An army is said to travel on its stomach – but there’s no reason why you can’t, too.
More cities are touting their local flavors with food tours that acquaint visitors and locals alike with the unique flavors of the region. Here are some tours worth taking:
Mixing food and culture…Barbara Abbott created Canton Food Tours after taking a similar tour in Scottsdale, Arizona. She gathered a group of fellow foodies who were just as passionate about food, but also the history, art and culture of Canton. Tours here include the “Presidential Plate” which takes guests to the Carnegie Library, the Palace Theatre and Taggart’s Ice Cream Parlor, home of the Bittner, a milkshake made so a spoon stands upright when placed in it.
Around Findlay Market…Take a 90-minute escorted Taste the World walking tour through Cincinnati’s historic public market hosted by Cincinnati Food Tours. Your $15 ticket entitles you to samples and sips from six specialty merchants. Optional $5 add-on concludes your tour with wine tasting from Market Wines or local beer from the Over-the-Rhine Biergarten.
Walk the neighborhoods…NEO Food Tours offers a Signature Tours series that covers Cleveland and its neighborhoods, including Cleveland Heights, Ohio City and Chagrin Falls. The tour stops at four to six restaurants in each neighborhood, where guests will hear from the chef or manager and enjoy a plated dish or beverage. A complimentary cocktail ends the evening.
Experience the West Side Market…Cleveland is justifiably proud of its West Side Market, a food hall that has been standing for a century. Taste Cleveland Food Tours leads visitors on a tour of 15 vendors ranging from dried fruits and vegetables and artisan cheese to an olive-oil tasting – and you’ll also sample chef Michael Symon’s favorite beef jerky. The company offers tours of Little Italy, Tremont, “dine arounds” and pub crawls as well.
The food blogger’s tour…Columbus Food Adventures was launched in July 2010 by food blogger Bethia Woolf, a U.K. native who once served as a Himalayan expedition leader. Columbus has no peaks to climb, but there are plenty of food adventures here, including a tour of ethnic restaurants; a taco truck tour and tours that focus on Columbus neighborhoods. There are also dessert, meat and coffee lover tours. Tastings at each stop, of course.
Follow the trends…FoodHop, started by a group of local foodies with experience in the food and hospitality industries also launched in 2010. These tours lean toward the trendy. With the rise of craft breweries in the city, for example, a “Craft Beer Hop” was quickly created – and then there’s the ultra-hip “Dinner in the Dark” hop which, like pop-up restaurants and dinner salons, have become the newest way to experience a meal. www.food-hop.com
Meet the winemaker tour…A La Carte Food Tours offers a “Columbus Food Entrepreneurs Tour” – which, last month, included Kelly Harvey, owner of Signature Session winery. A La Carte also offers a tour for vegetarians, and one for “man’s best friend” – which stops at two doggie bakeries.
Chicago’s local eats…Lynn and Karon James lauched Tastebud Tours in Chicago, then followed up with a similar tour of New Orleans. The Chicago tour visits five locations, ranging from specialty food shops to a landmark hotel in various historic neighborhoods. You’ll taste deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, gourmet cupcakes and tea. And yes, a tavern stop is included as well.
Walk the neighborhoods…Chicago Food Planet Tours began in 2006 and have been leading foodies through some of the city’s seldom-visited neighborhoods. The oldest tour is the near North tasting and cultural walk, visiting seven one-of-a-kind specialty food stores off the beaten path. There are also Bucktown/Wicker Park and Chinatown tours available.
The best of Traverse City…Sure, you could take yourself on a wine tour around Traverse City, but you don’t want to miss out on the local food. Tasty Morsel Culinary Excursions will escort you to some of the best food finds in the area and you’ll always have a chance to sample a local wine, spirit or microbrew along the way. Tours range from a six- to seven-hour van tour to a three-hour walking tour. A fun way to sample and learn about local fare.