• May 2015
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Cathy Pavlos, executive chef/co-owner, LUCCA   

Click here for Cathy Pavlos' bio

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
O.C. chef heads to New York City
Friday, October 22, 2010
Finding New York's perfect bakery
Eating IN New York City?
When visiting a new place, some people, when they get to their destination, check in with all of the tourist sites and monuments. Me, I go for the markets. When visiting New York City, I have to check in with each and every one to make sure that nothing has changed since the last time I was there. With a general itinerary planned for the day, Elliott and I expected to come back to the apartment with quite a few edible finds, so we decided we would cook dinner with what we found on the day’s journey.

First stop of the day: Greenmarket Farmers Markets. It puts our farmers markets in O.C. to shame. The market showcases the best that the small family farms outside the city have to offer, while giving these farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown, caught, foraged and baked products directly to consumers. The variety is incredible, and ALL New Yorkers have access to the freshest, locally foods in the region. A win-win, right?

I picked up two different varieties of heirloom eggplants, five different heirloom tomatoes – just to try – some frying peppers and two organic types of lettuce.

Next, we schlepped (hey, I'm in New York; walking purposefully while carrying a bag is called "schlepping"), out to Borough Park to visit one of the last surviving authentic Italian markets – D. Coluccio & Sons. From the subway station to the market, I must have heard no fewer than eight different languages and dialects in this New Utrecht neighborhood. It was amazing. We stopped at Coluccio's and picked up the beginnings of our dinner tonight. My goal: a pasta with the veggies that I bought from Greenmarket, olive oil, pasta (mezza manica), cheese and canned imported Sicilian cherry tomatoes from Coluccio's.

The last of our ingredients for dinner came from Agata & Valentina, a true inspiration to all foodies in New York City. There, we got our hands on some fresh fennel sausages, fresh basil and smoked mozzarella. Located on 1st Avenue at 79th Street, Agata & Valentina is one of my favorite gourmet markets. The other markets that I frequent are Citarella, Grace's Marketplace, Balducci's, the Chelsea Market (where the Food Network has its headquarters), and Dean and DeLuca. Somehow, Agata & Valentina is just more real. We sat at a small counter in the front of the market and tasted the shop's wine of the day, a fantastic red and white from Sicily. How many markets do you know where you can go in and, before shopping, enjoy a fabulous glass of wine?

Next, Elliott and I headed out to Brooklyn in search of the best pizza and a few more outstanding Italian markets. Our first stop was Grimaldi's Pizzeria, the best pizza in New York, according to the Zagat guide, and probably the oldest pizzeria in the boroughs.

Contrary to popular belief, pizza is not an Italian invention – legend has it that it was created by the poor Neapolitan immigrants on board the ships bound for America, and when they got off the ships in New York, they perfected it. Somehow, it made it back to the motherland, Italy. No one does it better than Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn Heights (where the line out the door is often down the block; as the sign says, "We don't take no reservations and we don't sell by the slice"). This place is known as the best pizza in the city – and the oldest. We couldn’t duplicate the ovens even if we wanted to – they have been seasoned for more than 100 years.

Before we headed back to cook up dinner, we had to stop at Fishs Eddy – no culinary trip to New York is complete without a visit to this store, which is full of dinnerware, flatware, glassware, serveware – lots of it vintage, all of it, fabulous. Elliott bought 2 dozen dessert wine glasses for 99 cents each! Make sure you check ‘em out next time you’re at LUCCA! The website is great and you can order online!

It was only after we got back to the apartment that we remembered most apartments in the city aren’t made for home cooks, so we knew we’d be in for a challenge with the two 3-cup pots, 8-inch skillet, and a few forks and bowls we had for cooking. That’s another story in itself, but let’s just say that our cheese grater was a fork and a bowl (it was still the best Parmesan I have tasted outside of Italy).

After dinner – yes, we managed to create a lovely pasta in our tiny New York apartment kitchen – Elliott and I went up to the Guggenheim Museum (see? We did get some nonfoodie culture in today).

Tomorrow, we're thinking dim sum in Chinatown, the Chelsea Market and a schlep out to Hoboken to visit Carlo's Bakery – home to the "Cake Boss."

If you miss any of our adventure, we’ll give you a recap of all the OC METRO blogs in our next newsletter! That means, if you’re not on our list, what are you waiting for?