This morning I ate the Chinese pastries I bought from Chinatown as a yum cha style breakfast - egg tart and sesame ball with red bean paste. But I am leaving china behind today and moving on to Italy! Sorry vikki but this is going to be an all food day thanks to the riches that await in the gramercy park / flatiron district.
The subway emerges one block away from one of my favourite parks - Madison square park. I like this park because its small and intimate, people bring their dogs as there is an off leash area, and you can smell all the good things being cooked in the shake shack. The shake shack is legend - best home style burgers and handcut fries in New York, but today is about Italy so all it does is enhances my appetite. If I was a squirrel, I would want to live in this park. People bring gifts of nuts and the squirrels will take them out of your hand, they are very fat and tame and happy!
Opposite the park is the flatiron building, a slither of a building that is very beautiful. And opposite this in an unassuming entrance, is Eataly, the newest and best thing to come out of Italy. It originated in Turin, and there is one in Florence, but I did not get an opportunity to see either whilst I was in Italy. It started the whole slow food movement, and the STG (guarunteed specialty denomination) and DOC ( region of origin) classifications that are taken so seriously in Italy. What this means is there are very strict guidelines about what you call things - an example, there is ONE recipe for la pizza napoletana, and you do not alter it. All producers have to audition and only the best of the best make the grade. So Eataly is a huge Italian providor with different stations set up selling salumi, cheese, pasta, bread, etc -as well as alessi and other Italian kitchen products - and then intermingled in all of this are cooking stations. I could not go past the Napoli style pizzas, and had a cappricciana pizza with red wine, the best pizza I have eaten outside of Italy. They are wood fired of course, and paper thin in the middle and chewy and raised on the edge with just a couple of premium ingredients. I intend to try the other stations on other days so stand by for the feedback but wow! What a great start.
I do some grocery shopping for hard to find ingredients - lollies from Turin, passata from Sicily, a cookbook I had been looking for, Italian salumi, handmade stuffed pastas!!!! So exciting, its exactly like being in Italy. Before I left, I stopped at the dolci station to have a tiny pannacotta with cinnamon crumble and salted caramel sauce.
I then walked to gramercy park, a beautiful neighbourhood overlooking a private park that you can only enter if you are lucky enough to live there.
There are some really nice shops between gramercy and union square. ABC homewares is full of beautiful and unique artisan pieces, from modern cushions, French chandeliers, hand made ceramics and antique glassware. Not cheap but utterly original. I also stopped and replaced my lost fitbit / pedometer. I know I have been walking long distances every day as my feet ache at the end of the day, but it will be good to have this recorded.
I passed a cheese factory, and had to go in and watch them make hand pulled curds. They were delicious and I bought some to add to my Italian grocery stash. The union square markets were in full swing - it's a fresh produce market selling straight from the farm. I got some old fashioned nobbly crunchy apples! Another fabulous day in New York.