5/12/14

Finding Heaven in Hell's Kitchen With Sugartooth Tours

Here at Awesome in New York, we love a good tour, especially when there is food involved. The city has so much to see (and eat!), that to spend an afternoon running around eating every 15-20 minutes is a totally acceptable (and encouraged!) thing to do as far as we're concerned. If you're up for skipping savory food altogether and going straight for dessert, we suggest Sugartooth Tours for a fabulous sugar-high of an adventure.


Sugartooth Tours specializes in walking dessert food tours, combining culinary and cultural history with the best desserts in New York City. Tour guides showcase the city's best hidden bakeries and off-the-beaten-path gems where the locals go. Tours run year round with many special seasonal tours, including private tours and special events.

The fine folks at Sugartooth invited my mom and me to their signature "Heaven in Hell's Kitchen" tour a few Saturday's ago, and though I used to work in the neighborhood and visit it quite often, I had only been to 2 of the 6 stops we made. Yay for trying new things!

Our first stop was SoHo transplant Kee's Chocolates (315 W 39th Street). A tiny storefront offering high-quality, hand-made chocolates, Kee's was featured on the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" for their Creme Brulee Bon Bon ($2.70). Naturally, that was the one I had to try. Our bubbly tour guide Nathalie, encouraged me to eat it in one bite, which I was a bit apprehensive about because it was rather large, but I was so glad I did since it's pure liquid on the inside. This was truly a chocolate experience! Other exotic flavors on the menu include Earl Grey, fennel, honey kumquat, and yuzu.



Stop #2 was a place I must have walked by several times before but had never been in. The Cupcake Cafe (545 9th Avenue) has been serving their namesake desserts since before they were trendy (since 1988 people!). Home of the "original buttercream," all cupcakes are decorated with beautiful flowers that almost look too good to eat. But eat we did! I had almond cake with peanut butter frosting while my mom sampled the coconut ($3 for small and $5 for large). The texture of the buttercream was noticeably smoother than any I had ever had before and I would definitely recommend you check out this cute, plant-clad cafe ASAP!




Next stop was a place I know well from my days working in the neighborhood. The Little Pie Company (424 W 43rd Street) is a New York City institution in my book and you haven't had pie until you've tried their sour cream apple walnut fresh out of the oven. My mom was in luck, because that was exactly what we sampled! What I love about this place is that in addition to selling standard size pies and other delectables, they are known for their little 5" pies ($8), which can still serve multiple people, or not, we won't tell.




Poseidon Greek Bakery (629 9th Avenue) was stop number 4. Nathalie gave us a bit of history on the food of 9th Avenue and explained that the family-run bakery is one of the last hold-outs from a simpler time when pushcarts ruled the area and Times Square was, let's just say, a little less Disney. Poseidon is known for rolling their own filo dough, a very laborious process, and specializes in several different kinds of baklava. We tried a log-shaped variety which was the perfect model of what the honey, nutty pastry should be.




Walking into stop #5, I was a bit sad because the space occupied by Schmackary's (362 W 45th Street) used to be inhabited by this kick-ass Soul Food spot that I liked to frequent when I worked in the area. However, after one bite of a sweet corn Schmackary's cookie with cranberries and pecans ($2.75 each), I was most assuredly not sad anymore. My mom tried the rocky road and OMG was that amazing as well. I want to go back and EAT ALL THE FLAVORS. The friendly staff made my afternoon all that much better when they served us each a little glass of milk to wash everything down with. This may have been my favorite stop on the tour.

Mom and Me at Schmackary's



Originally, our last stop was supposed to be Donna Bell's Bake Shop (301 West 49th Street), but since they were closed for store repairs, we ventured over to another of my Hell's Kitchen favorites, Amy's Bread (672 9th Avenue). My favorite thing to get there is their turkey cranberry sandwich on raisin semolina bread, but their cupcakes are a close second. We had their chocolate challah, which was sad to say, just ok. Maybe I had already passed my sugar saturation barrier for the day, but I don't think I would order that again. Their cheesy bread sticks...that's another story :)




All tours run about 2 hours and cost $50 per person, although several other members of our tour said they got deals on How About We Couples or Groupon, so be sure to keep your eyes peels for deals. Sugartooth Tours also offers a "Sweeter than Sugar" Chelsea dessert tour (Sunday's at 4), a "Village to Village" cupcake tour (select Fridays at 2 and Saturdays at 4), and they will be debuting an ice cream tour soon! I would recommend the tour for anyone, local or tourist because a) you eat A LOT and b) I learned a lot of good history nuggets that I can now impress all my friend's with! (Did you know the founder of Amy's Bread moved all her baking operations to LIC and is now calling that area the "flour district"?)

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