Called Secret Treats of Chelsea Market–From Savory Bites to Sweet Delights, you not only get an expertly guided tour of the legendary market but get to share four giant-sized gourmet dishes with a guest. (Alcoholic drinks on the tour are purchased by the guests as they go along and are not included in the ticket price.) The talented and friendly Wolaver will bring along bottles of water for you and have you start off with any coffee that you wish from Ninth Street Espresso. This cash only artisanal coffee bar originated in Red Hook and serves just four styles of coffees—but it is legendary for its cold brew. You can also bring home a half-pound of their locally roasted Brooklyn beans ($16)!
With 43 food stands/stores and counting tucked into nearly every inch of a building that takes up an entire city block, deciding what to eat to get the best taste of the Chelsea Market is intimidating to say the least. This tour highlights what is unique at the Chelsea Market and what your personalized needs and desires are. Whether you’re a newcomer to the Big Apple or have been inside the Chelsea Market 50 times, you’re bound to come away more knowledgeable and having feasted on items you might normally have not tried (thanks to co-founder Wolaver’s personal curation). Before taking the tour, the former sports website copywriter will check in with you for all your food likes and dislikes to make her tour specially tailored just for you. You can actually see the lovely Wolaver in the photo below ordering for us.
While my guest and friend Gail Worley (who has a popular blog called www.worleygig.com) discussed the differences between cold brew and regular drip coffee with me, Wolaver told us that our tour is what she calls her “omnivore tour” and that we would be having items with meat and greens, among other things, but that everything would be a delightful “foodie’s surprise.”
Our first food spot to nosh like we were going to the electric chair was at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats where we shared a savory Salami And Arugula Sandwich, which is actually a panini with pesto, a fresh slice of Parmesan Reggiano, Genoa salami and baby arugula. It was gooey, buttery and filling—and I am still dreaming about it at night. I guarantee you I will be headed back to the Chelsea Market for another one by the end of the month!
We then headed downstairs to the newest “wing” of the market to try a wonderful kale and golden raisin salad at the Tuck Shop which originated in the Land Down Under. They have a beautiful assortment of Australian meat pies and started this stand as an outpost of their East Village eatery. I brought meat pies from her to teen star Cody Simpson and his manager dad about seven years ago when I was a teen magazine writer and editor and they went nuts for some of this “down home cooking”!
It was a huge salad that I had to bring home the remnants of in the lovely cloth Fork Monkey tote that Wolaver provided for me. We then headed over for hand-pulled noodles with spicy brisket called Tingly Cumin Beef at an Asian street food stand called Very Fresh Noodles. This dish is loaded with cumin and Sichuan peppercorns but it is the super-long and super-wide handmade noodles that are the center of attention! All caution and regards for table manners must be cast to the wind when eating this! I swear that some of these handmade “Biang Biang” noodles are three feet long!
Our next unique food adventure was at a very large stand called Dizen Goff for the freshest hummus and pita with a divinely lemony taste. We also enjoyed their Moroccan carrots and fresh cucumber salad. It is wonderful that you get to see the pita bread baked in an upclose and personal way right behind the counter where you order!
We ended our tour on a sweet note by hitting the legendary gelato stand called L’Arte Del Gelato on the most northern part of the market. I had the panna cotta with caramel flavor while Gail hit the pistachio and we were both amazed at the freshness and creaminess. There are about 36 flavors to choose from! There are also sorbettos available for those who like a lighter dessert experience.
I strongly suggest this tour not only because it gives great bang for the buck, but because it will definitely help you discovered the great mom and pop stand delights of Chelsea Market. A schedule of tours is available here: https://forkmonkey.com/eat/periodictable/chelseamarket/.
Be sure to check out the other great culinary opportunities that await you if you join www.forkmonkey.com including finding great eats as you travel the globe and making reservations for them on the site.