We had been invited to take part in a walking tour of New York's Chinatown and Little Italy areas. But with an added twist. This tour included stopping at restaurants along the way and sampling some of their offerings!
There are many NYC Walking Tours, and they have become a popular way to explore the city. And as you know, we believe that walking is the absolute best way to see things. But we weren't exactly sure what to expect. How could you spend three and a half hours eating snacks?
We had been told to meet up at 10:15am. Fortunately for us, the meeting location was only a couple of blocks away and so we were able to get a warm up walk in before the tour started. And we kind of needed it. Although the sun was shining, it was noticeably cooler on Sunday than it had been on Saturday. I actually had to wear my winter hat to keep my ears warm!
Waiting for everyone to arrive.
We met our guide Liz from Ahoy New York Tours and Tasting and learned that we had a total of eight people in our group. Perfect size for something like this. There was a younger couple originally from Turkey who now live in New Jersey, two lady hairdressers from Seattle area who are attending a conference here in New York, and a couple from upstate New York who were on a scouting mission for things to do for an upcoming meeting they are helping organize.
For those of you who don't know, New York's Chinatown is actually huge. Little Italy has actually shrunk over the years, however they do share a border street and it's almost as if you're changing countries as you cross the street. So, although we met in Chinatown, we started our tour by walking into Little Italy, not very far away.
Walking to our first location.
Liz took us all aside at one point and we stood in a little lot away from the sidewalk. There, she explained some of the history behind Little Italy. It was an interesting and informative narrative. Apparently there aren't that many Italians actually living here any longer. From discussions they've had with local business owners who are now in their fourth generation of family ownership, there may be as few as only fifty actual Italian descendants now living in the Little Italy area.
But there is still a huge Italian presence as you can see from the second building in that is painted the colors of the Italian flag.
Our first stop, the Alleva Dairy cheese shop.
There are four individual businesses on this block that are over 100 years old. The Alleva Dairy is one of them. Started by the current owner's great grandmother, this little cheese shop has now been operating for 122 years!
The oldest Italian cheese store in America.
Italian prosciutto and fresh mozzerella cheese.
Delicious. I don't think we've ever tried prosciutto before. It's a dry cured ham that is served uncooked. The prosciutto was quite nice, however we found that the cheese had very little flavor. That would change with our next stop though!
Just down the block was the Di Palo's Fine Foods. Another cheese shop that has been here since 1910, however this one is imported cheese.
Liz, explaining about the shop and it's products.
Here, we tried two samples of cheese. One was an aged cows milk cheese known as Piave, and the other was a sheep's milk cheese called Moliterno. They were both delicious! Lots of samples for anybody who wanted seconds. Be careful though...there is lots more to eat and you don't want to get too full!
Across the street...pizza!
Unfortunately for Ruth and I, the Grand Appetito does not make a gluten free crust. However, it looked fantastic! Everyone else agreed that the pizza "Grandma's Pie" was to die for!
Everyone else, devouring their pizza pie. Is your mouth watering yet??
From there, it was time for a sweet treat. The Ferrara Bakery and Cafe apparently makes the best cannolis in town. This is a traditional Sicilian dessert made with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. Unfortunately, the tube that holds this yummy stuffing is made with wheat flour so once again we didn't get to try it. However, the Ferrara Bakery makes other tasty treats too...!
We were quite happy to accept these giant chocolate covered strawberries as a gluten free substitute!
Next up, Chinatown. By this time, we were ready for lunch. Yes, you need an appetite to do one of these food tours so make sure you start out on an empty stomach!
Typical Chinatown buildings.
We stopped at the Pongrsi Thai Restaurant. The oldest family run Thai restaurant in New York City. It's been there for over 40 years.
We shared a couple of plates Pra Raam, a chicken peanut dish. The other was a pad type of stir fry dish. Getting full now. I think there were leftovers!
Next up? The Tasty Dumping!
These two look like they spend all day making dumplings!
Our bellies were getting as big as this fellows!
Again, we couldn't sample the dumplings. But Ahoy Tours had promised us an extra serving at the next spot. As if we needed an extra serving! we were pretty full by this point.
The next place was the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. This is the oldest Dim Sum restaurant in Chinatown, it's been there since 1920. They also make the best egg rolls in town!
Traditional egg rolls.
Now we can't have egg rolls, but they also make rice rolls. The egg rolls looked delicious, and everyone agreed that they were. But our extra helping of rice rolls were good too. They must have been because we finished them up!
In between all of this eating, Liz would stop every now and again and give us some more commentary about the areas we were visiting. She was really good, and we both agreed that she doesn't need to be doing anything different. We enjoyed our day, and we certainly didn't need any more food until later on in the evening. Here's the website of Ahoy Tours in New York City...
And while we were checking out the food, our son Alex and his friend Greg who lives in the area had been at the season opening baseball game of the college they both attended. They were both on the team at the same time as well. Greg came over for dinner with us and Ruth made a lasagna.
Greg, Alex, Ruth, and Kevin