Friends, I have some exciting news to share with you all: this month, I’ll begin giving weekend culinary tours of Hayes Valley.
That’s right: I’m now a member of the Gourmet Walks staff. (My bio isn’t on the page yet, but will be soon!) Gourmet Walks, founded in 2005 by Andrea Nadel, offers four different food-centric tours in and around San Francisco. The Chocolate Tour showcases the best that local chocolatiers have to offer; the Chocolate and Wine tour teaches guests how to pair fine wines and chocolates (and subsequently earn the title of Best Host or Hostess ever). Gourmet Napa highlights the freshest samplings of downtown Napa, including oysters, wine-infused chocolates, and homemade whoopie pies. And, last but not least, Gourmet San Francisco leads guests through Hayes Valley, known for its eateries, its hip residents, and its jawesome boutiques (which will, along with its restaurants, drain one’s finances, if one isn’t careful).
Yesterday, I experienced the Hayes Valley tour as a guest, and it was awesome. I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, yeah: of course Garky’s going to say that — she has a vested interest!” Point noted, friends, but guess what? I’m not hyperbolizing. True, Hayes Valley was already one of my favorite microhoods, and true, I do have a vested interest, but the tour Beth gave offered a perfect view, IMHO, of all Hayes Valley has to offer.
It helps, certainly, that yesterday’s weather was pastorally perfect. It helps too that a design festival was being held at Patricia’s Green, so the whole neighborhood was alive & abustle. These factors aside, Beth’s knowledge of the ‘hood, of each food vendor, and of Bay Area culinary history was rock solid. Guests asked about the workings of the Hayes Valley Farm, about the origin of the cheeses we sampled at Arlequin, about Sake in General, and Beth fielded them deftly.
Then there was the sampling. Oh, the sampling: what would a culinary tour be without it? When Gourmet Walks advertises that the samples will be “enough for lunch,” they aren’t kidding. Beginning with preserved meats at Fatted Calf, we munched our way through piles of sweets, nibbled cheeses, and sipped some of the most fabulous cocktails in this quadrant of the city. I’d like to go into greater detail here, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises of the tour(!) Trust me when I say that the last stop (at a new, much-lauded saloon) has made me a rum convert. (Photo from gourmetwalks.com)
Yep, I’m stoked to be joining the Gourmet Walks family. Hayes Valley is my favorite microhood (after my own), and I’m proud that I’ll be sharing its charms with tourists and locals alike. Prior to my first tour, I’m going to beef up my HV knowledge by reading up on the history of the neighborhood, chatting with merchants, and (duh) sampling and re-sampling all the neighborhood sweets. One can never have too much experience when it comes to sampling macarons, amirite? (I am right.)