This writer/editor/cook/teacher/former nurse is adding another hat: food tour operator. I’m launching a business called Hudson Valley Food Tours and will be running my first culinary crawls in Rhinebeck soon. I’ve had this in the works for quite a while–years, really–so it’s very exciting for me to be finally giving it a go.
Of course, like many a worthy project, it’s turning out to require much more time, thought and preparation than I anticipated, making the busy life of a single mom of teenagers even more hectic than I even thought possible. But that’s okay!
Although I think the gig is a very, very good fit for me, meshing with my aptitudes and skills and a perfect complement to my other interests and activities, I can’t do it alone. I’ve realized that while I can be on the shy side I’m happier around other people and wouldn’t do well in a room alone at the computer all day every day. I’ll never stop being a writer (“are you still writing?”, people ask me, as if I could stop!) and writing is part of the food tour biz, too, but now I have a fun new way to get out there.
Although I’m officially a “sole proprietor,” this new endeavor is requiring the help of many people and I couldn’t do it alone. Friends and family have been wonderfully encouraging. The other food tour operators I’ve reached out to around the country have been tremendously helpful and generous with their time. Luckily one of them is nearby, only two hours north of me, and invited me to attend a tour this weekend. Joe Haedrich of Saratoga Springs Food Tours very kindly took an entire afternoon out of his busy schedule to show me the ropes of a real tour. Seeing how a food tour operates, on the spot, right there, was a great way to jump in a get a real feel for how things work.
Plus it was just great fun. Saratoga has an awesome, sprawling farmers market, and I got to meet some of the farmers and artisans who had been chosen to participate in the market, like Anna Mae, a beautiful fourth generation farmer who offers jams and jellies made from ingredients she grew herself (except for cranberries and citrus).
I experienced time travel to the distant past at the lovely Old Bryan Inn, a tavern that dates to 1773, and enjoyed a tasty, tender Balsamic Beef Tip Bruschetta. I was able to taste exquisite olive oils, vinegars and honeys of much finer quality than I’m used to at Saratoga Olive Oil Co. and Saratoga Tea & Honey Company.
I hadn’t been to Saratoga since Grateful Dead concerts years ago. For many the name of the small city evokes horse racing and little else. But thanks to Joe I was able to discover a new side of the town spiced up with his entertaining commentary and stories. He showed me various neighborhoods, many beautiful historic buildings and the lovely Yaddo Gardens at the artists’ retreat Yaddo (where my late dad, the author Donald Harington was in residence when I was a child) and of course the historic and famous Saratoga Raceway that occupies a large part of town but doesn’t dominate its loveliness.
Great to have a change of scenery in such a great town and in such good company.