Food and travel; two things which are never far from my mind and two which are never mutually exclusive in my life. In my humble opinion, they go hand in hand – like salt and pepper, Bert and Ernie, or churros and chocolate. When we’re off on our jaunts abroad, I care about seeing the sights and visiting the attractions, I really do, but I almost care more about the food.
On the rare occasion we do some research, all those google searches and blog trawling will be about the food. Always. Because we all know that the main sights are religiously marked on those ever so helpful city maps but they never mark the best restaurants, cafes or hole in the wall joints do they? Never! The best, the most authentic, the signature dishes – I need to try them all because god forbid you all think we’ll eat any old thing from any old restaurant on any old street corner.
This food and blog obsessed stubbornness has led us to many happy meals – the pintxos tour of San Sebastian, the addictive pastel de nata from Lisbon, and even the bratwursts in Nuremberg, but there have also been some disappointments. We’ve had meals which just weren’t worth the effort on our waistlines or wallets, and dishes which I really, really wanted to like but couldn’t… total travel blogger problem in my book!
Bolognese in Bologna
A bolognese to me, and probably a good chunk of the world’s population, consists of beef mince, tomatoes, and spaghetti. A bolognese in Bologna is not actually called a bolognese but a ragu, and is served on tagliatelle. Confused? It seems somewhere along the line, the recipe got lost in translation and the sloppy, meaty, comfort in a bowl we know as spaghetti bolognese is a little different to the real deal. I enjoyed it but I’m not giving up my bastardised version for it.
Risotto alla Milanese in Milan
As soon as I read about this dish, I was sold; what self-respecting carb-loving carnivore wouldn’t be enamoured with a risotto cooked with beef stock, bone marrow, lard, cheese and saffron. I imagined it to be rich and heavenly… in reality I found it to be rather sad to look at and dull to eat. Perhaps we got a dud but I would hope that any half decent restaurant in Milan can knock out a fine example of the city’s signature dish!
In-n-Out Burger in LA & Shake Shack in NYC
Before embarking on our Great American Roadtrip, I’d read all about the Great American Burger Rivalry between the West Coast’s In-N-Out Burger and the East Coast’s Shake Shack. Being quite the burger fan, I was looking forward to putting these to the taste test… forcing a certain someone to drive us to the nearest In-N-Out Burger as soon as we arrived in LA, and even braving a snow storm and lengthy queue in New York to get my hands on a Shake Shack burger. Both left me flummoxed by their cult followings and a little hungry to be honest… I just don’t know what the fuss is about!
Tagine in Morocco
It was always going to be tough for the tagine to win our hearts as the fundamental flavour profile is not one we enjoy often, but who goes to Morocco and doesn’t eat a tagine? They are on almost every menu but despite this, I think it’s tough to find a truly good, authentic tagine when you’re eating out as a tourist. Our first one was such a disappointment we didn’t revisit the dish until the final day of our two week trip, and only after reading countless guides, reviews and recommendations to find one worth taking a chance on!
Have you ever encountered a dish on your travels which you thought you should like, but really didn’t?