Earth Fare and Whole Foods tend to serve as my source for hard-to-find gourmet and ethnic grocery items. I like to stop by every once in a while, even though it costs me a pretty penny, so I can find inspiration for the old humdrum weeknight dinner.

Last night, as soon as I walked into the produce section, I stumbled across black garlic, an ingredient that I have no idea what to do with (yet). The package says it’s fermented at high heat until the taste is sweet with hints of balsamic, tamarind, and liquorice. “Ready to eat after peeling.”

Hmm. The few recipes I’ve found online lead back to The black garlic/mushroom combination seems the most appealing, but I might start off by making the creamy cheese and black garlic dip. It is football season after all.

  • The alluring black garlic

Earth Fare is also a frequent stop because of the olives. Yeah, everyone’s got an olive bar these days, but nobody else seems to have those bright green olives that I am head-over-heels in love with. They’re so delicious — earthy, buttery. I’ve stopped looking at other olives. I’m totally monogamous.

I’m also in love with the Homestead Creamery dairy products. Could it be the retro glass bottles or the thick, creamy flavors? Maybe it’s because their buttermilk is the tangiest, most delicious I’ve ever had.

I was hoping to find some merguez sausage at Earth Fare, since Jason Houser at Meathouse tells me his won’t be ready for a few more weeks. I’m desperate to make shakshouka after watching Todd English’s cooking/travel show about Tel Aviv. It’s a dish that combines merguez (spicy lamb/beef sausage), tomatoes, garlic, onion, harissa, and hot peppers into a spicy base before eggs are slid into the mixture and poached until the yolks are still runny. Sounds delightful, no? I haven’t been able to find merguez though. Someone had suggested that Burbage’s might have it. Any other ideas?