Wednesday, November 17, 2010

British Goods Found Stateside

I have been lucky to be exposed to some fabulous British foods and goods through the years, first with my English college boyfriend, later through my Irish husband (many products available in Ireland are actually British) and now because I live in London. After my first trip to England in 2003, I was positively smitten with so many different things that I had there, but had never seen in the USA! For a while, the guy I dated from England would ship certain things to me, but later I began to realize as the years passed that many of the products were available in New York and other cities if you knew where to look for them. When we moved to Cayman, many more things were available, since Cayman's population is heavily British and it is a British Overseas Territory after all.
So this got me thinking... even if you can't squeeze a trip to the UK in your budget or schedule this year, it doesn't mean you can't experience some of the traditions from the comfort of your own home! The internet has made it possible for many things we could never get our hands on before to be delivered straight to our front doors! I enjoy a lot of these things around the holidays for some reason, probably because my first trip to England was at Christmas! Here are some of the British foods and goods I'm absolutely loving this holiday season:

Christmas Crackers are uniquely European by tradition and I love these so much that I've had them every Christmas since my 2003 trip to England for Christmas! Basically, they are little tubes of cardboard, usually decorated and you can get them in any theme from traditional red and green to Disney characters, or in all different colors including pink, purple, turquoise and more! Crackers range in price and quality as well. Basically, you include these in your place setting for Christmas dinner (or if you're really festive for Christmas Eve and Boxing Day dinners too!) and you open them at the table. Grab one end and let your neighbor grab the other, hold tight and pull. It should make a pop! Inside you normally find a paper crown that must be worn at dinner (embarrassing or not), a joke or riddle and a tiny gift. The gift can be something practical like a mini calculator or a key chain or it might be a small toy, depending on what kind of crackers you get. Crackers are really fun and increasingly available in the United States! This year we ordered our crackers to match our decorations with Nordic themed red and white reindeer designs. The British also do great advent calendars as a Christmas staple! There are super cheap ranging to super expensive. I've always had cardboard ones where you pop out the date and there's a chocolate inside. Now Loreal has done one with beauty products and you can pretty much get them with anything! I posted a photo of ours here... haven't decided what to put in it yet!

Walkers shortbread amazing! So buttery and rich! It's my favorite, next to homemade of course and it usually comes in a gorgeous plaid tin or package. I think it hails from Scottland, but I'm not sure. It's delicious with tea or coffee, before or after a meal.

The first time someone offered me Squash to drink, I was positively discusted, thinking they meant the vegetable. I had no idea what it was, but once I tried it, I was hooked. It's basically a concentrated drink. You pour a little in a glass and add water. I prefer orange Robinsons, but there are several brands and flavors to choose from. It's a great way to trick yourself into drinking water and it's also a good alternative to sodas!

Custard is one of life's great pleasures! Bird's Custard is my favorite and you can buy it ready-made or in powder form. It's basically like a lighter version of vanilla pudding and it's amazing on deserts like apple pie, chocolate cake or just drissled over fruit. Serve it hot and it's amazing for winter deserts! YUM!!!

Walkers Crisps are very popular in the UK. The logo looks like Lays and who knows? Maybe they are owned by the same company? They are definitely not the same though... people here are serious about their crisps (aka Chips) and they are delish! My favorite is Walkers Ready Salted, but they come in several flavors including Cheese & Onion, Prawn Cocktail, Salt & Vinegar, Roast Chicken, Sour Cream & Chive and others I'm sure.

Maltesers are like Malted Milk Balls, but oh so much softer and yummier!

PG Tips is my favorite British tea. I've been drinking it exclusively since 2002. There is no other in my opinion! It's the best and can actually be found in many American grocery stores!

One of my all-time favorites, Heinz Spaghetti Hoops, which were introduced to me by my husband in New York. I was very loyal to Spaghetti O's and Chef Boyardee until I tried these. They are 10 steps above the rest with less additives, sugar and salt. I love these and often we have them for dinner with frozen Chicken Kievs or potato waffles. Yum!

Heinz Baked Beanz are not at all like American baked beans and they are served differently as well. I made American-style baked beans for a dinner in Cayman and the UK contingency thought they were something totally different! Heinz beans are very very popular among Brits and not only served as a side dish for lunch or dinner, but also as a major player in the famous traditional English breakfasts! You'll often see Beans on Toast here (one of my favorites) for breakfast and I've also spied people putting beans in jacket potatoes (brittish for baked potato) and though it sounds weird, it's actually delicious!

Cadbury, though not my favorite, is unlike any chocolate in the world! If you've never had it, you must try it! They have so many different types of candy bars and the chocolate has a distinct taste, different from any other I've ever tasted! My favorites are Caramel, White Chocolate Dots, and Dairy Milk with Hazelnuts. Mr. Julep is a Crunchie fan, basically it's like crispy honey covered in Cadbury chocolate.

All photos with the exception of the first one found at
Jacob's Cream Crackers are hands down, THE best crackers in the world. There's no salt on them, but they are lush! Serve with soup, cheese or brie! YUM!
Here are 3 websites where you can purchase many if not all of the above items:
If you find yourself in the New York City area or if you live there, you must visit The Butcher Block on 41st Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, Queens. It's owned by a friend of ours, Mike the Butcher and stocked full of Irish and English goods and sweets! You can also get amazing cuts of fresh meat cut to your liking or hot pre-prepared food and I can attest to the amazing quality of it!
Also in New York is Tea and Sympathy, a great spot for English breakfast and tea with a shop attached! Next door to that is A Salt and Battery fish and chips shop. I have never eaten there, but I hear its great! Myers of Keswick is nearby and is a great shop too!
So, will you be putting a little British into your Christmas?

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  1. PG is the best tea out there! Love it! I am a huge fan of Brittish tea and been drinking this tea for years :)

  2. We have this adorable little British Emporium near us and I love the chocolates. So much better than hershey's! Also, I love HP sauce on my fries. Mmmm...

  3. I adore Crunchie... It is the order that I put in to my family whenever they travel to England. Crunchie and Marmite. Not together, but delicious separate :)

  4. In Orange county we have a place called the British Grocer and the olde ship! Love going there all of their grocery items are imported and unique.


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