Sorry folks, it’s been way too long but we were away last week taking our son on a dinosaur tour of Utah. I wanted to take some time and focus on my family so I left the laptop at home. But we’re back and I’m ready to start talking more about my eating adventures.
When I left you last I was in the middle of my three post series on New York City and we are on post two.
The whole reason we went to New York was to visit my family, it was just an added bonus that we were in this great city. Apart from getting to see my cousins the highlight of the trip was the day we took the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza tour.
Being the inquisitive foodie I am, before we even got on the plane I googled New York food tours and the number one tour that I could see was this pizza tour. Time was on our side and while we there we were able to go. It was easy to book the tickets online from the Zerve website and I didn’t even need to print them out.
It was day three of our holiday and I was tired. My husband and I headed to the designated pickup point near Union Square in Manhattan and waited for the bus to arrive. We were pleasantly surprised when a shiny new tour bus pulled up. We loaded up and it was comfortable, had cushy seats and air conditioning, exactly what I needed. Then we met Edwin our driver and Paula, our tour guide.
As we headed over to Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge Paula started to tell us what to expect for the next four and half hours. I knew we would be in good hands.
The one thing to note about the tour is that it is highly organized. There is a DVD player in the bus and they play scenes from movies that were filmed in Brooklyn as we drove by the locations. Paula and Edwin worked in tandem and I really think Edwin did a commendable job of listening to Paula and making sure the bus pulled up to just the right spot at just the right time. He was the silent star of the tour.
And Paula, well, fuhgettaboudit! This girl definitely has a script that she follows but it is not shtick. I truly believe that every time she crosses over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn and says “Ok, I’m starting to relax now” that she really means it. I also enjoyed the personal care that Paula took with each person in our group. She knew when to engage in conversation and knew when to leave us alone to take it all in. It was an absolute pleasure spending four and half hours in her company.
So what did we do? I’m not going to tell you everything; I’m just going to really talk about the food the rest of the way in here. If you want to learn the history and charm of Brooklyn you’ll have to go on the tour yourself to find out.
Now let’s talk about the whole reason why I went on this tour in the first place, the food, not just pizza by the way.
We were a little early getting started so Paula took us for a walk through DUMBO and finished off with a quick, unexpected stop at Jacques Torres chocolate. Our small group descended on the shop and sampled its high end wares. I absolutely loved all the sweet and savoury combinations and was extremely happy that we stopped here so we could take some of it home.
Our next food stop was at Grimaldi’s. This is one busy place with crowds sometimes lined up down the block just to get in. The price of the tour is worth it right here because the bus pulls up and our group got to walk right in to its waiting table. The advice here is avoid eye contact! Before the pie arrived Paula let us know about the sodas we could get and both my husband and I were happy to get an Olde Brooklyn style Cherry Soda, something we can’t get back here at home.
And then the pizza arrived! Grimaldi’s is one of only a handful of establishments in New York that is still allowed to use coal ovens when making their pizzas. There is no fancy shmancy toppings just plain and simple Neapolitan style thin crust Margarita pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. This stuff was so good! We have some places that almost reach this here in Calgary but this was really great. You could even get a hint of the coal on the crust, which is fine because as Paula likes to say, this helps with digestion. And we needed it before we moved on to the next stop.
After driving for a while through the Brooklyn sights we pulled up to L & B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst. L & B has been around since 1939 selling spumoni and ices from a horse and carriage. Through the years, the pizzeria came to be and has been run by the same family though the generations at the same location. The main reason for stopping here was the square Sicilian style pizza.
Now I have to admit that when we first booked the tour I was more excited about Grimaldi’s than this place. How wrong I was. Never before have I had pizza like this. The pizza dough is allowed to rise not once but twice. When the dough is ready it is covered with mozzarella cheese then put it in the oven to bake. They then take it out and cover it in tomato sauce and put it back in the oven. When it is done it comes out as light as a feather and has an almost sweet quality about it. You can sprinkle parmesan cheese on top but I liked it just fine naked. What a treat. I have never before had pie like this and I have to admit craving it often since I have been back, wishing I was close enough for delivery.
When we were done I of course had to try the spumoni. It was a perfect finish to the day.
There is so much else I could say about this tour. I absolutely fell in love with Brooklyn and by the end of the tour I felt like a part of Paula’s family, with Uncle Louie and everyone else. If you are ever in New York, I strongly suggest you take this tour. It is well worth the four and half hours and the ticket price. You eat a lot of food and you get to see so many things.
And the best thing of all was getting to experience the heart of Brooklyn through Paula’s eyes. We even got to see where she grew up!
Anyway, I have been talking way too much. That just tells you how much I loved this. My next post will be about breakfasts and burgers but in the meantime, Manhattan? Fuhgettaboudit!