nyculinaryfinds

Food treasures in New York City

DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour: Manhattan’s West Side

With summer here, being outdoors is very appealing. If it’s not too hot, a great way to enjoy the weather is to take yourself on a New York culinary tour. While there are several companies in NYC that, for a fee, will take you to various neighborhoods known for their cuisine, why not “do-it-yourself.” If you enjoy walking, you can do these all by foot. But if some of the distances between stops seem too great, then just hop on a bus and continue that way.

The Westside Culinary Tour

Start your walk with breakfast at Amy’s Bread (672 Ninth Avenue Between 46th & 47th Streets).

Amy's Bread on 46th and Ninth

Amy’s Bread on 46th and Ninth

Choose from a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated hot and cold beverages and enjoy it with some sweet pastry or savory breads I’m partial to Amy’s variety of breadsticks. Buy a few to have later in the day.

So many breadstick choices

So many breadstick choices

Then head down Ninth Avenue (on foot or by bus) until 30th Street and walk west to 10th Avenue until you see the entrance of the Highline.  Stroll south on the Highline until about 17th Street. Stop for an ice pop from People’s Pops which uses locally grown fruit to make their frozen desserts or have a Mexican ice cream at La Newyorkina. Now it’s time to leave the Highline (exit at 16th Street) and head indoors to Chelsea Market. There’s an entrance on 10th Avenue between 15th-16th Street.

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Chelsea Market is best enjoyed slowly so leave yourself enough time to eat, drink and shop. My favorite spots for snacking on location include: gelato from L’Arte del Gelato; vegan sushi from Beyond Sushi; or grilled panini from Lucy’s Whey. If I’m shopping to bring dinner home, I’ll pick up fruits and vegetables at Manhattan Fruit Exchange, fish from The Lobster Place; interesting oils and vinegars from The Filling Station; and pasta from Buon Italia. If you exit at the east end of the market, you’ll be on Ninth Avenue.

In my next post, I’ll describe a DIY “NY Culinary Finds” Tour of the Lower East Side.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, restaurants, stores | | 4 Comments

Asian Market in the Heart of Soho

outside

If you’re looking for traditional Asian ingredients, then you’re most likely to seek them out in one of the many stores in Chinatown or Koreatown. But a really good resource if you’re into cooking Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other Asian foods is The Sunrise Mart on Broome Street.

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Not only does the store sell familiar products like tofu, soy sauce, and rice; but also less familiar products like dashi (Japanese stock), natto (fermented soybeans) and a wide range of Asian candies. Because they know that not everyone is familiar with these products, Sunrise Mart helpfully displays signs explaining what the products are and how they are used. Even if you visit the store as a “tourist,” you’ll be inspired to try your hand at Asian dishes.

Sunrise Mart also has stores on East 41st Street and in the East Village on Stuyvesant Street.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | 2 Comments

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

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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.

Albert

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

Taking the Subway to the Middle East

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Take the train to Borough Hall in Brooklyn and head towards Atlantic Avenue.Without ever needing your passport, you will be transported to the Middle East. Within a two block span you will find stores selling spices, sweets, dried goods, and breads with an authentic Mideast flavor. There were three that stood out.

db anniv sign

Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop, also known as Damascus Bakery, has been around since 1930. While they sell dried goods, like many varieties of beans and dried chickpeas, they are known for their breads and pastries. They offer 9 different kinds of pitas as well as lavash wraps, panini, and filled breads.  One unusual find were chocolate fudge rugelach made with “gream” cheese.

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Next store to Damascus Bakery is Sahadis. a market that has been around since 1948. More like a grocery store, at Sahadis you can find  canned goods, fresh produce, and packaged breads and pastries. I really liked the large jars of dried goods and condiments.

Dried beans and grains at Sahadis

Dried beans and grains at Sahadis

My last stop was at Oriental Pastry & Grocery. Though indoors, this store reminded me of walking through the Arab shuk in the Old City in Jerusalem.  Like Sahadis, Oriental Pastry sells all kinds of Middle Eastern grocery items. But it’s a much smaller store and all the goods are on top of each other. It’s more challenging to find what you want but the staff is very helpful and the smells really transport you to another place.

Inside Oriental Pastry and Grocery

Inside Oriental Pastry and Grocery

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, spices, stores, sweets | , | 2 Comments

All Things Greek

Athens Square Park in Astoria

Athens Square Park in Astoria

Ethnic diversity is one of the interesting characteristics of Astoria, Queens, but many associate this neighborhood with a strong Greek population. And though there are Greek communities all over Queens, one does still feel a strong presence in Astoria. This is evident in the numerous Greek bakeries and restaurants; schools and churches; and even the parks.

Titan Foods

Titan Foods

The place to go for authentic Greek foods and ingredients is Titan Foods on 31st Street. You can find everything from worry beads and Greek flags to canned pickled octopus and bunches of dried oregano. If you are a cheese lover, there’s one whole deli case devoted to a variety of feta and other Greek cheeses. There’s also a bakery that sells both sweets like baklava and savory filled dough like spanakopita.

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April 17, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, stores, sweets | , | 4 Comments

Pasta For Any Preference

Eataly on 23rd near Fifth Avenue

Eataly on 23rd near Fifth Avenue

The nearly three-year old Eataly is food destination, mega store, that is nearly as popular for tourists as Disney World.  There are four restaurants (that don’t take reservations), a charcuterie,  bakery, cheese shop, and all things Italian.  Both the crowds and array of items can be overwhelming. But it’s worth a visit for the pasta selection alone.

Making fresh pasta at Eataly

Making fresh pasta at Eataly

Eataly sells both fresh pasta, which is made on site, as well as an incredible range of dry pastas– from egg pasta and semolina to gluten-free and whole wheat. There are short and long pastas ; spaghetti and linguini; rigatoni, penne, and calamari pastas. More than 15 producers from all over Italy are represented.

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You can also find a variety of rices at Eataly — from short to long grains; and white, black and brown rices.

Black and white rices

Black and white rices

April 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | , , | 2 Comments