Bari Musacchio’s Pantry

PHOTOS BY LANNA APISUKH

How do you like to shop for food?

Shopping for food is my favorite thing to do. I spend a lot of time in Sag Habor. Out there, I shop at King Kullen, this big, old school, Long Island grocery store. It’s so clean and well merchandised, and I love to stroll the aisles — I find that process meditative. It’s not that the products are so amazing, but it has this nostalgic feel. They have the things that would have always been in my mom’s or grandma’s house growing up. Even though I kinda get the same things every time, I tend to shop with a list — it helps to avoid missing something so you don’t have to go like, 22 aisles back to find it. I also love this place Round Swamp Farm — their vegetables are so beautiful, and the entire family contributes to making everything. They have incredible baked goods, pies, jams, sauces, and prepared foods. It feels old fashioned and yet modern, understanding how people eat these days (not everyone has the time to whip up, like, amazing scalloped potatoes every night!).

Bari’s Top Picks

How do you find inspiration in the kitchen?

Historically, I’d travel to find inspiration in the kitchen, but this year, I turned to The Pasta Grannies, a collection of videos of elderly women in Italy making pasta at home. There is no fancy equipment or commercial kitchen — just women with flour, water, and a few local ingredients making pasta by hand. During quarantine, with our restaurant closed and limited access to ingredients, I found inspiration in the purity of basics — I’d work on different shapes in my own kitchen with The Pasta Grannies on the TV so I could shadow their technique.

A Sense of Place

It seems like that sense of place shines through in your favorite markets as well, albeit in different ways.

Her Style

  • Which item in your pantry do you most identify with? Probably Everything crackers. They’re the perfect vehicle for a variety of toppings while snacking. Or pasta — there are so many different shapes and sizes, each with its own unique origin and purpose.
  • What items do you covet in your fridge? Parmigiano Reggiano, Dr. Brown’s Cel Ray soda
  • What’s the first thing you remember cooking? How does this memory shape your cooking today? The smells. So many aromas from cooking evoke childhood memories. My father used to fry up long hot Italian peppers and the smell would stick to my clothes when I went to school. Every December, my grandmother’s house smelled like potato latkes crisping in vegetable oil — I imagine I carried that on my clothes as well. Last week, I made blintzes that I pan-fried in a little vegetable oil — I was on Facetime with my sister while I was cooking and she told me she knew my kitchen smelled “exactly like Grandma’s.” I guess olfactory cooking memories run in the family.
  • If a stranger looked in your pantry, what would it say about you? Wow… that’s a lotta pasta.
  • What’s your favorite pasta dish to make at home? Despite having an entire pasta drawer, my favorite dish to make at home is risotto — which to me is in the pasta family. Like pasta, what I love about risotto is that it’s a blank canvas for ingredients. You can keep it very simple with Parmigiano Reggiano or utilize seasonal ingredients for a hearty dish in the winter or a light springy dish right now.
  • Which women do you #PineFor? Right now I’m especially inspired by a couple local heroes who started Heart of Dinner: MoonLynn Tsai and Yin Chang really took care of our Asian American senior community through food during the pandemic. Their focus and the scale of this effort is logistically impressive, selfless and truly from the heart. Other inspirational women from my formative years of cooking and homemaking include Martha Stewart, Ina Garten and Lidia Bastianich.

What are some of your pantry staples?

Cipriani pasta, Pineapple Collaborative’s The Olive Oil, Maldon salt flakes, chili flakes, New York Flatbreads Everything Crackers, cookies (Tate’s chocolate chip and raspberry almond cookies from Round Swamp Farm)

To Sum It Up

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