Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Green Day In NYC

The train from Vermont to New York City is neither high-speed or even regular-speed, but tragically a slow-speed, making public transit between bucolic Vermont and New York City limited and difficult. Fortunately the Dartmouth Coach has started a daily service to New York City making the trip not just easy, but luxurious.

After arriving and  relieving myself of my bags, I set off to enjoy the afternoon - a glorious September day in Manhattan - sunny, with a slight breeze and bright blue sky.

My first stop was Kitchen Arts & Letters. If you are a cook or foodie who loves books this is your spot. Floor to ceiling cookbooks, wine guides, food memoirs, books about kitchen design, nutrition and food storage cover this not very large store on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. You can find DVDs of Julia Child’s television show that I vividly remember watching as a young girl on New York’s Channel 13. I was really too young to appreciate the knowledge she was imparting, but coming from a home where no one cooked anything except frozen fish sticks and grilled-cheese sandwiches, I marveled at her kitchen prowess, her voice (which I loved) and found her comforting - like a relative I should have had but didn’t.

Kitchen Arts & Letters has two full shelves of books about the politics of food - not just the more well known books like Food, Inc. (which if you haven’t, you should read - or see the film), but a variety of lesser known but no less important titles.  They also have books for travelers - books highlighting food in different countries as well as right there in New York such as a guide to New York Markets (very useful). Beyond the cookbooks and wine guides, the serious cook will find out-of-print and foreign books available as well.

Next stop was the Idlewild independent bookstore, already a favorite haunt of mine, not just because they sell my Traveling Naturally Guides, but also because they are a specialized store focused on one of my favorite subjects - travel. Organized by country, Idlewild sells not only an excellent selection of guidebooks, but also literature from each country. People living in the city can take advantage of their ten-week language immersion courses concentrating on conversation.

Out of Idlewild I headed west on 19th street to 9th Avenue. I could have stopped at any number of restaurants and shops along the way. When I was a kid in New York, West 14th up through the 20s was not such a great area. Now it is a happening scene. Beautiful tree-lined residential streets are mixed with interesting, often trendy, stores and eateries.

Instead of getting distracted, I kept my focus. I was on the search for olive-oil pouring spouts for a Spanish olive oil tasting I am hosting next week and a cook-extraordinaire, cookbook-writer friend of mine had tipped me off to a kitchen supply store in the Chelsea Market on 9th and 15th St.

The Chelsea Market, a former Nabisco factory, was transformed in 1997 into foodie heaven. Specialty, gourmet and green eateries dot the refurbished factory intermixed with stores selling  books, liquor, housewares, and gifts. The Oreos may be gone but there are plenty of devilishly delicious treats to eat at almost every turn.

Chelsea Market Baskets offers an eclectic selection of baskets, gourmet treats, chocolates, housewares and baby items. I was delighted to see they carried three favorite products of mine. LA Organic olive oils from Cordoba, Spain (not Los Angeles as the name might imply); Askinosie chocolate made in small-batches with organic sugar and goat milk – it is incredible!; and Q Tonic, the best tonic water I have found made with organic agave syrup (no sugar or high fructose corn syrup) and real quinine.

I did not shop at Dickson’s Farmstand meats, but went in to survey the organic offerings. Set up as an old fashioned butcher shop, Dickson’s sells organic and local meats including beef, lamb, pork, goat and poultry, all raised without hormones, animal by-products and prophylactic antibiotics. If you want fully organic ask for which meats are certified........

continued tomorrow in Part 2...

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