This, good people, is Jungle Jim’s. No, it’s not a water park. It’s a grocery store.
A grocery store paradise. Like an adult Chuck-E-Cheese, without the germ infested balls. No really, they even have the singing animals stationed throughout.
While I’ve wanted to visit this superstore for months, it was not until H’s recent infatuation with exotic martini’s I had an actual need to go there. No sooner did I get a text about a certain Habanero citrus olive H sampled at Jungle Jim’s inspiring a martini, a date was set to see Spiderman followed by a much-anticipated trip to the store.
Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine a grocery store as all-encompassing and meticulously organized like JJ’s is. It’s as though foods from around the world are curated like a museum full of fine works of art. For a first time visitor, I would’ve been completely overwhelmed if not for H’s expert navigation skills (he’s been frequenting the place since high school).
Our first stop was, obviously, the olive bar. There were so many varieties I could hardly believe my eyes. While H bartered with the olive expert for extra brine to use in the martinis, they both badgered me to try these newly famous olives. I know better than trying new foods in public so I took a pass, promising I might try some in the car (I did not).
From there H led me to my version of heaven: the cheese section. A seven thousand-something pound block of cheese greeted us, with a sampling station right in front. Aged English cheddar, don’t mind if I do. What’s that you say, cheese sample lady, only $1.99? We’ll take one! The cheese section was off to a far better start than the olive bar. H led me around a regular grocery store length refrigerator, double-sided, of all the cheese separated by country. While I wouldn’t mind traveling the entire globe by way of cheese, the cute shaped cheddar was the standout for me.
Brioche bread, no problem. Lavender for cooking…would you like a dried version or the liquid simple-syrup variety? Any and every food I’ve cursed Kroger for not carrying have gathered at JJ’s, all at very reasonable prices. I mean really, a pig’s head? Only eleven bucks. Chuckles and stares of disbelief were complimentary.
Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier, smack dab in the middle of the candy section, a pressed penny machine appeared! I started to collect pressed pennies several years ago and the fact I could commemorate such a fantastic grocery store experience sent me to cloud nine. I was so overjoyed by my new pressed penny, it wasn’t until we were leaving did I realize the singing animal behind the machine was a bear dressed as Elvis, whose quirky memorabilia is the other thing I enjoy collecting.
I pride myself in my Randy McNally-like sense of direction. At one point I didn’t know which way was up. I felt like we kept making left turns, but somehow ending up in another enchanting section. The moment I knew I had no clue how we ended up where we were a dessert table caught my eye and I found myself among an entire gluten-free section. There were gluten-free foods I didn’t know could be gluten-free. Even more fantastic was the fact the dairy free section was right across the way. This has jumped up to the number one tourist spot to bring my parents when they visit, as my dad is both gluten and dairy free. Something tells me they will be shipping a box of goodies home.
For those who know me well, it might come as a shock that I couldn’t even find time to wrap my mind around the perfectly spaced wine wonderland, which is right next to a coffee plantation, cigar humidor, and award-winning restrooms. And by restrooms I really mean meticulously decorated porta potties you could take your photo in. When I asked H if we could snap a souvenir photo he quickly reminded me we weren’t tourists. Before I had time to blink, he was leading me to the next section.
Our trip to Jungle Jim’s is what I could consider a whirlwind vacation. A nice, exotic escape from the normal everyday grocery stores that are more concerned with trying to lure customers in by bogus fuel perks than providing exceptional, quality ingredients. While we left with only a handful of goodies, I’m anticipating our next trip when I live closer and can stock up on necessities. The perfect ending to our afternoon was enjoying the sparkling lavender lemonade’s we picked up while chatting and basking in the sunshine.