Happy Monday! Last Friday I wrote up my experiences with my family in America and said that I would share our eating experiences. Well, here we are. This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything we ate, but rather the highlights. (Family members: add anything on in the comments that you think I might I have missed. ) Though most of the food was gluten-free and dairy-free, a few weren’t but do provide inspiration for me to make gluten-free/dairy-free versions.
1. Clam (and lobster) chowder. I did not manage to get any pictures of either chowder, when we were in San Francisco and when we were in Anaheim. The chowder in San Francisco was good but we all liked the one we had from Whole Foods in Tustin better as it was creamier and seemed to have more flavour and body. Both clam and lobster chowders were good. Surprisingly, the Whole Foods chowders did not use any cream at all, it was all butter and wheat. I had a notion that chowder is made with cream but maybe it isn’t? I don’t know. Anyway, I now want to make my own clam chowder, which would be both gluten- and dairy-free. I might make a lobster version as well.
2. Salted caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks. I know, you can get this stuff anywhere (it’s a coffee chain!) but it was too good for me not to mention it again. That was seriously the best one I’ve had anywhere. (Although now it could be topped or rivaled with the one I had last night.) Plus, there’s something special drinking a salty, caramel hot chocolate drink when you’re strolling through an overcast San Francisco and then hiking up steep street hills, burning off the calories while still sipping.
3. Lemon Meringue Cupcake from Orson (or Citizen Cake). (Official website) I would have to say the best lemon cupcake I’ve eaten, even trumping my own lemon cupcakes – and that is not said out of my idolizing Elizabeth Falkner! I’m keeping it brief here since I’ve written a whole post devoted to my brief nip into Orson, now it’s just a matter of putting in the pictures and adding a couple extra touches before I click publish.
4. Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. (Official website) My family isn’t new to their coconut milk ice creams, but we were floored by the variety while we were in Tustin. It was the full range, I’m sure – more than what is currently available in Canada. Honestly, to me the variety available in Canada now seems to fall short. I only managed to get a shot of the Passionate Mango, but all of the flavours that we tried (Cherry Amaretto, German Chocolate, and said Passionate Mango) were great. The mango one was light and creamy; the others were also creamy, and I would dare say creamier in a way not possible with dairy-based ice creams. Coconut milk is the way to go in dairy-free ice cream making because it’s creamier and richer than other alternatives such as soy milk and rice milk.
5. So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt. (Official website) There was a bigger variety of flavours to choose from in the smaller, travel size containers than the regular-sized containers at both Whole Foods we went to (in San Francisco and in Tustin). We tried blueberry, strawberry banana, raspberry, passionate mango, and chocolate. Of the ones we tried, strawberry banana tasted the best, we thought, since banana goes really well with coconut. For those wondering, the coconut milk yogurt is not as thick as dairy yogurt or even soy yogurt – although I’ll go for coconut milk yogurt over soy any day, simply for flavour: it’s more rounded, soy can get kind of “blah” sometimes – my Mum likened the consistency similar to kefir. (Speaking of which, So Delicious does sell kefir made with coconut milk but we didn’t have a chance to try it. For that matter, we didn’t even see it.)
6. So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer. (Official website) This was my Mum’s favourite of all the coconut milk products. I didn’t really get to trying this one out too much, but from the sip that I did take from Mum’s tea, it is phenomenal. It is a creamer. Best of all, it doesn’t break up in hot beverages like canned coconut milk does and it doesn’t give your tea or coffee a coconut-y flavour or aftertaste, which is great. We tried the Original and Hazelnut creamers.
7. So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage. (Official website) If you like coconut milk in cooking and baking and want to use it for other uses, like for your cereal in the morning or if you just want the quintessential glass of cold milk but haven’t been able to stomach its richness and strong coconut flavour, this is for you! We’ve only tried the original (red box) and vanilla (blue box) but both are very good and bear no trace of coconut milk flavour at all. I’ve drunk both straight out of a glass and liked it, it’s just like drinking any other milk – although I do find it a bit rich still, so I don’t tend to drink a full glass of it. It’s also great in tea and doesn’t separate or break up like canned coconut milk does when used in hot beverages. Naturally, it isn’t the same as the coconut creamer. Because the coconut milk beverage is not the same as canned coconut milk or coconut milk made from scratch, I’m starting to go through all my recipes on here that use coconut milk and indicate it’s canned. I’d like to try baking with it, though, to see how its performance compares to that of canned coconut milk. (If anyone has done this, leave a comment telling your results.) When we came back from our vacation, we were surprised (and excited) to see that it’s started to be sold in Canada and as of now it’s sold out, so we’re not sure if that was just a test run to see how it would sell. Hopefully they’ll bring it back. Now we just have to wait for the coconut creamer and yogurt!
7. So Delicious Coconut Water Sorbet. (Official website) I was interested in this product when I first saw it announced by Purely Decadent, though it is not yet sold in Canada. We saw it at Whole Foods in Tustin and tried the raspberry sorbet. It is fantastic! My brother ate most of the tub. The coconut water lends a kind of pleasant, creamy consistency and flavour as well as texture to the sorbet. Until it’s available in Canada, I plan to do some experimenting of my own with coconut water once the weather’s warmer around here.
8. Odwalla Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie (Official website) My Mum picked this up at Whole Foods when we were in San Fran, since I was interested and curious in checking it out. It’s the best cold pumpkin drink I’ve tasted: it’s creamy and tastes like pumpkin, the creaminess coming in part from the banana. (Pumpkin and banana together do wonders.) I sipped it on our road trip, without any risk of it spilling since the highways were so smooth and without any bumps most of the way and had finished it hours before reaching Anaheim. I shared it around for everyone else to have a sip, though only Mum and I were really keen on it. I was so keen that I’m wanting to make my own version of that smoothie sometime. (For now, I think the best shot for a chilled pumpkin drink right now is Shirley’s pumpkin pie smoothie, which I described as a healthier version of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte…without the coffee.)
9. Chicken Teriyaki. We tried it at the Whole Foods in Tustin and it was some of the best teriyaki I’ve had. The brown rice, rather than the usual white rice, also complimented it well and it’s made me interested in making my own teriyaki. It’s really the sauce that makes it. In fact, I could be more a fan of the sauce than the actual teriyaki! It’s the sauce that I loved getting extra of on my rice at Edo’s Japan.
10. Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops. (Official website) We chanced across this brand at the SF Whole Foods and bought the big bag that had about fifty lollipops in eight flavours for the road trip. They’re sugar-free, gluten-free, tree nut-free, peanut free, and made without corn syrup. My brother loves them as did my other siblings and since returning, we’ve also found them in Canada. I’m not really much of a lollipop girl but the ones that I tried I did like. The flavours were Pomegranate Pucker, Too Berry Blueberry, Mango Tango, Strawberry Smash, Googly Grape, Very Very Cherry, Sour Apple Tart, and Wet Faced Watermelon. The Sour Apple Tart seemed to be the least fave while the rest were enjoyed, everyone with their own personal favourite; mine was Mango Tango.