International Food Adventures - Orlando & DC, USA

Finally got around to putting a recap of my food adventures in the USA! I'll be posting a separate NYC post having spent a whole week there, so this one will just be on a couple of highlights from Orlando and DC.

Orlando, FL
Fun fact: when you're fresh off a 25 hour flight and starving, everything tastes good. Especially anything carb-y and full of oil just like the beef steak flatbread we ordered that came with caramelised onions, blue cheese and topped with a cabernet glaze. Flatbread is essentially a thin crusted pizza, though in this case was more like the thick crusted pizzas we have here. This, plus a side of super spicy chicken wings and a BBQ chicken pizza, made for a great first meal.

The first thing you notice about American food is the portion sizes, which is at least 1.5 times the size of your average meal here in Australia, and how everything has a lot more toppings and add-ons. For instance, having eaten quite unhealthily for a couple of days, I ordered vegetables as a side at one point, only to find to my dismay, copious amounts of melted 'cheese' on the vegetables. I use the term cheese quite loosely, as it's not like anything we're used to eating in Melbourne. American cheese is quite a vibrant, yellow colour, but lacks flavour and tastes a little artificial/plastic-y in my opinion. Also, when you order a salad, it comes with an immense amount of dressing, so much that the greens feel like they're drowning in it.

We got the chance to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando - the biggest one in the world - and were lucky enough to be seated in the Roots of Rock Room. This room is completely covered in music memorabilia, from signed contracts and posters, to guitars and of course, the drum kit sets and guitars hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room. Food wise, Hard Rock Cafe reminds me of TGI Fridays, but on a fancier and more grand level, with its Mexican/American style food such as the ribs, fajitas and fried platter that we ordered.

Another food highlight in Orlando would have to be at Tony's Town Square Restaurant in Magic Kingdom at Disney World. As a Lady and the Tramp inspired restaurant, the italian food here had a good range of pizzas and pastas, though again a little on the oily side, and the dressing on the caesar salad quite a bit more than what I'm used to having. The one thing I do love about Italian food in America is that it always comes with a basket full of bread with olive oil on the side to keep you going as you wait for your main meals to arrive.

Washington, DC
Having taken a quick bite at Union Station after our three hour train ride from NYC, we were pretty much starving by the time our dinner reservation at Jaleo rolled around. Well known in the area for its traditional Spanish food - in particular the tapas and the paella - we were really excited to try this out and weren't disappointed. The only downside was the fact that we couldn't order their famous paella, as it's only available for groups of six or more

The dishes we did order however were really delicious, including the fried potatoes, sauteed shrimp, pressed ham and cheese sandwich and the 'traditional' paella. The fried potatoes was served with aioli and spicy tomato sauce, and had a slight crispy skin that contrasted with the softness of the potato itself. The spicy tomato sauce/seasoning on the potatoes was extremely enjoyable, and reminded me of seasoning you'd usually find on chips back home. On smaller, round fried bits of potato, this gave a different way of eating the vegetable that I hadn't really seen before, and would probably have to be my favourite dish of the night.

Shrimp to Americans is what we know to be prawns; this famous tapas that saw the prawns sauteed in garlic was a good interlude to the main dishes. The prawns had great elasticity, with a subtle garlic flavour to it, served in a light tomato broth.

The pressed sandwich consisted of ibérico ham, manchego cheese and truffles, and was similar to what you'd expected from toasted sandwiches here, though with the added element of the truffle to give it that extra flavour and kick.

As we couldn't order the famous paella, we went with the 'traditional' paella that was offered for parties of less people; it was made of toasted pasta with prawns and calamari, hence the quotation marks on the traditional. Made of angel hair pasta, the dish didn't really taste like a paella at all, despite having the seafood. It lacked the strong tomato flavours you usually have in a rice based paella, that's also rich with flavours of the chicken or some other meat, but was still an enjoyable dish.

Part II of the America Food Trip will be up next week - NYC!

Jaleo: Website | Instagram
Hard Rock Cafe: Website | Instagram


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