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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Weekly Roundup: Chef Rafele Cooking Class Now Public, Murray's Cheese Ice Cream and Sushi Rules To Follow

  • Cooking Class:  Now available for sale to the Public is our Rafele Cooking Class at Ristorante Rafele.  This three hour long class includes a four course dinner, each student participates in creating several dishes with Rafele, wine parings and non-alcoholic beverages for $150/person.  Classes are held select Tuesdays at 3pm which are listed on our web site with a maximum size of 12 students.  Plan a Cooking Class and one of our Food Tours next time you are in town!

  • The 10 Best Pastrami Dishes in NYC That Aren't Sandwiches: The pastrami sandwich? A local luminary and national treasure. But the deli darling that launched a thousand fake orgasms has also found itself the star of numerous dishes that straight up balk at the Earl of Sandwich's beloved invention. Here are our 10 favorites, which may just be the best thing to happen to pastrami since sliced rye bread.
  • Carnegie Deli Owners Are Fighting To the Death, in Court: All of the lawsuits at the Carnegie Deli are coming to a head as owners Marian and Sandy Levine duke out their divorce in court, and one judge is fed up with it.
  • 'Friends' Central Perk pop-up coffee shop hits Manhattan: Television Group, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and Eight O’Clock Coffee are partnering to re-create the Central Perk coffeehouse at a pop-up location in downtown Manhattan this September, and there are plenty of reasons to check it out besides the free coffee.

  • Meat Market; Pat LaFrieda Reflects on Four Generations of Butchery: Pat the third is a fourth generation butcher; his great-grandfather, Anthony, came to the States in 1906. He'd begun to learn the meat business in his native Naples, and here, he had the opportunity to step out on his own in 1922. All five of his sons -- including Pat Sr. -- worked for the company, and in the '50s, they started selling to restaurants during a labor strike. 
  • All The Cakes You Can Make With Just A Box Of Cake Mix And A Bottle Of Soda: It would appear that no cake recipe is as easy to follow as the one printed on the back of a cake mix box.  But there is something easier, dear cake-lovers. Swap all but the cake mix for a bottle of soda.
  • Philippine de Rothschild, Wine Nobility, Dies at 80: Philippine de Rothschild, a scion of the vaunted winemaking family who helped modernize and expand a renowned wine-producing enterprise that sells 22 million bottles annually, died on Saturday in Paris. She was 80.


  • Nolita landlord cashes in on rising rents: A humble single-story garage on Elizabeth Street in the heart of increasingly trendy Nolita stands on the verge of a major makeover. The owner of 242 Elizabeth St., which in recent years has been the site of a series of retail pop-up shops, is spending $5.9 million to build a seven-story property, starting with street-level retail and ending with a pricey penthouse.

  • Watch a Tokyo Chef Explain the Rules of Eating Sushi:  If Anthony Bourdain's 2012 graphic novel taught us anything, it's that diners at high-end sushi counters enter into an unspoken kind of contract the moment they pull up a stool: The chef agrees to prepare an exquisite meal of carefully selected, delicately handled rice and fish, and the customer agrees to not be a total moron.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Take 2: Faicco's House made Mozzarella and Sausage.

For this Take 2 we had the opportunity to take two of our great tour guides, Sephrah and Raheem, behind the scenes of Faicco’s Pork shop to help the staff make their famous fresh mozzarella and pork sausage.  If you have taken our Original Greenwich Village food tour, you have probably tasted their amazing Rice Balls, or “arancini” which means “little orange” in Italian, as well as their house cured homemade Soppressata.  But that is only a small sample of ALL that they offer.

They also have extra large “carnivorous” fresh made hero’s which could feed an army, or one of Tony Soprano’s crew members.  Try some neighborhood favorites like an Itallian with proscuitto, capicola, sopresatta, fresh mozz, lettuce, tomato, onion and oil.  Or try a chicken cutlet with broccoli rage and fresh mozzarella.  If you have ever been there during lunch time and have seen all of the police cars and firetrucks parked outside, you know it’s a great spot!

So follow us back into the kitchen of Faicco’s, or as we like to call it…the “Willy Wonka” of sausage!


Part 1, Making Fresh Mozzarella:

The First step to making fresh mozzarella is learning how to say it.  We found a few, “Mozzarealla” “Mozz” “Mot-za-relllll” “Cheese of the gods”!  How ever you say it, it all should taste the same, right?  Wrong!  Like all other great food products it’s all about starting with good quality ingredients, like fresh unsalted cheese curd.  Let’s watch Faicco’s Mozzarella star Patrick walk Sephrah and Raheem on prepping the cheese curd.



Look at how much fun it is!

Once the cheese curd has been sliced and washed, it is time to bathe the mozz in hot water to give it that smooth look and easy pliability to form the Mozzarella balls!



Now that the Mozzarella has a good texture we can start to form the balls.


Once the Mozzarella balls are formed we let them sit in a light salt brine for about 15 minutes before they are packaged up for sale on the Faicco’s counter.

video video

And yes, Raheem did eat his Mozzarella that night...with some delicious olive oil infused with basil from our friends at O&Co.

Check back next week for Part 2: Making the Sausage!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Weekly Roundup: Texas Brisket in NYC, Nutella Hogs Hazelnuts and Tip Top Sushi

  • Why Are New York City's Biggest Restaurateurs Heading to Washington, DC?  CityCenterDC is a 10-acre real estate development in Washington, DC that will be home to condominiums, offices, and apartments. By the end of 2015, it will also be home to two restaurants from two well-known, NYC-based chef/restaurateurs: David Chang, who will be opening a Momofuku outpost next year, and Daniel Boulud, who will be opening DBGB Kitchen + Bar this Fall.
  • Brisket Is Worth the Wait: At new operations like Randalls Barbecue and Lonestar Empire, they specialize in Texas brisket. Exemplary slow-smoked, Texas-style whole beef briskets have proliferated at recently established barbecue restaurants like Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, BrisketTown and Hometown, and at weekly food markets like Smorgasburg and the Hester Street Fair.
  • The greasy competition among NYC’s halal street carts: As most Midtowners know, the hordes who gather day and night are waiting for the Halal Guys, a chicken, lamb and rice cart that’s become perhaps the city’s most famous open-air dining destination.

  • Nutella Hogs Hazelnuts to Meet the World's Insatiable Craving for Chocolaty Goodness: There are more than 50 hazelnuts per 13-ounce jar of Nutella, and with 180 million kilograms of the chocolatey spread produced each year, that adds up to an insane number of hazelnuts. Right now, many confectioners are scrambling to secure hazelnuts: Hail storms and frost in March damaged the crop in Turkey, the world’s main growing area, causing prices to climb by as much as 60 percent this year.
  • WATCH THIS VIDEO TO SEE HOW PARMESAN CHEESE IS MADE: Potluck Video, the team that went behind the scenes at Sun Noodle factory to document the making of ramen noodles, gives us a look at how one of the world’s most beloved dairy products is made in “How Parmesan Cheese Is Made.”
  • Watch a Clip From the New Season of Mind of a Chef: The third season of PBS's food show Mind of a Chef, which features the Nordic genius of Magnus Nilsson and the obsessive, genre-busting Edward Lee, premieres in just a few weeks, and here's an outtake that offers some insight into Lee's work. 


  • Massive New Food Hall Arriving on Gansevoort Street: New York is about to get another enormous indoor food market. The Gansevoort Street Market, which originally opened in the late 1800's, will be revived in early September just near the southern tip of The High Line.

  • The 12 Best Record Stores In NYC, OTHER MUSIC: Unlike the now-deceased Tower Records that used to stand across the street, this 18-year-old record shop has managed to withstand the iTunes era thanks to its spectacular vinyl and CD collection, impressively organized by the store's super-hip, super-knowledgeable staff.

  • Summer Sips, Vietnamese Iced Coffee: Now that iced coffee season is in full swing, you may find yourself craving a little variety from your daily cold-brew.  For those willing to venture into sweeter realms of coffee on the rocks, Vietnamese-style iced coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da) may just be your summer salvation.
  • A Recipe Book That Does Not Stray Far: Patti Jackson, the restaurant’s chef and owner, called the recipe “an agglomeration of Pennsylvania Dutch and Shaker pies, stuff that’s always interested me.” At this point, it’s hard to find a New York chef who doesn’t cook with ingredients from the mid-Atlantic, but ones who draw on the region’s recipes are much more unusual.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Weekly Roundup: NYC Burgers, How To Talk Like A Chef and Smorgasburg Pops Up in Central Park

  • New York City's 13 Iconic Burgers: New York City has some of the nation's oldest and most storied hamburgers. Here is a guide to 13 of the city's true icons, which are as diverse in form as the New York burger scene is broad.
  • Nighttime Smorgasburg Coming To Central Park: Brooklyn's line friendly foodie paradise Smorgasburg will be coming to Central Park for a one-night-only extravaganza next month.
  • German Artists Did The Brooklyn Bridge White Flag Stunt: A pair of German artists tells the NY Times that they are responsible for planting two white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge, and they've provided compelling video evidence to support their claim. Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke have come forward to explain that the incident had nothing to do with terrorism, and was instead a nod to John Roebling, the German-born engineer who designed the bridge.

  • Is Industry City the next Chelsea Market?:Developer Jamestown Properties is hoping to accelerate gentrification in Sunset Park by teaming with the purveyors of the popular Mister Sunday dance party and redeveloping Industry City.
  • THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF RESTAURANT KITCHENS: In the Hidden Language, Nat Towsen interviews an insider of a particular subculture in order to examine the terms and phrases created by that subculture to serve its own needs. This is language innate to an insider and incomprehensible, if not invisible, to an outsider.


  • Greenwich Village Stalwart Po is Currently Closed: Po, the 20-year-old Greenwich Village trattoria that put Mario Batali on the map, is currently closed. A sign in the window reads: "Due to a kitchen mechanical failure, Con Ed has temporarily shut off our gas main."
  • Find Affordable Round-the-Clock Nostalgia at Hamilton's Luncheonette in the Village: Recently, the owners of West 4th's Cafe Minerva opened a shiny new corner luncheonette and soda shop called Hamilton's (51 Bank st.). Forget the usual flair and picture menus, this is the good old days filtered through a runway lens. Celadon accents offset bare white walls for an almost sterile feel, but the behatted, perky young soda jerks are eager to please. We checked in on lunchtime service to slurp up some manufactured nostalgia with the neighborhood.

  • The Death of the "Sex and the City" Restaurant: In a 2004 episode of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw refers to Pastis as “the only restaurant that seemed to exist” in NYC. Today, the Keith McNally bistro is closed, the windows papered over, the front door locked. The shuttering of the iconic bistro was a blow to Downtown revelers, who could depend on Pastis for a textbook steak frites at midnight, but it also marked the end of another era — the Sex and the City restaurant.

  • Landmarked Bowery Mansion On The Market: Even if the address "190 Bowery" doesn't ring a bell, you have most likely stopped and noticed the building at some point—it's the one with all that graffiti on the corner of Spring Street. Its exterior has remained somewhat of a tribute to the Bowery as it was decades ago. There's no boutique hotel inside, no Starbucks on the ground floor, and it has pretty much looked abandoned for years. And now for the first time in five decades, it appears to be on the market.
  • OpenTable Gets in on the Mobile Payment Game: Open Table is launching an app for mobile payment at over 45 restaurants in New York today including Il Buco Alimentari

  • Shark Fin Soup Is Going Extinct: According to a new report from WildAid, sales of shark fin have fallen by 50 to 70 percent in China—a drastic decrease by any calculation. While many people polled said that awareness campaigns and fears over fake fins and high mercury levels played a big role in their decision to stop consuming shark fins, more than a quarter of respondents cited China’s 2013 ban on shark fin from state banquets as a key motivator.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Weekly Roundup: New Openings at Chelsea Market, All About NYC Tacos..and Hot Dogs Too

  • New York, I love you: The next day, we took a food tour of Nolita (North of Little Italy). If you’re asking yourself, What the heck is a food tour?, well, it is a tour where you eat food the entire time, i.e. THE BEST IDEA IN THE HISTORY OF ALL IDEAS. This was my third tour through Foods of NY and I have loved every one.

  • The 10 Best Taquerias in NYC: Here are the 10 best taquerias in NYC, each of which clearly executes its vision deliciously.
    • A New York City Tacopedia: L.A.'s Got Nuttin' on Us!  Ever since southern Mexican immigrants started pouring into town almost 30 years ago, we've seen a multiplication of taco styles, a gradual broadening of our taco vistas — partly sparked by the immigrants, partly due to a ramping up of Mexican food popularity nationwide.
  • My Life as a Magnolia Bakery Cupcake Bouncer: Take a hilarious look at a day job that most of would never have thought existed.

  • How New York City Hot Dogs Conquered the Galaxy: The hot dog is as ubiquitous to New York as pizza, the steakhouse and the Statue of Liberty. While the roots of the hot dog stretch back to central Europe, it was on the boardwalks and streets of New York City that the hot dog became assimilated into American life, shedding its immigrants status and donning a stars and stripes waist coat.
  • Dining with the stars: Big-name backers can draw customers to a restaurant, but they don't guarantee success.
  • Mind of a Chef’s Second Season Is Now Streaming on Netflix: Season three of the Anthony Bourdain–produced PBS show Mind of a Chef premieres September 6, so it's a good time to catch up on its Emmy Award–winning second season with Sean Brock and April Bloomfield. All episodes are now available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
  • Are Heirloom Tomatoes Always Worth The Price? Now the spheres are in kitchens around the world, as common an ingredient as salt, but the new millennium has seen a rise in lumpy, multicolored tomato varieties—a far cry from the factory-farmed beefsteak standard that took over American kitchens in the second half of the 20th century.


  • Angry Neighbors Fighting Loud SoHo Restaurant's Expansion: It's no fun living next to a super-loud nightlife spot, and residents living in the vicinity of Sullivan Street restaurant Navy say the popular seafood spot is just too damn noisy. Now, they're fighting Navy's planned expansion into a space now occupied by a quiet bakery, describing the move as "a Trojan horse" that'll bring more noise to the neighborhood. Liquor license war, commence!

  • Beautiful People, Improbably Great Food at Dimes: Located on the fringes of Chinatown near the corner of Canal and Essex, Dimes is one of those micro-eateries that have been popping up lately, renting tiny spaces because larger ones have become unaffordable. 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Weekly Roundup: NYC Chef's Skip Town, A 157 Year Old Foundry in Greenwich Village and a Garden Grows in Columbus Park

  • THE 12 BEST NYC RESTAURANT OPENINGS FROM JULY: Since you've probably spent the first half of Summer lounging around on beaches and rooftops instead of slavishly tracking the best July restaurant openings in NYC, we’ve put together a cheat sheet to help get you up to speed.
  • Chefs Move Beyond New York: Traditionally, chefs trained in New York and then stayed, with the goal of running big kitchens or opening their own places.  No more. Smaller cities are increasingly attractive for New York chefs; there, they find savvy audiences who support innovative restaurants. 



  • Why The Heck Does Carbone's Caesar Salad Cost $21?: "It's hardly a salad," said Eater's Nick Solares when I asked him about the Caesar at Carbone, a Greenwich Village hotspot that tips its hat to the Italian-American chophouses of yesteryear, giant portions, tuxedoed waiters and all.
  • Perla’s New Burger: As of this past Tuesday, Perla has a new burger, offered from 5:30 to 7 p.m. — or until it runs out…for only $15! 

  • Google Searches Out Space in Its Own Building: Google appears poised to jump on the $2 billion worth of Manhattan real estate it bought almost four years ago.  The Internet search giant will be able to move into as much as 500,000 square feet of office space at 111 Eighth Ave.—the almost three million-square-foot office building it bought in 2010 as its New York headquarters—by the first quarter of next year
  • Pastis Likely Won't Reopen in Its Original Home: It looks like Keith McNally's Pastis won't be moving back into its original location in the heart of the Meatpacking District after all. 

  • Garden Grows Fresh Veggies in Columbus Park: A new garden is growing in Columbus Park.  The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center began tilling the freshly carved-out green space this spring, and now the butterfly garden and planters are in full bloom. A miniature greenhouse, just big enough to reach inside to water the plants, is filled with growing tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers. 


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

TAKE 2: Home Restaurant

In this NEW blog series “TAKE 2” we get to dig deeper and re-visit the restaurants and shops on our food tours, but show you a few more delicious options which aren’t offered as a tasting on the tour...and you get to join us on the culinary ride.  Our goal at Foods of NY Tours is to not only serve you food from the best of the best, but also save you the gut-filling task of trying EVERYTHING on the menu to discover the other hidden gems you may have otherwise glanced over or passed by.


You tried the rice balls and Soppressata at Faicco’s Pork store, but did you know that they make their own fresh mozzarella daily and special sausage rolls only on Saturdays?
You tried the three types of cheeses and parmesan straws at Murray’s Cheese Shop, but that is only 1% of all of the cheese that they carry!


In today’s TAKE 2 we re-visit Home Restaurant, the charming original NYC farm to table restaurant located on Cornelia street with that “hidden” year round garden.  You may have had a chance to try on our Original Greenwich Village Tour their three cheese “Mac and Cheese”, made with Asagio, Monteray Jack and Cheddar cheese.  We probably also told you about their AMAZING chocolate pudding, homemade ketchup and 95% NY state wine list.  But what you didn’t know was that the deliciousness doesn’t stop there.  We went back and hung out with Chef Scott and General Manager Nate to have them prepare what their favorite dish and drink are at Home Restaurant, and what they eat when no one is looking.


As a fairly frequent visitor to Home Restaurant I am always looking for small bites that will go a long way when I am not hungry enough for an entree, but craving more than a snack to go with my cocktail.  Last fall I stumbled upon the “Farmers Egg” at Home restaurant and fell madly in love!  This hearty, yet small plate packs tons of flavor in the perfect amount of food for an afternoon breakfast, mid-day lunch or lite dinner…something I like to call “BreLinner”.  This simple plate combines perfectly cooked wild rice and white truffle risotto, crispy maitake mushrooms, a “Runny” hard boiled egg and herbs.  Paired with a glass of Dr. Konstatine Dry Reisling takes this dish to a higher level transporting you to a hillside in northern Italy overlooking Lake Como sharing a laugh with George Clooney.  On a recent visit Chef Scott took me behind the scenes and let me watch him prepare the “Farmers Egg” dish in the cozy Home Restaurant kitchen.

Scott's Mise en Place:

First we started with the risotto, a simple mix of Aborio and Wild rice, sweated onions, bay leaf, white wine and chicken stock.  Chef Scott takes about 27 (drooling) minutes to get the rice to that “Risotto” level…creamy enough it sticks together yet keeps the al dente texture.  Additional chicken stock was added ladle by ladle throughout the process until completely reduced. “There should be no separated liquid at the bottom of the pan when it is ready” states Scott.  This is a Risotto that would make “Big Red’ Batali giggle like a little school girl!

As the Risotto was churning, Scott got the soft boiled eggs ready by adding salt and a splash of red wine vinegar to the boiling water bath.  The vinegar would help in two ways, soften the egg shell to make it easier to peel off after they were cooked.  Also it would keep the yolk centered for a beautiful presentation because no one wants a lop-sided boiled egg!  Set the timer to 5 minutes and on to the mushrooms.

Crispy Maitake Mushrooms:

Next we started on the Maitake Mushrooms, or translated to “Dancing” mushrooms, which sure did the Samba in that super hot frying pan.  Scott’s tip for sautéed mushrooms?  Very hot pan, very little oil makes them nice and crispy in no time!  The shape of the Maitake is made for crisping with thin petal like caps and thin stalks.  Once they have been brought to the desired level of crunchiness they are shoveled out of the pan onto a paper towel to rest and dry off a bit.

Now that the eggs were done with their 5 minute Jacuzzi bath and the risotto was as creamy as churned butter, it was time to plate.  But before Scott took off the Risotto we had to add the white truffle oil to bring this dish to absolute euphoria!  Just a little dash would do.

First we plate the risotto, just like mashed potatoes with a crater like indent welcoming that farmers egg to nestle in nice and close.  Next, the crispy Maitake mushrooms were placed around the egg as a border letting you know the egg is the target, and once the yolk is released everything in its way would succumb to this river of flavor.  Almost as an afterthought the herbs consisting of radish and carrot tops were placed on top blanketing the pillow of eggy goodness and a seven herb oil drizzled on the outside to add color contrast as well as a flavor multiplier...times seven!

It was love at first bite!  The savoriness of the egg yolk with the truffle oil in the risotto was what love songs were written about.  The textures of the crispy mushrooms and creamy risotto made this simple dish taste complex.  This is breakfast for lunch and dinner.

Nate, the General Manager, and general cocktail contortionist recommended a glass of their Dr. Konstatine Dry Reisling from the finger lakes region, New York of course since the wine list is 95% NY wineries.  Thanks Dr. Konstatine, I’ll take two and call you in the morning!  Not sure if Kurt Cobain was eating this dish with the paired wine when he came up with the name for his band, but I’ve certainly found nirvana!


Before I left Nate had to make me a new drink he had been working on for their overhauled cocktail list.  Sort of a classic cocktail menu meets locally sourced libations with a seasonal attitude.  I went for the Sorel Sidecar, a simple classic with a fuggetaboutit attitude.


Nate starts off with the basics for a Bourbon Sidecar, Rough Rider Bourbon from Long Island Spirits of Montauk, New York, triple sec and lemon juice.  But the addition of Sorel takes this cocktail to a higher ground as Stevie Wonder sings…and I was singing too.  First a bit about this Sorel libation, it’s made in Red Hook Brooklyn (locally sourced remember) by Jack from Brooklyn.  

The base is a native Caribbean recipe made from the hibiscus plant renown for it’s curative properties and as a powerful aphrodisiac.  Jack adds to the Moroccan hibiscus some Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia and nutmeg, Nigerian Ginger, and pure sugar cane.  It has the flavor profile of a pumpkin pie topped with toasted ginger, which would be an amazing addition to hot apple cider on a cold fall night.  But Nate’s addition of fresh squeezed lemon juice and triple sec nudge the drink to a refreshing summer cocktail meant to be consumed in an outdoor NYC garden!  Finished off with a lemon twist this invigorating drink will leave you thirsty for another.

So the next time you are strolling down Cornelia street, stop in and say hi to Scott and Nate, mosey on back to the garden, and enjoy a “HOME” like light meal with their Farmers Egg and Truffled Risotto with a Sorel Sidecar…and repeat three times “there’s no place like home”!

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