A fellow RVer once said to us that “life is about experiences” – we totally agree and one of the fun parts of traveling to new places is trying new, local food.
With the high cost (and the chaos) of a family of nine going to a restaurant, we deliberately don’t eat out very often. So when we do, we look for local cuisine experiences that are regionally notable to give us a taste of the area. So many places have so many foods that you can only get in one place – or are just better or more authentic in a specific place. We ask locals and seek out these experiences.
It’s a culinary cultural education that you have to travel to experience properly. An illustration is that you can’t get a fresh date shake in the north east, and you can’t get fresh Atlantic Lobster in Yuma, Arizona.
Below are some of the new food experiences that we thought deserved a try during our first year of living in our RV and traveling around North America.
We could never get this “back home”.
Mussels on the beach – Prince Edward Island
One of our fondest food memories is hanging out on the beach all day with friends and then cooking dinner right there on the beach. On a great local beach in PEI, one that we were sworn to secrecy of its location, we made a fire in a sand pit to shield it from the coastal winds. Then we steamed the fresh mussels in a Dutch Oven over the open flames.
Our friends taught us to use salt water from the ocean to help flavor the mussels. After a few minutes they were ready to eat and boy were they good! When thinking about food experiences, this was one of the best! Great food, great friends and a great setting made for a perfect meal.
Lobster rolls – Maine
What do you eat in Maine? Lobsta! Our first taste was in the small town of Eastport at Quoddy Bay Lobster which was a recommendation from the locals. The setting was awesome – right on the bay. While we were waiting for our order we were able to look at all the lobster they had just caught and they were huge! How did we feel about the lobster rolls? Not our favorite. We tried them again at a later time but had it warm with butter and we liked it much better.
Maple syrup – Vermont
We visited Sugarbush Farm a family farm in Vermont, that makes maple syrup and cheese. The farm has a couple buildings but, of course, we first visited the sampling area. We loved sampling the multiple types of cheeses and maple syrup. Some of our favorite flavors of cheese were pepper jack, aged cheddar and bacon cheddar. The employees and family loved explaining the process of making the cheese and the best way to use each grade of maple syrup.
In a separate building you can walk around the machines to see how they make the syrup. We visited at the wrong time of the year so they were not processing any syrup at the time. But they had clear signs explaining the process and a video to watch. All of this was free, except all the cheese and maple syrup we bought.
Date Milkshakes – Yuma AZ
We were driving around Yuma, Arizona and saw signs for an organic date farm, Martha's Gardens. I love dates so I immediately wanted to go. We drove up to the farm and were surrounded by palm trees. It was so cool to see the large bunches of dates hanging from the trees. This place is date heaven with a shop selling dates in many different forms. We bought several packages of fresh dates and we splurged on date milkshakes for everyone. The dates gave the vanilla ice cream a caramel flavor and I loved it!
You Can Get These Other Places, But It’s Not Going To Be As Authentic
Cannoli – Boston, Massachustts
We only had one day to visit Boston. We wanted to walk on the Freedom Trail and see as much as we could. We had heard that Cannoli’s were a “thing” in Boston. I had never had a cannoli before so I was really looking forward to it. After checking reviews, I learned that Mike’s Pastry is the best place for authentic Cannoli.
This place has been open since 1946 and they seem to know what they are doing as the line was long – out the door and down the street - proving it’s local notoriety. Having so many different flavors made it tough to decide what to try but we narrowed it down to pistachio, lemon, and chocolate. We would have tried more but unexpectedly for us they only take cash so we got what we could with the cash we had on hand. They were all so good! Next time we are in Boston I will make sure to take more cash. I would love to try every kind!
Crawfish – Lafayette, LA
I only tasted a bite of Matt’s giant platter of crawfish. I’m not a huge shellfish person. But this is a total must have in in Louisiana. We went to a restaurant known for their crawfish, Louisiana Crawfish Time, with Matt’s cousin as leading up to it local people were surprised that we had never had crawfish before.
Someone near our table gave us some gloves to wear so the kids wouldn’t get the spices on their hands (and then inevitably into their eyes). We were taught how to dig in and get busy. In fact, while in the area we also learned how to catch crawfish right out of the swampy ground and we successfully caught a few right near our campground. We loved spotting the mounds of mud knowing there was a crawfish underneath.
Tacos – Tecate, Mexico
We stayed up in the hills of San Diego County at Lake Morena county park which is near the Mexican border town of Tecate. After speaking to a few locals, we decided to walk across the border to let the kids get a taste for a new country. We parked our truck on the American side and walked across the border to Mexico. We found an awesome taco restaurant, Taqueria “Los Panchos”, and had the best tacos of our lives.
We hadn’t brushed up on our Spanish so after ordering food we still weren’t sure what we were getting. We had two types of steak tacos with various salsas and grilled vegetables. And the price couldn’t be beat (and even though they only took cash and we didn’t have pesos – they took our US Dollars so it was obvious to us what a great deal we got). My boy who hates tacos still dreams of going back for more. I think we have a foodie on our hands.
Apple Salsa (and the world’s best apple pie) in Massachusetts
We love using our Harvest Hosts membership to stay at various places including farms. While staying at the Red Apple Farm in Massachusetts, we picked fresh apples and bought the best apple pie I’ve ever had loaded with apples, sugar and cinnamon. Since we had just finished a long moving day, we actually ate the apple pie for dinner that night, sitting outside in the middle of the orchard. We also wanted to try something new so we bought apple salsa which quickly became a favorite. It was spicy and sweet at the same time. It didn’t last long at our house! We loved it so much that we bought a second jar the next morning.
Deep Dish Pizza - Illinois
While it is usually something you should eat when in Chicago, we stopped in at a restaurant in Springfield. Rosati’s Pizza had great reviews and my sister and brother in law had been there before. The moment we walked in the door I knew it was going to be good. The smell was heavenly. It was worth the wait! When we pulled the pizzas slices apart the cheese stretched so far. And the inside was filled with so much meat. Next time we are in Chicago we’ll have to try some more deep dish pizza.
Authentic Pennsylvania Dutch and Shoefly Pie – Pennsylvania
We knew when we were in Pennsylvania Dutch country that we wanted to try some good, homemade comfort food. Matt visited the area when he was 12 years old and he remembered eating at a restaurant (that neither him nor his parents remembered the name of) where they served you family style so he wanted to recreate that memory.
We asked around for a good restaurant like this and found a great place, Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant. Our kids still talk about this restaurant. We loved everything from the mashed potatoes, sausage, carrots, buttered noodles, lemonade, and the shoefly pie. Oliver still thinks about this food every day and can’t wait to go back again.
I Had Never Even Heard Of These
Poutine - Canada
Do you know what Poutine is? We had never heard of it until we went to Canada. It is essentially French Fries topped with gravy and cheese. A true comfort food. You can find it everywhere – even at Costco and local pizza joints. This one comes with mixed reviews from the family. Well, Matt stands alone in being the only one who doesn’t like it. I loved it! I even crave it sometimes now.
Fruit Birthday Cake(s)
This entry is a little different but I still wanted to add it. We spent my birthday moochdocking at a friend’s house on Prince Edward Island. My friend, Lindsay, surprised me for my birthday with a watermelon fruit cake! She cut a watermelon in the shape of a cake and decorated it with other fruit to make it fancy. There was even a swan carved from an apple. It was so kind and thoughtful and creative. The perfect healthy birthday treat. This might not be a “local favorite” but it was a family favorite that we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t hit the road. Teddy loved it so much that when it came time for his birthday in January he wanted the same thing.
Some Recent Posts