As a native New Yorker, I was born in Queens, educated in the Bronx and have resided on Long Island most of my adult life. But this past weekend was the first time ever that I went on a New York City tour.
No stranger to traveling the world and the co-founder of a travel blog, it dawned on me while strolling about the streets of the west village on my cupcake walk, that I still had much to learn about my own home town. Throughout the two hours I spent with my delightful tour guide, Mallory from Great New York Tours, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of six “Sweeteries”, each with their own unique yummy specialties.
Standing up close and personal to Cafe Wha, where countless rock stars, from the 1960’s, including Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin, played regularly was meaningful to the more mature guests on the tour, who remember these iconic musicians. And a scenic walk through Washington Square Park with a brilliant view of the Empire State Building through the park's famous arch was definitely an unexpected highlight.
Mallory invited the group to partake in a “cupcake joke contest.” My husband won two cupcake tattoos for our daughters with his jokes, getting a chuckle from the crowd. Ok, so how about some "award-winning" cupcake humor from the day:
* Did you hear the one about the woman who fell in the cupcake factory? She slipped on the ICE - ing.
* What do you call a cupcake that's never delivered on time? Choc - LATE.
But of course, the piece de resistance of this outing were the tastings at each of the dessert retail shops. Here’s a little “sampling” of the delectable offerings on this GREAT New York tour:
7 E. 14th Street
New York NY 10003
Interesting story to this cupcakery. After Melissa lost her advertising job in 2008, she decided to start an endeavor doing something she loved - baking.
Her decision led to the opening of the first Baked by Melissa shop in Soho, New York in 2009. Today there are 11 locations throughout New York and New Jersey.
Best known for their mini, bite-sized cupcakes, Baked by Melissa features a Mini of the Month. During our visit, we had the pleasure of tasting September's mini, Banana Pudding.
And Boy was it delicious!
60 University Place
New York, NY
Tel : +1 (212) 253-5599
Amorino specializes in Gelato and Sorbets, so you may be wondering why it would be on a cupcake tour. Let me assure you that there was nothing more delightful and refreshing than to have a tasting of sweet sorbet in between the many cake desserts.
I have never been a big fan of mango, but I can tell you quite assuredly that Amorino's Mango sorbet was one of the best sorbets I've ever tasted! Created in 2002 by two childhood friends, Cristiano Sereni and Paolo Benassi, Amorino first opened in Paris with a commitment to the making the highest quality gelato as naturally as possible with no artificial colours or flavorings.
Today, there are over 100 locations worldwide, including two in New York.
This place was one of the highlights of the tour for me!
228 Bleecker Street
New York, New york 10014
So, let's talk about the "funnest" cupcake shop on the tour! Molly's takes the cake, or should I say, cup-cake. With a "build your own" cupcake option, our tasting entitled us to partake in creating our own treat. I chose a banana cake with buttercream vanilla frosting! My girls went with red velvet cake and vanilla frosting and my husband, being less creative, opted for vanilla cake/vanilla frosting. There really didn't seem to be a bad choice!
Vegan options are also available as well as a fab sprinkle bar for further personalization!
Why a school theme, you might be wondering, for a cupcake store? Well, John, the founder, had such fond memories of his third grade teacher, Miss Molly, who would always bring cupcakes into class, that he decided to honor her with the store's name. Additionally, his commitment to education is so strong that a portion of the profits are donated to schools in the community.
235 Bleeker Street
New York, NY 10014
Fourth on this delectable tour was Bisous Ciao. Specializing in macarons, this tiny little store, has no shortage of yummy flavors from which to choose. This sweetery's founder, Tanya, traveled all over the world before deciding to set down roots here in New York City for her upscale macaron shops. With two locations in the city, I am sure there will be many more popping up.
Our tasting couldn't have been better if I planned it my self - Dark Chocolate Macaron!! My eight year old was starting to fill up (after the huge cupcake at Molly's) so guess who had to finish the other half of her macaron! Yup, and was it out of this world.
19 Commerce Street
New York, NY 10014
A cookie bakery on a cupcake tour? Well, why not!! Variety is the spice of life and with our bellies filling up by our fifth stop on the tour, it was nice to have something crunchy at this point. Mallory shared with us that her favorite cookie here was the Salted Oat Surprise, which was the tasting option and the perfect combination of sweet and salty goodness.
Milk and Cookies Bakery opened in 2006 by owner and founder Tina. The menu is quite extensive including a selection of cookies, brownies & bars, and ice cream sandwiches. They also offer a "make your own" cookie option, as well as custom decorated cookies.
401 Bleecker Street and W. 11th Street
New York, NY
So, last, but certainly, not least, the place that started it all with the cupcake store craze back in 1996, Magnola Bakery was our sixth and final stop on this tour. Catapulted to stardom after it was featured on Sex and The City, this three-employee bake shop exploded in popularity and now has locations worldwide.
What a way to end the tour!
Treat yourself to a luscious day of heavenly goodies with the Cupcake Tour or try one of the many other tours offered by Great New York Tours.