A few weeks ago I was invited to join the Chinatown/Little Italy food tour with Ahoy New York Food Tours and with my sister coming in town this past weekend figured it was the perfect way for me to show her around one day!
Armed with a coffee and umbrella (there was a threat of rain) we met our group just outside of the Kam Man Grocery Store on Canal Street with a bottle of water in tow and comfortable walking shoes. The tours are small (roughly ten people) so it’s very intimate and you can really hear and experience everything amongst the crowds. What I love about this tour is that you aren’t one of those annoying big groups that crowds the sidewalks and takes photos of everything you see.
For three hours we were at the hungry mercy of Alana, our tour guide, who was extremely informative, friendly and personable. Her knowledge is evident from the get-go as she enthusiastically shares colorful stories of famous happenings and notorious residents in between food stops. Those tasting included Prosciutto and Homemade Mozzarella at Alleva, Italian Cheese at Di Palo’s, Pizza at Grand Appetito, Cannolis at Ferrara Bakery, Noodles at Pongsri, Dumplings at Tasty Dumpling, and Egg Rolls at Nom Wah Tea Parlor. With the exception of a sit down tasting at Pongsri, each stop was quick (but not rushed) and offered a good-sized tasting of the food item. With the exception of the pizza stop, the restaurants were great places that offer a tasty snapshot of the great food you can eat in the neighborhood (Nom Wah was my favorite).
Her tour was a perfect mix of walking, tasting and information visiting historical sites, hidden gems and staples businesses, some who have been there for over 100 years! Armed with a map and coupons, you’re encouraged to double back after the tour and enjoy the discounts offered at the places we visited, enjoy a more complete meal or just explore! We had to rush to a birthday party so I’ve kept the guide and will be heading back this weekend to do some shopping
I’ve explored and hung out in Little Italy and Chinatown many times before and thought I knew a lot about the area but Alana’s tour helped me truly learn and know the history and hidden secrets! Whether you are visiting New York or live here, this is a must for both! I was amazed at how fast three hours went by and how much I learned. Alana helped make my sisters visit that much more special and I enjoyed trading stories of what we know about the area, the food we both love, and the New York books we enjoy reading. And yes my tour was comped but at just $49 this is an incredible deal and a great way to learn more about this fabulous city! Take a bite out of the Big Apple with Ahoy New York Food Tours!
Last week I was invited to try out Boukies new lunch menu but seeing as I have a day job and all asked if I could try dinner instead . They happily obliged and with my friend Emily in tow we hit up Boukies in the East Village for a long overdue girls night.
(image via Thrillist)
The decor was lovely; perfect lighting with tabletop lamps scattered about, varied and very comfortable seating options (booths, tables and banquettes), and despite being basically a large concrete room, not too loud.
The menu is mostly composed of shared dishes (meze) and so we skipped the entrees and ordered a melange of shared bites. I think we did a good job in getting the full range of what Boukies offered in ordering the greek gigante beans stewed with spinach and feta, saganaki (baked cheese) with roasted red pepper compote, grilled octopus, pulled lamb sandwiches with yogurt-dill sauce, fried potatoes with sheeps milk cheese and oregano, and a custard filled baked phyllo with honey and cinnamon that was like the Greek version of a cannoli.
*gigante beans stewed with feta and spinach*
The variety of small plates from different regions of Greece was very impressive, exposing me to new flavors and ingredients but most importantly everything we ordered was tasty and delicious. It would be pretty hard to not find at least a few favorites here.
Boukies (and their sister restaurant Pylos- a personal fave) is a great place to get a taste of Greek cuisine, enjoy Greek wines you’ve probably never heard of, and not break the bank with your friends. The space is big (they also have ample outdoor seating) and there are more than few tables for 8-10 people and booths that can be converted into larger tables, so definitely think of Boukies for your next party.
29 East 2nd Street (at 2nd Avenue)
The family that own and operate Butterfield Market on the Upper East Side have brought their love of doughnuts (ok their late grandfather’s love) to the masses with their store Baked by Butterfield.
Mayor Bloomberg’s healthy initiative to get people to forgo elevators and use stairs and get out a subway stop early and walk the rest of the way must have finally sunk in because I did exactly that…. getting off at the 77th street 6 stop instead of going to my intended stop at 86th Street. Had it not been for that split second decision (and guilt from Mayor Bloomberg) I would probably not have found Baked by Butterfield!
It’s a tiny sliver of a store sandwiched between a bodega and a dry cleaner and when you walk in there isn’t much room for more than four to five people. It’s a bright and colorful space visually assaulting you with delicious treats like cakes, scones, doughnut pops, fresh juices, coffees, and baked doughnuts!
*Banana Chocolate Chip*
They’ve got nearly two dozen different flavors and a few that are even gluten-free and vegan! I walked in during the in-between time of breakfast and lunch and so their selection was limited but they had some very tasty looking options. I went with the banana chocolate chip and orange blueberry en route to a work meeting and grabbed a fresh squeezed energy juice (1/2 carrot and 1/2 apple) to wash it all down. The banana chocolate chip was like eating a delicious doughnut shaped piece of banana bread and the orange blueberry had giant blueberries dotted throughout with little slivers of orange peel to give it a little citrusy kick. They were gone before I could even make it up to 79th Street and the juice was a great substitution for coffee giving me a good jolt to my day. At $13 for a juice and two donuts this was a little pricey for an everyday breakfast but boy was it good.
Forget Guy & Gallard and Bread Factory Cafe for your office catering needs…..call up Baked by Butterfield! They do breakfast packages with coffees, afternoon treats, juices, fruit salads and other goodies. Want to give your foodie friend a tasty treat? Give the gift of baked doughnuts from Baked by Butterfield…. I would love getting one (hint hint!).
Baked by Butterfield
1102 Lexington Avenue (between 77th and 78th Streets)
On a breezy Saturday morning a few weeks ago I decided to stroll around my new neighborhood and stumbled upon All Good Things…a hidden marketplace in Tribeca.
image via seriouseats.com
A much smaller version of Chelsea Market for the TriBeCa set, All Good Things is one part restaurant and one part open market filled with top-quality purveyors like Blue Bottle Coffee, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop, Nunu Chocolates, Orwasher’s Bakery, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats and Polux Fleuriste.
The back area houses an All Good Things restaurant that serves a six course prix fixe meal for $100 Thursdays-Saturday from 6-1am. Reservations are required unless you want to sit at the bar which is first come, first served. I wasn’t able to get more information about the menu as it was too early and no one was at the restaurant yet, but I’m intrigued by this tasting menu.
image via earlymorningrun.blogspot.com
This is TriBeCa so the food and design is obviously top notch and the prices are also obviously pricey. But some people spend their money on going out, some people spend their money on theatre….I spend my money eating. I won’t be hitting up All Good Things everyday but will certainly be a regular visitor as it’s only a two block walk from my apartment. Check it out for yourself….
All Good Things
102 Franklin Street (between West Broadway and 6th Avenue/Church)
A few weeks ago a friend of mine suggested I check out a new meal delivery system called HelloFresh and two weeks later I had my first box! It’s pretty simple and it’s really awesome because their chef creates five recipes each week (you choose three), they shop for your ingredients at the grocery store and then deliver your meals the following week (if you order by Thursday night at midnight).
Cardamom Spiked Shrimp Pilau
It’s a new way to cook for yourself and others. Choose the amount of people you need or want to cook for (two, four, or six) and then choose a Classic Box (with meat) or Veggie Box. They then send you five recipes (for you to choose three) and the next week you get a box filled with the exact ingredients and instructions on how to prepare them properly! For busy people this is a no brainer! They take care of the meal planning AND they do the shopping for you!
I went with the Classic Box and chose a cardamom-spiked shrimp pilau, chicken tostadas with refried beans and pork chops with grilled corn and potatoes. The following week (this week) I received an insulated box with all of the ingredients portioned out and separated per recipe with the proteins kept cool saddled next to blocks of ice.
I’ve made two of the three meals already and was very impressed with the entire system. Now I have a culinary school degree so a lot of the instructions were a little amateur but for someone who needs a little help in the kitchen or cooks best with recipes….this is easy (recipes come with step-by-step photo instructions) and fast (all recipes made within 30 minutes)!
Chicken Tostadas with Refried Beans and Avocado
The program is only available as far west as Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas but I am sure they have a plan for cross-country domination! The two person, three meal option is $69.00 which if you think about it is a great deal for a perfectly portioned and healthy meal! This isn’t something I want to do each week (I eat out a lot) but I do plan on ordering from HelloFresh a few times a year!
Want to try out HelloFresh for yourself? Use my referral code (FHCDPB) and get $20 off your first box!
The Village Voice named La Bonbonniere the “Best Breakfast” in 2011 and for good reason. This low-key Greek luncheonette/diner with a french name (the only thing french about this place is its name) is legit with a menu that serves up unapologetically greasy food, real diner coffee, quick service where your drinks are topped up without needing to ask, a no frills attitude and quirky decor.
I’ve passed this place hundreds of times and always told myself I would go in soon but it took me six years to do so (note to self, don’t do that again). It’s an unpretentious place deep in the West Village that, not surprisingly, has its fair share of celebrity regulars. Photos of actors like Ethan Hawke and Molly Shannon grace the walls, and I’ve seen Andy Cohen and Philip Seymour Hoffman (separately not together) walk out from time to time. My celebrity spotting?? Reeve Carney (of Spiderman: Turn off the Dark fame) sat behind me with some friends.
On the weekends the line is out the door, but they have a high turnover rate so you never really wait that long. On a good day you can be in and out within 25 minutes, seriously. We definitely overstayed our welcome clocking in at an hour and a half, but the place was empty and they kept refilling our coffee and water as we chit chatted away
How could you not love this place? La Bonbonniere serves up delicious food with incredibly fast service. I’ve been to my fair share of diners in Manhattan and this is one of the best. The West Village is lucky to have La Bonbonniere as they don’t make places like this anymore.
28 8th Avenue (between 12th and Jane Streets)