I don't know about you, but when planning a vacation my first line of research usually includes food. I'm looking for quality restaurants - not tourist attractions - something frequented by locals as that usually means a good meal. Unfortunately, time doesn't always allow the luxury to explore as many options as I'd like, and I've on occasion turned to local food tours, most recently in my own home town of Carlsbad, California.
Calling Carlsbad my home for some 18 years I've spent many an hour exploring all corners of our quaint downtown village, but locals like me as well as out of town visitors alike will enjoy a walking Carlsbad Food Tour. Conducted by the lovely Cherimaire Poulos (retired nurse turned local foodie and Carlsbad historian), the tour wanders some 3 hours through downtown Carlsbad stopping at a some of our oldest restaurants as well a few new shops
First up Chermarie took us directly across from our meeting place of Grand and State Streets to the family owned and operated Caldo Pomodoro. A popular Italian eatery since 1991, I've visited often and craved their buttery garlic bread sticks since my first visit. But while we've enjoyed glasses of wine on their patio, I didn't know the history of the restaurant, nor some of the fun stories that make up its history until Chermaire and the owner brought them to life.
And speaking of Italian, just a few doors down we stopped at the new Vigilucci's Gourmet Market immediately transporting you to a street corner in Rome where you'll find everything you need to prepare your own fine Italian meal. Filled with imported pastas, boutique wines, salami and cheeses, and meals to go, Vigilucci's Market brings the sights, aromas and tastes of Italy to State Street, Carlsbad.
Directly across the street we found another new Carlsbad shop, Humble Olive Oils, and oh my heavens I've found my new happy place. Surrounded with oils and vinegars of nearly every flavor imaginable our tour guests tasted to our heart's content and many of us left with a new flavor (or two) to take home. Also a family owned and run establishment, a tasting at Humble Olive Oils is a unique and fun stop on the tour.
Continuing our wandering we tasted wine a the Whitch Creek Winery, Eggplant Sliders at Gregorios, tender cinnamon rolls at another family run shop - Cafe Topes - and paninis on the patio at the dog-friendly Cafe Panini.
But what's a tour without dessert? Chermarie knew just where to take us in Carlsbad - the corner of State and Carlsbad Village Drive to the Chocolate Bar. With aromas of coffee greeting us before we reached the corner, the coffee bar is a local favorite stop to unwind with a little chocolate taste and a freshly brewed cup. And the perfect ending to our leisurely walking tour of Carlsbad, Village by the Sea.
For more information visit Carlsbad Food Tours. Providing the food tour I attended as well as a Sweet and Savory version featuring a stop to our local Farmer's Market on Wednesday's, Cherimarie brings Carlsbad to life filling in the history and stories of our little village by the sea as you taste along the way.