City Food Tours Philadelphia Provide A Fine Guide For Foodies
City Food Tours Philadelphia offers a unique set of gustatory tours for foodies, with a tour for nearly every taste and interest.
Out of the many choices, we decided to embark upon the Decadent Gourmet Tour, as we were most interested in the chocolate and gelato offered upon it. And we were most certainly, not disappointed. (And we aren’t foodies, either.) We found the Decadent Gourmet Tour to be both highly educational and entertaining.
Our City Food Tours Philadelphia Review of The Decadent Gourmet Tour
The Decadent Gourmet Tour is offered Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 PM, and lasts for approximately 2 ½ hours. Although a walking tour, City Food Tours Philadelphia notes that “there is less than 20 minutes of actual walking involved." They are correct, as there are only three stops to the tour, including DiBruno’s, where you convene initially to take the Decadent Gourmet Tour.
The Decadent Gourmet Tour is divided – like ancient Gaul, as Julius Caesar put it – into three parts. The first is cheese tasting at DiBruno’s, located at 1730 Chestnut Street. The second is chocolate tasting at Naked Chocolate. The third is blind gelato tasting at Capogiro Gelato Café. Let’s review each, in turn.
City Food Tours Philadelphia - Decadent Gourmet Tour - Meeting Place/First Stop - DiBruno's
You arrive to start your tour at DiBruno’s.
Important Note: not all City Food Tours Philadelphia begin at the same place - this is just where this particular tour, the Decadent Gourmet tour starts.
It happens that the Decadent Gourmet Tour begins in a highly convenient location, very close to SEPTA Regional Rail service at Suburban Station, as well as the Shops at Liberty Place. Your guide, wearing a burgundy City Food Tours shirt, will check off your name, give you the basics of the tour, and distribute clip on tags reading “CFT Guest”. You are given a complimentary bottle of water (which you’ll need, trust us! There will be a maximum of 12 people on your tour, as City Food Tours has found that if it gets any bigger, it’s too impractical, due to space constraints.
After the group has been assembled, it moves to the back of DiBruno’s, where both your guide, and one of the DiBruno’s cheesemongers (yes, that’s the right term!) provides their expertise on how to appreciate cheese. Your guide has plenty of props, large color photographs explaining the history of the cheesemaking process, and how to distinguish one group of cheeses from another. As each type of cheese is explained, samples are distributed to the entire group.
On our particular tour, we sampled Cana de Cabra, Taleggio, Manchego, and Pantaleo. As we are not big cheese aficionados, we had not previously been familiar with, or had tasted any of the above.
For us, personally, the part about DiBruno's that we most enjoyed wasn't the cheese tasting, per se, at all. Instead, it was the intellectual content and presentation of the history of cheesemaking, with its European roots, discovering why cheese is still sold in giant wheels, etc. The facts were fascinating.
And so, we came away with a new appreciation for the cheesemonger's art and skills, as well as a better understanding of how cheese makes it into your refrigerator.
But unlike us - if you actually are a big-time gourmet cheese aficionado, you'd probably really enjoy this segment of City Food Tours Philadelphia, since you'd better appreciate the cheese tasting, as well as the historical parts.
(One thing that we wish had been better – DiBruno’s has plenty of pop music reverberating through the store, which ordinarily would be fine with us. But it often made it difficult to hear the skilled cheesemonger explain the tips of his trade. And since he had quite a few interesting things to say, we wish that we could have heard him speak, a little more clearly than we did.)
We asked Richard, the DiBruno’s cheesemonger on our tour, what he recommended for a homemade cheesesteak – “American or Provolone, or something else?” Richard replied that “Anything that melts is fine, although sometimes I like to go with an Italian fontina.” So we may try that at some point, as he’s the expert, and we know next to nothing about cheese, despite our education today.)
You’re at DiBruno’s for quite a while, longer than at the subsequent two stops. After sampling and explanations are over, you have the run of the place for a few minutes. DiBruno’s is an interesting place to visit, even outside of the tour, and it was loaded with autumnal stuff, including the melancholy reminders of the Phillies’ bid for a third consecutive NL pennant, which ended the night before we took our City Food Tours Philadelphia.
City Food Tours Philadelphia - Decadent Gourmet Tour - Second Stop - Naked Chocolate
The group then proceeds to Naked Chocolate. Despite the name, it actually is an extremely high-end chocolatier. This was our favorite part of the tour (although we had anticipated that it would have been the gelato segment).
When you arrive at Naked Chocolate, you have a corner couch and a flat round coffee table, with a handful of wooden chairs. We’d recommend the couch, as you’re on your feet for a while at DiBruno’s, and you’ve just walked several blocks.
When you arrive, there are a dozen identical, ornate oval bowls, painstakingly filled with a variety of the wares of Naked Chocolate. One must resist the temptation to dig in, however, because before you can really appreciate the quality of Naked Chocolate, you really do have to understand why it tastes so much better than ordinary chocolate.
Your guide will ask, “Who here doesn’t really like white chocolate?” and a handful of people will raise their hands (although not us, who do like it). He explains that the reason why you don’t like it is that it’s inferior in quality, in contrast to what you’re getting there.
Your guide will have more color photos, describing – and in an entertaining way – the methods used to manufacture chocolate, as well as its history, dating back to the Aztec civilization in Mesoamerica. (The cocoa bean is native to the New World, and no European had seen it until the Spanish conquistador Cortez, who was interested in the Aztec drink. The Aztec name for it, in fact, is the etymological root for the English word “chocolate.”)
He also will distribute actual cocoa beans to each of you, which you can crack open and taste (although not particularly palatable, they are loaded with antioxidants). And after that, you proceed to sample everything in your bowl, but ensuring that you savor it properly, while the differences between each kind of chocolate are clearly explained. The piece de resistance is the truffle, which was truly one-of-a-kind – among the best pieces of chocolate we’ve ever had.
Since nobody could possibly consume all of the Naked Chocolate that’s presented in your bowl, you’re given a bag to take with you, so that you can properly space them out. (Trust us, this stuff is so rich, that you won’t want to eat it all at once! Make it last a few days.)
You then get the chance, for a few minutes, to take a look at the other offerings of Naked Chocolate, which are artistically very beautiful (as well as being delicious).
Philadelphia City Food Tours - Decadent Gourmet Tour - Your Final Stop - Capogiro Gelato Café
Your final stop is the Capogiro Gelato Café, at 119 South 13th Street, a short walk from Naked Chocolate. After a short discussion of Capogiro’s history, and the difference between authentic Italian gelato and American ice cream, your 12 person group will be seated, in groups of six. Two matching sets of six gelato cups are given to each group, and a blind taste test is set up, as tour guests attempt to guess the flavors.
So, in summary, our favorite part was the chocolate. However, we found our guide to be courteous, articulate, and with a great deal of expertise on all three subjects (about which we knew very little). He also used plenty of props, photos, and trivia questions to keep the guests’ attention, and it was very entertaining as a result.
One logistical note, if you've taken SEPTA to DiBruno's: Given that this particular tour ends at Capogiro, you would probably find it easier to return home, via Market East Station, located at 11th and Market Streets. That's a slightly shorter walk than going all the way back to Suburban Station, at 16th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
City Food Tours Philadelphia - Complete List of Tours, Dates, Times, and Prices
Decadent Gourmet Tour (the subject of this review) - Saturdays and Sundays, 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM, $29/person
We haven't taken firsthand, any of the other ones that City Food Tours Philadelphia offer - but here's a summary, listed below....
Taste of Northern Liberties - Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM - $44/person
This serves as an introduction to the increasingly popular neighborhood just north of Center City, which we discuss in great detail in our Northern Liberties Guide.
Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese Tour - 1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturday (if there is one, during that particular month) - 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM - $45/person
This tour, with two stops in Old City Philadelphia, focuses on the Philadelphia craft beer scene, the best in the nation. (You can learn more about it, in our Philadelphia Craft Beer Main Page.)
Evening of Indulgence - Fridays, 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM - $75/person
This is the most high-end tour, which visits three Philadelphia restaurants. (For more on dining in the city, take a look at our Philadelphia Restaurants Main Page.)
Flavors of Philly - 7 days a week - 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM - $39/adult, $29 for children ages 10-14
This is the one that City Food Tours Philadelphia highly recommends, if you are traveling to Philadelphia, from out of town. Another major plus, is the fact that the Flavors of Philly Tour also runs far more frequently than any of the other City Food Tours Philadelphia - seven days a week.
In contrast, Decadent Gourmet and Taste of Northern Liberties run two days a week, Evening of Indulgence on Fridays, and Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese on alternating Saturdays.
Contact Information for City Food Tours Philadelphia - Make Reservations in Advance
With the tour limited to 12 spots, City Food Tours Philadelphia do sell out quickly, and so you should make reservations in advance. You can call City Food Tours Philadelphia at 1.800.979.3370, to make reservations, or if you have questions.
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