Every year seems to progress at a rapid rate and before you know it the summer is gone and winter has thrust its icy self upon us. For five months we had been too busy to attend one of the many tours Chicago Food Planet offers, so I was very happy that on a beautiful fall day we finally found ourself free to meander through the Gold Coast, Old Town and Lincoln Park on the Near North Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour.
It had been a difficult decision in determining which tour to attend, both the Chinatown Tour and Bucktown/Wicker Park Tour intrigued us, but since we practically live in Chinatown and have been to all of the awesome spots on their Bucktown/Wicker Park Tour we opted for the Near North tour, hoping we wouldn’t get lost in the Viagra Triangle .
Our day began when we promptly found parking on State Street and made our way towards Ashkenaz Deli where we met our group and sampled a Vienna Beef Pastrami Sandwich with a homemade Russian dressing made of beets. Unfortunately, as we were building our own sandwich we also realized we had only paid for two hours of parking for a 3 hour tour. We followed our guide toward our next stop, where we were excited to see my little car parked right outside. At the Tea Gschwendner we learned about the health benefits of tea and the variety of options available, warming up with a cup of our own. My husband went to put some more time on the meter as we made our way to the next stop, The Spice House.
We are particularly fond of The Spice House. Mostly because it was originally founded in Milwaukee and when I was living there we spent many an evening running out to get beautiful star of anise, black cardamom pods, and za’atar when we couldn’t find them anywhere else. Needless to say everyone on the tour loved it and the interesting information our wonderful guide shared with us.
Our next stop was Old Town Oil, which reminded me of an artisanal shop in San Sebastian that we had visited this summer. If it wasn’t for the 6 bottles of Spanish olive oil and sherry vinegar we had lugged back from Spain we would have bought some here. Then we continued on to The Fudge Pot to sample some sweets and learn about the art of making fudge. Our next stop was Delightful Pastries where we tried some fresh pierogies before our long walk through the neighborhoods, past a certain Playboy’s former mansion and into the Lincoln Park neighborhood where we completed our tour with deep dish pizza at Bacino’s.
We had an awesome guide that made sure we had fun on our tour and learned about the history and food of the neighborhoods. It was an excellent excuse to travel through Chicago by foot stopping to sample various treats that I would normally pass by. Although, the food tours are on holiday till April when the weather makes travel through the streets more bearable, we are looking forward to trying another tour next spring.