Culinary tours give a tantalizing bite of the
Big Apple

By JOHN GRIFFIN
EXPRESS-NEWS DINING EDITOR

'NEW YORK – The Empire State Building? Been there, done that. Ditto the Statue of Liberty, the Staten Island ferry, Grant's Tomb, Radio City Music Hall and the Met.

If you're bored with same old, same old every time you come to New York, you may need to spice things up with a tour guide who'll let you taste all of the exotic flavors that make the Big Apple so endlessly juicy and fresh. That's where Savory Sojourns can serve you.

As the name suggests, Addle Tomei's business specializes in food tours. But they're not treks to the tried, true and. tired restaurants that appear in every discount guidebook. Instead, she can guide you through the dim sum eateries of Chinatown or on a noshing tour of the Jewish Lower East Side.

Visit a unique Arab market in Brooklyn, drop in next door for the best spinach pie you're ever likely to taste and then browse through neighboring antique shops. Or have breakfast at an artisanal bread bakery in SoHo before a walking tour of Little Italy that includes a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour and culminates in lunch.

The earthy Tomei, a Brooklyn native of Italian heritage, has set up a delicious slate of food tours that groups can savor, complete with meals, tastings and transportation. Little Odessa, Greenwich Village, Union Square, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx – you can eat your way from one end of the city to the other.

The nice part is that it's not all eating. Tomei throws in a number of food-related stores, such as ethnic markets and kitchen supply stores that would make you forget Williams Sonoma, so that you can walk off some of those meals. If you're part of a group of 10 or more, you can arrange for a cooking class.

She'll even arrange for jazz tours and shopping trips.

"People like to come here to shop," Tomei says, "and they may want to spend a day going to whole sale clothing outlets instead of going to restaurants. ... That can be arranged." She also arranges hotels, for those who want their entire trip planned out in advance.

Be aware, though, that some tours require extra time. "If you want to go to Union Square and eat at Union Square café, that may take a month," she says, explaining that the popular restaurant is booked far in advance. On the other hand, if you want to see Union Square and want to eat at the larger, neighboring Blue Water Grill, then that can be arranged more quickly, she adds. A trip to Chinatown or Little Italy can be planned in a matter of days.

Sample tours are available on the company's Web site, www.savorysojourns.com, for those who aren't familiar with the wealth of options available.

Tomei, whose daughter is Oscar winning actress Marisa Tomei, has long loved food in all forms, and she knows her way around a smorgasbord of' ethnic delicacies. Her knowledge infuses her humorous yet affectionate look at the culinary wealth of her city.

She was inspired to launch Savory Sojourns four years ago after a food trip to France: If people are headed off to Europe for culinary adventures, she reasoned, then why wouldn't they want the same in New York, a true melting pot of the world's great flavors.

There are a few differences, however, between a culinary trip to Europe and eating your way across New York with Savory Sojourns, at 155 W. 13th St. While most such trips abroad cost thousands of dollars, groups as small as four can book Tomei for as little as $70 a person for a day trip and go up to $250. Tours include all meals, wine, transportation within tours, taxes and tips. For more information, call (212) 691-7314.

jgriffin@express-news.net

Courtesy of San Antonio Express-News
Sunday July 9, 2000

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