Tampa area oriental grocery stores and nurseries
Planning for a trip this fall, I'd like to bring home fresh tropical ingredients (galangal, some of the more different citrus, and a kefir lime tree (and even kefir limes if they are in season.) Does anyone have a favorite store or neighborhood for shopping?
The Tampa Bay area sprawls across four or so counties, and several metro areas (from Sarasota north to Spring Hill, and from St Pete eastward into Lakeland). Imo, you should probably narrow your search parameters.
Where are you planning to stay (St Pete, Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach, Homasassa, and so on), and then we can narrow your choices down from there.
I have found fresh galangal root (rhizome?) at the Sanwa "Farmer's Market" (not a true farmer's market, it's more like an cheap, ethnic Costco--cheapest produce prices around and the best selection too). I have also found frozen kefir lime leaves (and frozen galangal also) at Oceanic Oriental Supermarket which is on the edge of downtown, a block north of 275. Note that I haven't searched for lime leaves in 1-2 years because I still have plenty in my freezer.
In addition to those two stores, MD Oriental on Fowler in North Tampa is also a good Asian market. I can't help with the nurseries unfortunately.
The Thai Buddhist Temple has a Sunday food market which is terrific. In addition to freshly prepared foods there is also a small section with produce and plants.
USF Botanical Gardens has occasional sales and there is one in October. This is a "if you snooze you loose" event and very well attended. There usually are some edible species offered.
Your best bet to my knowledge is a little further afield in the Ft. Myers area:
ECHO does great work and is interesting to visit.
Even further away is the Fruit and Spice Park in Miami. While there are no plant sales to my knowledge, visitors can eat fruit which has dropped. The gift shop sells some unusual seeds.
Most towns in this area have vibrant gardening groups with many members specializing in tropical edibles. If you get in touch with them ahead of time you may be able to get involved in a meeting - which usually has many giveaways and pass-along plants.
Edit: This resource list may be helpful: