“If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one food with you, what would it be?” she asked. I gave that some thought and figured I wouldn’t be too worried about my longevity or my weight in those circumstances. “Fried chicken,” I said.
Given the choice of a dessert, my answer would be chocolate chip cookies. I consider myself an aficionado of the delectable sweet and have sampled thousands in my life. And that day I may have found the best one I ever had.
I was taking the Grant Park Past & Present Food Walk with Atlanta Food Walks, and our guide, Margaret Spencer, started our tour with the question about our favorite food. We were standing in the warm sunshine and I was thrilled to be heading out for restaurant tastings and a walk around this historic neighborhood.
My favorite way to get to know a city is through a food tour. You get exercise, you learn the culture and history of a city and taste local dishes. If you can schedule it at the beginning of your stay you have the opportunity to eat a meal at your favorite restaurants and learn more about the destination from a local.
A few years ago I went on the Downtown Southern Food Walk with Atlanta Food Walks that included tastings at seven delicious restaurants, from soul food to creole, along with stories about the civil rights movement in Atlanta.
But why limit tours to when you travel? I’ve done several food tours in my hometown of Atlanta and enjoyed the same benefits of learning more about my city and enjoying restaurants where I’ve never been.
We ended the tour at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and as I looked around at the various stalls I realized I’ve made an effort to visit similar markets when I’ve traveled around the world but hadn’t bothered to go just a few miles to visit this one in my own city.
While I’ve been to one of the restaurants on the Grant Park Tour and have visited Historic Oakland Cemetery, I wanted to try the other restaurants and learn more about Oakland.
The tour was well-organized, informative and yes, delicious. Here’s what we sampled:
Six Feet Under
Blackened shrimp and grits with grilled asparagus, cotija cheese, crispy fried onions
Catfish fingers and okra fries with cucumber wasabi soy and sweet chili vinaigrette dipping sauces
Firepit Pizza Tavern
Pork belly toast with tomato jam, goat cheese and basil
Handmade pretzel with cheese dip
My Little Pony Punch cocktail
Little Tart Bakery and Cafe
Whole wheat chocolate chip cookie
Apple cheddar turnover
Our dessert was offered to-go, which was both good and bad. Good because I was kind of full from the tastings, but bad because I shared them with my husband. Had I known how amazing that chocolate chip cookie was I would have been tempted to eat it all myself.
But hey, this way when I suggest to him we head back to Little Tart for more of those cookies, I know he’ll enthusiastically agree.
– Jan Schroder, Editor-in-chief