As someone who has spent a fair bit of time exploring the culinary treasures that New York City offers, I was pleasantly surprised on a recent "Hands on Cooking Class" offered by Addie Tomei. She introduced us to several gourmet finds that I had never encountered before (& can't wait to return to) and made what could have been an overly touristy experience into a day that was both delicious and informative.
The tour began at Rocco's Pastry Shop (one of my personal West Village favorites) at 10 a.m. While enjoying a delicious pastry and coffee, the thirteen tour participants (most of Addie's tours are groups of 6 - 20) got a chance to meet one another and Addie gave an overview of the tour and a rough schedule for the day. I was pleasantly surprised that many of those on the tour where "locals" from the tri-state area, and even several Manhattanites. A few participants received the tour as a gift -- what a great idea for your favorite gourmand fan of New York City (or a treat for yourself).
After fueling up on caffeine and sweets, we headed down Bleecker Street for the walking portion of the tour. Tasting opportunities included olive oils, cheeses, rice balls and fresh mozzarella. (All tastings were included in the cost of the tour.) Addie was incredibly friendly and offered many helpful tips and advice along the way, sharing many of her personal discoveries and opinions -- from where to get the best fresh mozzarella to reasonably priced restaurant recommendations. Shop owners welcomed Addie and were all happy to answer any questions. Many also offered discounts to tour participants, either on the spot or later in the day, if you returned.
After a couple of hours visiting various neighborhood shops, it was time for the hands-on cooking class at Miette Culinary Studio. Located in a neighborhood townhouse, Miette offers an intimate opportunity to improve your culinary skills. With the help of Chef Paul Vandewoude, the group prepared an endive salad, roasted lamb with lentils and a mushroom and tomato ragout, and molten chocolate cakes. Paul's technique was both friendly and helpful -- from explaining the differences between sea, kosher and table salt to demonstrating how to save scraps for making stocks -- we learned not only to prepare the selected dishes, but also many techniques applicable in our own kitchens.
Of course, the best part of the cooking class was getting to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Everything was delicious and it offered the opportunity for many to share their own gourmet finds and favorites -- as well as to plan a route back to some of the shops we had visited to bring home our latest discoveries.
All tours offered by Savory Soujourns are now private and can be organized for self-made groups.
Addie is happy to arrange private tours to fit your interests and offers a variety of scheduled tours throughout the year and around the city. For more information see her website: www.savorysojourns.com.