After getting our sugar on at Economy Candy, we walked through the Lower East Side and came upon this sight. I seriously hope that was a leftover from an episode of CSI:NY!
Our next nosh brought us to Vanessa's Dumplings
on Eldridge Street. I spend a fair amount of time in this neighborhood and since my friend Ian told me about this place a few years back, it has been a regular stop for me. In fact, I go out of my way to come here, I love the dumplings so much.
Cheap, tasty and filling and a pretty big menu, Vanessa's is packed most of the time ad finding a seat can be difficult if you have a big group. Cash only, you get in line, place your order and wait for them to call your number. Hold on to your receipt and they will use it to match with the one they have. The soups, sandwiches and bubble teas are great too.
The sesame pancake for 75 cents. Chewy, nutty, greasy and studded with scallions it's great on its own or as the base for a many a sandwich filled with duck, pork, beef, vegetables... I'm partial to soaking mine in the sriracha/soy mixture I make for my dumplings!!
My pork & chive dumplings for $1.00. What a bargain! They let them get all fried and crusty on one side and keep the other side soft and chewy while the pork inside is filled with the aromas of chive, ginger and garlic. Be sure to stoop over when eating these as they can be juicy and if you're not careful your shirt will become a map of where you've been! This was a hit with the group and I think this little place tucked away came as a surprise and a gem to many. Some remarked how they would definitely come back with others.
Can't make the weekend matches at the club in the Hamptons with Muff and Uncle Biff? Stop on by the Lower East Side for some urban street polo! I have seen these guys here before and it was a nice surprise for the group. Always something interesting and fun happening in the city.
A shot of the Empire State building. I never tire of seeing this when I'm walking around the city.
Michelle and I were noticing the old and the new and really liked this older building and its green trim and the way it cut a nice figure in the skyline.
Our second to last stop was Ray's Pizzeria
on Prince Street. The blur in this shot is a biker pedaling by. It wasn't intentional but when I saw it later that night I liked how it came out. A city constantly in motion, never fulling stopping lest it miss out on something. There are many "Ray's" around the city and almost as many different stories as to which one came first and is "famous" or "original" as there are Ray's! This one in Nolita (North of Little Italy) is my favorite and I have found it to be the most consistent of all the slice places I have been to. As is the case with many pizza slice shops, freshness can prove to be a problem since the pies can be sitting out for a while. I've walked in here before, didn't like the way the pizza looked and walked back out again. Today, they didn't have any pies fresh from the oven right as we walked in but they did look good so I grabbed a slice. Usually if you ask for a slice in the city you'll get a slice of cheese pizza.
This, to me, is a great representation of a NYC slice. Good balance of cheese and sauce, the cheese is browned and has some chew to it, the crust is cheesy and crackly and has flavor (thankfully not like cardboard as some places can be). Karilyn, Matt and Heather said their goodbyes at this point as they had a long drive back to Massachusetts. Thanks for coming down and spending the day with us and I look forward to the next one!!!
Tony asked if I was up for joining he and his family at the last (unplanned) stop of the night at Rice To Riches
on Spring Street. But of course!! I forgot to take shots of the exterior and I was struggling with night shots at this point so these first four are stock photos that I have.
One of my favorite elements to this place is that they allow you to sample different flavors before committing to buying anything. This pumpkin was really good wth a pronounced pumpkin flavor and a healthy dose of pumpkin pie spices. Very autumnal.
The gingerbread was just okay. The flavor of the gingerbread was too subtle for me.
This orange-cranberry, while very tasty, is a flavor that I will always associate with Thanksgiving relish and it's hard for me to appreciate it in a different context.
So I went with my go-to flavor, Man-Made Mascarpone. The combination of the tangy mascarpone cheese, tart dried cherries and creamy rice pudding has ben drawing me in for over 7 years.
This actually DID make it home but not through the night. And yes, I did share with Dayna! We hung around outside eating our pudding and talking for a bit before we said our goodbyes and looked forward to the next tour. 7 train ethnic eats perhaps? Another pizza tour? Maybe tackle Brooklyn next? Who knows? Tony, Michelle, Anthony, Christina and Margret, I had a great time breaking bread (be it a bagel, donut, rye, knish or pizza dough) with you all today and I look forward to many more!!
I thought I'd tack this on. Dayna and I took the train to Union Square the day before the tour to see "The Social Network" and we were floored by the skills of these breakdancers who were able to work within the confines of the 4 train!
Many thanks to everyone who could come: Dayna, Doug, Marisa, Claude, Tony, Michelle, Anthony, Christina, Margret, Karilyn, Matt and Heather. Thanks for putting your faith in me to guide you around for some of my favorite eats!
"Eating is an adventure, enjoy the ride!" - Billyboy, 2010
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