Tastebud Tours- Chicago Food Tours

***** (5 stars)

What a wonderful afternoon I had on Tastebud Tour’s 1893 World’s Fair Tour! We met at the private Cliff Dwellers Club, which offers a spectacular view of The Art Center and surrounding park.

I was greeted by the owner of the company, Lynn, who introduced our group of seven to “Bertha Honore Palmer.” Well, Bertha has actually been dead for about a hundred years, so the part was played–magnificently–by Tiffany, an actress and 1893 World’s Fair expert. For the next three hours she remained completely in character as she shared stories about Bertha’s life and accomplishments, and brought the fair to life through the innovations it introduced.

These innovations included a lot of food! You definitely need to begin this tour hungry. We started with a relaxing hour long lunch (that newfangled food, the hamburger, was featured) as we learned about the organization of the fair. We finished off four delicious pies and then made our way to many more stops on an approximately 1.5 mile walk that included hot dogs, popcorn, brownies and more.

We even visited Bertha’s house, which is now the Palmer Hilton. The tour ended at the famous Bergdorf, where we admired the murals of the exposition, sampled their chili con carne and root beer, and said our goodbyes.  What a great tour!

Tastebud Tours- Chicago Food Tours
1345 N Greeview Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(219) 929-6648

Mark Twain Cave

***** (5 stars)

This cave may not be filled with spectacular stalactites and other formations, but it is rich in history, since it is the cave from the Tom Sawyer novel (and four other Mark Twain books). Walking through its labyrinthian passageways really brings the book into focus, and the guides do a great job of identify various locations mentioned in the book.

It’s a very easy cave to traverse, with flat floors, no steps, and no climbing. It’s also a cool 52 degree respite on a hot summer day, so bring a jacket!

Mark Twain Cave
300 Cave Hollow Rd
Hannibal, MO 63401
(573) 221-1656

Old Jameson Distillery

*** (3 stars)

The Jameson “Distillery” is really a visitor center, as the distillery is now on the other side of Ireland.

The regularly scheduled tours include a well produced film, and recreations of several of the original distillery’s operation. Our tour guide was knowledgable.

At the conclusion of the tour, everyone gets a generous serving of Jameson, and a few lucky guests are chosen to taste comparative samples of Jameson, Scotch and Jack Daniels. I was chosen, and it was interesting, since I’m a fan of Jameson 18 and single malt Scotch. The Jameson was much smoother, the Scotch was peaty/smokey and a bit harsh, and the Jack very perfumey and rough. But I found the regular Jameson also pretty rough after having only had the 12 and 18 before.

The point was that Irish whiskey is triple distilled, which makes it smoother, adn that point was well made.

A large percentage of the facility is devoted to a very nice tasting room, shop, and a cafe.

Old Jameson Distillery
Bow Street
Smithfield Village
, Dublin 7
+353 1 8072355

Sprecher Brewing Co

***** (5 stars)

I didn’t know what to expect from a microbrewery tour, but Sprecher certainly exceeded my expectations on all counts.. It’s a lovely facility, with a staff that is obviously in love with what they do.

Entry and exit is through a fair-sized shop that sells beers, sodas and gift items. For the bargain sum of $5 you receive a tour of the productions facility, from mashing to bottling. Then, in the indoor beer garden, you are invited to taste as many of their sodas as you like, and four beers. There are about ten choices of each. The pours are generous, and you even get to keep the glass.

The company was started in 1984 with two beers, but the introduction of root beer a decade later hit big. We learned that their soda assortment actually outsells their beer, and that their root beer outsells all their other products combined.

Our favorite soda was the orange dream, and out favorite beer was one of their originals, the Black Bavarian. We bought some of each to take home.

This was a great way to spend a couple of hours, and I’m looking forward to returning.

Sprecher Brewing Co
701 W Glendale Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53209
(414) 964-7837

Jelly Belly Candy Company

**** (4 stars)

On a drive back from Mars Cheese Castle (don’t ask) I happened to pass the Jelly Belly factory. Well, it’s not really a factory, just a warehouse and store. But at the store I made my sole purchase of the day: a carton of Belly Flops, defective jelly beans that sell for 25% of retail. I actually like them better than the regular ones, and they are certainly fresh. I think a lot of friends are going to be getting jelly beans next week!

Jelly Belly Candy Company
10100 Jelly Belly Ln
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
(262) 947-3800

Orlando Science Center

**** (4 stars)

This is a really nice museum facility, but what I particularly like are the special events, especially the annual Spring “Science of Wine” which includes a very informative seminar and the best food of any wine event in town, even including the much more expensive Epcot food and wine festival. It’s great fun to eat and sip beneath the dinosaur bones! Sign up for the mailing list and you’ll find out about these special events in advance, before they sell out.

Orlando Science Center
777 E Princeton St
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 514-2000

Little Hollywood Land Movie Museum

**** (4 stars)

This place is a hoot. Our tour group stopped here for lunch, and they cast us in a pretend movie, providing costumes for everyone. The graciousness and enthusiasm of the staff turned what could have been a forced, tacky experience into a lot of fun. Afterward we had a buffet lunch that was… delicious! They make a mean homemade barbecue sauce, and also had some great salad dressings. I was skeptical, but I’d go back.

Little Hollywood Land Movie Museum
297 W Center St
Kanab, UT 84741
(435) 644-5337