Shop Markets You Trust
“My mother still drives to Newark to get her Grana Padano and mortadella. I take after her.”
Christine is loyal to those vendors who have earned her trust. They earn it by consistently stocking fresh produce, meat, fish and dairy.
“Do not go to a butcher where the meat is oxidized in the window, or a fish market that smells bad. Every market has to be clean,” warns Chef Christine.
“Whether a fish market looks fresh all or just some of the time is a big tell,” she says. “An abundance of primarily frozen fish is another one.” That kind of stocking usually means the supplier is holding onto fresh fish as long as they can, and then freezing it to avoid throwing it out. “You may not get the freshest fish that way.” Chef Christine also looks for a place that has selections that include both whole and fillet fish, and offers the service of filleting the fish of your choice for you. “I also look for a nice oyster and clam selection, along with seasonal items such as stone crabs, wild salmon, halibut, soft shell crabs, black cod and sable fish.” She believes in the importance of sustainable food production, and for that reason has located a some very good suppliers, such as Musky Trout Hatchery in Asbury. Metropolitan Seafood in Lebanon does an excellent job.
Its nice to buy a good European style butter which you can get at a specialty cheese shop, including Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley and Bobolink Dairy in Milford for cheeses and butter. Chef Christine notes that they do old style artisanal breads from an ancient strain of gluten free wheat so the those who need their bread gluten free can shop there.
LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS:
“I love them, but you have to be careful to pick good ones,” says Chef Christine. “If they have produce that is not indigenous to the area, or that have stickers, it is always suspicious to me. Just because you see it at a farmer’s market does not mean that it is just picked.”
Chef Christine is partial to just a few local farmers markets. They include Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick, Profeta Farms in Readington, and Tradition Farms in Asbury.
Christine recommends that if you do not have propane or a gas grill, always have a bag of charcoal, lighter fluid and matches on hand. “I like a charcoal grill better than the others,” she says, “so I always allot an extra 30 minutes to the cook time for the charcoal to heat up.”
“I love to grill in the summer,” says Christine. “I prepare my grilled vegetables early in the day, and platter them. I pick my tomatoes the morning of, and never refrigerate them. I use them fresh and at room temperature. My guests have them sliced with cheese and a glass of wine when they arrive.”