Yesterday, I had another giddy "I get to live here?!" moment and you'll never guess where it happened--in a grocery store. I know! Seems silly. But this wasn't just a regular grocery store, it was a local store called Food of All Nations and it's awesome. Here's the back story.
I've been inspired lately by (of all places) the prepared food section at Whole Foods. Normally I'm too frugal and enjoy cooking too much to indulge in prepared foods, but when we were in the midst of moving here there were 3 or 4 days when we lived off of the pre-prepared section at Whole Foods. We were just too crazy and stressed to go grocery shopping until about day 5 after the move, and our cooking supplies were still all packed away. I also reasoned that this approach was much healthier (and about the same cost) as take-out.
So anyway, I found a few dishes that I ended up loving. They have this delicious Blackened Chicken Salad that has the best flavor--not too mayonaisse-y with just the right balance of salty/sweet/spicy. Their Garlicky Kale is another favorite and I've already replicated it at home (tried to replicate it--they must have a mystery ingredient or two). And the Soba Noodles with Toasted Sesame Oil are simple and light and so perfectly tasty for a summer meal.
Yesterday I was thinking about those soba noodles and experiencing a major craving. For the last few years I've been really interested in making Asian-inspired food at home but in Alabama it was often hard to find the right ingredients. So I did a little Googling and came across this grocery store called Food of All Nations. I really wanted to find the authentic, from-Japan soba noodles and reviews said this store had a fantastic selection of ethnic foods.
Friends, those reviews couldn't have been more right. I was practically jumping up and down in the aisles. I felt like a whole new cooking world was being opened up to me as I browsed the Greek section, the Indian section, the Asian section, the Spanish section. They had all of these incredible ingredients--some that I've read about in recipes but haven't yet experimented with, some that I could get in New York but have been deprived of the past two years, some that I've never heard of. Vinegars and spices and sauces and dried grains and noodles and pastas. I got so excited that I grabbed three different varieties of dried Japanese soba noodles!
(They also carry this special Greek olive oil that my parents got me hooked on years ago. It comes in a gigantic canister and you just bring your bottle to refill each time. They had Harney and Sons loose tea and imported British loose tea. They also had a great array of local Virginia produce and honey and meats.)
When I got home I made these yummy Peanut Sesame Noodles, modified with different vegetables and sans tofu. This is a simple and straightforward recipe and I really can't believe I waited so long to cook with soba noodles. This was also maybe the first time I achieved the flavors I wanted to achieve when trying an Asian-inspired recipe. In between bites I was raving about this grocery store and telling my husband how excited I am to experiment with new and different ethnic ingredients and foods and recipes and flavors.
Cooking is a creative art and it's so great to feel newly invigorated and inspired. Yet another reason I'm so glad to be here. The blessings and discoveries keep on coming.