Oh hey, kids! I'm still in Chicago for work -- but don't worry, it's all technically 'vacation' after this and we're heading to the Cubs game tomorrow. I'll be honest. I don't know a thing about the Cubs... but Wrigley Field is cool, so that counts for something, right?
As promised, I've lined up another awesome blogger to woo you guys while I'm away. Haley is a DFW girl too, and I've had the pleasure to get to know her over the last several months thanks to a blogger meetup ages ago. If you haven't been to her blog, Cardigan Junkie, you should probably get on that since all the cool kids are doing it.
... and you want to be one of the cool kids, right? *wink* Enjoy!
Hello fellow nerds! I'm Haley from the blog Cardigan Junkie, and I'm excited to be filling in for my friend Julie while she traveling this week.
When I learned that the theme of Julie's guest series is travel, I was excited to share my favorite vacation activity - the food tour! You see, my husband and I love to eat and drink wine. We also love exploring new cities beyond the top tourist destinations, so any chance to try multiple restaurants in a single afternoon while scoping out a neighborhood we wouldn't otherwise find is time well spent.
You pay a company a flat fee (usually around $69/person) for a walking tour spanning several hours, where you visit 5-8 restaurants and sample various foods, wines, and desserts while also meeting the chefs/owners and learning about their business and menu. These tours are typically focused on a single neighborhood, and led by an extremely trained guide or chef.
My Favorite Tours:
Savor Seattle Gourmet Tour - I took this tour on my honeymoon in 2010, and loved the chance to visit James Beard award-winning restaurants as well as some others that we'd have no chance of getting a table at without advance planning (including pizza by Tyler Florence!). The price is $69 per person, and we were stuffed by the end of the our tour. I highly recommend Brett as a guide, and wish we'd been able to take the Pike's Place Market tour, as well.
Chris Milano's Foodie Adventures - San Francisco Mission District Tour - I loved this tour because the owner of the company, Chris, actually felt like a new friend by the end of our afternoon and introduced us to so many small family-owned businesses in a Latin American neighborhood we probably wouldn't have explored on our own. We tried things I'd never eaten before (cow brain tacos! grilled cactus! the best coconut buns I've ever had!) and we were absolutely stuffed by the time it was over, AND we saw two Banksy murals. Chris also offers tours of North Beach (Italian) and Chinatown, at a cost of $69 per person (usually).
Eating Italy Food Tours: Rome - Our most recent tour is one of the best yet; a walking tour through the Testaccio neighborhood in Rome and a chance to patronize 10 restaurants and shops that cater mostly to locals. We had some of the best pizza, pasta, and gelato on our two-week trip in a single afternoon, and our guide Luna was great about showing us the area and historical landmarks in addition to chatting about food. The cost was 65 Euro, and it was worth every cent!
Food Tour Tips:
- Make a reservation before you leave home, and try to plan the tour for your first full day in the city so that you have time to go back to your favorite restaurants!
- Wear sensible shoes - NOT ballet flats. You do a lot of walking and standing in four hours, and it's worth being seen in tennis shoes. I foolishly thought my magical Sperrys would be a good choice, and I was so very wrong.
- Do not carry lots of junk in a big purse. You need cash for a tip (usually $10-20), an ID to drink wine and alcohol, your cash/cards, and maybe a camera. Most urban restaurants are tiny, and you'll be handed small plates to hold and eat so it's important that your hands are free. If you must bring lots of stuff, carry a backpack.
- Be adventurous! The more outlandish foods you encounter would not be on the tour menu if thousands of people before you weren't surprised to love them. The worst thing that will happen is that you don't like something, and the person standing next to you finishes it. Even tacos made from cow brains are delicious, I promise!
What To Wear:
I wouldn't be me if I didn't include a Polyvore set. Here's an outfit idea if you're heading out on a tour:
I hope you all enjoyed the ideas - come visit, I love meeting new e-friends! Thanks to Julie for letting me post today!