Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Jungle Jim's International Market

Jungle Jim's International Market has been on my Bucket List for years. When I recently went to Butler County to tackle the Donut Trail, I was excited to finally be able to see what all the hype was about.
As you drive up, it looks like an amusement park combined with a warehouse store. This ain't your average grocery store for sure! Jungle Jim's slogan is "It's more than a grocery store! It's a destination!" - and they aren't exaggerating!

Some tips:

* Grab a map. The store is HUGE! So huge in fact, you should plan on spending at least two hours there. Seriously.We had to hustle because we had to get Buffy and check out of the hotel so we didn't even come close to seeing everything. A map helped us hit the must see departments and products.

*Bring coolers. If it's hot outside, you'll want one for produce and one for dairy, meat and frozen goods.

* Don't go crazy on perishable items. You'll be tempted to buy EVERYTHING but try to only buy what you can realistically use. 

* Try something new! Definitely take advantage of the huge inventory and explore some of the unique products. You never know what you might end up really enjoying once you try it!

Here are some of the highlights:

So.Much.Cheese. The variety is amazing! It's separated by county of origin and by style. Plus there is a ton of imported butter too. 
I am an expert level produce girl and even I found things I had not only never seen before, I had never even heard of them! Not surprising since this department is 1.5 acres with 800 different kinds of produce, including almost 100 varieties of Organic Produce. The Bac Ha was something I just had to try!
The selection is crazy! Definitely look for the close-out section because you can find some major deals. They have a tasting bar and Friday is Pint Night. Prefer to home brew? Guess what - they have supplies for that too.

Can you believe there are 1,200 kinds of hot sauce at Jungle Jim's?? If I didn't see it, I might not believe it. 
Food from more than 70 countries with items from Asia, Europe, South and Central America adds up to over 70,000 items. Unique, obscure, childhood delights and cultural favorites, the shelves are filled with everything imaginable. They have rows and rows and rows of cans and jars and boxes of food, coffee, tea and candy from every country you can think of, and then some. Salted Snake-Head Fish in Brine, anyone? 
Do not miss the Craft Ice Cream aisle. Filled with frozen treats from local, regional, and national producers, you'll be wanting to stock your freezer. Check out a dizzying assortment of chips, crackers, soda, juice, coffee, and everything in between. They have great olive and kombucha bars too.
In addition to their Jungle Fests, they also have events, classes, and tastings. You can also find recipes on the website to help you use the unique ingredients you bring home.
If you can't make the trip, but still want to experience the fun, you can order special boxes. This Discoveries at the Jungle Mustard is perfect for your summer cookouts. Plus they are offering free shipping!
If you are on the fence about going, get in your car now! It's so much fun! Plus you can discover all the fun things that Butler County has to offer while you're there. Stay tuned for a post detailing our adventures soon.

You can follow Jungle Jim's on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Guest Post: Meet The Mexitalian - Burst Tomato Caprese Dip

I'd like to introduce you to one of my very favorite bloggers, Alyssa from The Mexitalian. Alyssa is originally from Michigan and came to CLE via Charlotte, NC. She shares original recipes, recaps her travels, and talks about all things food on her blog. Follow her this summer as she heads to northern Michigan, Fairfield County, Ohio and even Portugal! She's also a huge fan of fresh local and seasonal produce and is obsessed with her CSA, City Fresh NEO.

Hello Eat Drink Clevelanders,

I’m Alyssa, The Mexitalian, and I am so thrilled to be chatting with you on my friend Crystal’s blog today. Crystal was one of the first people I connected with before I even moved to Cleveland last summer. I had a feeling a fellow Italian girl with a passion for food and all things local would be amazing and we’ve been friends ever since we met!

While I’m here, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite quick and easy summer appetizers. This Burst Tomato Caprese Dip is super simple yet completely impressive.

I cooked the heirloom cherry tomatoes on the stove top until they burst – I am not about the oven life in the summer! Extra points if you have local and seasonal cherry tomatoes. Since some of my tomatoes were on the larger side, I cut them in half, the different sizes work well in the dip.

The sweet and juicy burst tomatoes are tossed with Ciliegine, cherry-sized fresh mozzarella balls, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh ribbons of basil.
I love this spin on traditional caprese salad served with crackers, slices of crusty bread, or even as a side to grilled chicken.
The salad will stay well in a sealed container in the fridge for two or three days, if it can last that long at your house.

Burst Tomato Caprese Dip

16 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes (I used heirloom and cut the larger ones in half
8 oz. Ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls, drained
2 T + ½ t extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1/8 t fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of salt, to taste

Heat ½ t olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they get soft and start to burst, about 7-10 minutes. Do not allow the tomatoes to break down completely, they should have some bite and many will retain their shape. Allow the tomatoes to cool completely.

Toss the cooked burst tomatoes with the mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Serve immediately or store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

Doesn't that sound delicious? Give me a loaf of crusty bread and some wine and it's a perfect summer dinner. 

For a tasty sipper to help you beat the heat - try The Mexitalian's Grapefruit Cilantro Spritz.

Many thanks to The Mexitalian for sharing her summery recipe! Besides reading her blog, you can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook for more delicious recipes. If you try one, (and you should!) tag #Mexitalianrecipes when you share a photo of your dish.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Happy Hour: Turn at The Ritz

There's a new Happy Hour in town and this one happens to be at one of my favorite spots, The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland. 

The OFF-THE-CLOCK HAPPY HOUR will be available on a first come-first served basis at the recently transformed Ritz-Carlton Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. 


Draft Beers | $5
Select Wines by the Glass | $7

Slider Trios | $9

Sriracha Honey Chicken - Wasabi Aioli, Citrus Sesame Slaw
Short Rib - Fried Pickled Onions, BBQ Demi
Smoked Pepper Jack Burger - Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese, Bacon-Onion Marmalade
Five-Spice Tuna Lettuce Wrap - Pickled Ginger, Scallion, Cilantro Vinaigrette
Black Bean Burger - Avocado, Roasted Tomato

Waffle Fries | $6
Sweet Potato Fries | $6

Follow Turn at the Ritz-Cartlon Cleveland on Facebook to find out more and learn about upcoming events.