Walking is, for us, the only way to get around New York City. It is a convenient way of combining exercise, sightseeing, and capturing the atmosphere of neighborhoods, all while avoiding the delays of traffic and the terror of a ride with a renegade cabbie. While we know the city well, we still like to take organized walking tours to learn even more. Here are some of the tours we have enjoyed
This was a very good tour that was made even better by our guide (Nikki) whose knowledge and passion for Italian food and fresh quality ingredients couldn’t help but wash over the group. The tour began with a brief overview of the village as a culinary Mecca from its role as an Indian and Dutch farming and fishing village through the early 1800s, then as an Italian immigrant neighborhood, until the early to mid-1900s when it became a bohemian community with little regard for fine food. The feast began with arancini (from Faicco’s) and took us through stops in the reinvigorated culinary neighborhood. These included:
- Lupa, for gnocchi with bolognese sauce and focaccia with olive oil;
- Dolce Gelateria, where we each had two small cones of gelato: coconut, peanut butter, pistachio, and mascarpone; and ending with
- A discussion and tasting of three different grades of balsamic vinegar, including a $30 a bottle IGP (appellation designate) and an incredible $60 per 3 oz flask, 12-year-old DOP that is sparingly served as part of a dessert or as an after-dinner drink.
Between stops, Nikki regaled us with stories about food and the neighborhood and pointed out a number of other prominent Bleeker Street food palaces, such as:
- Royce (Japanese chocolates);
- Murray’s (our all-time favorite American cheese store);
- Faicco’s (Italian deli);
- Keste Pizza and Vino (pizza);
- Risotteria Melotti (risotto);
- Blind Tiger (artisanal beer bar).
We also stopped in Rafetto’s, a century-old, family pasta and sausage shop that makes and sells every shape and flavor pasta you can imagine. We were so intrigued by the chestnut flour that Joyce has committed to making some chestnut pasta soon.
It was a very interesting, very tasty, and very filling tour.
The New Meatpacking District
Few urban neighborhoods have undergone such a rapid transformation as the Meatpacking District. Spurred by the opening of the popular Gansevoort Hotel, the extension of the High Line to the District, the culinary draw of Chelsea Market, and the Whitney Museum, this neighborhood is on a tear. The number of meat distributors is dramatically declining, being replaced by luxury condos and apartment towers, upscale clothing and accessory boutiques, and dozens of bars and restaurants, ranging from atmospheric and fun dive bars to upscale restaurants.
We, however, spent most of our browsing time in two neighborhood markets:
The wildly popular Chelsea Market draws gourmands from around the city with its specialty Italian, seafood, spice, pasta, and oil/vinegar markets and its popular bakeries (Amy’s and Sarabeth’s), pop-up designer clothing stalls, and its many restaurants.
There’s also a new food market in town, the Gansevoort Market, which is half a block from the Whitney. Much smaller and more intimate than the huge, teaming Chelsea Market, Gansevoort contains dozens of food stalls with everything from burgers to crepes to Thai street food. Our post-museum pick-me-up came from Ed’s Lobster Bar, where we shared a very good, semi-naked lobster roll. While many of the stalls have their own seating, the market also contains communal seating in a comfortable, vine-covered eating area.