Recommendation for Seattle friends: Visit the PFI
This is one of those passed-along-by-word-of-mouth places that I tell everyone about because it's so good.
Whichever acquaintance told me about it (thank you) had such fervor that I pulled out my notebook and wrote down "Go to PFI" even before I knew what it was. Ok, I will go there. Something about cheese and olives. Now ten years later I am the same with my recommending: Do you know about the PFI? GO TO THE PFI I say, with a gleam in my eye.
PFI stands for Big John's Pacific Food Importers, a food wonderland hidden in the basement of a red brick warehouse off 6th and Dearborn. (Just south of Uwajimaya, where the International District turns into north SODO.)
There's a 30 foot long cheese counter, bulk olives in tubs behind the counter, many kinds of salts and spices, and tons of of other imported foods to explore. I always try to remember to bring jars or containers for getting olives, cornichons, or feta, because they'll give you brine for free if you do. We get 3L tins of olive oil there, canned tomatoes, pastas, jam and honey, spices and peppercorns, and try out foods from around the world.
It's just such a fun place to explore and the food is so good.
Big John's PFI
1001 6th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134
Heads up: It's a bit hard to find - there's a faded sign on the streetside, but basically you turn west off 6th into a driveway that slopes steeply down to a parking lot on the north side of a red brick warehouse. You'll find a cement stairs/entry on the lower level - there's a sign above the door for the PFI.