Durham Food Tour
One of the best things to happen in the North East in recent years is the arrival of the type of food tours you would probably hunt out on a weekend break to Barcelona. Triple A Food Tours celebrated their 4th birthday recently. We enjoyed the Newcastle City centre Tour last year so much that when a Durham tour was added we immediately bought a voucher.
We met our guide Julie at the market place late morning a couple of days before the coronation of King Charles. Prince Bishops in the city centre, was bedecked with regal umbrellas which cheered up a dull, spring day. As we had chosen a Thursday tour we were the only participants, which we were a little surprised by (we'd been in a group of 8 or 10 for the Newcastle tour). I suspect given the popularity of the tours this was because our choice of a Thursday date meant we got an exclusive experience.
The Durham tour consisted of 6 stops. Julie interspersed the food and drink stops with interesting facts about Durham. Without spoiling it for prospective tourers, it's all fascinating and occasionally surprising. Stop 1 was at Discovering Durham Community Interest Company where we sampled a wide range of locally produced hot sauces from Balefire. We were warned which sauces were the hottest and I 'baled' 🤣with 3 still to try. However Ian managed all of them and we decided to buy this Mango and Scotch Bonnet sauce which seemed to me to be in the medium heat range.
Next Julie led us to Market Hall Wines, one of the many, diverse stalls within Durham's Historic Indoor Market. Here we enjoyed a German beer and a revelatory sparkling sake. Having closed the shutters of the stall for our private tasting, the proprietor explained how he travels the world to bring an exciting range of drinks to this university town. An unexpected bonus was that he was able to source our favourite dessert wine and it will be arriving soon!
To ease us from liquids to solids, our next stop involves gin AND nibbles!
Not JUST gin and not JUST nibbles however. The team at Old Toms Gin Bar had prepared a gorgeous sharing board for us of olives, cheeses, crackers and hummus. The barman asked us the type of gin we'd like to try, would we prefer botanical or spicey for instance and then paired the gin, tonic and garnishes to make an amazing drink. Smoking the cinnamon stick for my spicy gin combo was an extra special touch.
A short walk over another of Durham's many bridges and we arrived at Barrio Comida 🍸
You can guess from the pictures that this next stop was at a Mexican restaurant. Margaritas arrived as soon as we sat down closely followed by some delicious veggie side dishes, prawn and fish tacos. We are pescatarian and had informed Triple A of this well before our tour which meant we encountered no issues. I experienced an irrational thrill when I saw that you could use the menu to mark up what you'd like to order, bringing back memories of an amazing Mexican meal we'd enjoyed in Boston, MA way back when.
Clearly the restaurants on a tour such as this need to know when to expect their visitors. Julie was excellent at keeping us to time and we didn't feel at all rushed. We did feel full though so our expectation was that the next stop would be the final one for dessert. How wrong we were! We were led into the opulent surroundings of The Rabbit Hole for deep fried aubergine, gyozas and the most amazing salad (and a glass of wine). The interior of this restaurant is beautiful but very dark and it was a shock to the system when we emerged into the daylight for the walk to the final stop of our tour.
Dessert was served at the Marco Pierre White Restaurant. The building which houses it is the Old Shire hall and once again there is plenty to look at. A mini menu specially for the tour informed us to expect 3 desserts and two wines. We were ready for coffees at that point and it was no problem at all to swap vino for americanos. We each received this enormous platter of sticky toffee pudding, blueberry cheesecake and brownie (and a lemon macaron for good measure). We quickly decided to ask for a doggy bag for one platter and to share the other. When our desserts had arrived, our excellent guide Julie, bid us farewell.
Our second experience with Triple A food tours was every bit as good as our first. As well as the Newcastle tour, we still have a tour of Ouseburn and a tour of the Northumberland coast to try. We've already bought vouchers for the Grainger market tour for some friends to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Whilst I would say there was slightly too much food for me, I think people with normal/larger appetites would be very well served. To book or to buy vouchers visit tripleafoodtours.com and @tripleafoodtours on Instagram . Cheers!
We took the Durham Food Tour in May 2023 and purchased one tour voucher for ourselves but were gifted the other place by Triple A Food Tours.