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Food Tour Of Greenwich Village, New York City

NYC Trip1We spent the last weekend visiting friends in the New Jersey area and took the opportunity to see the Greenwich Village in New York City.  We have been to New York City several times but have always spent most of our time visiting the main tourist destinations in Manhattan. This time we decided to skip that and do something different. While doing some internet research on local attractions, I came up on a site that offers food tours for Greenwich village. Intrigued by the idea of a food tour, I explored some more and found out that there were several recommended food joints in that area.  After some more Google searches and reading a couple of food blogs I came up with my own itinerary for a food tour of Greenwich village.

My friend Pooja lives in New Jersey so, we took the train from her place to 9th Street Metro and walked down a few blocks to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. At the entrance of the park is a large Arch modeled after the Arch de Triomphe in Paris. The park is dominated by a large fountain in the center but surrounding it are strolling areas, gardens, play-area for kids, benches and an open air chess tables.  It was fairly crowded with locals and tourists relaxing, reading, eating, playing and enjoying the open air band. Annika was enthralled by the drummer and spent quite a bit of time dancing to the beats.  After spending about half an hour there, we crossed the garden and entered Macdougal Street where our food tour started in earnest.

NYC Trip4Our first stop was at Mamoun’s Falafels.  It is reputed to be one of the oldest Falafel joints in that area and we found that the service  was quick , the food was fresh and the cost was inexpensive.   We ordered a side order of falafels but were not very impressed with the taste. Our unanimous verdict was that “we have had better falafels”.

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The next stop was Thelewala – an Indian street-food joint that offered Kolkotta style street food.  While the rolls we each ordered (paneer, lamb and okra) were certainly good enough, none of them really had the “wow” factor that we were looking for.  The okra roll won the round based on the novelty factor.  We also ordered a Ghughni (mainly because I wanted to know what it was) and found that it was very similar to ragda served in Mumbai. The ghughni was a hit with Annika and she devoured most of it.

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Just across the street was our next destination – the Kati Roll Company.  Indian fast-food is one of the new food trends here in the United States and these kind of rolls are emerging as one of the most popular food items.  These “Indian style burritos” are  quick to make and you get a taste of India without needing a nap at the end of the meal. Of course Mumbaikars know the Kati Roll as frankies. We preferred it to the rolls from Thelewala.  Perhaps nostalgia played a part: Pooja and I could help remembering the frankies that we used to share on the way back from DJ to Vile Parle station.

CollagesOur next stop was on Bleecker Street but it was a place that was not on my list.  Bisous Ciao macarons was an unexpected find and we were delighted by the macarons.  In fact it was so good, that we actually stopped here on our way back as well-despite being stuffed to our gills. The macarons were light , airy, crunchy and creamy – melt in your mouth macarons all flavored perfectly. The kaffir lime and the lavendar honey were my particular favorites.

By this time, we were quite full. Pooja and Harshil were looking dubiously at the map with the long list of places that I had marked.  We decided to take a break from eating and walk off what we had already had. Greenwich village is a very residential neighborhood near Manhattan. At one time, this was a bohemian neighbourhood where artists used to gather but with today’s real-estate prices , it is home to the rich and famous.  We walked all the way down Bleecker Street to James Walker Park. Annika and Vania got a chance to break free of the stroller and play on the children’s gym that they had. It was quite hot by that time, so they cooled off by running through the fountains. Right across this was also the house which was shown as the front stoop of the Huxtable house from the Cosby Show. We did try to get some pictures but the house was under renovation.

NYC Trip5Out next stop was this very familiar place.  This is the house where Monica & co lived in the show on Friends. Although they shot almost all of the episodes in a studio in California, the external shots were in Greenwich.  We tried to guess where the Ugly Naked Guy lived but really didn’t succeed.NYC Trip8

Our next food stop was at the Milk and Cookies Bakery. A food tour was just leaving the bakery while we entered and the guide strongly recommended that we try the Oreo Cookie. According to her, they make it just like the real Oreo.  We found that it was true—it was just like the real Oreo Cookie except it was large and definitely a sugar overload.  The four of us (+2 kids) couldn’t finish off one cookie.  We did buy a glass of milk which the lady at the counter was nice enough to heat for Annika.NYC Trip7

We turned back onto Bleecker Street and  stopped at Faicco’s Italian specialist store.  This was a delightful family owned Italian store —so like the ones you read about in books or see in movies.  The kind that stocks 10 varieties of olive oils and make their own sausages. My google research told me that the specialty here was their Rice and Mozzarella balls. It was creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside. We didn’t really enjoy it there but we took the left overs home and ate it all up at night!Collages1

Right next door was Murray’s Cheese Shop – real treat for cheese lovers. There were so many varieties of gourmet cheese that I felt like a kid in candy land.  This was my favorite store of all of the ones that we stopped at. A very knowledgeable and friendly staff helped us pick out the cheese that we really liked after we gave them a general idea of our tastes (nutty and bold). We could sample different ones till we found that one that we liked. Seejo and I both absolutely loved the Rumano cheese (a Dutch version of Romano) which was incredibly nutty and very rich.   We also picked up some goat cheese smoked in maple leaves—yum! This is definitely one of the places I would love to go back.Collages2

Next to the cheese shop was a bakery called Amy’s bread. We brought some olive bread and semolina twist rolls. I had bought some olive and a cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar as a gift for Pooja from a local Maryland store here and those breads paired beautifully with that.Collages4

Across the street was an Italian pastry shop called Rocco’s Pasticceria.  There was a sign that promised “Best Canolis in NY”. The bakery had so many different type sof cookies and treats that I wished I had more space to eat. I didn’t see any canolis in their display cases so I asked the guy at the counter for some.  I realized then that the reason that they didn’t have any canolis on display is because they they stuff the canoli only after we order. This was intriguing so we chose the Pistachio flavor. And we were not disappointed.  The cream was oozing down both sides and was perfectly filled in. The shell was crunchy and the combination was sweet but not overpowering.  We were stuffed but still Pooja and I managed to clean the plate!Collages5

By this time we were ready to head back. We stopped at the Porto Rico Importing Company to grab a cup of Coffee. They had a wide selection of coffee beans – kept on display in gunny sacks.  The aroma of coffee was so strong and inviting that Seejo (who had been instagramming  our food yatra on facebook) commented that it was  a pity we can’t post an aroma link.

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Our final stop as at the Pop Bar to have what theyadvertised as hand-crafted gelato on a stick. I chose a simple mango flavor. It was yummy and an extremely good ice-bar but I couldn’t really call it a gelato on a stick.   NYC Trip13

That night , we were invited to another friend’s place for dinner.  We were so full that we were confident we wouldn’t be able to eat a thing at our friend’s place.But we reached there to find this on the dining table. Needless to say we managed to put it all away and then some more!!!

Truly an awesome end to a wonderful food tour of NYC!

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Copyright Deepa