Let’s see, things I cannot get here. I’m not going to include things like dry good that I can easily get over the Internet (like spices… I’m sure there’s a fair # of spices I can’t buy locally but it’s easy & cheap to get them sent to me.)
Sushi: technically we have a couple places that serve sushi, but they’re not sushi bars. They’re places where they have one or two roll on the menu, almost always tuna or salmon or California rolls. You want eel/scallop/mackeral/yellowtail/toro/etc? Can’t get it. And the stuff you can get is not very high quality.
Ethnic restaurants: easier to list what I can get than what I can’t. Americanized Italian food, semi-greek stuff (a local place that serves gyros and spinach pie along with pizza and burgers), semi-decent Thai, Americanized Chinese, semi-decent takeout Burritos & Tacos. That’s about it - no Vietnamese, no sit-down Mexican, no even semi-authentic Italian, no Laotian, no Ethiopian, nothing else. No Burmese.
Ingredients: I can’t get most ocean fish or fresh seafood. Sometimes I see low-quality frozen stuff - like tasteless scallops or the scary-looking frozen swordfish I saw today.
I can get a lot of veggies and fresh herbs, even some non-standard stuff like baby bok choy and fresh curry leaf on occasion. The local co-op has been stocking Meyer Lemons and Blood Oranges in season, which makes me giddy. Oddly, things like non-standard greens are sometimes hard. I’ve never seen frisee lettuce, for example, and Boston lettuce has just shown up in the past 4-5 years. Lemongrass I can sometimes get. Galangal? Not fresh, no way.
I’ve never seen a Mangosteen here but we do get Plantains.
I can get Anaheim peppers and (only the past couple years) Poblanos. One place carries Thai chiles and Habeneros pretty regularly, and jalapenos and Serranos are never a problem to find. I wish they’d get Hatch or other New Mexico chiles, but I’ve never seen them. Tomatillos are also easy to find.
Even certain cuts of meat can be difficult on occasion. I looked all over today for hanger steak, no luck. Veal and lamb are available, but I’ve learned to stock up when I see it because there’s no guarantee they’ll have it when I’m looking for it. Same with duck/goose/capons/any bird but chicken. Flank steak/skirt steak can be hard to find.
Pate - they never have anything of good quality. Nor can I get a lot of salami/charcuterie. Summer sausage/brats/etc are everywhere, but Mortadella and other not-so-crazy stuff is hard to find. Small packages of pretty good quality Prosciutto isn’t too hard to find.
No Gelato (I wish!).
Really freakin’ good coffee, though, we have that! Local roaster who is a coffee God.
Pretty decent selection of cheeses, though I wish they’d rotate more. Like, we can get a lot of high-quality small-producer Wisconsin cheese, and decent quality Brie, Camembert, and French or American blue cheese. Gorgonzola is easy to find. But no Tallegio or Cabrales or Epoisses or real Muenster (from Muenster, not the white stuff with the orange edge.)