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by Slow Food USA Intern Laura Kate Morris

Having recently moved to New York City from the Hudson Valley, I’m still in the process of getting my bearings and (more importantly) my groceries. Prior to this I was living on a farm, so sourcing my food was easy; most of it was in the field or a neighbor’s meat freezer. Now, as the wind sweeps me up and down the streets, I feel slightly daunted.

I’ve been dreaming of my next meal – a hot, brothy soup with chunks of potato, leeks, and fresh tortellini. The first step should be simple – I want a hearty stock that will start with carrots and onions from the Union Square Greenmarket and some beef bones I have yet to acquire. Armed with my trusty (if somewhat out-of-date) copy of The Slow Food Guide to New York City and my naive faith in the availability of anything, anywhere, in New York, I venture out into the cold.

Convinced I will find what I’m looking for in Little Italy, I venture out in search of Dom’s Fine Foods. I find it squeezed between an upscale furniture retailer and a shiny bank. Dom’s, however, isn’t keeping up with the Joneses. Boarded up and chained shut, the name is just visible painted in green and red under layers of grime and graffiti. My next option, Albanese’s, is several frigid blocks later. So unobtrusive that I pass it the first time, Moe Albanese’s is a hole-in-the wall with a faded newspaper cutting in the window, proclaiming it “the last authentic Italian butcher in Little Italy.” It is closed, with no hours posted. After trudging home, a hot cup of coffee, and some Internet research, I give it one more try. I find a nearby gourmet shop with a butcher’s counter. However, I am told they don’t really carry things like that. The butcher suggests I try Whole Foods.