The good news was discovering the recipes of cookbook genius Mark Bittman, the bad news was having to hunt down some of his more exotic ingredients.
By Paul Hicks
The good news was discovering the recipes of cookbook genius Mark Bittman, the bad news was having to hunt down some of his more exotic ingredients. Even with gourmet sources like June & Ho and Rye Country Store close by, we had to go further afield to find the likes of tamarind paste, star anise, and lemon grass.
In the course of our foraging, we discovered some great places around the county to shop for ethnic foods.
130 E. Main Street, Elmsford
This family-owned business, started in 1990, provides a wide range of Indian groceries and other products, including spices, chutneys, frozen foods, and curry mixes. If you need advice on what to buy, ask one of the Indian shoppers at Bhavik, in addition to what the store clerks recommend. It is open daily, Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Parking is mainly on the street (Route 119).
Kam Sen Asian Market
22 Barker Avenue, White Plains
According to their website, Kam Sen is “Westchester’s largest Asian supermarket, featuring over 30,000 items.” It has many aisles of grocery items from China, Japan, and other Asian countries, including a large variety of spices, sauces, and teas. English labeling of unusual items is quite good, but if you need to ask a question the checkout clerks are very helpful. Be sure to stop by the prepared food and bakery areas in the front of the store where they have take-out servings of Peking duck, roast pork, and other items that are very good.
The store is on the ground floor of the building where the Department of Motor Vehicles is located and is open daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
La Placita Market
155 North Main Street, Port Chester
This well-stocked grocery store offers a wide selection of fruits and vegetables and many varieties of fresh and dried peppers. Shop there for Latino staples such as tortillas, beans, rice, spices, and hot sauces. The variety of products and a substan- tial meat department make this much more than a neighborhood bodega.
It is open daily from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and is located across Main Street from Radio Shack.
Mercurio Fresh Pasta
383 Mamaroneck Avenue, Mamaroneck
A Mamaroneck staple since 1973, Mercurio’s has earned many fans over the years for its fresh pasta and freshly prepared Italian food. Everything for sale is home- made, from noodles and filled pas- tas to lasagna dinners that you can take home, heat, and serve. Their Bolognese sauce draws many raves.
Open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
522 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains
This grocery store is well stocked with Japanese and other Asian products. Online commentators rave about the range of choices and the quality of the vegetables, meat, and fish. You can get any type of sushi or sashimi you desire at the sushi station or buy a bento box for lunch. Their frozen pork dumplings (in the case on the left as you enter) are especially good.
Open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., you can park in the store lot or in the large municipal parking garage nearby.
283 Halstead Avenue, Harrison
Although it is much smaller than Nippan Daido, this neighborhood store carries many Japanese food products, including green tea ice cream (one of our favorite flavors). It is located across from the Harrison train station and is open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
33 N. Main Street, Port Chester
Paleteria Fernandez specializes in paletas — homemade Mexican popsicles that come in a multitude of flavors. They also sell chongos, a Mexican dessert that is sort of a pudding made with curdled milk, cinnamon, and sugar. For the less adventurous, there is soft ice cream, and for the health-conscious the slices of fresh mango with lime are delicious.
The store is open daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Park on Main Street or in the municipal lot behind the store.
Shiraz Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Market
83 East Main Street, Elmsford
This attractive, family-run grocery store is located next-door to their very good Shiraz Persian Restaurant. It carries a variety of Middle Eastern food items from dates, honey, nuts, beans, and hummus to fresh baklava and Turkish coffee. Their frozen meat kebabs and vegetarian dishes are also worth the trip.
The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and until 8 p.m. on Sunday. Park on the street (Main Street is Route 119) or behind the building.
175-179 N. Main Street, Port Chester
Along with their successful Tarry Lodge, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have created this fine upscale Italian market. They offer excellent meat, cheeses, and breads. Their Christmas panettone is the best anywhere. The porcini-rubbed, spit-roasted beef on ciabatta, with olive oil and salt and pepper, alone is worth a trip.
Check out their website, tarrymarket.com, for special food features and events. The market is open seven days a week, Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
The Pork Store
359 Willett Avenue, Port Chester
The Pork Store has been a Port Chester landmark for decades. It sells a wide selection of German and Polish meats and sausages such as kielbasa, liverwurst, and bratwurst, made by Karl Ehmer, a top producer. There are many types of pickles, mustards, and sauerkraut to choose from, as well as pierogies and other prepared food. We also like their bakery products, including the rye bread and poppy seed cake roll.
Located near Sonora Restaurant, it is open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday, 12-4 p.m.
Yaranush Mediterranean Foods
322 Central Avenue, White Plains
The website of Yaranush promises that “Visiting Yaranush will bring back many pleasant memories of Armenia, Greece, Bulgaria, Israel, and Lebanon.” They offer a great selection of dried fruit and nuts, spices, organic grains and beans, and a wide variety of Greek cheese, olives, honey, baklava, and much more. Among our favorites are their yogurt, feta, and grape leaves.
They are open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.