The other day my friend E sent me a link to a fascinating article from the UK’s Observer, entitled “The Top 50 Things Every Foodie Should Do.” They asked a handful of Britain’s top food-lovers to help assemble a list of food-related experiences we should all have before dying. The end result included mundane—though valuable—things like “dismember a chicken” from Nigella Lawson, but it focused mostly on global food snobbery—telling readers that they simply MUST dine at the French Laundry in northern California, eat a 200-euro-per-person lunch at Le Grand Véfour in Paris, go deep-sea fishing in Barbados, etc. It’s a fascinating, lively list, but the idea that any human being might accomplish all fifty of these things strikes me as, shall we say, unlikely.
In the spirit of more realistic food adventures, I’ve assembled a (highly personal) list of my own: Debbie’s Top 10 Things Every New York Foodie Should Do. If you’ve got a blog, maybe you’ll be inspired by this to create a list for your own city. Think how much fun we’d have, assembling a world-wide, achievable list of must-dos. When you’re visiting a new town, you’ll be able to print out the list and go. Who needs travel guides, when you’ve got a local food guide? (And if you don’t have a blog of your own, feel free to post your list in the comments section here.)
The Top 10 Things Every New York Foodie Should Do:
1. Scoop some dark chocolate (or chestnut) gelato from Il Laboratorio del Gelato. You will not need to have sex for many weeks afterward. I’m serious.
2. Make a fresh (raw) tomato sauce with height-of-the-season Greenmarket tomatoes, slivered basil, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss with linguine. Moan.
3. Divide and devour a black-and-white cookie from Moshe’s bakery on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, whichever way you like: White first (my preferred method), black first, or split down the middle.
4. Have a Greek feast in Astoria. My favorite restaurant is S’Agapo on 34th Avenue. Freshest. Fish. Ever. And skordalia, that divine mashed-potato-garlic-olive-oil dip, with warm bread… And briskly crisp salads showered with dill…
5. Chocolate Chip Cookie: City Bakery, 18th Street between 5th & 6th Aves. Nuff said.
6. Dawdle over the fascinating wine list and wonderful Italian snacks at Bar Veloce—I like the original one, on 2nd Avenue at 12th Street, best.
7. Picnic in a park. Any park. Why spend so much time indoors when there’s all that green space to enjoy? On a sunny weekend day, S and I will forage in the kitchen, gathering whatever strikes our fancy into a plastic shopping back. Grab an old sheet and some reading material, and off we go to McCarren Park, Williamsburg’s largest—but decidedly uninspiring—park. When we’re lying on our backs watching the clouds float by, we don’t even notice there’s more dirt than grass, more people than trees, more broken blacktop than chirping birds.
8. Wander the stalls of Chelsea Market, stopping to nibble on a parmesan twist from Amy’s Bread or some Pad Thai at Chelsea Thai. And don’t miss Buon Italia, my never-fail source for interesting oils, vinegars, nuts, pastas, and all kinds of imported Italian products.
9. Buy obscene amounts of sugary treats at Economy Candy on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side. They’ve got more sweet stuff—and more fun, kitschy stuff—at better prices than anywhere I can think of.
10. Spend an afternoon meandering through an ethnic neighborhood—Jackson Heights for Indian, Flushing for Chinese or Korean, Greenpoint for Polish—and stop to eat wherever strikes your fancy. Odds are you’ll find something you’ve never had before, and it might even change your life.