Food treasures in New York City

A Cheese Cornucopia

outside murrays

Whether you like hard or soft cheeses, mild or smelly, foreign or domestic, you will find it at Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker Street. Murray’s has been in business since 1940 when it was founded by Murray Greenberg. It was bought in 1990 by Robert Kaufelt who broadened the store’s cheese offerings and, over the past decade, expanded the store’s offering to include cured meats, beers, pasta, breads, and condiments.

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Murray’s tagline is “We Know Cheese” — simple but true. The people who work behind the cheese counter are knowledgeable, patient, and excited about the cheeses you can select. Not sure about what kind of goat cheese you like; you can sample a few until you find the right one. Trying to put together a wine and cheese party; Murray’s helpful cheese mongers will recommend an appealing and affordable selection.

Each cheese at Murray's is labeled with a story about the cheese you have purchased

Each cheese at Murray’s is labeled with a story about the cheese you have purchased

May 28, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | Leave a comment

If You’re Passionate About Peanut Butter


Peanut butter is my “go-to” spread for a sandwich of if I want to liven up an apple or banana. I used to buy Skippy or Jif but in an effort to eat healthier, I make my own peanut butter by grinding peanuts at my local Fairway. When I heard about a little shop in Soho called Peanut Butter & Co., I had to check it out.

Inside Peanut Butter & Co. is very comfy

Inside Peanut Butter & Co. is very comfy

Located on Sullivan Street between Bleecker and West 3rd, PB&Co. is a sandwich shop that offers “classic” peanut butter sandwiches and “gourmet” sandwiches. Among the classic ones are, of course, a straight PB&J but also a “Peanut Butter BLT” which has fresh cut bacon;  a “Peanut Butter Cup” which includes Nutella; and a “Pregnant Lady,” which is topped with pickles!  The “Gourmet” sandwiches include: “The Bees Knees” with apple butter and wheat germ; and “White Chocolate Wonderful” sandwich with white chocolate peanut butter and orange marmalade. One of the fun parts is trying and choosing your favorite flavor peanut butter. There’s white and dark chocolate, cinnamon, honey and maple syrup. You can also choose among jams and jellies and types of bread.

My PB&J Club with maple syrup PB on one side and cinnamon PB on the other

My PB&J Club with maple syrup PB on one side and cinnamon PB on the other

There are also peanut butter centric desserts like sundaes and brownies. And you can go home with a peanut butter cookbook or jars of the peanut butter flavors the shop offers.

Things to take home from Peanut Butter & Co.

Things to take home from Peanut Butter & Co.

May 21, 2013 Posted by | Food, restaurants, stores | , , | 1 Comment

“NY Culinary Finds” Visits Israel

Dried fruit at Mahane Yehuda

Dried fruit at Mahane Yehuda

I just returned from a family visit to Israel. And while this was hardly the first time I was there (more like the 30th); I used this visit to explore unique Israeli culinary finds. My focus was in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas.

"Cakes" of halava in Machane Yehuda

“Cakes” of halva in Machane Yehuda

If you love food, you can’t miss a visit to Machane Yehuda. Located off Yaffo Road in the heart of the new city, the “shuk,” as it’s familiarly referred to, offers both a sense of the old and the new. Not only will you find stall after stall of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables that have been available since the founding of the state of Israel. But you can also have brunch, dinner, drinks or snacks at one of the many restaurants that have opened over the past 5 years.

Fresh chocolate rugeluch from Marzipan

Fresh chocolate rugeluch from Marzipan

On my visit to the shuk, I had dinner at Pasta Basta; bought warm chocolate rugeluch at Marzipan and hazelnut halva at Halva Kingdom. You can have a similar culinary experience at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.

Thongs on display at the Carmel Market

Thongs on display at the Carmel Market

Located just off of Allenby Road, Shuk HaCarmel also offers beautiful produce; wide selection of fish, meat and cheese; pastries and candies. This Shuk also has a wider range of clothes and household items than Machane Yehuda. If you go to the Carmel Market on a Tuesday or Friday, be sure to visit the arts and crafts market at Nachlat Binyamin. Don’t go just for the beautiful jewelry, pottery, and glassware. Also stop by the Bedouin tent to have fresh laffa with labane and za’atar.

Drying peanuts on a car hood on Levinsky Street

Drying nuts on a car hood on Levinsky Street

While I was in Tel Aviv I also visited the Levinsky Market, which is really just one long street in Southern Tel Aviv. It was my first visit there and I went because I had heard about the wonderful spice stores I would find; and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The stores on Levinsky Street all sell spices by weight and many sell dried fruit, including 3 kinds of dates, and a variety of nuts including 4 kinds of almonds. I also saw (and tasted) more unusual things like dried watermelon seeds, candied lime peel and dried garlic. My favorite store was Shuk California where I bought quinoa, candied ginger and ground cardamom.


While in the neighborhood,visit Albert’s Pastry shop on Matalon Street, which runs parallel to Levinsky Street. The shop has been there for over 40 years and offers many Mideastern sweets but is famous for its marzipan.

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, spices, stores, sweets | , , | 2 Comments

More Brooklyn-Grown Chocolate

Nunu Chocolates on Atlantic Avenue

Nunu Chocolates on Atlantic Avenue

Brooklyn seems to be a hotspot for home grown chocolate. Back in February I told you about Mast Brothers in Williamsburg. Nunu is another Brooklyn chocolate shop worth visiting. Located in the shadow of the new Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue, NuNu is the “child” of Justine and Andy who started Nunu Chocolates “with the belief that the world is a better place when chocolate is involved. ” Nunu is an affectionate name for children in Africa where Justine spent her youth.

nunu assort

Nunu sells a variety of chocolates which you can buy in small  or large boxes, or by the bar or piece. They also sell chocolate covered potato chips, graham crackers, coffee beans, cacao nibs, and even hot chocolate which you can enjoy while watching the chocolate being made. One of the most unusual boxes was the beer assortment. Nunu mixes various craft beers that they pour at the shop right into the ganache itself.

nunu purchase

Assorted chocolate box

I sampled both the box of mixed assortment which included my favorite, a salty caramel chocolate, and a box of “booze filled” chocolates which included sake and rye-filled chocolates.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | , | 3 Comments

A UN for Foods

Although Astoria is heavily associated with its Greek population, it’s really a neighborhood of multiple ethnicities. Two supermarkets are available to meet these diverse needs.EM outside

EuroMarket, on 31st Street, sells foods from all over Eastern Europe including Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Poland. They carry everything from tomato sauces and grains to honeys and jams. Most impressive is their refrigerator case filled with more than 700 varieties of beer. You can also find cured meats, olives (which you can sample), breads and pastries.

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Another market catering to international taste is Trade Fair, with three locations in Astoria and several others around Queens. I visited one just around the corner from EuroMarket.Trade Fair outside

Trade Fair looks and feels like a more traditional supermarket. They also carry a wide range of international products and boast that, “we don’t carry foods like the ones you had at home. We carry the food you had at home.” Most impressive was their fresh produce section, which EuroMarket doesn’t offer. They carry fruits and vegetables that you see in any supermarket, like varieties of beans and baby eggplants; and many you won’t see, like karella, snake gourds, cacti and bitter melons.

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May 1, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, stores | , , | Leave a comment