Thursday, May 3, 2012

Much Love for Dual Specialty Store

Dual Specialty Store 
Our book is getting super real. We're in recipe testing mode here at B&B. And dang, this book is going to be abso-freaking-lutely delicious. The testing queue for the next few days include recipes from Comme Ci, Comme Ca Truck, Uncle Gussy's and the Cinnamon Snail. But before I can get busy in the kitchen, I need to be well stocked and ready to roll. Thanks to a visit to Dual Specialty Store in the village, I'm ready to hit the kitchen hard...

I've been going to Dual Specialty Store for probably the better part of a decade. In college I discovered Banjara, a terrific Indian restaurant on the corner of 6th and 1st and my favorite of the Curry Row establishments. Dual Specialty Shop occupies a just below street level space down the block from Milon and Panna II, nearly identical, dueling chili pepper-light swathed Indian restaurants. If you've ever walked the stretch of 1st Avenue from 5th to 6th street chances our the manager of Panna and probably Milon has encouraged you to take just a short walk up the stairs to try their dinner specials. If you can get past the hard sell of the neighboring restaurants and make it into Dual Specialty Store then you're in for a serious treat.

The namesake dual specialties are spices (let's broaden that to ethnic ingredients) and beer. Their wall-lining refrigerator case reputedly boasts 400 varieties. The Village Voice called the shop a "baby Kalustyan's" and the comparison's with the venerable Lexington Avenue spice emporium are apt. Dual Specialty Store has a much smaller footprint and lacks the takeout counter that Kalustyan's has, but they pack an impressive amount of items in a small space. I've never gone in search of an exotic ingredient and come up empty handed at Dual Specialty. And while I love the feel of wandering through the close aisles at Kalustyan's, as far as I can tell Dual Specialty has them beat on prices.

How good are their prices? A small bottle of ground cloves will run you at least $4 at your standard grocery store for about an ounce. And Dual Specialty I got 2.4 ounces for $4.50. My recent trip yielded a pound of Organic French Lentils for $3.75. Yesterday, I was in a pinch and bought a 12 oz package from Whole Foods for around $4 and mind you, those weren't even organic. Other purchases included preserved Lemons imported from Morocco. Organic coconut oil. Greek oregano. And an impulse buy of some Masala Peanuts.

If I weren't on a book deadline and over scheduled for every minute of every day for the next 6 weeks, I could spend hours in this shop exploring and finding new things to try. If I haven't convinced you to give this shop a try, perhaps the recent New York Times profile of the owner, Abdul Patwary, will cement it. If you like to cook and your tastes in ingredients veers from the standard spice selection at the grocery store (or you like to buy good products while saving some serious coin), then get thee to Dual Specialty Shop, stat.

Dual Specialty Shop 
91 1st Ave 
New York, NY 10003 
(212) 979-6045

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