Sunday, 17 June 2007

Sunday Thoughts 3

Since I came to Blogbury, I have to do all my own cooking and shopping, which I don't mind. But I've been learning quite a lot about where you can buy things.
My first choice is the monthly Farmers' Market, but it is very pricey, and if I'm busy on a Saturday morning, then I've missed the market for another month.
My second choice is our really pretty good selection of local shops. We have a good butcher, but have no fishmonger or greengrocer, so I'm compelled to go to supermarkets, and while I'm there, I naturally get my meat too, as to make an additional trip to the butcher would add another half hour to my shopping time.
But supermarkets are not all equal. Some are wonderful, others are, frankly, pants.
So: here's my list of UK supermarkets with my (entirely subjective) judgment. I'm writing them in my personal order of approval. Feel free to use the comment box to add your two-pennorth.

Unquestionably the best supermarket ever:
These only exist in Lancashire, but they are truly wonderful. I discovered them in April this year, where they had tomatoes, grown in Lancashire, which (unique for the UK) tasted like tomatoes. In APRIL! I found a bottle of Chateau Musar (yes, Ch. Musar!) at a reasonable price. The place was clean, attractive. All the vegetables both looked and tasted fantastic. The meat was great; not a huge selection, but all was good. I just wanted to start cooking. And the prices were reasonable. Ulverston was the best branch I visited.
Without any doubt worth moving to Lancashire for.

Marks and Spencer. All good (sometimes really good) stuff, but a very small range, and prices high. Their new branches on motorways seem, so far, disappointing.

Waitrose. Pretty good, and generally reliable. But you always know when you've been shopping there when you see your bill. Their beef is really excellent.

Joint equal with Waitrose; Somerfield. The produce isn't quite as good, but their prices are very reasonable. Their vegetables, bread and meat (each a good test, in my opinion) are more than satisfactory, and though their shops are quite small, they seem to have almost everything I need. Their own brand of whisky, Prince Charlie, and their own cognac are both very respectable and reasonably priced. Good range of wines, too.

Sainsbury's. In the middle. In everything.

Co-op Well, it's cheap and handy, and the things in tins you can't far wrong with. Horrid chickens, bread (except for the local stuff sometimes bought in) and very very poor selection of vegetables. One very useful thing you can get here is a large pack of off-cuts of cooked ham, very cheaply.

Tesco. Well; I object to supporting La Porter for a start. But their shops (near me, anyway) are really pretty unpleasant. The vegetables are horrible; limp, unimaginative. They have city centre places (which are okay), but their out of town establishments are obscenely huge. You can see abandoned trollies everywhere, where people have just given up. The meat is okay, and the bread is quite nice.

Asda (=Walmart) My personal hate. Cheap in every sense of the word. The very poorest choice and quality of vegetables. Okay meat and bread. Their pluses are: cheap and not bad clothes, and an Irish section where you can get (not very nice) barm brack, Kimberley biscuits, Barry's tea and a couple of other national specialities. I don't consider it worth driving out of town for. I hate the lime-green uniforms.

Unknown quantity: Morrison's/Safeways. Others.

As I say; my personal opinion.


Mac McLernon said...

Have you tried It's Waitrose food, but you can order online and it all gets delivered by very helpful chaps, and it's all been packed in colour coded bags so that the frozen food stays frozen etc...

...the main advantage is that they give you specific time slots so that you don't have to wait in all day (I think the slots are hourly, maybe half-hourly) and if you're feeling particularly "green" the slots actually show when the van is in your area anyway, if you want to pick that time to help save petrol!

Rita said...

As an exiled Lancastrian, IMO please use Booths as much as you can, you'll miss them if they get swallowed up by T****.

Where I live now (rural) it is either the Co-Op or T****, and whilst the Co-Op is more expensive, many of its products are better quality. Sorry to hear about your chicken....but I've even had a naff one from the local organic supplier of happy hens. A good chicken can be a lottery.

p.s I do always enjoy your blog and hope you have many more happy hours blogging.

Fr Justin said...

Thanks, Rita. Nice of you to pop by. Regrettably, Blogbury is many miles from Lancashire, but you can bet that if we had a Booths near here, I'd go nowhere else!

Anonymous said...

Marks and Spencer? Shame on you, Father. Marks and Spencer have championed the state of Israel and thus connived in the dispossession and suppression of the Palestinian Christians. Our comforts and pleasures, which Marks and Spencer so eagerly service, have been bought at an unacceptable price.

Fr Justin said...

I didn't know about that! So perhaps 'shame' is a bit strong.

fred said...

I love my corner shop. You can buy everything from Spam to Veggie Bacon, toothpaste to TCP in there. You can have a moan about the weather, a good old whinge about the local parking restrictions and bump into other neighbours. In a big city like mine, these havens of community are to be treasured. On saying that, I am still guilty of popping into Marks and Spencers in the station as well. Oh dear, I do try.