My favorite restaurant in the city is this little Malaysian place called Nyonya, between Mulberry and Mott. I always get this one vegetable side dish. It almost looks like watercress, except its not spicy, but its leafy and the stem is crunchy. They sauté it with spicy fermented shrimp. So it’s salty, spicy, garlicky and so good. I get that with some rice. I love that place. I’ve been going there since I moved here in 2002. I like going to Liquiteria. There’s a place in Brooklyn called Bonnie’s, which has a really great burger.
Union Square Market, There’s one by my house in Carroll Gardens, but its only open on Sundays. But its perfect for a neighborhood because there’s a fish guy, there’s produce, there’s bread. There’s a little bit of everything there so it’s pretty comprehensive. If I’m in a jam on a Sunday I can get stuff for the restaurant, it’s that accommodating. There’s one on Greenwich Street in Tribeca and one by the courthouse in Brooklyn Heights that is pretty good too.
Tim Stark at Eckerton, his tomatoes are unquestionably really good; Rick Bishop at Sweet Mountain Berry for potatoes, strawberries, arugula and right now ramps. Most recently I’ve been very interested in this farm called Lonnie’s. The farmer’s name is Sayeed. They have a lot of really interesting vegetables that are semi-Asian, so like Bok Choy, Yu Choy, which I’ve never had or seen before but we’ll use in one of our dishes. I really like Stokes from New Jersey, Norwich Meadows, Cheerful Cherry, I like them all. They’re all really good at very specific things during specific times of the year.
Tilit Chef Goods; Bragard chef coat. I would love to find more designers of chef coats because it can be hard for a woman to find one that fits well. At this point, it’s hard for me to find the balance between practicality and design, so I’m still shopping.
Bowl scraper- its about the size of an index card but one side is round. I love it, if you’re cutting anything on your cutting board, it scoops things up easily into containers, and it cleans so efficiently. I carry around one of these a lot, a cake tester, to test temperature. I usually use it to test temperature of a piece of meat. I test in on my chin because its really sensitive here so I can always tell if something is ready or not ready that way. I love using a micro plane to grate things; it’s a great way to add essence instead of full-on flavor.
We’re using this really great chardonnay vinegar right now. Most recently I’ve started using musket vinegar, chardonnay vinegar, rose vinegar, they’re so interesting and so different. These are so much more complex. We’ve also been using infused and house-distilled vinegars at SOS Chef. They make an orange vinegar that we use, and a porcini vinegar. I think the concept of that is so interesting and unique; I love acid, so to have the different flavors like that, I think is really interesting.
Sahadi’s in Brooklyn. There’s this inlet where people stand in the middle and are surrounded by all these glass jars with lids. In them are all these dried fruits, spices, nuts, and seeds. They have great spices. I also go to Kalustyans on 27th and Lexington. If you want spices, you should go to Kalustyans. Their supply has really grown. Shelves and shelves of different kinds of spices. Peppercorns, they probably have 12 different kinds. They also have this gastro-stuff like stabilizers and emulsifiers, and vegetarian alternative things- I don’t even have the verbage for it, but they have everything.