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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter Warmers

With a 10-day forecast hovering right around 27 degrees in NYC, we thought it most appropriate to share our favorite Winter Warmers with you. Here are the best ways to strip out of those layers of clothing - and warm yourself up below 14th street.


FIRST BITE: SPICES & TEAS

If you're lacking central heating or you're (understandably) trying to keep the electric bill a little lower this season, you might try one of our favorite ancient remedies. It is believed that keeping the body warm comes not from the (now dwindling) degrees on the thermometer, but from within.

Certain foods could raise the body's temperature. Winter is an excellent time to incorporate spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric and cloves into your daily diet.

These spices contain phytonutrients, anti-microbial and/or anti-inflammatory properties.


If you take our Greenwich Village Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour, you will discover a gem of a shop called Aphrodisia. JoAnne has been behind the counter since 1969 selling her wares: herbs, spices, teas, chocolates, essential oils, soaps, candles and an array of interesting books. Over 700 bins, of every spice imaginable, line the shelves.

If you bake or cook you will fall in love with what's inside. If you enjoy using recipes from cookbooks but feel there are usually too many dried herbs and spices, shopping here makes is easy. Since everything is in bulk, you can purchase as much or as little as you need. Did you know that you are supposed to keep dried herbs and spices for only six months?

This is a home cook or Chefs paradise! JoAnne, has studied herbology, and blends her own teas; you'll find about twenty of her blends in the store.
Come tour with us, and we will show you a few of our favorite things, and then together we'll warm you up with a tea tasting at Aphrodisia.

Our favorites... JoAnne has a "Stress Reducing" blend which is a calming, floral based tea, and another one we love is "In The Mood", which has a hearty, warm flavor and will leave you feeling good.


Another insider secret... spices can help to speed up your metabolism by creating a thermodynamic burn that have been shown to last a few hours after you eat. A great way to lose those winter layers and get ready for the beach - just around the corner, we promise!


MIDDLE BITE: YUCA

You may be surprised by this one - but if you take our Central Village/SoHo tour your will be blown away by our next find. Before adding it to the tour, we frequented a wonderful Cuban restaurant on Thompson Street called Cuba. We kept coming back to the most seemingly simple dish on the menu: Yuca. We decided it was selfish not to share it with you, so we have since added it to the tour.

Their YUCA CON MOJO (mojo is a west african word meaning 'spell') consists of Steamed cassava (or yuca, a root vegetable) delisciously drenched in a garlic mojo criollo sauce. if you like garlic, you will love this dish, and you will love Cuba. The great part is that Yucca contains steroid saponins, which gives it strong healing properties.


Native Americans used the Yuca to treat external wounds, and also as dandruff shampoo. Today Yucca is used to create the foam in many kinds of Root Beer soft drinks. So you get get through the winter months - strong and heathy - and with just a bit less dandruff!
Yuca was an important food source for many early Native Americans; they would rely on it to cleanse and detoxify the body both inside and out. Yuca is still believed to be a wonderful blood-cleansing tinic that helps to rid the kidneys and liver of toxins.

Heal yourself. Fill your belly. Enough said.

LAST BITE: STEAMED PORK BUNS

Nothing says says warm me up quite like the word, 'steamed' and the word 'buns' - put it together and you've got one of the most delectiable treats in life: steamed pork buns. If you haven't ever tasted this wonderful invention - you must GO NOW. Our Chinatown tour (the newest of our culinary walking tours) features these life altering buns.

We like to think of them as little clouds of heaven - with some pork inside.

Dim sum means "heart's delight" in Cantonese, referring to the feast of small dishes served as snacks. Steamed pork buns, or bao in Chinese, are a staple of every dim sum brunch. The buns may also be called baozi, especially if they are filled with ingredients besides pork. The typical pork bun is, as the name would suggest, stuffed with pork in hoisin or barbecue sauce, and the filling is often colored dark brown or very red.

The more traditional way to cook a pork bun is by steaming it. This makes the yeast risen flour dough white in color. The exterior is sometimes cakey and dense.

Nothing like cakey and dense to fill your belly and keep your warm. Come take a tour and taste our buns!

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