Gwen Ashley Walters is a professionally trained chef, and spends her days writing about food -- you might know her blog Pen & Fork. She is a "smoothie savant" and tweets (@chefgwen) about her ultra creative smoothie ingredients like Avocado + Kiwi + Lime + Sriracha. She's a restaurant critic, has written three award-winning cookbooks and writes for various publications including Phoenix Magazine and Edible Phoenix. Walters has chosen to give us a whirlwind trek around the world in one day. Pack your bags and prepare your belly for one decadent day:
As a restaurant critic and food writer based in the Valley, I couldn't possibly do justice to all the scores of restaurants we have by selecting only a handful for a day's eating. By default, I'd have leave out restaurants that are just as worthy as ones I mention.
Fortunately, I get to travel some, both here and internationally, so my perfect food day is a "fantasy" compilation of eating outside of the Valley. I would pick a Saturday to begin my perfect food day and soon you'll understand why.
First on the agenda is a trip to San Francisco to meander through the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building, munching on a sublime Korean taco from Namu. It's a juxtaposition of textures and tastes, with a crackling nori wrap, soft rice and chewy, spicy beef.
After picking up some salame pepato from Boccalone Salumeria (a little snack for the plane ride to Portland, Oregon) I'd cruise through the downtown Portland farmers' market until I arrived at the Pine State Biscuits booth for a "Reggie" -- perhaps the most decadent breakfast sandwich ever. A fresh baked buttermilk biscuit stuffed with fried chicken and an over easy egg (both fried on the spot), bacon, cheese and sage and pepper sausage gravy? It doesn't get any better than that, even if this sandwich seems out of place in a market filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Before heading to the airport, I'd swing by Voodoo Doughnuts for a maple glazed doughnut topped with two strips of crisp bacon. Enough said.
That should hold me for the next plane ride to the Texas Hill Country, where I'd rent a car and hit all the top BBQ joints for brisket and all the fixin's: I'd hit Snow's BBQ in Lexington first because they're only open on Saturdays and when they're out of brisket, they close. Then I'd drive to Lockhart for a Smitty's Market fix and finally end up in Austin for Franklin's brisket with espresso barbecue sauce. Of course I'd toss back a hoppy 512 IPA or two (from Austin-based 512 Brewing Company) to wash it all down. On second thought, I might need a driver.
Lest you think I'm too full to possibly eat more, don't worry. I'll have a few hours to sleep it off as I fly to Venice, Italy, just in time for dinner at the charming, 14-seat Il Ridotto restaurant near St. Mark's Square. Master Chef Gianni Bonaccorsi will hand deliver course after course of fresh seafood pulled from the ocean that morning. Perhaps he'd serve succulent seared shrimp on an eggplant caponata, or hand made ravioli stuffed with ricotta and garnished with clams, or a lobster-stock risotto with cuttlefish and squid ink powder.
One last stop in Bologna on the way home for a cup of Italy's best gelato from Il Gelatauro, I'd cap off my perfect food day with a scoop of Bronte pistachio and bergamot jasmine.
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A girl can dream, can't she?