• Lisa Marie

Taste History Culinary Tour

I've never been on a food tour before, nor did I realize the fun I was missing out on until I signed up for "The Taste History Culinary Tour." It starts off with a small group of 10-15 people meeting at the east entrance of Macy's in Boynton Beach. We embarked on a private bus to tour the Delray and Boynton Beach area. I thought that we were going to do some tasting at a few restaurants and see some art/history, but the "Taste History Culinary Tour" offered so much more than I could have ever imagined!

The tour offers a cultural experience with tastings at bakeries and hidden gems in the Delray and Boynton Beach area. I was able to taste food from across the globe, including Jamaica, Cuba, Central/South America, Italy/Sicily, France, Guyana, and America. As you eat, you learn about food culture, the history of the area, the story behind the restaurant owners, and you get to meet some local artists in the art district.

Our tour guide, Lori Durante, was absolutely incredible! She's a sponge filled with history about the Delray and Boynton Beach area. She's extremely gregarious, and I truly enjoyed spending my afternoon with her. She was always smiling, and she does a great job of keeping the tour focused on its goals - eating, drinking, and learning. By the end of the trip, she feels like one of your friends.

The public tours travel to West Palm Beach on first Saturdays; Lake Worth and Lantana on second Saturdays; and to Delray Beach and Boynton Beach on third and fourth Saturdays (this is the tour I completed). In addition, tours are offered during weekdays. The tour last about four hours, but the time flies by because you're eating, walking, driving on the bus, and meeting great chefs, managers, and artists. I would like to take you through the tour to show you all the great things we saw, did, and tasted!

1. Sweet's Sensational Jamaican Restaurant in Delray Beach (located on Historic SW 5th Avenue) This was our first stop! As most of you know, my parents are Jamaican so I was pleased to start the tour with my parent's homeland. Sweet's, the name of the owner, provided a beautiful spread of Jamaican delicacies for us to try. She served rice and peas, brown stew chicken, curry goat, oxtail, plantain, and beef patties. The food was very authentic and rich in flavor. I was especially fond of the curry goat and the brown stew chicken.

This restaurant is cozy ( holding about 10-15 sit down guest), but the food and Sweet's personality creates a big bang! I'm so proud to see a tasty Jamaican restaurant in Delray Beach! Make sure you stop by "Sweet's Sensational Jamaican Restaurant" for a bite to eat, and remember to ask her the infamous story of how she got her name!


2. Cafe Bleu in Downtown Delray Beach (located in the historic 1924 Masonic Lodge Building) Our second location was rather interesting. It's an ecletic coffee house that serves wine, coffee, sandwiches, pizza, and desserts. It's a great place to catch a bite, meet a friend, or get some work done.

The manager of seven years, Tyler Schear, was extremely gracious and provided pizza slices, cookies, wine, and cold beverages. Everything was great! I'm actually still thinking about their chocolate chip cookies.They are so yummy!


3. Cabana El Rey in Downtown Delray Beach This restaurant has its roots in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. It is one of three restaurants that boast this great name, the other two are in New York (Midtown and Forest Hill). First, we were served pear infused mojitos that had vodka and sugar cane. I'm not a big drinker, but these were very good! It was extremely refreshing with a nice twist from the pear and sugarcane. I loved it!

Then, Chef Roberto, the main chef at the restaurant, served us beef empanadas. I can honestly say that the empanadas are on my top 5 list! They are amazing!


4. Bamboo Fire Cafe in Pineapple Grove Arts District in Downtown Delray Beach

Our fourth stop was a Caribbean restaurant that has been in this location for eight years. However, the owners are Guyanese so the food served has a Guyanese twist. I was extremely excited to taste the food because my father-in-law is Guyanese and there are not many Guyanese inspired restaurants in South Florida.

Here we met Chef Beverly. She served jerk meatballs, macaroni, codfish, and a lemonade with a secret recipe. Chef Beverly may let you guess the ingredients of her sweet lemonade, but she is definitely not sharing her secret! I enjoyed the fish and macaroni. The fish was moist and nicely paired with a complimentary sauce and the macaroni was quite tasty.


5. Art District - we were able to meet so many talented artist!

a. Amanda James Gallery in Downtown Boynton Beach/Avenue of the Arts District

The tour takes you to a gallery where you can see original work by Amanda and her husband James. We met Amanda on the tour. She shared her story and told us about her pieces. The left side of the gallery wall is covered with contemporary pieces completed by James and the right side of the wall has Amanda's softer, more feminine touch. The middle of the gallery is draped with hand-painted prints, cushions, and kitchenware that she has hand-painted as well. The gallery is a little warm due to the summer heat, but the pieces are so beautiful that it's worth the trip.


b. Boynton Beach Industrial Arts District

The art district is forever evolving and becoming a stronger presence in Boynton Beach. On the tour, I met a few artists (Michael Kupillas, Thom McAvoy and Dianette Doyle) that have so much in common, yet they were all so different. They are all so talented and passionate about their work, yet their talents are so unique and specific to their style. It was nice seeing these artist in their element and work atmosphere.


6. The French Bakery and Cafe in Delray Beach

Upon entering this bakery, I felt as if the bus had dropped us off in Paris. The bakery is beautifully decorated and the food provided great accents for your palate and the decor. My eyes lit up as I saw fresh bread, croissants, coconut macaroons, and nicely arranged French butter cookies.

The owner shared so much knowledge about the difference between bakeries in France and the United States. He is so passionate about the art of baking, decorating, and sharing the French experience that you can see that he puts his heart into every piece of dough that leaves this bakery. The desserts are absolutely incredible. My absolute favorite were the croissants. If I close my eyes, I can taste them right now. They are fabulous!


7. Palernos Bakery

Our last stop was a Sicilian bakery. They take pride in maintaining and sharing their 125 year old Sicilian recipes with the community. I honestly didn't eat too much at this stop because the August summer heat was raising it's ugly head by the end of the tour and I was full by this point (you'll see how full you'll be when you're on the tour). However, the bakery filled two tables worth of sweets for the tour guest to choose from, and the other tour guests seemed to enjoy it. I was more amazed by the European history embedded in this restaurant. The bakery is very spacious and seem to bake almost everything from bread to cupcakes/cakes, to traditional Sicilian desserts. I'll have to come back and try the desserts here on an empty stomach.

As you can see, I had a phenomenal day out with "Taste History Culinary Tour." I would recommend this tour for vacationers, a way to entertain your out-of-town guests, for Florida residents that want to taste and learn about their surrounding area, or even as a great date idea. For more information about the tour, call 561-243-2662 or 561-638-8277. Email tour@tastehistoryculinarytours.org


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