Thursday, June 07, 2007

Zurich speciality food tour


s'mores galore

A couple weeks ago, I led a little "Zurich speciality food tour" for several friends. I worried that my limited knowledge would be exhausted in the first five minutes and everyone would be bored, but we ended up having a great time. I took them to El Maiz (the Mexican market), the Thai grocery a few doors down from El Maiz (I don't know what the name is) and Jemoli Gourmet Factory. To make it relevant, I also provided recipes that required the special ingredients available at these shops, like Pad Thai, Tamales, and Arroz con Pollo. For anyone else in Zurich who might be interested, here's a list of some things available at these shops that are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere.


dried shrimp and preserved radish for Pad Thai

El Maiz
  • fresh chiles like jalapeno, serrano, habanero (not every variety is there all the time, also check the freezer section)
  • dried chiles like ancho, pasilla
  • tomatillos
  • masa harina
  • corn husks
  • chorizo (frozen) - for Arroz con Pollo
  • refrigerated and frozen tortillas (corn & flour)
  • premade tamales
  • best tortilla chips (Mi Adelita brand, also available at Jelmoli)
  • huge array of hot sauces
  • vanilla extract
  • dulce du leche
  • tortilla press (40sfr)
  • dried pinto and black beans
Thai market
There are better Asian markets in town, but this one is conveniently close to El Maiz. The staff is really friendly and helpful and even speak a little English. Besides all the regular stuff you might expect to find here, you will find:
  • for authentic Pad Thai: thai scallions, tamarind paste, dried shrimp, and preserved radish (Hua chai bpoh)
  • A & W root beer
  • sweet mangos (totally different from mangos you'll see at Migros or Globus)
  • black eyed peas
  • canned coconut milk (which has the important top layer of coconut fat unlike the boxed Thai Kitchen coconut milk you'll find elsewhere)
Jelmoli
  • US products: bbq sauce, oreos, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, big white marshmallows (most other stores only carry the little, multi-colored versions), canned soup like tomato and cream of mushroom
  • Mexican: frozen tortillas, masa harina, corn husks, the good tortilla chips, dried pinto beans, & all the regular canned stuff
  • Asian: besides the regular stuff you'll find in most Migros and Coop, you'll find a larger variety of sauces, canned coconut milk, tahini and falafel mix (also available at most natural food stores),
  • Asian cooler: thai scallions, thai basil, lemon grass, thai broccoli, okra
  • herbs, spices, etc. - Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, turmeric, powdered garlic (not garlic salt), kardamon, ground cumin (most other places only carry whole cumin), celery salt (sometimes). Some are available elsewhere, but I can never remember who carries what. Jemoli usually has all the weird ones
  • yellow and white cheddar - for your Mex-American needs
  • exotic fresh fruit in season, like litchi, fresh tamarind, star fruit
  • big baking soda & baking powder packages for only 2.50sfr
  • skinned hazelnuts - very helpful for making Nocciola gelato
  • turkeys year-round (turkeys are usually only available at Christmas) with giblets
  • lard (aka schweinefett), required for tamale dough (found in refrigerated meat section)
  • vegetable shortening (aka planzenfett) - I don't like to use it but there are some special cases
  • tapioca starch - I don't know what I'll need it for but I'm sure at some point I'll be looking for it
I'm sure there are other special things I've missed. This is just a start.

2 comments:

La Noisette said...

Three years I live in Z├╝rich and I don'know this grocery, where is the El Maiz and your Thai Shop?

Tanya said...

Hi. Both El Maiz and the Thai grocery are on Josefstr behind the Hauptbahnhof.
Here's a map to El Maiz:
http://map.search.ch/zuerich/josefstr.23

The Thai market is on the corner of Josefstr and Hafnerstr. Happy shopping!

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