Travel and food go hand in hand, which is why I’ve compiled this list of my favorite things I’ve eaten in cities foreign and domestic. They aren’t all exotic, but they are what I crave when I recall the place. Here are my best bites:
- Edinburgh, Scotland—Turkey sandwich, Metropole Café. I bet you thought I’d start this off with something classic, like haggis. But I was twelve. And I’d never had a turkey sandwich before. (I was a late bloomer.) I wish I could list something infinitely more British (a trip-long addiction to boiled eggs mostly just kickstarted my egg cup collection). You’ll understand, this kind of discovery can have a huge impact on your life. I do believe that I was changed for the better. Multigrain bread, smoked turkey, sprouts. Flavors and textures I’d never even known could be combined! It was a profound moment for me, a real game changer. Traveling really can broaden your horizons… or just widen them to normal standards.
- Vienna, Austria—Roast goose and red cabbage, Bierfink. A ten-minute tram ride away from downtown’s Ringstrasse, the Bierfink is a wonderful, off-the-beaten path restaurant most frequented by locals in Austria’s capital city. In Vienna, you’d think I’d be all-in for the pastries (and I was (two words: apfelstrudel)) but the dinner I remember best was my first roast goose, dripping with fat and served simply with tangy red cabbage. Wash it all down with a locally brewed Ottakringer. You have to order this bad boy ahead, but it is worth the experience. It’s Christmas Goose, in the old country!
- Dingle, Ireland—Potato wedges, some pub somewhere. Just please. Potatoes. Ireland. You won’t even believe it.
- New York, New York—Appetizer platter, Kabob Café. Baba ganoush, hummus, fried lettuce, apple slices—admittedly it sounds like a mess, but wrapped in pita the flavors and textures of Chef Ali’s appetizer plate are exceptionally clean and balanced. Stop in for taste, quality, and experience.
- Oakland, California—Fentons ice cream. Let me put this simply: CCAC, or Cream Caramel Almond Crunch.
- Boston, Massachusetts—Steak quesadilla, Anna’s Taqueria. Boston is not the town for Mexican food. I tried to find worthwhile Mexican there for three years before giving up. (Truth: I didn’t try very hard after the first few attempts went so awry.) I contented myself with the notion of heading home to Chicago, where real Mexicans would prepare real Mexican food, for real good prices. Luckily for me, and every college kid in Beantown, there came a wondrous surprise: Anna’s taqueria makes delicious, cheap Mexican food. I’m partial to the quesadilla, which (as far as I can tell) is only different from the burrito in that there is a layer of cheese melted onto the inside of the tortilla (then topped with fresh pico de gallo, creamy guacamole, rice, beans, and tender steak). Tin foil never held such bounty.
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