Walks of New York Brings Out My Batali
I joined a group of foodies on Saturday morning for a tour of some of the culinary highlights of New York’s Greenwich Village. We set out on a cold blustery morning with one of Walks of New York’s founders, Jason Spiehler, who set a brisk pace ahead of us as he shared the earliest history of the island of Manhattan about how the local Lenape indians sold it to the Dutch. Our theme was famous TV chef Mario Batali, we hit many of the famous Croc-clad chef’s earliest business ventures, including one of his first restaurants, Babbo, and Osteria Lupa.
At each stop there was something delicious and more of the fascinating history of both New York and Mario. At the Enoteca Otto, we sampled plates of various hard and soft cheeses, lentils which we learned are required eating on New Year’s Eve in Italy, and salami that’s made downstairs in the restaurant’s basement. A gorgeous arugula salad accented by cherry tomatoes proved a point that Jason shared about Italian cooking–it’s the simple preparations without too many ingredients, that makes it so great.
Our next stop gave us a chance to sit at a big farm table for some more small plates of Mario-inspired goodness. At Lupa, a plate of gnocci filled with ricotta were perfectly small and delicious. Then we moved on to a few Italian specialty stores, including Faicco’s Pork Store, where we took a small bite of a perfectly fried arancini, rice balls.
Jason pointed out Jones Street, made famous when Bob Dylan posed for a photo with his girlfriend for his second album, and we saw Po, a restaurant once owned by Batali. At Pagani we sampled slices of cured beef, and speck, the fatty ham that’s also razor thin and bowls of pasta
made with lemon juice and flour. The chef, Enzo, explained that in his native Sicily they make this dish frequently, it’s another of those simple recipes that deliver the fullest tastes.
He said he uses both dry pasta and fresh, it just depends on what is being served.
Jason brought out three bottles of Italian olive oil, and as we tasted it he shared the bad news–in 2014, a pest caused a lot of damage and the year’s olive harvest was very bad. So if you’re looking for high end olive oil, you’ll need to look for 2013 bottles or wait another year.
Walks of New York has a full slate of walks both in NYC and in Italy. They are planning a new series of walks in Istanbul for 2015!