are just as delicious. I normally buy them in Wholefoods in Richmond but now I’ve found I can order direct.
I’ve long been a fan of Seggiano products and have a particular addiction at the moment to their wonderful crispy Lingue – flatbreads – that are handmade in Piemonte. They’re delicious on their own but I like to spoon some of the Odysea olive meze (like a tapenade) onto them, and of course other kinds of dips and spreads work well. I also ordered some roasted artichoke hearts in oil which will be great in an antipasti-type salad.
King Soba Mighty Miso Instant Organic Soup
I rarely eat ready made or instant foods, but I’ve become rather addicted to these miso soups from King Soba at lunchtime. Quickly made in a mug to go with a sandwich, it’s a perfect quick lunch. And I like to think the miso is doing me good too! Thus I search online and again found I could order direct and now have plenty to keep me going for a while.
Seed and Bean Chocolate
OK … so who can live without chocolate! Not everyone likes chocolate … but most people do … and Seed and Bean’s organic Cornish Sea Salt chocolate has become a firm favourite … and I can’t live happily without it 🙂 So … I ordered some direct to keep me smiling.
Food & Travel Magazine
I may not be able to travel anywhere – other than up to 2 miles from my home for exercise or essential shopping – but I can dream. I regularly buy Food and Travel magazine because it’s my perfect magazine – all about lovely places to travel to where you can find gorgeous, exciting food. Usually I pick up a copy in Waitrose when doing my food shopping but have now subscribed to receive it through the post and make sure I don’t miss a copy!
Fortnum & Mason Hamper
This is a last-minute addition. I don’t normally write drafts of blog posts – they’re fairly instant things following usually some cooking or visit to a restaurant. I write, read through to check no mistakes (as a book editor, grammar and spelling is especially important to me!), then press the Publish button. But I started putting this post together a few days ago, while waiting for all my orders to arrive and taking photos as I unpacked them. Then … yesterday was my birthday … and clearly it wasn’t going to be the birthday that had originally been planned with all the family coming together and some special outings. So imagine my surprise – and excitement – when I opened my front door to see a huge box in front of me, with Fortnum & Mason written on the side. I immediately realised it was from my daughter, Nicola. She’d told me something would be delivered, and as a foodie family we nearly always include some food-related present in gifts to each other. And normally on my birthday she and her wife would take me out for a meal. But as they couldn’t be with me, they ordered a Fortnum & Mason hamper for me instead. I have never had one before. I was like a child with the excitement of it. I texted and suggested we FaceTime so they could watch me open it up. I then carefully found each item in the thick protective packing and held it up to show them. And although it wasn’t quite the same as actually being with them, it was a pretty wonderful way for a gourmet to celebrate a birthday!
What are the foods you can’t – or wouldn’t like – to live without?