Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tishie's Travels: Seven Restos in Three Hours

Seven restos in three hours. Even for me, that's quite a feat! To the uninitiated: Dear reader, meet my stomach! I'm a girl who loves to eat. And whenever I travel, I make sure I have at least one great meal at my destination. Other girls shop when they travel; I eat!

One of the most memorable things I've ever had on a trip: this crazy-ass $32 burger at db Bistro Moderne. That baby's a sirloin burger with short ribs, black truffle, and foie gras!

OK, so I didn't technically eat at seven restaurants. It was a mix of delis and bakeries and whatnot. And, lest you think me a glutton (though you wouldn't be entirely inaccurate...), I did not have full meals at each place.

See, New York City is home to thousands of restaurants, and my friend and travel companion Carl wondered, "Ang dami-daming makakainan, bakit may pila pa rin sa ibang lugar?" I remember going to the trendy Meatpacking District on a previous visit and being told that there was a 45-minute wait in the three restaurants we tried!

Since it wasn't possible to eat EVERYWHERE during my short stay, I decided the best way to experience the NYC food scene was to go on a food tour! The group I chose gave tours in downtown Manhattan, an area I hadn't really explored in my past visits (save for that dinner at the Meatpacking District).

Every corner you turn, there's a place--or two or three--to eat! Photo from here.

I spoke with a native New Yorker about my plan, and even after having lived in New York for so many years, she had no idea that there were food tours in the city. I guess it's a sign of just how many diversions are available out there!

I had wanted to do the SoHo tour, since it seemed to offer more variety. But it was fully booked (you normally have to book waaay in advance) so I ended up going on the Greenwich Village tour. The group met up right before lunch outside Murray's Cheese Shop, where our uber funny guide Sefra greeted us and started off by giving us "emergency napkins" (to be used at any time during the three-hour tour, for whatever reason). It was bright and sunny, and warmer than NYC had been the first few days I was there. "We brought the sunshine from California!" said one of the girls from San Diego. And thank goodness they did—from the late fall-like 40s, temperature was probably in the 60s that day! And no sign of rain! Woohoo!

Patches of sunlight on tree-lined streets--a pleasant day for a tour around a lovely neighborhood!

Aside from getting to try food from different establishments around Greenwich Village, I also got a bit of a history lesson and a few interesting tidbits about the neighborhood. I won't really go into detail because 1) I couldn't possibly remember everything Sefra told us, and 2) you might decide to go on the food tour yourself someday!

There were lots of stops during the trip, but I'll just be posting about the places where we actually ate, starting with...

First stop: Joe's Pizza
There's a big debate about which pizza place serves the best pizza in NYC. A few days prior to the tour, my friends and I tried Lombardi's in Little Italy (more on that in a future post). On this day, Sefra took us to Joe's, where we tried a thin-crust pizza topped with tomato sauce and cheese. It was fresh out of the oven!

(Top) That's our funny tour guide in gray. (Above) Sixteen slices of pizza, one for each member of the group.

Second stop: Faicco's
Faicco's is an Italian specialty store, previously known as a pork store. On our visit, we got to try these little Italian rice balls called oranginis. They're these risotto-like, cheesy balls with a lightly crisp coating. Yum!

Third stop: Palma
It's intriguing how some doors have half numbers on them. Sefra explained that these normally led to back houses. The door labeled 28 1/2 actually opens up to a passageway leading to a little cottage at the back of Palma. Here, we got to try cauliflower florets cooked with black currant and pine nuts. Slightly salty, and a nice break from the cheesiness of the pizza and orangini.

(Top) That door leads to... (Middle) This charming courtyard. (Above) Cauliflower florets served in a teeny bowl.

Sefra told us that Palma's Chef Walter recently had to make a thousand cookies for a certain vegetarian Hollywood A-lister. Can you guess who?

Fourth stop: Soy and Sake
We had a mini-lunch at this Japanese vegetarian place. Our bento boxes had yummy seaweed and this pork-like thing that had no meat in it whatsoever. Some of the others in the tour group ordered some sparkling sake, which I wanted to try. But was worried about what it would do to me mixed with jet lag!

Fifth stop: Milk & Cookies
For dessert, we stopped at Milk & Cookies, where we had some big, freshly baked cookies! I reeeally wanted a glass of milk to go with that. The store also sells their own mix (supposedly available a Whole Foods but I couldn't find it!) so you could make your own cookies at home!

Sixth stop: Murray's
We went back to our meeting place, which carries around 300 kinds of cheese! They also have their own cave where they age the cheese—a place that made it onto a 50 Most Interesting Places list. Here, we had parmesan puffs, two different kinds of cheese, and salami! Yay, meat!

Seventh stop: Rocco's
At this pastry shop, we got to try some cannoli, little tubes with a creamy center and some chocolate chips. I was expecting it to be overwhelmingly rich, but it had a very nice balance of flavors. I wanted to scoop the remaining cream out of the box, but someone else beat me to it!

In three hours, I got a bite--well, seven bites--of the Big Apple! When I go back (and I am most definitely going back with my husband!), I am so doing the SoHo tour!


  1. JOE'S PIZZA! oh my!!! i love joe's pizza! we were on the hop on, hop off when the tour guide said: "and to your left, is joe's pizza, the pizza place where spiderman worked" and that was enough for us to signal the driver to stop...

    worth it!!!

  2. It was better than Lombardi's. But to be honest, I still don't get what makes pizza a NY pizza aside from geography!

  3. i know what u mean... cus it's masarap, but its still PIZZA...


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