Whole Foods is a huge, gourmet food supermarket located in the gorgeous old Barkers building on Kensington High Street. Laid out over three floors, this is a foodie's heaven.
The 'Market Hall' is on the lower ground floor, and here you can browse amongst the displays of beautifully arranged fruit and veg; make up your own muesli; buy a slab of mouth-watering looking air-dried beef; purchase the ingredients for that seafood platter; and stock up on those grocery items that you can't seem to find anywhere else.
What to buy: On the ground floor is the 'Provision Hall', where you enter to the smell of freshly baked bread, pastries and cakes. Continue on, and the smell will be replaced by the odour from the large cheese section - follow this scent and you will come across the charcuterie, and more importantly the wine bar where you can sample some meats and cheese and a glass/bottle of some of the large range of wines on offer in the store. On this level you will also find around 28 checkouts, which were nice and queue-free when we visited.
On the first floor is a posh food hall, where you can eat food that you have purchased on the lower floors, or sit at one of the food bars and enjoy a meal. We had some very tasty sushi at Genji Express, though are already talking about returning to try out the oyster bar, or one of the other tempting options.
I have to confess that I loved Whole Foods. Ok, it isn't cheap, but for someone like me who would much rather browse in a supermarket than a clothing store, this is about as good as it gets.
What to pay: Not cheap - bring the credit card
Wimbledon Wine Cellar is the place to shop for fine wines.
It has two branches in West London, and stocks one of the largest ranges of fine wine in the UK.
Their range covers the old world regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Italy, but also includes a large selection of New World wines, from Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand.
What to buy: We usually shop here when we want to purchase something a little special, like a nice Bordeaux or a particularly delicious Australian favourite.
What to pay: the sky's the limit!!
I have always known about this place through the media and friends but I had never visited until now. I had been told there would be queues - there were, I had been told the beigels would taste fabulous - they did! Because this place is so popular it is not unusual for the queues to go way down the street but they move very quickly so you really won't have to wait too long.
The beigels are cooked by the traditional Jewish method of boiling then baking. They are soo cheap too 15p each or 80p for 6 (though this may have increased since I first wrote this!). I had a smoked salmon and mayo for 80p but they are also well known for their salt beef or egg and onion fillings too.
This bakery serves the local community which is largely Bengali with a host of other inhabitants of various ethnic groups. It is open 24/7 - a boon for late night revellers!!
Definitely well worth a visit to this thriving, vibrant and colourful part of London with a fascinating history.
What to buy: Beigels!!! And they also do cakes - carrot cake, cheese cake for about 60p per portion.
What to pay: 15p for a plain beigel - prices vary depending on the filling.
Fortnum and Mason - the Queen's corner shop. We all know about glace cherries that come in Christmas cakes don't we?? But did you know that in F&M you can buy just about ANY fruit glaced?? I couldn't believe my eyes - or maybe I just don't get out much - but they had glaced oranges, pineapples, some kind of cactus fruit oh and all kinds of things.... amazing.
Anyway... anything you have NEVER eaten will be on sale here... for a price. It's not cheap so only come here for one or two VERY special things.
What to buy: They also sell the most faaaaabulous selection of chocolates.... you can buy them loose and they put them in the box you choose, ie 100g, 250g, 500g etc... ?25 for the 500g and ?13.50 for the 250g.
What to pay: Lots and lots and lots
"A gentleman buys his cheese from Paxton & Whitfield" Sir Winston Churchhill"
Paxton And Whitfield on Jermyn Street has been selling chese for 207 years! The shop itself is quite narrow and rather dark inside. The outside is a black with gold trim facade with a large window that beckons shoppers with such temptations as numerous cheddar cheeses, various wines, gourmet mustards, and fine biscuits. The small interior is a joy for the senses. You simply have to breath to appreciate the auroma of "real" cheeses that are uncovered and genuine, unlike the ones found in most supermarkets.
What to buy: If you love cheese, Paxton and Whitfield is a must visit while in London. They also sell wine, biscuits, and other gourmet foods.
Paxton and Whitfield have earned the Royal Warrant a symbol that indicates that shop is the one the Royal Family has chosen to use.
What to pay: Their prices are competive
True coffee lovers will love this shop. Not only is it packed to the rafters with more varieties of coffee (and tea, it must be said) than you thought possible, there are coffee makers galore as well as a whole raft of coffee-friendly accessories and sweet treats to tempt you. There's even a little coffee bar dispensing cappucinos and lattes at 1.20p each and espressos , single and double at just a pound! (Beat that Starbucks!). You'll have to stand or take your coffee with you but that just means you can try as you buy.
The shop is wonderfully old-fashioned, the original wooden counter and shelves still in situ, and the smell is divine.
What to buy: Real coffee's the name of the game - some 50 single origin varieties from all around the coffee-growing world, plus blends, Fair Trade coffees, spiced,flavoured and rare - even the extraordinary Weasel coffee from Vietnam (the beans are collected and roasted after being eaten and regurgitated by the animal - definitely an acquired taste!) - are all on sale here.
Add 160 teas, exotic sweetmeats from the MiddleEast, South America and Europe and you know you're in the hands of people who really know and love their product. A real Soho institution, they've been selling coffee here for 121 years now - long may they continue.
What to pay: Coffee prices start at about 3GBP for 250 grams of a standard blend and soar to 17GBP for the same amount of Jamaican Blue Mountain.
If you're feeling adventurous - weasel coffee will set you back 15GBP for just 60 grams.
Whole Foods market has got excellent vegetarian and vegan food. This store has saved me when in London and living in a hotel not being able to cook. As I am allergic to certain types of food, so I cannot eat in restaurants so this store and the stores in Chinatown are lifesavers. They sell the best vegan spinach pankaces and calzones I have ever tasted. The calzone is out of this world (in my opinion). It is made by the firm "Laura's Idea" (see my photo). You can buy ready made food like this or warm food in The Whole Foods market. I just love this store, but it is expensive - which is a pity as vegetarian food doesn't have to be overly priced like this.
There are 5 Whole Foods market stores, but the ones where I go are in Soho and Camden Town (49 Parkway).
This store used to be called Fresh and wild.
Now (2012) the store which used to be in Brewer street in Soho has moved around the corner into a much bigger place in Glasshouse street, in the same building where Regent Palace street used to be located. That hotel had to be torn down due to asbestos and a new building was built there looking almost exactly like the old hotel.
What to buy: Health-food.
What to pay: A lot, health-food seems to be getting more and more expensive. So I buy only necessities there, like the vegan calzone and the vegan spinach pancakes. For other stuff I go to the Japanese store opposite this store and to Chinatown.
In the streets and lanes and carparks in the Brick Lane area you will find all manner of things for sale. The difficulty is when you have to decide - is it too good a bargain to resist and therefore have to carry it around all day? AND, if you do submit to temptation and buy those giant tomatoes what you are as a tourist, going to do with a rucksack full of cheap fruit and veg? how and where will you store it etc etc? These are the dilemmas you may face and wish you were a Brick Lane Local who can just pop down there on a Sunday morning and take it all back home.
What to buy: The streets are full of everything you can imagine - much of it is just a glorified boot sale, take your blanket and lay out any old rubbish you have laying around at home - but the real traders are the cockney blokes who call out "Paaahnd a bohw' - evr'yfinn a paaaahn a bohw!!!"
The fruit and veg comes piled high in bowls at £1 each - avocadoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, grapes, kiwis etc etc etc. DON'T waste his time by asking to take out two tomatoes and just pay for them.... he said it long enough and loud enough....even if you can't understand him... "Evr'yfinns a paaaaaahhhn' a bohw'! luv!! And it's well worth it, the quality here is second to none.
What to pay: Paaahnd a bohw!!!
The English are famous for drinking tea, especially for breakfast and in the afternoon.
So if you are looking for something "Very English" to buy, just go to a supermarket and get yourself some English Breakfast tea. It is usually a blend of several black teas derived from various countries like India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, China etc.
After an hour or so in Oxford Street you will notice that there's not many inspiring choices for food & drink. Don't be disheartened - go to St. Christophers place, just off Oxford Street at the Selfridges end. There's a range of restaurants and eateries to keep you going and makes a welcome relief from the crowds if you have made the big big mistake of shopping there on a Saturday!
What to buy: Bakery, fruit & veg, meat & fish,
milk & juices, beer & milk
Organics is an area of rapid and significant growth for Sainbury's, and also offers considerable opportunity to British growers and farmers. Sales of organic products are at their highest-ever levels, and organic food is now the fastest growing area at Sainsbury's. In 2004, Sainbury's sold a record £130 million of organic products that's about £3m a week.
What to pay: lemon chcake 2.59 pound
At Waitrose, combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop. Fresh produce arrives daily from all over the world. Bread is baked throughout the day on the premises. And fresh poultry and meat selection is always of the highest quality.
What to buy: Food and Drink
Mon: 8:30 - 21:00
Tue: 8:30 - 21:00
Wed: 8:30 - 21:00
Thu: 8:30 - 21:00
Fri: 8:30 - 21:00
Sat: 8:30 - 21:00
Sun: 12:00 - 18:00
Tesco groceries (express or regular) are awesome. They have the same selection and more compared to Sainsbury, who rips you off! They're prices are cheaper by anywhere from 5p to 2 quid! (American translation= 10 cents to $4!)
Yeah. Tesco for large amounts of grocery and off-license shops or Sainsbury (if you must) for quick emergencies.
May 2009 update, my husband almost cried when we passed the closed Woolworth's on Portobello Road, we asked a policeman and he said they were all closed in England! We did manage to find Love Hearts at a Supermarket and some of the others at a confectionery
We always make a point to stop at Woolworth's while in London, there's one on Portobello Road that we always stop at to stock up on David's favorite candies that we can't find in the US. The cashiers must think we are daft when we plunk down dozens of rolls of Love Hearts and Refreshers (both fizzy Smartie type candies) and multiple boxes of Kinder Eggs.
The Refreshers I've found in Chicago at an Irish store but I've never seen Love Hearts here and Kinder Eggs are actually banned in the US because apparently our children are not smart enough not to swallow the little pieces locked securely inside the plastic egg. I often find it a challenge to get those damn eggs open but apparently the FDA thinks my 2 year old nephew will have no problem.
What to buy: In addition to unique candy, you can also purchase inexpensive water or soda and sometimes they have inexpensive children's tshirts that you can bring back as gifts.
On the Strand, leading west out of the City of London, is a deep narrow shop that's been around for 300 years. It's one of the oldest shops in London and it sells and specializes in tea. Every kind of tea you can imagine. Yes they do sell coffee too and also teapots and cups and other tea paraphernalia. It's a fascinating shop.
What to buy: Tea!
What to pay: Various prices depending on the blends.