Mandy Wrangles_2_tnSan Francisco is famous for many things. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Gay Pride, the Painted Ladies, Lombard street – the twistiest street in the world…the list goes on and on. And then – there’s the clam chowder.

 

 

USA-cc3One of my foodie ambitions was to try the famous San Franciscian chowder in a sourdough bread bowl while we were in town, and I wasn’t disappointed. Different versions are available from every second street vendor, but we got lucky on our very first purchase.

We stayed right on Fisherman’s Wharf, almost directly across the road from the world-renowned Boudin’s Sourdough Bakery – also the oldest bakery in the city. After a long day bus-touring around town, my beloved popped out to grab takeaway for the kids, and returned with this to our hotel: The original clam chowder in a bowl. You can see below how excited I was:

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It was so omg delicious that we returned the next day for more, this time eating in at the downstairs cafe-style outdoor dining room. By the way, chowder goes to down really well with beer….

And finally, on our last night in San Francisco, we returned again to Boudin’s with our entire party of 16. This time we ate upstairs, which is more of a fine-dining experience. While I skipped the chowder this time around (for lobster), my 10yr old ordered it from the kid’s menu. Check out the turtle bread that it was served in!

So clam chowder achievement was unlocked. And it lived up to all expectations!

 

 

 



SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnUSA_SFWith a lack of wifi in some of our hotels, I haven’t quite been able to keep the pace with our most excellent adventure. As I write this, we’re about to head into our last full day in San Francisco, having already done Anaheim (Disneyland), Carlsbad near San Diego (Legoland), Hollywood and Las Vegas. Tomorrow we’re jumping on an early plane for the wilds of the one and only Big Apple – New York.

While we’ve enjoyed numerous fine dining experiences (more on that later), it’s also been great to check out the street food in various locations. My 2nd favourite so far was at Venice Beach, about an hour’s bus trip from Hollywood central.

USA_SF2My two older sons are mad keen skaters, so getting to the Venice skate park was a big must for this trip. I have to admit, even for me it was pretty awesome to be on the home turf of the legendary Z-Boys – surfers turned skaters, who, back in the 70’s, changed the sport of skateboarding to the high-flying extreme sport we know today. Venice Beach has this kind of magical vibe about it – street stalls, artists, rubbish, homeless folks (not so magical), musicians, and dancers, palm readers and loads of hand-made wares. But best of all was the food.

While there are lots of cafes and restaurants, we were in a bit of a hurry to get the boys to into the Venice Bowl, so we stopped at ‘Big Daddy and sons’ for pizza and burgers, where we were greeted by lovely Liz out the front, who was a great help with the questions we had for the menu (that might have had something to do with her fascination for my youngest son, who has been a HUGE hit in America.

USA_SF3Something to do with the blonde hair and glasses and a bit of an attitude, I think!) Big Daddy’s is basically a few holes in the wall – you order and pay at one, walk around the corner to another window and wait for your name to be called. Pizza is sold by the slice – at $2.99 we were expecting small pieces, so oldest son ordered three – but no, these things are the size of an entire small pizza back in Australia! Check out the pic below of Mr 6 taking on his slice of Margarita!  The pizza and burgers were all fab – not oily at all, and the accompanying fries were crisp and delish. And cheap. Cheap. Did I mention cheap? All five of us ate for around $40.

Not so cheap was the street food at the theme parks. Yeah, we expected that. And most of it tasted pretty much as you’d expect too. We did four days at Disneyland / California Adventure Park, a day at Legoland  and another at Universal Studios. While I stuck mostly to the trusty pizza slice and occasional hot dog, Lovely Husband discovered these: Smoked Turkey Legs. Hmmm. Not quite my thing, and at about $10 each, they aren’t the cheapest snack, but Simon loved them – especially with a beer in the scorching California sun.

Next up – San Fran chowder. Oh, my….

 

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnOn our last night at Disneyland, we all (as in, all 16 of us) headed out to dinner at Napa Rose. Napa Rose is a (very) fine dining experience, located within The Disney Grand Californian Hotel, where we stayed.

 

Both the food and service were exquisite. Five big fat stars from me. After a couple of days of fast or mass-produced food, it was so good to sit down to fresh produce prepared with plenty of care. While I might be handing out big fat stars, that’s the last thing the meal made you feel. Sure, we left feeling full and satisfied, but it was a nice change to eat two courses (plus bread) without feeling bloated and greasy.

For starters, I – along with a few others on our table – chose the Pan Roasted Diver Scallops on a Sauce of Lobster and accented with Vanilla. Seriously, *I die*. This has to be one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever eaten. So delicate, so delicious. The balance of textures and flavours was just divine.

For main course I had the Smiling Tiger Salad with Fried Lobster, Spicy Beef, Asian Greens and a Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette. Oh. My. Now, I’m not much of a drinker these days, especially when it comes to wine, but I did share a bottle or two of Moscato with my sisters-in-law, Tamzine and Kerrie. The sweet wine was a great balance to the spice of the Smiling Tiger Beef.

What a way to say good-bye to Disneyland! While Napa Rose might not be the cheapest dining option, it really was a special evening. The staff were efficient and full of personality, and treated the children of our group with just as much care as the adults

None of us could fault The Grand Californian Hotel either (except maybe to say that it is MASSIVE and the hallways are reeeeally long and it’s easy to get lost. But err, maybe that was just me…) If you’re ever fortunate enough to get the opportunity to stay there – DO. With exclusive park access to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, and also to Downtown Disney – there’s not a location more convenient. And, no other location has Napa Rose. 

 

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Mandy Wrangles_2_tnHello! We arrived safe and sound at LAX very early on Saturday morning after leaving Melbourne, Australia early Saturday morning. Isn’t time travel awesome? We flew with Qantas, and though the food was typically airline standard, it could have been worse. Like when, 6 hours into a fifteen hour flight, my ten year old became awfully air-sick. All over my lap. Yep.

 

USA_poDay One passed by in a blur of exhaustion, but we did manage to get into Disneyland for a few hours. We stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, and just…WOW. So highly recommended, in every way. Seriously, just wow. We’re travelling with the extended Wrangles family – my parents in law, their three sons (one of whom is my husband), three daughters in law and eight grandchildren, so just getting a table together in a restaurant is a bit of a mission.

For lunch on that first day, we ate at The Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, which was just outside our hotel. I had the Green Goddess Salad with shrimp – which tasted a whole lot better than it looked – and Simon (significant other) had the Cheesesteak Po-Boy. Both, apparently, dishes typical of New Orleans. Honestly, we were both so tired and hungry we would have eaten anything, but it was a very tasty welcome to American food.

usa-goddessDay Two was a BIG day at Disneyland, which meant hot dogs and sugary soft drinks all day. California is in the midst of a record breaking heat wave (Aussies, I’m talking 38 – 40 c each day. And dry), so again, I was happy to go with a salad for dinner.

We all ate at the La Brea Bakery in Downtown Disney (so convenient!) I had a Wedge Salad, which was delivered as a full quarter of iceberg lettuce with bacon, beetroot, chicken breast and a blue cheese dressing. Holy Moly, it was amazing! My sister in law, Tam, had a BLT with a side of yam chips – again, delicious.

After dinner, we headed back into Disneyland itself for more exploring and the fireworks over the Disney castle – one of my highlights so far. Just beautiful, and very sentimental for this big sook!

 

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Mandy Wrangles_2_tnUp, Up and Away (almost!). I’m going on an adventure. Well, not just me. My whole in-law family – sixteen Wrangles in one place. Eight adults and just as many children. Could be scary, but definitely fun.

 

 

hot dogsWe’ve been counting down to this big trip for years and years now; we wanted to wait until the youngest grandchild was old enough to remember the holiday of a lifetime. Problem was, we all just kept on having kids. These days, the youngest family member is almost six and the oldest nudging his late 60’s.

So where are we off to? The United States. Yep, Disneyland, New York, Vegas and Hawaii with a few more stops in between. I’ll be blogging my way around, testing plenty of iconic food, and reporting back here. I’m looking forward to the Hot Dogs (and corn dogs) in Central Park, as well as checking out the famous New York cronut. Clam Chowder in San Fransisco, tacos in San Diego.

So who’s got some tips for me? We’ll be checking out plenty of street food as well as some fine dining. What fabulous American food must I absolutely try?

 



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