So about a year ago I received a great gift. A walking tour of New York based on the TV show Top Chef. Well I waited too long to book it, and time was running out, so I chose the “Flavors of New York Food Tour”. Here’s the definition of the tour:
“Indulge in New York’s food, culture & history & enjoy the city like a native!Eat like a local on this easy walking tasting tour that ‘Yo, Yuse Gonna Love.’ “
“Eat like a local”, hmmmm I’ve been eating like a local for about a year now, but the history portion sounded interesting. The tour takes place in the East Village, an area of Manhattan we hadn’t explored yet.
Since time was running out we decided to do the tour in February. The weather report for that day: 25-30 mile an hour winds with gusts to 50 and temps in the low 30’s. In other words, What the heck are you thinking!!! We bundled up with layers, hats, scarves, gloves, we were ready.
Here’s a map of the tour. I used the app, “Map My Ride” and it looks pretty accurate. The long straight line is our cab ride up to Penn Station to catch the train home. All the little “bumps” are the stops along the way.
We met at the Astor Place subway station at the sculpture titled “Alamo”. Believe it or not it spins! Mind you it doesn’t spin easily, but the saying goes, “Once you spin the sculpture you’re a true New Yorker”.
Our first stop was a Ukrainian coffee shop called Veselka. It is located in an area of the East Village were there is a small Ukrainian community. Here we had the option of tasting Borscht, beet soup, or vegetable soup. Kevin picked Borscht and I chose the vegetable so we could taste each. The Borscht was an interesting flavor. It had small chunks of beets in it and a kinda sweet taste. My vegetable soup had pieces of potato, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Very good. The restaurant was packed and the food looked amazing. We will definitely venture back to try brunch.
Front entrance-hard to see because of the reflection
vegetable soup with homemade challah bread
Stop #2: Momofuku Milk Bar–
This is a cute little sweet shop with cookies, pies, cakes and soft serve yogurt. The chef, Christina Tosi has been on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. We tasted the “compost cookie”, it’s made with pretzels, chocolate and butterscotch chips, potato chips and probably more. It’s really good, but I thought it was a little too sweet, then I found myself craving one! Now I want to go to the shop near in midtown. The other thing that we tasted was “cereal milk” flavored frozen yogurt. Yes! It’s the flavor of the milk left over after having cereal! I do want to go back and try what is listed as “crack pie”.
Stop #3: Papaya Dog– If you’re going to “eat like a local” you must have a hot dog from one of these places, Papaya Dog, Gray’s Papaya, or any number of “papaya” titled hot dog shops. Personally I prefer Gray’s Papaya on 72nd, but these were good as well. It’s the sear and crispiness of the dog and the soft steamed bun.
Papaya juice is served as well as other tropical fruit juices. It makes for a tasty mix and you get some vitamins in the juice.
Stop #4: Iggy’s Pizza– The second typical New York food is Pizza! The city is full of pizza shops. Many offer pizza by the slice and NEVER eat it with a fork!
We were offered a slice of cheese pizza prepared the way I like it. A thin, crispy crust and just the right amount of cheese. As we walked up to the pizza place there was a line down the street for the place next door. Iggy’s happened to be right next door to Momofuku’s Noodle Shop. The owner, Chef David Chang is very famous here in NY. This is the original restaurant he first opened. People were lined up waiting for the place to open at noon.
Stop #5 was around the corner from Iggy’s. To save time we picked up our dessert to eat at the end of the tour.
Veniero’s Cafe is an old world Italian pastry shop. I’m going to let the window display speak for it. We tasted their cannolis. YUM!!
Stop #6/7- Our next stop was supposed to be Jum Mum which specializes in steamed buns, think pork buns or duck buns. They were supposed to open at noon but when we went by at 12:15 they weren’t open yet. So, change of plans sent us to my favorite stop, Pomme Frites!
A VERY small place that only serves hand cut french fries with a wide assortment of dipping sauces. OMG I couldn’t believe how good this place was. To die for fries!!
They also offered Poutine- fries with gravy and cheese curds. My sons love them!
After the delicious pomme frites we had our cannolis to finish our tour. On our way back to the subway we swung by Jum Mum to see if they had opened and we were in luck. We walked into another really small shop with a variety of bottles on the wall. We tried the pork buns that were served like tacos rather than the usual “bun”. It had hoisin sauce and a bed of lettuce
. Delicious! If I hadn’t had all the other snacks I may have tried the duck. Yet another place to visit again.
A walking food tour is a great way to get to know a neighborhood. We hadn’t ventured into the East Village yet and loved walking around and getting to see the different shops and restaurants the area offers. Our tour guide Matt was fabulous. He added great historical facts along the way.
We’ll definitely do another one when the weather is warmer. For now I’m happy to go to the numerous restaurants in our neighborhood.