Sunday, September 2, 2012

jungle jim's - the best grocery store ever

Right now the geeks who read my blog are probably saying, "dude, where are the Celebration VI photos?" The answer is that I took more than 2,000, and it's taking a little time to get through them all! I hope to have the first post of them next Saturday.

Right now the scrappers who read my blog are probably saying, "dude, why is this Melissa chick writing about a grocery store?

The answer to that one is a bit longer. You see, I firmly believe in everyday adventures. In finding fun in pretty much anything, no matter how mundane- especially if travel of any kind is involved. Even if that travel is just a week-long work trip to Ohio (that would eventually be repeated three times over). 

I think my coworkers think I'm pretty nutty sometimes for having this attitude. They joke about my frequent trips to IKEA and my constant need to find a good running trail. If they knew that I spent most evenings holed up in my hotel scrapping, I'd probably never hear the end of it! :)

Part of the fun for me when I go out of town (anywhere, for any reason) is visiting stores that I don't have at home. IKEA is definitely one of those, as is Trader Joe's. I happened to mention to one of the guys that I was working with one day that I was going to buzz by TJ's after work that evening, and to my surprise he had a better suggestion- a massive, warehouse-sized grocery store that he said carried food from all over the world. 

The name of this culinary wonderland? Jungle Jim's.

Making the trip down to Fairfield, Ohio wasn't in the cards for that evening, but I did manage to stop by as I was driving back home that weekend. What I found was...well, it's hard to describe, so here are photos of the outside of the store.

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Yes, there are waterfalls. And elephants. And gorillas.

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Once inside though, the store seems normal enough- the front of the store is a mild-mannered grocery section carrying the normal selection found in most US grocery stores.

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Wander into the back (and largest) part of the building, though, and you'll find yourself in a massive wonderland of foreign (well, non-US foods). The selection is truly insanely amazing, and I knew I'd be lost wandering through it if I didn't have a purpose of some sort- a quest, if you will. Luckily I'd let Darren know what I was going to be up to and asked if he had any requests. His answer? Tusker beer and Stoney Tangawizi Ginger Ale, both from Africa.

So I made my first stop the beer section of the store, where I was lucky enough to lay eyes on Tusker right off the bat. It's a good thing, too, because the shelves were stocked with everything imaginable, and I count myself lucky to have located the right brand so quickly!

This is the single-bottle import aisle- there are import 6-packs on the opposite side.

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I love looking at all these cool labels- for some reason beer has the best typography. That's a weird thing to think, I know. :)

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That organic honey (the yellow bottle on the right in the photo below) is Darren's new favorite. I didn't pick it up in this trip, but the next time through I brought him a bottle to try, and he says it's easily the best he's ever tasted. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that I'll be able to source it locally, since my Ohio travel has slowed down for a while.

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Arrrr! Pirate beer! Which reminds me that Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up soon!

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The selection on the domestic side is no less impressive- there are two massive aisles divided into East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast brews.

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And, no, I didn't spend all my time in the beer section. :) It's just the first thing I came across, and after I picked my jaw up off the floor I pulled out my camera and started snapping.

The next thing that caught my eye was the massive butter bar.

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Yes, a butter bar, with all kinds of different countries and blends represented. Even goat butter!

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With a butter selection like that, you know the cheese department has be huge, right? Yes, in fact it consists of four whole refrigerated cases!!!

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I never knew I needed cheese that was shaped like a penguin, but now I think I do!

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At this point I still hadn't found the Stoney (in fact, I was still looking for the soda section!) but I didn't really care because I'd just stumbled across the honey aisle.

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If you've never had orange blossom honey, you really should try it. We get Target's brand of it all the time and it's awesome!

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And I'm definitely going too have to try tangerine honey soon.

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You can get Justin's Nut Butters just about anywhere, but it still made me smile to see my favorite Chocolate Almond Butter on the shelf!

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Ahhhh, finally the soda aisle! There were bottled cokes and ginger ale's galore, but, alas, not a Stoney in sight. I think I spent a good ten minutes double-checking every label here to make sure I wasn't simply overlooking it.

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I wasn't about to give up, though, and kept searching the store hoping there would be another drinks section somewhere.

The chocolate aisle is simply to die for. Sooooo many European brands here that I normally only see when Darren has been overseas and connects through Amsterdam (where there are tons of great chocolate shops in the airport).

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Mmmmm, Milka. Easily my favorite chocolate brand ever.

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Ritter Sport isn't bad, either!

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The bean and grain section was very, very impressive.

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And there's a pet section, too! I didn't explore it, but these crazy birds hanging from the ceiling are just one example of the fun decor at Jungle Jim's.

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That quirky sense of humor extends to some of the store brand product packaging, too.

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It was at this point that I stumbled across the portion of the store with aisles (or in some cases sets of aisles) dedicated to whole countries. And it was also about right now that I realized that there were international sodas, candies, and other treats mixed in these sections. There was still hope of finding the Stoney!!

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I started seaerching madly for a Kenyan or African section, and in the process I found aisles for Caribbean (I have no idea what an ackee is, but they have a lot of them!)...

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...Cajun...

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...and even Australian foods.

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And right across from the Aussie goods was the area reserved for treats from Great Britain.

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I loooooove to pick up McVitie's (they've got a lot of great varieties) when I'm on travel- unfortunately I can usually only find them in the Caribbean.

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Nothing beats British Cadbury. Seriously, American chocolate is absolutely wussy compared to this stuff!

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And, dude, Bounty Bars!!! You can bet that about a dozen of these went home with me.

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The tea section actually went all the way along this wall and then wrapped around the corner.

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The Polish food section...

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...complete with prune butter. Prune butter?

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Finally I had to locate an employee and have him point me toward the African section (which I'd apparently totally missed as it was right next to Caribbean).

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There was actually a lot of Indian food here, which confirms Darren's theory that if you can eat Indian food, you can eat anywhere. :)

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And then, lo and behold, right there in the South African (right next to the African) section, there it was- Stoney!!! I quickly snatched up a few cans for Darren (who said he'd never seen it in a can before this- only in bottles), and made my way to the register with my bounty.

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Oh, and did I mention that there's also an awesome garden center here with a huge fig tree out front? So awesome!

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Just don't pick them. :)

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So that's the story of my fun-little mini-adventure in grocery shopping. I probably only spent an hour and a half in the store at most, and what I posted here doesn't even scratch the surface of what they carry! If you're ever in the Fairfield, Ohio area, I highly recommend that you check it out!