Old Pasadena Walking Food Tour: a Melting Pot of Flavors

July 3rd, 2012

By Linda Kissam

Delicious Tutti Gelati

Delicious Tutti Gelati

What could be better than to taste your way through historic Old Town Pasadena? Thanks to the popularity and growth of food-obsessed walking tours and local Melting Pot Food Tours (based in Southern California) tourists, visitors, and locals can get to know the unique culinary neighborhood that makes up this special city.

On a beautiful June weekend morning, Melting Pot Tours treated a team of 4 press people to an unforgettable  3-hour, 1.5 mile epicurean excursion to enjoy some of the best off the beaten path artisanal restaurants and unique shops in heart of Old Pasadena.  The tour group met in at a local wine store and was made up of about 10 people from all kinds of places, ages, and walks of life. The tour started promptly with a quick explanation of the day’s itinerary. The walking pace and amount of information given was perfect.  My group especially appreciated that owner/tour guide Lisa kept us on task and on schedule.  We never felt rushed, but neither did we feel bored at any time.

Bird Pick Tea & Herb Shop

Bird Pick Tea & Herb Shop

Old Pasadena is well known for its food. Delicacies of every variety can be found throughout the city, from dim sum to truffles. Our tour took us to an eclectic mixture of nine great shops, cafes, and restaurants.  Each tour is different so you can go multiple times and experience something different each time. Ours took us to an old-world boutique chocolate shop, an award-winning gelato shop, an authentic Mexican torta café, a Mediterranean café serving crispy falafel balls, an edgy Asian fusion restaurant (the group’s favorite stop of the day), an exquisite olive store, a delightful family-owned and operated Peruvian style restaurant, a gourmet tea and herb shop—complete with a tea bar and upscale soap shop. If there’s one thing the owners of Melting Pot Tours know—it’s good food! Each place was thoughtfully chosen to be unique and probably not something I would have found on your own. In my opinion Melting Pot delivered on its promise, “…to entertain and educate locals and visitors alike.” At just $53 (adults) and $28 (children) this is the bargain of the century.  I’ve taken similar food walking tours for double and triple the price.

A walking food tour is appropriate for almost anyone, but is best suited to adults with a curiosity about local food, architecture and history. The dining experience will provide enough food to satisfy any appetite.  Water is the only beverage served, but you can purchase other beverages if you like.  My advice is to wear sun block, comfortable shoes and a hat if it’s a hot day. No time has been set aside for shopping, so you’ll most likely have to go back on your own time if you see that special treasure.  The route is flat, but if you have knee or hip issues, the course will be a challenge.  Each stop is less than 10 minutes from the next one and you will be spending about 20 minutes or so at each stop.

Tours are given year round (except major holidays). Guides are patient, knowledgeable and engaging.  Most are day tours, although April – October an evening tour is added.  Feel free to join an already organized group or you can book a private tour with 10 or more people.  Advance tickets are required. So come hungry and be excited about the Old Pasadena Walking Tour, as you eat your way through the best restaurants, and shop your way through some of the most unique shops in the diverse, best tasting city in Southern California, Old Pasadena.

Until you’re able to take the tour, here’s a quick and refreshing recipe from our first stop, Tortas Mexico to tide you over. It was a group favorite.

Watermelon Agua-Fresca

Watermelon Agua-Fresca

Click here for a recipe for the Watermelon Agua Fresca, compliments of Tortas Mexico Pasadena.

Tortas Mexico Pasadena offers an authentic casual dining experience with recipes from the owner’s homeland of San Juan Yucuita in the Nochixtlan District of Oaxaca. They use only the freshest ingredients and each food item is made to order.

Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, St. Thomas: Snorkel Booze Hunt

July 3rd, 2012

By Michelle M. Winner

Most adults on vacation like free drinks – especially rum drinks with a small umbrella, while relaxing under a big umbrella.  What makes free rum at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in St. Thomas so much fun, even before drinking a drop, is that the resort staff hides rum bottles in the bay.  They have been doing this “Snorkel Booze Hunt” for guests every Thursday afternoon for 30 years. You’ll have to don snorkel gear to look for your local, 200 ml bottle of aged Cruzan Rum under water, but your chances of finding one are way better than the lottery, as the number of guests participating is divided in half and the staff hides that number of bottles.

Keep the bottle to enjoy during your stay at this flip-flop casual 3-star resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands where all rooms are beachfront. At your leisure, simply call for some set-ups, ice, glasses and those tropical umbrellas.

Did I mention there is a beach bar? In addition to the oceanfront restaurant, the beach bar rocks with live nightly entertainment. Stevie Wonder likes it here so much he recently stopped by for an impromptu performance.  Daytime activities and locations like the 5-star PADI Dive Center, pool with swim-up bar, and complimentary, non-motorized water sports such as kayaks, wind surfers, paddle boards, SUP (stand up paddles), Hobie cats and sailing on a 53′ foot catamaran ensure you’ll have plenty of fun.

The award-winning 62 room Bolongo Bay Beach Resort was the first to offer optional all-inclusive rates on St. Thomas, and their all-inclusive is personalized to your tastes and for your convenience. Dine when you want, where you want and drink and eat what you want.

Make your dining selections from the  menu, not a buffet table, with premium cocktails and a variety of house wine and both domestic and imported bottled beer. Room-only rates (European plan) start at $277, or opt for the all-inclusive rates starting at $530, both rates are per couple. The resort offers special rates: www.Bolongobay.com.

Windjammer Days Festival, June 24-27th 2012, Boothbay Harbor, Maine

June 21st, 2012

This is not your ordinary torch run!

“Jammers and Joggers,” a land-and-sea race event, will kick off the ships coming into Boothbay Harbor for the 50th annual Windjammer Days Festival  on June 26, and, in addition to being the first-of-its-kind torch run in the area, it will, indeed, be a family affair for both participants and eager spectators. (Click here for event schedule.)

The Alamo Family

Aquilino Alamo, an affable and popular Boothbay Harbor physician for the past decade, or as he puts it, “a regular country doctor,” is a veteran marathoner with the dream of running a marathon in each state before he’s 50. (He’s 45 and up to 11 marathons, but says, good-naturedly, that he’s more than willing to extend his time-frame if pressed for time.). Alamo will start running from Rockport early on the morning of the 25th bearing the Windjammer Days signature torch. Simultaneously, experienced schooner captains Joe Tassi and Bob Tassi, identical twins and both schooner owners and charter operators who live and work in Camden, will set sail from Rockport’s harbor aboard Capt. Bob’s historic top-sail schooner Timberwind. Capt. Joe’s schooner, the Lazy Jack, with its lines taken from the Fredonia fishing schooners of the 1800s, will be waiting for him in Boothbay Harbor.

Alamo and the Tassi’s will both start their journeys from Rockport Marine Park, on Pascal Avenue, Rockport, ME at 7a.m. on June 25th.  Alamo will start his run south down U.S. Route 1 and the Tassi brothers will travel down the rocky coast, planning to arrive in Boothbay Harbor at the same time as Alamo. By land, it’s slightly more than 41 miles—a daylong run; by sea, it’s about it’s about 45.5 nautical miles, depending on weather conditions and the route taken, Joe Tassi says. Dr. Alamo will be joined along his relay-race route by his three sons, Jude, 16, and Kyle and Karl, 15, all renowned schoolboy runners in the area. His wife, Charito, and daughter, Ariel, 6, plan to join him for the last half-mile to the finish line, along with the Alamo family’s pet, a 2-year-old Husky. They’ll meet up with the Tassi brothers to pass the torch at the Whale Park in Boothbay Harbor, and thus the celebration of windjammers coming into Boothbay Harbor begins.

“It’s for the community,” Alamo says of his motivation for participating in this special inaugural event. “I just want to get people to be active. If I can make an impact and get people to think about staying healthy and active, and combat in some way childhood obesity, that’s what I’m doing it for.” He also noted that he would like to promote Boothbay Harbor as a great place to stay, play and work.

Bob Tassi added, “We are thrilled to take part in this exciting event and appreciate the opportunity to help commemorate an important time in our history.”

Captains Joe and Bob Tassi

Jammers and Joggers will kick off Monday morning at 7:00 a.m. on June 25th at Marine Park, on Pascal Avenue in Rockport, when passengers will board the Schooner Timberwind and depart at 7:30, and with your help they will race Dr. Alamo, and his family from Rockport Harbor to Boothbay Harbor.  Dr. Alamo and family (the joggers) by land, and the Schooner Timberwind, passengers, and the crew (the jammers) by sea. A home cooked hearty schooner breakfast and lunch will be served fresh and hot from the galley while racing, with a reception planned after anchoring in Boothbay Harbor once the winner is determined.

Windjammer Days is a family fun event with something for everyone to enjoy.  Twelve beautifully rigged Windjammer ships and a pirate ship will descend on Boothbay Harbor. Also on tap, sail boat races, a golf tournament, a street parade, an antique boat parade, craft show, artist alley, lectures, waterfront concerts, boating treasure hunt and historical events of how life was when these ships were sailing the seas, and plenty of food for all ages.  These will be memorable days to share with family and friends alike and most venues are free!

Windjammer Days is June 24-27 with the schooners in Linekin Bay on the 26th and in the harbor on the 27th.

To learn more about Windjammer Days and to track updates, visit the Chamber’s website at http://www.boothbayharbor.com or find us on Facebook.



Windjammer Days 2012 sponsors include Pinnacle Vodka – White Rock Distilleries Inc., 94.9 WHOM, WMTW News Channel 8, Rideout Marine, Downeast Energy, Pepsi Beverage Company, First Federal Savings, KeyBank, N.A., Spruce Point Inn, O’Donnell, Lee, McCowan & Phillips, LLC, Wyman & Simpson, Federal Distributors – Bud Light, Shipyard Brewing Company, Balmy Days Cruises, Bath Savings Institution, The First, N.A., Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club, Fisherman’s Wharf Inn, Marshall Tent & Event Rental, Boothbay Region Land Trust, Flagship Inn, Cabbage Island Clambakes, Balmy Days Cruises, The World is Mine Oyster, Lincoln Medical Partners, Lincoln County Healthcare, Schooner Eastwind, McSeagulls Restaurant, Sherman’s Books and Stationary, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, House of Pizza, Lafayette Hotels – Boothbay Harbor Hotels, J. Edward Knight Insurance, Hannaford, Carousel Marina, Brown’s Wharf Inn, Lincoln Arts Festival Chorus, Harbor Children’s Center, Edgecomb Boat Works, Inc., Southport Island Marine, LLC, Boothbay Region Boatyard, Ocean Point Marina, Paul E. Luke Boatyard, Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, Atomic Studios, Good n’ You Fuel & Service, Pat Farrin & Sons, Wiscasset Ford, Maine State Aquarium, Blake Builders, Town of Boothbay, Pottle Realty Group, Margaret Jones Perritt, Tile Connection & Cottage Connection of Maine Inc., Seaside Cupcakes, Topside Inn, Lyn & George Doran, Hodgdon Island Inn, Mary and John Yokabaskas, The Boothbay Register, Experience Maritime Maine, Boothbay Harbor Embroidery, Boothbay Country Club, Boothbay Region Y-Arts Chorus, Boothbay Playhouse, Boothbay Fire Department, George McAvoy, US Coast Guard, Boothbay Region Historical Society, Steve & Ann Demeranville, Dale & Richard McCoy, Brooke Hubner, Coastal Shipping, Melissa Nein & Sue Burge, Sam’s Electric, Charles & Diane Kipp, Blakes Boatyard Marina, Martin Page, Ted & Karen Beal, Tidal Transit Kayak, Town of Boothbay, Town of Boothbay Harbor and Town of Southport.


Media Contact:

Angie Helton, Northeast Media Associates

(207) 653-0365


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