Food for Thought: Culinary Programs and Tours in Marin
Posted in Blogging Marin on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 by MCVB Staff
By Whitney Butler
With rolling hillsides and picturesque views of the ocean and the bay, Marin County and its roughly 160,000 acres of agricultural farmland provide much more than just crops, dairy and meats. Locals here love to share what they know about the complex relationships between our food systems and the land and sea, offering programs and tours that help people explore ways of growing, harvesting and savoring food, raising the bar for other communities across the country.
Here’s a look at some of Marin County’s best culinary programs and food tours for your next visit to Marin.
West Marin Food and Farm Tours
West Marin Food and Farm Tours offers visitors a chance to go behind the scenes, meet the makers, and ask questions. Explore Marin’s historical roots in the dairy industry on a Cheese Lover’s Tour, or get up close to the freshest seafood in California on an Oyster Lover’s Tour.
Founder Elizabeth Ann Hill is a certified natural chef and University of California master gardener; she also has a master’s degree in education, which today helps her proctor several farm tours focused on specific areas of Marin’s food scene.
Visitors can customize their tour, or pick one that fits their particular palate. All tours have a flat rate per person, and most include lunch and several tastings at various points throughout the trip.
The Fork at Point Reyes
Set on the pastoral farmlands of the Giacomini family dairy, The Fork at Point Reyes is focused on combining education and entertainment for guests seeking good food, wide-open spaces and educational experiences to really sink their teeth into.
The Fork has become a community center for locals and visitors alike, offering a range of tours, culinary classes and focused tastings, which feature the family’s own cheeses, locally produced at the nearby Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.
The custom-made building looks modest, but inside you’ll find a state-of-the-art kitchen cranking out seasonal, sustainable delights several nights a week.
Gourmet Food and Wine Tours
While this company has branches in several areas of California, the Taste Marin tour is a focused journey that uncovers some of Marin’s most popular restaurants, wineries and specialty food shops.
Renée ReBell, founder of Gourmet Food & Wine Tours, has a freestyle approach to each tour, tailoring the experience to the preference of her guests.
Most tours are three-plus hours and include several courses of professional dining experiences that will leave guests full and inspired. Most tours can be done completely on foot, and they offer discounts for designated drivers!
AppleGarden Farm Tours
AppleGarden Farm is an organic apple orchard specializing in heritage fruit processed entirely on site. This family-owned farm produces delicious hard apple cider, and offers specialty farm tours where guests can meander the orchards, learn about organic farming, and taste the refreshing fizz of their cider.
These farm tours are inexpensive treats for Marin visitors at only $5 a couple, with the priced fully waived if you buy a few bottles of suds.
What’s more, AppleGarden has an intimate cottage for guests to rent on a nightly basis, full of amenities like a full-sized kitchen, so you can cook comfortably while imagining yourself living on the farm.
Fresh Start Culinary Academy and Chef Events at Key Room
Marin isn’t just offering food tours and culinary programs for travelers; it’s also making a difference in the lives of local, aspiring chefs. Fresh Starts Culinary Academy offers on-the-job training for low-income students and Homeward Bound Residence, Marin’s primary provider of shelters and services for homeless people and their families.
This award-winning program is an intense, eight-week course focused on preparing students for jobs in the culinary arts, and offers a rotating roster of culinary workshops, tastings and classes for the public.
The exciting Fresh Starts Chef Events series features the talents of celebrity chefs such as Michael Mina, PBS’s Joanne Weir and Brown Sugar Kitchen’s Tanya Holland. Presenters demonstrate recipes and lead culinary academy students in the preparation and serving of each course to guests. Enjoy an evening of fine food that’s good for the stomach (and soul).