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Old 03-28-2006, 08:04 AM   #1
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Product Availability

Watching FTV I regularly see grocery stores with shelves packed with items I have never even seen before. (chutney, specialty olives, Evoo, wild mushrooms, other veggies, certain cheeses, etc) The Chefs rarely use them on FTV, sticking to basic ingredients, but I am still very intrigued with all these options.

I ask my local grocer why they didn't carry more things, he said southern people wont eat that stuff, and if we shelf it, we end up tossing it out.
I ask him about stone crab claws, he said he could special order them, but southern dont know what stone crabs are and wont eat them even though they come from mostly Florida.

Our pepper selections are also dismally lacking, and some spices just arent on the shelves. It really grates my cheese to pay .75 each for bell peppers and up to $150 each for red and yellows. I guess they just know their markets, but it would sure be nice to hit one of those mega stores someplace else once, just to see what all they have.

Just wondering if anyone knows of an online grocery that will ship items not found in other areas.

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Old 03-28-2006, 08:24 AM   #2
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Well since you mentioned spices I will point you to Penzys. They are great. Their prices are better than my supermarket and the quality is top notch.
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:36 AM   #3
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Fantes (www.fantes.com) has many specialty items for the chef but doesn't carry food (however their site has links to food purveyors)

Well the prices you quote for peppers are cheaper than we pay up here in PA and NJ.

As you get closer to cities you will find specialty stores that carry the items that interest you. (Ashville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham, I would think Jackson, NO etc.) But even an hour outside Philly you gotta drive a bit to get the "exotics". Only in NYC is it just around the corner!
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:39 AM   #4
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We sometimes pay $3-$4 for yellow or orange peppers.
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:30 AM   #5
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Something else, is that if you have a Wal-Mart supercenter nearby, I've found that they usually do carry a wide range of exotic items. Most big chain grocery stores will.
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:19 AM   #6
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I think I would plan a trip to the largest nearby city and scout out the grocery stores and specialty stores for whatever items you are interested in finding. Be sure to carry a cooler large enough in case you find other foods also. My dd, gd and I had the nicest time this weekend. We spent the day (most of it) in a restaurant supply store. We found so many interesting things that we never see in other stores and bought a good bit. Then we went to a wonderful produce shop and had a grand time selecting so many fresh veggies and fruits. Each of them bought a lot of strawberries, but I already had some and had already put some in the freezer. Then we went to lunch - by that time it was about 3:30 so a very late lunch.
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Old 03-28-2006, 11:04 AM   #7
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We just got a wally super center here and to be honest nobody I know is impressed with their offerings either. They actually offer less variety than Kroger does, just a lot more of all of it. I also dont like the way they sell meat - what you see is what you get. They dont have anyone on staff to to a thing to meat except stack it in the racks. Their seafood offering is a joke as well, at least the shell fish, muscles, and fish that isnt flash frozen, etc.

I guess the reason the pepper thing bothers me is because in the growing season I grow so many of them that I give them away by the bag full. Then to pay almost a buck for ONE bell pepper just really is a stark change.

And tomatoes the same thing - I have 22 tomato plants right now of different vaireties. Just hate paying for tomatoes that basically taste like cardboard compared to home grown.
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:04 PM   #8
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I have to say I've lived in some of the most desolate gourmet-food-starved areas in the US, and you live in one of them!

You didn't mention where in MS you live, but one recommendation is to go to a community near a military/navy installation if there is one near you. There may very well be ethnic groceries near the bases that cater to the foreign-born spouses of military men. Quite often these grocery stores are run by foreign-born wives of a previous generation of military men. You can get all sorts of exotic ingredients in places like this.
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:37 PM   #9
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Dear Hamhock,

I really hear you!!! You should try living overseas in a country where it's difficult to find even some of the basics and then give up your firstborn to buy the ones you do find. I paid nearly $3 for a lime last week just to make some Thai food. And red bell peppers are out of the stratosphere. Also, I have yet to see fresh bean sprouts. Someone told me that they have been here 2 years and have never seen them. But if you want specialty food, you can find all the horsemeat that you want. Ha---they love it here!! Anyway, this is a sympathy note and the others gave great advice. I'm going to check out Robo410 and GB's sites and maybe order stuff once I return to Houston on vacation to take back with me.
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Old 03-29-2006, 12:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ham Hock
It really grates my cheese to pay .75 each for bell peppers and up to $150 each for red and yellows.
I pay $2 per bell pepper, no matter the color. It usually irks me quite a bit, but the grocery actually had really nice peppers this week so it wasn't SO bad. I also pay $2/pound for napa cabbage, unless i can get out to the Asian grocer who carries it for around 70c/pound. Its nearly impossible to find good chile peppers of any variety. They usually just have some sad looking serranos and jalapenos.

I don't understand why things are so expensive either... we're basically a middle-sized town surrounded by farmland, you'd think produce would be cheap...
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Old 03-29-2006, 02:37 AM   #11
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Ahhh to live in such a city where there are more cultures crammed together than you can poke a stick at. 'Tis bliss.

Quote:
I don't understand why things are so expensive either... we're basically a middle-sized town surrounded by farmland, you'd think produce would be cheap...
It is a common problem. Things are actual cheaper here in Sydney than it is in the rural areas that grow the things. Generally this is due to the fact that all (or pretty close to it) of the produce grown in the area is shipped off to the big supermarket's distribution centres (which are generally in or very close to the major cities) and then filtered out to your local supermarket. Nonsensical isn't it?
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Old 03-29-2006, 07:27 AM   #12
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Try doing a search for specialty food stores near your area; you may find something within driving distance you never knew about!

What supermarket chains do you have in your area? Even our Food Lion here is starting to carry a few more 'up-market' items. Sometimes you just need to be persistent and ask for them.

The Dungeoness comment made me laugh - I can't get Gulf Coast crawfish here (Charleston, SC), except on special order; the only ones I've seen are frozen packages, from China or Thailand.

Re produce prices - you'll see higher prices in every supermarket right now; it's just not the season for local produce, and they're all importing veggies from all over the place.
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Old 03-29-2006, 09:59 AM   #13
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Unusual Ingredients

Earthly Delights - both fresh & dried exotic mushrooms & other wonderful things. I've ordered from them before & the quality & customer service have both been terrific.

http://earthy.com/?EDI=d482fbb92446181293d648b0d4068fad


Dean & Deluca - well-known purveyor of nearly everything under the sun. I've ordered from them not only for myself, but have sent gifts from them as well - all with excellent feedback.

http://www.deandeluca.com/index.html


Penzey's Spices - again, have purchased for both myself & as gifts for others. Terrific in every way.

http://www.penzeys.com/

There are lots of others I buy from online. If you do a search for whatever ingredient you're looking for, you're bound to come up with dozens of online sources, no matter how exotic what you're looking for is.
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Old 03-29-2006, 10:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ham Hock
... grocery stores with shelves packed with items I have never even seen before...
For that very reason, I come back home with bags full of grocery when I go to NY.
And not only grocery.
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Old 03-29-2006, 10:13 AM   #15
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P.S. All the fancy food interent sites are great, but a lot of times i want to touch, to smell, simply hold the food item in my hands before buying it.
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