Saturday, October 30, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle (Jim's, that is!)

In Sherwood Forest over the English foods
I don't know how, or why, I haven't made the trek to Jungle Jim's International Market until now.  I don't even know where to start - this place completely gobsmacked me! Seriously, 1 1/2 acres of produce and 50,000 International products.  You should click the link and go gawk at the website, then come back.

The new cooking school director, Leigh Barnhart Ochs, is a fellow personal chef and on-line friend.  Months ago (they really plan ahead on those class brochures), she invited me to come and teach a class.  I thought, hmmm fall - Pork and Apples, and my More than Pork and Apples class was conceived, which included the famous cheese ball.

So here's the best part: I actually got paid to go there.  And if I lived closer, I'd probably be teaching there as often as they'd let me.  My Sous Chef (!) and team (!) of helpers made my job a breeze.

And I got to hang out with Leigh, and fellow personal chef Gayle Payton Walls, of I Dream of Dinners, the following day for breakfast and a little shopping.  I spend a couple of hours in the store, and I feel like I didn't really make a dent.

So until I return for a more in depth analysis, here is my ten cent tour. (Note, the have a no photo/video policy, but I snuck a few.  Oddly, the one spot where photos are encouraged is in front of their award winning bathrooms, see below)

On the 'throne' at Jungle Jims
Those are actually the doors that lead the bathrooms.  Which, I must say, are really nice, and the first place I visited after my long drive.

The beer and wine department is unbelievable.  In a six acre store, every department seems bigger than any normal store, but there is a pretty huge (the largest between here and Chicago, I was told) selection.

It was in this department that I was introduced to the one and only, "Jungle", Jim Bonaminio, who was sampling some wine.  Leigh and I sampled as well - a nice Sauvignon Blanc that he'd gotten a deal on and bought 1,000 cases, so they were selling it for 3 bottles for $10!  And it was no 2 buck chuck.  (I of course, bought a case)

We wandered past the meat cases, and let's just say, it's not like Giant Eagle.  One case features individually packaged parts - pig heads, feet, and everything in between, and another had exotic meats  - alligator, kangaroo (on sale $21.99 a pound), snake, etc.  The frozen head on/tail chickens reminded me of The Christmas Story Duck.

A huge boat housing tanks of live fish is a prominent feature of the seafood department.  There are also huge tanks off of the gourmet galeria department where the fish are stored.  I loved this little touch of humor in that area.

Gourmet Galeria is a cook's candy land!  All-Clad, Wusthof, gadgets, gee-gaws, and stuff you don't need (olive stuffer!), but you know you want.

Here's what I scored:

New gadgets:  I love, love, love the Paella for one pan.  I need to break this one in soon.

The canning lid rack was a first for me  - I hadn't seen one before.  Instead of fishing the lids out of the water with the little magnet wand, this lets you put them in and pull it out by a handle that sticks up out of the water - brilliant!

The microwave corn on the cob steamer is not new to me, I've had one for years and I love it, but my old one was cracked.  You put a bit of water in, put your corn in, cover and viola 4-5 minutes, fresh corn on the cob.

The King Arthur Flour silicone ramekins were cheaper than buying from the catalog.

And look what else:

I got two of these oversize mugs - perfect for soup!

I scored this weird fruit in the international produce section, which is AMAZING, including a big case of durian, and stuff I've never seen in my life.  I am going to confess that I was afraid to actually eat this thing.  I stored at room temperature, as directed, and it quickly softened up, started attracting fruit flies, and smelled a little funky.

I also couldn't resist this Smoked Paprika Salt.

Finally, the new Cooking School cookbook, which features recipes from fifteen years of cooking school classes.  You can order yours and have it shipped.

So probably, all in all, I was slightly in the hole on this adventure.  But it was totally worth it and I can't wait to go back.


  1. I don't understand half of this (I got the wine part...just not all that "cooking" stuff!!), but it does look fascinating and fun!

  2. I'm game for a trip to Cinci and J Jim's whenever you are. There is an amazing Szechuan place not all that far from JJ's and a really good place for Indian across town.


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