Say your flight to JFK is severely delayed and it turns out you only have four hours in Manhattan. What to do? Go to Eataly. Then stop by the Union Square Greenmarket.
This post mainly offers jealousy-inducing photos of my time spent browsing around Eataly, the new mega food extravaganza created by culinary superstars Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. The place is part specialty food mart, part greengrocer, part bakery, part restaurant, part deli, part import market, part espresso bar, part cheesemaker, part seafood market, part gelateria... You get the point. The place is huge and it is where you can find anything and everything that is Italian and that is delicious.
Lots of folks complain that Eataly is crowded and there are too many tourists and it’s expensive and the wait for tables and food is ridiculously long. I say, shut up, folks. Really. Quit complaining about having access to the highest quality Italian tomatoes and pastas and meats. Don’t whine that the wait for your hand-made mozzarella cheese was over twenty minutes, or that your razor clams were too expensive, or that a stupid tourist bumped your elbow while you were sipping on a perfect, frothy espresso. I am not sympathetic. If you don’t like crowds or tourists or high prices, you shouldn’t live in Manhattan. Okay. I feel better now.
I was there on a Friday morning at ten, just when the market opened. The place was nearly empty so while the restaurants had yet to open for lunch, I had free reign of the market.
So I did some intense browsing. At the seafood.
At the meat.
At the vegetables…
… like sea beans and zucchini flowers…
I stopped in my tracks at the cheese case.
That’s when Phil and I decided to scoop up some meats and cold cuts. We chose a hunk of caciotta mista (a semi-soft cow and sheep milk cheese from Toscana). We grabbed some freshly sliced meat, a loaf of bread, and a couple bottles of fancy Italian sodas.
And we had ourselves a picnic across the street in Madison Square Park.
Phil laid out our meal while I soaked up the Manhattan vibe. It was a sunny day, so the park was bustling with activity: a meditation circle, a good amount of camera-touting tourists, some kids splashing around in a fountain.
But soon I was focused on my lunch.
Mortadella flecked with pistachio and Parma black label ham, both from Emilia Romagna. With cheese. On a baguette with a shatteringly crisp crust and chewy interior. I could get used to this.
We then strolled down Broadway, to Union Square. To meats, cheeses, jams, and honeys.
To heirloom tomatoes displayed like jewels, and piles of bright summer produce.