Walk on the Wine Side
Take in the sights—along with scrumptious sips and bites—on these vinocentric city tours.
Beth Huch of StL Culinary Tours leads groups of no more than 10 foodies on enthusiastic, upscale tours of different food-focused 'nabes in St. Louis. You'll hit inventive cocktail and restaurant hot spots like Water Street, the Four Season's Mediterranean Cielo—where guests dine at a chef's table—and wine-focused Italian eatery Acero, in the up-and-coming Maplewood neighborhood. Just don't try to eat it all: A typical tour can feature more than 10 courses, each with a wine or cocktail pairing. Prices vary.
On the three-hour Gourmet Napa Walking Tour, oenophiles will cover a mile of gourmet territory and seven tasting stops, starting at the Oxbow Market in downtown Napa. With groups limited to 12 people, you're sure to get one-on-one time with local artisans and winemakers. Tastings might include breakfast tacos from sustainable taqueria C Casa, charcuterie from the Fatted Calf and custom flights from multiple wineries at the Vintner's Collective, a downtown tasting room representing some 20 winemakers from Napa Valley. The icing on the cake? All participants will leave with a list of wine country restaurant recommendations for later in the day.
Baltimore's three centuries of rich food culture are often overlooked. Not so on one of Charm City's six comprehensive tours. On the three-hour Fell's Point Food walk, you'll take in traditional Baltimore pit beef, fourth-generation Greek family recipes, locally brewed beer and authentic Eastern European dishes at a handful of restaurants and bars, like Ze Mean Bean Café, One Eyed Mike's (the site of the world's first Grand Marnier Club) and Todd Conner's, which serves up ‚"adult PB & Js" (fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served with white Russian cocktails). Bring comfortable shoes: You stroll mostly cobblestone streets.
Though Melting Pot offers multiple food-focused tours to a variety of Los Angeles neighborhoods like East L.A. and Thai town, opt for the Old Pasadena tour, which starts with a wine tasting of small-production California reds and whites at Everson Royce wine shop or Vertical Wine Bistro. You then move along to artisan chocolatiers and ethnic eateries—often including tastes of Middle Eastern, Asian, Peruvian and Oaxacan cuisines—along with additional wine- and cocktail-tasting opportunities at Equator and Choza Mama, where guests typically sample Latin American wines.
Try out these cocktails at home, straight off the gourmet walking trails:
Water Street Cocktail
Recipe courtesy Gabriel Kveton, co-owner of Water Street, St. Louis
1 ounce Death’s Door gin
Champagne to top
St-Germain foam (recipe to follow)
3 egg whites
½ cup St-Germain liqueur
1 tablespoon lime juice (no pulp)
Add egg whites, St-Germain and lime to iSi soda charger, shake and top cocktail.
Fill Champagne coupe with gin and top with Champagne. Top off cocktail with St-Germain foam.
Recipe courtesy Arnaud’s, New Orleans
1¼ ounces Cognac
¼ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce simple syrup
3½ ounces Champagne
Lemon peel, for garnish
Pour Cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with lemon peel.
Recipe adapted from Todd Conner's, Baltimore
2 pieces of Texas toast
2 ounces creamy peanut butter
2 ounces grape jelly
French toast batter (recipe to follow)
French toast batter
⅛ cup half and half
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
Spread peanut butter and jelly on Texas toast. Dip in French toast batter. Wrap and place in freezer till solid. Fry sandwich for 3½ to 4 minutes until the outside is crispy and the inside is warm and gooey. Cool for one minute before slicing into quarters. Serve with White Russian cocktail. Serves 1
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce Kahlua
1 ounce cream
Combine in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well until cool and frothy. Strain into a highball glass over ice.