Retail Recipes: The Northwest's Best Food Shops

Your go-to food retailers have inspired us to get cooking – here's a few recipes based on their wares.

Feature by Jamie Faulkner | 07 Jan 2015

We asked you to tell us which food shop best caters to your culinary whims. Thankfully, the big three supermarkets didn’t make the cut and good old independent, ethnic and vegan businesses seemed the order of the day. Well done you cosmopolitan, ethical lot, you!


Unless you live in Chorlton, you’ve probably not ventured to this mecca of vegan supermarkets. You should. Where Unicorn’s appeal lies – for me anyway – is in picking through the bags of mud-crusted potatoes, rooting through the stacks of greens, and working out just what to do with the glorious seasonal produce, from the sweet Isle of Wight tomatoes in the summer to the hearty cavolo nero come winter. Braise the latter (no need to remove the tough stems) with sautéed anchovies, garlic and chili flakes for a good 45 minutes to make a rustic side dish.

Matta’s International Food

Whenever I find myself dawdling along Bold Street, I can’t resist ducking into Matta’s, which never seems any less busy than the thoroughfare outside. The broad range brings together a heady of mix Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian and South American produce that appeals to the adventurous and experimental chefs among us. Their range of spices is impressive: make your own garam masala by grinding 1 tbsp of cardamom seeds with 1 tsp each of black peppercorns, black cumin seeds and cloves, plus a third of a nutmeg and a medium-sized cinnamon stick.    


The thing about Aldi is: pretty much all of us live near one. And given the supermarket chain’s pledge to open 500 more stores in the next seven years – and evident by your votes – resistance to the Anglo-Germanic hybrid is futile. Look out for the super six deal for cheap fruit and veg: if you can get hold of Maris Piper, make a silky pommes purees by cooking the potatoes with milk and butter, rather than in water. Rice or pass the cooked spuds through a sieve into the warm milk and butter and whisk together.

8th Day Co-Op

8th Day is Manchester city centre’s answer to Unicorn, meaning it feels a bit more upmarket and is slightly pricier as a result. But if you live and/or work in town, convenience outweighs all that. Whether you need nut butters or seafood, gluten-free items or whole foods, you’ll find it here. Pick up some firm tofu, then cube it and marinate briefly in lime juice, fresh chilli and garlic. Add to skewers with pepper and red onion and griddle until cooked for an easy vegan kebab.

Epicerie Ludo

Another Chorlton-based business, Epiecerie Ludo is a refined delicatessen, worthy of its suburban locale. Not to play down the rest of their produce – it ranges from fine wines and pies, to macrons and chutneys – but our recipe tip is simple: aim to get there when the baguettes are fresh, then grab some French cheese, maybe a little comte, and one of their saucisson. Et voila. No need to overcomplicate things.

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