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Exotic spices and treats at my favourite speciality food stores

Photograph by Amelia Crook

Photograph by Amelia Crook

I was very excited to see chef and restaurant owner Liam Tomlin (also a 2013 Eat Out Restaurant Awards judge) unpacking a whole lot of new Turkish products this week at his gourmet food store Chefs Warehouse. Apart from sumac – the plant’s dried fruit is ground into a spice to lend a lemony taste to humus and kebabs – and a thick traditional pomegranate molasses, his shelves now hold gorgeous bottles of rose water and floral waters.

Liam also showed me a thick, dark mulberry syrup and a date one too – all the way from Turkey. But what really grabbed my attention me were the packets of authentic oversized semolina couscous, which I have been dying to get hold of in South Africa.

The last time I managed to get my hands on some was at Simon Johnson Food Purveyors in Sydney, which is the crème de la crème of stores to find speciality food items.

Closer to home, my favourite places to visit for premium foods are Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch, La Marina Foods and Thrupps in Johannesburg, Giovanni’s and Chefs Warehouse in Cape Town, and Spice Emporium and Sprigs in Durban.

In April, the 2014 Eat Out Zonnebloem Produce Awards held at the Stellenbosch Slowmarket not only acknowledged the country’s top food producers, but also celebrated top stores and markets around the country. The winning stores for 2014 are Cheese Gourmet in Johannesburg, the abovementioned Sprigs in Durban, and Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Cape Town. The top markets are Neighbourgoods in Johannesburg and Neighbourgoods in Cape Town and I Heart Market in Durban. You can find out more about each one here, but I recommend a visit to sample the delicious wares and atmosphere first hand.

Happy grocery shopping!

Abigail

Photograph on home page by Lisa Murray 

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