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Hovering at the top of the New York Times‘ most-e-mailed stories this week is Mark “The Minimalist” Bittman‘s piece on outfitting your kitchen for $300 or less. The strategy, he writes, is to take advantage of the cheap, hardy wares available at restaurant supply houses.
By coincidence, I did pretty much exactly that last weekend, when I headed down Florida Avenue Market way to outfit my new apartment. The place I hit up for my trip was Best Restaurant Supply at 413 Morse St. NE.
Like Bittman, I went for the cast-aluminum saucepans (unlike Bittman, I bought lids for each), instant-read thermometer, super-cheap aluminum mixing bowls, a rubber-handled vegetable peeler (a fraction of the price of the foodie-favorite Oxos), and lots of long-handled cooking utensils. I already had a cast-iron skillet and a nonstick fry pan, but those could both be had at Best for under $20. In addition, I picked up some plastic squeeze bottles for cooking oil, a couple of oversized shakers for salt and spices, and a few industrial scouring pads.
One place where Bittman and I diverge is on the utility of the wok. I picked up a $12 carbon-steel wok (plus a $6 wok ring), and true, most home stovetops don’t have burners with enough BTUs to properly stir-fry a whole bunch of food. But if you really fire it before you use it, I’ve had plenty good luck at home, and you can’t beat the flavor of a well-seasoned wok. My apartment, however, does still smell like peanut-oil smoke almost a week later from the seasoning process—-a not wholly unpleasant smell, actually.
All told, I got out of there for about $80. Hit it up!