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Taste History Culinary Tours

April 29, 2012 by Joan Nova in "Foodie" Activities, Florida, Food Tours, Travel | 17 Comments

What an adventure I had on Saturday … I was educated, inspired and satiated, all in my own neighborhood.

I’d been mildly aware of the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History but my antennae went up recently when I heard they were conducting cultural-historical-food tours in Boynton Beach and Delray Beach … which is where I live. Their trademark tagline is “There’s history in every bite.” And we got our fill of each!

The museum is operated as a non-profit and, sadly, recently lost its space so the collections are in storage while the search is on for a new home. But, their less than a year old tours are thriving. The one I went on pretty much filled their nice vehicle.

Unfortunately, our day started out rainy (it’s a rain or shine tour), but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit and when it counted (time to walk or eat!), it let up. Praise be!

What I learned. (So much.)

The trip was narrated by Lori Durante (more about her later – she deserves a full paragraph) with a running historical dialogue of Florida in all its various incarnations from discovery to farmland to industrialization. We heard about the Creek and Seminole natives, the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, and other original discovers of note like Hernando de Soto; the actual territory and its subsequent expansion; the early 1900′s settlers who were responsible for its growth and population; the booms, depressions, race relations; and more.

Linton, Boynton, Swinton, Flagler, etc. (the streets I cross frequently) came alive with the history of whom they were named after and what their specific contributions were to the area.

As we learned the history, we drove around and stopped at various buildings of historic and/or architectural note and toured historic neighborhoods. I was particularly impressed with our visit to the West Settlers District which was founded in the late 1800s by African and runaway American slaves.

We met Dee Dee, a wonderful hard-working woman who greeted us with her 2 children. She makes the best conch fritter I ever had which is served with a spicy remoulade-type sauce. We also got a bite of ribs.

On foot now, we made a few stops along Altantic Avenue (Delray’s ‘downtown’). We stopped for an authentic Neopolitan pizza making (and tasting) demonstration at Scuola Vecchia.

I was amazed that it took only 90 seconds in a 900 degree oven for the pizza to cook and be served to us.

Then we visited the historic Colony Hotel for a look around (it’s quite picturesque but I’ve been there before).

And then we were off again. Next stop was Marianne’s Gourmet Shop where we were greeted by the chef and a table of goodies (pesto cheese + crackers, corn + bean dip and yummy cookies).

In Boynton Beach, we visited the Secret Garden Cafe which operates an urban garden and donates 12% of its sales to the Community Caring Center’s nutrition education programs for seniors, adults and kids in need. The Cafe also operates a sustainable food market and bakery on the premises. They gave us grass-fed beef sliders (along with a warning that USDA certified grass fed beef packaged and sold in supermarkets is only certifing that the cow ate grass for its last 180 days before slaughter).

Our last taste was Palermo’s traditional cassata cake. The bakery owner met us in Macy’s where they had a table set up for her to demonstrate the cake-making process and give us a taste.

I’d heard that Palermo’s was a good bakery although I’d never been there and I was impressed to learn from the owner that she doesn’t believe in sugar and uses honey; she’s also very conscious of offering authentic Sicilian pastries. And I heard her mention something about Bravo and a reality TV program in the works!

[The tour was reasonably priced at $35 for 4 full hours, including the food and a few discounts in our goodie bag. I must note that each food sponsor was very engaging with the group and gave generous portions. I was so full by the end of the tour, that all I could eat for dinner later was a salad ... and a glass of wine. :) ]

And about Lori J. Durante (photo lifted from her facebook page).
It turns out she was not only our guide, she is the curator and executive director of the museum. She is the voice, face and brains of it all and she is wildly impressive.

Even a casual visitor to FOODalogue knows I’ve traveled a lot and, therefore, been exposed to a myriad number of guides all over the world. Lori ranks right up there with the best of them. She is unbelievably (and unscripted) knowledgeable and her passion is palpable. I was enticed by her voice and narrative style which was strong, clear, and commanding … so important for a guide.

You may even know for a short period of time, I was the group leader for organized tour groups. As such, I know how difficult it is to keep a group under control and sticking to a schedule. Lori did an A+ job.

I would highly recommend the experience as ‘satisfying on all levels’. In fact, I hope to take the Lake Worth and Lantana tour one day.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

17 Comments

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  1. Thanks so much for the awesome Blog post about the Taste History Culinary Tours. Look forward to seeing you on a future tour.

  2. What a fabulous tour. And all in your own back yard. I wish someone would do something like this over on our coast. How wonderful to discover those good conch fritters with the spicy sauce. Some cooks have a knack for making good fritters. Must know a secret or two.
    Sam
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen recently posted..Arugula tossed in a Truffle Oil & Sherry Vinaigrette – a 5 Star French SaladMy Profile

  3. bellini says:

    I just love these kind of tours and try to seek them out when ever I travel, which isn’t often enough!

  4. Great write-up Joan, you expressed the experience of this tour perfectly. It was an interesting day, I learned a lot about the area and found a few places I will visit again. The only drawback for me was that Palermo’s was demonstrated at Macy’s and I would have perferred to have visited the bakery, which I will do very soon. The cassata was very good! Lori was full of knowledge.
    Patricia Durr recently posted..Worth Ave, West Palm Beach where the Rich and Famous ShopMy Profile

    • Joan says:

      Thanks. You’re right. I agree I would have preferred to visit the bakery, but Macy’s is a sponsor of the tour and they gave us a discount coupon so I guess it’s their way of getting us in there and spending. :)

  5. Wow! I just love the idea of “tasting history.” And I love it when you share your food tours. This is definitely a tour I would love to take. And I could almost swim to Florida right now for a really good conch fritter. I like to waltz down memory lane with you, Joan.
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Pretty Simplicity: Easy Mini CheesecakesMy Profile

  6. I’m just waiting to hear you are ready to visit!
    Flavors of the Sun recently posted..Pretty Simplicity: Easy Mini CheesecakesMy Profile

  7. Joan says:

    From Carole:

    This sounded wonderful, what a great experience right in your own back yard…trust me the price was so reasonable..and with “food” . So glad you posted it and gave us such a great narrative with pics

  8. Shannon says:

    how cool!! that pizza looks fantastic :) 90 seconds? crazy.

  9. Laz says:

    Another fabulous food tour. Your photos get better and better. Amazing how quick those oven cook the pizzas. Those oven are worth every penny.

    Glad you had a great time despite the weather.

  10. Vicki says:

    Wow I really want to go on that tour!
    What a fabulous way to spend a rainy day at the beach!
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. Robin Sue says:

    What a wonderful tour! So nice to learn all about history and food right there in your own neighborhood. A very nice write up on Lori too- more will surely be lining up for her tours now!
    Robin Sue recently posted..Bulletproof Coffee- Plus Three Buttered Coffee RecipesMy Profile

  12. This is something that I would love to do next time I visit and definitely eat some conch fritters…
    Platanos, Mangoes and Me! recently posted..PRESS RELEASE – “CIAO FIORE” A VIRTUAL RESTAURANTMy Profile

  13. Eleanor Hoh says:

    You always manage to draw me in to whatever you write about. Thanks for the tour, Joan.

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