Around the World in $40 Days
Recently I asked people if they would like to come up with their own versions of Rachael Ray's $40 A Day for the latest edition of Dine & Dish. There was fantastic response with 33 entries from all over the world. Each one of these entries is absolutely amazing. I hope you manage to read through them all. Take your time, you'll need it...
Rachael starts her worldwide journey in Knoxville Tennessee where she manages to spend $37.64 on some delicious sounding food: She starts at the Waffle House for breakfast before heading out for lunch and an unusual, but certainly interesting sounding, walnut gorgonzola pizza as well as blue chip nachos from the quirkily named Tomato Head. In the evening Rachael heads off for a mildly spicy night out and a tempting thai feast from Kashmir Indian Restaurant.
When Rachael is in LA, California, it's all about what she doesn't eat, rather than what she does eat. It's all about her figure. Less is more. She starts with a simple coffee at Urth Caffé, heads to Porta Via for a half panini and a half salad at lunch time. She saves the evening for rock'n'roll, star spotting, pizzas and martini at Jones Hollywood.
Is it always snowy in Cambridge, MA? Someone living in that neck of the woods probably wouldn't be too sorry if Rachael froze over so she could never open her mouth again. Until that happens, Rachael will be eating very well in Massachusetts: She starts with a slice of Upper Crust Pizza, and follows that with a coffee from Darwins where the hazelnut and other flavoured syrups are gratis. After a lot of walking around and a nap, Rachael pigs out on a decadent sounding lobster sandwich from Alive and Kicking and fried chicken from the Coast Cafe. What a pig our Rachael is. The only space left, after that mountain of filling food, is for a couple of cocktails at Middlesex. Rachael ends her busy day 35 cents under budget.
Next up Rachael is in the Cleveland area where she starts her day by eating jerk chicken at a Caribbean Hungarian restaurant called Monica's. From there, Rachael's off to have fun , popcorn and frozen custard at the Euclid Beach Park where the Beach Boys played in 1964, long before Rachael was born. From frozen custard to Hot Sauce Williams, next stop is for ribs and chicken wings. Rachael has a couple of dollars left in the budget so she heads off to the North Union Farmers Market for strawberry filled Amish fry pie. Now that sounds like a sweet ending.
When Rachael visited Oakland, CA, she was pretty cheap. In fact she could have included a 20% tip and remained in budget. She started her day with a chocolatine from La Farine. For lunch Rachael opted for a Bahn Mi from Cam Huong which she washed down with a drink and dessert in one - Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Pearls from the cutely named Sweet Booth. With her budget almost intact Rachael headed off to Luka's Tap Room for a feast of burger, beer and chocolate cake. By the end of the night, Rachael is still in the money, having only spent $33 total.
Rachael is jumping all over the place these days. West Coast, East Coast, this girl is flying! Next stop is Syracuse, NY where our Rachael starts the day at Lucky Moon Cafe with a delicious sounding breakfast of omelette, tuscan toast and jasmine tea, cooked for her personally by one of the owners no less. I hope Rachael isn't using her position to get preferential treatment! Rachael is a girl after my own heart - she chooses to take lunch at the organic Elderberry Pond Farm where the burgers look amazing. And as if that wasn't enough, she pigs out on a raspberry and almond tart too. You'd think she would have run out of space in her belly and change in her purse, but no! Rachael still room for a catfish burrito, cornbread and salad from Alto Cinco. Wow! All for $39!
Next stop London, England. Rachael is going all international on us and making me home sick at the same time. But, phew, the price of things in England! It's daylight robbery. Rachael reminds us that to eat well in England, as Somerset Maugham said, eat breakfast three times a day and so she starts with a classic English Breakfast at Café Olympic, E15. As if I wasn't salivating enough already, she then heads to S and M Café in Spitalfields and has Bangers & Mash with gravy. Oh my. And to torture me enough even more, Rachael then heads to Brick Lane, and New Tayyab, for a spicy feast. Oh, how I wish I could be there too, preferably on a different day to Ms Ray and definitely with sterling, rather than dollars, in in my bank account. Rachael spent just five pence under £22.00, the equivalent to $40.
Staying away from the USA a little while longer, Rachael's next stop is Singapore where she can get S$66 for her forty US. Ya Kun is her breakfast stop for a traditional morning meal of soft boiled egg, toast and coffee. At lunchtime she settles for a variety of Japanese food from Ichiban Boshi, including sake head miso soup. (Sake meaning salmon in this instance). Dinner includes no less than four desserts. After both savoury and sweet crepes at Le P'tit Breton, Rachael heads to Bakerzin for raspberry panna cotta, lychee espuma, and hot chocolate shooter with housemade chocolate ice cream. She comes in way under budget, but after all that sugar, do you think Rachael will be able to describe herself as a Skinny Chef and keep a straight face?
Rachael is getting homesick, so she nips back to her homeland and a visit to Portsmouth, VA and Waffle World for a cheap filling breakfast. Lunch is a sandwich, and coffee, at Rachael's friends' place, The Daily Grind. For dinner we have a choice of two. Because I work in the movie business, I'll opt for the Commodore Theater, where I can eat Fish'n'Chips and watch films at the same time!
Rachael is a little bit fond of San Francisco it would seem. She just keeps coming back because she can't quite make up her mind about the Bay Area's best eats. Pastores is a place I hadn't heard of, but will be trying soon. The Huevos Rancheros look so good. There isn't a San Franciscan who hasn't heard about the Bahn Mi from Saigon Sandwich. The only person who hasn't actually tried them, however, is probably me. I am determined to change that as soon as my job moves to the city next week. I tried to go to Isa recently, but they had closed for a vacation. Rachael had better luck when she was in town and she positively raves about the $22.25 Prix fixe. Lots of beau-ti-ful food options, coming in under budget with tips and tax included.
Spokane, Washington. Have you heard of it? The more I read about it, the more I want to visit. I am kind of bummed that Rachael got there before me to sample the delights of the 'Tasty Triangle', an area around St John's Cathedral. Photographic evidence of a dark chocolate and orange scone from BitterSweet Bakery will make you drool. After that, pay your penance with a healthy bright and vibrant mix of salads for lunch at Lindaman's. The indulgent streak is revisited again for dinner, at Paprika, where Rachael manages to squeeze a grilled steak fillet with port wine reduction into her belly and her budget.
For her next call, Rachael decides to try LA, CA again, this time from a wildly different standpoint. She starts at Millie's for an obscenely decadent stack of six pancakes layered with cream cheese and strawberries. Does she really need to eat for the rest of the day? Apparently yes, so she stops off at Label's Table Deli for the best smoked turkey sandwich on rye in the City. Even before dinner it seems Rachael is famished to she stops off at Wholefoods for a little snack of a Spicy tuna bowl. At least it sounds healthy! Finally, before the day is over, Rachael finds room for dinner. Off to Mulholland Grill she goes, to graze on Caesar salad and gnocchi. Oh no! But she's gone over the budge by a few dollars. Naughty Rachael. What punishment shall we deliver her? I'll take votes. Wink, wink.
Next Rachael nips over to Hartford, CT, for some delicious sounding whole wheat flour and wheat germ pancakes. She recommends the chocolate chip pancake with side of home fries and orange juice from Mo's Midtown. As a visiting celebrity, Rachael can't resist taking lunch with former Hartford Mayor, at Mayor Mike's. An ooey-gooey and oh-so-good pesto grilled cheese with lots of trimmings is the thing that attracts her attention. Come the evening, Rachael heads off to Agave Grill for Guacamole, cheese enchiladas and a half-price house margarita on the rocks. A day's worth of fine dining comes to an end exactly on budget.
Back in San Francisco again, just to double-check whether or not she made the best choices on her previous visit, Rachael starts her day at the fabulous Tartine for the best damn frangipane croissant outside of Paris and a coffee. For lunch she tries Yank Sing, for the famous but pricey Dim Sum which is so delicious, its worth the spend. A Frog Hollow peach tides her over until dinner when she heads to the Mission and La Taqueria for pork carnitas taco with avocado, a vegetarian bean and cheese taco with avocado and a small sweet-sour tamarindo drink. All of the day's goodies total $38.70 which seems like a bargain for so much tasty sounding food.
A quick flight back down to Los Angeles, this time Rachael has her beau in tow. She wants to see if she can feed two people in the City of Angels without blowing more than 40 bucks. She ends up doing her mom and dad proud, budget wise. They start at Gilbert's for a hangover breakfast of huevos con chorizo and menudo. Not for the faint of heart - Menudo consists of tripe and other cow parts bathed in a spicy red broth with hominy, onions, peppers and other condiments. Lee's Sandwiches serve Bahn Mi, which are proving to be popular wherever Rachael goes. They also have Western-style sandwiches available so everyone is happy. When it's time for dinner, Rachael and her man head for Sam Woo BBQ, for noodles, rock cod, rice and free tea. At the end of the day they still have $3.60 left between them. What excellent house-keeping skills!
Next stop is Berkeley, CA, where two different days of dining options are tested out. Day one starts with a pastry and latte from Caffe Trieste and continues with a Turkish buffet lunch from Bosphorus. For dinner, new kid on the block, Sea Salt, is the destination where Rachael dines on oysters, clam chowder and a pint of Anchor Steam. At the end of the day she is well under budget with 5 bucks to spare.
On day two in the San Pablo Avenue area, Rachael begins with a Cafe Fanny latte, granola, fresh fruit and yoghurt before heading to Everett and Jones for a lunch of sliced beef and soda. Next Rachael has a Mexican snack at Casa Latina. For her final Berkeley meal she heads back to Caffe Trieste for salad, pizza and a nice glass of red wine. Who would have known there is so much good food to be had in such a small area of town.
After zipping all over the States, Rachael fancies a trip down under, to Sydney, Australia. Because the exchange rate is on her side, she decides to try and eat on AUS$40 which is only about thirty bucks whilst sticking in the downtown area of Sydney. A Big Breakfast starts the day at Una's: Bacon, sausages, eggs, rosti, toast and tomato, oh yes, it sounds totally scrumptious. So Rachael's lunch is a little lighter - Grilled dory fillets with salad and chips plus firm, tasty and achingly fresh sashimi from Peter's. Phew, that sounds sublime. You know me, I love Indian food. Seems Rachael does too. So for dinner she heads off to Maya Masala for pani puri chaat, onion rawa paneer dosa and a sweet and syrupy Indian dessert. Oh wow, out of my way, Rachael, I'm heading to Oz right this very second.
It looks like Rachael will make room in Sydney for me, by jetting off across the Australian countryside to Adelaide. Phat Coffee is the first stop, for a coffee and a magnificent Ham Cheese and Tomato Croissant. Oh! Sushi is a brief lunch stop and the final meal of the day is The ‘Steed where Rachael indulges in an interesting sounding Pork Puff Pastry Parcel and a jug of Cooper's Ale, all comfortably under the $40 mark.
Rachael just can't keep away from San Francisco for more than about 5 minutes. Yes, she's back again, because she just can't get enough of Tartine. This time round it's a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino that gets her all excited. It's not her first trip to Saigon Sandwich either. I am beginning to think Rachael is a Bahn Mi addict. Rachael's visit coincides with a rare San Francisco sighting. A Ray of sunshine peeps out from behind the fog and so she finds an excuse to go and eat ice cream, from Mitchell's, of course. Where else? But the real reason Ms Ray had to return to my fair city, is to check out Delfina's new Pizzeria. Does she like it? Salsiccia pizza and Montepulciano says she does. She still has enough change to stop at Tartine on the way home and pick up a croissant for tomorrows breakfast. What a gutsy lady.
Rachael still wonders if she has done San Francisco enough justice. She'd like to see it from a Frenchman's perspective. What would he eat? He'd get to Delanghe Bakery at 7 am for warm croissants, that's what he'd do. Rachael can't decide between a plain one or a hazelnut raspberry, they both sound sooo good. Next on the menu is a whole black pepper sauce crab from Batavia Garden, yes, a whole one just for Rachael. To end her French-style day in San Francisco Rachael would venture to Chapeau! for the $25 prix fixe. The whole day sounds like one long good idea.
Rachael's plane gets delayed so she has to stay in San Francisco for one more day. What's it to be this time she wonders? Are there still enough options for her to dine well in SF? Instead of pastries, Rachael starts her day with a steaming bowl of clam chowder from Swan's Oyster Depot . It might sound strange, but just remember how foggy and cold it can be here in the Summer. For lunch she heads to one of my favourites, The Helmand, for an all-you-can-eat Afghan buffet. You might think Rachael would be full by now, but Hawthorne Lane is calling where, between 4 and 6 pm Happy Hour Bar Bites are all $3.50. Bargain munching options washed down with a G & T. Because dinner was so early, Rachael needs a late night dessert snack which she finds in the form of Black Glutinous Rice in Mango & Coconut Juice with Extra Mango at Creations Dessert House and she still has 75 cents in her pocket at the end of the night.
Rachael finally escapes California for Northern Virginia where she confirms her reputation as Queen of cheap eats by starting her $40 day with a Royal Restaurant breakfast. Determined not to let her regal status get the better of her, Rachael's next stop is The Italian Store where she'll get a good sub but no niceties whatsoever from the staff. She doesn't really mind, though, because she has an extra special treat in store for the evening. Rachael heads off to what is widely considered one of the best restaurants in NV, 2941, where eating from the Tapas on the Terrace menu means she finishes the day exactly on budget. Bravo!
The sparkling seas and waving palm trees are calling Rachael from Santa Barbara. The D'Angelo Pastry ham and cheese croissants are practically screaming Rachael's name. (She missed out on them last time she was in SB). Rachael already knows about the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company and so she heads there again, for lunch. To tide herself over, until dinner she stops at Anna's Bakery for a chocolate cookie snack. It's been too long since she had any raw fish so Rachael heads off the main drag to dine at Ichiban Sushi finishing her day 15 cents under budget.
It's time for another trip abroad with Rachael jetting off, this time, to Pune, Maharshtra, India! $40 would feed a family for a month in this part of the world so, instead, Rachael decides to meet the challenge on about $4 instead. So much food for so little money: Tasty sounding Coconut Uttapam from Madhuban, Chelo Kabab with rice and tomatoes from King's Restaurant, and Chicken and naan from the Sardar Tandoori stall. I wish I could go to India and learn about real Indian food.
Back in the US, Rachael heads up to Seattle . First stop of course, is the wonderful Pike Place Market and breakfast just opposite at Le Panier. Staying in the market area, lunch is a shrimp cocktail and water from Jack's Fish Spot. Next up on the itinerary is happy hour. For this Rachael heads off to Elliott's Oyster House for the cheapest ever oysters and a martini. I am just amazed she still has over $20 left for dinner. For that meal Rachael heads to Brasa for a lamb burger and a glass of wine. A perfect end to a a thrifty day of eating.
I reckon that the day Rachael heads to San Juan Island, Washington, will be the day she loses her job. There are some entertaining people in these parts and our Ms Ray is going to have a hard time competing. She could always drown any sorrows in food. For breakfast, lavender lemonade and cake from the local farmer's market is a good suggestion. Lunch could be spring rolls, pad thai and and beer at the Golden Triangle. The day should end at Madrona Bar & Grill for something thick and meaty. I'll say no more...
Rachael suddenly realizes she left something personal in her Seattle hotel room so she heads back to try and pick it up. Whilst there she decides to record another $40 A Day show. This time she gets her breakfast of a roly-poly bun and some coffee from the Macrina Bakery. Bruschettina at Ballard Farmers Market sounds like the perfect lunch stop where they have some interesting sounding toppings, like chickpeas and octopus, for their bruschetta. After an afternoon pick-me-up at El Diablo Coffee Company, Rachael is ready for dinner. For this she heads to Chinook’s for a very fancy-sounding alder planked Alaskan silver salmon. Yum.
Columbus, Ohio is the next destination, starting with breakfast from Jack & Benny's. Rachael hasn't had a Bento Box in a while and she is asking herself why not? They are so great, especially the ones from Tyfoon. There is enough money and space left for a slap up dinner at The Burgundy Room. What is there not to like about beef carpaccio and rich cheese tortellini with pulled duck leg confit and a small glass Haven's Bourriquot? Shouldn't that be Heaven?!
After all this hard work, Rachael jets off to Honolulu, Hawaii, for hard-earned vacation. Chocolate cream stuffed Malasadas from Leonard's Bakery are sugary dough balls which are a sweet, cheap deal. A healthier lunch is in order so Rachael heads off to the noisy, local bowling alley where they serve steaming bowls of Oxtail soup spiced with cilantro at the Kapiolani Coffee Shop. For an afternoon treat, Rachael fancies custard with green tea ice and lots of syrup. She finds it at Waiola. The best find of her trip is Sunrise, a Japanese restaurant that serves the freshest fish at rock bottom prices. Rachael could get quite used to this way of life.
It's time to go home, back to New York. After spending so much on her holiday, Rachael decides to find a day of eats under $25. Everything she munches on throughout the day sounds irresistible. The simplicity of a $1 slice pizza bianca at Sullivan Street Bakery, the great value of a vietnamese sandwich from Bahn Mi So 1, the indulgence of piggy pudding from Sugar Sweet Sunshine, it all sounds marvelous. But that's not the end of it, Rachael is really showing her sweet tooth. What next? A chocolate mudslide cookie from Jacques Torres and then a mexican style bun from the Golden Dragon Boat Cafe and Bakery. Something to drink next - how about a bubble tea from Green Tea Cafe? Dumpling might be a word that could be used to describe Rachael after eating all that, but what? She still has room for more? More dumplings that is - so she heads off to Shanghai Cafe for exactly that. Phew, Rachael is so now full she can hardly speak.
She doesn't utter another word until she arrives in Novato, Marin, CA. She's not really in a breakfast mood but she stops of at Skully's for a plain croissant and a coffee, finding it to be surprisingly good. Lunch is just as cheap - at Quezada Market - where she fills up on Tamales and coconut juice. Novato. So far, so good. Kitchen does a Prix-Fixe menu for just $15, so that is where Rachael decides to eat her evening meal. Three courses and a glass of wine, Rachael has discovered how to do Novato quite well, and way under budget to boot.
San Francisco is only a 30 minute drive down the 101, so Rachael figures she can head back in that direction one more time. She stops off at Larkspur on the way and Tabla on the way for soup and corn fritters. Next destination is Liberty Cafe to the South of the city for some of the best Eggs Florentine in town. She ends her day at Ti Couz slurping on a blackberry cocktail and indulging in her favourite cheese mushroom and almond crepe. She's full, but oh so satisfied, if only you could see the smile on her face.
I think Rachael deserves a little time off. It's time to sneak off to LA for some serious partying to celebrate the end of this $40 a series. The next day, even with a hangover, Rachael shows her dedication to food by dragging herself out of bed to get to the farmers market where she starts the rehydration process on free samples of pomegranate juice. Now she's not actually working, Rachael shows where her real priorities lie. She heads over to Casa del Mar for the hair of the dog - a $12 bloody Mary. In need of more liquid refreshment, Rachael hurries to Lula, for their 7 day a week happy hour, and a couple of margaritas at $3 a pop. Yes. I did say two. Finally Rachael visits Blowfish for an animal-style roll which she washes down with an Absolut Citron lemon and soda and the $40 is spent. Lucky Rachael, she certainly does lead a most Delicious Life.