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Dean & Deluca


yvonne johnson
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I certainly think Balducci's is better than Dean & DeLuca in almost every respect, but ultimately there's no such thing as one-stop shopping for the best food products in New York City and if there is such a thing you're more likely to find it at Fairway than anywhere else. But ultimately you will make compromises if you're not willing to visit several stores to get what you want.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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In my two rants on the dearth of good food stores on the east side in the 20s I forgot to mention Kalustyan's on Lexington. This and the Indian shop next to it are wonderful stores to live near for spices, dried beans, rice, all kinds of grains, dried nuts (they had great pistachios from Iran recently), dates, figs, and lots of Middle Eastern syrups, oils.

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Bux: "The latter is also the source of our Thanksgiving goose"

What the hell, Bux, Empire Kosher Turkeys not good enough for ya?  :laugh:

Having picked up our goose, I have to say I am annoyed that it was quite well frozen. "That's the way they come off the truck" doesn't necessarily cut it. I'm also ticked because we didn't find the liver inside the goose when it defrosted and the liver is a substantial flavor element in the stuffing. Earlier I said to Robert Brown "Robert, I think it's interesting that shops find a place in your shopping patterns and then lose it..." My wife has just reminded me that some of our shopping habits have become habits and need re-examination. Enough said for the moment, but may I need to read, rather than give, recommendations on butcher shops right now.

Jason, you are correct. I don't find turkey interesting enough to choose to eat, let alone cook.

I haven't been near Fairway in years and didn't realize the store on 74th Street had more than doubled in size since I was last there. It was mindboggling just to stop in for a minute.

Kalustyan remains an incredible shop, but it's losing it's Armenian-middle eastern focus although even years ago it was also a good source for Indian spices. They don't seem to get daily deliveries of pita bread. Some days the bread seems fresher than others. Pistachio nuts are a strong point however. Local health food shops can be a very disappointing place to buy pistchios.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Kalustyan remains an incredible shop, but it's losing it's Armenian-middle eastern focus although even years ago it was also a good source for Indian spices. They don't seem to get daily deliveries of pita bread. Some days the bread seems fresher than others. Pistachio nuts are a strong point however. Local health food shops can be a very disappointing place to buy pistchios.

Kalustyan is a TERRIBLE store to buy Indian spices. Inferior quality (compared to Foods Of India, the store south of them) of spices are packaged and sold to those not very familiar.

The Middle Eastern fare is now very lack lustre.

Many items are not as fresh as they ought to be.

What a shame... It is not the store I first visited 10 years ago. :sad:

Foods of India, the store just south of Kalustyan may charge a penny or five more per pound for some spices, but is far cleaner and selling far fresher ingredients. Arun Sinha the owner is a Spice Nazi if I have met one. Very proud of his offerings, he makes no compromises in quality. When certain spices are not available at the very minimum standard wanted by him, he chooses to simply delete that item from inventory till the correct quality can be brought back in. While it may seem an irritant to some, for one like me, it is a perfect reason to give him my business and respect.

Florence Meat Market is great for meats. Ottomanelli is great for well priced cuts and also is a great place to order stuff that may not be readily available elsewhere.

I love the Citrus I can find at Balduccis.... But I have not gone there in very long.. And I heard something about it closing.. Has it already? :shock: Is it really closing if it has not? What a shame that would be/is. :sad:

Liza had once suggested Chelsea Market for mangoes. I have found some good produce there... But it is inconsistent.

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Suvir, I've bought spices frequently (when I don't go to Patel Bros. in Jackson Heights) at Little India Emporium on 28th St. just west of Lex. What do you think of that place? I've been pretty pleased over the years, but would like to know how it compares to Foods of India (I've never been), in your opinion...

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Suvir, I've bought spices frequently (when I don't go to Patel Bros. in Jackson Heights) at Little India Emporium on 28th St. just west of Lex.  What do you think of that place?  I've been pretty pleased over the years, but would like to know how it compares to Foods of India (I've never been), in your opinion...

Nina I was thinking of you.... how funny :rolleyes: Wondered if you read the thread on Apple Chutney and got the recipe.

I go to Little India when in need of spices later in the evening.. They used to be open later than Foods of India. The owner is a man who grew up in the Islands... very kind person... and would even deliver for me when I gave him enough warning.

The spice are of better quality than Kalustyan for sure, but not even close in freshness and cleanliness to Foods of India.

Mr. Sinha, the proprietor at Foods of India is a hawkish man and it has served him well.

You may want to make a trip to his store next time you are in that hood. :smile:

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Reading through this thread leads me to realize that the underlying issue is the overall lack of satisfaction with the food stores available in NYC. I believe that this lack of satisfaction applies to restaurants as well and leads to similar trains of action and reaction. The reality is that although NY is undoubtedly a major food and restaurant city, it really does not meet the standards that we eGullet foodies crave, either in overall quality or consistency. This causes us to go around in circles; we find a place that we think we like, try it a few times, become disenchanted and look for something new. The process continues and eventually our hopefulness leads us back to the places that we once rejected, and the process repeats. On the restaurant side, we see discerning diners express high satisfaction with a restaurant for having acorded them one excellent meal in three.

Steve P's mention of Barthelemy brought this home to me in reminding me of what excellence really is. If we had Barthelemy in NY, then the discussion of all other cheese shops would become irrelevant. If we had Barthelemy and its peers in NY, then the plaintive search for quality in this thread and so many others would become unnecessary. We would be discussing choices among different versions of excellence and the tone would be entirely different.

However, as a lifelong New Yorker, I do have my opinions, so I will offer my two cents worth.

Cheese is the most difficult as there is no great cheese store in NY. DiPalo's is excellent for certain specific things like ricotta, but among the general purpose cheese shops, Dean and Deluca is as good as any, which is only fair.

Fish is a more hopeful area. There are a number of day boats that sell their catches in the greenmarkets, the blue moon boat stand at Union Square on Wednesdays is particularly good and their striped bass fillets for $11/lb is spectacular. I don't know of any commercial fish stores that sell day boat catch, and I would be interested to learn of any. The problem with day boats is that they only provide local fish which is restrictive in variety. Fish that comes through the wholesal fish market, caught by commercial boats, is generally much older, although it can still be good. You need to go to the most selective, and thus expensive, fish stores to get good stuff. Citarella, Rosedale, Wild Edibles are all good, but I prefer Pisacane due to their greater emphasis on whole fish. Wild Edibles seems to offer a number of Pacific fish such as Mahi Mahi and Ecuadorian swordfish which I don't particularly like. I would definitely advise people to avoid the Chinatown fish markets which are notorious for buying the cheapest stuff available and there have been scandals with chemical reprocessing of spoiled seafood.

For meat, particularly beef where the government standards have been downgraded numerous times, a really good recommendation is difficult. Dean and Deluca, even in its heyday, was never strong in this area. I used to live in the Village and never found Jefferson Market or Florence Market to be all that great, I think that their reputation is based more on ambience and service. Ottomanellis is serviceable, but below top rank. I actually found that Balducci's was overall the best, but I have been there very seldom since it was sold, and don't know whether this deparment has declined or not. Lobel is certainly very good, but in my experience they emphasize tenderness over flavor, and I sometimes have found their steaks to be bland. My brother and I about 5-6 years ago did a blind tasting of NY strips from Balducci's, Lobel and Jefferson Market and Balducci's won by a wide margin with Lobel second.

For produce, outside of the greenmarkets in season, since the decline of Balducci's produce department, I wouldn't know where to go. Not Fairway, any of the Garden of Edens or Gourmet Garage or Chelsea Market. Dean and Deluca's prices are rediculous. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Edited by marcus (log)
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If money is no object, there are categories in which it's possible to do exceptionally well in New York City. For example, I challenge anybody to find better steak anywhere in the world than what you can buy at Lobel's.

That being said, it shouldn't be so hard or so expensive to get great stuff on a consistent basis in New York. As any extreme-foodie-eGullet-type can testify it is a constant struggle and that struggle reaches epic proportions when you need to work on a limited budget.

And the scary thing is that we probably have the best food situation of any city in North America.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Marcus, that was a great summation and a good explanation why we keep shifting and vacillating among the specialty food shops.

FG, I was surprised by some of the foodstuffs I saw in Seattle; and this was in February of last year. It was just a cursory kind of look based on the Whole Foods and Pike's Place. You have probably spent more time looking around in Seattle than I have. What do you think?

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Having lived and cooked for long periods of time in New York, San Francisco, and again in New York, the quality of the local vegetables and fruit available almost year round in San Francisco is far superior to that available in New York. I think that produce underlies any good cooking, so I build my meals around it; I was able to get satisfactory to good poultry and meat in San Francisco and excellent fish, shellfish, but what made my cooking completely satisfying to me was the excellent quality of the produce I had to work with there. I've had to completely change how I cook here, and am not very happy about it. Sometimes, as now, when local produce is disappearing for the winter, I'm more unhappy.

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Robert: I think the year-round-fresh-produce scene on the West Coast -- particularly in Seattle and San Francisco -- is clearly superior to what we have here in the New York. There are only about two months a year in the late summer and early fall when I'd rather be here buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Likewise, Seattle is very strong in the seafood department in terms of constant availability of very fresh stuff, though I do think overall there's a lot of misinformation out there about the virtues of West Coast seafood (for the most part Atlantic seafood is superior). But when it comes to the broader range of gourmet products and the question of sheer variety, diversity, and quality, every city in this hemisphere feels like a poor cousin of New York. There are plenty of individual components of markets in other cities that I'd like to have here, but you'd never be able to tempt me into an overall trade.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The gourmet food business in NYC has become a mini mass market of it's own. The amount of products that are for sale that are long in the tooth or at their last sale date boggles my mind. I never used to check dates so fervently but in the last few years I wouldn't be surprised if 20% of the items I buy are past their prime to the point that I find them unusable. I think the entire quality issue tipped when some of the markets, most notably Vinegar Factory and Gourmet Garage went to prepacking cheese. That toe in the water on prepacking was the entree into places prepacking cheese as well as other food items.

As for butchers, aside from Lobel's where I buy my strips (and a hell of a good prime rib for T-Day yesterday,) the butcher at Eli's Market is quite good. They have the best rib lamb chops I've had in this town. And the dry aged ribeye they have in a case behind and above the counter can be great. When my office was in Greenwich Village, I used to stop at Balducci's on my way home most days. This was maybe between 4-6 years ago. It was at its peak then. And the butcher was especially good at that time. But the quality isn't there anymore. Nowadays I think Citarella has better quality then Balducci's when it comes to meat. But I'm not sure that based on the volume that a shop in this town has to do, that we are going to get much better. Nobody wants to open a place like Lobel's or Rosedale anymore and those businesses survive because they can be passed on to heirs or workers.

Is it really better in other cities. If you are in Paris and you go into Fauchon or Peck in Milan is it really better? I'm sure it's better in some ways but worse in others.

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Marcus, that was a great summation and a good explanation why we keep shifting and vacillating among the specialty food shops.

I agree. Marcus described my shopping patterns very well. It made me think about the loyalty that my mother had to stores when I was growing up. There was a butcher she used her entire life and I never heard her say we got a poor piece of meat. I'm wondering if it's impossible to have a shop the size of D& D and expect it to be very good-excellent across all the ranges of products it sells.

I see there are a few negative/mixed comments about Jefferson Mkt. I think the service isn't quite a s good (neither as friendly nor as helful) as it was 10 years ago, and the shop could do with a good clean. A plus is that it can be used a one-stop place as it sells cleaning things, cat food etc, whereas if you use D&D or Balducci's chances are you have to go somewhere else, and if you're running home late that's a pain.

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Have any of the experts on the board tried "Fresh Direct" and if so, how does it compare to the stores described in this thread in various key categories - Meat, Fish, Produce, etc?

I checked out the website and it certainly appears that the prices seem attractive and the place has gotten some good press recently.

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