It’s October and in our family that means pumpkin carving, autumn trees and turning on the heating. We carved out pumpkins last night and draped some cobwebs and spiders around the place. Just a bit of fun for Halloween which is one of my favourite festivities. People say Halloween is an American cultural quirk and one that’s being steadily adopted here in the UK. But before you start hum-bugging this spooky celebration, just remember it all started here in Britain – well according to some scholars anyway. The Celts were celebrating Samhain long before the Christian festival of All Hallows and folk were carving out turnips to ward off the spirits on this night before the pumpkin trend took hold.
I made pumpkin pie for the occasion, a recipe with a hazelnut crust from a Canadian friend that I try to make at least once a year. And I also made fried chicken with scones and bacon gravy – some proper American culture right there. But I’m not afraid to embrace the food and fun of other cultures. Growing up in Sydney, I was steeped in the wildly varied immigrant culture of the new world and I am always enthusiastic about trying new flavours and this what brings me to my latest Food Hero; the Gordon Stores on Gordon Street Maidenhead. This place is a haven for those looking for groceries and produce that cannot find in the big name shops; for those who might be looking for that taste of home; or those who have realised that there is so much more to Asian cuisine than Blue Dragon sauces.
A friend told me about Gordon Stores when I was looking for a certain ingredient and if she hadn’t told me I never would have found it because it looks so unsuspecting. But once you step inside the doors of Gordon Stores you’ll find a treasure trove of ingredients, snacks and produce to rival any London speciality store. You’ll find absolutely every kind of Indian ingredient there and they have an impressive Asian/Chinese range that is growing to meet the demand for authentic Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese ingredients, they even have halal meats and a really wonderful range of fresh, well-priced and unusual produce.
Another factor that makes the Gordon Stores so good is the customer service. If you catch the owner, he can point you in the direction of what you’re looking for and he is also interested in finding out about good products and authentic brands to stock. I went in looking for Mae Ploy red curry paste last week, and while they didn’t have it yet, I was told that they’ve just found a supplier and will be bringing in new lines of Thai ingredients soon. I also encouraged them to consider stocking Lee Kum Kee Panda oyster sauce because you cannot get it anywhere in Maidenhead and it is far superior than any quasi-Asian brand that you’ll see on the supermarket shelves.
Don’t take my word for it, support this incredible local business and visit Gordon Stores today. They don’t have a website but you’ll find them at 15 Gordon Rd, Maidenhead, West Berkshire SL6 6BS. Give them a call 01628 621171.