Gastown Food Tour: Good eats and urban history

I often go carousing in Gastown. But I’d never shared a pumpkin ale with Gassy Jack until I took a Gastown Food Tour. The Gastown Food Tour is a new excursion by Taste Vancouver Food Tours that runs daily from 2:00-4:00 p.m.

I joined a group of seasoned Vancouverites also voyeuristically enjoying the tourist experience. Gassy Jack led us on a stroll that mixed urban history with ten tasting stops including Peckinpah’s Carolina-style barbecue (pictured above) and piping-hot raspberry Champagne tea at the recently-opened Après -midi in Gaoler’s Mews. Get the rest of the foodie details after the jump.

The Gastown Food Tour starts at the Pan Pacific Starbucks beside Canada Place. Gassy Jack, in costume with hat and cane, handed out audio devices. I said hello to the 8-16 tour members, who would become friends as we stuffed ourselves silly. Be nice; you might need one of them to wheelbarrow you home later.

After hearing tall tales about Gassy Jack’s arrival in Gastown, we headed through Waterfront Station for rich lobster mac’n’cheese at Rogue Kitchen and Wet Bar. Gassy Jack pointed out the station’s original ladies’ waiting room which is inside Rogue. He knows the secret story behind every building.

Next there was spiced Great Pumpkin Ale at Steamworks, where the manager expounded on how Gastown’s historic steam tunnels are used to fire the beer brewing kettles. Moving along Water Street, we followed up with truffles filled with silky Okanagan ice wine ganache at Rogers’ Chocolates, founded in 1885.

At Maple Delights we paused to make (pictured above) and scarf maple syrup taffy. I got some in my hair… In Brioche, the owner and chef Eduardo Bilardello came out and introduced us to his family. We sampled his house-made tortellini with peppery salsiccia ragu and fresh-baked bread with olive oil.

Just when I thought I couldn’t fit anymore, we tasted award-winning cheesecake from Trees Organic before entering Water Street Cafe, the only building that survived the Gastown fire of 1886. I managed to squeeze in crisp-outside, moist-inside crab cakes as the staff shared stories of the ghosts that haunt the restaurant.

Gassy Jack, true to his name, chatted about Lady Gaga’s footwear choices at Fluevog Shoes, before sharing the history of the Steam Clock. Next, at Peckinpah, which was once Gassy Jack’s saloon, we savoured wood-smoked brisket and pulled pork barbecue with tangy vinegar sauce.

The tour ended at the newly-opened Après -midi Teahouse, Gastown’s originial jail house. The group gratefully accepted piping-hot raspberry Champagne white tea. I surreptitiously loosened my belt.

The Gastown Food Tour by Taste Vancouver Food Tours run daily from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Tickets are $39 available here.

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