We spent three weeks in Donald Trump's America at the start of April. This was a lengthy holiday masquerading as parental leave but however you billed it, it meant we were in the United States of America for three whole weeks. Three. Despite their new leader being a massive racist baby, it was a luxurious time make no mistake.
Our flight landed in Los Angeles where we had three nights down near Venice Beach before taking in a further four nights in Palm Springs, plus a whole two weeks in Portland, Oregon. Oooof. Rather than post pictures of us and our kid marauding around the place, here's a break down of the ten best things we ate. It's hard to go out raving all night when you have a six month old baby so instead the vibe was all about pure gluttony. Open wide and take a look inside...
Ronnie's Diner, Los Angeles
Diners are in some ways the ultimate American eating experience. Big portions, limitless coffee, nutters at every turn. And breakfast can be peak when it comes to visiting. The casual abandon with which the Americans mix sweet and savoury is something to behold. So at Ronnie's Diner (see above), a greasy spoon-esque joint near our place in Marina Del Ray, we went in on a 'scramble', French toast and grits. 'Are grits nice?' is a question I'm still asking and still don't know the answer to.
The Blue Coyote, Palm Springs
This is a Mexican joint on the main drag in Palm Springs. Mexican places are everywhere in this town but the Coyote could be the best partly because they go heavy on the cheese on the plates and even heavier on the tequila in their drinks. We had two margaritas and walked home cross eyed attempting to avoid steering the pram into the road.
The Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
The Ace Hotel brand is synonymous with the trendy and the Palm Springs branch may well be the trendiest. It's full of silly young things in uniform shades preening and pouting and generally crossing their fingers that they might get 'discovered' there by someone to give meaning to their meaningless, yet highly instagrammable lives. Even if its the silliest, most vacuous black hole on the planet, they do a mean breakfast. Avocado on toast was the one.
Oh my gosh this place may well be the best. They do big portions with just the right balance of grease, stodge and vegetables to make it not seem like you're scoffing down a heart attack on a plate. Although you most probably are. The staff in there are so horizontally laid back, it makes you want to own your brunch spot and just lope around serving people scrambled eggs until you die. It's simple, yet killer fare dudes.
Pig 'n Pancake, Astoria
One of the local folk told us not to go to Pig 'n Pancake as it's too skutty. But they were talking to the wrong people. This cavernous diner offered the perfect vibe for our slightly hungover morning in Astoria (the town where the Goonies was filmed). Again, there were grits, again there was a scramble and the green Tabasco sauce so prevalent (and delicious) in the US. Can we get this in the UK? Questions, questions. Plus there were American folk of all shapes and sizes eating all sorts of weird shit early in the morning. Steak and syrup? I don't think so...
Everyone bangs on about the chicken wings at Pok Pok in Portland. But that's because they are the BEST thing you can ever put in your mouth. Originally a food cart, the success has been so gargantuan that they've got a permanent restaurant with a permanent queue outside, plus cookbooks and worldwide acclaim. These wings will redefine your thoughts on chicken. Like totally. They use fish sauce and it will blow your mind.
If I was on death row and I was asked what I'd like for my final meal, I might be tempted to ask for the so-called 'dirty fries' from Lardo in Portland. I'd probably want them with a scotch egg, a pork pie and a side order of scrambled eggs but I'd definitely want them. They are fucking amazing. Look at them there above. They are fries, with hot peppers, bacon scraps and chunks coated in Parmesan cheese. There is no nutritional value to be had in them and they're all the better for it. The sign on the wall of Lardo says 'pig out' and it'd be rude not to obey.
One of the worst hangovers we had on our recent trip was after the 1st birthday bash of the Toffee Club. The next day was one of serious hard work, anxiety and beer-induced paranoia. Perhaps the one good thing to come out of it was stumbling upon the HunnyMilk pop up breakfast spot. I hate the concept of a pop as much as the next normal but this was something else. Ribs, grits with a carrot cake waffle for afters? All for 20 dollars? Excuse me!
After three weeks in American, we'd started becoming more American. Not to the point where we wanted to shoot anyone. Or not let them into our country due to the colour of their skin. But where the concept of sweet and savoury didn't seem like the worst idea ever. We were of course brutally hungover when we went to Screen Door and ordered chicken with waffles. But when they arrived, we ate every last crumb. Game changing.
The Holiday Inn, LAX
After many amazing breakfasts, our last hurrah was at the Holiday Inn near the airport in LA. You'd be forgiven for thinking that we were going out on a bit of a low ebb but not a bit of it. We arrived late at the all you could eat breakfast. But, despite being tardy, they still let us go mad on every bit of it. So we did. God bless America. And the French Toast that resides within you.