Whats a Tour Guide to do?

(When last we checked in, I was saying how we are days behind on a web update)….I have a conference call with the web guys followed by several hours of edits.
Afternoon: Wednesday is organization day in my office. And since I woke up feeling a little stressed and frazzled by my lack of food rations at home, I think organization can only help. The month is nearing its end, it is time to update the dominant engine that drives our office: The Big Dry Erase Board.
Evening: A day of dates, details and difficult web edits can be so discouraging and I could use a laugh. And thankfully Rogue Festival starts around town. Tonight seems a splendid night for a little something silly. The lively and lovely Lindsay sells me on the cross promotion of my tours and her comedy shows. My stressful day falls seamlessly to the sidelines. Lindsay and I strike a great deal — suspecting my foodie fans might find Rogue’s comedy an equally delectable feast. rogue

ThursdayColor Me Happy
8:55am: I wake up in panic fearing I will be late to work. It’s five minutes to 9. Then remember I have the day off. and yet each and every Thursday I have the same heart pounding panic attack.
A few hours later: I meet my tour guide, former roommate and friend (that’s all one person) Nancy. Nancy is an excellent tour guide and a talented singer. We’re off to walk and talk on this soggy day. ladies-out-walking-tate-hamilton
7pm: There’s one meeting that I hate to miss: my weekly Weight Watchers meeting. When you do dinners out for work as much as I do, and especially after my year-long binge while designing our newest Food Tour, you need to figure out a way to reign it in. This way works. I love Weight Watchers’ old school approach with its equally modern and relevant ideas. I love walking into a room full of people all seeking a satisfying meal paired with a slender silhouette. I love the old lady who talks about things just seemingly off topic but them reveals some great pearl of age acquired wisdom in the weight department. And I love that this week I am down 1.6 lbs which means… I reached my goal. My Food Tour research pounds are gone and then some. And I stay loyal, week in and week out, to the one “diet” that actually worked after all my crazy juice fast frenzies had failed.

FridayNeed Some Lovin
7:30am: Up and excited to get to work. After a full day off, I suffer slight withdrawal. I miss my foodie friends and could use a hug from a sweet chef or a handsome host. Thankfully Friday is field day for me. I’m out of the office almost all day and off to foster my friendships with each establishment on the tour. I genuinely feel a kinship with these kitchen kings and queens and I love that About Town Taste tours has the ability to share their tasteful talents with our tourists.
9:30am – 12:00pm: I’m off to the famous Frosted Cakery. It’s a great day: Beverly & Megan, mother daughter baking duo, are here in the bakery and they’ve got a few minutes to spare for me. They remind me of my mom a bit – but will a full deck of decadent desserts at her disposal. We catch up for a while. They give me a little piece of chocolate and gently remind me: “Just one.” Frosted Cakery
12pm: Back to the office for lots of emails from customers and private tour requests.
4pm – 8pm: The very best part of my week has arrived. I’m off to visit the owners and managers of all the restaurants on our other food tours around town. I place all my food orders for tomorrow’s tours and use this as a chance to catch up and check on the tours and see how seamlessly they are running. I also love this part of my day because I am in awe of restaurant workers. I love these people — the ones that do this dinner dance in their dimly lit spaces as diners soak up that eternal evening energy.
Later that night: On my way to meet the boss I stop at Pinot Wine Bar to drop off my food orders for tomorrow. Pinot Wine SignEvery week I see the same man, sitting on the same bench, in front of the same shop. I don’t know his name. He speaks little English and wears a hearing aide. Every time I pass by he gives me a nod and a smile as is we have been friends for a lifetime.
Dinnertime: I engage in a regular Friday ritual, dinner with my boss and Erick (our friend, neighbor and colleague at About Town Taste). We dine at the most basic and nondescript spots in an effort to get away from all the fancy food and fine dining. Throughout the planning of our tours, these dinner dates and taste tests revolved around each of the neighborhood tours. It was (and is) a much-loved ritual.

Saturday- Winter Weather Advisory
7:30am: I wake up to winter wind advisory on TV News. Gusts and blowing, icy wind expected. What might be normal non-important small talk for some is make-or-break for our walking tours. A weather warning worries me and I wonder what alternative tour routes I can come up with: Skip the park even though it has loads of art, linger at the Galleria longer since they have multiple eateries in one space for the tastings, do your overview in the sunshine, make sure your tour attendees are warm enough and happy and that no downed trees are in their food-laden path. cold day tour
9:00am: Saturday is our busiest day with several tours all occurring around midday. My job on Saturday is to hang out in front of The Pacific Building (our meeting location and tasting spot on our Urban Taste adventure tour this week) and greet the early arrivals and the latecomers so the tour guides can focus on what they do best.
11:00am: I chat with Nancy about the weather scenario and give her a few tips for which streets are safer to do her tour overview today.
11:30am: I race from one neighborhood to the next to greet the tour attendees on tour. I race back to Fulton to…12:15pm: Greet a gaggle of girls that I set up with one of our Private Food Tours. It’s a bachelorette party but thankfully, a relatively tame one. Moms and Aunts and sisters and friends — all eating their way down Olive Ave with Erick, my guide, at the helm.
4:30pm: Quick visit with a special friend before he starts his evening shift. Then back to my apartment. Rest.

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New Friends in Tower

Exciting things have been taking Place in the Tower District lately.
Businesses now and old are thriving and we explore the neighborhood this coming Saturday. How does a taste of an Arabian magic carpet ride sound?

At Meze House we stop in for some delicious, and artful, tastes; while at FreeBird you’ll think youve stepped back in time with their tie die clothes and vintage items. Twee Boutique always has something crafty and original to choose from. And we’re so excited about Pinto Wine bar too!

The newest addition to the hip neighborhood, Pinot, offers our tours a taste sample of their great family boutique wines.

Join us this weekend for an adventure as we tread into and through the hippest area of town. Saturday 11a-1p.
Tickets a must and we give you a discount if you do! Go to Brown Paper Tickets.com and click away!

Soups On!

We all love soup, don’t we? Every country in the world has soup recipes and traditions from long ago.
It’s no surprise that soup is likely the oldest form of food along with bread. Everyone has a favorite soup and January is noted as National Soup Month. Just what is soup and where did it come from, who thought of celebrating an entire month of soup?

According to foodtimeline.com soups date back to around 10,000bc. Soup evolved based on local ingredients and tastes. New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese won ton and Campbell’s tomato…are all variations on local taste and agriculture.

History also tells us soup was originally ‘sop’ from sopping up the plate. As time went by what was once necessity became the focus and soups & stews were now the center of a dish. No longer simply sopping up the excess, bread also became a thickener.

So, that brings us to National Soup Month. In our ever commercial world one would think perhaps Campbell’s Soup Co or similar might be responsible using it as marketing campaign; seems not. Research turned up nothing about official proclamations either. Yet, here it is.

In our world of the Internet one finds loads of resources from good ol’ Chicken soup to a spicy Pasole. What is your favorite?
We’re sharing one of ours… Cheesburger soup! Check it out on the Tasty Tidbits tab and lets us know if you like it. And this weekend on the Urban Taste tour we’ll include soup as one of the four taste stops. Come & join us… the soups on! Tickets required @ Brown Paper Tickets.com

One Family’s Roots

In the fields of the Central Valley, the DeAlba family has grown and laid their roots. Coming from Mexico to Stockton, CA; Mom, Dad and their 10 children worked hard providing food for others tables while maintaining a strong family bond. Sons and daughters grew up and left the fields to work at local restaurants from the bottom up. It was around the family table discussion ensued over what those restaurants were serving and how much better mom’s food was. Over time and much talk an idea formed; use mom’s recipes and start their own restaurant.
By now many of the sons and daughters were living in Fresno so it was decided everyone would move there and work together to make the restaurant a success. It is this family bond that sets Los Panchos apart…. and mom’s great recipes! Los Panchos uses the freshest ingredients for the great food offered at affordable prices.
Stop by for a meal and you, too, will see how good it is as well as get to know a family who has made a successful life here in the valley. Ramon and his family welcome you to Los Panchos with plenty of room for your next event, great food and a homelike atmosphere.
They also give back.
As a way to say thank you to fellow fieldworkers, Los Panchos takes a complete meal to the fields for one lucky group on a regular basis. All they need do is register their group of workers for the drawing and the winning group gets a complete lunch brought to them, gratis.

The DeAlba family is also committed to Fresno’s downtown. They own several buildings on the Fulton Mall offering diverse services:
• Jalisco Jewelers
• Los Panchos restaurant
• DeAlba Travel
“Each of the businesses are owned by family members” shares Raul who owns Jalisco Jewelers. “My sister owns the travel agency next door and my brother and his family own Los Panchos”. This commitment to downtown also extends to local revitalization efforts as Raul serves on the Fulton Specific Plan working to revitalize the downtown core. “I really think this time we may see it happen” said Raul. “We’ve tried many other times with studies and plans, but this time it feels different”. We sit looking across to the Bank of Italy building, and the mall in general, in its sorry state. One can only hope he is right.
About Town Taste joins Raul in working to bring life back to Fresno’s Fulton Mall, and the downtown core, by connecting people with the fabulous art & architecture while stopping by Los Panchos for some of their delicious food from mom’s recipes on our walking adventure. Will you think of joining us on the next adventure of the Fulton Mall May 7th @10a? Advance reservations are needed via info@AboutTownTaste or 559.392.4471

Five gets Five Stars

And now for a different Taste About Town: On a recent visit to Five restaurant, a local favorite of mine, I had such an incredible meal I just had to share!

Although a cold crisp night outside, Five was warm and welcoming as well as bustling; good to see in these times.

Enjoying a nice evening out, the wait staff was wonderfully engaging and charming guiding us through the night’s selections. So many choices all sounded great; we selected the Sea Bass Provencale with Angel Hair Pasta special. As we settled in, relaxing with our glass of wine, we were surprised to receive an amuse-bouche of what we thought was bruschetta. How wrong were we…..nothing so ordinary with its surprisingly sweet and juicy tomatoes this time of year.

Soon enough our dinner arrived.

Not only a delight for the eyes but the fragrance of delicious garlic wafted to tempt us. From the first bite of the perfectly cooked bass to the last bite of the pasta, we knew we had selected the best.

The delicate fish was perfectly cooked; tender white and flaky. Next came the perfect bite… you know everything on one fork bite; a tad of fish, a bit of the pasta with the fresh spinach, even the slightly salty caper all lightly wrapped in the Provencale sauce. Mummmm…..divine.

That’s the thing I find here at Five, always a restraint, never over sauced as some tend to do. Just letting the fresh ingredients reveal themselves.
The next time you have a chance to go out for a nice meal be sure to stop in at Five. You are guaranteed to have a wonderful meal!