Monthly Archives: February 2008

Days 19 – 23

We made an order with Good Food Store on Sunday evening and it was delivered last night. We opted to go with them instead of Northern Harvest because you could choose a delivery time, including evenings, which is more convenient for us, rather than only having one delivery day. I might give Northern Harvest a go in the future if I’m already off on a Friday, but as we don’t have a porch or similar, someone has to be in to receive deliveries.

Our order came to about £20 before delivery charge (which is £4.95) and this is what we got:

The box:

Fruit and veg, and bread:

Groceries:

Later I’m heading to Aigburth Road to get some other things we need. My yoga teacher told me about the Unicorn Grocery which is a co-op in Chorlton, south Manchester. I’m going out that way next weekend, so I may stop and check it out, there seem to be a lot of similar ethical shops nearby.

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Days 16-18

We ate the bread before I remembered to photograph it. Whoops. I’ll probably bake another loaf on Thursday when I’m off, if I have time. If it’s pretty, I’ll try to remember to keep the camera nearby.

We were discussing the project with a friend of husband’s earlier, and he thought it was a great idea. Husband said that most people he’s told about it have been very receptive to the idea and have offered suggestions of independent shops to visit. His idea for the next step is that we make a map and put all the shops on it. I wonder if we can get it online…his photoshop skills are probably more than up to the task.

Someone asked me not long ago if it wasn’t more expensive to shop at local independents than Tesco. The short answer is yes, but it’s worth considering the reasons behind this. Tesco and other supermarket chains have the purchasing power to keep prices artificially low; many consumers don’t think about this and assume ‘that’s just how much x costs and I’m being overcharged if I buy the same product somewhere else for more’. A recent example that has garnered a lot of media attention is broiler chickens, how they’re raised, and the low prices paid to farmers who intensively rear them. I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programme on Channel 4 and plan to sign up for the campaign to get people to switch to free-range chicken. More information about it is here: http://www.chickenout.tv

Getting back to my earlier point, this person said that it was too expensive to shop at farm stands and such in her area because it has many wealthy people and so prices are higher. I mentioned that one item with competitive pricing is free-range eggs. That might be something she could afford to buy, as prices for local free-range eggs are often equal to or lower than Tesco in this area.

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Days 13-15

Today was a bit of a scatterbrained day, so I didn’t get everything I’d planned to. Most important on the list were milk (for me) and sandwich rolls (for him). Both were obtained from The Bread Shop on Aigburth Road, which is like a little bakery, sandwich shop and grocery store all in one. I hadn’t been down to Aigburth Road in awhile and I’d forgotten that there is a good variety of independent shops there, albeit spread out over a couple of miles. Happily, there is also a convenient bus route between Aigburth Road and my neighbourhood, so it’s not too hard to get to either.

I baked my first loaf of bread in several years this afternoon, will post a picture of it after tea. We’re having soup with it, warm bread, mmmmm.

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Days 11-12

Friday was a very productive and enjoyable day.

I got the bus to Woolton, which is probably my favourite area in Liverpool. It does feel like a village, it seem like you’re still within city limits at all. Woolton High Street and Allerton Road meet in a T and have most of the shops in the village. Here are a few pictures.


I had lunch at BreakBread, which used to have another branch near us on Smithdown Road. It was great for picking up delicious food after work, often healthier than the usual takeaway options, and for about the same price. However, it appeared to shut sometime last year, and I don’t get over to Woolton that often. The friendly woman behind the counter told me that they are planning to re-open it later this year with some changes, but the date hadn’t been set. I look forward to it, I miss their Pieminister pies!

I got some tiger bread (it’s a white loaf brushed with sesame oil before baking which gives it sort of a dark crackled appearance on top of the crust, very tasty) at Waterfields bakery, which had been recommended by a friend. They are a chain from Lancashire, it turns out, so I guess I’ve broken the rules. However, they seem to be a good one, family run and have won some awards recently. So I don’t feel too bad about that purchase.

Next was

where I got some Cumberland-style sausages for husband and stilton and guinness pate for myself (which I might share if I’m feeling generous). Then finally off to the


which is possibly my favourite shop in Liverpool. I could spend hours and quite a bit of money there, as almost every type of cheese they sell sounds tempting in some way. I ended up with small pieces of a Northumberland cheese washed in locally made Baltic Fleet Brewery ale, a Portuguese sheep’s milk cheese, and some Danish cheese called Esrom. And 500g worth of local butter, which comes from the same dairy and is a byproduct of Lancashire cheeses that they stock. I was very excited about this. It’s all well and good to get organic butter elsewhere, but the main brand I’ve seen seems to come from the Netherlands. I’d prefer local to organic in most cases.

I stopped at the greengrocer’s on Allerton Road on the way home and now have quite a bit of fruit and veg. My last visit was to the Windmill Co-op which has a lot of useful every day items, including organic milk from a co-operative dairy in West Yorkshire. Score. The helpful guy working there told me they’re open till 7.30 on Thursday so people can come in after work to get things that have been delivered earlier that day.

I got some wholemeal flour and attempted to make sandwich rolls later, but they didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked. Edible, but chewy. I think I’ll have to find another recipe.

And here are some photos of the day’s haul:


all in recycled/reused/fairtrade bags



That’s a butternut squash on the far right; the dirty carrots came from the black-and-white building in Woolton that’s a sort of holistic beauty/health place

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Days 8-10

Bad news: I miscalculated the number of eggs for the tart filling, so had to dispatch husband to Tesco Wed. night. He came back with caged eggs, as that was all they had. It felt like breaking lent in a particularly bad way, and I was quite upset about it. I only buy free-range eggs, and have done for some time. I wish I could go liberate some hens but sadly we don’t have enough space to keep them.

The tarts turned out ok, not as well as I would have liked compared to the last batch, but the restaurant assured me they looked fine and they were happy. I hope the customers last night thought they were all right.

Work has been quite busy in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, between that and baking on Wednesday, I haven’t been online very much. Today I’m going shopping in Woolton village and possibly to the whole foods co-operative on Smithdown Road depending on what I need/can find. I have taken some pictures, as requested, so I will post those later.

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Days 4-6

Sat. Feb 8 – Mon. Feb 11

Just going to do a small recap to cover the last few days. Caster sugar and mayonnaise have successfully been obtained from Delifonseca, so now I think I have everything I need for the lemon tarts. I had asked in Mattas if they carried it at all, which they didn’t but suggested a newsagent’s down the street ‘so [I] don’t have to make the trip to Tesco’. I then told him about the project, which got me a thumbs-up and a very positive reaction. I’m sure he realised this means more business for the family’s store, which I’m happy to give them.

I picked up another flan tin from the local hardware store near Bold Street (which is massive, and also sells furniture, garden tools, and homewares). I got some apples for himself at another fruit stand, but I prefer to go to the one on Allerton Road.

This leads me to another question; is it any better to shop at an independent store where members of staff have made racist comments to customers or been seen engaging in criminal activity (such as buying stolen goods)? Should value judgements enter the equation when deciding who should get my business as long as it’s not Tesco?

Further pondering on the costs of shopping independently vs. supermarkets tomorrow.

An administrative note: I’ve opened up comments to all, not just those with blogger/google/OpenID accounts. All I ask is that if you don’t know me personally, please leave your name and/or email address so I know who you are. Thanks.

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Day 3

February 8, 2008

Not a lot to report on day 3. Went to Revolution for a drink after work, but didn’t spend any money as we have happy hour vouchers for it. I wanted to have chips on the way home, but thought I didn’t have any money, so was good and just made something when I got home. I was tempted by Tesco when I realised I didn’t have any mayonnaise, but resisted. I’m going to have to figure out where to get some though.

Caster sugar is next on my list to track down, as Mattas doesn’t carry it. Got eggs and butter there for the next round of lemon tarts; the woman at the restaurant got back to me today and gave me the thumbs up, so I’ll make them Wednesday night.

Unfortunately husband caved yesterday and ate at Burger King somewhere on the M6 outside Birmingham. He spent 9 hours driving to Cambridge and back yesterday, so I’m not going to lecture him. There is only one independent services I’ve seen so far, and that’s Tebay on the M6 in Cumbria.

A site recommended to me is Northern Harvest. It looks like that could be a good way to get local produce delivered, they seem to have a pretty wide range of food and groceries. Tomorrow I might try to sit down and plan an order.

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Day 2

Thursday, February 7th.

If this ends up being the best day of our experiment, then I will think of it fondly, because truly it was a lovely day.

In the morning, I went to Il Bacino and had a simple but delicious breakfast of poached egg and bacon on a buttery toasted ciabatta. My only complaint is that it is on the expensive side, but the quality goes a long way towards justifying the price. The restaurant was actually a detour, as I was there to check out its deli and ingredients on offer. It does not disappoint, the deli counter has a wide range of meats, cheeses, and olives. Three bowls of kalamata olives (my favourite) were available, each in a different marinade. Heavenly. I got some butter for baking with later, and a baguette, as well as some olives with red pepper. Their website doesn’t appear to be up and running yet, but on its way, and if you google it, you will find their contact details.

I got my lemons and eggs at Adam’s Apple greengrocer on Allerton Road. Prices appear to have gone up a bit, but then lemons in winter may well be more expensive to cultivate. Shows how little I know about agriculture though. Husband needed shaving gel, which I found at a nice pharmacy at the corner of Green Lane and Allerton Road.

The lemon tarts turned out reasonably well, I hope the restaurant is satisfied with the one I brought over. And as yesterday was our fifth anniversary of getting together, we went to 60 Hope Street for dinner. The meal was one of the best I’ve had in Liverpool, rivalled only by the cooking at London Carriage Works. Each course was very well presented and tasted delicious. We finished with a whisky nightcap, Macallan for him and Highland Park for me.

All in all a very good day, and I look forward to returning to Il Bacino.

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Day 1

And so it begins. Luckily for us, we’re starting with a fairly full stock of most items we use regularly, so this should only help our resolve.

I’m pretty lucky in that I work in Bold Street, which is one of Liverpool city centre’s best for independent retailers of all sorts. Matta’s (51 Bold Street, 0151 709 3031) is an international foods store run by a lovely Indian family which has a very good range of Asian and vegetarian/vegan foods. I can get milk (by the pint) and local eggs there, as well as greek yogurt, feta and halloumi. We do love our dairy products, so this is useful.

Other types of cheese, such as our standbys, cheddar and brie, are probably going to have to come from Delifonseca or The Liverpool Cheese Company. Both are excellent shops; Delifonseca has delicious sandwiches for takeaway as well as a great variety of ingredients in addition to the meats and cheeses in the deli counter. Their upstairs restaurant is well worth a visit too. The Liverpool Cheese Company is in an old dairy in Woolton village, appropriately enough. They have an enormous assortment of cheeses, and it’s the best cheese shop I’ve found since I lived in Edinburgh and would visit IJ Mellis cheesemonger on Victoria Street for an occasional treat.

Today I went to Mattas and had to check a recipe in Waterstones, though I didn’t buy the cookbook. Someday I probably will but I’d prefer to get it from News from Nowhere, also on Bold Street. I also went to Lush to buy my husband an anniversary present and myself some lip balm. Now, having worked for Lush previously, I know it is in fact a fairly large multinational company. They have hundreds of stores around the world. However, they’re still owned by the same team that started them, they have a commitment to using minimal packaging and quality sustainably-sourced ingredients. Are they putting smaller local soap shops out of business? I don’t know. But as a coworker put it, better to shop at Lush than Boots.

Tomorrow will be interesting; I do occasional baking on the sideline for a local bakery and a friend of a friend has asked if I can help her out. I’m baking a sample lemon tart for a local restaurant, which may end up on their Valentine’s Day menu. The ingredients aren’t particularly obscure ones, but I need large quantities of some of them (15 eggs/yolks for the filling!). Let’s hope the greengrocer is up to the challenge.

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Going independent for Lent

Hello! Welcome to my new blog, kick-started by a decision my husband and I made last night.

Last night on More4, we watched Dave Gorman’s America Unchained, in which he travels across America attempting to see if he can make the journey without giving any money to The Man(tm). His goal is to only buy gas from independent stations, food from independent restaurants, and sleep in independent motels. I won’t tell you what happened, but as fans of his, we both enjoyed the documentary a lot.

Yesterday was also Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras (depending on which country you’re in and how you celebrate it). Neither of us traditionally give things up for Lent, but just before we went to sleep I said something like “I wish we could just go to independent shops for Lent.”

And to my mild surprise, my husband replied “ok, let’s do it.”

Now, we live in suburban south Liverpool. There is a Tesco express a minute away from our house. There’s a pretty good-sized Asda a five minute drive towards town and a large Tesco ten minutes in the opposite direction. I won’t lie, the convenience of having these things nearby is one of the reasons we chose this neighbourhood. But happily there are also many independent shops within walking distance or a short bus ride away, on Allerton Road and in Woolton village. In the city centre, there are a couple of delis and independent food retailers I will be visiting regularly, and I will post links or further info about them in the future.

On the whole, Liverpool is not what I’d call amazing for choice and availability of independent retailers. But I anticipate this being something of a challenge, and I look forward to discovering hidden gems in the city and the wider area.

I don’t know how many people (if any) will read this, but I expect you’ll hold me accountable, and if you have any suggestions or tips, I’d love to hear them!

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