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Groups Today March April 2017 : Page 12


What’s on the Menu and Itinerary? Edibles and experiences.

Cassie Westrate

When you travel, you gotta eat.

But these days, food isn’t only about where to grab a bite between activities. Culinary travel is on the rise and travelers are pursuing unique and memorable eating experiences. In these prime foodie destinations, appetites hit the street—for delectable dishes and activities to quench interests.

Detroit, Michigan

This Midwest metropolis is far from meat and potatoes alone.

From farm-to-table, to tapas and ethnic cuisine, Detroit’s culinary scene offers an array of options. Eastern Market, filled with more than 225 vendors and 40,000 people every Saturday, has nourished the city for 125 years. Several ethnic neighborhoods also add to the Motor City’s flavor.

Find Polish cuisine in Hamtramck, head to Corktown for Irish and visit Dearborn for various Middle Eastern delights. The well-known Greektown and Mexicantown are popular, and barbecue is on the rise.

Feet on the Street Tours’ “Delish Detroit” jaunts lead visitors through culinary adventures, from informal tastings and food crawls to upscale progressive dining tours.

No Detroit trip is complete without the world-famous, chili-smothered Coney dog. The rivalry between neighbors American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island for the best of this city’s culinary staple has been cooking for decades. Try both and decide for yourself.

Dubuque, Iowa

“Dubuque offers guests a true taste of Midwestern hospitality,” said Whitney Sanger, Sales Manager, Dubuque Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Find it on the Historic Progressive Dinner or the Dubuque Food Tour, introducing you to places such as Cremer’s Turkey & Dressing, the city’s last family-owned grocery store plating a steaming hot turkey and dressing sandwich.

When you think Iowa, do you think cornfields? Farm-to-fork is alive and well, and during Driftless Farm & Food Fest, local farms and community-based projects open their doors for a 100-mile, self-guided tour, complete with tastings and demonstrations.

Dubuque also hosts the Tri-States Largest Chili Cook-Off and the Taste of Dubuque, whose vendors offer easy sampling of the city’s best food.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is known for this trio: hot chicken, barbecue, and traditional Southern meat and threes.

Hot chicken—fried chicken breaded and coated with spices (and typically heavy on the cayenne)—is a Nashville original available in four heat levels: mild, medium, hot and very hot. Challenge your taste buds at Prince’s Hot Chicken, Hattie B’s, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish and others.

There isn’t one style of barbecue, and in Nashville you’ll find it all. At Edley’s Barb-B-Que, chase down your meal with an alcohol-infused, creamy, “bushwacker” milkshake.

If you’re looking for hearty, Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Swett’s Restaurant and Copper Kettle are famous for meat and threes. Get your fill of collard greens, fried okra, and macaroni and cheese—which counts as a vegetable in the South.

For guidance along the way, try tours such as Local Tastes of Nashville, Walk Eat Nashville and more.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Louisiana roots run deep in an ethnic potluck.

“Add a dash of country comfort and a pinch of sophistication, and you’ve got a recipe for the best food on the planet,” said Barry Landry, Director of Communications, Louisiana Office of Tourism.

You'll find gumbo, jambalaya and étouffée among notable Creole and Cajun dishes. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum offers cooking demonstrations and exhibits explaining the history and evolution of local food. New Orleans School of Cooking offers daily classes in the French Quarter.

“We don’t just eat and drink,” said Landry. “We plan our lives around the culinary seasons.”

Mardi Gras ushers in the year with king cakes, followed by crawfish boils in the spring. You could slurp sno-balls and crack crabs in the summer, and warm yourself up with gumbo during autumn tailgating.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love has been lauded for its food scene.

Find Philadelphia’s famous hoagies, scrapple and cheesesteaks (you could sample five on the Philly Tour Hub’s two-hour Cheesesteak Tour), as well as soft pretzels and water ice—a cool, refreshing mixture of ice, fruit juice and fresh fruit.

Philadelphia combines chef-driven restaurants led by the likes of Iron Chefs Garces and Morimoto and Top Chefs Sbraga and Elmi, with intimate, bring-your-own-bottle locations featuring innovative and eclectic cuisine.

Home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and other historic icons, the city also claims historical foodie landmarks: South Philadelphia’s Italian market is the oldest and largest working outdoor market in the United States; Reading Terminal Market, the country’s oldest continuously operating farmers market, features dozens of local merchants.

Portland, Oregon

Portland visitors have their pick of distinctive culinary experiences.

The city’s 600-plus food carts are a great way to taste its diverse culinary offerings. The carts, broken into pods acting as neighborhood gathering spaces, offer a unique Portland culture experience. Cartopia is among the most-loved. Try Pyro Pizza for wood-fired pizza and homemade soda or Chicken and Guns for naturally raised chicken.

Tour the food carts alone, or try Forktown Food Tours to visit upscale restaurants and casual eateries as well. Guides share stories of local culture, history and culinary inspiration along the way as you sample seasonal small plates, creative sandwiches and ethnic bites with local ingredients.

Check out Portland’s famed doughnut shops, such as the quirky Voodoo Doughnut, or learn about Portland’s coffee history with Third Wave Coffee Tours.

With access to fresh ingredients from fertile Willamette Valley, Portland is renowned for pioneering the local food movement—so expect fresh, local and organic.

Sacramento, California

“While farm-to-fork might just be a fad in some cities, it really is a way of life in the Sacramento region,” said Kari Miskit, Director of Public Relations, Visit Sacramento. “Whether you’re sitting down to an elegant dinner here or grabbing a burger, your meal will be fresh and delicious.”

Sacramento is surrounded by 1.5 million acres of farmland, and the perennial growing season produces fresh food that fills restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets and even the city’s hotels, convention center and new sports arena.

Fresh food makes for fresh experiences. Visit the year-round farmers markets. Take cooking classes
—ranging from butchering lessons to sushi-making. For lessons in culinary history, explore eateries with the Local Roots walking food tours.

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