advice

Mail order goodies…

Living abroad can present a person with certain first world problems.  When you live in a country that isn’t your own, you tend to miss certain food items from home.  The same is true when you adopt another country, even just temporarily, and then go back to where you came from.  Wherever you are, you learn to like certain things.  Then, when you move, you miss them.

Like a lot of Americans in Germany, there are a few things I miss from home.  For instance, I miss things like really good barbecue, American style burgers, American style pizza (yeah, I know), and certain southern delicacies.  Since my husband has access to the commissary through his job, I can get some things I miss, although a lot of what I can get at the commissary are not necessarily things I can’t live without.  I can do without Cheetos and Dr. Pepper, even if I like having them once in awhile.

Likewise, when we moved back to the States in 2009, I came to miss certain German products.  It was bad enough that I would try to find them online and order them for a taste of Europe.  I expect I will do that again when we finally give up this globetrotting existence… if we ever do.

Anyway, today’s post is about things I miss when I’m in Germany and things I miss when I’m in America.  I’m sure a few people can relate.  By the way, I realize that these things are definitely luxury items that aren’t particularly good for me.  But what the hell… you gotta take your joys where you can find them!

A few favorite American goodies…

Coffee

Yes, it can be expensive and annoying to have American coffee sent to you “legally”… 

Although one can easily get Starbucks in Germany and lots of people have told me about the “wonderful” German and Italian coffees I can get here, I do have a favorite American brand.  And I like it enough that I go to great lengths to get it here in Germany.  I’ve even gone as far as paying an exorbitant duty on coffee, just so I can get my beloved Peets.  When we lived in Germany the first time, somehow I missed the memo that it’s forbidden to have coffee sent to Germany through the APO.  I used to order it all the time.  When we moved back here in 2014, I heard that the post office was cracking down on coffee contraband.  So I got used to drinking Starbucks.  A couple of years ago, I decided I had to have my Peets.  So now, I have it delivered, high costs be damned.  And, by the way, I don’t agree that German or Italian brands are better.  Tastes differ, though.

This is a consistently excellent brand, available through Amazon.

Grits

Although some people disagree that Virginia is a southern state, I grew up there and consider myself a southerner.  Even if Virginia weren’t a southern state, I still married a guy from the South who grew up in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas, which are definitely southern states.  We love good grits.  When I say, “good grits”, I mean the kind that have to be boiled for a half an hour.  Consequently, we order grits from South Carolina.  I buy several bags at a time and we enjoy them every Saturday morning.  They are so good!

Best peanuts I have ever had.

Peanuts and peanut butter

Yeah, I know I can buy peanuts and peanut butter at the commissary.  I am very picky about my peanuts, though, and love to get them from a vendor from my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia (near Williamsburg).  I order them from Whitley’s Peanut, which not only sells peanuts and peanut butter, but also stocks the best cashews and pecans I’ve ever tried.  They also sell sinful chocolate peanut clusters that are too fabulous for my ass.  I like their peanut butter, not so much for myself, but more for my dogs.  Whitley’s makes peanut butter that consists solely of crushed peanuts.  It’s excellent for pilling my dogs because not only does it not contain sugar or xylitol, which can be poisonous to canines, it’s also not sticky.  It’s easy to put a pill in the peanut butter, roll it into a neat ball, and feed it to Zane and Arran without making a mess.

Chile sauce

I actually started enjoying Tio Frank’s Chile Sauce after we moved here when a guy from New Mexico mentioned it.  I’ve never actually been to New Mexico, but I do like this chile sauce, which is great for adding zing to favorite snacks or even a batch of chili.  I have to admit, though, it’s been too long since my latest order.  You can find it on Amazon or through Tio Frank’s official Web site.  Their official site is down now, but you can check out their Facebook page.

Beer

When we first moved back here, I used to regularly order American craft beers from Saveur-Biere in Belgium.  Recently, I have gotten out of the habit of doing that, although I have to admit missing certain American favorites, like Deschutes and Prairie Artisan Ales.  Sometimes I find them locally and other times, I order them and spend a lot of money.  What can I say?  Sometimes I need more than a garden variety German wheat beer.

And now for a few of my favorite European goodies.

I haven’t actually tried this flavor (though I’m ordering it today!)…

Drinking chocolate and other chocolate

When Bill and I lived in Germany the first time, I picked up a canister of Dolfin drinking chocolate from Belgium.  This stuff was unlike any chocolate I’d ever had.  It comes in flakes that melt in hot milk.  I loved it so much that when we were in the USA, I ordered some from a retailer that specializes in importing chocolate.  I don’t drink a lot of hot chocolate now, although every once in awhile, I get the urge… and when I do, I have some of this at the ready.  I will admit that I also bought special Ritter Sports that weren’t available in the States.  For awhile, you couldn’t find coconut Ritter Sports, which were my favorite when we lived here last time.  Now, they’re available again and I don’t love them as much as I used to.  I also love certain British brands, like McVittie’s Club Bars and Penguins.

Careful… these are addictive!

Peanut “Flips”

My German friend, Susi, who lives in North Carolina, introduced me to this German snack food when I visited her house one time.  Basically, it’s like our Cheetos, only it’s peanut flavored instead of cheese flavored.  Totally not something I should be eating, but I do admit to loving it… and buying it when I’m in the States.

The Italians do tuna right.

 
 
Italian or Spanish tuna
 
This ain’t no “Chicken of the Sea”.  I don’t know how or why, but Italian and Spanish tuna is absolutely fabulous.  It’s a real treat to find it and something I miss when I’m back in the States.

Speaking of Italy…  

Bucatini noodles
Bucatini noodles are available in the USA, but they aren’t necessarily stocked at every grocery store.  I love these fat noodles that are hollow on the inside.  I think they appeal to the kid in me, who has fond memories of eating Franco-American Macaroni and Cheese.  Of course, I can now make my own version that is vastly superior to the canned stuff I used to eat all the time.

Believe it or not, we used to have this in the States.

 

Ice cream

Ice cream is a big deal in Europe, especially in Germany and Italy.  Even the stuff you buy at the grocery store looks fancy and comes in yummy adult flavors like Black Forest or bourbon vanilla.  Back in the 1980s, you could purchase Viennetta ice cream desserts in the States.  Those have gone away there, but they’re still available in Europe.  I miss them when I’m stateside, but it’s hard to ship ice cream without it melting.

Potato croquettes

 

I’m sure I could get these in the USA, but they’re more like tater tots than what we have in Europe.  I love these little potato nuggets.  I’ve encountered them often in the Czech Republic, but Germans also have them.  I may have to learn how to make them myself.

Certain wines and liquors

 

Lately, I’ve been ordering Armenian wines from vendors in Europe.  That’s a thrill for me, since I lived in Armenia for two years and it’s not easy to find Armenian wines in the United States.  Europe is closer to Armenia, so I can get them here, mostly through a Belgian supplier.  Ditto for certain European liquors like Isle of Harris Gin, which is an up and coming brand that hasn’t gotten international coverage yet.  I also buy a lot from Master of Malt, which also ships to the United States.

I’m not sure what the future holds for Bill and me.  For one thing, I don’t know when we’ll be finished in Germany.  For another, I don’t know if we’ll be heading back to the States after we’re finished here or moving on to yet another European country.  Either way, I’m sure to expand my palate wherever we go… and probably my waistline, too.

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advice, Germany, shopping

Master Of Malt… a good source for scotch and other sinful drinks…

Our latest haul from MasterOfMalt.com

Father’s Day is approaching.  Although Bill’s kids no longer acknowledge him, I still like to remember him on Father’s Day.  Since he really enjoys scotch, I often shop on the British Web site MasterOfMalt.com.

I discovered this British Web site run by cheeky chaps when we lived in North Carolina.  We had visited Scotland for a couple of weeks and our trip involved a couple of stops at distilleries.  We were soon acquainted with new scotches, but they weren’t so easy to find in the United States, especially in North Carolina, where all the liquor stores are state run.  I started ordering scotch from Master Of Malt before I even knew we’d be back in Europe.  Though it’s not a cheap option, it’s an effective way to score good booze.  The service is very quick.  I usually get my orders on my doorstep well wrapped within 72 hours.

When we got back to Germany, I started using Master Of Malt again.  I really like Campbeltown scotches and they are easy to find on Master Of Malt, though not so easy to find in stores.  Every couple of months or so, I make an order.  This time, I got a Hazelburn scotch by Springbank, a Campbeltown distillery that we visited.  I also got Monkey 47 gin, which comes from the Black Forest and probably could easily be found locally.  I got Twisted Nose, a British gin that I’d never tried before, and a Japanese tasting set for Bill because he’s curious about Japanese whiskey.

One of the nice things about Master Of Malt is that they do tasting drams.  If you can’t afford to purchase a whole bottle of really rare scotch, you can order a sample for a few bucks.  The Japanese tasting set is the first one I’ve tried.  They have plenty of others, though.  And at Christmas, they have a very cool advent calendar gift that offers boozes instead of chocolate.  I wanted to get one for Bill last year but couldn’t justify the cost of the one I really wanted to buy for him.  Maybe this year Santa will bring him some sinful booze presents.

I probably ought to be more wholesome and stop drinking so much… but hell, drinking is fun.  Prost!

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