Here in New York City we're lucky to have access to some of the best specialty food stores and ethnic markets around. Want preserved lemons? Find them at Kalustyans. Need palm sugar? Try Chelsea Thai. We realize not everybody is so lucky. The good news for all of us is that Amazon.com, (remember when it was only books and music?) sells just about everything under the sun, including hard to find groceries and ingredients. While it's mostly dry goods that you'll find on-line, I did a quick search for some typically quirky items and Amazon carried all of the following: fresh galangal, kaffir lime leaves, tamarind, Himilayan red rice and halloumi cheese. You can also try a site called thefind.com which helps you locate online retailers (and coupons!) in your area. The one thing I still can't find--and maybe only because I don't speak Burmese--is fermented Burmese tea leaves.
Do you have any great specialty markets in your area? Where do you find your favorite unusual ingredients?