It’s taken me an age to get around to this post. I think most of that delay is down to the fact that returning from such an incredible trip meant I didn’t want to pore over the pictures back in the UK; it felt just like pouring salt in the already painful wound.
Now that a reasonable amount of time has passed, I’m ready to remember! During the four days we spent in NYC, four in New Orleans and finally four in Florida to finish, I really did manage to sniff out some really great food. So here’s my round-up of the best meals I ate in the good old U S of A.
1 & 2. Fusion streetfood from AsiaDog & Two Tablespoons at UrbanSpace NYC
When walking in New York, we happened to stumble upon the first day of Urban Space NYC’s latest pop-up street food festival at Madison Square Park. Sat in the sunshine, right in front of the flat iron building, we tucked in to some amazing Vietnamese summer rolls from veggie pop-up Two Tablespoons, followed by an organic beef hotdog which was inspired by a type of Vietnamese sandwich we ate loads of when we were there a few years ago, called a Banh Mi. In Vietnam, these are made with sliced pork belly, a handful of fresh asian herbs, a smother of pork pate, and a generous helping of chillies. In New York, AsiaDog are busy chucking all of that stuff on top of a hot dog instead…and it is awesome.
3. Massive pancakes & maple syrup at Freemans Restaurant on the Lower East Side, NYC
Freemans is probably the most hipster place I have ever set foot in, in my life. A conversation overheard as I sipped my Americano revealed that it actually used to be a coffin makers, before it was converted in to a restaurant filled with taxidermy and vintage curiosities. You can find it at the end of Freeman’s Alley, and within it, you can order GIANT pancakes that come with their own side-pour of maple syrup, allowing you to be as generous as you like. The bitter rhubarb compote was a genius addition.
4 & 5. Bananas Foster and a Bloody Mary with a twist in New Orleans
I’be heard of a Bloody Mary with bacon, I’ve heard of a Bloody Mary with lemon, lime – all sorts. Until I was hungover at the New Orleans Country Club, I had never had a Bloody Mary filled with olives, pickled jalapeños and salty green beans. It took a bit of getting used to, but I’d be lying if I said I had just the one!
Another new dish I tried in New Orleans was Bananas Foster, served to us on my beautiful friend Tanya’s wedding day. This dish was invented in NOLA, and consists of bananas served with a hot, boozy sauce made from butter, brown sugar, rum and banana liqueur, then the whole lot is served with vanilla ice-cream. I had three (obv).
6. The ‘Shroom Burger from Shake Shack
In the interests of research, I had to get a Shake Shack burger at some point in this trip, because we’re getting one of these guys in Cardiff pretty soon. Well, unlike their cousins Five Guys (who cater pretty exclusively for the carnivorous amongst us), the guys at Shake Shack make a really mean veggie burger. That’s one big, fat portabello mushroom, stuffed with cheese and coated in crispy bread crumbs – topped with more cheese and salad, and sandwiched in a pillowy bun. Warning: do not eat this in front of anyone you fancy; there WILL be a cheese explosion, and it will mainly end up on your chin.
7. Sensational salads in the land of fast food
I never understood why fatty fried food is so often labelled soul food. For me, soul food is healthy food that tastes incredible and makes you feel good; it was a pleasure discovering it in America. From Green Goddess, the cosy alleyway restaurant serving awesome fresh vegan / veggie dishes and as hearty as any plate of ribs in the French Quarter of New Orleans; to Green Kitchen, the canteen style diner on Orlando’s infamous International Drive – there were healthy meals to be found all over, if you looked for them. *And the avocados taste a helllova lot better in America.
Proof that even in America, ethically sound eating is possible if you just look in the right places…