Taste Newburyport food tour serves local bites with a side of history.
You can tell Patrick Halloran by his giant fork. More than a yard long, it is the perfect prop for this Pied Piper of the Newburyport food scene, leading a merry band of foodies –including this reporter –on a tour highlighting some of the best bites the city has to offer.
Taste Newburyport is the latest offering from Cape Ann Foodie Tours, a two year old business that also offers jaunts in Gloucester and Rockport. Tour guide/owner Halloran launched the business two years, inspired by food tours in Italy. He thought the Clipper City’s growing reputation as a food destination deserved recognition and a tour of its own. Each jaunt samples the city’s most popular local treats, from cupcakes and scones to meats and olive oils, with a side of history.
One Monday in May, we gathered in front of the Brass Lyon – a nautical-themed gift shop that has anchored Market Square since 1973. After a brief introduction to the city’s seafaring history, we followed Halloran’s giant fork into Taste Cake, for our first nosh. Each participant was presented with three tiny, perfect cupcakes – I immediately devoured my personal favorite: vanilla cake with fresh raspberry buttercream. Showing amazing restraint, I requested a box for my other two: chocolate fudge cake dipped in chocolate with Oreo buttercream, then dipped once more in chocolate, and a red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting.
Newburyport Olive Oil Company
A short walk up Inn Street, a pedestrian way lined with brick buildings, brought a tale about the Great Fire of 1811. It tore through the clapboard buildings of Newburyport, giving rise to the downtown’s predominantly brick architecture. Our appetites worked up from the walk, we were ushered into Grand Trunk Old World Market for tastes of cheeses, olives and salami.
After an amble along State Street, where we learned about some of the connections Newburyport has to the Civil War, we stopped in at Buttermilk Baking Company to taste one of their delectable hand pies – a turnover packed with fresh local fruit.
I was glad I’d had the willpower not to stuff all those cupcakes in my mouth at the start, because our next stop was 10 Center Street for lunch. Gathered around a table on the relaxing outdoor patio, tour goers were offered a selection of options – I opted for the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, packed with an impressive amount of perfectly cooked lobster.
Over to the waterfront, we learned more about Newburyport’s connection with the coast (and the Coast Guard). Most days, the tour’s next stop is Newburyport Olive Oil Company, where tour-goers get a crash course in the art of tasting olive oil. Still hungry? The final stop on this sunny day was Chococoa Bakery in the Tannery for an award-winning Whoopie Pie.
Halloran says the tour may vary according to what’s available, but the approximately two-and-a-half hour tour will always include a minimum of five stops. To learn more and book your own tour, head to capeannfoodietours.com.