Foodie Tour of NYC + All Four Stars giveaway

July 1, 2014 2014, food in books, giveaway, middle grade, TMG tours, Wendy 86

foodie tour new york

When I finished All Four Stars by Tara Dairman, I was thoroughly charmed–and thoroughly HUNGRY! This sweet, funny middle grade story of an eleven-year-old girl who becomes a restaurant critic in New York is, as my friend karen says, “surprisingly plausible,” as well as a must-read for anyone who has an appreciation for food. Kim says the author pretty much gives us a global culinary tour and inspired wanderlust in her as well.

The madcap climax of the book centers around a place called Classy Cakes, which sounds like a dream for those of us with a sweet tooth. But I also loved that the story features so many cuisines from different countries, and in turn, so many different diverse characters and cultures as well. Gladys is a plucky heroine I wish I knew in real life, because I’m sure we’d have a grand time eating our way around the the city.

Today, we’re kicking off the official blog tour (hosted by us, so you know we love this book!) for All Four Stars with a post by the author on a foodie tour of New York. What better way to get to know Gladys?


Gladys Gatsby’s Foodie Tour of NYC
by Tara Dairman

All Four Stars is a work of fiction, but the spots where I set a lot of key scenes in the book were inspired by real locations around New York City. Now, while not every book can inspire its own Sex-and-the-City-style bus tour (though an author can dream!), I’m going to give you the inside scoop so you can wander and eat like Gladys the next time you’re in Manhattan. (And hey, you might want to make it a walking tour, anyway, to burn off a few of those delicious calories.)

Photo 1, train platform

Fifteen minutes later, they were at the East Dumpsford train station, Aunt Lydia punching buttons on a machine to buy them two tickets to New York City. -ALL FOUR STARS, page 18

Stop 1: An LIRR Train Station

Before your tour starts, you’ll need to get yourself into the city—and if, like Gladys, you’re coming from Long Island, that means you’ll need to find a Long Island Railroad station. (Fun facts: The LIRR has operated continuously since 1834 and is the busiest commuter railroad system in North America!)

There is no real town of East Dumpsford in the system, but any station will do. Get your ticket, and feel free to huddle in the shelter (like Gladys and her dad do in Chapter 20) while you wait for your train. Congratulations—you are now on Gladys’s version of Platform 9¾. :)

Photo 2, Ethiopian

Their first destination was an Ethiopian restaurant on Tenth Avenue…Their food came out on a huge round plate, and instead of using forks or spoons, they scooped spicy bites of pureed beans and chunks of meaty stew into their mouths using their fingers and a spongy bread called injera. -ALL FOUR STARS, page 19

Ethiopian food

Stop 2: Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

Queen of Sheba is one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants in Manhattan, and with its central location, it seemed like the perfect place to have Gladys try this distinctive cuisine for the first time. If you go, may I suggest a vegetarian sampler, and some quanta firfir?

Photo 3, Katz's

Next, Aunt Lydia took Gladys on the subway to a crowded kosher restaurant on the Lower East Side…Gladys’s favorite part was the giant spongy ball—a matzo ball, her aunt called it—that bobbed up and down in her broth. -ALL FOUR STARS, page 19

Stop 3: Katz’s Delicatessen

Now, Katz’s Deli isn’t really kosher (it’s kosher style). It’s also expensive and frequently mobbed (try not to go on the weekend!). But oh, man, that pastrami sandwich—it’s the stuff of dreams. I’ve also heard good things about the matzo ball soup (what Gladys and Aunt Lydia eat) and their hot dogs, though I’ve never tried them; it’s always the pastrami for me.
Photo 4, Tasty Dumpling

…they finally rode a bus to Chinatown, where they sat on duct-taped chairs in the window of a tiny eatery and feasted on dumplings filled with tender pork and crunchy scallions. -ALL FOUR STARS, page 19

Stop 4: Tasty Dumpling

Chinatown has several “Five dumplings for $1” joints, but in my opinion, it’s worth paying the extra 25 cents to get yours at Tasty Dumpling. They’ve recently renovated, so the restaurant isn’t quite so tiny anymore, and the chairs are probably no longer held together with duct tape. But it’s the dumplings that steal the show.

Photo 5, NY Times Building

Her mind was still happily occupied with desserts when they turned the corner onto Eight Avenue and headed toward a towering gray skyscraper. But when they swept through the rotating glass doors, Gladys froze. A sign hanging high over the gleaming lobby read: WELCOME TO THE NEW YORK STANDARD BUILDING -ALL FOUR STARS, page 174

Gladys accidentally finds herself at the headquarters of the New York Standard—a.k.a. “the Dusty Dame”—which, alas, doesn’t really exist. But if you’re looking for a real-life stand-in, you could pop over to the headquarters of the New York Times—a.k.a. “the Grey Lady”—which just happens to be located at 40th street and Eighth Avenue, too. (Do try to avoid ending up prostrate on its slick lobby floor, though—security guards frown on that kind of thing.)
Photo 8, West Bank Cafe

West Bank Cafe

Stop 6: West Bank Cafe

Just a couple of blocks from the Times building is this big-windowed cafe with a delicious-sounding dessert menu. While I’ve never actually eaten there, this is the building and location I had in mind when I created Classy Cakes—just slap on a polka-dotted awning! However, your tour won’t be complete without a visit to…

Photo 9, Serendipity

Stop 7: Serendipity 3

Found on the upper east side, Serendipity 3 is not at all in the same location as Classy Cakes, nor does it really have the same look. But this famous dessert spot is probably the closest to Classy Cakes in spirit. If you visit, be prepared for a line halfway down the block, short-tempered staff, and $15 ice cream sundaes. But their “peanut butter frrrozen hot chocolate” is pretty delicious.

Our thanks to Tara Dairman for sharing some of Gladys’ favorite foodie spots!

vine-divider-finalDon’t forget to check out the rest of the All Four Stars Blog Tour! There are fantastic posts, excerpts, recipes, and giveaways at each stop.

Tuesday, July 1st              The Midnight Garden
Wednesday, July 2nd        The Reading Date
Thursday, July 3rd            For What It’s Worth
Friday, July 4th                 The Spirit of Children’s Literature
                                       A Baked Creation
Monday, July 7th              Xpresso Reads
Tuesday, July 8th             For the Love of Words
Wednesday, July 9th        Finding Bliss in Books
Thursday, July 10th          Candace’s Book Blog


vine-divider-finalWin a copy of All Four Stars!

all four starsThanks to our friends at Putnam, we have 8 finished copies of this lovely book to give away throughout the blog tour. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’re excited to read the book! Visit each stop to earn extra points, or you can also tweet, pin, etc.

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 or older, or 13 or older with parental permission. Good luck!

Giveaway copies are provided by the publisher, and photographs are courtesy of the author.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Have you been to any of these locations, or are you planning to after this post? All Four Stars is a must-read if you love food or middle grade books, so I hope you’ll give it a try!

Wendy signature teal












86 Responses to “Foodie Tour of NYC + All Four Stars giveaway”

  1. Liat

    I have been to NYC a couple of times, but since I only eat kosher food, my culinary experience had been somewhat.. limited. Still dozens of other options there…!

  2. Shannon Greathouse

    I have never been to New York City, so all of those places are foreign to me. I do enjoy cuisines from all around the world and I always try to make a signature dish from every cuisine.

  3. Hilary

    I don’t live in the US so I have never been to these places but I am so fascinated by books that intertwine food and writing without it becoming some cookbook. Perhaps when I visit the US, I’ll be able to find the restaurants in the book!
    Hilary recently posted…Review: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

  4. Kristy Petree

    Excited to read this book! It’s unique and cute, and it’s about food! :) It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read and, believe me, I need that!
    Sadly, I haven’t been to any those places but thanks for the virtual tour!

  5. Elizabwrh

    A New Yorker will have to visit some of the sites you listed. Justed ordered by copy.
    Add Chickilicious Dessert Bar to your list. Plus the ceral cone at Milk! Hope the book is as yummy as New York dessert scene.

  6. Trix

    I love food-related books in general, and I haven’t been to NYC in ages! (I entered different info in the Rafflecopter, but it changed me to what I had for the SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA contest. Should be fine either way for me, but I don’t know if that will cause problems for you…)

  7. Carl

    Cool tour, I’d love to visit some of those places but I’ve never been to NYC, at least not yet. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of All Four Stars.

  8. Carina Olsen

    Aw! I love this post :D So awesome. Thank you all for sharing. <3 Loved seeing many of the places Gladys saw in the book :) So cool. I have never been to New York, but maybe someday ;p So excited to be a part of the tour too, hih. Love seeing all the posts :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #140

  9. :Donna Marie

    Wow, I finally found how to access comments! lol SO glad to have discovered your blog through the link on Katie’s “Spirit of Children’s Literature” :)

    I’ve actually never seen any of these places to eat : / Though I have to ask: that’s not the same “Serendipity” that’s in the movie, is it? :)

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  10. Kristin Lundgren

    I love the idea of the book, harkening back to some of the older precocious children of literary fame. And I enjoy restaurants and cooking, so I am really anxious to read this one.

  11. Kate I.

    I’ll keep dining suggestions in mind next time I make the trek from the west coast to NYC. I last was there in 2011 so I’m overdue for a visit. Wish Gladys were real so she could give me some guidance. Of course, I would also like to keep Tony Bourdain in my suitcase and have him scout restaurants while I’m taking an afternoon nap.

  12. bn100

    Haven’t been to these places; sounds like a fun book

  13. Katie F

    What a fun way to describe some of the book. I’ve always wanted to go to Serendipity but the cute cafe with the large windows looks like a great place to curl up with a book!

  14. yangjanice

    It was lovely reading about the food in this book! I live in NYC and have been to all the real places mentioned except for Queen of Sheba–I’ve been meaning to try it though! Also, when Tara mentioned the NYT building, my mind immediately went to Schnipper’s (which you can see in the photo); I frequent this burger joint all too much–SO YUMMY.
    yangjanice recently posted…Cousins

  15. Danielle Nguyen

    I was just in NYC and really wanted to eat at Katz’s, but we ran out of time. Tasty Dumpling sound really good too!

  16. Dawn Pleet

    Wow, this looks like such a great book to share with my daughter. We love cooking together and watching food shows on TV. Would love to plan a tour of these spots in NYC after reading. Planning to visit the other stops on the tour. Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    GAH. About 50% (<—-pulled that percentage out of the air) of the time, your posts make me so HUNGRY. Maybe those are the posts that stick with me the longest, LOL. Hummingbird Cake . . . Russian food on the patio . . . Now dumplings and Ethiopian and frrrozen hot chocolate . . . again, GAH ;)

    Great post! I don't read much MG, but a "surprisingly plausible" eleven year old food critic just sound like fun.
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Early Review + Interview: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

  18. Faye D'Social Potato (@kawaiileena)

    Wow! I’ve never been to America before, and have only seen pictures of New York here and there, so this was a really nice tour! It’s so refreshing to see so much cuisine diversity in this busy city. I haven’t been to Ethiopia before, but I wonder if their cuisine has some Arabian influence? I’ve lived in the Sultanate of Oman for some time, and I’ve seen something like this there (probably not completely the same, but a little similar). And dumplings! I love dumplings so much! In fact I make my own when the mood sets in (or I can just order 30 dumplings for a price of $8 in a Chinese restaurant… those tasted so good, too). I can’t wait to see what the other stops have in store for us!
    Faye D’Social Potato (@kawaiileena) recently posted…Cover Madness Giveaway Hop – Be 1 of 2 winners!!!

  19. Tabitha (notyetread)

    Oh goodness it does sound adorable. Kids have very refined tastes!

  20. Rachel

    An eleven-year old NYC food critic? What not to like? Sounds super cute, and I do LOVE food. A little too much. Just ask my husband and he’ll tell you I’m always planning my next meal. I would like to visit Katz’s Deli, West Bank Cafe and Serendipity. I’ll have to keep them in mind next time I’m in New York.

    Wonderful post & giveaway ladies! :)
    Rachel recently posted…Monthly Recap: June

  21. Brenda

    Wait, I just saw In the comments there is a link for a Frozen Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate, this sounds so good. Thank you Wendy, must try this with my child!

  22. marjorie

    Ooh, I missed that the frozen PB hot choc link was a recipe, Wendy! Thank you!!! (And I’d actually be willing to try Serendipity in Las Vegas — part of my problem with the NYC shop is the Upper East Side, and I think the more varied crowd in Las Vegas would make it more tolerable, even with the insane prices.)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, sure thing! I love finding related recipe links for foodie posts.

      And ah hah, I get it re: the Upper East Side, hah. The Vegas has the opposite problem with the mass sunburned tourists in loud shirts, but that actually kind of suits the kind of food you find there, imo. I mean, I love the frozen hot chocolate and it’s totally fun to go, but it IS kind of like a fancy Friendly’s, don’t you think? Though I’m sure Serendipity would not appreciate me saying so.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ah, everyone should go to New York at least once to experience the food and the culture! Though then you’ll just keep wanting to go back for more. ;) I hope you enjoy the book when you get to it!

  23. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I am totally bookmarking this for the next time I’m in NYC. I never know where to eat because there are *so* many good places out there!! Though I did finally make it to Shake Shack this last time. Totally worth ALL the calories. Yum. I have the feeling this book would make me incredibly hungry for food I wouldn’t be able to have. Yum again.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Top Off Tuesday: Photoshop is not always a good option

    • Wendy Darling

      SHAKE SHACK! I love Shake Shack. I’ve only been once, but my burger and milk shake were delicious. It was kind of nerve-wracking though, because it was the first time I’d hung out with our New York office at the time, and they were all watching me expectantly, and one of them said, “SO. How does this stack up against In-N-Out?” So much pressure to be tactful, hah.
      I definitely want to go back to try their portobello mushroom burger, too–you’re right, it’s worth every single calorie.

  24. J. Oh

    I was born in NYC and still live really nearby, and I am an extreme foodie. Plus, I love middle grade fiction. This book sounds perfect! I’ve been to and seen a lot of the food stops, but now I have more motivation to go again. ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      Being a foodie in New York has got to be the most rewarding thing. My friends know that with my Christmas package, I now expect a chocolate babka from Breads Bakery every year–I love it so much that I hug it whenever it arrives! *sigh* I love hearing about food, so it’s been so great reading all the restaurant recommendations in the comments as well.

      I’m so glad you found your way to this post! Sounds like this book is going to be a winner for you.

  25. Pili

    Oh dear cupcakes… I’m now drooling and so damned hungry even after having dinner!!
    Dumplings are one of my fave foods that I can’t really eat anymore due to my gluten intolerance, even if sometimes I do ignore my bad tummy afterwards cause if they’re good, they’re worth it!!
    I know I will refer to this if I ever go to NYC and want to find yummy places to eat at!!
    Thanks for this fantastic post!!
    Pili recently posted…Tell Me Tuesdays #2!!

    • Wendy Darling

      You know us, Pili, if there’s food in a book, we are going to ferret it out and make you drool over it with us! hee hee.

      My husband has the wheat allergy thing going on too, so he can only take dumplings in small doses as well–such a shame, since they are so delicious! Are you okay with dumplings made with rice flour instead of wheat? Those are easier on the stomach for people with gluten issues, I think. I have a friend who is in the same boat as you who also brings pills with her when she decides it’s worth a little discomfort, though.

      • Pili

        Yeah, dumplings made with rice flour are perfectly fine for my tummy, but the variery is always so small, and not all places have them. But yeah, sometimes the yummy food is worth the unhappy tummy!
        And I know I can count on you ladies to make me drool and get cravings for foods!
        Pili recently posted…Tell Me Tuesdays #2!!

        • Wendy Darling

          Definitely much more limited in choices with rice flour dumplings–though hargow are some of my favorites. :) You can’t get those nice pan-seared gyozas at Japanese places with a wheat allergy, though.

          And pfft, you’re one to talk, crazy cupcake lady!

    • Wendy Darling

      Whoa, there’s a $50 minimum per table in New York? Good gracious. I’ve only been to the one in Vegas, but the staff seemed nice overall, if a bit harried.

  26. Karen

    OMG OMG OMG! I love this post! I actually wrote down every place mentioned while reading this book so I can go during my next visit to NYC. Now I can bookmark this page too.

    I absolutely adored All Four Stars and I’m thrilled to be part of the tour :-)
    Karen recently posted…Tune in Tuesday: Raleigh Ritchie

    • Wendy Darling

      I thought this might come in handy for you BEA peeps next year, hah! And some of our readers have been leaving AMAZING recommendations for other places to try, too. A side benefit I didn’t predict!

    • Wendy Darling

      You’re lucky to have three sisters who live in New York! I used to go often for work, but it wasn’t until I stayed with friends that I really got to experience everyday life as a native. Always the best way to see any town, and a totally different visit than seeing it like a tourist or business person. :)

      Hope you and your siblings get to visit some of these places together sometime!

    • Wendy Darling

      The dumpling place was the one I was most excited about, too! How can you resist $1.25 for 5 dumplings? I love dumplings. I also like the WORD “dumplings,” hah.

      • Maria (BearMountainBooks)

        I *know.* I make my own dumplings most of the time because around here they cost about 7 dollars for 5!!!! If you find them at a lunch special price you can get them for about a dollar EACH. (I hope it’s okay to comment again. I know only entry counts. But this is dumplings we are talking about! Dumplings deserve more than one comment!!!)
        Maria (BearMountainBooks) recently posted…Bargains and Edits

        • Wendy Darling

          Dumpling prices can get pretty crazy here, too. We have some great places in the Valley that are $2 for 5, but in the city they can be anywhere from $9 – $15, depending on the place and the filling. Actually, Din Tai Fung, based out of Shanghai, just opened a few spots in town and they have 6 truffle dumplings for $24, I think.

          Where are you, if you don’t mind my asking? Those prices are pretty steep, too.

          Dumplings merit serious discussion. And oh my goodness, please talk to us anytime! We’re a chatty bunch here and really enjoy interacting with our readers. Otherwise it’s just us blathering on to ourselves.

          • Maria (BearMountainBooks)

            I’m in the Austin area (Just north of the city). We mostly go into Austin for Chinese food. There are a number of Asian markets and the food is very, very good, and most prices are reasonable. But not for dumplings! Having made dumplings, I realize they are a lot of work. None of it can be done by machine and it’s time consuming to make all those neat pinched folds. Trust me–mine do NOT have those folds. I shove a mixture of pork sausage/cabbage/onions/mushrooms/spices/green chiles and mash the edges together. Sometimes I have to kind of fold them funny. These are nothing any restaurant would be proud to serve, but we love them for lunch with rice and soy/ginger sauce!!

            I am pretty sure I won’t be trying truffle dumplings. That’s way outside any budget of mine!

            The other day I was in the grocery and the fish guy told me I had to try sea bass. He said, “If you like scallops you will love this fish.” Well at 22 dollars a pound, I do not NEED another fish to love! No way. I don’t even want to know if I like it at that price!!

            I’ll have to pass on truffle dumplings. More’s the pity!!!
            Maria (BearMountainBooks) recently posted…Bargains and Edits

            • Wendy Darling

              Yeah, we go to the outskirts for most of our Chinese food, too–there’s only one place in LA proper that I know of that does decent dumplings/food, most of it is the sugary Americanized version of Chinese.

              Dumplings are very easy to make, but as you said, extremely time-consuming, especially if you’re making them by yourself. Your recipe sounds delicious! And yeah, I’m pretty good with the pinching and such, but there are always some suckers that are disobedient and push their fillings through.

              It’s so funny you say that re: sea bass, too. We steamed some recently because my mother’s visiting and wanted to cook it, and it was delicious–but it’s definitely out of the ordinary for us. And frankly, you can get such lovely clams and crabs and lobster and other seafoods at that price that I’d prefer that over sea bass if I was cooking it.

              Never a bad thing to have someone else cook dinner, though. ;)

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh my, I hope you do get to visit New York sometime! It’s so much fun. I’ve been a fair number of times for work and for fun, and to be honest I still get overwhelmed by it all sometimes, so take comfort in the knowledge you’re not alone. :)

      I always like reading about places to eat in other cities, too. I read about awesome places to eat in Portland for YEARS before I ever went there.

  27. marjorie

    I live three blocks from Katz’s, and my husband was just swearing it’s still the best pastrami in the world. (I keep kosher, so for me the only true contender is the Second Avenue Deli.) I wonder if reading this book will inspire my kids to try Ethiopian food? A mother can dream!

    However, I will put in a venomous I HATE SERENDIPITY vote — way too much attitude. (And the COST. And the clientele. And the Upper-East-Sidiness of it all.) I prefer the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (with a Bea-Arthur-cameo-wearing rainbow unicorn mural) in the East Village or Il Laboratorio del Gelato on the Lower East Side. Or being hit in the head with a mallet.

    • Wendy Darling

      I have only been to Katz’s once, but it was AMAZING. I was a bit intimidated by the whole rigamorole, but fortunately I was with a resident who showed me the ropes. I especially liked how they would slice off pieces of meat for you as you waited.

      I’ll have to try Second Avenue sometime–thank you for the rec! Here in LA, I love, love, LOVE Langer’s pastrami sandwich. Even Nora Ephron proclaimed it the best pastrami in the country, so you know it’s right up there. ;)

      I get what you mean about Serendipity. I went to the Vegas location and really enjoyed my drink and diner-style food, but the prices were on the crazy side, and I’ve heard the same about NY. Still, it’s fun to go to as an experience, and I actually had no idea while reading the book that it partially inspired Classy Cakes.

      I am dying to go to these Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, though. Thanks so much for the tips! I am busily taking notes.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay! I love seeing visual tours of places in books and I love reading about food, so this was a dream post for me, too. :) I hope you enjoy the book, Candace! I’m pretty sure you will.

    • Wendy Darling

      I know, right?! I’m going to be in New York later this year, and I definitely have to go to some of these places.

      I linked to a recipe that you can make at home for that peanut butter frozen hot chocolate as well, for those of us who aren’t able to go anytime soon.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’ve had the frooozzen hot chocolate, but never the peanut butter chocolate one–it sounds appealing to me, too! I hope you get the chance to try one the next time you’re in New York, Marianne. :)

  28. jpetroroy

    Yum! I’m getting hungry. Bookmarking this for ideas.

    • Wendy Darling

      I am ALWAYS hungry, but I could really go for some dumplings right about now. Or frrrozen hot chocolate. Or….

  29. Brenda

    I’m looking forward to visiting all the tour stops and loved all the restaurant and location inspiration pictures from the book. Although, now I’m really getting hungry and I miss NYC’s diverse food choices. I wish I still knew the name of the Thai restaurant that I went to, ahh the best green tea ice cream!

    • Wendy Darling

      There are SUCH great posts for this tour, Brenda! I’m excited for everyone to read them, Tara wrote really terrific pieces.

      I hate it when I go someplace amazing and then can’t remember what it was called. :( I hope you find your green tea ice cream someday.

    • Wendy Darling

      Queen of Sheba looks good to me, too! I have a tricky relationship with Ethiopian, but I’d like to try some more restaurants.

      And food recs in New York are always welcome. I figured BEA-goers would find it especially useful.