Staying in a rented flat or apartment hotel when traveling outside the US allows us to cook some meals instead of eating out three times a day. And cooking, of course, means grocery shopping, always an amusing and interesting activity in a foreign city.
Our first day in Sydney, stocking the larder landed first on our to-do list. Right around the corner from our hotel is a Woolworth’s…not the US drug store of our childhood memories, but a fully stocked multi-story grocery store.
We strolled through the door only to be caught up in a cyclone of shoppers. Duh, we should have thought twice before venturing into a grocery store at 5:30 pm mid-week. Harried shoppers rushed around grabbing steaks here, veggies there, piling up their little green shopping baskets. We wandered the aisles in a post-fourteen-hour-flight daze, trying not to get trampled.
A tad overwhelmed by the crush, we limited our purchases to those items critical for our breakfast…crumpets, marmalade, apples, milk, yoghurt, bircher mix. Shaken, but un-bruised, we escaped to the street.
A couple of days later, we needed to restock the breakfast pantry and pick up veggies and pasta for dinner. In a moment of clarity (still suffering from jet lag), we decided to shop a little earlier to beat the post-work insanity.
Now this was fun! Like most big-city grocery stores, Woolworth’s reflects the diversity of the population and the breadth of products available in a cosmopolitan area. Gleaming veggies and lush fruits bore the proud, “Australian Grown” label. Aisle after aisle featured Indian or Asian cuisine. We had time to peruse the tinned goods aisle and marvel at all the ways the rest of the world comes up with to package staples like tuna fish. The candy aisle held us in thrall, but more on that in a future post! We love to buy products not available in the US…like real crumpets, fennel-fig paste, Bircher mix…(just add water or milk to oatmeal and dried fruit and refrigerate overnight! Yum!)
We filled to overflowing two little green shopping baskets. Overloaded with too many heavy sacks, we staggered back to the hotel, but no worries! That evening we savored a delicious dinner of pasta with fresh pesto cheese sauce (created from the cheese we bought at our previous day’s stop at the Smelly Cheese Factory) and a huge salad with the freshest, tastiest greens and veggies.