Today: in search of the perfect bakery – and other stuff.
C’mon, it’s New York: More is, well, more!
No food trip to New York is complete without a cannoli. Usually when I am in New York, we go up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. That is the real Little Italy. This is where my grandparents lived when they immigrated to America from Italy. There are at least two Italian bakeries on each block. You know the type – the ones that have wedding cakes in the front windows. And not just any wedding cakes; these have mezzanines, staircases and balconies. In fact, an entire cake village for your wedding enjoyment – alas, I digress.
Today, Elliott and I set out to check up on my favorite bakeries in the city. Both of them are located deep in the Lower East Side. First we visited Veniero's on 11th, notably the older of the two, and then DeRobertis. It's just a young business, established around 1906. Both of these bakeries have fabulous displays at Christmas, with more than 100 different varieties of Italian Christmas cookies! My BFF Mona tells me that her cousin's tiramisu wedding cake came from Veniero's. Go figure.
We tried cannolis in both places to find our favorite – I know, tough job, but someone's gotta do it. Though both were fantastic as always, my tongue still itched.
The Lower East Side also happens to be the neighborhood where Momofuko noodle bar is (nice coincidence, no?), so we popped in and scored a great table for lunch, and while discussing cannolis over noodles and pork belly buns (hey, we are professionals, here!), we started to hatch another plan.
I pulled out my phone and looked into Hoboken, N.J.’s famous Carlo's Bakery – home to the "Cake Boss” on TLC.
Elliott’s been looking forward to this visit and yes, I admit it, I just LOVE the "Cake Boss" – kind of like “I Love Lucy” meets the “Sopranos.” Anyway, two subways and the PATH train to Jersey later, we were standing in front of Carlo's Bakery. The bouncer – yeah, they’ve got a bouncer – flagged us in. I'm thinking, This is all fake, the show is probably shot on a set. Was I ever wrong! Not only is the bakery the set, but Buddy's sisters were there, waiting on customers at the counter, just like on the show! And as we were waiting for our two regular cannolis and espressos (and a couple of T-shirts), Mauro came down and proceeded to make himself a cup of coffee – he had that annoying little kid with him, too (you know the one I'm talkin' about?). We paid for our cannolis and espressos, and then went and sat out on a park bench in downtown Hoboken and enjoyed them.
No hype, that was the best cannoli I have ever eaten – the espresso, not so much.
Still, we were satisfied as we headed back to Manhattan and over to the Chelsea Market in, well, Chelsea. This market has everything and anything, and it's the home to the Food Network.
We stopped in at Buon Italia (I resisted another cannoli, after all, three is my limit). Here, you can find just about any Italian ingredient imaginable, as well as an espresso bar. In fact, the espresso bar at Buon Italia is my favorite one in the city – the shop doesn't serve Lavazza (instead, the store offers Illy), but it reminds me so much of the espresso bars in Italy. I had to have another espresso.
From there I went to the Bowery Kitchen – Restaurant Equipment & Supplies. This is probably the oldest restaurant supply store in the city, and its tight and cluttered displays would put Restaurant Depot to shame. The store's website allows you to order online, and Bowery will ship anywhere. I usually spend an hour there – or until Elliott's eyes glaze over.
It was starting to get dark, and we're thinking, what next? Someone in the market told me about a new tapas place in Soho, and we were off! We had a coupla tapas (kind of unremarkable and overcooked, but we WERE feeling trendy) and some rioja wine. Next, off to Chinatown for Dim Sum. ...
Well, that kinda wrapped up our eating day – good thing we walked a lot. I wonder how many miles I have to walk to burn off a bazillion calories?
Tomorrow, off to the CIA in Hyde Park and dinner at the Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant near Tarrytown, N.Y. Again, 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?