Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Jungle Adventure

My daughter and I decided to live dangerously today and shop in the Jungle.

A mere 15 minutes north of my home in Fairfield, Ohio is a place called Jungle Jim's International Market. It's an incredible grocery shopping experience, and yes, it's dangerous. If I don't walk in the door with a specific list of items, I can easily rack up a $300+ grocery bill. Why? Because everything you can think of is in that store. Everything. I try not to go unless I need something I know I can't get anywhere else.

Need a 10 pound prickly fruit from Thailand? They've got it. Got a hankering for sugar cane - still in the cane? It's there. Need dried sardines for that Asian dish you want to make? Yup. They've got that too. The sardines made my daughter laugh. They were in large plastic see-through bags. They still had their eyes, and the drying process made their ribs stick out.

The first thing we saw was fresh sushi from the onsite cooking school. Beautiful presentations, but I don't think I could eat it. The olive bar and salsa bar is located near the cheese shoppe. They have over 1200 kinds of hard to find cheeses from countries all over the world. They purchase huge wheels of cheese. It's quite a sight.

Right next to the cheese shoppe is the wine cellar with more than 12,000 wine labels from around the world. They have tasting events and an annual International Wine Festival too.

One of the things I like about their deli department is the huge selection of meats that are free of antibiotics, gluten, casein and growth hormones. My family and I have food allergies and preservative allergies. Cooking for everyone can sometimes be a challenge. There are things I'd rather not see in the deli too. Like the whole hog's head at the end of the meat counter, the purple cow's tongue, and the pig's intestines. Ew -to each their own.

The produce department is one full acre. Nuf said.

The absolute most dangerous part of the entire trip is the trek through the bakery. It's a full-line bakery. They make every kind of product you can imagine, and the SMELL is heavenly! The cakes and pastries are beautiful. They bake all kinds of old world breads. Daughter and I made it out of there with a fresh baguette for our spaghetti dinner tonight, and a bacon-cheddar pretzel roll that never made it home...

Daughter's favorite part of the trip is the 1000 gallon tank of live fish, lobsters, and crabs. Love seafood? Live, fresh, smoked, canned, frozen, dried... it's there.

My favorite part of the market is the back half of the store. It's divided into regions including Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. They have over 50,000 imported grocery items from more than 75 countries and regions around the world. It reminded me somewhat of our recent trip to Disney World (a future blog topic), because in every isle you traveled a different language was spoken. The International Market is one of the reasons Daughter and I went to Jungle Jim's. She has a school project about Denmark, and she needed an item to share. I was a little worried when we got to the Scandinavian section. It was mostly full of Swedish products, but we did find something from Denmark. A fish sauce.

I love going to Jungle Jim's, and I almost always find whatever I need. If you come to the Cincinnati area, you should check it out. It's worth the visit!

4 comments:

Lilfix said...

I wouldn't be able to get through the bakery section...they would have to roll me out of there...grin...

Sounds like a wonderful place to shop...I wish we had something like that here...

Nora MacFarlane said...

People come from hours away to shop. The diversity of cultures represented in the clientele is huge, but they can find the ingredients they need to make dishes from home. I love to people watch there!

Bish Denham said...

OMG...I would be a salivating, drooling, blubbering idiot just trying to get through an acre of produce! For sure I would intentionally get lost....

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I hear of such grocery stores--and I've been in some very posh ones in other cities. In my area they're all the same--from the crappy deli (nothing served without mayo!) to the boring bakery (call it a hot cross bun, sheboygan hard roll or dinner roll--they always taste the same) to the rows of canned goods. You are so lucky.