I know this is probably an over-generalisation but in my travels in the USA (both in the past and more recently) I feel as if eateries in USA make a great deal of brunch as opposed to a normal breakfast – like a pumped-up breakfast; on steroids – You still get fresh OJ and a cup of coffee but you’ll also get fries with that! Ask for plain toast and butter and some establishments would be offended that there was nothing in their extensive brunch menu that you wanted and they would struggle to provide this measly option for you as the toast would be considered a side to accompany your pancakes, Eggs Benedict or ommelette!
Some of the simpler breakfast options were a French patisserie and a cup of coffee to eat on the go, however, these occasions were few and far between. Hence, on some days we were only able to have brunch and dinner as we were so full-up.
One of my all-time favourite breakfast/brunch dishes is Eggs Benedict. Poached eggs sitting on roast ham, resting snugly on English Muffins and covered with hollandaise sauce. At least that’s the way they come in New York; which is magnificent.
On the West Coast, Eggs Benedict was an adulterated version of the classic and arrived on food platters to feed a family of four! In LA, these were served with a side of oil drenched French fries and toast!
Hash House a Go Go; Las Vegas
Hash House a Go Go, advertises itself as “Twisted farm food” – saw its popularity rise after a Man V Food Challenge and is almost as much a tourist attraction as it is a 24hr cafe. The menu choices and portion sizes are out of this world; if somewhat vulgar. Drink combos such as their BLT Bloody Mary which arrives in a tall glass with a romaine lettuce leaf and a slice of bacon sticking out of the glass – I could do with one of those now – are just as obscene.
HHaGoGo’s extensive brunch menu of pancakes and waffles also has 4 different versions of Eggs Benedict. I gave Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken Hash House Benedict a go – the very same one that Adam Richman ploughed through on Man V Food. I was amazed that the waitress could carry the huge platter in her hand with such ease and set it down delicately in front of me (let’s not forget she was carrying two dishes to the table at the time).
I remember holding my head in both hands and whispering, “Dear Lord, what have I done?!”
Picture a platter, filled with mashed potatoes topped with wilted spinach, slices of tomato, more bacon and a mountain of scrambled eggs; sitting proudly on this, a huge sage fried chicken breast escalope skewered in place with a rosemary spear, all smothered in a chipotle cream sauce. Oh I forgot to mention the English Muffin that was in there somewhere as well…
…as you’ve probably gathered, on 19th July; food won.
The other ubiquitous West Coast food staple is seafood, more specifically prawn and lobster. In Vegas, most restaurants have a plethora of lobster/prawn inspired dishes on their menu – you could devour a plate of prawns whilst playing on the slots if you wanted.
Of all the meals I had in Vegas, the stand out dish was at Bellagio’s Olives by celebrity chef Todd English. A stunning seafood risotto that arrived loaded with clams, razor clams, shrimp, fish, crab and lobster set in a saffron broth. Delicately divine.
I’ve never experienced a winter so cold as a San Francisco summer! – Mark Twain.
And on cold, misty days by the sea – a bowl of heart warming soup hits the spot. I know
that clam chowder is a New England culinary creation but serve it in a hollowed out Boudin sourdough bread and you’ve got something that is totally San Francisco. Even though the locals don’t eat this, tourists queue up at all of Fisherman Wharf’s seafood establishments for a taste of their chowder. Boudin’s Bakery being one of the most popular.
Another delicacy is crab – Dungeness Crab – served whole either steamed or roasted in garlic butter or in crab cakes, or served with garlic noodles. I enjoyed my snow crab legs thoroughly as they poked out of a mountain of shrimp and whitefish in Bubba Gump’s “Boat Trash”.
Cycling from Fisherman’s Wharf, through the Marina district, over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the village of Sausalito, you work up a pretty good appetite and the Seafood Peddler’s Daily Special of Clam chowder (in a bowl) and pound of lobster served with ‘slaw and corn on the cob was exactly what I needed. Clearly not conducive to cycling back.
Therefore, a ferry trip back to Fisherman’s Wharf is essential to help the food settle as well as breathing in the sea air to open up your appetite for the next onslaught of sea-crustacean delights.
Please note that the photos above are only some of the food memories I’ve experienced throughout the past two weeks, more often than not, either excitement or greed, or a little of both would take over my usual self-control and I’d forget to take the photo before ploughing through the dish.
It has now been a week since I got back from my hols in Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco and even though I enjoyed every mouthful of food I am glad to return my belly (and gout!) to a proper food regime with enforced portion control.