One of the first things on our recent trip to New York was a food tour. The food tour is run by Foods of NY Tours, which offers several different tours in different areas of the city. We decided to choose the one offered for Chelsea Market. There are also tours of Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Nolita/Noho and Brooklyn. They change and update their tours every six to eight months, so if you’ve already been on one, you can do it again later on and have a bit of a different experience. The tours also run rain or shine, so be sure to dress for the weather.
This food tour cost $54 per adult and $35 per child. Most of the tours are around that cost with the exception of the Brooklyn and Chinatown tours. Those cost a little more. Most of the tours are also able to accommodate for food allergies and dietary restrictions, so make sure you let them know.
The Food Tour
Our tour guide, Heather, just started as a guide this year, but had she not told us, I never would have guessed. She was very knowledgeable about the area and the foods we tasted. She was pleasant, energetic and upbeat the entire time. We were provided with a bottle of water and an “Insider’s Guide” which had a bunch of coupons to use at different places in the market. I didn’t end up taking advantage of them this time, but I would definitely do so next time.
Our first stop was at Creamline for fried Oreo and vanilla whipped cream. While we waited for our sampling, our tour guide, Heather, gave us a little bit of a history lesson about the building we were currently standing in. Currently, the building is home to the Food Network, MLB.com, and both Google and YouTube have offices in the building. The Chelsea Market was once a Nabisco factory and the birth place of the Oreo. It seems particularly appropriate that the fried Oreo was our first sampling.
This was definitely one of the tastiest treats of the entire trip and I have been trying to find something similar at home. Normally, I am not a fan of Oreos, but the batter and deep frying made the cookie far more moist and edible for me. I’m not entirely sure if these were actual Oreos, or if they were made in the eatery, but either way, this is definitely something I would eat again given the chance. The vanilla whipped cream was light and fluffy, but not overly sweet, which paired perfectly with the cookie.
We headed down the length of the market to Sarabeth’s towards the back. Along the way, Heather filled us in on the history of the former Nabisco plant, showing off some of the features that were left in the building, including the windows that would open to let out the steam from the trains they used inside the building.
This particular location of Sarabeth’s is not one of the restaurant locations, but rather more like a coffee shop and bakery. We were given a little bit of a history lesson about Sarabeth’s. It started with her famous preserves and expanded from there. She was also the first to introduce the concept of brunch to New York.
Here, we sampled buttermilk biscuits with Sarabeth’s famous preserves: orange apricot marmalade and strawberry jam.
Preserves are not particularly my favourite types of food, so this was just an okay tasting for me. I’m not a fan of orange or apricot marmalade, but I did enjoy this one. For preserve lovers, this is a must try. The buttermilk biscuit was light and flaky. It paired perfectly with the preserves.
Chelsea Market Baskets
Chelsea Market Baskets is located right next to Sarabeth’s so we headed there next. It is THE place in New York to get gift baskets. Everyone from David Letterman to President Barack Obama has ordered baskets from here to give to show their appreciation to others.
The store is filled with so many amazing things. Here, we had a sampling of their sea-salted caramel. We were also fortunate enough to have a sample of Torres Black Truffle potato chips. Both of these items were delicious. The caramel was soft and chewy with just the right amount of salt. The flavouring on the chips was subtle and not overpowering.
The Tuck Shop
We then headed back the way we came and stopped in at The Tuck Shop. The Chelsea Market has three different areas that hold a number of smaller businesses, which can be viewed on the map on the market’s website.
Here, we were treated to Australia meat pie and kale salad with golden raisins. I really enjoyed the meat pie, but could have done without the salad. I found it to be slightly bitter, which is no surprise with kale. It wasn’t to my taste. The pastry on the meat pie was nice and flaky, and the meat itself was well seasoned. I think next visit here, I would try their Guinness steak and mushroom pie or their lamb shank and veg pie. There are great options on their menu, including vegetarian options.
Dickson’s Farmstand Meats
We then headed back towards where we started to Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, which is located right next to Creamline. All of their meat is from local farms and they use as much, if not all of the animal, as possible. Their website provides information on the farms they receive their meat from and the abattoir they use to process the animals.
Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about the tasting here, until I saw it. Our tasting was beef tartare with kettle chips.
I’m not ashamed to admit I had more than one sampling of this dish. The beef tartare was simply delicious and well seasoned. If I could have this shipped back to Canada, I would. It was that amazing. It was easy to tell, based on the taste, that the beef was very fresh. I would do this particular food tour again just to have a chance to have more of this beef tartare.
After we finished up with the beef tartare, we head over to a second alcove where Cappone’s was located. Cappone’s is an authentic Italian sandwich shop and all their sandwiches are named after people. I believe the sandwich we had is called the Gallo. It has mortadella, provolone, and caponata of eggplant, along with extra virgin olive oil and crema di balsamico.
This sandwich was delicious, and by this time, I was getting a little full from everything we’d been eating so far. I can’t say I really tasted the eggplant at all in this sandwich, but that may have been because the flavours just blended so well together.
Gansevoort Market – Oppa
At this point, we left Chelsea Market and our food tour continued at Gansevoort Market on West 14th Street. This market also offers several food stops, opening at it;s current location in 2016. It had been previously located on Gansevoort Street. The market is really cute with a great decor that was relaxing and rustic.
We were given a tasting of Korean BBQ from Oppa. I quickly discovered I’m not a fan of kimchi, but other than that, this was just another tasty dish. It had a little bit of a kick to it and was pretty much what I expected from Korean BBQ.
We soon left Gansevoort Market and took a tour of the Meatpacking District. Heather gave us a history lesson about the area and it’s transformation from meatpacking plants to high end retail and night life. The first high-end business to open in the Meatpacking District after things started to be cleaned up in the area, was Jeffrey. We then took a trip up to the Highline.
The Highline was formerly the raised railway tracks that ran the trains through the buildings in the area when they were meatpacking plants. Instead of tearing the entire thing down, they revitalized it and turned it into a raised park. We walked the section from 14th Street down to Gansevoort Street, where it ends. The Whitney Museum is located at that end of the Highline.
Ample Hills Creamery
We only had a little ways to walk from there after taking the stairs back down to the street and down Gansevoort Street to Ample Hills Creamery at Bubby’s Highline. Ample Hills Creamery makes hand-churned ice cream which they pasteurize themselves.
As pictured above, for our final tasting, we sampled one of their signature flavours, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which has chunks of St. Louis-style butter cake in it. The ice cream was very creamy and smooth. It wasn’t overly sweet, which is a great selling point for me. This was definitely worth the walk.
Gansevoort Hotel – Plunge Rooftop Bar and Lounge
The last stop on our food tour was the Gansevoort Hotel rooftop bar and lounge, Plunge. It offered a decent view of the surrounding area and a relaxing place to hang out for a little bit before we all went on our way.
Overall, we had a great time and enjoyed all of the food. It was all well selected and I would certainly recommend taking one of these tours while in New York. As much as I would love to do this one again, I think I may choose to do one in Greenwich Village, just for a change. With everything we got to see and taste, it was definitely worth the $54 charge.