Friday, March 4, 2011

Overjoyed in Manhattan: Day 2 - Greenwich Village Food Tour (Part 2)

Manhattan Day 1
Manhattan Day 2 Part 1

So I left off at our peek into Faicco's. Up until this point, all the tastings we had were located fairly close together. In fact, we had only made a tiny little loop around one block. For our next tasting we had to stroll a couple blocks away from our original starting point.

See? Strolling... Soy and Sake Village!

Here we had a chance to sit down, get cozy...

...and warm up with some hot drinks before the munchies came.

This was our little tasting plate. Notice anything interesting about it? Probably not. I'll give you a hint: that's not meat sitting on top of the rice.

That's right. This place is vegetarian! I thought it was vegan, but after checking out their menu, I noticed that a few of the items they offer contain casein or whey. I believe the plate above is vegan, though. The "meat" was made of soy, and the gyoza/potsticker had a veggie filling. I thought everything tasted pretty yummy, but don't take just my word for it since you know I'm not big on meat. My brother, who is a meat lover and has been resistant to my vegan-restaurant-loving, also said that it tasted good! (dear brother, comment if I remember that wrong)

I will say, in the interest of full disclosure, that while this was definitely good, this isn't the best vegan food I've had. I have a couple places in NorCal that I much prefer (though I concede that we only had a couple bites worth of food at Soy & Sake) to this place. If you're interested, let me know!

After warming up at Soy & Sake, we headed out into the cold to walk some of the more historical blocks of the neighborhood. They make keys at this place. Lots of keys.

On this exact spot in 1897, absolutely nothing happened. I'm glad they commemorated it with a placard. I totally would have forgotten.

Original wrought iron railing! You can tell because in the bottom right corner of the shot, you can see the boot scraper used for getting the mud, gunk and snow off of boots back in the day. See? I did learn something from the culture part of the tour.

Our next tasting was a pit stop for something sweet.

mmmm...cookies...warm, freshly baked cookies...

Caught in action!

Everyone likes cookies. Even when you have to stand out in the cold to munch them. They were quite yummy, and I wish I had gone back to try some of their other flavors.

After the cookies, it was time for more culture.

The skinniest house in Manhattan! I don't remember the exact width (9ft? 7ft?), but you can tell the scale a bit by comparing it to the cars parked out front.

The placard says something about Pulitzer Prize winning poet Edna St Vincent Millay living here, but I was more interested in the house number. 75 1/2!! :-D

We stopped by Cherry Lane Theater to get out of the cold and learn a bit about broadway productions.

Here our guide is quizzing us on the difference between Broadway, Off Broadway, and Off Off Broadway shows. Do you know what it is? I'll give you a hint: it has nothing to do with location! Cherry Lane Theater houses both Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway shows.

These two buildings have a sad story to them. A man had two daughters who hated each other. Before he died, he had these two houses built--one for each of them--with a courtyard in between in the hopes that one day, they would meet in the courtyard and reconcile. I don't remember exactly how the story ended, though I'm pretty sure the two sisters never made up. Did one kill the other? Maybe I've just been reading too many thriller novels, but for some reason I keep thinking they met one day in the courtyard and one killed the other. That or one ran across the courtyard and set fire to the other's house. Hmmm...maybe I should read a happy book next...

I think something significant happened here, too. A fire? Or was it just that the type of bricks used were in a fire?

See? Burned looking.

A little ways away, I saw something familiar poking out in the distance.

It's the Friends building! It's also the final breakfast spot in No Reservations. In real life it's a Mediterranean restaurant called The Little Owl. I was so excited to see this building (I'm a huge Friends fan) that I think I might have annoyed the guide a bit. She kept us a block away for a bit, trying to talk about a certain architecture style at a courtyard thingie. All the while, I'm standing in the middle of the street trying to snap pictures of the Friends building, not listening to a word she was saying. When she finally walked us over, she motioned toward the building saying, "As some of you already seem to have noticed..." :-P Whatev. I saw the Friends building. In. Real. Life. :-D

Two half-addresses right next to each other. You'd think a 35 would fall somewhere near here, but I couldn't find it.

Another spot I wish we had a chance to go back and try. Supposedly the pizza here is awesome. As you can tell by the awning, they don't offer slices. You have to order an entire pizza.

And then, my wish was granted and we headed back to Murray's! I'm so excited just remembering.

Do you hear angels singing like I do? No? Is it just me?

You can see our tray of goods sitting atop the Parmigiano-Reggiano. In our guide's hand, she holds the wonderful Murray's Cheese cheese straws. Light, crunchy, and cheesy. I can see them being a seriously addicting snack for me. My fave discovery of this heavenly tasting? Drunken Goat Cheese. Semi-firm goat cheese cured in red wine. LOVE. I can't believe I've lived so long without it.

Final tasting of the day was Rocco's Pasticceria.

Trays and trays of colorful baked goodies, but we were here for one thing only... authentic cannoli. They're filled fresh to order so that the pastry stays fresh and crunchy. I have honestly never been a huge fan of cannoli's simply because I felt they didn't have as much interesting texture as they look like they would. Turns out, I've just never had a cannoli made "the right way"--filled to order. It makes a huge difference! The crisp pastry with the creamy filling was absolutely delicious and made me realize what I've been missing all these years eating pre-filled cannolis. Never again.

The fresh cannoli was yummy enough to order a full sized version! This one is half chocolate chip, half pistachio.

Well, that marks the end of our Foods of New York: Greenwich Village Tour. I would definitely recommend them to anyone visiting Manhattan wanting to try out some of the local fare or even NY residents who want to explore a certain neighborhood a little more in depth. They offer tours in other neighborhoods as well, so definitely check out their site if you're interested.

The Village tour was a wonderful mix of food and culture, and our guide was great at keeping things interesting and moving at a manageable pace. I know I didn't highlight a lot of the culture and history because, let's be honest, I was mostly there for the food. :-P I would like to point out, though, that not all tours are alike. The guide calls in to the shops a week before the tour to see which ones will be available for the tour and what they can offer. If you have a dietary restriction, just mention it when you book, so that they can try to accommodate it. We had a couple of dietary restrictions in our group, and our guide let us know ahead of time that we would have no problems with the menu.

It is a walking tour, so keep that in mind if you have any in your group with limited mobility. Also, Greenwich Village is an old part of town, so the shops and restaurants are pretty small, square footage wise. That means that you'll be outdoors for a good amount of the tour because sometimes a group of 15 people won't fit in the shop. Since we went in December, our guide tried to get us indoors as often as possible, but in early December, the weather was mild enough that the moderate amount of walking we did kept us pretty warm anyway. I would venture to say a tour in the dead of winter or the heat of summer could get pretty uncomfortable.

As for the food, I was happy with the tasting offerings and the portion sizes. I think the photos in these posts give a good representation of the portion sizes, so you can decide for yourself if the amount of food offered is sufficient for the stomachs you're booking for. Also, if you like food, I'd recommend taking one of these tours early in your trip because in addition to the tastings, they recommend a bunch of other places to try. They even give you a little booklet of recommended spots and deals.

Anyway, all that to say that I highly recommend Foods of New York. I'd definitely go on another tour on our next trip out east, and ever since that day, I've been on the lookout for similar tours in my area.

Well, that's all for the food tour. Scroll down for links to each of the individual tasting spots we experienced. Stay tuned for the continued recap of our NY trip, if you're interested. Until then, goodnight!

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

If I remember correctly, those bricks were chosen specifically because they were overcooked...