Caramels, Knives, Greek Honey, Really Expensive Copper Pots... There's New Stuff to Check Out at Main Street Kitchens

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"Once you try one, you'll want to have more," Dave Barrette said matter-of-factly, as he deviously handed over a free sample of a McCrea's "Single Malt Scotch" caramel. Yes, indeed.

Dave and his wife, Kait, now have a summer under their belts as the new owners of Main Street Kitchens. The store was owned for 22 years by Mary and Marv Schouten, and Dave and Kait have moved carefully as they put their imprint on the much-loved Hanover retailer. "We’re trying to maintain the core of our business, so we’re not trying to shake up the business model too much," Dave says.

Still, they're definitely changing it. "We're trying to bring in items that marry both the home cook and the professional cook here in the Upper Valley," Dave says. "We're trying to expose the home cook to things they may never have seen before, and for the pro cook, now we’re trying to stock those items."

Glance up over the counter at the front of the store, and you'll see what he's talking about. Up on the wall, you'll find a shelf of copper pots. 

This is high-end cookware, 1.5 millimeters thick, $385 for that pot you see on the left above, $700 for the soup pot just visible on the right. "It's all about even cooking," says Dave, who's quick to add that it's used by Eleven Madison Park, the tony Flatiron District if-you-have-to-ask destination that's one of very few restaurants to get four stars from the New York Times.

You'll also find Boos Blocks, cutting boards for people with biceps. Seriously. Go in there and pick up the biggest one. Once it finds a home on your counter, it's not moving.

He's also added two lines of knives, in addition to the home-cook favorites the store has always carried. Hammer Stahl knives are made in Tennessee from German steel, and at $99 for an 8" chef's blade, they're actually within reach. "It’s a great knife and they’re great people that run the company," Dave says. Shun Knives are an Asian-style blade, hammered from Damascus steel, and so striking-looking that I'm just going to show you what they look like. As you'll see, they're a lot more than the Hammer Stahls. 

Then there's the food that Main Street Kitchens has added. There's a shelf of salts, and another of spices and seasonings from around the world, as well as relatively local jams--made by Jansal Valley, which is a division of New Bedford, Mass. distributor Sid Wainer & Sons. You'll find honeys, some from Massachusetts and a really intriguing set from Greece, imported by Woodstock's Diane Hinaras and her husband, who run The Olive Table there. 

Honeys imported by Woodstock's The Olive Table

Now, about those caramels. McCrea's are made in Hyde Park, Mass. There are a lot of flavors, which sweets-makers like to do these days: Ginger Fusion, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Black Lava Sea Salt, Cape Cod Sea Salt... 

Dave's all-innocent offer of a free sample worked. I bought two small pillow packs to bring to the office -- that Single Malt Scotch, and the Black Lava Sea Salt. You'll be stunned to learn that my estimable-but-extremely-predictable co-workers zeroed right in on the Single Malt, which are caramelly with a more-than-subtle Scotch bite at the end. But for my money, it's the Black Lava you want to go for: somehow, it deepens the caramel, creating a whole set of flavors that wash down your tongue. And stick in your teeth, but we won't go into that.

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