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Food and Travel

How much is food a part of your travel? What’s your most notable food exploration amongst all your travels?

Some people would say, “What is travel without food”. I say it’s still a travel. My blog shows evidences that food is not a big part of my travel. Being a very spontaneous, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy who just let the chips fall where they may (I actually don’t get the phrase, I’m pretty sure chips fall on one place, which is a poker table :D), let alone I plan on what I was going to eat when I travel. I’m actually stingy with food when I travel. I sometimes just bring a lunch box before I head out. I am no epicurean. I buy those taquitos, hotdog or small burger at a gas station because they’re filling for such small price. If you eat near your travel destination, you expect the cost to be higher than regular. I sure can sacrifice food in replacement to the price of parking or admission to where I go.

There’s an exception to every rule, of course. That means, there must also be an exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. :D Unless the food is the travel destination itself, then I’m all for it!

All that I mention here are from California. There’s definitely much better food exploration opportunities outside the country. Here is the post where I sum up my food explorations outside the country – I Crave (Expanded).

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One of my notables is in City Heights in San Diego. The special thing about eating at an African restaurant is that you have to get your hands dirty, not literally of course. You eat without any utensil. No spoon, no fork, no knife, nada, niente, wala! You tear the sponge-like bread, injera, and use it to scoop the sauce and the meat. I went to Asmara, a very decent establishment, and actually quite popular. You can definately taste the spices, this time literally. The taste truly emanates and the hot-ness will have you constantly reach for the glass of water.

Next. When I went to San Francisco a month ago, I got to indulge into a “Menage A Trios”. :D :P

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… Sorry, it’s not the kinky stuff you have in mind. :P Ike’s Place is a cool place. That is, your regular Joe kind of sandwich joint. They don’t even have tables for crying out loud. Their cashier is just a regular stainless table. Another interesting thing is that they do not have Doritos for you. They have some unknown brand names of chips and drinks. The best part is their sandwich names – Backstabber, Hot Momma Huda, [Name The Girl I'm Dating?], Ugly Owl, We’re Just Friends… and you can read the others from the picture. Geez, I don’t have to write it all for you :D. Do take a notice the numbering on the menu. :D
There is a complete listing of sandwich names on their website – ilikeikesplace.com

Ike’s Place was featured on a TV show “Man Vs. Food”.

Let’s go back down South. Philippe’s The Original is THE birthplace of, air-quote, French Dipped Sandwich. It is surprisingly located in Chinatown in LA. Look at all the cool old signs!

It’s another no supercilious food place. Going down the stairs upon entering, it was like getting into an underground banquet, only workers and locals frequently hang out here. Looking around, there are old newspaper articles in frames where you can read significant periods of this old place all the way back when they were serving .05c per cup of coffee. They also made room for a little Museum of Railroading.

Last one, hang in there. :D My favorite hang-out spot in California is a food place slash vintage store slash bath accessory store slash candy store slash PHARMACY!

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This is Fair Oaks Pharmacy. Like said, it’s a blast-from-the-past establishment where you can buy vintage memorabilia, old candies, wind-up toys, etc. They also have made-to-order sodas!
And their ice cream is just … wait, what’s that food adjective again? …

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Their ice cream is just … hmmm …. More on my post about Fair Oaks Pharmacy.

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So, what’s your most notable food exploration again?

My post on Italian Food.

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71 Comments

  1. Traci says:

    I spent several years in Indonesia and loved Minang food. It’s incredibly spicy, no chance of suffering from congestion while you’re eating, but my favorite was a beef dish called Rendang.

    • rommel says:

      Thanks for the visit and input, Traci. I LOVE LOOOOOVE the Indian place here in our area. The Indian place we have is a buffet. So customers can try every single dish they have. Everything definitely are tasteful. I also love the way you use the bread to scoop the sauces. I love their desserts too.

  2. Phillipes has such a cool, old feel to it. I really liked it (though I don’t remember much about the most famous part – the sandwiches!)

    • rommel says:

      Ahihihih … Traveler’s, “outsiders”, are there to taste the “original”. It’s such a very local-type of eatery, if there’s even such a thing. I mean, locals really hang-out there. So visitors certainly gets that initial, odd vibe going in. Thanks for the comment Jessica.

  3. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Oh heck I love food and always think I’m going to experience something wonderful when I travel but I’m most always disappointed. Part of the problem is that I don’t eat meat and I’m incredibly fussy! Memorable things are mint lassi in India, orange juice in Marrakech, yoghurt with honey in Turkey and tomato stew with fried plantain in Nigeria!

  4. muZer says:

    Ah! I’d love to try Ike’s place only because of their funky name sandwiches! :-) I pretty much don’t care about food while traveling. I’d be happy even with a packet of m&m’s.. Not healthy but nutritious food is the last thing on my mind when on the go! :-) And yeah that ice cream.. That’s the kind of food I’d kill for, hehe..:-)

  5. For us, food becomes a destination only when the place comes highly recommended for we rarely eat out. From the time we began our life on the road up to now are so many notables but what comes to mind are the following:

    Fish and Chips (Albacore tuna and steak fries) at Bowpicker Fish and Chips in Astoria, OR
    http://www.bowpicker.com

    Fish and Chips (Halibut and steak fries) at Swiftwater Seafood Cafe in Whittier, Alaska
    http://www.swiftwaterseafoodcafe.com

    Icecream at Tillamook Ice Cream Factory – Tillamook, Oregon
    http://www.tillamook.com/cheesefactory/hope_youre_hungry/ice-cream.html

    Steak a la Mexicana at Nellies Cafe- Las Cruces, NM

    and had many many outstanding food eats from ” hole in the wall ” type of eating places.

  6. dakota85 says:

    Notable food exploration: in Burma, those restaurants with English menus fail to distinguish between assorted kinds of meat and veg. Most items will read something like “noodles with fish, vegetables”. When the dish arrives, you might find fish brains, fish eyes, vegetables that resemble the convolvulus of assorted bamboo plants, etc. I found everything to be delicious; just learned to take the menu with an appreciation of mystery…

    • rommel says:

      Thanks for the comment, dakota85. I had a quite similar experience before when me and my girlfriend ate at a Shabu-shabu place. WE were laughing our tail off because we didn’t know what one ingredient was. My girlfriend kept saying it’s just wood on our dish. :lol: Bwahahaha
      Thanks again for input and visit. ;)

  7. Food is always part of travel! Dude, I’m a Filipino – it’s in my blood! The whole point of going to places here is to taste the food, it’s what makes the whole journey worthwhile (aside from gorgeous views and great company).

    I’ve tasted Malay, Indian and Chinese food while growing up. Loved that although I found authentic Chinese cuisine (not the dimsum and noodles type) a bit weird for my taste sometimes. I mean I’m not really all for eating seahorses and sharksfin, know what I mean? No offense meant there for your Chinese readers. Then again, we Filipinos also have strange taste in food also (like balut) :-)

    Great post here.

    • rommel says:

      Dude, I’m a Filipino too. Hehe. Yeah, that’s why I mentioned that these are from California. You don’t get the same food exploration when you are in American compared to when you’re outside the country. I concur. Food and travel in the Philippines goes hand in hand.
      On the link I provided here, I mentioned that Vigan empanada still remains to be my best, most memorable find.

  8. Food is intertwined with many of our travel memories — we have sacrificed a more expensive lodging to save more money for memorable dining experiences! One of my favorite food travel memories was dining at the Mural Room at Grand Tetons National Park, with the floor-to-ceiling windows providing a perfect view of the sunset across the marsh as the elk moved in for the evening and the sun set across the teton mountain tops. Perfect service, excellent food, picturesque setting. ~ Kat

    • rommel says:

      Next time you go to a fancy place, save a seat for me. :D I think the most expensive one I dine to was at Emeril’s in Mississippi. That was years ago.

  9. Great post! I love those old signs like the one from the Phillipe place. Nice photos.

    • rommel says:

      Certainly, it’s a shame most restaurants don’t do signs anymore. Menus always changing, and everything’s going electronic. Classic places like these are sure nice to go to. Thanks for the visit and comment, Eric.

  10. gourmandchic says:

    OMG…I am so touched. I cannot believe you mentioned me here and I only saw that NOW!!! Thank you thank you thank you. It amazes me the people I can meet blogging. Hopefully one day…one day…we might meet in person. Although, as much as a foodie and cook that I am, there are times I also can be cheap with food. Depends on my budget because I love to travel and seeing places is more important than eating at an expensive restaurant. I believe part of knowing good food is when to eat the right food at the right time and be okay with it. Hope we can share more blogging and stories together!!! Again, gracias!!!

  11. gourmandchic says:

    BTW, have you read my post The Best of Me? You can see new places I visited last year!!

  12. I had authentic peking duck once on travel. That was unforgettable since after I ate it, the nape of my neck ached. My blood pressure shot up. haha. Glad I survived that one! But the taste is unforgettable as well. I’m more careful now…heehee.

  13. oh and than you for leading me to gourmandchic…looks like I’m gonna enjoy that. =>

  14. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about food when traveling and I need to keep better records because I forget about restaurants far too quickly (since food is really secondary to seeing the sights and taking pictures). On our recent trip to Seattle though we did do a food tour of Pike Place Market through Sauveur Seattle and if we could recommend anything it would be to take that tour your first day there. Part of the reason is you will learn what you like to eat in the market and be set for your whole trip. The other two dinners we had were equally impressive and they were Local 360 (everything sourced – meat, cheese, wine, beer – from within a 360 mile radius) and The Brooklyn which had the best clam chowder I’ve ever had.

  15. Debra Kolkka says:

    Food has a lot to do with my enjoyment of travel. I didn’t much like the food in Spain, hated it in Russia, and don’t even get me started on it in Cuba. It certainly colours my impressions of a country. Buying a place in Italy was partly based on the delicious food available here.
    I am off to New York soon, which has some of my favourite restaurants in the world. I look forward to sampling the delights of Californian food next year.

  16. Personally, my travels won’t be complete without a food adventure. I am open to any food from various cultures. I think it’s a great way to discover the many amazing culinary magic out there. Amazing pictures Bro. Once again, you gave us an unforgattable adventure.

  17. Kevin Daniel says:

    I believe food is the best way to experience a new culture. For me, it is the ONLY way to travel. haha. But I can see how that wouldn’t make or break everyone’s trip. When are you coming up to San Luis Obispo? Pismo Beach? We have great Thai and clam chowder!

  18. poppytump says:

    Lol great choices there @ Ikes ..
    I’ve been to some nice places but honestly its the country and places to explore that fuel me more than menus and restaurants Rommel ;-)

  19. Amy says:

    For me, savor authentic cuisine in a restaurant with aged wooden floor, old tables, maybe a unpretentious courtyard… is heavily… :) Great post!

  20. adinparadise says:

    Great foodie post, Rommel. The food here at the country club where I live in Florida, is totally amazing. We have the best chef you could wish for. Coconut Shrimp in Belize, Nasi Goreng with Saté sauce in Indonesian, my daughter-in-law’s Guacamole, my mom’s Apple Pie, and my brother-in-law’s Stuffed Beef Filet, are all memorable in my book. :)

  21. prem says:

    Now, I know you have a soft heart for the sweets… hhmmm…. I therefore conclude that men have sweeter tooth. My brothers-in-law, the hubby, the little boy cousins and you!!!! I know more if you beg to disagree:D And I think Philippe is the place for me, you know why – I see coffee signs there. I’ll have to remember the name. Oh Philippe – I wanna meet you man! with *evil :D

    • rommel says:

      Get there! I’ll be going back there this weekend during the Chinese New Year festivities.
      I’m a food lover. I don’t care what I eat. I’m a manly meat lover as well as a girly sweet tooth. :) I drink strong coffee or a softie Chai Tea. I can munch on beef jerkies as well as delicious cheesecake. Not a problem for me. :lol:

      • prem says:

        Cheesecake? I am the expert, hahahhaha…. nah! just a mere amateur, learning it to perfection. I wish we can go this weekend, but will definitely try. If not, then I’ll be looking forward to your photos then.

  22. Great post! I’ve been to Philippe’s and you are spot on. :)

    Food is a huge part of my travels, but we’re always mindful of our budget. In France, our favorite thing to do was grab a baguette, some sliced ham, some great cheese, and some chocolate and make a little picnic in one of the parks near the Eiffel Tower. Inexpensive but still very Parisian.

    When I was in Peru I did sign up for a traditional Peruvian cooking class. We made four courses of the kind of food a Peruvian grandmother would make, and it was amazing. I’d do something like that again in a heartbeat.

    • rommel says:

      I first found out about Philippe’s from another blogger, then you made me convinced more after seeing your post about it. And I also found out about Man vs. Food through your blog, and that’s how I found Ike’s Place. So thank you! ;)

  23. this is interesting post about travel and foods, I am a big foodie so my travel is not complete without something to say about the food in a particular area, and you insight good points about the exploration regardless the spot where you bought it, as a Filipino I keep comparing but my taste buds always looking back for where it belong although I enjoy dishes from foreign land…

  24. I love the photos of each of these interesting places. I live very close to Fair Oaks Pharmacy so that’s a frequent fun spot with my granddaughters, but other than Phillipe’s, I don’t know the others! I love finding new spots and prefer the smaller places with just a few selections. If it’s a burger place, just do burgers. Fish, just fish. And lately we’ve been on the go so often that we have been packing picnic lunches and looking for a nice place to stop and just enjoy. I get tired of eating out. :-) As always, great photos!

  25. LuAnn says:

    We too rarely eat out as I love cooking. Having said that, your photos make me want to do just that! :)

  26. On Iceland they had fantastic food in most of the restaurants: 5 days and we ate like gods all the time. Then we spent 2 weeks in the Azores (Portugal) and we only found one single place where they served good food. That was even after we tried several of the top restaurants… To sum it up:
    Azores – bad
    Iceland – great!

  27. Sunshine says:

    i like your idea about traveling & flowing as it comes. the Asmara sounds like a place for an exotic meal…mmn, i’m dreaming it! okay, nough dreaming…you made me hungry. gotta go flow out & find some munches…but *sigh,* i know all will pale compared to the meals you experienced here. peace + love <3

  28. eof737 says:

    That ice cream soda is divine! Nothing beats down home cooking… I like the sour taste of Injera dough. :-) Now I’m hungry. ;-)

  29. Madhu says:

    Awesome post! And that featured image is like a perfect still life!
    Food is a big part of our travels. lots of memorable meals and very few photos to show for it! Off hand…the felafel sandwich from the hole in the wall L’as du felafel in Paris, roasted palm hearts, shrimp and casava, and guava icecream in Aparzivel in Rio, and the gelatos! Oh the gelatos every where, but especially the Dulce de Leche in Buenos Aires.
    There, you have got me hungry and it is past 1am here…..have to go raid my fridge :-)

    • rommel says:

      1 AM and you’re still blogging!!! Go to your room! Ahihihi. :D
      Roasted palm hearts sounds interesting, and the guava ice cream, not sure if I’d like that one. Felafel sandwich, now that’s what I’m search of.

  30. Hi! Thanks for liking my Manila Chinatown food trip post. Food is important to me when I travel. I remember things I’ve eaten, places I’ve eaten at. I don’t care much for fancy, expensive places – what I do like is food authentic to a place. I’ll try anything exotic at least once, even stuff like dried bamboo worms (crunchy, but not much of a taste) in a Thai market. It’s all part of the experience. But then again, it really depends on what your goal is when you’re traveling :)

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