Tag archive for "food"

Indulgence in America: my ultimate US food guide

Destinations, USA

Indulgence in America: my ultimate US food guide

8 Comments 11 September 2012

“They make the best cheesesteaks in the world,” I say to Ric about Pat’s in Philadelphia during our plane ride from Dallas to the city last year.

“The line can be extremely long, especially after a game, but it’s worth the wait,” I add.

“What are they like,” he asks me, eyes wide open.

“Soft, yet crispy rolls, lots of chopped up, thin meat and cheese whiz. Glorious cheese whiz,” I say. “But you have to order it correctly. Once you get to the counter just say how many steaks you want, the type of cheese, and if you want onions. That’s it.”

“What if they don’t understand me?” he asks. Remembering my struggle to understand his northern English accent in the first few months of our relationship and my families continuing confusion.

“Maybe, I’ll just order,” I reply.

Food in America is somewhat of a legend to people who have never visited the country. Anywhere I go, people ask me, “Are the portions really that big?” “What does a slice of pizza in NYC taste like?” and “Where can I get the best burger?”.

Yes our portions are massive, you just have to try a New York slice to understand its greasy goodness and a good burger is never too far away, no matter where you are in the USA.

I really can’t think of another place in the world where food is such a hot topic. So when I took Ric, one of the biggest food lovers I’ve ever met, home to meet my family last year, I wanted to make sure he got the chance to try as much as he could and maybe understand why we are the fattest nation on earth.

Regaling tails of Pat’s cheesesteaks, Stewart’s chili cheese dogs and trying to explain the size of a slice of pizza at Lorenzo and Sons, we started making a list of all the things Ric had to try in America.

Six weeks and about 20lbs between us later, we completed most of that list.

Ric trying his first cheesesteak at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Planning another trip to the States this Fall, one that will take us to Niagara Falls in New York and possibly Key West in Florida, we started making another.

So for all you food lovers out there, this is my ultimate food list for the USA, in no particular order. Though it’s mostly focused on Northeast America, because that’s where I’m from and know best, a lot of the foods on this list are general for all of America. Some include my favorite places to eat a particular food, but of course there are plenty of other amazing places to try the same item. Tackle it by going out for whatever you’re in the mood for first and don’t be afraid go for more than three meals in one day.

Buffalo wings at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY: Take un-breaded chicken wings and drum sticks, fry them, smother them in buffalo sauce, which everybody prepares differently, but usually contains a cayenne pepper based hot sauce, vinegar and other seasoning, and serve with blue cheese. No the meat is not buffalo, nor do buffalos have wings. The name comes from the city where they were invented, Buffalo, NY and Anchor Bar is the restaurant where it happened.

Pizza at Lorenzo and Sons in Philadelphia, PA and Mack and Manco’s in Ocean City, NJ: Both spots serve up massive and deliciously greasy slices. The first is a favorite drunk food spot for me. The second is somewhere I used to visit all the time as a kid.

A whole cheese pizza just for me at Mack and Manco’s on the Ocean City boardwalk. Photo by Julia Eve Hays

Cheesesteak at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia, PA: I covered this already above. Why Pat’s? It’s where I’ve always visited for cheesesteaks. To go anywhere else, especially Geno’s, would be sacrelig.

Wawa hoagie: Wawa may look like just a convenience store, but it’s so much more. With store locations only in the mid-Atlantic region, though I just read stores will soon be opening in Florida, the value of this store and their sandwiches is lost among most Americans, but it’s the first stop for most people in this region when returning home. Create your own hoagies or try one of their special seasonal creations like The Gobbler around Thanksgiving.

Corn dogs: Best at carnivals and county fairs, it’s basically a hot dog on a stick, dipped in cornmeal batter and fried.

Sloppy Joe’s: These can be made at home and found at various Americana restaurants. There’s not much to this sandwich, just ground beef devoured by a sweet tomato sauce, maybe onions, served between two buns.

A hot dog on a potato roll: Visit any food truck in most cities around the States for one of these. Another ideal location to eat a hot dog would be a baseball game and Chicago is known for their hot dogs. I’m a fan of all hot dogs to be honest and I prefer them on potato rolls.

Ric takes a bite out of a hot dog just purchased from a food cart in NYC. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Super size meal at McDonald’s: It has to be done, at least once in the States, just so people can understand how big this meal is. To give you an idea, large sodas in other countries are the same size as our smalls.

Chimmey Chonga: A sort of deep fried burrito. They can be found at any Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.

Taco Bell and Chipotle: I know all Californians are going to roll their eyes at this, but I love Mexican fast food restaurants and they don’t exist anywhere else in the world. So on top of visiting a special Mexican restaurant that no one knows of, grab a $1 taco from Taco Bell after or during late night cravings.

Nachos: Have you noticed how important Mexican food is in the States? There is nothing like a mountain of nachos with salsa, beans, black olives, jalapenos, cheese and sour cream. This dish can be found at about every bar and of course Mexican restaurants. I love the nachos at McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia, PA, which is the oldest bar in the city and my favorite.

Reuben sandwich from Harold’s New York Deli in Edison, NJ: I still have yet to visit there, but my dad would always bring me half his sandwich home after lunch dates. This is the place to try a truly massive sandwich in the USA and the Reuben; corn beef, cole slaw, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread, it’s just a classic.

Fat sandwich at Grease Trucks set up by Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ: Following the cheesesteak and big sandwich thread of this list, try to imagine the most unhealthy, but delicious sandwich on earth. These sandwiches will still top that.

Soft pretzels: Another Philadelphia favorite, vendors hang out at attractions like the Franklin Institute or outside stadiums after games selling these snacks out of metal shopping carts. I go to a tiny pretzel shop in Rancocas Woods that makes and sells them fresh.

Donuts: Make sure to go to a non-franchise bakery to taste the best in this breakfast item. I love Dunkin Donuts, I even like their coffee, but nothing beats an independent bakery donut made with love. You’ll find bakeries and cake shops like this everywhere in the States.

Butter cake and stickybuns from Fritz’s Bakery: My dad is the king of sweets and this place is his kingdom. I can remember vividly waking up to white boxes and feeling sheer joy, because I knew right away that inside were two of the richest and sweetest treats known to man; butter cake and stickybuns from Fritz’s Bakery. Butter cake is pretty self-explanatory, just sweet cakey goodness that melts in your mouth and on the plate. Stickybuns are glazed cinnamon buns topped with raisins and/or walnuts. Ric and I woke up to this the first morning back in my childhood house. It was the best welcome home I could have ever imagined.

Our first morning back in my house in the USA, we woke up to an array of sticky buns from Fritz’s Bakery. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

A proper milk shake: They’re known as thick shakes down here (Australia and New Zealand), but at home they’re always thick. I’m talking about hard ice cream with chocolate or strawberry syrup, not flavoring, and only a little milk. A thick, rich milkshake from your local ice cream shop. There’s nothing like it in the Summer.

Cornbread: Sweet, yet savory bread or muffins made of cornmeal. Everyone makes their cornbread differently.

Fried chicken: From somewhere other than KFC.

Perogies: Ric always makes fun of me and says these are American, but they are Polish! I tried them in Krakow, Poland and nothing really tops that, but the potato dumplings are very popular in the USA, best served with fried onions.

Burger at PYT in Philadelphia, PA: It’s fairly easy to find a good American burger in the country, one layered with meat patties, covered in cheese and topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion. PYT opened a few years back and they get creative with their extravagance on this traditional fast food sandwich. They also have alcoholic milkshakes, so…

Open wide. Ric digs into his first burger in the USA at Johnny Rockets. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Key Lime Pie in Key West, Florida: It can be hard to find good key lime pie in the States. I was spoiled at a young age to have been able to try it in Key West. It should have a matching tart and sweet qualities and baked in graham cracker crust.

Alligator: This is one of those novelty foods to try down South, that can actually be pretty good depending on how it’s served. I’ve tried alligator jerky in Florida that just tasted like any other jerky and seen alligator in a variety of ways on menus in New Orleans, LA. It’s worth a try if you have the chance.

Craft beer: Sure everyone knows Budweiser or Miller around the world, but what they may not know is the popularity and quality of craft beers in the States, especially in the Northeastern States. Beer around my area is really exciting. Everywhere you go you find a new brewery that dominates one area like Ubu beer in Lake Placid, NY and River Horse in Lambertville, NJ. This is a trend I love about America, because traveling, people will always say how commercialized the States are, but just using beer as an example, there are still unique and independent businesses popping up and prospering. Of course, I must add to try pumpkin ale. A lot of brewers make their own version of this Fall favorite.

Everyone is going to have different “best places” for this and that. These are mine and after visiting, you might find them your’s as well. Regardless of where you end up trying these recommended food items or where others take you, make sure to try as many as you can to get a proper taste of the States.

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The price of travel around the world-meals

Australia, Destinations, England, New Zealand, Other, Thailand, Tips & Facts, USA

The price of travel around the world-meals

5 Comments 30 August 2012

We’ve decided to finish off this series the same way a lot of people would finish off a vacation, with a meal.

Earlier this week we covered cheap eats including street foods and meals on the go. This post is dedicated to longer, sit-down, restaurants or just more upmarket meal prices while traveling. However, don’t expect the price of each country’s top restaurants. That will almost always be expensive. These meal prices are at budget-friendly restaurants.

You’ve drank your beer, stayed some place nice, mastered a country’s public transportation system and eaten a few cheap tasty treats along the way. Now it’s time to sit back and dig in. Here is the price of meals around the world brought to you by 14 featured bloggers.

Meal world price guide

Country Food Blogger
USA $10-15 Runaway Juno
Australia AUD$13-25 ($13.50-25.85) yTravel Blog
New Zealand NZD$20 ($16) BackpackingMatt
England £10-15 ($15.85-23.75) The Aussie Nomad
Spain €12 ($15) Christine in Spain
Germany €5-10 ($6.25-12.50) Travels of Adam
Turkey TRY5-8 ($2.75-4.40) Iced Chai
India INR40-200 ($0.70-3.50) Globetrotter Girls
Egypt EGP15 ($2.50) Iced Chai
Iran N/A Iced Chai
Indonesia (Bali) RP40,000 ($4.20) Sit Down Disco
Thailand THB200 ($6.75) Heels and Wheels
South Korea KRW3,400-11,300$3-10 Waegook-Tom
Colombia COP14,600-18,300($8-10) 20-Something Travel

Additional information from participating bloggers on the price of meals around the world

  • Backpacking Matt recommends visiting a pub in New Zealand for one of its budget nightly feeds.
  • Chris, the Aussie Nomad, uses a curry meal at a restaurant on London’s Brick Lane as an example of the prices given above.
  • Travels of Adam’s prices range from a good meal to an excellent meal with drink.
  • Christine in Spain’s price is for the menu del dia (lunch special which includes a starter, main course, dessert, bread and drink).
  • Lavanya at Iced Chai gave the same information for cheap eats and meals in Iran.
  • Globetrotter Girls Dani and Jess have given a wide range of meal prices in India. These price points range between more expensive restaurants in non-tourist areas to meals at tourist restaurants in beach destinations.
  • Adam at Sit Down Disco’s price is for a cafe meal with non-alcoholic drink in Bali.
  • I supplied the price above for Thailand. This price is for an average restaurant in the country, not street food, including a drink and a starter.
  • In South Korea, Waegook-Tom says it’s hard to try Korean barbecue on a budget when solo traveling. He says it’s best to round up a few people to share the cost. If this isn’t an option and you want something authentic, he recommends Korea’s “orange restaurants” named so because of their signage. He says one of the priciest meals there, donkkasseu (pork cutlet) with kimbap, should cost no more than $US6. The cheapest meal there, rabokki – ramen mixed with spicy rice cakes, costs about $US3. The higher end prices he mentions are for pizza and fried chicken at a non-chain store.
  • Stephanie at Twenty-Something Travel says her price in Colombia is for “a non-set meal at a slightly nice place”.

Note: Exchange rates were calculated on 30 August 2012 using XE and are the approximate conversion. These rates change constantly, so check the most current exchange rate before any trip.

Also, prices vary throughout a country, especially larger ones like the USA. If you do not agree with the price provided, please write about it below and we’ll adjust our chart.

Is there another country you would like to see in this post? It’s an open post, so share the price of meals in another country of the world in our comments section and we’ll add your tip to the chart.

Thanks to all our bloggers for their help!

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Indie 30 #11 Feast: Harrods Food Court

Online Goodies, Other

Indie 30 #11 Feast: Harrods Food Court

No Comments 12 November 2011

(This post is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel series. All are welcome to join.)

This story is actually a little bit embarrassing.

While studying abroad in London in 2007, I gained about 20 lbs and a few more backpacking Europe for three months after.

Damn you Italy.

The UK is well-known for its sweets and in me, the country met its match. I ate just about everything this country had to offer; Tesco cookies, tiny triangular sandwiches at high tea, sausages from illegal vendors that only come out at night and of course Cadbury everything.

But on one fine day in London, all my dreams came true on a personal food tour of Harrods. My friend, who shall remain nameless because I’m not sure he wants to suffer the embarrassment, and I sampled just about everything the upscale department store had to offer; truffles, pralines, expensive deli meats, even a few Krispy Cream Donuts. To top it off we shared a massive banana split at the Ice Cream Parlour at Harrods.

Our eating frenzy continued for a few more stores after Harrods as we made our way home. But it came to a sad end at the lifts in our residency. We hopped on the lift with just a couple other people, the norm, but unlike usual, this time the lift didn’t budge.

We were over capacity.

So with our heads down in shame over how far our fat kid dreams had gone, we hopped off.

It was time to start using the stairs… 

Photo via www.skyscrapercity.com.

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Eat like the locals: Bicol cuisine

Destinations, Philippines

Eat like the locals: Bicol cuisine

4 Comments 05 February 2011

Any time I would dine with other people in Donsol, Philippines they would ask the waiter or waitress, “Can you recommend more dishes like the local ones you did before?”

Bicol is the local culture and dialect in Legazpi, Philippines and the city’s surrounding area, including Donsol. This special culture includes quite a few unique dishes people may not be able to find anywhere else in the world, but definitely won’t be able to find better anywhere else.

It’s always a better idea to taste the local cuisine when traveling, not just to try something new, but also because those are the dishes the locals best know how to make. That may be why Amor Farm Beach Resort in Donsol has a sign in its Kawnkita Restaurant that reads, “Bicol cuisine at its best,” with four suggestions of key Bicol dishes listed underneath.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Kinunot P150

This dish features some kind of white flake fish, often sting ray or tuna, cooked coconut milk and malunggay, which is a popular tree that produces leaves similar to spinach. It’s very flavorful and can be quite spicy at times. A lot of dishes in Bicol cuisine are based in coconut milk and if you saw the endless amount of palm trees in the area, you would understand why.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Adobadong Manok P175

A good choice for the not-so-adventurous eater, this dish includes sauteed chicken with coconut milk and papaya. It’s a mild dish similar to other several sauteed chicken dishes, but with a slight taste that makes it special.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Laing P75

For the vegetarian, this dish has gabi taro leaves, which has a consistency similar to spinach when cooked leaves, cooked in coconut milk. The dish can also include ginger and taste very strong of it depending on whose cooking, Its quite a rich dish, so don’t be surprised if you can’t get through one serving.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Bicol Express P175

The name sounds westernized, but the tastes is like nothing outsiders have had before. They take pork and cook it in finger chillies and coconut milk. The mixture of spicy and sweet goes well with the meat, especially its fatty bits.

All dishes are served with rice.

Thanks to Amor Farm Beach Resort and Whaleshark Adventure and Tours for supporting my trip to Donsol.


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How to be a good hosteler

Other, Tips & Facts

How to be a good hosteler

3 Comments 07 January 2010

Travelers may not always have the chance to land that perfect hostel. During high season, these cheap accommodations fill up quickly, making it hard for the spur-of-the-moment travelers to land the Pink Palaces or Flying Pigs.

But just because a more well-known hostel is booked doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time somewhere else. Even if you do get the big-name hostel, one traveler’s bad mood or habits can ruin an experience for others. Here are some tips to make the most of your hostel experience, while not intruding on others’ experiences.

Be outgoing: One good thing about traveling is most people you come in contact with are eager to meet new people and see new places. That’s the point, right? All it takes is a simple “hi,” or compliment to spark a conversation. Better yet, ask a person where he or she is coming from. Not only will you learn something about that person, but he or she also might give you ideas for future travels. With good crowd that gets along, any hostel can be great.

Don’t eat others’ food: Staff will post a million signs. People will even leave post-it notes on their items in the fridge. Still, someone’s food always goes missing. Don’t be that person. It’s just mean. Actually, it’s stealing! Plus, travelers really focus on budget and give up a lot to just spend a few more days on the road. Eating just one slice of a person’s pizza could mean one less day that person gets to travel.

Be courteous: This one may seem obvious and applies to life in general, but it’s important to reiterate. Traveling can be stressful. You never know what a fellow traveler went through in the past 24 hours. Did he or she have to sleep on a cold floor? Has that person not had a chance to use a bathroom? Did he or she have a bad encounter? On the road a hostel is home, even if it’s only for a few days. Accordingly, you should treat people in the hostel as you would family. There’s no telling how much “can I help you with your bags,” or even “how are you” means to a person who has not slept in two days.

Don’t snore: This one is a little far-fetched. People obviously can’t help it if  they snore. But if you’re is notorious for snoring, maybe try laying on your stomach or side. If you really want to be awesome, invest in nasal strips. But really it’s not that big a deal. Just a tip for light sleepers though; BUY EAR PLUGS.

Keep it tidy: One of the ways hostels keep prices low is by only providing room service after a patron leaves his or her space. On top of that, most hostels bunk at least four, sometimes upwards of 20 people in one room. A traveler should keep his or her things together and in one space close by, whether it be in a locker or under a bed. Don’t feel the need to make your bed every morning, but don’t leave dirty clothing or tissues etc. around shared rooms and common areas. This is especially important in the bathroom and kitchen. As a basic rule, clean up any mess you make as soon as you make it. It’s fair and will prevent tension.

Watch how hard you party: It’s fun to go out with new found friends at hostels and there is almost always something to do at night with hostel friends. Some hostels are known for its party-atmosphere. Others really don’t mention either way. Regardless, be aware of others. Go out and have fun. Party hard till all hours of the night. After all it’s your vacation too. But know your limits in regards to getting sick, out of control and being too loud. It’s one hostel patron’s right to a good night’s sleep and clean, unoccupied toilet, just as much as it’s another hostel patron’s right to go out and party.

Don’t hog the computer: Computer/internet access is the greatest thing in the world for techies, actually anyone traveling far from home. But no matter how long someone has been away from a computer, everyone should be able to enjoy this privilege. If there is no one around, take advantage of the computer. But if someone is lurking behind you or bluntly waiting for the computer, don’t just keep looking at people’s Facebook profiles. Do what is imperative, then share the computer with others. This applies to all shared resources in a hostel.

Don’t blast personal music: Not everyone has the same music taste. Unless people say they don’t mind, it’s best to wear headphones whenever listening to music. (Look below.)

Photo courtesy of E-Hotel.

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