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What to bring back from London

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Hi, all -- we'll be visiting London in late April on our trip to Spain and I'm wondering what sorts of food-related items I should look for to bring home. This will be my first visit, so I'm not sure what to expect.

I plan on bringing home any interesting butters and Devon or Cornish cream, if I can find it in local stores. Are there any other specialties I should look for? Baking supplies? Cooking supplies? Specialty foods?

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  1. What I buy there is Rougie foie gras in a canning style jar at Selfridge, and something I have a very hard time finding in the US is Maille Dijon Mustard with Green Peppercorns. It is wonderful stuff. Fortnum's has all sorts of wonderful mustards and when we go back in early October, mustard is what I will be buying. We are taking the London shuttle into S. Ken. to our flat when we get there, but will be taking the tube back out to Heathrow when we leave so I am going to be seriously interested in not weighing down our luggage with a lot of stuff and there is so much available here anymore that I am going to be frugal. Another item I will be lookng for is a drip stopper for wine bottles. They are acrylic and when you first see it you think it is something that is broken. It fits into the neck of the bottle and has a spout with a double lip. It works beautifully. My fried who got it for me got it in Paris, I have not seen them in the US but I'll be Selfridge has it or maybe Vineopolis (freee admission to thier gift shop).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      If you want "Maille Dijon Mustard with Green Peppercorns" you can contact their store, either in Paris or Dijon, by phone or download their order form and have them send it to you direct in the States.

      Click on their store link below which has thier phone # and downloadable order form.

      Link: http://www.maille.com/maille/en/Custo...

      1. re: JBC

        Thanks, but I want to go get it and the plane tickets are purchased and the flat arranged and reserved. I'll just buy enough to last for awhile. I wonder if it is available in Montreal. I'll be there in June. I'll have to see.

      2. re: Candy

        As a Brit who lives in New York and London I can tell you what I bring back. All cheese is cheaper and better not just English, and you don't have to go to Paxton and Whitfields. there is no VAT on food but there may be on fancy packaging. Other things teas vast selection - Twinings opposite the Law Courts is fun, basement at Harrods as well as Food Halls, Fortnums etc. Water biscuits for cheese ( I can't convince my american husband that matzos are almost exactly the same). Plus hideously expensive Double distilled malt whiskeys not available in US although most are cheaper here. Cookies and crackers are cheaper too but watch out for cheap ingredients.Bread is better, less sweet and more varities and Greek yoghurt ( esp Marks) divine.
        Borough Market is better on Friday but there are lots of other street(cheap) and farmer(expensive) markets.

      3. Havana Club, the Cuban rum
        it's cheap and excellently smooth, and not available in the US

        3 Replies
        1. re: pato

          Can you get it past US customs?

          1. re: micki

            yes, although technically speaking it is a gamble
            I got it at duty free many times (although I don't think it's there anymore) and no problems

            1. re: pato

              That would be smuggling. Also bringing in almost anything unprocessed like butter, yoghurt, cheese from unpasturized sources or decent pate or rillette is not legal for the US.

              My buddy works for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

        2. For starters, I would be sure to visit Fortnum & Mason on Picadilly and the Harrod's Food Hall on Brompton Road. That will give you some idea of the range of food available.

          The Borough Market (near the London Bridge tube stop on the south bank of the Thames) is definitely worth a visit, but is only open Friday & Saturday. It s a farmers market of sorts, but prepared and packaged foods are sold as well. Also food to eat on the spot!

          I don't know where you live in the US, but my guess is you can find pretty much any packaged foodstuffs available in the UK for sale in the US. Some of it might even be cheaper here than it is there! Single-malt whisky is usually 1/3 less in the US than in the UK.

          1. Jams/Jellies and Tea are my tourist items from the UK. There are marmalade varieties they just don't sell in the US. A lot of my souvenier shopping is done at Marks and Spencer's food hall. Look for cake and candy decs you haven't seen before, gelatin sheets, great sea salts etc.

            The mustards mentioned above are a good idea if you can't get them locally, I use them for making vinagrettes so they last a long time.

            1. f
              fai jay (fai jackson)

              I don't understand how you pack devon cream and butter to bring home. Please tell me the trick. I love Maldon Salt and always bring some home as well as Fortnum & Mason loose tea--in particular Darjeeling/First Flush, Royal Blend and Jasmine. Also, bring back a genuine brown betty teapot and tea cosy.

              Fortnum and Mason has some lovely jam, but the best jam in the world (IMHO) is made in Alsace by Christine Ferber and is available at Liberty. Expensive, but worth it. You will be amazed at the variety of flavours.

              3 Replies
              1. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                Unfortunately, on my last few trips to Liberty, there was no more Christine F jam :(

                1. re: akiko
                  fai jay (fai jackson)


                2. re: fai jay (fai jackson)

                  Thanks for the Ferber rec, but I already have 6 jars sitting in my pantry from my last trip to Paris!

                  I brought back butter and cheese from Paris, as well. And yogurt. I took it out of the fridge right before we left for the airport and wrapped it really well in various layers. Worked fine. This time, though, I'll probably bring a thermos-type bag I bought at TJ's.

                3. Exotic flavors of potato chips-- think roast lamb and mint, tomato ketchup, Thai chili. Wonderful "sweets" i.e. candies. Lemon curd -- make sure it's NOT bright yellow, as that's the fake stuff. Good cookies. Go to a Sainsbury's supermarket: they are fun, have all of the above, and are much more English than Fortnums or Selfridges. Marks and Spencers food is a treat too. Oh, and if you can find a Thornton's toffee shop, you (and your dentist) will be in heaven. just use the yellow pages or the net to find branches of the above shops.

                  1. I won't repeat since others have described a lot of great food items and the best places to look for them. I think bringing things like butter and cream is illegal if you are returning to the States. There are some very nice cooking gadget places along Tottenham Court Rd.. near Warren and Goudge Tube stations. I love browsing around there. One I especially enjoy is Purves and Purves. You'll laugh when you see the prices of American products in the UK.. especially Oreo cookies. :-) Have a wonderful trip!

                    1. Double salted cashews from Harrods.

                      1. If you want really british food, buy Marmite and patum pepperium, the latter being an anchovy based relish that is fantastic on toast.

                        Marks & Spencers does not have a food hall any more than any other food shop does. All their food is own-brand. It's fine but not worth a trip.

                        Harrods is overpriced and aimed squarely at ripping off tourists.

                        Selfridges is great, as is Borough Market, although note that it's only open on Fri and Sat.

                        Have a great trip

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Londonosher

                          Marmite and pepper papatum are available in the US. Marmite is in most well stocked grocery stores.

                        2. Aren't there 2 other options?

                          1) Won't many stores just arrange to ship it home to you while you're there?

                          2) Can't you just save yourself a lot of the trouble by just buying over the Internet from home?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: JBC

                            Jackson's English Breakfast tea. The best, and maddeningly hard to find, even in the UK. Loose, of course, not bags.

                            1. re: Moshulu
                              faijay( fai jackson)

                              I bought Jackson Tea on my first trip to Europe around the time my country had its 100th birthday (not the U.S). Of course, I bought it so I could tell everyone it was especially selected for me, but I did love it. If you find a good source let me know. My sister lives in London and can get it for me.

                              1. re: faijay( fai jackson)

                                I have purchased it in TJ Maxx here and also at Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio. If it is being imported to the US Jungle Jim's generally has it.

                              2. re: Moshulu

                                Moshulu - I did a brief Google for "Jackson's English Breakfast Tea - Loose" and came up with the link below.

                                If this is what you're looking for, can't you order it on-line from where you are?

                                Link: http://www.buybritish.net/store/custo...

                                1. re: JBC

                                  Thanks. This is very kind. Normally, I clean out the shelf at Selfridges when I'm in London, but this will be a useful backup.

                            2. I'm in London 2-3 times a year and every time I stop Paxton and Whitfield (the oldest cheese shop in London est 1797) at 93 Jermyn Street and pick up a ceramic bottle of Stilton Cheese. Nothing like it. Here's a link for places on the gourmet hunt in London.

                              Link: http://www.stratsplace.com/rogov/culi...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: RIck

                                I checked and Paxton & Whitfield of London do have a web site you can order from anywhere. There is of course a shipping charge, but if shipped outside the U.K. do you get the 17.5% Sales Tax (VAT) back?

                                This is what I was referring to in my other post below: That hopefully the Internet can and will solve the problem of suppling our cravings for gourmet specialty products from the comfort of our own home or office.

                                Link: http://www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk/c...

                              2. I was born in London, then moved to South Africa. I would get cousins to bring me out refreshers (sherbet sucking sweets) and mini polos in OJ flavour! I must say, I don't crave those as I used to, and much of the stuff I do want you will be lucky enough to find in the States.

                                Everyone here's given good suggestions; jams, mustard, cheese, biscuits, sweets. You can't go wrong with those, but the best thing would be to take down the names of the stores people give you, then go exploring by yourself, for whatever tickles your fancy.

                                I find that so many of my favourite foods are the sort of thing to be eaten on the spot, rather than taken home... But do take up the suggestion and go to Bourough Market. That's lots of fun, and there are some bottled/jarred things that would travel well (I remember great flavoured Italian olive oils).

                                1. Note that you risk confiscation of all dairy products upon entry, whether packaged or not. My 125gm sealed package of Italian Butter, bought in UK (which won the Wine Spectator 'taste-off') was 'taken and destroyed' last week!
                                  I asked for a copy of any regulation that allowed this - and wasn't provided with anything. I was told that it was because of a 'foot and mouth' risk. And it applies to all products (lactation and otherwise) from ruminants.

                                  Beware of terrorists carrying butter.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    Additional point.
                                    A friend of mine brought back a Harrod's Christmas Pudding for his mother in December. It was examined in detail to see if it contained 'suet' in the list of ingredients. If it had (it didn't, so in my book wasn't a REAL Xmas pudding), it would also have been confiscated as it contained 'meat products'.