The Greenwich Village Food Tour @ Foods of New York Tours I had never thought to go on a food tour before but the concept is something highly attractive to me. This specific company has been in business for 12 years and facilitates tours of Greenwich Village, Chelsea Market/Meat Packing District, SoHo, Chinatown, and Nolita/NoHo. Amy, Director of Operations who first got in contact with me through this blog, was nice enough to stop by and say hello midway through the tour and tell me about herself and how the company has grown into the success that it is today. Not only did we have eight filling tastings, but the three hour walking tour also encompassed historical aspects and architectural information about the area. This was definitely the highlight of my trip and I suggest it to anyone visiting New York!
Stop #1: Joe's Pizza http://www.joespizzanyc.com/
To be completely honest, I'm not a fan of New York style pizza. I don't like thin crust pizza and I don't like the charring on the bottom. To me, pies like this taste like burnt crackers. I only finished about half my slice and threw it away which Hannah yelled at me for because apparently if you like New York style pizza this was one of the best pies she's ever had. The place was small and cramped but felt honest and full of tradition. Pictures of celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashley Olsen decked the walls. I wish I had liked this pizza more. Fun Fact: In Spider Man 2, Peter Parker gets fired from a pizza joint and that place is Joe's!
Stop #2: O&CO http://www.oliviersandco.com/
O&CO is a gourmet Olive Oil company. They don't produce it themselves but act as a middle man for selling authentically and correctly made olive oils and other products. I learned that just because your bottle says "product of Italy" could only mean that the sticker or the bottle is from Italy and that "first pressing" most of the time means nothing at all. The first slice of baguette was drizzled with their basil olive oil and topped with a bit of salt. It was so satisfying that I immediately cursed myself out for buying the cheap stuff from the grocery store and never investing in a truly real olive oil. The second wedge of bread was slathered honey and sprinkled with their white truffle salt. Again my mind flashed: "note to self - buy white truffle salt." However, at about $10-15 for a few ounces, I'll have to make the special purchase later. It was salty in a such a complex way that it almost bared no resemblance to table salt. Later, Hannah and I went back and tried their aged balsamic and it actually ranked a close second to the corn cookie. The balsamic flavor was so deep and rich it was almost like a syrup. I never wanted to eat another salad without it again but at $34 a bottle I'm going to have to. One day I'll come back for you aged balsamic, one day...
Stop #3: Home Restaurant http://www.homerestaurantnyc.com/
Home Restaurant is a farm-to-table establishment that serves the best Mac & Cheese and Chocolate Pudding I've ever had. Even though the ramekin of cheesy, gooey, classic elbow-shaped noodles was tiny, I couldn't finish it. The creaminess defeated me and I surrendered wholeheartedly to the Mac & Cheese. The crunchiness of the crispy crust was my favorite part to eat because it balanced the richness of the overabundance of cheese. The chocolate pudding was not on the tour but we went back later that night by recommendation for it and we were not steered wrong. Imagine sticking the spoon in the mug and it doesn't wobble one way or the other - that's how thick this pudding was. Thick with chocolate goodness and homemade whipped cream that Hannah and I were practically licking clean by the end.
Stop #4: Fiacco's This is an arancini from Fiacco's which is an Italian butcher's shop. Aranchini means "little orange" in Italian but it is far from the healthfulness of any fruit. Basically, this arancini is a mixture of rice, pecerino romano, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella cheeses which is then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. I can't say much more about this because you won't understand how amazingly delicious it is until you have one for yourself. On the tour I ate half of almost everything we tasted, except this. I ate the whole thing and I loved every cheese filled second of it.
Stop #5: Centro Vinoteca http://www.centrovinoteca.com
Centro Vinoteca was our midway point and we got to actually sit down here and enjoy four different "piccolini" which was described to us as the Italian version of tapas. From closest to furthest is a truffled deviled egg, a marinated white artichoke, a zucchini Parmesan fritter with spicy tomato sauce, and a bacon wrapped medjool date with gorgonzola. I felt pretty indifferent to most of these bites except..wait for it...the bacon wrapped date. Growing up Jewish, I'm predisposed to not want and not eat bacon but I really have nothing against it besides the fact that it's terrible for you. However, seeing as this was a time for food exploration I decided to try the date. The salty bacon evenly balanced the sweet juiciness of the date and the gorgonzola cheese added a whole other layer of flavor with it's aged tangy taste. The unique combination might have changed my mind about the frequency that I eat bacon!
Stop #6: Milk & Cookies Bakery http://www.milkandcookiesbakery.com/
Milk and Cookies Bakery was exactly what I would want my bakery to be like if I ever opened one. The shop was heavily focused on cookies but also had random treats up front like homemade Oreos or magic bars. Milk and Cookies was also ranked #1 for best ice cream sandwich in New York so I obviously had to try it. Hannah and I split the grasshopper which was two of their double chocolate cookies sandwiched between refreshing mint ice cream. The cookie we received on the tour was their classic chocolate chip which actually had an oat base. It was warm out of the oven and practically melted in my mouth. The Milk and Cookies cookbook is now on my must purchase list as well.
Stop #7: Murray's Cheese Shop http://www.murrayscheese.com/
I'm not really that into hard cheeses like this. The place was pretty neat though and they offered classes in "Cheese University" so you could learn to make your own. It definitely sounds like something I would do. A quick note of location, Murrays is sandwiched between "Amy's Bread" and "Fiaccos" making it one of the only strips in a America where you can buy food the old school way by getting your bread, cheese, and meat from the specialty stores.
Stop #8: Rocco's Italian Pastries http://pasticceriarocco.com/
For some reason, Italian bakeries always remind me of my great grandmother and she wasn't even Italian so I don't know how that works? Maybe it's the overall sense of family and tradition that seems to emanate from the glass cases filled with puff pastries, decorated shortbread cookies, and fancy cheesecakes. Either way, this tasting included a mini cannoli that I happily devoured. I think the amount of times I've eaten cannolis in my life probably does not exceed three and this Rocco's version definitely topped my rankings.
By the end of this tour I was STUFFED! Doing a food tour was a fantastic way to spend the day and I will be looking to see if other cities have them when I travel again. Again, I highly recommend you check out Foods of New York Tours next time you visit New York - your stomach will thank you!