For Chef-Worthy Ingredients, Head to the Source

A taste of honey.Photo: Zoe Singer


Chefs are always going on about the importance of raw ingredients. Get in on the action by shopping at restaurants with gourmet markets attached.

What to Look For
People have always asked Gus Theodoro, owner of Gus’s Place, where to find his smooth olive oil, glowing scarlet cherry preserves, and silver-dollar-size, creamy gigandes beans. So when he reopened the restaurant in its new location this December, he figured instead of directing customers to Astoria for Greek ingredients, he’d just stock some extra to sell, barely above cost. Plus, he likes the “homey, rustic” look of the shelves lined with jars of Cretan honey and bags of Greek cereals and pastas.

Most Mediterranean restaurants hit the olive oil and salt pretty hard; at Il Buco, you can too. Several distinctive Italian olive oils are offered on the menu, so you can try the herbaceous Umbrian or the beautifully grassy, buttery Sardinian, with bread, then spring for a bottle. Or pick up a set of oils or flavored sea salts — the packaging and price make them great gifts for food geeks.

Upstairs at Bouley has a downstairs where you can buy the chef’s sausages, ice creams, and sauces, as well as his raw ingredients including seasonal produce, cheeses from Artisanal, and seafood including the always popular wild Alaskan salmon. The Bo Bo Farm pasture-raised chickens, which go from their unfettered life to the refrigerator case without seeing a freezer or plastic bag, will give you a fighting chance of roasting a chicken that could compare with the one at the restaurant.

If you’re inspired by the Latin-Asian menu at Bright Food Shop, head next door to the sister store, Kitchen/Market, one of the country’s best sources for hard-to-find dried chiles and products like orange Peruvian aji rocoto chile paste, organic masa, piquillo peppers, and a ginger ale so strong you have to let it breathe.

This Just In
The 2007 honeys from Mexico have just joined the jars of pickled peppers, containers of matzo-ball soup, and brick-oven breads at Blue Ribbon Bakery Market. Autumn Flower honey is bright and minty, with citrus notes, while the Golden Reserve, skimmed from the top of the Autumn Flower, is a divinely smooth, buttery spread with caramel and vanilla flavors. Stay tuned: Mesquite honey will be in next month, and there’s one bucket of avocado-flower honey that they’re still trying to decide what to do with. — Zoe Singer