If ever there was a snapshot in recent history where food builds community, this is it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all had to adapt the ways that we shop for and connect with our food, whether that means socially distancing while we line up at the grocery store or arranging a curbside pick-up at our local farm. Many of us are also seeking ways to support our hometown economy by buying from independent take-out restaurants and connecting with close-to-home agricultural options and service providers.
During a crisis or not, the one thing we all universally need is food, and “Food Builds Community” is Spicy Jan’s motto. Janice Vilaca, known to many as “Spicy Jan”, is a local-loving firecracker who operates Tasty Road Trips, an award-winning food and drink experience tour company. Ordinarily, she’d be hopping aboard her luxury mini-bus loaded to the hilt with a group of foodies from near and far to savour all that Brantford-Brant has to offer. These days, without the element of tasting, she’s had to reinvent the bones of her business since many of her partnering stop-in destinations are available for take-out only and have had to remain closed to the public.
Tour2Go (or T2G for short) is Jan’s latest online concept that allows her participants the opportunity to engage in her tours at no or low cost from the comfort of their own homes, while learning about local agriculture and getting to know local food and drink connoisseurs. “It’s really about building a community around the food, without the food”, Jan says about her newest innovation towards armchair tourism, “Tour2Go is just one way to highlight the commendable way our local food and beverage providers are showcasing their talent and versatility in providing for us during this time“. During the week of April 20, 2020, Jan launched her first set of T2G tours, T2G – Rural! and T2G - Happy Hour!
T2G – Rural!
Take a bite out of your Monday morning and learn the story behind the milk with Farmer Ashley from local dairy operation, Browndale Farms. A-moo-se yourself or your udderly bored youngsters with a 45 minute trip to the barn to see how Nutella, Clovie, Lucille and eighty other cows get robotically milked every day. You might even get a glimpse into the calf pen to meet baby Paris, or get the chance to name Browndale’s newest addition! T2G – Rural! is available for all ages at no cost every Monday at 11 am, so click here to register, pour yourself a glass of fresh Canadian milk and meet up at the farm (virtually, of course)!
T2G – Happy Hour!
Raise a glass of cheer and bring a household companion to indulge in some of the 45 destination hosts, chefs, food creators, brewers, artists and makers that Tasty Road Trips visits. Meet as strangers and come away with a few new food friends in this intimate and interactive 19+ home house party. Every Sunday from 6-7 pm, Spicy Jan will introduce you to the small town experts of their craft, give you a peek into their local operations and prove you don’t have to be from the big city to be big on flair and flavour! Sign up for here to sip and connect!
Tasty Road Trips’ most recent T2G tours have attracted virtual visitors from Peru, Costa Rica, Japan and beyond, which reinforces that tourism isn’t just about large city centres. Brantford-Brant has a total population of approximately 140,000 people, but “that doesn’t mean that people aren’t curious about the way other people live”, says Jan. So whether you’re around the world or around the corner, immerse yourself in something new online and try a Tour2Go. If you have a zest for fancy fare, pub grub, all things appetizing and you’ve just gotta taste it for yourself, book an in-person tour for a full-bodied experience on a future date. No matter how you slice it, Tasty Road Trips truly brings the best of the Grand River region together in an inspired way. Check out the true flavour of Brantford-Brant’s culinary, drink and agri-tourism industry at www.tastyroadtrips.com.