What's your favorite new ingredient?
I've been using a lot of olives. I like kalamatas because they're really briny. I confit them like you would a cherry. You can always mimic a cherry with an olive, once you let the sherry and port do their thing. I'm making clafoutis with olives. And now I'm dehydrating them so they're like olive candy. I'm working on an olive pop tart (nice pureed olives and dehydrated olive pieces on top).
What's the most versatile spice?
Pepper in general. I prefer Thai long pepper; it's reminiscent of pine.
What's the most underused spice?
I'm a big fan of cumin. I don't think I ever liked it before, but I've become affectionate toward it. Cardamom is great, too. I just love the whole spice rack.