US Shopping List Favourites [Food/Vendor]

2008 Dec 10
From time to time food items have been mentioned on this site that are ONLY AVAILABLE in the USA. So I was wondering what "foodie" items are your favourites that you make a point of picking up whenever visiting our neighbours to the south.

2008 Dec 10
Better than bouillon
Cabot cheddar (or any specialty cheeses that are available locally)
Mountain Dew Code Red
Jiffy Mix cornbread mix
Various hot sauces

2008 Dec 10
My US favs include
(I'm from Manitoba, just moved here, so I typically hit North Dakota/Minnesota)
Wisconsin string cheese(snuck into Canada....)
Chex rice and corn cereal
Orbit chewing gum in sweet mint
Cookie crisp cereal- man, it's like crack!
Archer Farm products- Target's signature line
Gardetto's snack mix
Mr.& Mrs. T's Bloody Mary mix

Can't remember what else off hand.

2008 Dec 10
Baker's Joy. Pam with the flour mixed in. Always bought it on trips to the States, just saw it last week in Linen's N Things.

Plus their butter tastes better

2008 Dec 10
I am a maniac for Trader Joes ( For those of you who have not been there, this is a chain that focuses on 'budget gourmet' stuff. Limited selection, but prices are excellent, as is the quality. Their dried fruits (esp. the Slab Apricots [incredibly sweet and flavourful--I make jam with these], Michigan Dried Cherries, and prunes are all fabulous and as cheap as chips. Nuts are great, too. They used to have Tahitian vanilla beans for about $3.50 for two, though I have not seen those recently. They do have Tahitian vanilla extract, which is excellent and cheap. Small-ish but nice wine selection with very competitive prices. Ca vaut le detour!

2008 Dec 11
Pan Bagnat: you can get Orbit in just have to know who to ask ;)

I love the tofu chicken strips from...I can't recall the natural grocery chain, but it's their store brand and they converted me. I'm not a tofu girl, but they were so good. Sorry, that's the least helpful response! Ha ha.

Big Cherry is a weakness for me and by no means a "foodie" item...just a weakness!

2008 Dec 11
Ah yes, Orbit, gotta love the mint mojito flavour. Speaking of, you can find some (not mint mojito, unfortunately) Orbit flavours at the Quickie on Richmond Rd. near Lincoln Heights.

2008 Dec 11
Jiffy Corn Bread Mix!!!!

I have my grandmother send me up a case every Christmas. 24 boxes w/ shipping is only $8.25.... crazy.

2008 Dec 11
I had that in my list too HHP - you can get it on sale in the US every once in a while for next to nothing. It's the best!

2008 Dec 11
I always look for Andouille sausage as I have yet to find it here in Ottawa....

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes were less that half the price that I pay up here.( at a grocery store in Syracuse.)

King Arthur Flours

2008 Dec 11
What good timing!

I just got back from a trip to New York State two days ago. It's really amazing how many products down there differ from ours, and the amount of selection they have.

Special items consumed while there included Cocoa Pebbles and a Whatchamacallit Bar. All coffee stands I frequented had those single serve creamers in all kinds of flavours. I was loving that.

Also, things we have here but I felt were better down there were pizza (I know -- this is a broad topic, but I really don't think Ottawa is up to par in the pizza world) and Cheetos, the puffs kind. They tasted cheesier and not as salty. Anyone find that?

2008 Dec 12
We brought back three cases of Polar flavoured seltzer from our last trip to Burlington Vermont. The pomegranate is particularly good.

Trader Joe's - we like their boxed spelt pilaf and pick up three or four boxes whenever we go to Boston, but it can be hard to find. I also love their house line of chocolates, especially the dark chocolate mint creams, and their root veggie chips. Drool.

Other than that, mostly locally made beer from wherever we happen to be, for my husband - he loves a couple from Magic Hat and Long Trail, both in VT.

Just found out we can indeed bring dairy into Canada so next time we'll bring a cooler and stock up on Stoneyfield Farms organic yogurt and some Cabot cheddar for sure.

2008 Dec 12
Orbitz in Ottawa- good to know. Love that stuff.

2008 Dec 13
I'm checking in here from a working trip to Kingman, Arizona. The thing I love here is that you can get iced tea anywhere and it's the real stuff: freshly brewed, strong, and unsweetened. I don't generally buy groceries in the U.S. but I always love the local food items. Breakfast of country fried steak with sausage gravy, eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast for US $6.49 is hard to beat! Portions are massive of course. And Wal-Mart sells wine and hard liquor for less than half of what we pay at the LCBO. :-)

2008 Dec 13
I know they are available here in town, but I never seem to find them - Combos!!! We come home with bags and bags of them after visiting the U.S.
I also like anything made by those Keebler elves. :)

...I can't wait to look for that cornbread mix next time!

About the brewed iced tea, (one of my faves) - I must be an obvious Canadian, because every time I order it, the server asks "You know it's unsweetened , right?" :)

2008 Dec 16
They sell individual size bags of Combos at the PiVik store in the Ottawa U student centre. They have a bunch of different flavors and go for $1.09 pk.

2008 Dec 17
Fire Roasted Tomatoes: I have only been able to find Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes in the US. They are available Whole, Crushed, Diced, or with Green Chilies. Rachel Ray uses Fire Roasted Tomatoes in a lot of her recipes, so I went looking for them in Ottawa without any luck. On a recent trip to the US I was able to find them in regular grocery stores. If anyone knows of a local source, please let me know. I don't purchase many canned foods, but these appear to be of good quality, with great taste. Worth a try if you can locate them.

Bitter Lemon: Canada Dry and Schweppes both make a mix called Bitter Lemon. It is available in some grocery stores in the US, but not available in Canada (despite being Canada Dry). Recently Hallmark Cards in Place Orleans had a small selection of food/drink items imported from the UK, and I was able to grab 8 small bottles of Schweppes Bitter Lemon, but this is the only time I have ever seen it in Canada. Bitter Lemon and Gin is my drink of choice when I visit the UK, so when I go to the US, I always try to stock up.

2008 Dec 17
Of course, I forgot about the Fire Roasted Tomatoes. They are great. You used to be able to get them here at Loblaws in the organic section and at Natural Food Pantry, but the fellow at that store told my husband Muir Glen decided to stop shipping to Canada because of labeling issues. I do always buy them in the US.

2008 Dec 23
Artemis~ Seconding the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes. Ooooooooh how I miss these for aioli. I can't grasp why they're so easily accessible in the US and not findable in Canada. I too would be interested in hearing of any source for them here. And if not here, then just over the border.

Foodntravel~ Also seconding your King Arthur flour. Such lovely reliable flour every time.

I'll add in wine. I miss wine being varied, well priced, available at grocery shops and fabulously on sale.

2008 Dec 23
BakingBomshell I'm afraid we're outta luck with the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes since they are no longer available in Canada. I remember one of the last places I could find them was at the Whole Foods Market in Toronto at which time I carted home about half a dozen tins in my suitcase out of shear desperation. When I bought my last couple of tins at the Natural Food Pantry (now Market Organics) I seem to recall them giving the same reason foodntravel mentioned - they were pulled from the Canadian market because of a labelling issue.

Food&Think as for foods only available in the US I can't really think of any specific items I crave but for me it has always been the experience. I remember visiting an aunt and uncle in Tucson a few years ago and paying my first visit to Trader Joes. What a neat place - I wish we had one in Canada! And eating authentic Mexican food while there and the pastrami sandwich I had while visiting New York. Certain dishes always "seem" to taste better where they originated-:)

2008 Dec 23
My favorite surprise when going to the US is the free trip to the torture chambers of Syria.

(Hey, I've been resisting saying that since this thread started - couldn't hold back any more!)

2008 Dec 26
I'm from the US originally, moved to Ottawa 14 years ago.
And I used to cry for the selections of food we had there, that wasn't available in Ottawa, or Canada. I'd try to make some recipe and not be able to find half of what I needed.

Other than Almond Joy candy bars, I am sitting here now not being able to think of anything I miss now. We do tend to eat real food most of the time, so anything in a box or can wouldn't be missed.

The main thing that I would love is a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's, and I am sad to know some cities in Canada have them, yet we don't. While visiting friends in California I am just mind-boggled by the selection of produce... I'd love to have those choices even part of the year.

Ottawa has grown in opportunities for food choices, and wine choices, which is great. And we have so much more here that the US never will...

2008 Dec 29
"Asskickin'" brand hot snacks, like peanuts and hot sauces used to be a fave to pick up, which my step father usualy picks up for me in Cali. You can get them localy now at Chili's, but not cheap.

Also, booze! As much as I can smuggle (I'm kidding... dot dot) - so much cheaper.

2008 Dec 29
Smuggle ?

The Captain ? Smuggle ?

See ---> <---

2009 Jan 7
Thanks everyone for your input... I have bookmarked this page for future reference, as I still haven't found or tried all the wonderful recommendations.

On our recent visit we made a pit-stop at a Grocery Store before we crossed the border, and besides the cheap beer we picked up the following items…

Better Than Bouillon (Chicken) – After all the praise on OF, I am anxious to try this product.

Corn Muffin Mix – I love cornbread. And as a resident of Ottawa, it is one of those things it is difficult to find on a restaurant menu… most often I get my “fix” at Montana’s Cookhouse - Montanas Cookhouse. Unfortunately the grocery store I visited was out of the Jiffy mix, so I had to settle for the store brand. At $ 0.44 a package this stuff is inexpensive (I agree Hungry Hungry Hippo $ 8.25 a case is probably too much to pay... but then again I haven’t tried my mix yet so perhaps, I too will get a craving that only money and time will fulfill).

Zatarains – I picked up a few packages to remind me of all that southern cooking… there were a few varieties that seemed regional vs. nationwide. Looking forward to making some great one-pot meals later on in the winter.

McCormick`s Potato Seasoning – Was a time when this stuff was easily found in Ottawa (or the Shake & Bake equivalent)… I know it is easy to make one`s own, but I can never seem to get the same great mix of flavours… just like homefries the results are addictive!

Combos – OK, I tried these snacks. Apologies to RDMSGirl and Pan Bagnat but I didn`t like them. They were advertising a new flavour “Zesty Salsa Tortilla” which I tried. Too dry, too boring, overall nasty. I`ll stick with Doritos or Fritos if I`m in the mood for crunch.

While away I also had a variety of new things, some I liked, others I didn't:

Cuban Mojo Chicken - Chicken tasted good, but I wasn't crazy about the dry rub mixture of spices.

Blackened Fish Bites - YUMMY

Stone Crab - Tasted Great but the shells were stone like indeed (hard as a rock).

Key Shrimp - Good sized and YUMMY, had them served in a variety of ways and dishes.

Plaintain Shrimps with Thai Dressing - YUMMY

Conch Fritters - Not the greatest (considering how much we love seafood).

Steeped Ice Tea (Unsweetened) - I'll stick with the sweetened stuff.

Authentic Cuban Mojitos (at the Cuban House) - OK, but personally I prefer a Cuba Libra or my Bacardi in Lemonade

Authentic Margaritas (from Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville) - YUMMY

An Authentic Rumrunner (from the original Kokomo Tiki Bar) - EXCELLENT

A Pain in the Ass - A drink that combines a Rumrunner with a Pina Colada - EXCELLENT

Bahama Mama - An excellent cocktail, fruity yet refreshing.

A Floater - When they top off your drink with 151 Amber Rum just before they serve it.... WAY TOO POWERFUL for me. Trust me two of these, and you could be on the floor!

In addition, I saw a lot of interesting other items on my journey including many of the Paula Deen's products in Savannah, and a wide variety of regional hot sauces and seasonings.

Add to this a variety of dishes I`ve had before, and enjoyed again this trip... cornbread, dirty rice, giant baked sweet potatoes, lobster, snow crab, mahi mahi, bourbon ribs, yellow tail snapper, seafood salad, etc.... and my gosh we sure had a great time eating our way across America. LOL

2009 Jan 10
Same as others--combos, almond joy bars and Easy Cheese, canned processed cheese (for my kids only!), corn bread mixes, Old Bay Seasoning (for fish and crab),and always regional favourites. A recent trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country yielded shoo fly pie mixes, mustard with horseradish, and so delicious but so unhealthy--bacon dressing. We always buy fresh lobsters at the airport in Boston when they are available.

2009 Feb 28
If anyone's interested, Rainbow Foods has the veggie version of Better Than Bouillon so I added the food item here (Better Than Bouillon).

2009 Mar 2
Combos can be found in most Sunoco convenience stores. I get mine at Montreal/Shefford.

This might be bull, but I heard they're coming out with a new flavour: Bacon Egg & Cheese.

Here's an amusing blog write-up on the topic:

Personally I just like the original Cheddar Pretzel flavour, with a grape Crush! Wine and cheese anyone?

2009 Mar 2
Lobster Base Better Than Bouillon can be found at Pelican and Merivale Fish Market (it's about $8-9), makes a good secret ingredient to boost your fish stews & soups without having to store lobster shells & shrimp shells in your freezer.

2009 Mar 2
Chimichimi - Thanks, that is a great tip, I didn't even know they made Lobster Base Better Than Bouillon.

2009 Mar 2
No prob, they also make shrimp and crab, I think. I've seen those in the USA, but never here, only the Lobster stuff (and frankly I think those jars are being smuggled back). They're great for amping up a pan sauce as well. I'm a fan.

2009 Mar 3
Chimichimi - Thanks for the info... the cool thing about this Topic, is one can browse thru it and make a shopping list before heading off "south of the border". I will be sure and add your recommendations to my list.

2009 Mar 8
Combos can be found at National Grocer's cash and carry on Cyrville rd, you have to buy a case of the stuff but they have it in stock.
FWIW, I love Combo's too.

2009 Mar 8
a must:
Gulden's spicy brown mustard
if I am near the SF area, I find a resto that makes their own sourdough bread and buy abit of the Mother

2009 Mar 8
Obi - good call on the Gulden's, that's a staple in my kitchen.

2009 Mar 8
orleansfoodie - define "case" lol. seriously tempted to take a trip out there!

2009 Mar 9
FYI - I ordered a case of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes through the Wheatberry last year. Not sure if they would do it now and it is a step of last resort as I as paying $5 a can. But they are lovely. Pelican Grill fish market on Bank near Heron is now stocking a lot of US products that are hard to find like some of the rarer Zatarain's flavours and other creole-type spices.

2009 Mar 9
Britannica - Thanks for the info on the Pelican Grill Fish Market - Pelican Grill, I bought a bunch of Zatarain's when I was in Florida, and a lot of them were more "local" cuisine like creole etc, and they were so yummy, I've been looking for them whenever I've been here in a Grocery Store, but it is always the same-old-same-old.

2009 Mar 9
from the good ol walmart in syracuse i always am sure to pick up a pound of organic beef jerky and liquid smoke ( a liquid hickory marinade for steaks )

2009 Mar 9
you can find liquid smoke here in canada
perhaps not in huge amounts such as a gallon jug but most health food stores carry various brands
I currently have applewood, mesquite and hickory in my cupboard
wish they would do a peachwood or cherrywood

2009 Mar 9
what seriously!? oh man i would kill for mesquite i only have hickory its great winter time indoor grilling.

i will definitely have to look for this, thanks for the headsup.

2009 Mar 9
Monty - I would say 36 but it could be 24 or 48???? I really didn't pay too much attention to them or else I would have bought a box, that and my wife was pulling me away too.

2009 Apr 23
I always pick up cans od Bush Beans that you can't get in Canada. They taste homemade and come in lots of different flavors.

2009 May 26
I just returned from Arizona and brought back 2x1kg jars of jif peanut butter. It's the best I've found -- fully roasted nut flavour with just the right balance of sugar and salt. I find the other brands either too sweet, too greasy feeling, or not flavourful enough.

Ottawa stores stopped selling it a year or two ago for some reason (I guess Kraft + Skippy + Store brand + all-natural were enough variety). I sent a message to the J.M. Smucker company asking if it was sold anywhere near Ottawa but received no reply. Their Canadian site has been stagnant for a long time ( Has anyone seen this product around lately? The 2kg jars pushes my suitcase weight up an awful lot in the face of a 50 lb luggage limit. ;-)

2009 May 28
Fresh Foodie you don't HAVE to go as far as Arizona to find Jif but you will have to travel to buy it where I bought some this week ($3.98/kg) in Winchester at Mike Dean's Superfoodstore. Mike's a former butcher who is one of the few (and I think maybe the only?) independant, non-chain related supermarket owners in eastern Ontario (he also owns a store in Chesterville and possibly Vankleek Hill though I'm not sure if that one is owned or he has a supply deal with the owner.
I like Jif too and it's my dd's fave pb so we've been known to mail it to her where she's studying across the pond as their pb isn't up to snuff. The only thing I don't like about Jif is that it doesn't seem to have a best before date.
So if you end up desperate some day for your pb fix come on out #31 to the corner of #43W, next to Timmy's, and stock up!

2009 May 28
Andy, that tip is gold. Gold! Thanks.
And, for all you people in love with Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard, just last autumn I found it at Giant Tiger (!)...the Wellington location.

I, ahem, cleaned them out on my second trip after that discovery and, oh no, it has never reappeared. Or are one of you responsible? A Gulden glutton like me.

2009 May 28
Wow, nice tip, Andy! Given your comment about the lack of best before date, I can't help but wonder if Mike Dean's Superfoodstore is simply selling old stock without plans to replenish? Anyway, it's great to know of a significantly more local source than Arizona!

2009 May 28
Hey, you're both welcome. I'm surprised no one has come up with a source in town for you Jif fanatics. That gets me wondering about Mike's Jif too - the new store there is too big and has too much stuff for the # of people who shop there imo, so I do check BB dates on almost everything! The Jif bottle has a time code perhaps - 9033425 03:06 2 - so I'm hoping that it might have been made recently but I tried calling their hotline but they're not open at night. Maybe daytime is better.

2009 Sep 14
Fire Roasted Tomatoes now available in Ottawa: Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes are currently available at Grace in the Kitchen on Bank Street. I was very pleased to see a large display of them there this past weekend. I'm so happy that I won't have to fill my suitcase with cans of tomatoes on my next trip to the US.

2009 Sep 15
Skippy All-Natural peanut butter believe it or not.

It is really hard to find peanut butter that is sweetened and salted, but does NOT have any hydrogenated vegetable oil. So, it still tastes like peanut butter, just without the bad oil added.

2009 Sep 15
How can it taste like peanut butter if it is sweetened?


2009 Sep 15
It can taste like sweet peanut butter! It has it's applications, like in baking, where I find natural peanut butter commonly results in dry, mealy, bizarre tasting cookies/bars. My fav natural brand is Maranatha.