A Squared: Gold Coast & Old Town Food Tour

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gold Coast & Old Town Food Tour

Recently, the nice people over at Vimbly invited me to try out their services and in turn, a new Chicago experience. Vimbly is a great experience booking service that began in New York City and recently arrived in Chicago. It's essentially a one stop shop for any activity that you're interested in: historical tours, self defense classes, photography lessons, stand up comedy shows, brewery tours, the list goes on... You can search their site by category, by date and time, or by price so that you can quickly and easily find the experience that you're looking for.


So, when Vimbly sent me a list of options to choose from and I saw that the Gold Coast & Old Town Food Tour was on it, I jumped at the chance to take advantage of it! You may recall that last year Alex and I went on Chicago Food Planet's tour of Bucktown and Wicker Park, so I was really excited to give the sister tour a try. I grabbed one of my girlfriends, signed up on Vimbly's site, and we were ready to go!

 

The tour started off with a bang at the most quintessential of Chicago food locations: Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in the Gold Coast neighborhood. We got to sample two of their signature dishes here: first, the Malnati Salad (which I love!) topped with black olives, mushrooms, salami bits, gorgonzola cheese, and their signature Sweet Vinaigrette. Our second course was, of course, pizza! We got to enjoy a slice of The Malnati Chicago Classic™, which consists of a thick layer of sausage, melty cheese, and tangy sauce all on top of their famous buttercrust. Delicious! And a fun fact for you that I learned on the tour: Chicago is the only city in the US where sausage pizza outsells pepperoni. You can thank Lou for that.

Our fabulous tour guide teaching Tea 101

Next up: Tea time. Once of the fun things about this tour that was so different from the Wicker Park tour is that this one included a handful of specialty shops in addition to restaurants. We stopped in just down the block from Lou's at TeaGschwender where we got to sample a really delicious and learn the ins and outs of tea making and drinking. Fun fact: For the best tea flavor, don't steep your teabags in boiling water. And if you're looking for more intense tea flavor, use two teabags instead of steeping one bag for too long-- the flavor will become bitter.


Another part of these tours that I love is that they also include some great neighborhood and architectural history too. Above is Hugh Hefner's original Playboy Mansion. Many a bunny once lived here back in the days of the Playboy Club.




We wandered out of the Gold Coast and into Old Town after that. Kamehachi was our next stop for a sample of sushi rolls and sake. I'm not a huge fan of sushi (it's a texture thing), but these were pretty tasty-- and the warm sake was perfect on a chilly fall day. Several of our group members were not city people (like Alexis and me) and were eating sushi for the very first time. Kind of fun to experience that with them!



We then headed across the street to the Fudge Pot, a family-run shop specializing in homemade candy and chocolates. While we learned about the chocolate making process-- from cocoa bean to candy-- we snacked on the Fudge Pot's chocolate covered butter toffee squares. I definitely grabbed a second one on my way out the door!


From there, we headed down the block to two of my favorite food specialty shops: Old Town Oil and the Spice House. I have professed my love for the Spice House here before, but this trip was extra fun because we got to sit in their garden and learn a little more about their products and do some taste tasting.


At Old Town Oil we sampled a variety of vinegars, oils, and combinations of the two. My favorite combo here: Walnut oil and fig balsamic vinegar. I want to eat it on everything!


We took a little detour to check out some of Old Town's architecture before our last stop for food. We stopped to talk about one of my favorite houses in the area: a tiny cottage that was built from a kit for those left homeless by the Great Chicago Fire. It's about the size of my apartment and I just love it!


Chicago Food Planet definitely saved one of the best stops for last: one of my favorite bakeries Delightful Pastries! This bakery specializes in a variety of European-inspired and fun baked goods (like that awesome pumpkin cayenne cheesecake brownie I told you about a few weeks ago).




On the tour we got to sample two of their homemade pierogis: one potato and cheese filled and one sauerkraut and mushroom stuffed. Both were good, but the second was SO good! And to finish it off: my favorite French macarons.

Whether you're visiting Chicago or you're a local foodie, this is a great way to learn more about the food scene, the city history, and to sample some really delicious treats. Head on over to Vimbly and sign up for this or one of the other Chicago Food Planet Tours today and enjoy!


Editor's Note:  Registration for this event was provided by Vimbly at no cost, however all of the opinions expressed here are my own. Thanks again, Vimbly!

2 comments:

  1. That's a great post. Thanks for all your detail and illumination, it's clear you had a great time. I just did a dishcrawl last night with Dishcrawl Chicago. Not one of their better evenings, but I've gone out with them before and it's usually a great time. I will look into Vimbly, thanks to you!

    -@TasterChicago

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Chuck-- they do a great job on these tours! And disappointing to hear about your Dishcrawl experience. I have always wanted to give it a try.

      Definitely check out Vimbly the next time you're looking for some kind of experience to plan-- I'm planning on booking a cooking class with them next.

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