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Walking tour offers delicious way to experience historical Halifax

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HALIFAX - A Halifax foodie wants you to eat your way across the city.

Local Tasting Tours is giving tourists a personal and delicious experience of Halifax's most popular eateries and hidden gems, while also offering a taste of the city's rich history.

"I really feel it's the best way to see a city, and it's a really authentic way to see Halifax," said company owner Emily Forrest. "They're meeting some of the owners, they're learning about the Haligonians who run these businesses and they're learning a bit of history along the way.

"They're really getting a feel for the neighbourhoods and are seeing the grassroots."

It's a culinary snapshot of Halifax, exposing the range of mom and pop shops and upscale restaurants that dot the harbour city.

"You can see all the details of the city and pick up on the unique characteristics that you might miss on a bus," said Forrest, adding they have tours seven days a week. "We want to show them our favourites, little gems that are a little off the beaten path and ones that we've come to love."

The company operates several tours that each focus on different neighbourhoods, including the south end, downtown Halifax and Quinpool Road.

On the North End HFX tour, which begins in downtown Halifax and winds through the city's blossoming northern district, tour-takers are treated to a range of upscale food, local fare and homegrown craft beers.

You'll also pass by the 200-year-old Halifax Town Clock, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the historic urban core, and hear about the history of the signature timepiece nestled on the edge of Citadel Hill.

Tour stops include the critically acclaimed Gio, which serves up gourmet seafood in a fine-dining setting, and The Nook, a small coffee and sandwich shop that prides itself on being a neighbourhood destination, hosting anything from music shows to swing dancing.

You may even meet Frederic Tandy, a chef from France who came to Halifax to start his charcuterie business Ratinaud French Cuisine.

"All of our (meat) products are 90 per cent local, which is very important to us," Tandy explained to the tour in his small shop on Gottingen Street as people nibbled on lamb batonnet and freshly baked baguette dipped in olive oil.

Forrest said having the opportunity to speak with the people who are normally tucked away in the kitchen exposes the heart of Halifax.

"Everybody has a story as to why they want to cook the type of food that they do, where they came from, why they got started," she said.

The intimate interactions allow tourists to experience Halifax like a Haligonian, she added.

"It's kind of like an inside look, whereas if you were having a more conventional tourism experience, you might feel as if you're from a distance, that you're getting the information looking through a window," said Forrest.

"With our tours, you're getting a local's perspective on what it's like to live there and eat the food and what makes us different and special."

Follow @alythomson on Twitter.

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If you go...

The tours run seven days a week and four nights a week. Here is the 2014 schedule, which runs until the end of October:

HFX North, Thursday to Saturday at 1:30 p.m., $40

Downtown Halifax, Sunday and Monday at 1:30 p.m., $30

Night out on Quinpool, Wednesday to Saturday at 7 p.m., $60

Downtown SoMo, Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., $30

Visit www.localtastingtours.com or call (902) 818-9055 to book a tour.

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