Food treasures in New York City

Israeli “Makolet” In NYC


If you’ve ever visited or lived in Israel, then you know that you can food shop in large chains like Supersol or Super-Dosh, or you can go to your local “makolet” (mini-market) for your grocery needs. You can re-live this experience, and find some authentic Israeli products by visiting The Holyland Market on St. Mark’s Place between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Israeli breakfast cereals

Israeli breakfast cereals

Holyland Market is a small store but within you can find food products you don’t normally see in kosher supermarkets promoting Israeli foods. You’ll be able buy things like breakfast cereals, baking products and even frozen “Limonana” pops.

Israeli frozen treats

Israeli frozen treats

Not only does the store carry food products but you can also get the latest newspapers, CDS and DVDs The store is open daily 10am-midnight.

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, stores | | Leave a comment

FOMO: Summer of the Rain Room and the Cronut

Fear of missing out – FOMO – is what the New York Times said was the reason why people were willing to wait at least 2 hours to get into the MOMA exhibit, “The Rain Room,” which closes July 28th. As a member, I thought I would have no trouble getting in if I arrived a half-an-hour early. But alas, others had, indeed, arrived 2 hours earlier. No art was worth standing in the sun for that long.

MOMA's Rain Room

MOMA’s Rain Room

FOMO may also be why people have been lining up at 7am every morning in front of the Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street. They are waiting to buy this summer’s phenomenon – the Cronut. Developed by Chef Ansel and introduced in May, the Cronut is a doughnut shaped croissant. Every month the bakery offers a different flavor.

My friend's blackberry Cronut

Photo my friend took of her blackberry Cronut

If you choose to wait on line, you can only purchase two at a time. You can also pre-order by phone for pick-up Monday morning. But as of this posting, they are already filled with orders through August 4th. Not really knowing all the details, I arrived one day after noon. Of course, the Cronuts were all gone by then and no more more were being re-baked that day. My friend rose to the challenge and arrived at Spring Street one morning at 7:30am to already find the line down the block. As it inched forward, she saw people leaving the bakery; going to the corner; and re-selling their Cronuts like scalped tickets! Turns out, she was the last person of the day to get a Cronut box.She saved the Cronuts for her daughter, a food blogger, who thought it was the best thing she had ever eaten. My friend had a croissant instead and found it very disappointing.

I’ll never know how good these are because no food is worth waiting on line for two hours. But I do think there could have been a great cross promotion this summer — wait on line for the Rain Room and when you get inside buy a Cronut.

July 23, 2013 Posted by | exhibit, Food, sweets | , | 3 Comments

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg


If you like street fairs like the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, then you will love Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg. Founded in 2008, Brooklyn Flea takes place every weekend and features vendors of antique and repurposed furniture, vintage clothing, and collectibles, as well as  jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers. For food lovers, it also offers an array of interesting cuisines from refreshing beverages to hearty burgers, with many delicious options to sate your sweet tooth.

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From April through Thanksgiving, Brooklyn Flea takes place outdoors: on Saturdays in Fort Greene and on Sundays in Williamsburg. From Thanksgiving through March, the market moves indoors to Skylight One Hanson, an event space in the landmark former Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

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If you want a 100% food experience then visit Brooklyn Smorgasburg which takes place in two locations every weekend: Saturdays at East River State Park—Kent Ave. and N. 7 St.—on the Williamsburg waterfront; and Sundays on the DUMBO waterfront at the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Smorgasburg has stands selling packaged and prepared foods as well as beverages from about  75-100 vendors ; many are local producers or from nearby areas. Smorgasburg is open through November.

July 17, 2013 Posted by | event, Food | , | 1 Comment

Nolita Sweets

nol;ita map

Nolita (north of Little Italy), is a small neighborhood that is bounded on the east by the Bowery; the west by Lafayette Street; the north by Houston; and the south roughly by Broome Street. But it packs a wallop when it comes to food. There are many restaurants to try but I went there recently in search of Brazilian Gelato and discovered rice pudding too.


Located on Elizabeth Street near Prince, A. B. Biagi uses farm-fresh milk and sugar from Brazil to “spin gelato in a traditional vertical batch freezer, the Cavttabriga EFFE, the first of its kind in New York.”

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Antonio Barros Biagi, owner of the shop, first fell in love with gelato while growing up with his Italian family in the Brazilian countryside. Their gelato recipes were adapted to Brazil’s tropical weather, using local fruits and naturally lower fat milk to create lighter frozen desserts that could stand up to the heat. The store offers a range of flavors including: cinnamon, white chocolate, hazelnut and goat cheese with anise. You can also have Brazilian coffee.


On my way to Biagi’s I discovered a NY Culinary Find that I hadn’t been looking for — Rice To Riches. Located on Spring Street between Mulberry and Mott, this store only sells rice pudding.

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The pudding choices all have amusing names like: hazelnut chocolate bear hug, almond shalmond, coconut coma and , “category 5” caramel, among others. Owner Peter Moceo has put a lot of thought into every detail of the shop. The rice theme is brought to life from the front glass window to the shape of the plastic bowls the pudding comes in. A 4oz. bowl is available in 4 flavors but the average selling size is 8oz. When I was there, I saw groups ordering a 3-dish bowl for sampling and sharing. You can even order the rice pudding online for delivery the next day.

July 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores, sweets | , | 2 Comments

LIC Flea and Food


If you’re looking for something fun to do one summer weekend, check out the newly opened LIC Flea & Food, not far from Vernon Boulevard and 46th Avenue in Long Island City. It’s easy to get to by subway and it’s open every weekend this summer from 10am-6pm. It feels more like an enclosed street fair than a flea market, and the food vendors take up at least half of the tents. You can find everything from gluten-free cookies and artisanal ice cream to local pizza and smokehouse barbecue.  There was a stand selling bibingka, “a new twist to the traditional Filipino dessert,” and one with a variety of pickles. There were two food vendors that I found were fun and different.

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The first was Ice Riders — shaved ice created in an environmentally friendly way. Shaved ice cones are Hawaiian-style snow cones with a finer shave than traditional snow cones. The Ice Riders create this finer shave by a bike-powered machine.  The ice is then flavored with a syrup of your choice or a combination, including blue raspberry, green apple, and Southern style sweet tea.

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The second was TornatoUSA, a spiral potato snack. A potato, or another vegetable is put on a stick and inserted into a machine that cuts it into a spiral. The potato is then dipped in a batter and deep fried. Tornato offers a wide variety of spices and sauces that are served with the spiral snack.

Different vendors may come on different weekends, so you never know what culinary surprise you may find.

July 3, 2013 Posted by | Food, international | , | Leave a comment

DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour: Williamsburg


Williamsburg is an eclectic Brooklyn neighborhood bordering on Greenpoint to the north and Bed-Stuy to the south. It is both gentrified and industrial, and has a diverse population of Hasidim, Latinos, and hipsters. Not surprisingly, there are many culinary finds in this neighborhood. While you can eat at a wide range of great restaurants, including the newly re-opened Motorino’s Pizza, our tour focuses on other culinary options. The best way to get to Williamsburg is to take the L train to Bedford Avenue, the first stop in Brooklyn.

Inside Handsome Dan's

Inside Handsome Dan’s

When you get out of the subway, you’ll be on Driggs Avenue. Head Northwest towards Bedford Avenue and turn left on Bedford Avenue until you reach218 Bedford Avenue (near North 5th Street). Head inside the mini-mall and find Handsome Dan’s. Like Economy Candy on the lower east side, Handsome Dan’s is a trip down candy memory lane. While Handsome Dan’s doesn’t offer the variety that Economy Candy has, it does sell refreshing snocones with unusual flavors like thyme dream, earl grey cream, orange blossom ginger, rose pomegranate, and chili passion fruit.

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So buy a snocone and continue down Bedford Avenue towards North 4th Street. On the other side of the street, at 229, you’ll find The Bedford Cheese Shop. While not quite the size of Murray’s Cheese in the Village, The 10-year old Bedford Cheese shop “works directly with farms in order to select cheeses at their perfect peak.” They also sell other interesting products that you might like to have along with your cheese, including flavored mayonnaise, fresh made ravioli, and chocolate cubes to melt into hot chocolate.

Chocolate bars from Mast Brothers

Chocolate bars from Mast Brothers

For locally produced chocolate, continue heading North towards North 3rd Street and make a right. Walk down the street to Mast Brothers at 111 North 3rd.  You can watch the chocolate bars being made which start with locally roasted cacao beans. And you can sample some the products before buying them. You can choose from interesting flavored bars, like ones with chili peppers; or you can choose pure bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate.

Sketchbooks at the Brooklyn Art Library

Sketchbooks at the Brooklyn Art Library

If you have time, don’t miss the Brooklyn Art Library just a few doors down from Mast Brothers at 103A North 3rd. The Brooklyn Art Library is home to the Sketchbook Project, a global, crowd-sourced art project. At the library you can look at sketchbooks submitted to the project from amateurs and professionals; young and old; from nearby Brooklyn to China and Russia. It’s a rare opportunity to not only see an eclectic assortment of art but also to hold it in your hands.

From here, you have two options: If you like walking, you can walk to the Williamsburg Bridge (15 min from where you are) and over the bridge into Manhattan’s lower east side. Or you can head back to the subway station. Either way, you want to turn around and go back to Bedford Avenue.

To walk over the Williamsburg Bridge make a right on Bedford Avenue and keep walking until you reach South 6th Street where you’ll see an entrance to the bridge. When you get to the other side you’ll be on Delancy street. If you walk a few blocks on Delancy you’ll reach the F train or continue onto to Allen Street where you’ll find buses.

To return to the L train make a left on Bedford Avenue and head towards North 7th Street.


July 1, 2013 Posted by | culinary tours, Food, stores | | 2 Comments