My love of cafes has nothing to do with coffee–I’m not a coffee person–and everything to do with architecture, interior design, ambience, thirst-quenching beverages and good food. While each aspect plays a role in my overall cafe experience, the importance of those roles change depending on where I am travelling at the time.
A walk through Bangkok’s Khao San road, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and other touristy sites generally results in more than a couple tuk-tuk drivers touting trips to a floating market. While many will accept their offer, there are some who shy away, not wishing to visit an overcrowded market that is filled with more tourists than locals.
My fingers are sticky and wet, and I can feel juice slowly trickling from the corner of my mouth to my chin; looking around I notice I’m not the only person who decided to eat with my hands, and I feel a sense of relief; I tend to worry about displaying bad manners when eating in a foreign country.
“Why does everyone think we eat pierogi all the time? We eat them maybe twice a year”, states my driver with a slightly annoyed tone.
We’re talking about Warsaw, Poland, and food, and I’ve asked him what Polish dish he thinks every visitor should try during their time in Poland. As you can probably guess, pierogi seems the be the number one choice for many travellers, and who can blame them?! Pierogi are delightful. Mashed potato mixed with cheese, bacon, or onion, wrapped in a dumpling like dough, boiled or fried, and served with sour cream, fried bacon and onion. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! And while we can buy pierogi in the frozen food section of the grocery store, or buy fresh ones from a Polish or Ukrainian (There is a debate as to who invented the pierogi, Poland or Ukraine) shop, there is a part of us that want to eat pierogi in the country that made them famous.
I’ve eaten more than my share of lobsters over the years, but this was the first time I was cooking lobster at home, by myself. It’s not a big deal, you boil a little water with a whole lot of salt, cut the bands off the lobster claws – making sure your hands and the rest of your body is nowhere near the claws – before putting the lobster in the pot head first, and putting a lid on the pot. An easy process.
Mexico is one of those countries where street food is a mandatory experience. It’s home cooking at its very best, and the only way to truly discover the delights of traditional Mexican food. In other words, Mexican street food is the epitome of comfort food. And when I am not in Mexico, I find myself craving some of these foods – like I am right now!
I’m pretty sure that foodie tours are my new favourite pass time. There is just something so very perfect for exploring a city and experiencing it through local foods. Mmm… delicious! During my time in Vancouver last month I had the pleasure of taking not one, but TWO food tours – both through Vancouver Foodie Tours.
Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour, and World’s Best Food Truck Tour. Gourmet + Food trucks = HEAVEN!
The first of my tours was the Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour, which is perfectly named. We started with perfectly steamed pork at shrimp dumplings at Kirin, then headed to Urban Fare (a local grocery store) for Mission Hill Cabernet Merlot wine, salted caramel Thomas Haas chocolates, and Vermeer cheese <—- yumgasm alert!!
Leaving Urban Fare was rather bittersweet – I wanted more cheese and chocolate! But when the next restaurant served prosciutto and burrata cheese, I was once again happy. Have you tried burrata cheese? It is the softest, freshest mozzarella-like cheese I have ever eaten.
When we weren’t eating, we were walking through downtown Vancouver, my guide, Joyce, finding little ‘amphitheatres’ (doorways) to stand in and fill us in on Vancouver’s food scene, the history of some of the architecture, and tease use with tidbits of information about our next meal. Which was always delicious. I swear, it has to be one of the best jobs in the world – until you get annoyed or demanding clients, then it would blow.
My next tour, and possibly my absolute favourite was the World’s Best Food Truck Tour. I am a HUGE street food lover, so food trucks are always a hit with me. I love that the prices are reasonable, the good is usually gourmet, and the servings are large. It’s pretty much the perfect meal – as long as you can track down the food trucks in the city you’re visiting. Now, I could write about each and every stop, but why do that when I can just show you!
Here is a (not-so-good) video of my tour, minus the repeated, “OMG this is SO good’. Yes, I really did say that every single time!!
If I were writing a freelance piece right now the editor would probably warn me about making broad sweeping statements that could be misleading, but I’m not writing a freelance piece, I’m writing for myself and in my opinion the BEST Lobster & Crab Roll I have ever eaten, and will ever eat, is in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Here’s the thing. I have a very unhealthy relationship with lobster. It’s the one food that I almost never say no to, even if I’ve eaten it a few days in a row. Oh, the sexiness of perfectly cooked lobster. And if there is melted butter involved? I’d need an after sex cigarette. You know, if I smoked.
Are you kind of understanding my obsession?
Let me give you a little background. Prior to arriving in Halifax I had road tripped through Newfoundland, and during that week whenever I saw the words Lobster Roll on a menu, I ordered it. For the most part they were okay. I quickly discovered that a lobster roll was like eating tuna salad sandwiches, except with lobster instead of tuna. Lots of mayo, a wee bit of seasoning, and… bread. [An unenthusiastic ‘yay!’ goes here]
Fast forward to Halifax.
I was on the boardwalk walking around the food shacks and looking at menus. I lined up at the busy fish place and noted that they had a lobster roll for $12, and waited my turn. And waited. And waited. And then I left the line and went over to The Shack Oyster Bar (which was a couple shacks away) because they had a LOBSTER & CRAB roll for $12 and it came with chips! Weeee!
Now I know you guys are probably rolling your eyes already, but I am 100% serious when I say that the moment I took my first bite, I moaned so loudly that people were staring at me. This was nothing like my previous encounters, the flavour was out of this world. Very little mayo, with the slight tanginess of grain mustard and lemon juice.
It. Blew. My. Mind.
I actually went back to The Shack, gushed about how amazing the Lobster & Crab Roll was, got them to tell me what was inside it, and then asked what time they opened the next day – which happened to be the day I was taking the train from Halifax to Québec City.
They opened at 11am. My train was scheduled to depart at 12pm.
Yes, I power walked in flip flops from the train station to The Shack, and back just so I could buy two Lobster & Crab Rolls and eat them on the train. And they were damn good!
Here’s the thing though, I am now damaged goods. Oh, I can still eat lobster, but I absolutely refuse to eat another lobster roll. Yes, refuse. I don’t want some crappy tuna salad version, I was the awesomeness of a Lobster & Crab Roll from The Shack!
I wonder if they’d consider freezing some of their fillings and overnighting it to me in Ottawa…