NoHo Know How: Fixin' the kitchen on any budget

By Shayna Murphy

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Don’t be surprised if you recognize some of the mugs offered up at Faces, including those by San Francisco-based company Taylor & Ng. Chances are your grandmother might have owned a few of the company’s ceramic white mugs back in the late 1970s when they first began to circulate throughout nationwide retail stores. For $5.95, you can start your own collection of these 11 oz. mugs, whimsically crafted by illustrator and co-founder Win Ng. Mugs from the company’s Vintage French series are on display at Faces, including their “Le Chien Tigre” and “Le Chat” designs, the latter of which displays a cat playing with a ball of yarn as a mouse peeks out perilously from behind a strand. A greater selection of the Vintage French series can be found at Taylor & Ng’s website, including “Le Canard,” which depicts two ducks floating along on a sea of tiny currents, and “Le Lapin,” wherein a large rabbit is positioned against a backdrop of friskier blue ones. Faces, 175 Main Street, Northampton, 413-584-4081.

Flatware can be expensive, but at Acme Surplus, it doesn’t have to be. Function and efficiency prevail at the heavily trafficked store, tucked away deep in the basement of Thornes Marketplace. Spoons, knives and forks go for a meager two for $1.00, while kitchenware manufacturer Regent Products offers up salt and pepper shakers priced at a mere $1.49. Cutting boards are equally cheap, priced at $3.99 and $4.99. If visions of vanquishing any age-old fears about the kitchen have you preoccupied going into spring break, a Pyrex pie plate – priced at $3.99 – should help you along the way. The pie you bake will go nicely with three-leaf clover and heart-shaped treats, which you’ll be able to make with the assistance of Sci Cuisine International’s cookie or canapé cutters, available at the store for a single dollar. Acme Surplus, 150 Main Street, Northampton, 413-586-1122.

For times when fancy dishware is required, look no further than Caskata tableware, priced at $16.50 at Essentials. Although the tableware, designed by Shawn Laughlin, comes in several lines, “Sea Life” seems the most startling. Butterfly and swordfish swim across an all-white ocean platter, accented by an elegant 23-carat gold and platinum finish. Although Caskata’s ceramic sets may immediately conjure up an image of opulence that seems inappropriate for, say, chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, the line remains a functional contribution to any dining set. In addition, Essentials features the work of Robert le Heros. Characterized by nature motifs and a festive explosion of bright colors, le Heros’ machine-washable tablecloth and tea towel designs are priced at only $21.00 at Essentials, and are a sure way to class up your kitchen. Essentials, 88 Main Street, Northampton, 413-584-2327.

Looking to infiltrate a world of exotic cuisine and culture? Try the Kokudei Katto Teapot, assembled by long-standing Japanese-based manufacturers Tokoname. At only four inches tall, red clay-colored lines separate the diminutive teapot into a glazed honeycomb design, making it a modern standout. While its price tag is a little steep – a whopping $95.00 at Cooks Shop Here – its unglazed finish and graceful design promises to reward a buyer long into the future. Similarly, Cooks Shop Here features a selection of tagines – cone-shaped slow-cookers made from low-fired clay that are perfect for constructing your own Moroccan-inspired dishes. While some kitchen novices may find the atmosphere daunting, the store offers a myriad selection of food and culinary tools for chefs of all levels. Cooks Shop Here, 65 King Street, Northampton, 413-584-5116.

Shayna Murphy can be reached at [email protected]