Finding deliciousness in unexpected places


When you enter an upscale grocery store or posh farmer's market, you expect to see the finest produce and the highest-quality foods. Shopping in one of these establishments can be a pleasant experience, as they are usually well-appointed, attractively lit, and have helpful staff. As good as that shopping experience may be, nothing compares to the joy in finding the most delicious items in unexpected places. 

The bargain-hunter in me delights in discovering a high-quality yet inexpensive dark chocolate bar in a discount grocery store. A similar feeling arises when one enjoys a delicious meal in a place you least expect it. Believe it or not, but Food & Wine says that some of the best sushi in the U.S. can be found in an airport terminal. I've never eaten there, but the best sushi I ever had was in an equally unassuming spot, a tiny joint on a dead-end street near a vocational school. Looking at the restaurant from the outside, you would never imagine the quality and freshness of the food found within. 

And of course you can become giddy when you stumble on a gorgeous cookbook in a thrift shop or find a twee vintage casserole dish at a roadside flea market. The joy intensifies in inverse proportion to the price tag. Sometimes I wonder if the seller doesn't know what they have or if it just doesn't hold the same appeal for them. Either way, I'm happy to take it off their hands. What's your favorite unexpected food discovery?


  • annmartina  on  1/10/2018 at 8:50 AM

    Walgreen's has a decent dark chocolate section, sometimes with great deals you don't see at the grocery store. One day the expensive Ghiradelli dark chocolate bars were on sale plus they had a pad of coupons, buy 2 get one free!. Big Lots also has some interesting and inexpensive treats. It's not a food discovery, but I bought the most amazing double decker wicker woven pie carrier for about $20 (with leather handles and a darling wooden table that sits over the first pie and holds the second pie) and a matching lunch bucket ($14) from two young Amish girls sitting by their wares in a carriage on the side of a road in Missouri. Each piece was signed and dated by the makers and I get raves whenever people see them. And I remember that special day every time I use them.

  • sir_ken_g  on  1/10/2018 at 9:10 AM

    Aldi's has German chocolate that is better than what you find in other groceries. I have had excellent sushi at an airport - but it was at Narita (Tokyo).

  • Smokeydoke  on  1/10/2018 at 12:09 PM

    Cost Plus World Market doesn't get enough love for their gourmet department. They have amazing sales and coupons and you can get hard-to-find ingredients for 50% off!

  • Nancith  on  1/10/2018 at 1:38 PM

    I'll second the Big Lots comment. I have found a number of international cookies, pastas, & Bob's Red Mill products for quite a bit of a discount. Woohoo!

  • Jane  on  1/10/2018 at 2:27 PM

    Smokeydoke - I have a World Market near me and I was really impressed with their range of international ingredients when I visited for the first time before Christmas. Where do you get the coupons?

  • Rinshin  on  1/10/2018 at 6:35 PM

    oooh, watched the video. Glad sushi can be found at Newark but I had to turn it off when I saw a person dunk the whole piece of makizushi into a deep bowl of soy sauce and what came out was soy sauce soaked rice. I also agree that Cost Plus is a fun place to find interesting things. Good prices too.

  • EmilyR  on  1/11/2018 at 2:03 AM

    World Market is magical. Join the World Explorer program and they will text you coupons, which are excellent discounts and $10 off for every $200 you spend. The glühwein and lebkuchen at Christmas are straight out of German Christmas markets.

  • Rinshin  on  1/11/2018 at 11:09 AM

    TY for the tip EmilyR. I have a store very close to me but never checked their online store. I belong to their program and get good deal on wines sometimes.

  • Foodfann  on  1/12/2018 at 3:38 PM

    I have gotten some interesting and low priced things from Marshalls in the past, but I have not found anything I want lately. The best was some kind of gator ketchup from Australia! Will try the World Market suggestion, since I moved recently and now have one within reach.

  • Frogcake  on  1/12/2018 at 4:28 PM

    I’ve purchased some very fine cookbooks at our local thrift store (Marsala Hazan’s Essensial Italian, Ottolenghi’s Plenty, and Martha Stewart’s Cakes, among others) for $3.99 CAN. I also picked up a Staub Dutch oven for $30 CAN. Love thrift shopping!

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