Monday, August 15, 2016

A Brooklyn Food and Culture Tour

I decided to try another Brooklyn tour, to see how they compare to other tours I have taken in the city. I choose a Brooklyn Food and Culture Tour, price was $125.00 for 4.5 hours (actually took 5 hours with traffic/construction issues). It's probably one of the higher priced tours I have seen, you are to be taken to Brooklyn via bus from Greenwich Village.

The day was a gorgeous one in June, a bit hot, but I felt being on the bus was a good idea with air conditioning. Bus tours are great for when weather is not fabulous, because you are on the bus for quite a bit, and get off at certain spots to see various areas. We met the guide/bus at Cornelia Street Cafe (Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick had their first date here) there was a smaller group, 9 people, so instead of a mini-bus (which other companies have used), we had a mini-van.

The tour talked about New York City culture which shaped the food choices we were to experience. I have been viewing a New York City documentary which was on PBS which told me much of the same information given on the tour.

Our first stop was Russ and Daughters – Lower East Side Manhattan - for a taste of Rugelach. There was much construction going on in this area, I was glad to see the original location which opened in 1914, and is run by 4th generation of the Russ family. They recently opened a cafe in the Jewish Museum which I plan to try as soon as possible, a much easier place for me to enjoy their cuisine.
We also took a walk to Katz's Deli, where that famous scene from Harry met Sally took place. We were not allowed inside, which was kind of a tease, but I guess nice to see the outside of the building.

The next stop was King's Feast – Greenpoint Brooklyn - We had a sit down lunch of Pierogies, mushroom and cabbage, Kielbasa sausage with mashed potatoes and Apple crepe. The decor of the restaurant was very neat, a tiny place, with ladies serving you speaking Polish. My hometown in Pennsylvania has a very large Polish population, and Pierogie is very popular. The one I tasted here was good, it was fried not boiled, and the sausage was fresh made within Brooklyn. The Apple dessert was okay, the apples were kind of raw, which I don't care for, the dough part was delish. I could have just had the dough by itself and I would have been happy.

Pizza was our next stop, Table 87 - Gowanus Brooklyn - Coal-Fired New York Style Pizza which I was eager to compare to Grimaldi's which I have had on a previous tour. I have to say, this one didn't impress, and I only felt the need to eat half of a slice. We were supposed to be allowed a drink, but no one asked us, so I was eating hot pizza on a hot day with no nice cold drink. Not fun. We tried to sit in the back of the restaurant which was nice and cool, but were booted out my management because we were on the tour. This place was on Shark Tank, for selling their pizza frozen, and they did have someone take them up on the deal. I have to say, I wouldn't buy their pizza frozen or fresh any time soon. 

We then arrived at International Restaurant - Sunset Park Brooklyn - for a taste of a Cuban sandwich. We did not go into this restaurant, which I thought was kind of sad, but instead were driven to a park to then enjoy our sandwich with views of Manhattan. The sandwich was only a half, but still very big, and many on the tour felt it was too much. We had more ladies than gents on the tour, I hate to see food thrown away, but it couldn't be helped here. The sandwich was amazing, it would have been nice to see the place where it was made.

The next location on this tour was F. Monteleone Bakery – Carroll Gardens - for a mini cannoli. Now, as you all know, this is my most FAVORITE dessert. The tour guide tells us, "We are now going to a very old bakery in Carroll Gardens for an Italian cookie " and then says "cannoli". This is not the way to keep me happy. A cannoli is NOT a cookie. It is an Italian pastry, originally from Sicily, and it's heaven. Needless to say, at this point, I was just ticked off. He then says they don't always go inside, but he would let us today, to see the place and their selections. I can't imagine being on a food tour and not going in a place where your food is being made. The whole idea of these tours, is to see these places in person, most that have been around for a very long time, and see the traditions they continue in 2016. The bakery was nice, cannoli wasn't and seemed like it was pre-filled. A total horror when cannoli eating is a pre-filled cannoli. I so prefer Tasty Pastry Shoppe in Brooklyn for a cannoli.

Our last stop was Jacques Torres - DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) - for some chocolate. By this stop, I was quite honestly so full. I was happy to check out the first location of the amazing chocolatier, Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres, but I had no desire for any more food. I tried a chocolate pretzel and macadamia nut. We were allowed 2 bon-bons but I didn't even bother. Jacques Torres has many locations in Manhattan, and I highly suggest you visit as his chocolate is one of the best you will ever enjoy!

My thoughts on this tour are rather mixed. It was nice seeing many different areas of Brooklyn, it is larger than most people think it is. Brooklyn was a city in it's own right, until January 1, 1898, when it was consolidated with the other cities, boroughs, and counties to form the modern "City of New York". It is the highest populated, with over 2.6 million people calling Brooklyn home. I was a bit tired by the end of the tour hearing the guide talk, 5 hours is quite a long time, and would have preferred some video content like on other tours to mix it up a bit. Video is hard to do however in a mini-van. I think you can find other Brooklyn tours which offer a similar experience, and if you are willing to meet the tour in Brooklyn, via subway, your cost would be greatly reduced. I am glad I took the tour, it is always interesting to see how other folks operate, and to compare to prior experiences. I feel for the price of this tour, it should have just blown me away, and unfortunately, it didn't.

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Disclosure: This tour was paid for by myself as I wanted to review another Brooklyn tour. There has been no monetary compensation for this post. I only recommend products that I feel will be of interest to my readers, and that I am truly impressed by. All opinions are my own. Thank you!! 


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