My friend Brooke loves food just about as much as I do and we have been working on making a food tour happen for a number of months. On Monday February 25th, we embarked on a walking tour of Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, the East Village/Alphabet City and finally the West Village. We met for breakfast on West 3rd St. in Greenwich Village at the newish oatmeal cafe called Oatmeals
. I had been here before and was eager to return.
I may have to try this one!
It's small, cozy place, decorated with oatmeal tins and pillows advertising oatmeal brands.
Their stock in trade are steel cut oats, which are completely different (and much, much better in my opinion) than the instant packets found in supermarkets. I love size offerings and they have one more, a fairly big bowl called the "Weird Uncle Bear". They do offer signature bowls or totally customizable sizes with any number of sweet and/or savory toppings and milks.
So many that I want to try...
I went for the Canadian (cinnamon roasted apples, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, maple syrup and sea salt). A perfect combination of sweet and savory and the oatmeal was chewy, hearty and just what I needed to start the day.
Brooke opted for the Truffle RisOATto (shaved parmesan, truffle oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper). Really intense. The parmesan and truffle oil was quite rich and we both really liked it. And they weren't shy with the pepper. I had never really considered oatmeal as a savory dish but this really opened my mind to it. Just a great little place, staff are great and the owner's name is Samantha Stevens, which is shared by everyone's favorite TV witch!
I couldn't resist a shot of this cute little doggie on the way out. I love the different colored eyes.
As we walked to the Lower East Side, we passed this taqueria that we earmarked for a future tour. I love the nod to Metallica!
Interesting, but as it was still morning, it was a bit early for a bit of the hair of the dog.
Our second stop was at Economy Candy
on Rivington St.
Brooke's first time here and she was eager to check it out!
I never tire of this place as there is always something new that I haven't seen before. This gum is such a brilliant idea.
And a little 80s rewind with Pac-Man candy. I think it's strawberry flavored.
And this is just awesome...an Atari joystick tin that holds gum. I spent HOURS and HOURS playing games with mind-blowing special effects like Tank and Pong, but man, did I love that Atari.
And what my friend Greg and I used to call "rack packs". We would spend hours in the local dollar store in our early teens poring through these looking for the best cards to buy and trade. Tens of thousands of cards and many happy memories later, it was totally worth it.
I remember trying these and being put off by the wax bottles and spitting wax out of my mouth. Did anyone like these as a kid?
Just picking one of these up, I feel as though I should be tying some damsel in distress to some train tracks or at least pursue my lifelong dream of forming a barbershop quartet.
The Jelly Belly-M & M section. We both put together sizable bags of mixed Jelly Bellies. Buttered Popcorn, Tangerine, Canteloupe, Root Beer, etc... Mmmmm....
I've seen these before but don't remember exactly what they are. Has anyone tried them? They look like communion wafers that have been blown up with compressed air.
Third on the hit parade was the Essex Street Market
. This is a great place to wander around and take in. There are lots of interesting shops and groceries, many Latin in origin, that to me seem somewhat exotic having grown up in a small town without much diversity. Fish mongers, butchers, dry goods, etc...
Some of the places are closed on Mondays (Roni-Sue Chocolates, Shopsin's General Store) so it is good to check the website or call ahead for hours. We didn't try any of the juices here at Tra La La Juice Bar
but the baked goods case at Rainbo's and...
was looking mighty good. Our plan though was to do a walk through and then pick a few places that we really wanted to try.
Not sure if you can tell from this picture but these whoopie pies are massive! We didn't get any though as we had some other places in mind. They also own the fish market stall across the aisle and we considered splitting a grilled grouper sandwich but we had some seafood in mind towards the end of the day so we filed this one away for the next tour. I swear, you could do a whole tour and never leave this market. It is actually quite small but lots of food packed into this space!
And they seem to specialize in custom cakes...
Some of which are outrageous! It would have been a crime if I DIDN'T take a picture of this!
I had been hearing good things about Brooklyn Taco
from and this menu had us both jonesing for a Guaco Taco.
Meatless Mondays sounds like a good idea to me.
For years I never liked guacamole as a had been subjected to really terrible versions that resembled art class paste rather than an avocado. This guacamole was amazing. Chunky, buttery and velvety, it had corn, tomatoes, onions and habaneros in it and topped with cotija cheese, crema and a spritz of lime. I forgot to ask where the double (good call) corn tortillas came from but they sure tasted fresh. We were both really wowed by this taco and could have eaten a couple more a piece but given that we had many more stops to go we decided to save it for another trip. The guys working in that tiny kitchen were great and when we told them about our tour they gave us recs for other great spots in the neighborhood.
Brooke, about to rock the guac!
We popped into Formaggio Essex
hoping to score some of the cheese sandwiches that they usually have made but they hadn't any ready to go just yet.
Mmmmm, stinky cheese!
For all of your spice needs.
My apologies for this poor quality photo but it was the best of a bad lot. Boubouki
is a small food stall making some killer spanakopita (spinach pie). This was so crispy and full of flavor. Brooke and I split a slice but after the first bite I regretted not getting my own.
Brooke had never been to the market before so I had to show her Shopsin's General Store
, even if they were closed today. We snapped away like the paparazzi without fear of incurring the wrath of Kenny or his family (you know what I'm talkin' about, TTM
!). It really is a small food stall but packed with great flavors. Pricey for sure and with some offputting rules but I've been so blown away by the food that I'm willing to return.
A kissing cousin to the Luther Burger perhaps?
Now THIS has Billyboy written all over it!!
And a stop at Saxelby Cheesemongers
for a grilled cheese sandwich before heading to our next stop. Unfortunately, their hot press for grilled cheese wasn't ready yet. D'oh!!
And some history of the Essex Market
Yes Virginia, there IS country ham in New York City!
One of the grocery markets has a pretty extensive collection of beverages...
so we decided to try a Fentiman's Curiosity Cola with ginger and herbal extracts which turned out to be quite refreshing.
If you're thinking of coming here, they have some seating so you can sit down and chow down, They also have a barber shop, coffee shop, bread bakery, clothing store and sexual education museum (no joke!). The market was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy so many of the merchants are just getting by. If you find yourself in NYC and looking for an interesting place to check out with great food, definitely come down and throw some support towards the independents. I'm sure they love it.
Much, much more to come...