Category Archives: Best Places

Best Places–Bizarre Food

Returning to my ‘Best Places’ series, today I present to you my pick for the destination with the most ‘Bizarre Food’.  Again, when I started this series, I had no idea how difficult it would be to pick only one location for many of these categories, nor did I anticipate how difficult it would be to pick EVEN ONE location for some.  The Bizarre Food pick falls into the latter category.

Why?  Well, I’m thinking there are two possibilities.  One, I don’t really go anywhere that is known for food that would be considered ‘Bizarre’–my travel map is noticeably focused on North American and Europe, so no scorpions on a stick for me.  And two–I have a slightly different opinion on what qualifies as ‘bizarre’ food.  There are many things I would eat that lots of people would consider ‘bizarre’, that I would just consider ‘really, really good’.  Take, for example, the following…

Alligator Jambalaya from Beck’s Cajun Cafe at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia…yummy…

How about this–a cabbage covered fry bread served with quinoa and yucca fries, from Mitsam inside the Native American Museum in D.C….

While we’re talking about D.C., I have to mention my first runner up for ‘Bizarre Foods’–this meal…

…at Cafe Atlantico, possibly my favorite restaurant in the world.  I believe this was either snapper or sea bass–I don’t remember–but I do recall that it was topped with a chili lime foam (the white stuff) and accompanied by several gelatinous blobs made up of olive oil and some sort of chemical that formed said olive oil into blobs (I’m sure there’s a better way to explain this, but I don’t know what it is–just trust me, it was great!)

If ‘bizarre’ equals ‘gross’ (which I don’t think is true), then this dish wins hands down…

…ordered due to a language misunderstanding in a Paris cafe.  The pink and black parts are roe (fish eggs), the green is avocado, and the whole thing is topped with shrimp in some sort of cilantro lime dressing.  It was NOT good!

As for ethnic food, I’m all about it.  We had a great meal at Sarang Mas, an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam…

And there was no way I was leaving London without visiting at least one Brick Lane Indian joint…

Sadly, I don’t remember the name of this place, though I know it was just north of actual Brick Lane.  Alas, Googling ‘Indian Restaurant London’ doesn’t help in ANY way!

Finally, as for bizarre presentation, well, I’ve had my share of those types of meals as well–and I tend to love them.  Observe dessert at Sensi, located in the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas…

That sure is a lot of work for three scoops of sorbet!

However, the irony here is that the actual location I’m selecting for my ‘Best Place for Bizarre Food’ award is a place that I do not have one single photo of.  Why?  I went there before the advent of social networking, and thus I had not yet developed the practice of photographing everything and anything–including all of my meals.  That place is Sitka, Alaska.

So what made my meal there bizarre?  Well, first, it was the best meal I’ve ever had–and it was in the restaurant of some tiny little hotel.  If memory serves me correctly, it was a Howard Johnson’s.

Yes, that’s right–after all of those food pics, my favorite and most bizarre meal was had in a tiny little town in a dingy little eatery that I only happened upon because it was raining and we were cold.  Oh wait–I do have a picture of me in Sitka in the cold rain…

Ah yes…five years ago.  How sad is it that I can think ‘look how much thinner I was’ even though I’m wearing a poncho?  Ha!  But I digress…

The dish we ordered wasn’t even on the menu–we saw someone else eating it, pointed to it, and said ‘we’ll have THAT’.

The meal–fresh off the docks Alaskan King Crab Legs.  Why were they bizarre?  Because I’ve never had anything like them before or since.  First, they were amazingly firm and tasty.  They didn’t even need butter.  Second–the legs themselves were hairy.  Did you know that crabs had bristly hair on their legs?  Well, they do.  I imagine they must be scrubbed off before being frozen and carted off to places like Red Lobster–but trust me, nothing about these crab legs resembled anything I’d ever had at a Red Lobster!


Best Places: Holiday

I’ve been agonizing over this post–it has made me shake my fist in the air at the travel channel since I challenged myself to follow the ‘Best Place I’ve Ever Been’ lineup with ‘Best Of…’ lists of my own.  This one is the most difficult.  Why?  Because holiday travel is typically two things I strongly dislike–expensive and crowded.  So I’ve never traveled over a holiday.

Or have I?

It seems I’m forgetting one very note-worthy holiday, during which I am typically out of town for one reason or another (the ‘one reason’ being ‘because it is summer, and that’s when I can travel’).  The Fourth of July.  And the best place I’ve ever been for the Fourth of July is not a beach side resort town.  It is not a local campground or a national park or even my own back yard.  The very best place to celebrate the Fourth of July is at Wildacres Writers’ Workshop in the amazingly beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

This is in case you didn't believe me about the 'amazingly beautiful' part.

Surprisingly, when I looked back in my posts to link the Wildacres post to this one, I discovered something shocking–there IS no Wildacres post!  Why?  I didn’t start this blog until after I returned.  Woah.  I simply cannot imagine a my life without this blog, but there it is–a memory from before Blog on the Run.  I attended Wildacres two summers ago, in July of 2009–two short weeks before this blog was born.

That year, the workshop happened to fall over the Fourth of July.  Of course we had a party, complete with box wine (if I ever doubted that I was born to be a writer, those doubts have been erased by how well ‘wine’ and ‘writing’ go together!)  Judi, the amazing woman who runs the workshop, had a little patriotic assembly where several attendees read portions of the Declaration of Independence.  It was quite…cute.  We had hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and then when the sun went down we all drank aforementioned wine on the flagstone patio whilst musically talented writers played acoustic guitars and sang Tupelo Honey.

Man I love that song.

Best.  Holiday.  Ever.

I did not return to Wildacres last year, mainly because we were in Europe (or was it Vegas?) during that week.  And this year it is not over the Fourth of July holiday.  But I’ll still be there.  And there will still be wine and Van Morrison covers and foggy mountain mornings.

Is it July yet?


Best Places: Intro

This is likely because it is February, it is freezing outside, and I’ve not been anywhere in a while, but I spent the greater part of my evening last night watching ‘The Best Places I’ve Ever Been’ on the Travel Channel.  The first episode was about ‘secret places’, the second was ‘best beaches’, and the third I actually Tivoed (lest I miss it)–Disney Memories.

Of course I was inspired by all of this–again, likely because I’m dying to go anywhere outside of freezing cold PA–and decided that I’d bide my time between trips coming up with my own ‘Best Places I’ve Ever Been’, based on the themes of each episode.  Thus, look forward to Best Places posts over the next few weeks.  I researched all of the episodes, and will be doing one post per episode theme.  The themes are rather…odd…so this might be a bit of a challenge.  In order, the Best Places posts will cover…

1.  Places to Indulge

2.  Places for a Holiday

3.  Bizarre Food

4.  Beach Eats

5.  Big Thrills

6.  Sexy Places (ummm…?)

7.  Burger Joints

8.  Secret Spots

9.  Picture Perfect Beaches

10.  Hotels too good to Leave

11.  Pizza Joints

12.  Places to say ‘I Love You’

Yes, this should keep me busy, especially because I have no idea what I’m going to write for the majority of those categories.  Burger joints?  Really?  Wish me luck!