The summer months are a slower time for the tour- Chad and I were joined by one other couple, a fun pair from Australia. Along with our tour guide, Reed, we were a small group of just five. We met at 11:45am in front of our first stop- Prato. Prato is described as a “Modern Rustic Italian Bistro”. Reed had ordered us a couple of pizzas to sample. I decided to abandon my Vegetarian ways to experience the full tour, however, Chad stuck with a strict veggie based menu.
The first was called The Widow Maker– a spicy tomato based pie with fennel sausage, caciocavallo cheese, arugula and a farm fresh egg. I thought it was excellent. It was perfectly spiced and the egg was softly cooked so it was easy to dip the pizza into the yolk. Pretty delicious.
The second pizza was a Margherita version, with pureed tomatoes, fior di latte (cow’s milk mozzarella) and fresh basil. It was good, though nothing special. It sounds fancy on the menu but it really is just tomato sauce, cheese and basil.
It was a short walk to our next stop- The Ancient Olive. This is a fabulous store with a large selection of single varietal flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We spent about 15 minutes learning about the techniques of making olive oils and trying various flavors. Olive oil, surprisingly, is quite good on its own.
We were given a plate of crackers with a cheese spread topped with a cranberry spread.
We also tried a blueberry balsamic vinegar poured over vanilla ice cream. Who thought of enjoying ice cream topped with flavored vinegar? It was delicious we returned after the tour and picked up a bottle of maple balsamic vinegar to bring home with us.
After having an opportunity to walk around and sample some of the different oils and vinegars, we spent about 20 minutes walking through a residential area and learning a little about the history of Winter Park. We eventually made it our third foodie stop- The Spice and Tea Exchange.
We were invited to sample kale chips and hummus with pita chips.
They had also prepared some Green Tea Brownies with Caramel Salt.
We were invited to explore the shop a little further, opening jars of spices and teas, and plotting our purchases. As we were on a tight schedule, we are asked to not spend our time shopping, but of course after the tour we are encouraged to revisit any of the shops on the tour.
Our next visit was to Orchid Thai Cuisine where the kitchen had prepared a selection of their small plates for the tour. We sampled chicken satay, steamed dumplings and crab puffs. Honestly, this was my least favorite of all the stops. The food was just average, the same cuisine you would get at any corner Chinese restaurant.
Chad was given a plate of summer rolls and a garden salad as his Vegetarian option.
The fifth stop was to Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream where we sampled the ice cream and fudge. It was a rather quick stop but the ice cream was nice on such a hot Florida day.
The last stop was to the Sassafras Sweete Shoppe where we all split a cotton candy. This was the shortest stop- we basically just stepped into the store for cotton candy.
And then it was over. A quick goodbye to our tour guide and our new Australian friends and Chad and I were off to revisit some of the shops on the tour. The one thing I was thrilled to find was Cheerwine at the candy shop. Reminds me of our recent trip through South Carolina.
We also found bacon body wash at the candy store. Um, that is a purchase we didn’t make.
The tour was a lot of fun. I am not 100% convinced if it worth the $47 ticket price but there seems to be a lot of coupons out there. We found one for a 20% discount which made the tour $41 a piece. It is certainly a fun way to spend an afternoon and we definitely learned a few new things about Winter Park. One piece of advice, do not book in the summer time during their slow season- you don’t get the same food that you will get during the busier times. For instance, Orchid Thai serves mussels when the group is larger instead of the generic appetizers we got. Or so I have been told by others who have taken the tour and shared the pictures.
I think the tour is a lot of fun if you are paired with a group of fun people. Lucky for us we were as the other couple with us were very friendly and engaging. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as you will walk about a mile and a half and bring an umbrella, the tour operated rain or shine.
For more information visit the Orlando Food Tours website
I have also included the Urbanspoon links of the various places we visited on the tour. Click on any of the marquees below to read more about each stop and read the reviews.