12 Must-Try Foods Around the USA and Canada
So far, we've taken our tastebuds across Europe and down through Asia. Now, it's time to hop on a plane and head on over to North America - the land of fried food and oh-so-sugary sweets. Put on those stretchy pants, cleanse the palate, and join me as we embark on yet another foodie safari.
1. Philadelphia Cheesesteak - Pennsylvania
Philly cheesesteak may sound boring (how good can some beef and cheese on a roll really be?), but just wait till you try one in the city where it originated. Think perfectly-cooked slices of rib-eye, gooey, melted American cheese, onion, mushrooms, capsicum and sauce on a long roll... I'm already drooling. If you're heading to Philly any time soon, don't leave without trying the O.G. cheesesteak from Pat's King of Steaks - it's iconic.
2. Deep-Dish Pizza - Illinois
If you've ever been eating a slice of your local takeaway's pizza and thought it was a little lacking, it might be time to book a flight to Chicago. The city is practically synonymous with deep-dish pizzas, which put our flat, sad-looking discs of dough and cheese to shame. Cooked in cake or pie pan, the dough itself is actually a lot thinner than you might expect - it's the delicious (and very generous) toppings that give it its signature thickness.
3. Lobster Roll - Maine
You haven't tried lobster until you've tried a Maine lobster roll. Sold from seafood shacks all along the coast, this street food favourite consists of a warm roll stuffed with fresh, cold lobster meat and served with mayonnaise or warm butter. Simple? Yes. So delicious I'm thinking about jumping on a plane right now? Yes.
4. Buffalo Wings - New York
American-style sports bars seem to be popping up all over the country lately, each with their own version of Buffalo wings. But if you want the real deal, you're going to have to hop over to Buffalo, northwest of the Big Apple. First, the chicken wings are deep-fried without batter, then covered with Buffalo sauce (cayenne pepper, hot sauce and butter), and served with blue cheese dipping sauce. Don't mind if I do.
5. Key Lime Pie - Florida
Plenty of Aussie restaurants offer this iconic dessert, but unfortunately, most of them are probably lying to us. For it to be a true Key lime pie, it has to be made using a Key lime (surprised?), which is native to the Florida Keys. "What's the difference?" I hear you asking. Key limes produce a yellow juice that's a lot more tart and aromatic than the limes we're used to. So, short of scouring the markets for these hard-to-find limes, your only hope is to head to the Sunshine State (as if you needed an excuse).
6. California - Chicken and Waffles
These two foods shouldn't go together, but somehow, they just work. Don't question it, just accept it. Although this unique soul food pairing is believed to have originated in the south, Californians have turned chicken and waffles into an art form. Though you can get it pretty much anywhere in the States, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles is an institution. Keep an eye out for celebs, too!
As if we could start our Canadian adventure with anything other than poutine! The original loaded fries originated in Quebec in the '50s, where restaurants began offering French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Nowadays, you can find it all over the country, being chowed down by everyone from hungover students to fitness fanatics on their cheat day.
During our tasting tour of Europe, I introduced you to the Hungarian fried dough dish lángos. Think of BeaverTails as Canada's answer to dessert lángos: sweet fried dough stretched to resemble - you guessed it - a beaver's tail. Toppings include cinnamon and sugar, chocolate hazelnut, maple, apple cinnamon, Reese's Pieces, Oreo, banana chocolate and more. Is your tum growling as much as mine is right now?
No, we're not talking a glass of cab sav with a few ice cubes in it. Icewine (that is, wine made from grapes that have frozen on the vine) has its roots in Germany, but Canada's climate has proven the perfect place to produce this sweet, aromatic wine. If you ever find yourself in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, I recommend paying a visit to Inniskillin winery, one of the country's first (and best) producers of icewine.
10. Butter Tarts
Portugal may have the delicious pasteis de nata, and Hong Kong may be the home of oh-so-sweet egg tarts, but Canada's got its own sugary delight - the butter tart. This traditional dessert is made from butter, sugar, maple syrup and egg in a flaky pastry cup, cooked until crunchy on top. Preference for a runny vs firm filling is divided among Canadians, so there's plenty of variation among recipes - but no matter which you get, I guarantee you'll fall in love.
11. Nanaimo Bars
Named after the city in beautiful British Columbia, the Nanaimo is a sugar-filled slice of heaven consisting of three layers - a crumbly wafer and coconut base, a buttery, custard-flavoured middle, and a chocolate ganache topping. One bite of this sweet treat will require a solid week in the gym to burn off, but trust me, it couldn't be more worth it.
12. Maple Taffy
You can't think of Canada without thinking of maple syrup, and this confection couldn't show off the country's best product any better. Also called "tire d’érable sur la neige" in Quebec, maple taffy is traditionally made by pouring boiling maple syrup onto clean snow, where it thickens and becomes a soft candy. Yes, please.