Guided food tours offer participants a chance to preview several food and beverage outlets in one afternoon, in a relaxed informative atmosphere. Meeting other foodies you might want to dine with later is an added bonus.
Participants of TBEX get to choose pre- and post event tours and trips. My first pre-event tour at TBEX Europe in Stockholm, Sweden, is a guided food tour organized by Guided Food Tours in Stockholm.
Called Culinary Sodermalm, the guided food tour takes us to eight food and beverage outlets in Stockholm's trendy Sodermalm section.
Only one of the restaurants we visit serves Swedish food. When Swedes crave Swedish food, they go to Grandma's house, our guide explains.
The purpose of the guided food tour is for us to experience the types of food Stockholmers eat when they dine out, and that increasingly means international fare.
Our first stop is a Chinese restaurant, which our guide claims serves "authentic Chinese food".
"I live in Hong Kong," I boast. "Let me be the judge of that!"
Then we eat at an Italian restaurant, an Indian restaurant, a New York style deli, a contemporary rotisserie, a chocolate factory, and a locavore cafe.
All of the restaurants are good. Mostly they serve us small bites. Some of the restaurants are more generous than others.
China! Restaurang - Ringvagen 110, Stockholm Sweden. Telephone: 08-668-8771.
This Chinese restaurant is the most generous, serving three dishes, cold beer, and the BEST pickled cucumbers I have ever had. I'm serious!
Pickled cucumbers are my favourite Chinese starter, and I've never had pickled cucumbers this good in Hong Kong, where I live, or on any of my visits to China, Macau, or Taiwan!
Our guide, BTW, is VERY knowledgeable about Chinese cuisine. He can correctly identify the Eight Great Cuisines of China, something none of my Chinese friends in Hong Kong can do.
Piccolo Metro Vinbar and Deli - Olandsgatan 45A, Stockholm, Sweden. Telephone: 08-10 12 12 12.
Run by an Italian Chef from Sicily who speaks neither Swedish nor English, this wine bar and deli in my opinion serves the afternoon's best food.
Not only that, it is washed down with a glass of excellent red wine.
I ask the chef for the name of the dish, but he says it doesn't have one.
He says he made it up especially for us. Does that mean he improvised something in the kitchen after chatting with us?
And of all of our hosts for the afternoon, he is by far the most enthusiastic and out-going - with the possible exception of our personable guide.
Shanti - Katarina Bangata 58, Stockholm, Sweden. Telephone: 08 642-6722.
An excellent curry, a stir-fry, and a fresh salad are served on tin trays the way food is served in India.
If we want to drink beer, however, we have to pay for it. Kind of cheap, don't you think?
This is the only time during our tour that we suffer the indignity of having to reach for our wallets.
We are held up as a cloud burst sweeps through Stockholm, but skies quickly clear, and we continue on our way.
Urban Deli - Nytorget 4, Stockholm, Sweden.
This New York style food hall is part restaurant, part delicatessen, part supermarket. First we browse through the well-stocked aisles.
Then we pose for selfies. Then we line up for samples, which are prepared in front of our very eyes.
The mouth-watering small bites just keep on coming. And are the ever yummy!
Next to the Chinese restaurant, this outlet is the most generous with the food.
Nytorget 6 - Nytoget 6, Stockholm, Sweden. Telephone: 08 640-9655.
Serving classic dishes with a modern twist, this rotisserie serves us wonderful cocktails and excellent grilled lamb tacos fresh off the grill.
So many things to try!
Come to think of it, maybe this outlet is the most generous with the food and beverage.
Chokladfabriken - Renstiernas Gata 12, Stockholm Sweden.
Two of the tours I take include a stop at this boutique chocolate factory, but only the Guided Food Tour includes an introduction to how their mouth-watering chocolates are made.
Our sample petite four has a hint of licorice and a sprinkle of rock salt on top.
Apparently. pairing licorice and salt is as popular in Sweden as pairing lemon with dill.
They ask us to eat it and see if we can guess what it is. I guess wrong.
Couldn't I have another one to see if I can taste it now that I know what it is?
We are also served glasses of icy milk spiked with chocolate and coffee, if I remember correctly.
Fotografiska - Stadsgardskajen 22, Stockholm, Sweden.
We wind our way down to a charming cafe, which is located in the Photography Museum, housed in an imposing renovated brick structure.
The sun is shining, and the outdoor tables overlooking the harbour are packed.
The cafe's menu reflects the slow food and locavore movements, with dishes prepared using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.
We are then given a hands-on introduction to the Swedish tradition of "fika", or afternoon coffee break.
Restaurants can vary, so if you're picky you might want to check which restaurants will be featured on the the company's website.
Other food tours include Nordic Experience, Culinary Old Town, Cocktails, Bubbles, and Delicacies, Best of Sweets, Beer and Cheese Tasting, and Private Tours.
The Guided Tour was great fun on several levels. It gave us a chance to get to know other TBEX participants, and it gave us something to talk about.
I also had the pleasure of meeting two charming ladies from Finland, who were not participants of TBEX. They worked in the travel industry, and were in Stockholm specifically to preview the Guided Food Tour.
One of the benefits of taking a food tour is the chance to preview eateries you might want to eat at later. I was tempted to return to the Chinese restaurant on Monday for the weekly Peking Duck promotion!
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