After taking the food tour of Greenwich Village, we decided to try another one. This time we went to Chelsea Market, which was the original home of Nabisco (National Biscuit Company). The building was left empty for years before Irwin Cohen decided to take it over and turn it into a “destination” spot in NYC. The first floor is the only one you have access to, and it has a good number of specialty food shops and bakeries. The upper floors are home to Food Network, Oxygen Network, and MLB.com, as well as a few others.
This tour was a bit of a let-down after the last one. I came away from it feeling like it could have been done better, and that is through no fault of our guide. Honestly, you could do the tour on your own and pick up a brochure which would give you the history of the building. We came away feeling as though we took a tour of a mall and definitely felt like we could eat more after leaving there – the samples were much smaller than they were on the other tour we took.
We began at Eleni’s bakery which started their business with a family recipe for a cookie that has just about everything you can imagine in it. I was not terribly impressed by the cookie, but I imagine some people must like it. Their decorated cookies were cute, but not over-the-top impressive compared to what I’ve seen elsewhere. They would not allow any pictures in their shop, so I can’t show you examples here.
Next up, we went to Ronnybrook Dairy. Their claim to fame is a farm in upstate New York that plays classical music for their cows, allows them to eat the best grass and hay. They do not use antibiotics unless the cows are sick. All of that sounds pretty good, so we were given a small sample of their chocolate milk. It was good, but I can’t say that it tasted any better than any other chocolate milk I’ve had.
Another stop on our “mall tour” was to Sarabeth’s Bakery. I liked that we could view the bakery through a window and see everything happening behind the scenes. We were given a little biscuit and allowed to sample two of her fruit spreads – they are not jams because there is no pectin in them. They were very tasty, and they also have an interesting breakfast and lunch menu.
|From Family, Friends and Food|
The Lobster Shop is known for fresh seafood and incredibly large lobsters. They also employ sushi chefs who were busy working to prepare various rolls for the lunch crowd. We had a sample of the Lobster Bisque which was made with sherry, while I enjoyed my little cup of soup My Husband was not as impressed. I would have liked to walk around the shop a bit more, but we were asked to take our soup outside the shop to eat.
|From Family, Friends and Food|
David’s Market Basket is a cute shop that is the only retail place you can find Food Network products and gear, otherwise you are limited to purchasing from their website. They were all decked out for Easter and the selection seemed very extensive, we had just a few moments to browse (maybe 5 minutes), before we had a very tiny little square of a cracker with an even smaller piece of cheese and a teeny-tiny drop of chutney. I can’t remember what any of it was called, and definitely couldn’t tell you how it tasted.
We had a sample of gelato that was quite nice, but we were annoyed to find that it was being given away free to anyone who happened to be there that day. Don’t get me wrong, but we paid $44 per person for this tour and I’d like to receive a sample that not just anyone else was getting that day.
Buon Italia is an Italian grocery which has anything you could need to prepare a full-blown Italian meal. Would take quite a bit of time to truly go through the store and narrow down the choices of what to purchase. We had a sampling of 2 Italian meats, bread from Amy’s bakery, olives stuffed with cheese (our guide didn’t know what kind- odd since this is marketed as a foodie tour and we’d like to know these things), balsamic ciopolini onions, and an olive tapenade. Everything was tasty, but not memorable.
The T Salon was our last stop in the “mall” and was another store where we were not allowed to take pictures. We were give a small cup of tea, which would have tasted better if it was not ice cold.
Our tour did briefly leave the mall to view Morimoto’s restaurant, which is stunning to enter. We also took a quick peek into Del Posto which is owned by Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich – it’s like stepping into Italy, simply beautiful inside. We walked a bit outside as our guide told us a bit about the history of Chelsea and how it’s changed. I wish the tour had just one restaurant tasting, perhaps they will add one at some point in the future.
If you are in NYC and want to take a food tour, I’d tell you to take the Original Greenwich Village Tour but skip the Chelsea Market Tour. Take a few hours on your own and explore Chelsea Market on your own, and you’ll do just fine.