Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Jones Market - Eastern European, Las Vegas!

     A Great Eastern European Food Market In Las Vegas!  12-26-2012
     The Jones Market is located at 3389 South Jones Boulevard in a plaza at the intersection of Desert Inn.  This is a central valley location that is fairly close to the Las Vegas Strip.  This plaza is on the edge of the Chinatown shopping district.

     The Jones Market is just like the small food markets that can be found in big northern cities from Chicago to New York.  In Chicago Polish neighborhoods, every food market carries Polish food products.  In Philadelphia, there a Lithuanian and Polish markets in some neighborhoods.  In Cleveland, there are neighborhoods that have Hungarian food markets.  
     In New York City, well ... just forget about it!  New York City has residents from every country around the globe and there are neighborhood food markets that specialize in every cultural cuisine!  Las Vegas is also in this same boat.  There are many neighborhoods where cultural ethnic groups reside in this valley and there always is a food market nearby that caters to the needs of each cultural group.

     Armenian, Russian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Czech and Scandinavian specialties can be found at the Jones Market.  As far as it goes, the food from every Eastern European country, Russia and the entire Baltic Region can be found at the Jones Market.
     I have heard folks talk about the Jones Market for many years.  Russian friends of mine in Las Vegas recommended this little food market more than once.  I finally gave this market a visit a few days ago and I really liked what I saw. 

     The Jones Market is not a big city Greek delicatessen that offers a few token Bulgarian and Croatian food items.  It seemed like many of the Eastern European markets in Chicago were more like a Greek market than an Eastern European market.  What this amounted to was the owner of the Greek markets that I visited, tacked up an "Eastern European Food" sign, in an effort to attract more customers.  Customers that sought Eastern European food were misled and they ended up being disappointed.  Things are different here in Las Vegas.  In  Vegas, a Greek market is a Greek market and an Eastern European Market is an Eastern European Market!  So, there is no disappointment!

     The Jones Market has a well stocked delicatessen.  The deli offers a nice variety of Eastern European and Scandinavian sausages, meats, specialty lunch meats, cheese and smoked fish.  Lunch meats and fine cheese are sliced to order.  
     There are many cryovac packages of hard to find specialty smoked meats and sausages to choose from.  I chose some nice Russian style beef and pork weiners, Kranjska style smoked veal kielbasa sausages and pushen vrat (smoked pork neck or smoked pork shoulder).  The quality of these meat items was very nice and the meats were prepared by small domestic Eastern European specialty food companies both domestically and abroad.

     I chose to purchase a wedge of madrigal cheese.  Madrigal is a semi firm aged cheese that has a high cream fat content.  Madrigal originated in Loire France and it is a popular cheese in Eastern Europe.  Many cheese makers in Eastern Europe produce Madrigal.  Madrigal is like Swiss Emmentaler Cheese (Swiss Cheese), but it has a stronger nutty kind of flavor and it is aged for a bit more time.  Madrigal  is a slight shade darker than Swiss emmentaler.  If you ever wished that Swiss Cheese had a little bit more flavor, then Madrigal is the cheese to try.

     Another cheese that I selected was imported Bulgarian Kashkaval.  Kashkaval is like many of the sheep's milk cheeses of Turkey, Spain, Albania and Italy.  Sheep's milk cheese like Kaskaval has been made since ancient times in Southeastern Europe and the Middle East.  In Bulgaria, there are several recipes that require Kashkaval.  Bulgarian Kashkavalka are little breakfast pastries that have Kashkaval melted on top.  Fried Kashkaval is another popular Bulgarian recipe.  Kashkaval is a whitish yellow sheep's milk cheese that has a rich flavor that is quite nice.

     The Jones Market stocks plenty of Eastern European canned goods, fruit preserves and pickle products.  The fresh produce looked nice.  They carry many Eastern European specialty breads that are made by local bakeries.  Nice looking regional pastries and cookies are also available.

     I purchased some cold-smoked sturgeon that looked nice.  New Years Eve is just a few day away, so a platter of smoked sturgeon with blini sounded like a good recipe idea!  Speaking of sturgeon, the Jones Market is the best place in Las Vegas to find good official government stamped authentic caviar.  Caviar is a fine delicacy that is traditionally served on New Years Eve and special occasions.  
     At the last Michelin rated French restaurant that I worked in, we had a Russian Vodka and beluga caviar appetizer on the menu.  The vodka, caviar and condiments were presented on an ice carving.  At that time, beluga caviar was not in short supply and the price of that elaborate appetizer was $88.  Eleven years later, the price of that appetizer would sell for over $250!  A fancy presentation of vodka and caviar is perfect for New Years Eve!
     I noticed three grades of beluga caviar on display.  Premium high grade beluga caviar, the secondary grade lighter beluga caviar and semi crushed beluga caviar for recipe usage all are sold by color coded labels.  It is best to do a little bit of caviar research before shopping for caviar, so you can understand the difference in the three major grades of caviar and their origin.

     English is spoken at the Jones Market, but Eastern European languages are first choice.  Everything is done the Eastern European way and Russian way.  Customers are expected to know to form a line at the deli and if you hesitate, then the deli clerk moves on to the next customer.  No customers are in a hurry, but the busy delicatessen clerks sure are.  
     It seems like a high percentage of the sales at the Jones Market comes from the delicatessen.  Christmas Eve shoppers were all buying specialty meats and sausages for big family get togethers.  It was interesting to see what items were in the customer's grocery carts.  Some of the customers had enough food in their carts to feed a small army!  Christmas is a traditional big family banquet feast event for many Eastern Europeans.  There are many traditional Eastern European recipes that are only served during the Christmas holiday season.  If a person needs some new holiday food ideas Eastern European and Russian culinary information is a good place to start.  

     The Jones Market, September 2014.  Old World Harvest Season Goods!
     On this recent shopping venture at the Jones Market, I purchased more food items that are impossible to find in average American grocery stores.  Black Currant Jam, Dried Cèpe Mushrooms, Smoked Sardines, Goose Liver Pâté and Russian Mustard were just part of the score!  
     From the deli, I got some Finnish Lappi Cheese and some great looking Belmont Black Headcheese.  Black Headcheese is a rare find.  This aspic for this traditional headcheese is made with cow blood, so it has a black sausage flavor.  Belmont specializes in high quality traditional Eastern European meat products.  I also purchased a full Bulgarian Lukanka.  Lukanka is an aged pork and veal salami that has white fungus growing on the casing.  Lukanka is always pressed flat and its shape is perfect for cutting whole slices for muse platters or hors d' oeuvres.  

     Since this is the harvest season, purchasing some traditional Armenian Nazook walnut pastries, bread and wine seemed appropriate.  Nazook are really a nice sweet pastry treat for this time of the year. 

     The harvest season bread of choice was Armenian Matnakash.  Matnakash is shaped like plowed farm field furrows in a crust ring border.  Matnakash is similar to Italian Focaccia, but it can also be made with a sourdough starter.  

     The harvest season wine selection will bring back many memories, especially for those who have seen these artistic glass bottles that are shaped like statues setting on shelves in Eastern European restaurants, back in the northeastern region of America.  
     Many wine snobs make the mistake of disregarding wine in fancy bottles for some reason.  All I can say about judging a wine by the shape of the bottle is this.  Bah Humbug!  Special wines are packaged in special shaped bottles.  
     Garling Collection produces specialty wines in artistic bottles.  First of all, the Ciumai wine grape growing region in Moldova actually is a unique micro climate that is perfect for accentuating the full characteristics of the Merlot grape varietal.  The soil is perfect for wine grape growing in Ciumai, so the vines are healthy and they grow for many years.   The Ciumai micro climate conditions allow the Merlot Grapes to produce their full sugar content before harvest, without allowing parasitic fungus to overtake the fruit.  The result is a full bodied Merlot Dessert Wine that is semi sweet.  
     Garling Collection Winemaker Moldova Ciumai Merlot is packaged in a glass bottle that looks like a statue of a winemaker carrying a keg of wine on his shoulder.  This is a great dessert wine choice for the fall harvest season.  Besides, the fancy winemaker statue bottle does make a great decorative conversation piece! 
     I highly recommend the Jones Market for locals and visitors of Las Vegas!  The Jones Market is the place to go, if you are seeking traditional old world Eastern European food, great wine and caviar too!  

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