Things to Do: Sanford Food Tours

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Photos by: Benevolence Photography

Have you taken one of the fabulous Sanford Food Tours yet? Then it’s about time! If you are looking for fun things to do in Sanford, FL, put Sanford Food Tours on your list right now – and let Heather and Leon explain you why…

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Oh, the ties (or in this case the foods) that bind us! There is nothing quite like enjoying a meal with friends, the shared experience of reveling in a new taste or flavor, and at the end, the pleasure of a full belly. So, when I was invited to join a Sanford Food Tours group and sample the best of Sanford’s eats, I of course said yes!

Sanford Food Tours is a new undertaking by Steve Tishman the owner of the successful Sanford Limo Cycle, and what a great new undertaking it is! Full of Sanford history, fresh homemade food, and engaging conversation this must be one of the best ways to spend 3 hours with friends and literally eat your way through Sanford and all its history and charm.

Our stops included:

  • The Tennessee Truffle
  • Park Avenue Popcorn Shoppe
  • Dreamy Cakes Bakery
  • Magnolia Square Market
  • Wops Hops Brewery
  • Wondermade Marshmallows

While each stop provided us with delicious food (biscuits and gravy, flatbread pizzas, chocolate salted caramel cupcakes, yes please!)  We also had the privilege to meet with the owners, who warmly invited us in, sat with us and offered a sneak peek into what brought them to Sanford and inspired them to set up shop. It was genuinely a pleasure to listen to each of them and hear their stories and their love and commitment to this historic town.

The entire food tour experience was amazing (and filling! You definitely won’t leave hungry!) If you have never done a food tour before or even if you have noshed your way through many, the Sanford Food Tour is truly one not to miss, and great excuse to get your friends together and bond over the food, the charm and history.

– Heather McDaniel Schmitt, writer for Sanford365

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Sanford Food Tour owner, Steve Tishman introducing himself and giving us some Sanford history.

– Leon Konieczny, Founder of Lake Mary Food Critic Blog

I was happy to join the recent Sanford Food Tour, a personal, small-group, private tour of some of the best foodie places in Sanford. The walking tour takes you through the heart of the historic downtown business district of Sanford and along the way, we learned a lot about Sanford’s history, besides having some great eats. Though the itinerary can vary a bit, we visited a number of fantastic restaurants on the day I took the tour. 

Sanford Food Tours - history and food of Sanford, FL

Sanford Food Tours – Standing outside the Wells Fargo building on 1st street where the vault was recreated on a sound stage and used for the opening sequence of the 2001 version of Oceans 11.

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The Tennessee Truffle – Our first stop needed no introduction for me (Leon), I’d written and sampled the great food at “the Truffle” for Sanford365 even before they officially opened. But this was a great opportunity to experience them again. 

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Tennessee Truffle’s Delicious Biscuits & Gravy.

Meeting the restaurant owners during one of the fabulous Sanford Food Tours

Tennessee Truffle owner and chef, Nat Russell tells us more about Tennessee Truffle and his delicious foods.

I love Sanford Food Tours

We love Sanford Food Tours, can you tell?

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Tennessee Truffle’s to die for Carrot Soup

I had a delicious helping of their sausage gravy and biscuits, but this is unlike what you’ll find anywhere else. The biscuits are light, fluffy, and buttery, about the best I’ve ever had. The sausage gravy is made superb and made in-house: pork butt (shoulder) is ground, then fried. Next red pepper and ground fennel is toasted in the fat. Bacon fat from their house-cured/smoked Duroc pork bacon is added and then a roux made with flour, then warmed whole milk. Fresh sage, salt and pepper finish it off. It is served on a fresh biscuit, topped with some fresh seasonal sprouts. It’s the most wonderful sausage gravy I’ve ever had.

We also enjoyed a taste of Chef Nat Russell’s carrot soup: locally grown fresh carrots are cooked, seasoned, pureed, and strained, then vegetable stock and seasonings are added, and finally it’s served with a drizzle of crème fraiche and brown butter. Delicious, sweet, and with a gentle carrot flavor—and of course, the brilliant orange color.

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Park Ave. Popcorn Shoppe owner, Heidi Plummer tell us more about the unique popcorn flavors. As of November 19th the shop has closed and although we are saddened by this we are so happy to of had this wonderful shop as a part of Downtown for the past 4+ years and are so grateful to the sweet owners, Wiley & Heidi Plummer. Happy Retirement you two!!

Park Avenue Popcorn Shoppe (Now Closed, the sweet owners have decided to spend more time with family and retire)  – Our next stop on the Sanford Food Tour was the popcorn shop where owner/founder Heidi Plummer was busy making fresh popcorn. She’d just finished a batch of caramel corn, so we had a nice sample of wonderful, fresh caramel corn while hearing the story of how they got started some years back in Iowa, then relocated to Sanford. They also server locally made ice cream, not available in supermarkets and big box stores. It was absolutely wonderful. I have been here a number of times for the popcorn, it really is a huge step above any other flavored popcorn you can find.

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Heather and Claudia enjoying a sweet treat from Park Avenue Popcorn Shoppe

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Next stop, Dreamy Cakes Bakery

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Dreamy Cakes Owner, Chef & Artist, Angel Buckland

Sanford Food Tours next stop: Dreamy Cakes Bakery – Now on to Dreamy Cakes Bakery, but they are more than a bakery. We sampled their homemade chicken empanada served with peach salsa and a salad—it was wonderful. The empanada was great by itself, but the addition of the tangy/sweet peach salsa put it over the top. It was served with a bit of salad, fresh and nicely dressed, and some orange cranberry iced tea. And of course we had dessert, a fresh salted caramel mini-cupcake that was tender, moist, and delicious, accompanied by fresh French press coffee. Wonderful. I can see why their cupcakes and desserts are so popular locally. Chef Angel is a classically trained and award-winning chef, and it shows. The interior is also stunning, because you’re inside a building, yet feel like you are outside a little café in France, just a wonderful atmosphere.

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Jessica, ready to enjoy her salted caramel mini-cupcake from Dreamy Cakes.

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Dreamy Cakes Empanda, salsa and salad.

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Magnolia Square Market and Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café – Next we ventured to Magnolia Market where the pastry chef from Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café showed us how she makes their famous Apfelstrudel. She sure made it look easy. The ingredients are beautiful in their simplicity: a fresh dough composed of flour, water, eggs, a pinch of salt and splash of vinegar is made, then allowed to rest for a half hour. Then, with plenty of flour, she deftly rolled it out into a rectangle the size of a full sheet pan, about 2 feet by 1 ½ feet, and very thin. The main ingredient is 14 shredded granny smith apples, topped with a few golden raisins, some cinnamon, and a light dusting of sugar, and nothing more. With a few deft maneuvers, she rolled the strudel up into about a 22 inch long roll, the showed her experience in transferring it onto the baking pan. Finally we got to sample some Apfelstrudel and it was absolutely delicious. The apples were tender and juicy, a bit tart, with just a hint of cinnamon and the juicy, plump raisins. I loved how they kept their texture and it was not overly sweet but really tasted like apples, as it should. Topped with a dusting of powder sugar, it was wonderful. Magnolia Market also makes a variety of fresh sandwiches and serves up various pastries and sides as well as being a great German European Market.

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Magnolia Square’s Apple Strudel

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Watch the Sanford Food Tours Video on how to make Apfelstrudel…

 

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On to our next stop, Wop’s Hops

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Wop’s Hops owner, Greg Piecora gives up the lowdown on his specialty beers and the new food menu.

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Next stop during Sanford Food Tours: Wops Hops Brewery – More than just a local  microbrewery (Sanford’s first), Wops Hops also serves a delightful assortment of delicious bar food. Of course we had to wash it down with a sample of Greg’s own brews, too. We got to sample three of their flatbreads, and every one of them were really good. The meatball flatbread with mozzarella cheese had a spicy marinara and sautéed sweet onions and peppers, a lot like a good Italian meatloaf sub, just on a flatbread. The chicken pesto flatbread had a great basil-garlic cream sauce with tender white-meat pesto/chicken and bacon—the bacon added a great depth of flavor, it was absolutely delicious. And the white pizza flatbread had house-made basil cream sauce, bruschetta tomatoes, ricotta and mozzarella—it was rich, creamy, and delicious. I’m not sure with was my favorite, I want to have them all again! It’s a great place to have some locally brewed beer and a bit to eat—or a whole meal.

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Owner of Wop’s Hops, Greg Piecora

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Wop Hop’s Flatbread Pizza

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Wondermade Marshmallows – Until you’ve tasted a real, homemade type of marshmallow, you don’t know what “real” marshmallow is. Wondermade started as a how-to-make-your-own-marshmallows gift and has burgeoned into a large online business with a local storefront in Sanford where you can sample their delightful flavors, from a Guinness-like stout marshmallow, to wine flavored marshmallows, to apple, orange, cookies & cream, and many other exotic flavors. We got to sample quite a few when were visited, each one better than the next, and excellent when toasted. On top of that, they now make their own ice cream, fresh and in-house. I have never tasted ice cream this good. Cornbread ice cream? You bet. Maple Bacon? Of course. Avocado? Sure thing. But also many traditional flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan, and the like. This is really, really good ice cream. Well worth a stop during Sanford Food Tours.

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The best way to eat a Wondermade Marshmallow!

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Gingerbread Marshmallow, yes please!!

Sanford Food Tours is a fantastic adventure. In the short period of three hours, I ate a wonderful assortment of small bites, samples from some of the area’s finest restaurants, while walking through the historic downtown area and learning about the history of Sanford. I also heard from some of those who make Sanford such a foodie’s paradise, those who have brought their passion for good eats to Sanford, and why they chose Sanford. Sanford truly is a food-lover’s paradise and the Sanford Food Tour gave me a great chance to experience that first-hand. It’s a wonderful adventure, time well spent.

**Please note that in order to incorporate all the businesses in Downtown Sanford as well as keeping it new and exciting the locations that are included in the Food Tour are subject to change.

Author: Leon Konieczny

Leon Konieczny is a local Central Florida foodie and food blogger who’s been writing about area “good eats” restaurants for the past 7 years. He’s big into eating at local mom ‘n’ pop shops (small businesses) where high quality ingredients and a dose of home cooking make all the difference. While he occasionally (rarely) eats at the big chains, he claims it’s only to remind him where real quality lurks—in the small restaurants which are the heart of every community. Check out his foodie blog Central Florida's Good Eats!

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