Friday, November 1, 2013

Gold Coast + Old Town Food Tour

Last week, I became a tourist in my own city and joined Chicago Food Planet for one of their walking tours. A few weeks ago, Vimbly invited me to participate in a complimentary class or activity of my choosing and I agreed. Vimbly is one of the fastest ways to book a variety of tours, classes, fun date activities, and more. The company recently launched in Chicago and is hooking up locals and out-of-towners with great new experiences. While on a short break from classes, I decided to go on the tour with my friend Arshia. Since both of us love food, we opted to do a food tour of the Gold Coast and Old Town. 

The food tour began at the newly opened Lou Malnatis in the Gold Coast and took us to six additional locations, which were all new to me. Our guide for the day was Jess. She began the tour by gathering us in a circle and having us introduce our selves and where we were from. While she said that some days she leads groups that are all locals, today was a great mix. Arshia and myself were the only locals and others came from Ohio, Taiwan, Texas, etc. After the quick intros, we sat down at a long table to delight in a delicious "Malnati salad" filled with mushrooms and gorgonzola cheese and Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I've had Lou Malnatis' deep dish before and like previous experiences, enjoyed the freshness of the cheese, sauce and crust. 

From Lou Malnatis, we headed to Teagschwendner in the Gold Coast for tastings. Teagschwendner is a German import and its only American location is here in the city. While learning about tea leaves, we sipped on a sweet tea and smelled a variety of passed white, green, black, and oblong teas. We then left the Gold Coast and entered Old Town. All along the way our guide shared historical, architectural and food facts with us. 

Our next stop was Kamehachi in Old Town, a sushi house owned by three generations of Japanese women. There we tried two types of sushi: a yummy vegetarian option with mushrooms and one with delicious spicy tuna. 

Across the avenue stood The Fudge Pot, the next stop on our tour. The family business was founded by Jim Dattalo who was taught by his uncle, Tom Dattalo of the The Mars Candy Company. Today, Jim’s son runs the confectionary. There, we stepped behind the glass counters to breathe in chocolate fumes and savor their decadent chocolate butter toffee. 

A few doors down we stepped into Old Town Oil to taste and try specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Tasting oils was a bit odd to me, but smelling each different infusion was inspiring. Flavors like blood orange and walnut would be rich in the kitchen. 

We walked into the aromatic The Spice House next with countless spices that fired up our sense of smell. After touring the shop and finding the vanilla sugar, we sat down to learn more about The Spice House and all about cinnamon, the delicious bark that lends so much flavor. After sampling and smelling various types of cinnamon and other spices including the yummy Old Taylor Street Cheese Sprinkle, we headed to our last stop. 

Delightful Pastries is a family-owned bakery that sells a variety of European cakes,  pastries and baked goods. There we ate French macarons and two savory pierogis: potato & cheese and a mushroom & sauerkraut. Once we all finished and somehow three hours had so quickly gone by, the tour had come to an end. My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, trying new things and learning a lot along the way. 

Thanks Vimbly ad Chicago Food Planet for a great experience!

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