NYC Adventures in Food: Part 1

Last week, I headed to NYC and Long Island with my LEAD NY Class to investigate and learn how food and agriculture interacts with our largest population center in the U.S.

Fair warning, this is part 1 of a 5 part series that will be largely talking about something non-sports related. Yes, I have a ‘real’ job that does not involve running, biking or swimming that does take up most of my attention span that I don’t normally talk about on here. I work in food and agriculture and I am part of a leadership training program that focuses on food and agriculture. (So if you’re not interested in non-sports related, food and agriculture information, feel free to skip the next 5 postings…)

My adventure started early Sunday – I left my parents house bright and early to head to Albany to meet up with a few of my classmates to catch a train to NYC.

Our Crew:

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When we arrived in the city a few hours later, we had just enough time to jump off the train at Penn Station, walk the 10 blocks to our hotel, drop our bags and then scoot over to the Guggenheim for a tour.

The weather had threatened to bring a big snow storm, but it was actually kind of nice Sunday when we arrived, which was good since we had to walk quite a few blocks and cross Central Park to get to the museum. I hate to admit this, but it was my first time in Central Park – my visits to the city always seem to land in the November – March timeframe, so my trips have never ventured toward Central Park… new item for the bucket list, see Central Park in the summer!

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Unfortunately we were about 10 minutes late for our first visit of the week, but our guide (the head archivist) of the provided us with  insight to both the architecture of the museum as well as the current exhibit of Italian Futurism. If you have not visited the Guggenheim, I would definitely recommend it, the building is a neat place to visit and the current collection of Italian Futurism was definitely impressive and interesting to learn about!

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After the quick tour at the Guggenheim, a few of us scooted down to SoHo to visit with Chobani. We met with the manager of Chobani’s retail store to learn more about how the company is using the SoHo location to sample various flavors with their yogurts while also teaching people about the various ways to use Greek yogurt in their everyday diet. (If you are not aware, Chobani has played a major role in food and eating in the past few years by popularizing Greek Yogurt in the American market.) Greek yogurt is such a great a versatile product, and I love the fact that it has made its way into the mainstream grocery market in the U.S.!

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As part of the visit, we were provided samples of the various yogurts available to purchase at the store. We started the tasting session with a Turkish Red Lentil Soup – a recipe from Hamdi’s (the owner of Chobani) mother’s kitchen.  Next, we sampled the savory recipes from the menu – including Hummus + Za’atar, Mango + Avocado, Red Pepper Harissa + Feta, and Pomegranate + Caramelized Onion. My favorite was the Mango + Avocado – who would have thought of putting mango, avocado, jalapenos and a few other ingredients together with Greek yogurt to make a dip?! It was amazing!!

After the savory dishes, we sampled the Smoked Salmon and Herbed Labne sandwich and it was so tasty! This was my first experience with Labne and it was delicious!

After the sandwich we  tried the sweet dishes. These are more in line with a traditional American palate and expectation of yogurt dishes. However, after sampling the savory dishes, I couldn’t believe how sweet these dishes seemed! Our whole group agreed that we actually preferred the savory over the sweet dishes and we kept switching back to the savory to help reduce the overall sweetness! For the sweet dishes we sampled the Pistachio + Chocolate,  Fresh Fruit + Granola, Blueberry + Power, Toasted Coconut + Pineapple, and Fig + Walnut.

My favorite was the Toasted Coconut + Pineapple, but of course I LOVE anything coconut (and pineapple is a close second) so I was pretty much sunk from the start once they told me the combo of flavors!

Overall, everything that Chobani served us was absolutely delicious. I loved all the various flavor mixes and really enjoyed experimenting with new flavors that I would not normally sample. Also, I was super psyched since they provided us with goodie bags to go home with – we were given recipes for all of the yogurts we tried, some glass Chobani cups and a pound of their coffee! So excited to make some of these dishes for guests to try in the future!

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After our visit to Chobani Soho, we finally went out to eat a meal. (This was my first meal all day, so it was much appreciated!) And then we checked out Times Square and headed to see some of the food marketing that occurs in that area.  (Of course this included a stop at the M&M Store as well as the Hershey Store!)

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20140306-131955.jpgAfter we finished up in Times Square, I crashed hard. A full day of travel and walking around for 14 hours made it a very long day!

Not to mention that we had an early start for our Monday… check out Part 2 for the next day’s adventures in NYC Food!

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