For our 6 month anniversary, I gave Mike a gift certificate for us to take a Culinary Walking Tour of Greenwich Village. Over 9 months later, we finally scheduled a date to go.
Last Sunday we began our culinary adventure by meeting at Murray’s Cheese Shop on Bleecker Street. I was excited to start this adventure with cheese, however, that had to wait for later in the day.
Our guide was a perky wannabe Broadway star with terrible hair and a cute smile. She talked a bit about the neighborhood, buildings, and history and then we went walking.
Our first tasting was at Famous Joe’s Pizza. Our guide described it as being back to basics with fresh tomatoes, cheese, and crispy crust. It was good, but not great. As she said, very basic.
Our next stop was O & Co, a Meditteranean Food Merchant specializing in gourmet olive oils and balsmic vinegars. One taste and I knew I had to come back to buy (the 20% discount for people on the Walking Tour that day was also incentive). The balsamic tasted like candy!
We talked a lot about the character of the area, the history, and the buildings. This carriage house is not only huge, but happens to also be where they housed the cast of “The Next Food Network Star” for a season:
One of my favorite stops along the way was Palma. It’s a more classic version of Meditteranean food that is more Italian/French. The restaurant itself was charming with a nice patio out back, and I cannot wait to go back to try the fried artichokes that looked and smelled delicious as we passed through. We were told they had great sangria, but when we stopped in after our tour, we were informed that they didn’t have it at the time. Shame. The coolest part about the restaurant, however, is that there is an urban farm house behind it where they host private parties. We got to peak inside and I couldn’t help but dream of a day when I could set up a party for my friends in a place like that. It’s not something you find everyday in NYC!
Our next stop was Faicco’s Italian Specialites (formerly Faicco’s Pork Shop… but I guess “pork shop” has less mass appeal). We tried the risotto balls which were delicious (though not quite as good as the ones from CraftBar). The place itself had beautiful cases of meat and prepared foods.
We then walked down the street to Aphrodisia Herb Shoppe, which I think they said has been around since the 60s. We were greated with the smell of spices and a cat who everyone took a moment to pet… before reading the sign on the other side of the store informing us that petting the cat was not advised. While there, we tried some tea and I noticed that they had some special “sore throat” tea recipes. As a fan of the mass market Throat Coat Tea from Traditional Medicinals, I regretted not buying some of this special tea while we were there.
We passed by one of my favorite NYC bars, The Blind Tiger. We stopped in there afterwards for a drink as well, however, much to our dismay there was a private party going on and it was too packed.
The next tasting was around the middle point in the tour and allowed us 10 minutes to sit down and use the rest rooms. We went to a modern Italian wine bar called Centro Vinoteca. This happens to be the restaurant where Leah Cohen (of Top Chef Season 5 fame… the one who made out with Hosea) is chef. They serve small plates called “piccolini” and quartinos of wine. I’m not sure what the dish we sampled was called, however, it was a whole grain with squash, mushrooms, and some other delicious things prepared risotto style. I really enjoyed it. The menu also looked fantastic (and I want to go back to try the braised veal cheeks with cauliflower puree & artichokes) and this is where we wound up settling on for our post-tour drink. I saw that they had a honey chestnut gelato on the menu that I just had to try. It came with dark chocolate and creme de fresh gelato as well and we thoroughly enjoyed it while drinking my wine and Mike had a St. Germaine cocktail. I enjoyed it so thoroughly, that I forgot to photograph it.
We passed by a really adorable court yard called “Grove Court” while walking around. It used to be called “Mixed Ale Alley,” however, they changed it during prohibition. Interestingly, it used to be a sign of wealth to live close to the street, so these beautiful houses pushed back off the road with these court yards were actually where the poor used to live. I can only imagine how pricey these are now!
Our next stop and tasting was a place I have been wanting to go for a while: Milk & Cookies Bakery. They specialize in the basics, but you can also select from a list of ingredients and custom create a recipe that they will bake for you (great for people without big kitchens or baking skills). We tasted a chocolate chip, oats cookie that was still warm from the oven. It was absolutely delicious.
At this point in the tour, we finally got to return to our original meeting spot: Murray’s Cheese. We had a sampler of 3 cheeses, a cheese baked good that was delicious, and a hard salami. All were delicious, and I was thrilled to see they offer a cheese class AND a cheese of the month club. Their mac and cheese also looked amazing.
Our last stop was Rocco’s, a pastry shop specializing in Italian. We tasted DELICIOUS canollis and then bought a humantashin to carry on our Purim tradition. We enjoyed eating the humantashin on our way to the subway.
All-in-all, an absolutely delicious and fun day!