Calling All Food Lovers
Five new chowhound-approved entries-of-choice (plus some tried-and-true tastemakers).
A Gourmet List of Gourmet Shops
Man does not live by bread alone. Sometimes, you find yourself hankering for a taste of something piquant, whether it’s triple-cream cheese, wild-boar kebabs, or fresh lobster ravioli. Here’s our guide to local gourmet food stores for those times when you feel like treating your taste buds to something completely different
By Laura Joseph Mogil
Photography by Phil Mansfield
Are you down to the last drops of your cherished black truffle oil? Did you promise to bring bruschetta to a neighbor’s dinner party, but now you don’t feel like chopping tomatoes, garlic, and basil? Or maybe your grocery store doesn’t carry the fresh morels you need for the lobster recipe you’ve been dying to try, or perhaps you want to bring a jar of Beluga caviar as a hostess gift but haven’t the foggiest where to find it?
We feel your pain. Which is why we offer here our county’s five best new gourmet shops, recommended by some of the area’s best chefs, bakers, restaurant mavens, and most serious “foodies” (me included). In addition, we include 10 tried-and-true gourmet shops that the county is fortunate to have had, serving up gastronomic goodies for years (see “And Don’t Forget” on page 109). FYI: All the shops offer catering services, so if you use any for your next dinner party and discover a favorite gourmet treat, tell your guests you made the meal yourself. We promise we won’t tell.
209 Wolfs Ln., Pelham
(914) 738-6622; www.pelhamprovisions.com
Mon.-Fri.: 10:30 am-7:30 pm; Sat.: 10 am-4 pm
Pelham residents and chefs Elaine Fierman and Nannette Conners decided that mid-life was the perfect time to turn their dreams into reality; food-lovers are grateful they did. Conners asked her brother, Tony Ingrao, a well-known Manhattan interior designer, to give their 1,000-square-foot shop (a former Chinese laundry) its current French-country look. Since its opening in November 2003, Provisions has attracted foodies who come for such favorites as parmesan-and-mustard-crusted chicken, fresh tuna burgers with a pineapple soy glaze, and wraps of grilled flank steak with blue cheese and green mustard aioli. The shop’s “smashed” potatoes are extremely popular, and the duo can’t keep in stock for long the French beans with tomatoes and feta cheese or the orzo pasta salad with roasted vegetables.
Want something on the light side? Try the spinach salad with blue cheese, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and raspberry Champagne vinaigrette. Wash it all down with the ever-popular Fizzy Lizzy all-natural sparkling fruit drinks in such flavors as raspberry-lemon and passion fruit.
Leading me on a tour of the backyard herb garden where oregano and mint were just starting to pop up, Fierman pointed out: “We make everything from scratch. It’s home cooking, only better—very upscale, healthy, and eclectic.”
Even sandwiches are special here, like the popular egg salad on olive bread, tuna on jalapeño cheddar, and meat loaf with Russian dressing on onion loaf. For dessert, choose among such tempting treats as the seasonal cobblers (try the bluberry-peach cobbler if it’s still around), moist coconut layer cake, and chewy Belgian chocolate toffee and cherry chippers.
The shop’s retail section offers specialty foods and kitchen items, including award-winning vinegars from B.R. Cohn Winery, Boyajian-flavored citrus oils, Divina black-truffle oil, Savannah Bee Tupelo honey, and Provisions’ private-label jams, including wild grape and blueberry, made from fruit hand-picked in New Hampshire.
Zeytinia Gourmet Market
51 Maple St., Croton-on-Hudson
(914) 271-5600; www.zeytinia.com
Mon.-Sun.: 6:30 am-9:30 pm
With my grocery list for Bon Appétit’s wild-mushroom pizza recipe in hand, I was delighted to find everything I needed at Zeytinia—hot Italian sausages from the meat department; fragrant rosemary and earthy shiitakes in the well-stocked produce section; and imported Parmesan and whole-milk mozzarella among the shop’s extensive selection of 350 cheeses.
To the delight of Northern Westchester residents in search of a gourmet market (me included), Zeytinia took over the 7,000-square-foot space previously inhabited by a Grand Union. One in a chain of 17 stores in the New York Metropolitan area, this Croton-on-Hudson shop is owned by Erdal Kilic and Cevdet Arici, both of whom previously worked in one of Zeytinia’s Manhattan locales for many years.
According to Kilic, zeytinia is the Turkish word for olive oil, and many of the store’s most popular items have a Middle Eastern flavor—including the salad bar’s hummus, baba ganoush, and grape leaves; spinach and feta cheese gozleme; a Turkish panini made with thin phyllo dough; and no less than eight varieties of sweet and sticky baklava.
Having a party and want to impress your guests? Zeytinia offers 20 different types of olives, imported and domestic caviar, and rich mousses and pâtés, and they will even special-order white truffles upon request (go easy; they’re $2,000 per pound).
Fresh fish arrives daily and shoppers also flock to the store for Nova, Norwegian, Scottish, and Irish smoked salmon. The bakery is chock-full of desserts that don’t stay long on its shelves, like the freshly baked fruit tarts and double-chocolate biscotti. The shop also offers breads ranging from a crusty ciabatta loaf to a chewy sourdough boule from five different New York City bakeries. Don’t miss out on the pastas, including delicious lobster ravioli and tri-colored linguini, along with tasty sauces, such as the garlicky marinara that my husband still thinks I make myself.
Mint Premium Foods
18 Main St., Tarrytown
Tues.-Sun.: 11 am-10 pm
Nestled among the antique shops that line Tarrytown’s Main Street, Mint Premium Foods fits in perfectly with its surroundings. You’ll take a step back in time when you enter this tiny store, where Moroccan-born owner Hassan Jarane treats his customers like old friends, and where, most likely, you’ll become one. On a recent visit, Jarane invited me to sample some of his imported cheeses (he carries 40 to 45 selections from around the world on any given day). I munched happily on a wedge of extra-aged Beemster from Holland, enjoying its brittle texture and fruity, hazelnut aftertaste. Also excellent were the Delice de Bourgogne, a French triple cream, and the Chimay, one of Mint’s half-dozen pleasantly pungent Trappist cheeses made by monks in Belgium.
Of course, there’s so much more than cheese in this delightful international store that opened in late 2003: sweet and crunchy honey-baked pecans from Mexico; sobrasada, a Spanish-style spreadable sausage; raisins on the vine imported from the Mojave Desert; delicate Sicilian white-flour honey; bins of olives from around the world; and a wide selection of olive oils, from the fruity Aria Private Reserve in Greece to the spicy Tunisian Les Moulins Mahjoub.
Mint’s prepared foods are equally alluring. Try the all-natural, free-range rotisserie chicken—marinated overnight in saffron, fleur de sel, lemon, and ginger—or the finger-licking babyback ribs slathered with homemade barbeque sauce. Mint’s fish ’n’ chips, “beer-battered scrod and crispy, twice-cooked fries,” sells out every weekend, Jarane reports.
Got a sweet tooth? Go for the Flambar cherries marinated in Grand Marnier or the glacé candied fruits—peach, apricot, and pineapple—from Australia. For chocoholics, there are melt-in-your-mouth Noel French truffles and Italian Assenzio bars, made with 70 percent cocoa and flavored with absinthe, an aromatic herb-flavored liqueur, which is probably why they’re so addictive.
Oh yes, if you still want to keep that sugar buzz going, walk next door to Chiboust (14 Main Street) and choose from the bistro and bakery’s large selection of French pastries, like the frangipane tart with mixed nuts caramelized in honey.
890 Rte. 35, Cross River
Mon.-Fri.: 9:30 am-7 pm;
Sat.: 9 am-5 pm; Sun.: 10 am-3 pm
Go past the aisles of vitamins and bran cereals in this health food store, and you’ll discover one of Westchester’s best-kept secrets—an epicurean extravaganza of prepared gourmet organic foods. Just last year, owner Jeff Konchalski hired Liz Gagnon, former chef to a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, to head up his revamped kitchen. Since then, Gagnon has been whipping up such signature creations as her Mandala salad, crudités made up of concentric circles of colorful, julienned raw vegetables, such as radishes, beets, carrots, zucchini, and daikon, bathed in a curried pumpkin dressing.
Customers clamor for her broiled Tuscan red snapper with onions, peppers, and artichoke hearts as well as for chicken-and-wild-boar empanadas with spicy black-bean salsa. Every day Gagnon makes six organic soups from scratch, ranging from the popular Moroccan lamb stew with winter squash, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin to the vegetarian South American quinoa with tofu. Other gourmet finds for those who don’t like to eat meat include Tex-Mex pinto bean burgers; roasted tofu salad with celery, carrots, and scallions; and edamame with corn, red peppers, ginger, and toasted sesame seed oil.
In addition to prepared foods, Nature’s Temptations also carries a wide selection of organic-fed meats, such as free-range chickens, Teriyaki duck breasts, roasts made from buffalo, and wild boar kebabs, all from North American farms and ranches where no antibiotics or growth hormones are used. Have a hankering for venison or ostrich (or any other game meat)? If the store doesn’t have it in stock, it will special-order it for you. Says Konchalski, “Ninety-five percent of the shop’s produce is organic,” including juicy hot-house tomatoes and crunchy micro salad greens. Plus, there’s a nice array of fresh goat cheeses and organic Parmesan, in addition to shelves brimming with healthy specialty products, from olive oils to herbal teas.
Mon.-Sat.: 7 am-7 pm
I could smell the strawberry almond muffins baking in the kitchen the second I walked inside The Fridge, a gourmet shop that opened 10 months ago to rave reviews. The shop, housed in a 1950s building that was originally a dairy distributorship, uses two of the original freezer doors as part of its retro décor. Former press secretary Ari Fleischer is a regular here, and actress Sandra Oh (Sideways and Grey’s Anatomy) was recently spotted eating lunch at one of the shop’s outside patio tables.
What draws people here is the “emphasis on high-quality food,” says an admittedly biased Marshall Gilchrist, who owns the store with his partner and ex-wife, Marlene. If you’re coming for breakfast, pick up one of the homemade sugary scones bursting with jumbo-size pieces of sweet fruit, or a buttery croissant from famed Balthazar Bakery. The Fridge also has a coffee bar offering freshly roasted Sumatran coffee. Order an espresso, cappuccino, or latté, or pour yourself a cup from the Thermos resting on the 100-year-old stove the Gilchrists purchased at a local antique store.
The savory grilled-chicken burrito with jalapeños, sweet onions, and beans is a bestseller here, and don’t miss the egg salad flavored with just the right amount of dill, carrots, and scallions to make you scrape the side of the container to get every last bite (at least that’s what I did!). For a heartier appetite, try paella with shrimp, cockles, chorizo, chicken, and saffron rice, or the roasted leg of lamb stuffed with shallots and mushrooms.
The Fridge sells specialty breads from New York City, including semolina golden raisin fennel from highly-touted Amy’s Bread and Sullivan Street Bakery’s airy Italian Pugliese. Of course, you can’t leave without taking home a dessert, perhaps Marlene’s decadent brownies made with imported French chocolate, or her zesty lemon bars, or maybe you’d prefer the richly satisfying bread pudding.
Laura Joseph Mogil, a freelance writer residing in Briarcliff Manor, is currently searching for recipes that call for the citrus-cilantro grapeseed oil and raspberry-Champagne vinegar she acquired while researching this article.