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Leaving the serenity of Fiji is tough no matter where your next stop is, but I can tell you one place you don’t want to wake up from that dream…LAX airport. Thrown back into reality through the revolving, and incredibly shitty doors of this particularly horrendous airport (no joke, there are teeny tiny airports in Thailand with more soul), any remnants of Fiji Time are quickly and loudly replaced.
Once I had recovered from the shock to the system which the undeniably less calming ‘LA time’ brings (ie. nearly crashing on a highway by some undertaking crazy in the BIGGEST truck you have seen in your life!) I headed to medication via food, American style. And I can tell you, if you think a 26 hour day covering 2 continents, 7 countries (or something like that) and 3 flights is a tough, try eating a whole meal in the USA, it’s no mean feat! And so, my own personal man vs. food began.
I started my Californian ‘food trip’ on a particularly healthy note, at the home of my Oma. Here I made sure to fill my stomach up with enough of one of my favourite worldly goods, and I think the only healthy thing on this list – fresh fruit.
Now, you know what it’s like when blackberry season comes around in the UK? Or when you accidentally stumble upon the exact 2 days that you can go strawberry picking out in Tickenham? Well try having every blooming piece of freshly picked fruit you find in California tasting that good. They don’t call it the sunshine state for nothing and seriously, the oranges in particular are so sweet you would think someone had laced them with sugar. I’m very lucky to have a few fruit trees in my Oma’s garden so with a few fresh lemons, some homemade iced tea was on the table before you could say strawberries!
After I’d filled up on fresh fruit my sugar coated ‘food trip’ began with a rather uninteresting 7 hour drive North up Highway 5 from LA. San Francisco brought me the first of many tasty treats as I uncovered steaks bigger than my arse (and if you’ve seen my derrière, you’ll now that’s a damn large steak), doughnuts, milkshakes, tacos and more. If you’re on a diet look away now….
First up, the undeniably brilliant Taco Bell, whose adverts feature a talking Chihuahua – need I say more? Now, most people will have heard me talk about this Mexican fast food chain at some point in my life. Basically, I bloody L.O.V.E. it. Can’t get enough and actually considered eating one in a mall in Chile when I found it yesterday, shame on me I know, but I resisted. I hope you’re all very proud.
Anyway, yes yes it’s just as bad as a MaccyD’s but for me, it’s perfect. Right size, right taste, right price. Filled with burritos, cheesy Gorditas, Mexican Pizzas and Chalupas, it covers pretty much the standard Mexican cuisine, but I like to keep things simple with my regular order; 2 hard tacos, 2 soft tacos and a tostada, absolute freaking bliss if you ask me and you’ll all be pleased to hear I managed to fit in 3 Taco Bell meals across my 3 week trip. YUM.
Being the kind of Fun Guy I am (bet you can’t see where this is going), I toddled off to the indoor market on the Pier in San Fran, which I like to think of as a super posh and ginormous version of Saint Nicks. Inside were some of the most spectacular kitsch food displays, home made macaroon stalls, freshly baked tortilla chips and kitchen stalls you ever did see. And of course, being the good old US of A, lots and lots of food samples.
So, after a lunch of samplers, it was proclaimed that San Francisco is a complete foodie heaven. Alongside the Sushi, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Mongolian, Chinese and all out American restaurants, there are millions upon billions of fresh, healthy and vegan friendly eateries. Whatever your food style, this is the place to not only find it, but find it at its best.
As I headed further into Northern California, up the rustically beautiful 101 coastal road (looks a bit like Cornwall really), more and more old skool American food reared its head; Corn dogs, milkshakes and doughnuts. Corn dogs are an interesting species, traditionally a frankfurt hot dog covered with corn bread (a sweetish cake type bread), you can buy these by the beach, at diners or even frozen if you want and are a neat little lunchtime snack.
Covered in lots of American mustard and ketchup they really taste better than they look. Though i’m sure, are just as fattening as they look. Give ‘um a go if you ever see one and you might just surprise yourself.
Just a brief few words on milkshakes; strawberry and banana. You can try every flavour under the sun and this classic will never be beaten. My brother can attest to this, as being one of the original Strawbana believers, I tried to take his crown by claiming another flavour was better, he almost agreed when mine arrived, only realising half way through that the waiter has switched our orders and I had his.
Now, on to the creme de la creme of American foods, the doughnut. There’s a reason the pigs eat these so much, they’re seriously tasty, sugary enough to satisfy even the most cavity filled sweet tooth and I can tell you right now, they are the snack to end all munchie cravings. With varieties stretching from Doughnut Holes, Crullers (a harder caked type doughnut), your traditional choc and sprinklers, custard filled doughnuts and cinnamon buns, they have every taste catered for. Add in a pint of ice cold milk and you’re really in a sugar filled bliss. The next time you’re in the USA, pop out early on a Saturday morning to the local doughnut shop, grab yourself a cup of joe and a bag full of doughnut holes and you’ll be as happy as a fat kid with cake (although the fact that you may actually be a fat kid with cake by then is besides the point).
3 hours North of San Francisco near Fort Bragg and after a 6 hour detour up a snow-capped mountain closed for winter (my friends will attest to the fact that I like a good old exaggeration every now and then, but no joke, we literally drove for 9 hours instead of 3), we arrived in the teeny tiny windswept town of Fort Bragg for a spot of camping. With the sea roaring we got down to some real food business, toasting marshmallows! Man made fire of course and then the toasting began. Oh, and there was wine.
For me, there is something super special about toasting marshmallows. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of eating one or two many of these fluffy balls of heaven, but being outside, in the freezing cold weather, warming up next to a fire with some home made sticks really harks back to my childhood spent travelling Northern California with my family and camping in the middle of isolated Mountain valleys. It was a little taste of home….until I felt super sick from all the sugar and incredibly shite wine I had bought, whoops!
Even further North, or perhaps just inland of Fort Bragg, is Lake Tahoe. Renowned for its party scene, aided by a few choicely placed casinos (Casinos are a rarity in California as they’re only legal on Navajo Indian ground), it’s a thriving little skiing community in Winter and a boating hotspot in the summer. The views are in true Californian style, impeccably stunning.
We decided a brief skiing foray was in order here, and a long sunny day was gleefully spent on the slopes of ‘Heavenly’ the ski-resort we were nearest. An evening of deliciously cheesy pizza followed and completely unnecessarily, led to a completion of the truly American tradition, very appropriately described by a friend of mine as ‘eating until you hate yourself’.
Perhaps it was the super spicy cinnamon Whisky ‘Fireball’ we washed it down with which helped us manage 5 pizzas?
Nearing the end of my road trip, and after feeling full for approximately 2 weeks, came the ultimate of American Foods, the World’s biggest steak. How they expect anyone to eat that much food is beyond me, let alone, plying you with super soft warm bread before hand. How does anyone have a chance?! Well I went for Prime Rib at this particular steakhouse and like I said previously, this steak was unbelievably tasty. Tender yet perfectly flavoursome it really was steak perfection served with spinach, Yorkshire pud (sorry ‘Popovers’) and creamed corn but there really is no excusing the size, it was HUGE. Don’t believe me?
HOW ABOUT NOW?!
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