Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My First (Real) Taste of America!

And why real you ask?!  Since I moved to Canada in September 2009 I have only ventured so far into America as Buffalo for outlet shopping and Rochester for Music Together training 4 years ago!  We did also pop through Vermont and Maine on our way back from our East Coast of Canada trip, but none of these trips have been longer than a few days each, only visiting the usual chains, Olive Garden, IHOP and Chili's etc!

We just returned from a 10 day road trip through Boston, Cape Cod, New York and New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Lancaster PA and finally Buffalo on the way home to Toronto :-)

It was an incredible trip, seeing so many fascinating cities, buildings, learning a lot andddddd EATING A LOT!  Now I've mentioned before how we love food and trying new things, so this was a perfect trip, especially for me to try new foods that I had never tasted before.

Perhaps we went to too many chains, and you might think we didn't get real enough experiences... or perhaps there were things we missed, in fact I'm sure there were (we'll have to go back soon!)... or maybe you think it's crazy I have never even tried some of these things before, but well here goes.  A run down of some of the new tastes and experiences from our trip.

Apologies in advance for many of the photos - lots were taken in restaurants only with my phone so they're not great, but oh well.  I didn't want to be using the flash everytime we got a new course or plate!

PS we ate a lot.  Don't judge.  It's back to school and back to normal diets now okay!?!

First stop, an 8 hour drive to Boston with a rest stop experiencing Honey Dew!  We'd never seen this coffee place before so just had to share a Honey Dew donut...pretty good!  And Jonathan REALLY loved his toasted almond iced coffee!  Winning so far.

We arrived just in time for a delicious dinner at Otto, a yummy pizza place in Brookline, MA.  We finished off dinner with Whoopie Pie Sliders.  I'd heard that Whoopie Pies originated in the New England/ Pennsylvania area, so it was definitely the dessert of choice while we were there!  "Sliders" however was an under-exaggeration... these were more like full burger sized!  Very dense chocolatey flavour, with a marshmallowy buttercream.  I think I've only had whoopie pies once before and these were slightly different.  As well as bigger (I only managed half!)!  Delicious, but heavy!

We spent a great day in Boston, starting off our day with delicious scrambled egg and cream cheese and lox breakfast at our B+B, yum!  Let me know if you want recommendations for where we stayed :-D

While walking around Boston we noticed the ENORMOUS number of frozen yoghurt places in town.  We love Menchies here in Toronto, but there were soooo many different places to cool us down!  We chose 16 Handles and loved the flavours they had.  I had a sampler bowl of salted caramel (my favourite), graham cracker (which was honestly like eating graham crackers soaked in milk!!) and birthday cake.  We both tried a couple of toppings that we haven't experienced before - me, the chex cereal, and Jonathan the rainbow cookie.  I'm pretty intrigued by this, and maybe you can help me out with it... Jonathan said it had an almond flavour to it, but I loved how colourful it was as well as it being covered in chocolate!  I might try to make these too!

We then headed to Cape Cod and stayed in a B+B for a couple of nights, giving us a home base to explore the coastal villages, a few beaches, and some great seafood!  Our first night was at the local restaurant (also the only restaurant for a good few miles!) which fed me Fish Tacos and Jonathan Fried Clams.  

A terrible photo, but a delicious couple of tacos!  Fried cod with black bean and corn salsa, coleslaw and a chipotle mayo.  YUM!

More sea food the next day, Jonathan got his first lobster roll of the year that wasn't McLobster! ...

...and I went for a crab cake (delicious) and a cup of clam chowder... because we were in New England of course!

The next day Jonathan got another lobster roll!  This time was great because it was basically street meat!  Instead of the hot dog carts we see on the corners of downtown streets here there were lobster roll ones, amazing!

Dinner for our final night in Cape Cod was a delicious fish and chips at Baxter's place down a dock on the water in in Hyannis.  I'm English right, so I love just a simple fish and chips, and this fit the bill!  They even had malt vinegar for me for my chips :-)

PS that is Jonathan's ridiculous amount of sauces not mine!!  

Saturday was our day not IN New York but nearby!  We decided that with only a 1/2 day really available to us there it would be worth doing New York city another time, a long weekend perhaps... so instead we traveled to Hoboken to make my life complete visiting Carlo's Bakery - CAKE BOSS!!  I didn't think I'd be as excited as I really was but when I got there I was VERY excited to actually be there, seeing it in real life and then experiencing the tastes I've so often seen on television!  We had to wait about an hour, but it was a fun wait, experiencing some floppy NY pizza while we waited.

I'm excited can't you see?!  It was pretty crowded in the store, but they're really well organised with the queue and letting people in... we just had to quickly decide what we wanted!

We went with a cannoli each and oh my they were good!  I've never tasted one like this before, and I will definitely be trying to make these, with the delicious ricotta cream chocolate chip and citrus filling.  Incredible!  We also got one lobster roll to taste, a linzer cookie and an almond tart (just like a cherry bakewell yey!!).  We didn't eat them all at once, but figured we had to make our one trip there worth it!

Pretty impressed with the taste of their products and VERY excited that I have actually been to the real life bakery from Cake Boss!  

We also took the free Staten Island ferry just to see the Statue of Liberty and the skyline view of Manhattan, took a quick walk around Battery Park and hopped back on the next ferry.  Not a real NY experience, but there's always next time!

We stayed in Connecticut that night because the next day it was time for the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market. SO EXCITED!  I've never been to a flea market so huge, and it was so worth the early start!  Here's our little breakfast panini snack mid-morning!

Next stop on the trip was Philadelphia, and we got a great deal online and stayed at the downtown Doubletree Hilton, which can only mean one thing... CHECK IN COOKIES!  I've never stayed here before so hadn't experienced them before, but they were really good!  Served warm.. these soft chocolate chip and walnut cookies were big and really good!  A perfect snack before a swim in the pool!

I'm definitely going to try and recreate these cookies!  Hope I can do them justice :-)

Our hotel also provided us with what we call 'yummy water' in the lobby... these were the flavours:  
Strawberry Lemon Basil, Lemon Lime and Cucumber Mint.  I especially loved the basil addition to the water and will be adding that into mine now we're back!

A stroll through Philadelphia in the evening, finding Maggiano's Italian place to eat dinner.  So many of these downtown city restaurants weren't open late into the evening so we were relieved to find this was open!  And it was SO worth it!  We shared a caprese salad and then I ate honestly my best combination of Italian food!  Gnocchi in a ros√© sauce with Italian sausage.  It was incredible.  I ate what I couldn't finish that night for breakfast the next morning!!!

Can't believe we've never found this restaurant before, but we'll definitely look for it again next time we're in the States!

On our way out of Philadelphia we of course had to stop at the two Philly Cheesesteak places, and chose Geno's for my first real taste of this well known sandwich!  I had it "wit' onions and American" cheddar cheese and it was really something!  

Philadelphia explored and it was on to Washington DC.  Our first night we went walking not really knowing what we wanted to eat... But we found Shake Stack and this was PERFECT!  I loved that their tables used to be bowling alleys, and they had a delicious cheeseburger with portobello mushrooms topping, and Jonathan tried the shallots and cheese signature hot dogs - the 'DogMeister'.  We finished off our meal with frozen custard!  Never tried before, but we'll definitely taste that again!

We had an amazing hotel in downtown Washington for 2 nights giving us lots of time to explore in 40°F heat (BAH!) and also retreat to the air conditioned Natural History Museum, and the final morning off to the zoo of course!

On our first morning in Washington I was treated to room service breakfast by my sweet husband, I got out of the shower to be told to head to the balcony and saw our amazing spread!  What a great start to the day ♥

Ham and cheese omelette with red potatoes and toast!  YUM!

When researching about Washington we were interested to see if the Royal Diner seen on Bones was an actual location, sadly it wasn't but the internet did talk about the Founding Father's from the show and the potential that the idea for the name of this bar they frequent was based on the Founding Farmer's restaurant in Washington!  So we went with that and booked a table for our second night.  Not many reservation spots so we knew it must be popular, and boy we know why now!

It served incredible food, with huge portions and incredible sides.  We were SO full but Jonathan still found room for dessert!

We had the bread and dips to start, amazing toast and yummy trio of dips and spreads.  My favourite was the 'Green Goddess' (Parsley, Chives and Tarragon gives it the green!).  

I chose chicken and waffles for my main - I've heard about this meal, and never really go for fried chicken in my meal choices, but this intrigued me, but when our great waitress told me it came with mac+cheese I was sold.  Add to that some delicious double whipped red potatoe mash and I was on starch overload... an overload totally worth it!

Joanthan ate an equally good meal of steak skirt and chicken enchiladas, followed by this cherry and strawberry cobbler served with ice-cream.  

Very full and extremely satisfied, we headed back to the hotel for one final night in our hotel after a huge day of eating, oops!

The next morning was our final in Washington so we went to the Smithsonian Zoo and then back on the road again via Waffle House brunch.  By this point our "let's try and not be toooo unhealthy on the trip" attitude was out of the window and the end of the trip was near, so we went all out and just enjoyed it!  

If you can see on the far plate there was a bowl of grits - I wasn't sure if I'd like them so I ordered hash browns, but ended up trying and LOVING them so did do a lot of tastes of Jonathan's bowl!  YUM!  I want grits all day long, and am jealous of those of you who did grow up on these!

That evening, now in Lancaster, Pennsylvania I also tried some more Southern cooking.  This time ordering a Cracker Barrel sampler plate of ham, meatloaf and chicken and dumplings.  Again, super jealous of the chicken and dumpling life, loved this and think it would make a good crock pot meal during the Winter... is that true?!

I also ordered my own cheese grits this time, not as good as the Waffle House ones in my opinion but still pretty nice!  The mac and cheese was again incredible but the amount of food was ridiculous and I could hardly finish anything!

Definitely going to look in the grocery store for the hominy used to make grits and try it myself.  And I'll definitely be doing some Pinterest research to find more recipes!

Our trip is nearly done, but we spent a little time exploring the farmlands and getting a taste of some really great Lancaster county food.  We stopped at the market in Columbia and bought some Amish cornbread (still warm from being baked in the stove right there in the market - amazing, I want that life!)... a deliciously soft pretzel, a shoo fly pie and more whoopie pies.  These were 2 for $1.50!!!!!  Toronto you are overcharging me!

Delicious car food on our 5 hour trek from Lancaster to Buffalo.  We also picked up some homemade root beer from an Amish farm.  Jonathan was excited for the drink while I'm excited for the glass bottle it came in :-D

This time we tried the red velvet whoopie pies, and these Pennsylvanian whoopie pies were filled with a light buttercream.  So for the purpose of the battle between fillings I am definitely more of a fan of these ones!  I love the buttercream and will DEFINITELY be rocking out some whoopie pies in the near future!

Our last evening and morning was spent getting back to the real world in Buffalo doing a bit of outlet shopping and having one final fat meal at IHOP!  Just a few pancakes and sausages before getting back to reality!

Oh wait, not forgetting one final stop at Dunkin' Donuts that kept us caffeinated throughout the trip.   Tim Horton's we missed you, but this was a pretty good substitute... Even if you do presume that the tea I want is iced not hot!

We also finally tried a Boston Creme Donut on our final Dunkin' stop.  We sadly never got a real Boston Creme Pie while we were there, so that's something else that definitely needs to go on my 'to bake' list!

Saved for when we got home, on the long weekend was the amazing corn bread, and the shoo fly pie we bought for our cottage day with Jonathan's family!  

We warmed it in the toasted oven and actually spread a little margarine on top for a light supper on our first evening at home.  Was so good to be home after a long road trip!

I was so intrigued to try this Shoo Fly Pie and it was pretty delicious.  A buttery crumb topping with an amazing not-too-sweet molasses and brown sugar filling.  I'd love to find out more about this pie and different recipes!  

So by now, if you got this far you really think we ate ALL the food in the NE of America, and well, maybe we did - but it was delicious, and totally worth it!

The trip was also incredible, but this is a foodie blog not a travel blog, so the buildings, museums, and landscapes will be saved for Facebook photos.

If you have any great recipes for any of these foods please do send them my way!  I'm particularly interested in trying to bake some whoopie pies, shoo fly pie, rainbow cake, cannolis ... 

Happy Back to School week to you all :-)


  1. Sounds like a super fun trip! Founding Fathers is really great and difficult to get in to on some nights for sure.

    1. Oh yes it was so busy! Excited you've heard of it and love it too :) Was one of my favourite meals of the trip! Thanks for reading!

  2. Wow! awesome trip, now I am starving and want a lobster roll! :)

    1. Sorry to make you so hungry hehe! Thanks for stopping by and reading this post :)

  3. What an amazing trip!! :)

  4. Oh my goodness! Everything looks so yummy. Sounds like a great trip!

    1. It was too good! Time to diet now it's back to normal, but the food was so delicious and worth it hehe :) Thanks for reading!


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