Volume 20 Issue 7 | June 29 - July 5, 2007

Makor sweet walks its way Downtown

By Sandra Larriva

Makor and Daytime@, two offshoot programs of the Jewish cultural, educational and community center, 92nd Street Y, will be moving from their 35 West 67th Street location to Tribeca this fall. Makor targets it arts and educational programming to Jewish twenty- and thirtysomethings, while Daytime@ offers cultural and educational activities for baby boomers. As a way to introduce their programming to newcomers and to help their patrons familiarize themselves with the area, the two satellite cultural centers organized a series of culinary and historic walks in and around the neighborhood.

On Wednesday, June 20, a group of 22 cocoa lovers followed food historian Francine Segan on her “Soho Chocolate Tour,” where participants tasted a number of exotic sweets at four of the five scheduled stops. The tour’s meeting point was Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven on 350 Hudson Street. Both factory and retail, the locale is built in the shape of a cocoa bean and has enough windows for visitors to see the chocolate in the making. Participants where given samples of their “Dangerously Dark Chocolate” bar, which is 72 percent cocoa, and their “Wicked Hot Chocolate,” which contains ancho and chipotle chilies.

The second stop was Kee’s at 80 Thompson Street, which offers over 38 different chocolates and is one of Ms. Segan’s favorites. Owner Kee Lee Tong welcomed the group with mango and green tea-filled bonbons, after which they happily moved on to MarieBelle, a few blocks away on 484 Broome Street. The shop offered samples of its signature iced chocolate drink, made with Aztec chocolate and coffee powder.

For the last tasting opportunity, visitors trekked east to 132 Spring Street, the home of Vosges, a place for those with an adventurous palate. On display were organic peanut butter bonbons, made with pink Himalayan salt infused into peanut butter and milk chocolate and topped with Fleur de Sel salt; Italian truffles, some of which were made with chocolate, extra virgin olive oil and dried Kalamata olives; and the “Aztec Truffle Collection,” made of ancho and chipotle chilies, Ceylon cinnamon, Mexican vanilla bean and Argentinean dulce de leche. The five-stop decadent tour ended at Sur La Table, a kitchen supplies shop.

Makor organized a total of four walking tours, which were promoted on the 92nd Street Y catalogue and website, in e-mails to patrons and through numerous ads. All of the tours sold out.

The “Historic Tribeca Walking Tour,” led by author and journalist Pamela Skillings, explored the area’s restaurants, lounges and boutiques, stepping away from food and focusing on architecture and history instead. The rest of the tours were culinary and led by gourmet expert Francine Segan. For those who did not get a chance to participate, walking tours will pick up again in October.

According to Wendy Sabin-Lasker, Director of Daytime@ Programming, the walks “come out of our need to experience our new neighborhood…to bring our clientele into the area so that they can find out how to get here and what treasures are here.”

In addition to the new neighborhood walks, Makor also organized several musical gatherings. On June 21st, it presented Moshav, a pop/alternative band whose members were brought up and influenced by Jewish culture, and Heedoosh, a hard rock and Brit-pop group formed by two Israeli Yemenite brothers, at the Knitting Factory. Also on June 21st and 28th, Makor Theater brought the musical “Soul Searching,” which performed at last year’s New York Musical Theater Festival, to the Synagogue for the Arts.

The Makor/Steinhardt Center, home of the Makor and Daytime@ programs, has signed a lease with Trinity Real Estate for the ground floor at 200 Hudson Street in Tribeca. The new, 15,800 square foot location will be designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects LLP, a firm that has designed, renovated and restored Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, the Brooklyn Museum, the International Center of Photography, The Joyce Theatre and many other cultural and performing art spaces. Their former facility, donated to the 92nd Street Y in 2001 by philanthropist Michael H. Steinhardt, was sold to the City University of New York in September.

According to Sabin-Lasker, the former space “was very costly to keep up and we were outgrowing it…Now the Y really has it all…We can look to Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, New Jersey and other places that the Y has long wanted to serve.”

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