[Note: this tour is no longer being sold, but it will give you an idea of the types of tours I can arrange for larger group]
I should also point out that EVERYTHING is included once you get to NYC – the food, the drinks the tour, etc. – the only extra money you’ll need is for souvenirs. I guarantee it will be epic. For more info or to make a reservation, please contact Deborah Childs at 630-328-7248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14
Arrive New York independently and check into the Renaissance Hotel 57. Be ready to go by 1:00 p.m. for a fun and food-filled day. Meet me and our AAA Tour Director Deborah and be welcomed onboard our private motorcoach to begin touring. Our first stop will be at Eataly to walk through the food emporium followed by snacks in their beer garden, La Bierreria. Partners Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali created this unique combination of marketplace, restaurants and cooking school. Then meet expert New York Guide Justin Ferate who will join us on our coach as we journey to Mille-Feuille in the Village. Here we will be treated to a demonstration on how macarons, a specialty of French bakeries, are made.
There will be a brief stop at the hotel to refresh for dinner, and then we head off to Brooklyn for a cocktail at the Clover Club. Serving “pre-Prohibition-style” drinks, they offer an assortment of fizzes, smashes, swizzles and sours from their circa 1892 mahogany bar. The Club’s owner, Julie Reiner, will get “behind the stick” and welcome our group personally, answering questions and sharing a cocktail with us. Then, get to know your fellow travelers over a family-style dinner at the popular Brooklyn location of Motorino, named one of New York’s best pizzerias, and one of my favorites.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15
Our first stop this morning is at the Doughnut Plant. Following in his father’s footsteps and using the family recipe, Mark Isreal began making doughnuts in 1994. Today people line up for their favorites and for the special flavors of the day. On the same block is Kossar’s Bialys, so we must have a sample from the oldest bialy bakery in the U.S.
2014 will be the 100th anniversary of Russ & Daughters; this family-run landmark features top-quality smoked salmon and other specialties. We will have brought some Ess-a-Bagels with us on the ride down, and we’ll shmear them with whitefish salad, lox and sturgeon from the venerable Russ & Daughters’ deli case.
We’ll probably need to walk off our morning snack, so feel free to walk around the Lower East Side for a bit, and take in the colorful scenery. But don’t linger too long, because lunch awaits…
Relax a bit on the coach as we take a ride to Queens for lunch at SriPraPhai restaurant. It is one of my favorite New York Thai restaurants, and the bold, authentic flavors make it well worth the drive. We will walk off our lunch with a look around the neighborhood, and then return to Manhattan.
One more stop before heading back to the hotel this afternoon, to see the amazing selection at Murray’s Cheese Shop. A New York staple since 1940, Murray’s offers more than 250 types of cheese from all over the world. Certainly you’ll have room for a couple of nibbles.
Dinner tonight will be a little later, since we will have feasted all day. It’s off to Nobu 57, Nobu Matsuhisa’s Midtown branch of his worldwide sushi brand. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a tasting menu designed by me and the staff, featuring some of Nobu’s classic items, like miso black cod, as well as some of his more modern interpretations. Beer and sake is also provided to match up with this customized dinner. Depending on how busy they are, we may be able to get a kitchen tour and a look behind-the-scenes tonight.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Justin will join us again this morning and take us through the Union Square Greenmarket. Located in one of the city’s great public spaces, the atmosphere on a market day is bustling. We’ll explore the displays, chat with some of the vendors and have a few tastings along the way. If time allows, we’ll browse a bit at the Chelsea Market as well, where I’ve pinpointed two must-stops for snacks.
Afterwards, take a walk on The High Line, a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. This unique public space is maintained through the joint work of a non-profit conservancy and the NY Department of Parks.
Chinatown is next on our agenda where we will jockey for space at two very popular spots. Joe’s Shanghai is known for its soup dumplings (hot broth wrapped in rice flour dough) and at Xi’an Famous Foods we’ll try their legendary Lamb-Cumin burger, which used to be only available at their original Flushing location.
We’ll return to the hotel in the mid-afternoon for some free time to shop, sightsee, or relax.
Tonight we travel to Astoria, Queens to feast on a family-style meal at MP Taverna, Chef Michael Psilakis’ newest restaurant. It is designed as a modern interpretation of a traditional Greek taverna. I’ve chosen the menu for this casual and fun evening, which will be served family-style.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17
This morning, we’ll depart the hotel and head over to Brooklyn’s Ovenly Bakery, named the Best New Bakery by TimeOut New York this year. The two women behind it have a creative kitchen, exploring culinary traditions with an unexpected twist. They thoughtfully combine salty and sweet with a touch of spice. We’ll get a private tour with one of the owners, who will be able to answer questions, and then of course we’ll have a small sample (or two).
After our bakery tour, it’s a 5-minute ride to Talde, for brunch in Park Slope. Chef Dale Talde, a Top Chef contestant and alumnus of Buddakan, Spring and Naha, has created a lively, Asian-inspired take on his memories of growing up in a Filipino home in Chicago, combined with his experience working under such masters as Morimoto. Brunch will be a set menu designed by me and the staff.
After brunch, surely there is room for just one more bite? It’s off to Flushing, Queens, for one last sample at Corner 28, one of my favorite joints, for a delicious little street snack: the duck bun – a soft, gua bao bun holding slices of perfectly roasted duck, skin and scallion, slathered with sweet hoisin. It’s a perfect little package to end our trip on a delicious note.
From Flushing, LaGuardia is just a 10-minute ride, so we’ll have our bus drop us all off here for the flight home. Whew!