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food sampling

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    One local lady offers tourists and locals alike a taste of the Tri-State through her fun (and yummy) tours. Read on to see why thousands have enjoyed this unique way to explore Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, one bite at a time.

    072015FEATURE
    Cincinnati Food Tours takes guests on a food-sampling adventure through Findlay Market and Over-the-Rhine.

    Five years ago, after a girls’ weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, Barb Cooper stumbled upon The Original Pub Tour. Cooper and her friends spent the afternoon exploring bars that were off the beaten path with a guide who taught them way more about the area in the few hours they were together than they could have learned in a few days.

    One of the best parts about the tour? Cooper says it was actually all the delicious food they devoured along the way. Once she was back at home in Cincinnati, Cooper’s wheels were turning on how she could introduce tourists and locals alike to the Queen City’s delicious cuisine.

    In 2012, Cincinnati Food Tours was born, and now, thousands have enjoyed this unique way to explore the neighborhoods of Cincinnati, one bite at a time. They offer escorted walking tours with stops for food along the way, Cooper explains. “We showcase a broad range of independent merchants, restaurants and bakeries, and explain the role each plays in the culture and history of the area,” she adds.

    Currently, the tours focus on the areas in and around Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine, but she expects to add more neighborhoods as Cincinnati Food Tours continues to grow.

    Cooper has a long history in the food business. In fact, she and her husband own Daisy Mae’s Market, a fresh produce and local specialty shop at Findlay Market. “We noticed how many people had questions for us, like ‘Where can I get a good bowl of soup?’ or ‘Who has the best gelato?,’ Cooper says. “When the World Choir Games were in Cincinnati in 2012, I decided to be a good ambassador and lead some Taste the World at Findlay Market tours.”

    Contrary to what she expected, says Cooper, she found that most of the people on the tours were local visitors who didn’t live very far away but had never visited Findlay Market or hadn’t been there in several years.

    This experience hosting tours, combined with her passion for meeting people and understanding what brought them to the neighborhood, Cooper wanted to open more eyes to new sights and tastes. Today, just three years after the official launch of Cincinnati Food Tours, Cooper says that more than 2,000 people have taken a tour.

    There are two different tours available through Cincinnati Food Tours. Taste of the World at Findlay Market is a 90-minute walking tour with five samples from merchants at Findlay Market. This tour, offered twice a week, is $20. The second tour is a 3-hour walking tour called Taste the World in OTR. Covering approximately 2 miles, there are 4-5 samples at restaurants throughout Over-the-Rhine. The cost for this tour is $45 and it’s offered several times per month.

    There are private offerings available for both tours if you’d like to get a group together and head out on a tasting adventure. Each ticket purchased includes the guided tour with samples for tasting. The Over-the-Rhine tour includes bottled water. Additional beverages are also available for purchase on both tours.

    Cooper says that she’d like to add themed tours soon and maybe even offer a coffee tour or a Christmas cookie tour. “I’m also thinking about branching out to other neighborhoods like The Banks, Mt. Adams or Walnut Hills,” she adds.

    Kelly Trush recently joined the team at Cincinnati Food Tours as a guide for the Over-the-Rhine tours. Trush is a co-owner of Cooking with Caitlin and loves leading the culinary adventures in Over-the-Rhine. In addition to Trush, Cooper is hoping to connect with a few more “celebrity guides” to lead other specialty tours as well.

    You can learn more about Cincinnati Food Tours by visiting www.cincinnatifoodtours.com. You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Cooper says you can contact her at 513-602-5602.

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