What's your favorite new ingredient?
ALEX: We love freeze-dried ingredients. Freeze-dried pineapple has a great crispy texture; we sprinkle it on chunks of beautiful raw tuna. We love freeze-dried coconut powder too. We purchase them from Terra Spice. We also love sake-cured trout roe from Steve Stallard [of Blis Caviar] in Michigan. He cures wild brook trout roe, char roe and king salmon roe. At first he cured the roe with smoked salt. Now he's curing it with sake, and also with Tahitian vanilla.
What's the most versatile spice?
ALEX: Salt. There are eight million types of salt out there. We like to mix pollen with fleur de sel. Most recently, we mixed salt with Tahitian vanilla bean to use on shellfish and carpaccio. We also mix Maldon salt and Valrhona chocolate. We use it on lobster, foie gras, sweetbreads and also on desserts like roasted-banana tart.
What's the most underused spice?
AKI: Cardamom. I really like it as a background note for meat in rubs and marinades. It goes really well with pork, beef and especially lamb.