How to explore New York City like a local

As much as Times Square or Empire State Building are important landmarks for New York City, I prefer my weekends more chill. I like exploring the hidden gems and discovering new places and activities. It’s been more than a year since I lived here and I still wander the streets and feel like I’m watching my own life in a movie. Not taking anything for granted, I set on another city “adventure”.

This time I am attending a coffee home-brewing class. After some valuable google research I found the best place in town for learning about coffee: Counter Culture. They have training centers all over the country and offer cupping, home brewing and espresso classes. Every Friday they have a free tasting from 10am.  So if you find yourself around SOHO on a Friday morning and love coffee, you’re in luck.

The class we took is $75 for around 2 hours of learning. The price also included 3 months of free coffee! The workshop starts with a cupping session which it seems is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. Each of us took professional sips from our spoons after first smelling both the roasted coffee and the brewed version. Apparently you need to actually slurp the coffee to get the full taste. I tried, but I almost choked on the coffee 🙂 so I decided less taste is still good enough for me.

All I can say is that my pour over technique has definitely improved as a result of this training. I was expecting that there should be a little bit of science behind preparing this style of coffee and now I know it. For full disclosure you can read it on the whiteboard below.

After having all the coffee I wanted and needed there was time for a snack. And because we are in SOHO, there’s no better option than Balthazar, a charming small French bakery offering housemade pastries, cakes & naturally leavened breads.

SOHO (which stands for South of Houston Street) is a very beautiful lively neighborhood, perfect for shopping but also for art. I am not an expert on either, but check out this article for a top list of the art galleries you should visit and this article for ideas on how to spend your time in SOHO.

If you’re a hipster traveler and you want to bring back home unique gifts, pay a visit to the MOMA Design Store. You’ll find hip, modern-design objects, gifts, housewares & art books.

Lastly, after a productive day you can relax in nearby Little Italy with great pizza and an Aperol Spritz from Gelso & Grand. If you’re having a craving for something sweet after lunch, you’re in a great spot. Right across the street you will find a 125 years old bakery that’s famous for their cannoli – Ferrara.

Buon appetito!

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