Come the holiday season in New York, markets selling tchotchkes and other temporary stores hawking goods that are meant to be great gifts make an appearance all over town. These pop-ups, in my opinion at least, tend to offer overpriced and uninspired goods that any savvy shopper—or even a green one for that matter—shouldn’t waste their money on.
The Loi Specialty Shop at the legendary Plaza Hotel is a rare exception.
Located on the street level at the property’s 58th Street entrance—mere steps from Central Park and Fifth Avenue, where the historic Krigler Perfumes, and the Eloise Pop-Up / Plaza Boutique can be found, the shop is named after Greek celebrity chef Maria Loi. I’ve written on her before and have been a longtime fan. Her eponymous restaurant, Loi Estiatorio, is up the street from her shop and attracts a crowd night after night of both regulars and newcomers, who come to enjoy delicious and clean Mediterranean cuisine.
Salads made with the freshest organic vegetables, Kalamata olives and dressed with Loi’s fruit-forward Cretan olive oil? Check. Grilled Talagani cheese drizzled with organic Greek honey? Check again. And how about the whole fish sprinkled with oregano before it’s beautifully grilled and presented to diners? A triple check this time around. These are all my go-to’s at Loi Estiatorio, and thanks to her Plaza pop-up shop, any city dweller or tourist can take the experience home for themselves or as a gift for someone else. Let me assure you, this is a gift that won’t be re-gifted and one that your family and friends will truly appreciate.
Loi has picked all of the shop’s epicurean delights herself, and the options are expansive: her award winning Loi Ladi Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a highlight for me and enhances the flavor of practically any dish, from scrambled eggs to fruit (try it drizzled over strawberries and with a pinch of sea salt) to vegetables, meats and fish. Then there’s the Loi Meli organic wild honeys, aromatic herbs including the aforementioned oregano, her namesake pasta line, and her incredible handmade baklava.
But the shop sells much more than Loi branded items. Expect Kyknos Greek tomato sauces, organic Kiddo Pasta by Helios, olives and vinegars from Sparta Gourmet, and organic Macedonian Tahini from Haitoglou Bros. On the sweet side, look for Cretan Ladokoulero (olive oil cookies), and spreads such as Bottega Pisani’s Dark Chocolate spread. Essentially, Loi’s shop can be your one-stop shop for any holiday gifts, and not only.
Loi’s collaboration with The Plaza was borne out of her longtime relationship with the hotel.
“I wish everyone could travel to Greece and see my beautiful country, but in lieu of that, the Loi Specialty Shop can take you there,” says Loi. “It’s transportive, and you’ll find specialty food items there that aren’t easy to source or readily available.”