Food You Must Try on a Trip to America

After travelling for three weeks in America this year if there’s one thing I learnt that sets that country apart is its food. American food is on a whole other level. On every corner there’s something delicious to try that it’s practically impossible not to put weight. I mean, some of the food is just unimaginable anywhere else. Take for example, the ‘pie shake‘. Literally a HUGE slice of  sweet pie (like cheesecake but bigger) which is then blended with 2 scoops ice cream and milk. Sounds tempting right? Regardless of its nutritional value, food is an essential part of the ‘American experience’.  Here’s a look at just some of the ‘typical’ American foods (and surprisingly, all vegetarian) I tried and would recommend tasting while visiting the U.S. I’m sure there’s many more though… what others would you add to the list?

  1. Bagels

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Mmm… the humble bagel. I put away a few while in America, there are just so many varieties to choose from! You can be a bit of a sell-out and grab one from Starbucks (I admit it, I did) but there are stores completely dedicated to the things like Noah’s New York Bagel (choc chip with peanut butter pictured above – delish). If you want to go for the ‘healthy’ option, you can also get them at Wholefoods.

2. Doughnuts

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So with a boyfriend that has a penchant for anything sweet but who also doesn’t eat eggs, we were on the hunt for the best vegan doughnuts around. My favourite were some tasty ones from Doughnut Plant in New York (I got for the ‘cake’ over ‘yeast’ option any day) but I think he may have liked the selection from Voodoo Doughnut more and as the photo above shows, one, or two, weren’t even enough. We got our voodoo fix from the shop in Eugene but they are originally from Portland, where they are practically famous. We saw the queue as we passed through town and it was legit out the door.

3 & 4. Grits & Biscuit

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So this bowl of mush is actually a Southern speciality called grits, that I can only best describe as a porridge of maize. Fun fact – it is loved by many Americans but not me unfortunately. Recommended by a friend for brunch, this plate of ‘white’ foods also features an omelette and what’s called a biscuit, which is quite similar to what Australians or Brits know as scones. We got this at Brendas Meat and Three, which is quite a popular brunch spot in San Francisco but as you could probably tell by the name, not really intended for vegetarians.

5. New York Slice Pizza

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So you’ve done the rooftop bar thing in New York, downed a few cocktails while watching the sun go down over the Manhattan skyline… now what’s left to do? Grab your group of friends and find the closest pizza shop that’s what. But if you’re like me and your pals are made up of strict veggos plus the random lactose intolerant friend, do not despair. I can tell you a damn good vegan pizza place. It’s only a hole in the wall but speaking from personal experience, Screamer’s pizzeria is the stuff of dreams. And if you think your life just couldn’t get any better, it is right next door to the BEST vegan ice creamery, Van Leeuwen. It’s a match made in meat-free/dairy-free heaven.

6. Burgers

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Being vegetarian doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on eating a burger, like a true ‘merican. Though if I’m honest I don’t even really like burgers and only eat them on special occasions like if I’m hungover, but I did and it was delicious. The mouth-watering specimen above is straight from Haigh & Ashy’s VeganBurg that boasts to be the world’s first 100% plant-based burger joint. They also do some mean “chicken” tenders with ranch sauce.

7. Mexican

img_4579.jpgBurritos, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas…. the list goes on. I held out to eat Mexican until I made it to to San Francisco because of its reputation for quality Mexican food and it didn’t disappoint. Actually, once I started it was hard to stop and all of a sudden it seem like everyday I was eating some form of Mexican food! If you’re ever in San Fran they say the best Mexican food can be found in the mission district. Just to compare, I also tried Taco Bell for the first time – fitting right in with the locals after a night out on the town.

Six Months in London

From freezing days and 3pm sunsets to now blue skies and 10pm daylight, a lot has changed over the last six months since I moved to London. Looking back at one of my earlier posts that marked the first month of living in Notting Hill, I realise so much has happened since then, not just with my travels but work (yes I do have a job!) and personal life as well. So I thought it was time to turn my reminiscing into words and put together a bit of a recap for you all.

TRAVEL LIFE

One of the biggest appeals of moving to London was the temptation and ease of travel compared to living in Sydney. Living on Europe’s doorstep and so close to Africa is something that I’ve definitely taken advantage of over the past six months. I’ve listed some of the destinations I have visited below, a few of which I have already written about and others that are still in the works. To be honest, time has gone so quickly and converting my travel journal notes and photos into enjoyable blog posts for you guys can be a bit of a juggling act! The closeness of destinations also means that I’m always thinking about a next trip or keeping an eye on free weekends and flight prices. My next adventure (leaving this weekend!) will be one of my biggest trips yet, taking me transatlantic for a two-week trip to the United States. Starting with a week in NYC and ending with a wedding on the West Coast, can’t wait to share it with you, stay tuned!

Places I have visited:

WORK LIFE

Besides what some people may think, I do work for a living! It just so happens that by a stroke of luck, this role has allowed me to go on two trips to Egypt to plan and host an international conference. While in London, I’ve been based in Mayfair (yes the Mayfair from Monopoly, just as flashy and corporate as you’d imagine) but also spent some time working from home in Notting Hill. I’ve delved into the world of start-ups and its community through friends and colleagues, and also been able to met other Londoners, locals and migrants, all on their own career path that involves facing the crazy peak hour commutes on the tube each day. London seems to be full of work opportunities but you also have to be savvy – and a bit lucky – to find the good ones. Generally, it does not pay as well as Australia either so you need to keep that in mind. Job roles are a lot more specialised here and having UK work experience under your belt really helps with career progression. One of the best things about working in London has been the friends I have made, who I would not have met otherwise working in Sydney. At my current job, our team is very international and in between working on issues related to Africa, my Portuguese colleague has also made sure we find time to search for the best Portuguese tarts in London!

FIT LIFE

One of the biggest challenges while living here has been trying to fill the void left by leaving my beloved fitness routine of F45 in the morning before work. Fitness classes can be pricey in London and finding something you like that fits your schedule and budget can be a little tricky. I have joined my local gym which I try to go to a few times a week (I do mainly pump and cycle classes) and I also play netball with an awesome mixed team on Tuesday evenings (I normally run or cycle to the games which is actually quicker than public transport!). While it’s always difficult to settle into a consistent routine, I did enjoy a trial week at F45 Tottenham Court Road and I’m planning to try Classpass with some of my friends who love it here to get back into it post America (and post all the bagels)!

Other than that, I’m enjoying the chance to try different things and found a new activity that is challenging, both physically and mentally, called bouldering. It’s basically rock climbing without a harness. I did it for the first time when visiting a friend in Norwich a few weeks ago and it was a lot of fun, not to mention your entire body gets a solid workout (you will feel it the next day!). It seems to be rapidly growing in the UK too so there are quite a few bouldering places or similar around London that I’m keen to check out.

FOOD LIFE

So still vegetarian and loving it but after spending much time during my first few months in London eating out and trying new restaurants, I’ve had to tame it back a bit after taking one too many bites out of my bank account! One of the best vegan/vegetarian spots I have discovered though has to be Bonnington Café. Located just a short walk from Vauxhall station, it’s a community café that has been around since the 80s and began as a venue for squatters. While the menu is simple, the homemade food is delicious and well-priced. It’s also BYO with no corkage charge.

Closer to home in Notting Hill, brunch is still one of my favourite things to do but every now and then I turn on the Masterchef mode and head to the Portobello Markets on Saturdays to buy some fresh produce from the local stalls and bread from Fabrique Bakery to create my own brunch. There are many cafés and restaurants in the area but having tried many of them, the best coffee I found is actually in a little café called Sweet Things just off Portobello Road. If you go during the week there’s normally an Australian girl there who manages the place and makes great coffee. The wifi is good with also power plugs on the tables, so I’ve spent a few days working there recently and rewarding myself with their carrot cake.