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April 02, 2006

Culinary Delights

Finishing up our trip in New York..

On Saturday we joined a group of four women for a Culinary Tour of Little Italy and Soho. When we emerged from the subway we found ourselves at the edge of Chinatown, on Seuss' favorite, Mulberry Street. We enjoyed walking by a city park and watching the young and old playing soccer, throwing a baseball, going through karate motions, and brandishing large swords. We walked past lots of interesting seafood and amazing vegetables as we made our way to Little Italy.

We met our tour group at Ferrara's bakery and had some delicious chocolate covered, cream filled, cannelloni.


Our tour guide explained the history of these cultural areas based on immigration trends. After our day at Ellis Island this information added a whole new layer to our appreciation and understanding of the American immigrant. Over the years Little Italy has shrunk to just a few square blocks, while Chinatown has expanded to become the largest in our country.

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We enjoyed sampling cheese and sausage and bread from several small shops. Our tour guide, Naomi, knew all of the shopkeepers, and they were ready for our visit. In her words and actions you could see the admiration for these locals and their crafts. She explained that she likes to keep her tours small and intimate and on foot. This is in contrast to the "Sex in the City" tours, based on the TV show. The women who created these tours has huge buses with screens for watching scenes from the show while driving pst the actual New York location. She made 30 million last year on these tours. Naomi smiled, "She's my antithesis."

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We took a few minutes to walk through a large Chinese Market. There were some very unusual ingredients on display.

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In Soho, an upscale area of Manhattan, we visited several shops with pricey kitchen gadgets and dishes. This area was rescued from becoming a freeway and preserving the historic cast iron buildings is a priority to the community. In contrast to Times Square, where every sign is required to be illuminated, there are no signs allowed on these buildings. Only small banners hang from flag poles along these cobblestone streets.

Our tour ended with lunch at a restaurant with a Caribbean flare. Naomi ordered several dishes to be served family style. I have to say that a culinary tour is a really good idea. I wonder if they have them in Portland?

After a long bath and a short nap, we were ready for our dinner at Morimoto's. This restaurant has only been open for two months. We had made reservations at the Omakase Bar and were hoping to see Iron Chef Morimoto.

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And we were not disappointed! He made several dishes for us, including frozen grapes in a mango sorbet. In the above picture he is stirring the grapes in liquid nitrogen. The two chefs in the picture with us, have also been on Iron Chef with Morimoto. We enjoyed watching all of the food preparations and one of the chefs asked, "Have you been to Japan before?" When I answered no, he stated that we acted as if we knew Japanese customs. I took this as the highest of compliments.

Posted by jennifer at April 2, 2006 10:32 AM