I word of shopping advice for the home cooking foodie.
As a chef I use the best purveyors that I can find for my restaurant.
My guests often ask me where to find food of the quality we use at our Bistro.
I thought I would post some recommendations so that I may refer them to chowhound.com when they ask....
For retail produce in the Metrowest I still love Russo's market. It is no secret, I know, but it is good....for me it is the ability to walk around and see, touch and smell the porducts....
If you get there early enough you can shop with the little old ladies from Nonantum and Watertown.
Watch what they get....They are pickier than any foodie, there is fresh Iggy's Bread...
Chef Mark Havens makes great pastries and often if you want to put cooking off until the next day, you can get a great meal from their steam table lunch counter
For Produce on a smaller scale- my 92 year old brandmother always liked Johnny D's in Brighton...this little market offers a home town, produce cart feel...Everything is fresh and the price is great.
In the North Shore- Busters Street Market is an odd little concoction. If you wish to pick through and find the good stuff, you can wind up getting bag fulls of fresh fruit and produce at Haymarket-like prices.
About Meat...the best retail store I know for fresh meat is the John Dewar location in Newton Center. The prices are not dirt cheap but you center of the plate stuff is worth spending the money on. They will cut you chops or steaks if you ask and will smile while doing it.
Wasik's cheese shop in Wellesley is the best!
They have a sister shop in Concord,(the Concord cheese shop) or at least there is some tie between them, but Wasik's seems a little more accesible and they are passionate about the products they sell. You can get specialty imported items and ask the cheese gurus questions about the origins and history of almost anything. It is family owned.
While in Wellesley... Captain Marden is worth a trip. They have excellent seafood, good prepared foods and lots of parking. They sell to alot of restaurants and because they are busy- you know fish has not sat around.
I would not recommend buying seafood from any of the major chain grocery stores. I do not want to scare anyone, but food handling and temperature control is well documented for being problematic.
For Bread..In Brookline "Clear Flour" is one of the best...they are tucked away but worth finding...customers can be seen stand in line out front in single digit temps to get the still hot fresh bread...the smell alone is worth the trip.
For Coffee...I am a coffee snob.. It worked opening George Howell's (coffee conection coffee guru) venture Copa Cafe which had the best coffee but a shaky business plan....It spoiled me to only drink the very best coffee...George is at it again though...his Terroir and GHH retail coffee can be purchased in select places and if you google him, you will get all his contact info...
If you don't have time and you live North of Boston...
GO TO ATOMIC CAFE BEVERLY.....John is an artist of the bean...his coffee is roasted daily on premises..I use his stuff at my restaurant and everybody loves it...it may actually be better than George's (as lightning strikes me)
For kitchen equipment and general flatware and stuff....Use China Fair in Newton on Needham Street. You can tell Will, that Chef Kevin sent you and maybe he will smile or something...his plates can be found at Cragie Street Bistro, and many other places including the Blue Ginger, until Ming got so big....
Then there is restaurant depot (ugh) if you can get a card, ther are some things in there that are decent and can save you money...it is geared towards large foodservice operations ut there are deals to be had for the home shopper...there are two locations locally...Needham and Chelsea..
that's all folks Bon Appetite