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Have you tried one of our Food Tours or Chocolate Tours yet? Our newest tour is our Jamaica Plain Vegan Chocolate Tour. People may be surprised that just because the tour is dairy-free (and our Harvard Square tour can be made dairy free), it's not all dark chocolate. The tastings are varied and quite creamy - and we stop exclusively at small businesses created by local entrepreneurs. Plus you'll learn all about the magical fruit cacao on this walking tour as well.
One of our incredible JP Vegan Chocolate Tour guides is Mika. We are so lucky to work with Mika, a wealth of global knowledge who has lived all over the world from California to Japan and especially loves the East Coast. Mika is quite knowledgeable about sustainability and skin care (did you know that cocoa butter is often used in skincare?) so definitely ask her about it when you're on the tour. Plus she's bilingual in Japanese, so we can do a private group tour in Japanese as well for any groups interested. We know you'll learn a lot from Mika. Hope to meet you this Saturday!
Our Jamaica Plain Vegan Chocolate Tour runs Saturdays at 2pm. We also host a Harvard Square Chocolate Tour on Saturdays at 2pm and 7pm. Book today via offthebeatenpathfoodtours.com.
On our Boston chocolate tour we often get asked "What is white chocolate"? "Is white chocolate chocolate?" "Does white chocolate have cocoa in it?" "How is white chocolate made?" "What makes white chocolate white?" and the like.
So we thought we'd create a blog post to provide an explanation! Our Chocolate Tours are like a Boston chocolate school and a great team building Boston activity.
White chocolate is a confection made with cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar, but with none of the cocoa solids that give darker chocolate its recognizable flavor and color. Some chocolatiers ignore white chocolate, and others fill it with extra sugar or fillers like palm oil.
A cocoa bean is made up of cacao nibs which are half cacao butter and half cacoa solids. The cocoa butter inside the nibs is what gives chocolate its rich mouthfeel, and the nibs hold most of the distinctive smell and taste. Therefore, white chocolate is basically sweet fat.
For a chocolate to be labeled as chocolate, as opposed to candy, the Food and Drug Administration requires that the bar be made up of at least 10 percent cocoa mass (nibs plus the cocoa fat in the bean), with no specifications about cocoa butter. Yet white chocolate has to have a cocoa butter content of at least 20% and doesn’t need to include cacao nibs. The FDA established these standards in 2004 in response to petitions filed by the Hershey Company and the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (now part of the National Confectioners Association).
The company Nestlé was the first to develop white chocolate commercially in 1936 in Switzerland. The story is that it was a way to use up excess milk powder that had been produced for World War I and was no longer in demand.
White chocolate is also a way to use up extra cocoa butter that is extracted from the cocoa bean when making cocoa powder. Kind of like how the cacao husks or skins were a byproduct which made the tea we’re drinking, this cocoa butter fat is the most highly regarded byproduct of chocolate production, valued not only in chocolate but cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In fact, many large-scale manufacturers substitute a portion of their deodorized cocoa butter with fillers such as vegetable oil that significantly reduce cost but lower the quality.
So while white chocolate might not be vegan chocolate because it contains dairy, you do have another option: try dark chocolate or new ruby chocolate which are new!
Join our Harvard Square Chocolate Tour or Vegan Chocolate Tour of Boston this Saturday!
We are having so much fun with our new Trivia Nights! Our first trivia location is at Remnant Brewing in Somerville's Bow Market in Union Square. The next one is Monday, June 25th and will repeat every other Monday this summer. Our host, Tara, is so much fun and also very seasoned so we are so lucky to have her!
Here's how our Off The Beaten Path trivia night works: there are three rounds. The first round is Local History, the second is Food, and the third is Beer trivia. There's an activity round in the middle and also a Restaurant Question at the end (guess the restaurant with 3 clues).
Can you answer any of these trivia questions from our first trivia night?
Local History Round:
1. A huge portion of Boston is built on landfill which is dirt used to make land where there is water, including most of where the airport is. Name at least two of the three islands that the current Boston Logan airport stands on.
2. In the early 20th century, which neighborhood of Boston was considered the second largest port of immigration after Ellis Island?
3. What sticky substance exploded out of a tank in 1919 in Boston, sending a 40-foot wave down the street, killing 21 people in a horrible tragedy?
4. What type of food was stored in Somerville's Old Powder House, which also stored the most gunpowder in Massachusetts at one point?
5. What is the official state berry of Massachusetts?
6. What famous Boston dessert is referred to as a "pie in cake's clothing"?
7. Name three micro-beer breweries in Somerville, MA?
8. What % alcohol by volume or ABV did Yuengling produce in order to remain open during prohibition?
9. What beer was called "The Champagne of Bottled Beers"?
See you on Monday! And please help us get the word out by sharing widely. All ages welcome, and if you don't drink beer they have delicious coffee drinks and kombucha.
1. The airport stands on what used to be 3 islands: Governor's Island, Bird Island, and Apple Island.
2. East Boston was the 2nd largest port of immigration, after Ellis Island. It was 2 days closer by boat from Europe, so many people went here instead of New York. That's why Boston is such a melting pot of cultures.
3. Molasses (not fluff)
5. Cranberry! It was designated as such in 1994, and Cranberry Juice is our official state beverage as of 1970.
6. The Boston Cream Pie
7. Remnant Brewery, Aeronaut Brewery, SlumBrew or Somerville Brewing Company, Winter Hill Brewing Company
8. 0.5% ABV
9. Miller High Life
HOW MANY DID YOU GET RIGHT!? Tell us!
Somerville is a large, dense area of the city but each of its neighborhoods have their own culture and character. So just because you've visited Teele Square doesn't mean you understand the culture in Davis Square or Ball Square or Magoun Square or Union Square! And there are micro-cultures as well in these areas, from Aeronaut Brewery to Bo Market which are a 15 minute walk and feel very different in culture and space!
Our guides have significant knowledge of the areas where they host guests, and Meghan is no exception. Not only is she a friendly Tufts grad so knows Somerville really well, but she lived in Union Square and also works in the food industry. We are so lucky that Meghan is a guide on our Union Square Somerville Food Tour. She has a wealth of knowledge to share about local food systems and everything from fair trade food to food supply chain. You'll be in great hands with Meghan on an upcoming tour.
Learn more about Meghan in our About Us section of the website, and book our Union Square, Somerville Food Tour this Sunday to meet her and take a tour around this vibrant city.
Somerville Food Tours run Saturday and Sundays year-round including Davis Square and Union Square. Please check our Tour Calendar for more information!
We often think that our third founder of the food tour is our dog, Maddie. When we are exhausted from running a mile a minute to try to get the word out about our tours, it's Maddie who reminds us the importance of getting out of the house and taking a walk to clear our minds, stay curious, and have new perspective. Maddie's becoming a dignified old lady, at 6.5 years old, and so we wanted to give her a memorable summer trip. It was a lot harder to figure out large dog-friendly adventures than we originally thought. Here's some snippets from our recent May 2018 fun trip to Bar Harbor, Maine!
Balance Rock Inn
We cannot recommend this Inn highly enough! Right on the shore walking path, this gorgeous mansion was just the perfect place to feel pampered, and they couldn't have been more welcoming to us and our great dane. When we arrived, we were given a tour of the place and they had left a wonderful gift bag for Maddie on our bed with two doggie blankets and a lobster shaped doggie treat which she absolutely loved! Our room was spacious (#105 is highly recommended) and had a wonderful fireplace that all of us enjoyed, a gorgeous view of the pool and water, easy access to a lawn and outdoor patio, and even a jacuzzi and sauna inside which were quite a treat. The folks there were tremendous and so friendly. The home cooked breakfasts each morning were delicious, and we especially enjoyed the piano music and homemade chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon as well as the bowl of apples that were so helpful as we returned exhausted from our hikes. The bed was incredibly comfortable, and our dog was extremely happy in this new environment. We cannot wait to return next year! Highly recommended for all visitors, dogs or no dogs, this is a fantastic place to stay. 5+ stars!!
Hiking Acadia National Park
Before you enter the park, make sure you have enough water and snacks and also gas for your car! We had stopped by the Welcome Center in Bar Harbor to get some information about hiking with our dog, but the folks inside the Park had more detailed maps for us. So we'd recommend going straight to the Acadia National Park Info Center and purchasing your parking pass ($25 for 7-days in the minimum). Unfortunately they do not let dogs into the building, so one of us waited outside with Maddie. Our favorite hikes were two trails behind the Wild Gardens (although we had a weird wild turkey encounter!) and the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Oyster Point. Dogs are always on leash and not allowed in certain areas including the water, so definitely note their restrictions. Definitely our collapsible water bowl and a separate water bottle came in handy for Maddie who was extremely thirsty. We walked about 4 miles a day with her, and she would come back to the hotel after and rest for a while, so happy!
A Sweet Treat at MDI Ice Cream!
Our hotel had given us a list of dog-friendly places that was put together by a great pet store in town called Bark Harbor which was really helpful. Not every place in town was on the list, and so we had to ask at every spot before we entered. For the most part, shops were very dog friendly, and we had quite a shopper on our hands.
I'd say the happiest stop for Maddie was at MDI Ice Cream where they treated her like a queen. She got to eat three scoops of their dog-friendly sweet cream ice cream in a wide bowl just for her. Maddie's first ice cream experience was A+! And Obama loves this place, too. You can't go wrong with their incredible flavors and high quality.
Walking To Bar Island
If you're looking for a less strenuous hike that's a blast to do right around 5-7pm (check the tides), check out the walk to bar island from Bar Harbor town. There's a sand bar here that's quite extensive, and it takes about 20 minutes to walk across or more if you're very leisurely. As you can see, you can walk across with anything on your feet from flip flops to shoes because there's more gravel than water, and you can also drive but I think that is a bit silly! We enjoyed watching kayakers and other families on our stroll, and smelling that ocean air is just divine.
Besides shopping, Bar Harbor has some delicious eats, and lucky for us there were lots of dog-friendly places. One night we just got calzones delivered to our room because we were too tired to venture out, but we did enjoy some memorable meals with Maddie.
Notable Eats: Stewman's Lobster Pound had the best virgin cape codders that were a huge highlight (thanks for the refills!) as we were super parched coming back from Bar Island. They also had delicious eats! Across the street they own Paddy's Pub which has a wide patio that's great for dogs. There we munched on a yummy lobster roll and reuben sandwich. Over by MDI Ice Cream, we really loved Peekytoe Provisions where the haddock sandwich was a stand out. Unfortunately the patio at Jordan Pond House was closed for renovations this month, but we do imagine that their yummy (albeit small and $4!) popovers would be fun to eat alongside your pup. We also noticed a fun Maine Foodie Tour happening and visited Bar Harbor Popcorn, which was delicious, but Maddie couldn't go in. Delicious fudge was also found and quickly eaten on Bar Harbor's Main Streets. So much fun shopping and eating!
Date Night Sans Dog at the Reading Room Restaurant
On the same shore path as The Balance Rock Inn is the famous Bar Harbor Inn that's known for its yellow umbrellas. I had stayed there years ago and was dismayed to learn that they don't allow large dogs like Maddie. But clearly we were happy at The Balance Rock Inn, and I would be so happy there even if we didn't have a dog with us. That said, the Reading Room at the Bar Harbor Inn is incredibly worth it if you can leave your doggie alone for a few hours. We greatly enjoyed the views, surf and turf (they let me do lobster claws instead of tail thank you!), and scrumptious blueberry pie for dessert. A must try if you're in the area for a special night out.
What other places would you recommend to visit with your dog? We'd love to hear from you!
Have a wonderful summer!
Lizzie, Sam, and Maddie
Our Boston Neighborhood Food Tours and Chocolate Tours run year-round. Visit www.offthebeatenpathfoodtours.com for more information and to book a tour today.
We are so lucky to work with such amazing guides, and this week we are featuring one of our newest guides, Cam!
Cam has lived and worked in JP, and he is excited to help kick off the JP Vegan Chocolate Tour which runs on Saturdays at 2pm. Both Cam and guide Mika are working on this awesome tour which is fun for vegans and non-vegans alike.
What makes Cam perfect for his job as a tour guide is his love of training - he's not only a corporate training at his day job at Mass Mentoring Partnership providing trainings for youth-workers and schools across the Commonwealth but also a rugby coach. We're proud to work with someone like Cam who is making such a positive difference in our community through activism and community building.
Cam is also an avid cook, and his favorite stop on the Jamaica Plain Vegan Chocolate Tour is definitely for ice cream. Won't you join us this weekend for a tour?
Jamaica Plain Vegan Chocolate Tour runs Saturdays at 2pm. We also have a Harvard Square Chocolate Tour that runs on Saturdays at 2pm and 5 or 7pm. Join us at offthebeatenpathfoodtours.com.