The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - 55

Our History Through Food
written by SHARI DRAGOVICH
Get to know Roanoke's food scene with an inside look at our food and culture history, thanks
to Tour Roanoke.

Look up! Guests enjoy
historic art gems in
Hotel Roanoke's lobby
before heading over to
Cedars Lebanese.

COURTESY OF ROANOKE FOOD TOURS

TheRoanoker.com

ONE OF THE BEST WAYS to fall in love with
any place is to immerse oneself in its food haunts and
history. Fortunately for Roanokers, Tour Roanoke
offers an excellent opportunity for falling in love.
In 2020, Tour Roanoke will enter its seventh
year of operations. The tour company offers a variety
of wonderful food and drink tours. The Historic
Downtown Roanoke Food and Culture Tour, however,
is the one to experience for discovering-or rediscovering-the full measure of what makes Roanoke
the "Magic City."
The tour begins at Hotel Roanoke. After check-in
and formal introductions, guests head to the Regency
Room where an elegantly set table awaits them. Once
everyone is seated, individual portions of the Regency
Room's famous spoon bread and peanut soup are
served. While guests eat, the tour guide tells the story
of Roanoke's beginnings, as well as Hotel Roanoke's
history and the food made famous there.
The guide also explains the origin of ingredients-
in this case, peanuts and corn-and how they have

become iconic Virginia foods. Guests learn about
current executive chef, Stephen DeMarco, and the
unique ways he's added flair to the menu while still
respecting the Grand Old Lady's traditional Southern
flavors.
Once everyone is finished, the tour guide directs
the group to the main entryway and continues sharing
notable features of the hotel, Roanoke and Virginia.
Guests are shown several "hidden gems hung in plain
sight." All this pointing out and history sharing allows
food to settle before moving on to the next stop:
Cedars Lebanese Restaurant.
There are a total of seven tasting spots on the
walking tour. Each restaurant has been selected for
its ability to help tell Roanoke's story. At Cedars
Lebanese Restaurant, guests learn the enormous
role Roanoke's Lebanese families have played in
adding vibrancy to our local culture. At Billy's, the
historic building and its d├ęcor help tell colorful tales
of Roanoke's rowdy early days. At Corned Beef and
Company, guests celebrate Roanoke's Scotch-Irish
roots. They also learn of two college buddies and
the class project now credited for spurring much of
downtown Roanoke's revival.
Of course, the tour stops at Roanoke's most
legendary restaurant, the Texas Tavern, a place of
endless stories unto itself. After the Tavern, guests
head back to Market Street to experience Virginia's
oldest operating street market, as well as two more
tasting stops-On the Rise Bakery and Chocolate
Paper-for dessert.
The tour operates as a "progressive dinner."
Portions are sized similar to small plates at a tapas bar.
Dishes-and thus, restaurants-follow a multi-course
meal: soup, bread and appetizer-type dishes, followed
by main course selections, followed by desserts.
Oftentimes, the owner or chef of the restaurant comes
out to greet guests, engage in short conversation and
answer questions.
The food itself is designed to help tell Roanoke's
story: our southern heritage found in spoonbread and
peanut soup; our immigrant fingerprints discovered
in Lebanese meat pie and tabula; our mid-Atlantic
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

55


http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - January/February 2020

The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - January/February 2020 - Cover1
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