My first shopping adventure was to make Abkhazura, Tkemali Sauce, Abysta, and Adjika. (I have no idea how to pronounce any of it). Here is my shopping list for the meal:
- Barberry or sumac (What is barberry?)
- 2/3 lb. Beef chuck
- 1 lb. Caul fat ( Huh?)
- 1 stalk Celery (Why don’t they just sell one stalk?!)
- Clothes pins (Long story)
- Corn meal
- 2 boxes of Dill
- Red hot chili peppers (Not the band that would be way too expensive)
- 1 lb. Plums (Santa Rosa Plums are not as sour)
- 1 lb Pork butt
- Red bell pepper
- Latex gloves (Its for the peppers!)
- Dried Summer savory
- Suluguni (cheese)
- Bryndza (cheese)
I suspected the cheese were going to be a bit difficult to find, but I happened to be in Carmel for the 4th of July weekend and stopped into the Cheese Shop. I asked if they had Suluguni or Bryndza (okay so I don’t know how to pronounce it, I really just showed them my phone). They were familiar with the cheeses but they didn’t have any in stock.
I planned on making the meal with my friends, who helped me come up with the hobby. I was going to be cooking and shopping at their house. My friends live in South San Jose, which is pretty much the suburbs with large strip malls. Considering that the Cheese shop didn’t have the cheese, I was thinking I would have to come up with a substitute. However we looked on Yelp and found a nearby Russian grocery store, Kalinka, and Yelp said the owners were Georgian. Lucky they had both cheeses. Purchased that along with plums, Sumac ( in case we couldn’t find Barberry), and Fenugreek.
Next stop was Whole Foods. I found cornmeal, but of course they have 3 choices of grains: small, medium, or large grain. I had no idea which would be correct and the recipes I saved turned out to be no help. So I just guessed medium as it would have a bit of texture.
At the butcher department we asked if they had caul fat, but I pronounced it “cow” fat. This lead to a bit of confusion but luckily with smart phones we were able to find out they don’t sell it. They suggested that the Mexican grocery store, Chavez, would have it.
On to look for barberry. In the recipe it could be substituted for Sumac, I assumed it was a spice so looked for it in the spices isle. Didn’t find it. Later when I got in front of a computer I realized that it was a actual berry and likely would be found in the isle with the raisins. Well I did need Summer savory, which I found.
Onto produce, which we found Celery, Cilantro, dill, onion, and red bell pepper. However there were no red chili peppers of any kind. Oh well, I was going to Chavez next and they should have a abundance of chili peppers, right? So not fearful we headed to the produce section of Chavez and there is no red chili peppers. All green peppers. WHAT!
Well I still need the “cow” fat, so headed to the butcher. Of course the pronunciation leads to confusion and needing to show on the cell phone. Thank god for smart phones! It turns out they don’t sell that either and suggested Safeway might. There is no barberry in the spice Isle, which means Chavez was a wasted trip.
We were not so convinced that Safeway would carry “cow” fat, but thought an Asian store may have a better shot. However as we got to the freeway entrance there was a huge traffic jam on the freeway and looked like nothing was moving. We decided to take our chances with Safeway.
At Safeway, we head straight to the butcher department realizing this has been a 2 hour shopping spree. Again the butcher had no idea what “cow” fat was. Finally they look at the phone and say, “oh. I know it as lace fat. Only place you will find that is a place that will butcher a 1/2 to a 1/4 cow.” It then dawned on us that “butchers” are no longer butchering just cutting already butchered meat. Any way thoughts for another day.
On the Safeway butchers suggestion we called another grocery, Lunardi’s, and no luck. Safeway also had no red hot chili peppers or barberry. It was getting close to 4pm and we hadn’t started cooking so gave up on finding the best ingredients, we bought green Serrano for chili peppers and the packet of lard for the “cow” fat.