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Explore Vancouver's foodie scene with this delicious walking tour
• Duration: 3 hours
• Tours run: Fridays to Mondays, 2-5 p.m. Daily between May and September
• Pricing: $69 (+$20 for optional alcoholic pairings)
• What’s included: All food and non-alcoholic beverages, alcoholic pairings additional $20/guest
• Capacity: 12 guests
• Distance Covered: 2.3 km/1.4 mile, total walking time is approximately 45 minutes with five stops
• What to Wear: Comfortable clothing and shoes, rain gear depending on weather
• Weather conditions: Tours run rain or shine
• Meeting Place: Kirin, 1172 Alberni Street (@ Bute)
The Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour will have you walking and eating your way through downtown Vancouver. You’ll sample a dozen delectable morsels ranging from dim sum to artisanal cheeses to the world’s best gelato.
The tour lasts about three hours, but most of that time is spent eating and drinking. If you need extra incentive to get up and continue walking, know that your next stop will have something equally (if not more) delicious waiting for you.
While the food remains the highlight, you’ll also hear some great stories from restaurant operators and your tour guide, who’ll share stories about the foodie scene in Vancouver.
Find out why it takes 17 hours of hand-stirring to make the best caramel, how to silently signal the waiter to refill your teapot in a Chinese restaurant and just how many meatballs one restaurant serves in a year.
This is your first stop and you’ll be treated to two dim sum favourites: steamed prawn and duck dumpling with XO sauce, and sticky rice with pork and dried scallops wrapped in a lotus leaf. For anyone who hasn’t yet tried dim sum, these are great gateway dishes that are quintessential to any respectable dim sum lunch.
The dumpling is large and plump and flavourful, while the sticky rice is rich and luxuriously unctuous with the light, distinctive scent of the lotus leaf permeating throughout.
Kirin itself is a proper, authentic Chinese restaurant and you’ll be surrounded by tables of chattering Mandarin and Cantonese speakers – a very good sign.
Urban Fare was added to the original lineup because a lot of out-of-town visitors kept asking where they could buy foodie souvenirs. This is the perfect spot to buy local artisan chocolates, award-winning cheeses, fresh-made pastries and gourmet charcuterie items.
On your tour, you’ll sample frommage frais berry tarts, Thomas Haas caramel pecan chocolates with fleur de sel and a Dutch Verneer cheese that won top honours at the last World Champion Cheese Contest from amongst 2,000 entries from over two dozen countries. It’s a well-rounded flavour profile with a smooth clean flavour. Urban Fare routinely stocks over 200 cheese in its deli, some of which you can sample off-tour.
At Italian Kitchen, you’ll be seated at a beautifully set long table and presented with a trio of generously sized samples of their best-sellers: their signature meatball, burrata and prosciutto, and beet salad. The all-beef meatballs are so popular they sell over 600,000 of them each year. The burrata comes in a close second, with the kitchen going through over 100 pounds of this creamy, delectable cheese each week.
The Shangri-La hotel itself is pure opulence, but as soon as your step into MARKET by Jean-George, you’re in a whole new level of gourmet. You’ll be greeted with a beautiful and refreshing ginger-lime margarita, the perfect sipper while you relax in the lounge. Your two epicurean snacks come in the form of an amazing finger of nigiri sushi (a bed of pressed sushi rice that’s been quickly deep-fried, draped with a succulent piece of Steelhead) and a delicious, classic Market burger slider.
While you may not want this tour to end, you will definitely want to make haste to Bella Gelateria, home of the world’s best gelato. This is the place where gelato is made with love and respect, hand-crafted in small batches to the absolute highest standards. Technical details aside, it’s unbelievably delicious.
The chocolate gelato is so good that you can’t even buy it in quantities larger than a single scoop for immediate consumption. This is done because it’s so much in demand that they try to ensure no one person (or restaurateur…) can buy them out. So savour your scoop and count yourself among the lucky few. Folks in Italy are weeping with jealousy.
And, yes. This is where caramel is lovingly made over 17 hours of attentive care. If you’re very, very lucky, James Coleridge, the master gelatier himself (pictured above) just might bring out a tub of it along with some spoons. And if this happens: dig deeply.