Cornelius residents John and Becky Barger have shared many worldly adventures with their long-time friends Craig and Nancy Perryman, including hiking the Matterhorn together. Wanting to show off Davidson to her guests from Lexington, Becky decided to try something new to all of them, a food tour.
Billed as an “eat, drink and walk” type of tour, the experience was even more appealing to the group. “We love to dine and hike together, so this was perfect,” said Barger.
Davidson resident Teresa Blake has been a tour guide with Tour De Food almost since the beginning. Blake took the tour in June 2012 with the owner, Lisa Shnurr. Enjoying the tour so much, she told Schnurr that if she ever needed a tour guide, to give her a call. “She called the next day,” said Blake.
Schnurr, a Huntersville resident, started Tour De Food in Davidson in May 2012. The business has expanded to hosting multiple tours in Charlotte and Winston-Salem as well. Schnurr estimates the tours have served about 7,500 customers since 2012, with a portion from every ticket sale going to the Second Harvest Food Bank.
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Blake said she usually has a crowd of 12 to 13 people, but weather can affect the number. Each restaurant chooses what it will serve; patrons won’t go hungry.
“Now I will warn you, in Davidson our tastings are not small,” she said.
Each restaurant knows when the group will arrive so the food is be ready close to their arrival. The group spends approximately 20 minutes at each establishment and water would be provided .
Participants can purchase other beverages to pair with the tastings.
The Barger and Peryman tour started with Joseph Hawk, general manager of the Brickhouse Tavern, presenting the group with a barbecue pork rib accompanied by a baguette, paired with a sparkling cider. Hawk answered questions about the food and the history of the business.
During a brief walk to the next stop, Blake stopped several times to tell the visitors about the history of Davidson College and the homes in the area. Both couples said they were history buffs and wanted to learn all they could.
Brandy Goodman, manager of the Toasted Café, was happy to tell the group about how they puree the berries and mix them into the batter for their raspberry walnut pancakes. Goodman said that breakfast foods were their specialty. The tasting included thick cut Hormel bacon and red potato hash browns.
A quick walk in the rain led to oldest restaurant in town, The Soda Shop. Misty Utech, the general manager, served the group sandwiches that were made following the recipe that was formulated when they opened in 1951. Deep fried green beans, cottage fries and sweet potato fries complemented the sandwiches.
“Leave it to the South to take a healthy vegetable and deep fry it,” Blake said.
The meal was paired with a White and Black chocolate milkshake.
Going for dessert at the fourth stop, the South Main Sweet Shop, the group was presented with mellow creams, cookies and artesian chocolates for tasting. Caryl Leone, co-owner of the shop, was speaking on the health benefits of chocolate when she caught Craig Perryman’s attention. Purchasing some fudge and licking his lips, he said, “I love chocolate.”
More history was shared as the group made their way to Fuel Pizza, where Michael Rogers, assistant general manager, served up a hot Riviera pizza — a vegetable pizza with artichoke hearts, olives, spinach and tomatoes.
“I really liked that the pizza was healthy,” Nancy Perryman said.
The final stop treated the guests to a private visit with Campania owner Vinnie DiGiorgio and his wife, Jennifer, as they served portobella ravioli with red wine. John Barger especially enjoyed talking about the dishes he had experienced there before.
The group was hard-pressed to pick a favorite spot or a favorite taste.
Craig Perryman gave the last dish the highest praise, while Nancy enjoyed the rib and “That pancake was just like dessert.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
Wnat to go?
Teresa Blake leads the approximately 1.6 mile tours, from 1:30-4:30 p.m., on the first and third Saturday of each month, weather permitting, except December. The cost is $50 per person to sample tastings from six downtown eateries.
Tour De Food: www.tourdefood.com