Happily, exploring new local cultures involves shopping. How fun is it to find the stuff — handmade chocolate, textiles, delicious cheeses, local honey — that you just can’t get anywhere else? Here is Modern Farmer’s global guide to local goods.
Uruguay has some of the best dulce de leche in South America. But Calcar con Crema with added cream is the best. This deluxe version of the caramelized sweet milk confection can be eaten on top of everything from ice cream to buttered toast, but it’s best straight out of the jar.
When Dann Paquette and his wife, Martha Holley-Paquette, began brewing Pretty Things Beer in a series of rented, revolving breweries in 2008, they called it a project — not a company — because they never thought they “were going to make it as a business,” says Martha, who worked as a scientist, studying viruses, before becoming a brewer. But Pretty Things took off, and today the beer is brewed two days a week on a farm out in Westport, Massachusetts.
With food safety concerns on China’s mind these days, increasingly affluent residents in cities want produce to be guaranteed as organic. Enter Green & Safe, an organic grocery store, salad bar, bakery and restaurant, all rolled into one. The bright, industrial-looking space is packed with young Shanghainese families on weekends, chatting over beet and arugula salads at communal picnic tables.
Bregott (makers of Lurpak and Anchor butter) spreadable butter is made with fresh cream, and mixed with rapeseed and canola oil — so it’s soft right out of the fridge. Bregott medium havsalt — mixed with chunks of sea salt — will impress even the snootiest butter snob with its rich and creamy taste! Bregott is committed to 100 percent recyclable packaging by 2020. Sold only in Sweden.
New York City, New York
Forget Japanese minimalism. The plants have a decidedly creative streak at the new Green Fingers store, recently opened in New York’s East Village. Japanese plant guru Satoshi Kawamoto already has five stylish shops in Tokyo; this New York plant boutique is his first overseas venture. Favorite item? his signature jar bouquets — an overflowing fusion of artificial plants and preserved moss in glass jars that bring to mind a Victorian apothecary.
Christchurch, New Zealand
J. Friend & Co. owners Jeremy Friend and Sharyn Woodnorth are obsessive honey makers. Working with their network of certified-organic beekeepers in the fertile pockets of New Zealand, they have produced nine varietals of honey this season. Like fine wine, each varietal ranges in its texture and flavor, reflecting the islands’ different regions.
San Francisco, California
In tech-haven San Francisco it’s no odd thing that TCHO chocolate has a founder from NASA, a president and CEO from tech mag Wired and bills itself as “Silicon Valley start-up meets San Francisco food culture.” Turning out beautifully packaged, fair trade, organic, artisanal chocolates from a refurbished waterfront warehouse, the company sources cacao directly from farmers.
A Common Ground is a tiny shop stuffed full with some of Tasmania’s best local fare: cheeses, meats, olive oils and preserves. The owner is Matthew Evans, a chef, book author and pig breeder, who produces his own bacon and sausages, and Nick Haddow, an award-winning cheesemaker. These guys live and breathe farm-to-table, working with local Tasmanian farms and hosting seasonal culinary events.