The mark of a great pantry is that it contains, simply and elegantly, the essence of one's cooking. The mark of a great chef is being able to transform these staples in unexpected ways. So it goes with Einat Admony. Let's take a look around.
This European butcher has watched Ridgewood change and grow, wave after wave of immigrant. Over the years, it's come to stock items for every ethnic group that pass through the neighborhood.
Alphabet City might not be the first place you'd think to look for ingredients from the Philippines. Nevertheless, that's where you'll find the Filipino market Johnny Air Mart—on Avenue A, just south of 14th street. Ricky, the general manager, explained why: "In Stuyvesant Town, there are lot of Filipino. And nurses from NYU, Beth Israel, area hospitals, there a lot of Filipino nurses. This area is the main Filipino area [in Manhattan]."
Two sisters have opened a charming specialty shop in Williamsburg with produce from Brooklyn, cheese from the Bronx and upstate, and specialty goods from the South and beyond.
Tucked into the chili-pepper-lit neighborhood known to most as Curry Row is a serious Indian market with spices, rare fresh herbs, and a beer selection vast enough to make even jaded East Village shoppers pay attention.
This West African market distributes Senegalese food and ingredients all around the country, but it's worth stopping in for a visit to learn more about a cuisine that doesn't get much love in New York.
The aptly named Moscow on the Hudson right off the 181st Street stop on the A train feeds the Russian community of Washington Heights. It's not Brighton Beach, for a lot of Manhattan residents, it's a closer-by market for Russian staples.
Miami transplants Jeremy and Luis know how to press a good Cuban sandwich, and they'll press one for you at their bright-teal-and-hot-pink Cafetería La Mejor on Suydam in Bushwick.
The sloping, tree-lined Victory Boulevard that crisscrosses Staten Island's Tompkinsville neighborhood offers visitors a spectacular view of Manhattan. But it's more than a pretty residential street with views that would make a Brooklyner rethink their rooftop: it's also the heart of the Sri Lankan community that's taken hold on Staten Island (with some great restaurants to boot).
It's also home to Lanka Grocery.
The first hint that you've entered Argentinean/Uruguayan territory is the telephone pole on the corner of Corona Avenue and Junction Boulevard. It's painted blue and white, the colors of the flags of both countries. The second hint? El Gauchito: a butcher/restaurant. Don't be fooled by the seemingly small spot. Inside you'll find enough Argentinean goods to make any hardened expat or recent tourist ecstatic.
In the bizarre and expensive world of New York real estate, it seems counter-intuitive to move from Brooklyn to Manhattan in search of a bigger spot, but that's exactly what the Bedford Cheese Shop did. In July 2012, they opened a second—larger—location on Irving Place, in Gramercy.
Look close under the green and white awning and you'll notice, in the window, brightly painted signs advertising dried fruits and nuts, homemade salads, and more. Welcome to Carmel, a tiny but wonderfully stocked Middle Eastern grocery in Forest Hills. The products are fresh, the staff is friendly, and the affordable prices can't be beat.
It's easy to miss the block-and-a-half-long Stuyvesant Street in the East Village, and more, to miss the neon sign marking the entry to Sunrise Mart. But through those doors and up one story in a small elevator, you'll find a gem of Japanese market—tucked away in plain sight.
Despaña has one of the best selections of Spanish ingredients and prepared food in the city. Take our tour before you stock up on your next trip.
To many, the bucolic tree-lined neighborhood of Glendale, Queens is known as 'Little Germany,' although, as is want to happen in New York, it's changing. "You used to walk the streets here and everybody spoke German, old ladies scrubbing the stoops outside, that kind of stuff," Werner Lehner recounted one recent Friday morning outside Stammtisch Pork Store and Imports on Myrtle Avenue. If you're looking for that old German feel (and flavor), Stammtisch is where you'll find it.
For 39 years, Caputo's Fine Foods has occupied a tiny sliver of space—just enough for wall of shelves and a butcher counter—at 460 Court Street. In that time, it's become an institution. Lines for fresh mozzarella are long on weekends, and many a restaurant, like Buttermilk Channel, make a weekly trek to buy mozzarella in person.
St. Mark's Place might seem an odd location for a kosher Middle Eastern market, what with its sidewalk vendors hawking colorful socks, spiky jewelry and gothic ware. Then again, Holyland Market—with its Hamsa emblem, its oh-so-New-York history, and Haran, its super-friendly, super-knowledgeable Latin-music-playing employee—seems very much at home among its neighbors.
The sign crowning the awning of Eagle Provisions—whitewashed plywood with hand pained lettering in orange and black—seems like it's been there a long time. And it has: 34 years, an eternity in the gentrifying neighborhood south of Park Slope and north of Sunset Park. People come to Eagle Provisions for two reasons: its house-smoked kielbasa and its staggering selection of beer from around the world.
Today, Astoria's "Little Brazil"—the stretch of 36th Avenue around the N/Q subway stop—is a different place. "Most Brazilians have gone home [to Brazil]," says Ricardo, owner of Rio Market. I'm just one of the last places left selling Brazilian goods." Take a tour of the aisles for mate gourds, cassava snacks, and lots of cheesy bread.
It's easy to walk by this adorable West Village shop, but you'd be missing out on a British expat's dream come to true. Take a tour of Myers of Keswick, which has been selling packaged goods and hot-from-the-oven scones to Brits for decades.
Like a trip to Flushing, where English signs are hard to come by, a stroll down Lee Avenue in Brooklyn's South Williamsburg—home to the Satmar Chassidim—uncovers a community conducted (almost entirely) in Yiddish. Shwartz Kosher Supermarket, which has served the community for over 50 years, can help with the translation.
Chinatown can be wonderfully chaotic, and often a mere stroll along Mott or Mullberry will turn up a serendipitous find. Sometimes, though, you need a little bit of guidance to navigate the exhaustive maze of pan-Asian grocers. If you're looking for Thai ingredients, and some know-how for what to do once you find them, then head deeper south, past the crush of Canal Street, to the otherwise nondescript Mosco Street, where you'll find the Bangkok Center Grocery.
Like the immortal gods of strength and stamina (descendants, no less, of Earth and Heaven) from which it borrows its name, Titan Foods is a giant among Greek grocers. Take a tour of this Astoria giant, which sells about a dozen varieties of olives, some of the best feta in New York, and everything else you'd need to cook and eat like a Greek.
Despite its small size and appropriate name—Mini Market—the impeccable Midoriya stocks an astonishing number of products. From Hello Kitty chocolates to garlic shrimp chips to frozen smelt roe, both native (and adventurous) palates and newcomers to Japanese cuisine will be satisfied by its offerings.
Market Tours: Irish Ham, Boiling Bacon, and Black Pudding at The Butcher's Block in Sunnyside, Queens
On a quiet side street off Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, Queens, there's a cartoony wooden cutout of a maniacally gleeful butcher (with unnaturally blue eyes), grasping a red cow. Then you notice the shamrocks painted on the window behind him. And the bold red letters hinting at other treats inside: boiling bacon, corned beef, black and white pudding, rashers. Welcome to The Butcher's Block, one of NYC's few Irish grocery stores.
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