Because most of my cooking is quite simple, I look for high-quality, unusual ingredients that will speak for themselves, and there is no better place to stock up than at Formaggio, a gourmet food shop. As the name suggests, its cheese selection is extensive, and with cubes set out for sampling, you may well find a new favorite. Their Italian and Austrian made pastas are a personal favorite – look for the ones made with farro. Another highlight are their olive oils – shelves and shelves of them. Handwritten shelf cards describe their varying charms, and they make a terrific hostess gift.
There is also an extensive and well curated selection of local beer and wine. One of Formaggio’s lesser known offerings is its selection of good-quality and surprisingly affordable spices and spice blends. For far less than at a conventional grocery store, you can pick up standards (ground ginger), hard-to-find specialty spices (Mexican oregano), or homemade spice blends (the ras al hanout is terrific with roasted vegetables.)
Formaggio is also a great pre-picnic destination, with a small selection of pre-made salads and sandwiches in addition to the cheeses and the meats available at the deli counter in back.