Well, the trip is drawing to a close, which means that this is my last taste of international McDonald’s weirdness.
First up: the Golden Prosperity Burger, which consists of a chicken patty (it’s also available in beef), a hash brown, black pepper sauce, and onions. I didn’t care for this one at all. For one thing, it was easily the sloppiest burger I’ve ever had at McDonald’s; the soft bun was barely even able to hold up under all that sauce. The chicken patty was really bottom-of-the-barrel — it was one of the shoddiest reconstituted chicken patties I’ve ever had. Plus, the sauce was just one-note peppery. It really needed pickles or something acidic to balance things out a bit.
Up next was the Bubur Ayam McD, which was a rice porridge with chicken, green onions, fried shallots, ginger, and sliced chilis. This was actually not bad at all — the rice had a good texture, and all of the flavours worked pretty well together, with the fried shallots adding some crunch.
Last but not least was the Red Bean Pie. This was about as close to a sure thing as it gets. I mean, it’s a crispy fried McDonald’s pie filled with tasty red bean filling. Yeah, it was quite good.
After my shockingly great Korean McDonald’s experience — and considering how good all of the food in Japan is — I had high hopes for a similar experience here.
Yeah, no. This was a pretty standard McDonald’s experience, sadly. Not the best, and not the worst.
First up is the Mature Gracoro Beef Stew Burger, which is a crispy fried croquette with cheese and chili on top. Oh, and the croquette is filled with macaroni and shrimp.
There’s a lot going on here — between the chili, the cheese, the mayonnaisey sauce, the shrimp, the soft macaroni, the crispy exterior of the croquette, and the creamy interior, it’s a very random hodge-podge of tastes and textures. It’s not bad, but it never quite coheres.
I also tried the Teriyaki McBurger, which was very similar to the Bulgogi Burger that I tried in South Korea. In fact, I think the pork patty is identical — but when I had it in Korea, it was fresh and tasty. This one had clearly been sitting out for a while, and had a much dryer texture and a vaguely leftovery flavour. The teriyaki sauce was about what you’d expect, and it wasn’t quite strong enough to wipe out that patty’s iffy flavour.
Finally, there’s the Sankaku pie — a triangular chocolate pie with a puff pastry exterior. This wasn’t bad. The chocolate filling was nice and gooey, but the pastry shell was a bit tough and chewy.
Apple pie purists would probably scoff at it, but the pie at a cafe called Winkel 43 in Amsterdam is pretty damn good.
It’s actually kind of like a cross between an apple cake and an apple pie. The crust — which is cakey and shortbready — is nothing like a typical pie shell. It’s dense and buttery, and it compliments the more familiar apple pie filling really well.
The filling is great too — the apples were nice and tender (apple pies with crunchy apples are where joy goes to die, and if you prefer it that way you’re wrong about apple pie and wrong about the way you live your life), and the flavour was right where it should be. It’s sweet, with just a little bit of tartness to balance it out.
Topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream, it’s definitely one of the more memorable slices of pie I’ve had in a while.
When you’re traveling on a budget, there’s nothing more satisfying than finding a cheap meal that’s actually good. A great example of this? A delightfully affordable pie shop in Edinburgh called Piemaker.
I got a Scotch Pie, which is filled with a peppery mixture of very finely ground beef (the texture kind of reminded me of the filling of Jamaican patties).
I also got a haggis roll, which features greasy puff pastry (seriously, look at how oily the bag got after about 15 seconds of contact with this thing) filled with a generous amount of haggis.
To be honest, neither was anything too memorable, but the price? I paid £2.50 for both — around four bucks Canadian — for a meal that was tasty enough and surprisingly filling. Somehow, when it’s that cheap, it just tastes better.
There are a lot of traditional British foods that you can very easily find back home — meat pies? All over the place. Fish and chips? Yep, they’re everywhere. But the type of eels that they serve in really traditional pie shops in London? I don’t think I’ve ever seen those back home.
There are actually a couple of distinctive things about the pie shops here: the aforementioned eels, obviously, but also the greenish sauce that you can see here:
It’s called liquor sauce, and it’s traditionally made with the same liquid they use to cook the eels, along with a generous amount of parsley.
It looks kind of like gravy, but tastes nothing like it — it has a bright, herby flavour that compliments the meaty pie really well.
As for the eels, they were ultra-soft — almost gelatinous — with a funky, fishy flavour. I liked them, but I can definitely see why they’ve mostly fallen out of favour over the years. They’re a little bit intense.
Thanksgiving was last week, and thankfully there’s one Canadian pub in town that saved me from going sad and turkeyless (and considering that it’s called the Maple Leaf and it’s absolutely festooned with Canadian flags, there’s no mistaking it for anything but a Canadian pub).
They served a traditional turkey dinner with pumpkin pie for dessert, and it was actually pretty awful, but hey — it saved me from spending Thanksgiving without eating turkey like some kind of maniac, so I can’t complain too much.
I will say, though, that the whole thing tasted like it was prepared by someone who knew what a Thanksgiving dinner is supposed to be in theory, but who had never actually tasted one. The gravy was all wrong, the turkey was insanely dry, and though the stuffing was actually not bad, they only give you two golf-ball-sized portions of it, so there isn’t nearly enough.
As for the pumpkin pie, aside from the fact that it had raisins in it (no dessert in the history of desserts has ever been improved by adding raisins), the crust was mushy and it was served piping hot, which was just bizarre.
I’m sorry, did I say I couldn’t complain too much? Yeah, clearly I was wrong about that.