Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shopping at Big John's

I visited food heaven last week and it is called Big John's PFI. PFI stands for Pacific Food Importers and is a little warehouse of a space just south of Seattle's International District. No frills, totally off of the street, and a touch hard to get to, this place is a gourmand's dream. They specialize in Italian and Mediterranean foods.

This interior shot I did not take but got it off their website to show you a little how unadorned the place is. It is all about the products.

I only get up there every couple of years because I never think of it until I out of a very particular item and then I go there and spend a zillion dollars. This trip was required because I used up all the pomegranate molasses I bought in Dubai and needed more and could not find any in Tacoma. Big John's has three different kinds of pomegranate molasses! I use it in everything from salad dressings to marinades. I bought 2 varieties. They also have exotic items like black garbanzo beans. I can't wait to make a dish with these.

They carry my favorite brand of pasta: Pastificio G. Di Martino. Our friend Greg introduced us to this pasta and now I don't want to buy any other brand. Luckily it is sold here at Metropolitan Market but it was a little cheaper at Big John's. I also picked up some yummy pancetta that I cooked into a lovely lentil salad last weekend. I will be making that again!
Who doesn't love a giant jar of capers? We go through capers pretty quickly and it can get expensive buying all those tiny jars. I also found orange blossom water (used in Middle Eastern desserts) and some fancy Dandelion and Burdock bitters.

Another lovely discovery was this Ajvar dip. It is roasted red pepper sandwich spread and it is delicious. I bought the mild variety but there was a spicy one too. May have to go back sooner than later!

These licorice were an experiment. One is a gift. I tried to eat some but they were so strong I had to throw them out. We'll see if our friend can handle them.

I also purchased:
  • marinated bulk olives
  • halloumi cheese
  • "00" flour (for fresh pasta)
  • black lentils
  • giant container of pesto
  • salami
  • mustard
  • canned tomatoes
  • tin of olive oil
  • tin of olives
Unfortunately, I tried to buy a giant chunk of Parmesano Reggiano and they forgot to put it in my bag. At least they didn't charge me for it.

If you like food and you are in the Seattle area, you must get yourself to Big John's! I didn't even mention the enormous cheese case with dozens upon dozens of exotic cheeses or the bulk spice area or the aisle of chocolate and honey or the teas. Truly a unique and special shop; this place makes me want to cook!

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