Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top Chef NYC Walking Tour

My sister was in town from San Diego last week, and it is almost her birthday, so my husband and I got her a ticket to join us on the Top Chef NYC walking tour.  I never have done a walking tour here, and I have lived in Manhattan for 8 years!

We started off meeting in from of the Culinary Institute in SoHo.  I wish we got to tour the school, that would have been fun.  Our guide was a culinary school graduate but I don't think she was a working chef because she didn't say she worked anywhere.  That's fine though, she was pretty likable, but she definitely was not a Top Chef enthusiast.  I tried to strike up some conversations about Catch, Moto, and my favorite contestant of all time Kevin...but she really couldn't banter.

We started off walking to Little Italy and we went to Di Palo's Italian market....we sampled cheeses: fresh ricotta (YUM, sooo good, I will go back to get some to make raviolis), some sheep's milk cheese, and a wonderful truffle pecorino, and something else I don't remember.  The market was small but jam packed with so many Italian pantry items and a cheese and meat counter.  We took home some amazing prosciutto and a nice chunk of the truffle pecorino (which I made an arugula pizza with tonight actually!).  Very delicious, and a place I would have never gone without going on this tour.

We kept on to Chinatown and after a quick informational stop outside a place that sells fresh tofu and shark fins, we went into a Chinese bakery called Double Crispy!  We had something called "pineapple buns," and they were so delicious!  Sweet buns with a crunchy, sweet glaze on top, no pineapple in sight.  They call them that because the top kind of looks like a pineapple...but I don't think so haha.  I also got a red bean cookie, but it was terrible (I usually like red bean!).      

me with pineapple bun!

I also spotted these guys, hehe:

On our way to the next spot, we passed a guy selling durian!  I have seen these before but never smelled or ate one.  And if Andrew Zimmern won't eat must be really bad!  We did not eat it but we smelled the flesh of one and it wasn't really that bad...maybe because I am a New Yorker and used to smelling garbage?
holding my nose even though they don't smell here

Our next stop, a little Vietnamese sandwich place!  At Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli we had the #3 sandwich- Bahn Mi Nem Nuong, the pork one.  It was soooo delicious!  The bread was nice and crispy, the 4 different kinds of pork were meaty, sweet, and crispy all in one, and there was just the right amount of cilantro.  Of course I smothered it in Sriracha....I will come back here.  I also got an almond bubble tea here, but it was not very good...too much almond flavor and the tapiocas were too chewy...I prefer Kung Fu Tea much better, its fresher tasting and more herby....yum!

Husband with his sandwich and the sign on the outside showing what's in this yummy sammy!  Also, the coffee here was surprisingly delicious! 

Our next stop was a bit random, Oro is a bakery/coffee shop that turns into a wine bar at nights (wish we were there at night...)  It was a cute little hole in the wall and we had brownies, which were pretty good, but I am VERY judgmental on baked goods!  The texture was good, crispy on the edges and gooey in the middle, but it could have been a little darker/richer tasting.  Didn't even take a was NOT good!  Stale....but they had the fanciest coffee cup lids I have ever seen, and I wish I took a picture of THAT!


Next we went to Papabubble, which is a great little shop but I have been there a couple times before so I know the drill.  They were playing some Elliott Smith and making huge heart shaped lollipops when we walked in which was wonderful.  My dream come true would be to make candy all day and listen to Elliott Smith...heaven.  Anyway, I sampled the candies (soda pop ones are always tasty) and I bought some pink grapefruit candies (the best in the store!)  

Me in front of the candy wall, and the candy peeps making those giant heart lollies!

We ended out tour with a "quick fire" challenge at wichcraft!  We had to guess what each spice or food was on our plate....I got them all right and won a little whisk!  The things i guessed right were, flax seed, smoked paprika, candy coated fennel, cocoa nibs, and a dried chickpea.  The guide said I was the first person EVER to get them all right.  We had gruyere and caramelized onion grilled sammy...which was eh.  Its Colicchio establishments are always over hyped.
Our plate of guesses!  and sandwiches.

That's all!
Stayed tuned for cookies 


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