So you might have noticed, Expo International Supermarket as you drove along Charlton Road recently, partially because of its load up of kitchen roll in its otherwise empty windows not all that long after a kitchen roll shortage
Or you might have noticed the piled up crates outside the front.
or on a good day, you might only have noticed the huge wedges of watermelon inviting you to cool down during the recent heatwave.
I am truly divided on my view of the supermarket, because what it is, is very well stocked with all sorts of things that a home-cook might want to buy. ALL the spices, ALL the pulses, and without the sort of, aren’t-I-a-posh-out-there-cook prices to match. The meat counter at the back is magnificent, although somewhat scaled back since opening as I think we all failed to take the hint. (Eg. I should buy that sometime, mmm,… how much are those eggs…?)
And any place that sells halva and balklava is all good with me.
The interior is very clean. But those crates outside just look grotty, and those staff who don’t know what social distancing is, despite it being clearly labelled on the floor. And who really wants to see kitchen roll in the windows of the main road when there isn’t a run on toilet roll.
Intrigued to know other people’s thoughts. I know its got its fans….
Screwfix, Plumbase, Masala Mart. They sound like they are all from one conglomerate, don’t they? They certainly all sit in the trading estate in Ramac Lane Charlton. But there is one name in that which doesn’t make me feel like I am in boredom land (unless re-furbing the house which is hardly a regular occurrence). Can you spot it? No? Er, this is a food blog, and you can’t eat pipes…?
I have been planning to go to Masala Mart for a while. I thought I would pop in while my husband was buying something really useful from Screwfix. But the Wholesale part of the title was putting me off. Eventually my husband offered to make reconnaissance mission and just asked them if they were a supermarket too. They said that they were and they seemed to think this was a daft question, but at least we got the answer.
Now what I hoped to find in Masala Mart was exactly what I did find in Masala Mart, a treasure trove of spices in proper sized packets at considerable better value than Ocado was prepared to offer. 10g of something 1.79 for 10g at Ocado, but 100g is 1.39 at Masala Mart. I’m always looking for flavour. I’m always looking for something different. I knew there was a pretty good chance I’d find it here.
It’s a quirky old place, like stepping back into the supermarkets of the 80’s, with sellotape for closing plastic bags, and little dips in the counter for the wire basket, which was weighing us down by the time we reached the tills.
And there are some things that Ocado just don’t stock, like multipurpose seasoning which has been invaluable in my cooking of stews. It makes the most ‘really shouldn’t have tried that in the slow cooker recipe’ taste good. (although I will admit that I since saw msg on the label which has put be off a bit). And I was thrilled to get gnarled ugly black cardomon pods, in addition to the green. The experimental purchase was of the Indian sweets which I have had only a couple of times in my life. They very obliging offered a ‘mixed pack’, leaving us to eat the very rich, tablet-like sweets over a very long period of time.
The challenge now is finding decent sized spice jars, I need one that can hold 400g of cinnamon sticks that only cost… Recommendations welcom