With our sun-kissed skin and beach-ready bodies, you would have pegged the typical Aussie as a girl who eats only healthy foods, stays away from junk-food trouble and is generally deprived in the gourmet food department. This is true to a certain extent; we do watch what we eat most of the days, but even supermodels have their guilty pleasures and cheat days, so who are we to deny ourselves the same? When I decided to set sail to the US I had four goals in mind – visit all the major cities and soak up the culture and architecture, experience the US nightlife, buy all the makeup and clothes that aren’t available in Australia and finally – try the best distinctly American foods the country has to offer, so follow me and learn what I’ve discovered in my travels – food-wise.
Healthy and upscale
My personal mantra is ‘go big or go home’ so once I arrived I simply had to treat myself to the finest NYC has to offer. I waited weeks to get a reservation in this place, as this is common practice with many New York hotspots, and I had my heart set on dining at Eleven Madison Park. Aside from the ultimately chic Art Deco Instagrammable ambiance, this place’s point of pride is an ever-changing menu and the meals made of fresh seasonal ingredients. In the spirit of full decadence, I opted for their eight-course menu, and every dish was like I’ve entered heaven. I can’t even remember the names of the meals as there were so many, and the menu changes all the time, (although I do remember the divine truffles and scallops with caviar and pear), but I highly recommend it, because it’s a once in a lifetime dining experience. It comes with a price – after all this is a Michelin-starred restaurant, and it did break the bank, but I regret nothing!
When in Texas
Of course, knowing that the US is home to a number of different regional barbecue styles, each one more salacious than the other, I had no choice but to give barbecue a try. After doing my homework, and deciding that the next state on my ‘to visit list’ was Texas – you haven’t been to America if you haven’t seen Texas, I simply had to try out their signature barbecue, which features beef grilled on an oak-based barbecue to give it a kind of a special aroma, topped off with a spicy-tomato sauce and the kind of sweetness that I can’t put my finger on. Not to steal KFC’s line, but it was finger-lickin’ good, and my mouth is watering as I reminisce right now. Stillwater Barbecue is the name of the place, but any BBQ place in Texas is unlikely to disappoint.
We Aussies take pride in our desserts, but American pie, I have to admit, is something else. Now, I could have taken a more extravagant route, but I really wanted a taste of something distinctly American – and the song isn’t called American pie for no reason. Sure, I could have gone with a peach or cherry one, but the key lime was just calling out to me. Later I found out that this particular pie is a Florida signature, a state I didn’t get to visit, but I figured that Houston does it equally well – if the barbecue was that good I had no reason to doubt the pie. So, I headed to the city’s famous Three Brother Bakery, and oh, dear god, I understood why it was a multi-award-winning pie. I honestly wished I could pack a whole stack and bring home, but I’ll settle for a recipe I found online, although it will never be as good as that one.
I left my heart in San Francisco
OK, San Francisco was something else. I loved NYC, adored Huston, but there is something about San Francisco that simply takes your breath away; you see the photos, but they don’t do it justice. Granted, it’s one of the priciest cities in the States, but I think it’s totally justified. I don’t usually indulge in this amount of carbs, but come on, I was on an excursion of a lifetime, I had no intention of letting silly little things like pounds get in the way of pleasure. I tried tons of things while in SF, but their signature sourdough bread – I swear I ate half of that thing without anything on the side, and I never thought of myself as a ‘bread’ person. Of course, I did finally find the perfect match for it – the bread as a bowl of soup. Noe Valley Bakery was the place I got mine, as I found that it’s not as ‘touristy’ so it had to be good, and I made the perfect choice. Popular travel guides get it right sometimes, but other times you just have to explore and find those places where true locals eat.
I could write an entire book on all the delicious things that filled my belly – and that will take some time to shed, kilogram-wise. Luckily, I did walk around and explore a whole lot so it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’m not going to mention donuts and black and white cookies, everyone knows about those, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put them on your bucket list.
Sassy Peeps, have you ever ate your way through a city, town or country? Inquiring minds would love to know!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Claire Hastings is a wanderer and a writer. She writes as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about fashion, running, other cultures, and her cat.
Follow Claire on Twitter @claireahastings