ARTICLE: Not only did I attend culinary school in New York City, but I also cooked at many exclusive venues in and around this international city. As a result, I had to learn where to locate top ingredients to incorporate into quality dishes.

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Being such an international city, New Yorkers are exposed to a wide array of cuisine and finding just the right spices and herbs to truthfully reflect and re-create authentic ethnic fare is not for the faint of heart. New Yorkers know their food and chefs have to know how to keep these diners happy and coming back for more.

From A to Z – Shopping for Spices in the Big Apple
So, with so much ground where does one begin to go for quality ingredients at fair prices? Choices are abundant, but here, I will share some of my top finds.

Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn: Just a short venture across the Brooklyn Bridge will land you on Atlantic Avenue, home to Sahadi’s, one of the most respected spice stores in all of NYC. Located at 187 Atlantic Avenue, it’s easy to find.

Sahadi’s has been selling spices and specialties for more than 50 years. Specialties include: cheeses, coffees and teas, nuts, dried fruits, olives, grains and jams. With its open sack and barrel displays, you’ll find something from just about everywhere. Customers can purchase most spices in increments ranging from five ounces to five pounds. And, with more than 200 bins in the main part of the store, you’ll need some time to discover and take it all in. It’s truly one of this city’s gourmet food meccas.

And, while you are on Atlantic Avenue, you might as well stop into the Damascus Bakery at 195 Atlantic Avenue to sample some of the most wonderful Middle Eastern breads available in the U.S.

The Gourmet Garage: What started in 1981 as a single purveyor to some of the tops chefs in NYC has now grown into six locations throughout the isle of Manhattan. In 1991, it opened its premiere warehouse in SOHO and made products available to the public. With ever-changing offerings from around the globe, the Gourmet Garage has evolved into a NYC favorite. It’s frequented by everyone from celebrity chefs to home cooks due to its wide choice of professional-grade items. In addition to spices from around the world, shoppers will also find fresh seafood, artisan-style breads, farm raised meat and poultry and so much more!

Kalustyan’s Specialty Food Store: This is a landmark for fine specialty foods. They carry more than 4,000 varieties of spices, herbs, sweets, coffee, tea and healthy snacks. It’s the largest spice store in NYC with 30 varieties of dried whole chilies, alone! This is a must see. Right off 29th street and Lexington Avenue in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan, it’s also centrally located and easy to find. It’s got some of the greatest Indian spice selection around.

Zabar’s: I would be remiss, if I left out this famed New York City culinary destination. Located in Manhattan on 80th street and Broadway, this popular foodie locale is easy to get to from most everywhere in the city. As their slogan states, “New York is Zabar’s and Zabar’s is New York.” Their offerings span the globe and range from natural harvested herbs that are difficult to find to whole and ground spices.

Image courtesy and © Liisa Sullivan. Article Copr. © 2011 and originally publsihed on