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New York: The Village, tasty and charming

I have found the best-ever chocolate chip cookies. That is my opinion after a three-hour walking tour in New York’s Greenwich Village operated by Foods of New York Tours.

Those cookies, especially good when warm from the oven, can be had at Milk and Cookies (19 Commerce St).

Our tour wasn’t all about sweets (thank goodness!) or even all about food. A stroll down the winding and weirdly arranged streets of the Village (whose residents refused to cooperate with 19th century city planners when they laid out the much more organized grid for Manhattan north of 14th Street) conjures images of the area’s past and those who have lived there.

For example, those seductive cookies are served next door to 17 Commerce St., a charming brick house with uncertain connections to Aaron Burr, the vice president who essentially murdered Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr, who actually lived nearby, is a reminder that not all the Village’s colorful former residents were nice.

Our guide, Marie Hiller, led us to the city’s narrowest house (75 ½ Bedford St./built 1873), which measures 9.5 feet wide.

Several famous people lived there, including poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, a founder of Cherry Lane Theatre; also anthropologist Margaret Mead and actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant. The theater itself was on our path, too.

Everything is outsized in New York, including the cost of claustrophobia. The narrowest house recently sold for $3.25 million.

But, back to the food: Highlights of our walk (besides cookies) included thin-crusted pizza at Joe’s Pizza (worth every blister earned by impatiently eating a slice too soon); eggplant cannelloni at Rafele Ristorante (very thin eggplant slices stuffed with cheese, topped with tomato sauce and served in Rafele’s gorgeous interior) and — on opposite sides of Bleecker Street — O&Co. for the best in olive oil and Murray’s for an incredible selection of cheeses.

Oh, yes, Rocco’s on Bleecker says it sells ”the world’s best cannoli” — and, four days after this tour, I met a San Franciscan who buys Rocco’s cannoli to carry home.

Foods of New York Tours (www.foodsofny.com) offers five themed walking tours, all in Lower Manhattan. Based on our group, the tours attract foreign and domestic tourists — as well as interested locals.

There’s more: New York is a natural for tours featuring ethnic, gourmet or other foods, but there also are tours highlighting local breweries and — believe it or not — local wines (check out the Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn, for starters).

 

New York City — Chocolate chip cookies from Milk and Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies from Milk and Cookies, but the photo can’t convey the pleasures found on this plate.

New York City: The narrowest house

New York’s narrowest house, once home to several notables including actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant.

Greenwich Village — cannelloni served at Rafele Ristorante

Eggplant cannelloni served to participants in a Foods of New York Tours’ Greenwich Village tour that emphasizes the old Italian section of the West Village.

New York City Greenwich Village Rafele Ristorante

Interior of Rafele Ristorante in New York’s Greenwich Village.

Houses in Greenwich Village New York City

Some of the six matching houses in the Village’s Grove Court, the setting for O. Henry’s short story, “The Last Leaf.” Built for the working classes in the 1840s, the houses are each worth millions today.

Greenwich Village sign

Rocco’s sign boasting of ”the world’s best cannoli.”

This blog and its photos are by Nadine Godwin, BestTripChoices.com editorial director and contributor to the trade newspaper, Travel Weekly. She also is the author of “Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia,” which was published by The Intrepid Traveler; it can be purchased at http://intrepidtraveler.com/travia-release/