If you're an Anglophile, you're probably already aware of the cuteness that is the British Isles shop in Rice Village. Filled with trinkets (both high end and touristy), foodstuffs, and housewares reminiscent of Ole Britainnia, this store is a godsend for British expats and a source of fun English foods for the rest of us Yanks. Here are five to try:
5. Funky Heinz Condiments. Too many relishes, spreads, sauces to narrow down to just one. A few of them can be found in the foreign foods aisles of local grocery stores, but most are just too esoteric (Piccalilli Pickle) to appeal non-Britons (or non-Briton wannabees).
4. Aunty's Sticky Toffee Pudding. I used to rely on Branchwater Tavern for my sticky toffee pudding fix; alas, the demise of the restaurant meant a dearth of excellent freshly prepared sticky toffee pudding in Houston. Aunty's puddings, which you can reheat in the oven or microwave, push the envelope in a good way in terms of sweet syrupy flavor and boast subtle pleasant butter undertones. This sticky toffee definitely needs no accompaniment, but if a scoop of vanilla ice cream happens to fall on top, so be it.
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3. Cadbury Chocolate Bars. Forgive me for copping out and not choosing one specific type of Cadbury confection (if pressed, I'd have to pick Dairy Milk), but the truth is they're all worth trying. Now, be forewarned in the United States the Hershey company has a license to produce some Cadbury products, so the candy you choose may or may not be imported, i.e, actually from Britain. Eh, I got over it--so can you.
2. Walker's Prawn Cocktail Crisps. You know you're across the pond when there's "prawns" and "aubergines" and "biscuits" all over the freakin' place and nary a shrimp, eggplant, or cookie to be found. This flavor of Walker's crisps (i.e. chips) has a very distinct, slightly sweet seafood taste that makes you wonder about America's obsession with boring old flavors like sour cream 'n' onion or BBQ.
1. Brontë Top Iced Fruit Cake. I'm not exactly sure what inspired this company to name itself after the Brontë family. From what I can tell there was a lot more writing going on in that house than baking. Anyhoo, cake always improves with a layer of frosting (in this case white vanilla) and fruitcake is no exception. Plus, the preparation (lots of liquid and prolonged soaking) ensures an enduring soft texture.