I’ve always enjoyed a slow stroll through an Italian grocery store, picking up canned and jarred sauces, oils, vinegars and pastas from abroad. Unfortunately I always think I won’t buy much, grab only a little basket to carry my goods, and end up with a fully loaded basket that’s practically ripping my arm off by the time I get to the till. Add some cheese and meat, and perhaps an Italian sandwich or some olives from the deli, and the sweat that I’m working up hauling my load around is sure to be counteracted by all the delicious food I’m soon to eat. How many times do I have to experience this before I will learn to grab a cart right away?
I’d been to a couple Italian shops here in Calgary over the past 3.5 years we’ve been here, but I was recently inspired to check out more of the international stores, thanks to Dan Clapson and this article in Avenue Magazine. We live NW of the airport, and it’s nice that there is a decent selection of international stores in the northern part of the city.
I started with two on this day: Unimarket, a Latin grocery store with two locations in town, and The Italian Supermarket – both on Edmonton Trail, within just a couple blocks of each other.
Unimarket’s north location is smaller than their south location. The south location has a bakery and a butcher on site – if you follow them on social media they’ll advertise their sales. I stocked up on some pre-made treats from their freezer (tamales and pupusas), some sauces, and spices. I have never purchased Queso Fresco cheese, and I’m so excited to rip into it. I also bought Asadero cheese – no idea what it is, but it’s cheese, so it must be good! I’ll find a delicious recipe to cook the chorizo sausage. I always have chorizo from Costco in the freezer, but I’m expecting this will be way better. Jay’s eating camp food again while working out of town, so on his next trip home I will treat him to the wonderful flavours of Mexican cooking.
I can’t wait to check out Unimarket’s south side store – their menu looks to die for, and it’s so cheap! Two people could come here for lunch or dinner, pig out, and spend a fraction of what you would at a restaurant.
Oh, to note, Mexican pop is not twist off. I was so thirsty and all I could do was put this deliciously cold, moist bottle of liquid in the trunk with the rest of the groceries until I got home… epic fail on my part!
My next stop was just a couple blocks south – The Italian Supermarket. Don’t get the name confused with other Italian stores in town. If you’re craving an Italian meal, you can order it to go, or get it warmed up to eat at the little cafe. Or, you can order a wood-fired pizza baked fresh to order. I’ve had one of the pizza’s from here before, and it was definitely delicious. The deli is filled with olives, meat, marinated things, and housemade bruschetta, olive spread, fresh ricotta, and other tasty treats. Of course, there is a full row of pasta and a full row of tomatoes and tomato sauces. And all you could ever want for olive oils and balsamic vinegars! Their freezer section is awesome, with arancini made in Italy (I bought some!), fresh (frozen) pasta, housemade tiramisu (OMG! for $4.99 this piece of tiramisu was twice the size of any $11 piece you’d get at a restaurant – a wicked deal!) and housemade lasagna, oh, and I splurged and bought a kilo of ground veal. This will be the base of something mighty tasty. I’ve never purchased veal before and often pass it over at restaurants… but for some reason, this day, I couldn’t resist. They sell housemade fresh lasagna sheets for super cheap – I think there are 4 in the package (maybe 3?) for just $3. Seriously, as easy as it is to make pasta, if I knew I could get it this cheap here I’m not sure I’d have gotten into pasta making.
I purchased a ‘pasta bike’, a multi-cut roller for cutting homemade pasta. It’s actually pretty cool. I also spent $5 on a gnocchi board. Using a fork works too, but it’s not the same. Jay wanted some plain almonds for his lunches at work, so I got a good sized bag. The dried apples are for my lunches, and I thought the nacho flavoured crispy chick peas would be good but they were gross. Even though they didn’t expire until 2018 some time, they actually tasted stale, and since they were just over $2 I simply tossed them. Blech. I’m looking forward to the anchovy stuffed olives – I’ve had them before and they were tasty. The hand cream, at $3.99 is actually nicer than plenty of the crap I’ve bought at trendy, expensive stores.
My issue with stores like these – I spend way too much money. Because, it’s easy to do!