Food items may not last long after a trip. Unless the packaging is super-attractive, we just throw them away after finishing what’s inside, and that’s it. But as a food-oriented traveller, that doesn’t stop me from bringing home foods from the places I go to. In fact, I can leave home with half-empty suitcase and return with a nearly overweight suitcase, full of chocolates, biscuits, sweets I can’t find back home, or are sold with ridiculously exorbitant prices. Local supermarkets are my favourite places to go souvenir hunting, but sometimes shopping at tourist-oriented gift shops is unavoidable.
If you’re into food souvenirs as I am, below are some stuff I managed to tuck inside my suitcase from a recent trip to the UK. The country’s major supermarkets–ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Dunnes Stores in Northern Ireland–are great places to shop. I suggest you visit their larger outlets, usually named “superstore”, for a wider selection of goods.
Dragon’s Caerphilly cheese was the only food stuff I brought home from Wales. I browsed the shelves of ASDA Superstore Cardiff Bay but saw that many of the items there were also available in London. If you’re a tea lover, you may want to buy the Welsh Brew Tea. The smallest box was a large pack of 80, though. (It’s Britain, after all!) Welsh cakes are another local delicacy you’ll want to consider. In Cardiff, you can find freshly baked cakes in Cardiff Market or at Fabulous Welshcakes in Mermaid Quay. I couldn’t bring some home because the cakes had very short shelf life and I would still be travelling around and wouldn’t be returning home until the next 2 weeks.
Scotland’s was the longest of my UK shopping lists. No wonder. Try Googling “Scottish food” or “Scottish snacks”, and the list never ends. Household name Tunnock’s caramel wafer biscuits. Personally, I didn’t find anything super-special with them, but there was something “old school” in the taste, just like wafer biscuits I used to eat when I was little. Tunnock’s tea cakes are another Scottish specialty made by the same manufacturer, but there are other brands as well. The dark chocolate one could be quite tricky to find. Shortbread. My brother asked for Dean’s, his favourite brand–only sold in Scotland–when he lived in Dundee a few years back. When asked how it differed from W****** (so ubiquitous they’ve made their way to Jakarta!), he said, ‘Nothing, compared to this.’ Oatcakes are available anywhere else in the UK, but the choices are not as extensive as in Scotland. I bought Nairn’s rough and fine-milled ones. Macaroon. Don’t mistake them for macaron! If you see one covered in coconut, it’s got two o’s and is from Scotland. Tablet. crumbly and so Scottish. Fudge. I bought whiskey and clotted cream ones made by Scottish manufacturer Buchanan’s. I also bought Mrs Tilly’s (the traditional flavour, I think, because it said just ‘FUDGE’). Edinburgh (Castle) rock. Colourful traditional Scottish confection.
There are Cadbury bars made using Irish milk, but I couldn’t find any in local supermarkets in Belfast, even at the Dunnes Stores in Annadale Embankment. It seems that they’re available in the Republic but not in the UK part of the Emerald Isle. So I stocked up my food souvenirs at Carrolls Irish Gifts in the city centre. Here they are: Irish cream liqueur chocolate bar, Baileys mini delights, Irish whiskey marmalade, assorted sweets (caramels, jellies, toffees, etc.), assorted fudge (I didn’t realise I’d bought too many fudges until I got home.), Butlers chocolate truffles, and mini Guinness pint chocolate. A few stuff sold at Carrolls are also available, at the same prices, at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre a few yards away. If you’re also visiting Scotland, what about buying a jar of Scottish whiskey marmalade so you can compare it with the Irish one? And of course there are a wide variety of Irish breakfast tea for you, tea addicts.
Most of these are actually available anywhere else in the UK, and there were MANY other supermarket stuff I could’ve brought home if only I’d had more than 30 kg of baggage allowance. Lol. Fudge and toffee…there’s nothing more British than these two, don’t you think? Butterscotch biscuits I bought in Harrods (but not its home brand) for my boss, and another tin for myself. Hobnobs, the nobbly biscuits that became my favourite. Jaffa Cakes that also come in cake bars, mini rolls and mini muffins. Tetley…small packs (20 teabags) available. I decided not to buy Twinings because I can find them in Jakarta. KitKat wafers here don’t have vast varieties as in Japan. Of the few flavours unavailable in Indonesia, I took the Toffee Treat one because it sounds British. Haha! And speaking of British, and chocolate, don’t forget to grab some Cadbury bars, especially those variants that you can’t find back at home!
This may appeal only to Potterheads, though. I visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour London a few days before going back home. I didn’t buy much from the Honeydukes mostly because the sweets were so expensive. The sherbet lemon, fudge and toffee couldn’t have been much different from those sold at local supermarkets for a fraction of the prices here. I still don’t know if I was right in skipping U-No-Poo. I thought it was just like Smarties or m&m’s. I ended up buying 2 boxes of Exploding Bonbons just because it happened to be smaller than I’d thought. I should write another entry on my visit to the studio and give more details about the sweets!