I love Toledo food.
That‘s what’s printed on the cover of the Toledo Flavors Food Tours brochure, given to those who take the new business’ scenic walk through the Warehouse District. If you’re not already chanting that mantra, you will be once you‘ve finished eating your way through a variety of this city’s delicious offerings.
Your group will learn about Toledo‘s history as well as plans for its future, find out tidbits of trivia about people and landmarks, and eat ... with a heavy emphasis on the eating. This is a food tour, after all.
Guides DiAnn and Mallory Guerrero -- the mother and daughter, respectively, who just started giving tours a few weeks ago, after conceiving the idea for their new business in March -- are life-long residents of the area. They’ve taken food tours in other cities, and thought it would be fun to showcase Toledo.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from a recent tour
That “everyone in the Warehouse District is very community-involved,” Mrs. Guerrero says, made it much easier to get such an intensive program initiated so quickly. There was a great deal of cooperation from historians, architects, librarians and, of course, the establishments that tour participants enjoy samples from.
Your tour starts at Packo‘s at the Park. After a brief introduction, you’re welcomed inside to sit and learn about the restaurant‘s history while enjoying an assortment of this Toledo institution’s offerings.
As you sample the famous Hungarian chili dog -- cut in half, Miss Guerrero says, because Tony himself served them in halves for 10 cents each during the Depression -- you are reminded of Jamie Farr‘s passionate longings for his hometown favorite, which he mentioned often on M*A*S*H. Fried pickles with Ranch dip, as well as sweet hot pickles and jalapenos, are also served.
Scott Radel, Tony Packo’s vice president of operations and human resources, says that his organization is proud to be a part of the tour. “We love to have you,” he says, as he smiles brightly.
Next is the beloved Garbage Salad at Grumpy’s, served along with stories of this long-time family-run business that began as a hardware store, before the supplementary food offerings became more popular than the handyman supplies.
“The Warehouse District is a gem and Toledo Flavors Food Tour highlights the best of what is has to offer!” says Maggie Bauman of Grumpy‘s.
A rich cheese danish from All Crumbs Bakery, delivered while you rest a bit at the Farmers‘ Market site, is the indulgence you’ll enjoy halfway through the tour. Be sure to save a few bites, if possible, for your next stop: Downtown Latte. The pastries are perfectly complemented by the fair trade coffee selection you‘ll sample while admiring a gallery of local artists’ work displayed in the cafe.
"We are excited to be a part of these inaugural tours,“ says Ron Novak, co-owner of Downtown Latte. ”Our neighborhood is so rich with its history, friendly people and local eateries.“
Veritas Cork & Craft, a new wine bar, will focus on cheese, breads, charcuterie, and “all the best wines in the world,” says co-owner Nick Kubiak. (The site was still under construction when I took the tour.) A beautifully presented array of caramelized pecans, Stilton, cheese curds, and hand-crafted crackers is offered for sampling, along with a sweet-tart verjus -- a non-alcoholic beverage made from unfermented, underripe grapes.
“The food tour downtown offers a fantastic journey down memory lane as food crawlers learn about the history of various buildings and the beginnings of these operations,” says Bill Kline of The Blarney, the last stop on the tour. At his restaurant, you’ll get to sample miniature shepherd‘s pies while learning about the distinctions between the Irish and American versions of this hearty dish.
There are also stops at Fifth Third Field to hear of Mud Hens expansion plans, and at Shared Lives Studio which offers programs and a gallery for artists with developmental disabilities. At the Libbey Glass Factory Outlet, you’ll discover an array of locally made products, such as Garlic Expressions vinaigrette and Almondina cookies.
“This tour is great for first time visitors to get to know Toledo or a perfect way for Toledoans to get reacquainted with their hometown,” says Veritas‘ Mr. Kubiak. “It’s a relaxing, historically interesting, and tasty exploration of the warehouse district!”
To schedule a tour, contact Toledo Flavors Food Tours at toledoflavors.com or 866-736-6343. The cost is $42 per person for the three-hour tour.
Mini Shepherd's Pie
butter or oil, for sauteing
2 ounces finely diced onion
2 ounces finely diced carrot
2 ounces finely diced parsnips
1 cup Guinness Stout
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup water
1 tablespoon demi glace base
1/3 cup green peas
8 pieces sliced white bread, for bread cups
3 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese, optional
In a sauce pot, with a little butter (or oil), sweat the onion until translucent on low heat. Add the carrots and parsnips; cook until soft. Add Guinness; simmer until the ethanol has been cooked out (couple minutes). Add the lamb; break up and brown. Add garlic powder; combine water and demi glace and add to lamb mix. Last step is to add green peas.
For the bread cups, take a good sized ice cream scoop and cut out bread circles from sliced bread. Roll each bread piece flat and firm. Place the bread circles into a mini muffin pan - bake for 10 minutes at 350*(F) degrees (until firm but not hard). Pull the mini muffin pan out, scoop meat mixture into the bread cups, scoop mashed potatoes over meat mixture.
Sprinkle shredded cheddar over the top (American version cheese - optional). Bake at 350F for 3 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: The Blarney
Grumpy's Carrot Cabbage Slaw
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped red onion
Mix together with Grumpy's delicious poppy seed dressing to taste.
Yield: 4 servings
1-1/2 ounces London Dry Gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce Rothman and Winter Creme de Violette
1 teaspoon Maraschino
Stir with ice and strain.
Yield: 1 serving
Source: Veritas Cork & Craft