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NYC Gourmet Foods Shopping Guide


Chelsea Market Decorated for the Holidays

Here’s your guide to our annual pre-holiday NYC shopping trip!

This year the trip is on November 22nd, 2015. Check out our “trips” page for all the info.

The Cooking Cottage has been taking this trip for as long as I can remember (which means since I was a young child since this business was started by my mom and grandmother) and over the years we’ve found – and been tipped off to – some amazing foodie products at all of the stops on the trip. This is why we do this trip every six months and some folks come with us again and again and again – gotta restock! I thought I’d share some of my favorite items with you and please! If you are a Cooking Cottage shopper… share some of your favorite finds in the comments!


The Upper West Side: Fairway, Citarella & Zabar’s

FAIRWAY MARKET has locations throughout the city and it’s the New Yorker’s grocery store. You can get everything there, and usually an interesting variety of “everything.”

  • The almond cookies: usually on the counter at the bakery. Packed with almond paste, coated with powdered sugar & almonds… these honeys are dense and one goes a long way. They are amazing. Susan & Leigh tipped me off to these.
  • Another great tip from a shopping tour regular was the flagels. This is a flat bagel, hence the name… it’s a chewy, flat bagel you don’t need to toast or even add cream cheese to. Genius.
  • Meyer’s Clean Day products…. I know, you weren’t expecting this. But they have a whole wall of these products in every application and in scents I’ve never seen anywhere else. Last year there were a bunch of holiday ones that I picked up for gifts.

CITARELLA MARKET is a fancy little prepared foods and grocery store… I don’t have any specific recommendations here, though I do always love to walk through and look at everything because it’s so lovely. But I don’t usually buy much… Usually I am in a hurry to get to….

ZABAR’S is one of my favorite places on earth. No exaggeration. How do they do it? I don’t know… but this store is perfect in my eyes. As a kid I used to dream of living on the Upper West Side so I could do my shopping here (hey I was a kid who liked smoked fish)..

  • The chocolate babka!! This classic Russian loaf cake is dense, yet pulls apart, swirled with chocolate, cinnamon and other delicious flavors. My mom always bought one of these on this trip the Sunday before Thanksgiving and stuck it in the freezer so we could have it on Christmas morning with coffee while opening gifts. This is the secret reason I took over the Cooking Cottage… Somebody’s gotta get the babka!!
  • Zabar’s ships out a jaw-dropping tonnage of coffee every week. Their house roasted coffee is as good as it gets. After every trip I fill my freezer with it. I am also very partial to their loose teas that you can find by the coffee. Russian Caravan, Lapsang Souchang & Lavendar Lace are some of my favorites but I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve tried and the price is right. For fancy gifting, they stock a great selection of Kusmi Teas – imported from Paris and packed in the most lovely little tins, these teas are very special.
  • Smoked mussels & pickled beet horseradish… they were giving out samples of this delectable combination a couple years ago and now I am hooked.
  • The upstairs kitchenware shop: last year I got a Kuhn Wusthof chef’s knife on sale for $50! And they have everything else you always wanted for your kitchen at shockingly good prices.
  • Can’t forget the jams and chocolates! These are two of my favorite gift items to stock up on… in the back corner there is a wall of jams, each more delectable than the next. And up front, all kinds of gourmet chocolate bars (from potato chip chili to imported Italian truffle) are there to suit every stocking on your list.

The West Village: Bleecker Street

We love to stop for lunch on Bleecker Street. The two blocks between 6th Ave & 7th Ave are pure goodness. Some highlights:

AMY’S BREAD: Really good bread. ‘Nuff said.

MURRAY’S CHEESE: Arguably the best cheese shop in the city. They are super nice and will help you make great selections for your holiday cheese plates (If you didn’t already stock up on cheese at Zabar’s, for which I would not blame you.. but hey, the more cheese the better). Murray’s has all kinds of condiments, crackers, craft beers, prepared foods, snacky treats and other things that you never knew you needed to have + they make excellent tasty gifts for your near & dear.

ROCCO’S PASTICCERIA: This is a favorite Italian pastry shop of many of our frequent shoppers. With its old-school cafe seating it makes a great place for a post-lunch coffee and dessert.

ROYCE’S CHOCOLATE: So I haven’t been to this place yet but can’t wait to pop in on this trip. One of our ladies stocked up on chocolate there when we stopped by Bleecker on our Nosh last month and she let me have a taste… It is truly outstanding! And it’s Japanese! So the packaging is really cool. A+ gift idea.

BISOUS CIAO MACARONS: Very lovely, very tasty classic French macarons. They package them very prettily.

—- But we stopped here for lunch right?? —-

These are some of our favorite West Village lunching spots. If you’re coming along on the trip you might want use the links or phone numbers provided to make a reservation… 12:30 is a good time!

PO: 31 Cornelia St. / (212) 645-2189 ~ Opened by Mario Batali, this is a great little Italian restaurant.

FISH: 280 Bleecker St. / (212) 727-2879 ~ Seafood restaurant & raw bar with fish-shack vibes.

RAMEN THUKPA: 70 7th Ave. / ~ Slurpy Japanese noodle soup + dumplings. Perfect if the day is chilly.

RISOTTERIA: 270 Bleecker St. / (212) 924-6664 ~ Never been, but I’ve read about it and it’s an Italian restaurant where everything is gluten free… so if you’re gluten free, here’s your spot.

POTJANEE: 48 Carmine St. / 

BAR PITTI: 268 6th Ave. / (212) 982-3300 ~ Another great little Italian spot.

JOE’S PIZZA: 7 Carmine St.  ~ Busy shopping? Grab a slice here.. it’s everything NY Pizza is supposed to be.

TERTULIA: 359 6th Ave. / (646) 559-9909 ~ Popular and chic serving Spanish tapas, paella, wine + brunch.

MURRAY’S CHEESE BAR: 264 Bleecker St. / (646) 476-8882 ~ It’s Murray’s Cheese Shop’s cheese-themed restaurant…

CORNELIA STREET CAFE: 29 Greenwich Village standby with American-French cuisine and Sunday brunch.

Chelsea Market

It’s an old Nabisco factory that was repurposed to house an abundance of little shops fit for food lovers of all stripes as well as the Food Network kitchens upstairs. And if it’s a lovely day, THE HIGH LINE runs just about Chelsea Market – this elevated walking path on the old railway line that once serviced this former factory district has been relandscaped with all indigenous species and outfitted with lots of places to relax and take in the Hudson River & NYC skyline. It’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike and well worth a little stroll.

POSMAN BOOKS: I can spend an hour in this bookstore just thumbing through the beautifully displayed and diverse selection of cookbooks

BOWERY KITCHEN SUPPLY: Fantastic kitchen supply shop

CHELSEA THAI WHOLESALE: This is a special place if you like to cook Asian food at home, stock up on all sorts of things for your Thai pantry!

CHELSEA WINE VAULT: It’s a beautiful thing to visit a wine store run by somebody who actually cares about wine! The selection here is excellent and they often have tastings, too.

FAT WITCH: This bakery is famous for its brownies & blondies.

NINTH STREET ESPRESSO: I always grab an afternoon espresso from this European style coffee counter.

PEOPLE’S POPS: We love People’s Pops! All natural and seasonal flavors that’ll have you rethinking the potential of popsicles.

SPICES AND TEASE: The barrels of brightly colored, aromatic spices will make you feel like you’re on another continent. The helpful staff makes it all accessible.

THE FILLING STATION: Great place for gourmet oils and vinegars.

ARTISTS AND FLEAS: Another wonderful location for checking folks off your holiday shopping list! Carefully selected NYC artists and vintage vendors sell their creative and funky wares here.

Now I really can’t wait for November 22nd! Hope to see you there!

~ Kate


The Best of the Lowcountry: Charleston 2013!

The Cooking Cottage Experiences the Best of the Lowcountry
Charleston, SC
April 7-11, 2013 ~ April 14-18, 2013

Let’s travel to the city everyone’s talking about:

Charleston, South Carolina…

Ask someone if they’ve been to Charleston and watch their eyes light up….

Founded in 1670 and originally called “Charles Towne,” in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston is one of America’s most beloved cities. In both 2011 and 2012 the city was named “Best U.S. City” by Conde Nast Traveler, receiving the additional distinction in 2012 of “Top World Destination.” The city is known for it’s rich restaurant scene, hospitable and kind people, vibrant architecture and historical significance.

We’ll stay in the heart of Historic Charleston at the French Quarter Inn, a hotel consistently ranked as one of the nation’s finest. From our elegant home base we will travel to the islands of Charleston County to experience a real Southern roadside BBQ shack, a tea plantation, winery and distillery. Another day we’ll visit Fort Sumter and then dine at a restaurant called “Best New Restaurant in the Country, 2011” by Bon Appetit. Our first night there we’ll dine at the exclusive Chef’s Table at one of the city’s most celebrated fine-dining restaurants. We’ll get to know Charleston from carriages, pedicabs, ferries and luxury transportation. We’ll take a cooking class in one of the city’s most stately historic homes; another day we’ll take one in a modern cooking school. Experts on local culture and food will share their city with us over and over again. Won’t you join us?

Trip Fee: $1,975, based on Double Occupancy (Single Supplement $600)
– Includes hotel accommodations, daily breakfasts and most meals and beverages, cooking classes, and admission and transportation to all activities. Taxes and gratuities included.
– Please inquire about assistance with air & airport transportation.
$500 Non-Refundable Deposit Upon Booking ~ $1,475 due by Feb. 28, 2013

Hurricane Cook Off (Florida Style)

Last week Peggi and four of her girlfriends (including Leigh and Susan from the Cooking Cottage) went to spend a few days at her vacation home on Anna Maria Island, FL. The girls were scheduled to depart on Sunday evening a few hours after Peggi’s husband and two of her daughters arrived to join her for the coming week. The return flight was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy so the little house on the Gulf Coast was packed with guests for the next three nights. What to do but have a cook-off?

Molly wrote the Rules & Sign Up Sheet

First up was Team Peggi & Susan J. in the Brunch-Lunch category.

The lovely team of Peggi & Susan J!

They went more the Brunch route with a delicious Bacon, Tomato & Cheese Egg Puff served alongside Fresh Fruit Cups with Toasted Coconut, Whole Grain Toast & English Muffins (with Cherry Preserves – highly recommended if you’ve never tried) and, of course, Mimosas.  Peggi had also brought a little Chocolate Babka from Zabar’s down south, which was just the right sweet treat to round out the meal!

A Delicious Brunch!!

Dinner on Night 1 was handled by Team Kate & Dad.  After a round of Cosmopolitans mixed by the master bartender himself, we all tucked into three big bowls of Steamed Clams with White Wine and Garlic paired with Sauvignon Blanc.  Not just any clams, they were local FL Gulf clams Kate had procured earlier in the day from the famous Star Fish Fishing Market over in Cortez, and they were just so out of this world delicious.  Using a whole head of garlic didn’t hurt either.  I will dream of these mollusks.  Ok anyway here they are:

I’ll probably frame this picture and hang it on my wall someday.

Next, Team Kate & Dad served burgers with a big salad as the main course – but not just any burgers, these are the “Simple, Perfect Fresh-Ground Brisket Burgers” you may have seen in the November issue of Cooking Light, their “beefiest” recipe in the last 25 years (p.156) – and we would all recommend them!  (Kate had the butcher grind the brisket for her, no problem.)  Everyone sipped a little Full Sail Amber Ale (OR) with their burger.

The salad was jicama, sweet corn, tomato, avocado & sunflower seeds with spinach & romaine in a garlic meyer-lemon olive oil & sherry vinegar vinaigrette.

And for dessert, Milk Chocolate Souffles with Nougat Whip & Toasted Almonds, paired with a heady Zinfandel, oh yum!

The Master Bartender mixing pre-dinner cocktails; Chocolate Souffle for dessert.

And that was just Day 1!!

On Tuesday, Molly and Donna were up for Lunch and they decided to jazz up the traditional Salad-Soup combo. Here they are with their Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Crab (recipe from our Soup’s On! classes this fall). The curry smell just filled the house as they made the soup and I could not wait to get to the table!

Team Molly & Donna with Day 2’s Lunch.

The soup was served alongside Molly’s favorite salad: Apple, Blue Cheese and Avocado Salad tossed in Honey-Cider Vinaigrette.  We’ll actually be making this salad later this month in our Hudson River Valley class.  Soup and salad were accompanied by artisinal sourdough and multi-grain breads from a local bakery.

Apple, Blue Cheese, Avocado Salad with Honey-Cider Vinaigrette… so good!

For dessert this creative duo served a tart Frozen Lemon Granita and they actually hollowed out halved lemons, froze them and used them as individual serving dishes.  It’s easy to do and makes an impressive and adorable presentation.  This dessert was so refreshing!

Leigh enjoying the Frozen Lemon Granita from Team Molly & Donna.

Last up was Team Susan Z. & Leigh, and they prepared an amazing Fish Taco Dinner.  To get us ready for the tacos, they served a wonderful, creamy guacamole accompanied by blue corn tortilla chips, salsa, and the best Margaritas!

Margaritas were available on the rocks or frozen. Flamingo glass or regular glass.

Then we sat down to the most gorgeous spread of taco-makin’ fixin’s accompanied by what else but Corona beer.  Leigh & Susan Z. did not prepare just any fish to fill these tortillas, but locally caught Grouper Cheeks.  Yes, cheeks.  Big fish (like grouper, haddock, halibut, etc.) have big cheeks, yielding meat that is just delicious and a perfect choice for tacos because the pieces are already smaller than the large filets you usually buy – and you’re just going to cut them up anyway.  Also, some people (like me) actually enjoy the meat of the cheeks more than the filet, it’s more succulent and tender. Fish cheeks are often found on the menus of upscale restaurants, so keep an eye out and, if you haven’t yet, you should try them sometime! But I digress.  Look at this table of tasty taco trimmings:

Tangy lime dressed slaw, two kinds of salsa, sour cream, smooth guac, homemade chipotle mayo, Spanish rice & beans, tortillas, Coronas, and a big plate’o Grouper cheeks. Ay caramba!

Predictably we needed a break after that, before the absolutely decadent dessert that was coming our way.  So we draped ourselves around the living room and enjoyed watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – what a lovely film, I recommend it to anyone.  As we were watching, Leigh and Susan Z. served up some Oreo-Crusted Chocolate Pudding Heath Bar Crunch Pie.  A truly indulgent ending to our two day cooking marathon.

The most decadent of pies; Team Susan Z. & Leigh platin’ their pie.

The cook off was a lot of fun during a couple of days when bad news was pouring in from the phone and the news.  Luckily on Wednesday morning the girls were able to catch their flight home and go back to their families.

So the next time you’re on vacation with a large group of people, we recommend holding your own cook-off.  We didn’t keep score, but as they say…. we were all winners!  Thanks for reading! :)


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