By Andrea West
Every now and then, I find a specialty food store that carries such a wide variety of ethnic food choices; it simply doesn’t fall into any one category. Dino’s Grocery Mart – 460 Notre Dame is such a store. The easy to spot black and yellow sign outside promotes Caribbean, East Indian, African and Central American foods. But as soon as you walk through the door, you’ll know it’s all that and then some.
The first thing you’ll see is a wall of ‘Hot Sauces’ from around the world. We’re talking hundreds here with authentic choices from the Caribbean, Central & South America, Mexico, South East Asia, and India.
Then there’s the aisles of chutneys, spice pastes, exotic sauces and pickles, as well as canned goods like tomatoes and coconut milk. The dry goods section reveals an extensive selection of rice, lentils, dried nuts, grains and flours, including gluten free options like chickpea, coconut and rice flours.
At the back of the store is the mother-load of spices, dried herbs, chilies and roots, including countless blends of curry powder (for Curried Chicken Burgers), garam masala (for Butter Chicken) and Dino’s own version of Ras el Hanout. I counted nine kinds of dried peppers last time I visited.
But wait…there’s more! On the other side of the store (yes there are two sides), you’ll find the fresh produce often used in African, Caribbean or East Indian cuisines. Tropical fruits and veggies are usually seasonal so the selection may depend on when you visit. On the other hand, they regularly stock the most amazing selection of fresh peppers. Most are hot, including scotch bonnet (for Jerk Chicken Wings) and wiri wiri peppers from the West Indies, so proceed with caution.
Still more shelves are loaded with snacks and cookies. Then there are the ‘breads’ – several kinds of poppadums (a crispy East Indian treat), fresh tortillas, specialty breads from Ethiopia and a remarkable selection of locally baked roti and naan breads (perfect for Grilled Chicken & Veg Pizzas).
I have no doubt, as you explore this store, you will find something new each time you visit (check out the fresh samosas and Jamaican patties by the cashier ).
Andrea West is a food stylist, writer, photographer and traveller. She’s exploring the ethnic and specialty food shops in and around Winnipeg, and sharing her fabulous food finds on the Manitoba Chicken blog.