While I appreciate recipes that allow me to use ingredients I have on hand, I don’t mind ones that present me with unusual ingredients if they promise a particularly tasty result. For instance, seeking out a particular spice blend for a curry dish at an ethnic market or going to a specialty bake shop for a particular flavoring every once in a while is no problem. I even look forward to the trips, as they usually turn up other goodies. But there is a point when what you might want/need is just too far away to justify a trip – or without your ingredient quest turning into a road trip. Where do you draw the line? How far are you willing to go?
For me, the line is drawn when a recipe calls for a special or unusual ingredient as a garnish. Unless a major food critic is coming to dinner and I’m planning to turn a meal into a “dining experience” (as opposed to “dinner”), I’m not going to drive around town looking for a particular leaf or flower to complement the plate. Other than that, as long as the dish sounds promising and I have some time to spare, most places within a reasonable drive are fair game.