London is a very expensive city to live or to visit but there are countless ways to save money. Some of these do require some time and administration on your part but it’s worth it for the thrill of knowing you got a great deal or the feeling that haven’t been duped into paying for too much. Even if the savings don’t feel like much, every little bit helps.Continue reading
Travelling in a new country is exciting but sometimes, the mundane stuff of life can be frustrating. This post is for a person new to Australia and specifically targeted for someone who wants to travel around Australia by road. This is all the boring information to keep you safe and help you save money so you can get on with the fun stuff.
The blog will be split into two sections; safety tips and cost saving tips. For costs, frugal tips will be provided for all the major expenses for road-tripping Australia i.e. fuel, accommodation, food, sightseeing, gear etc.
- Australia is a big country. Don’t underestimate the distances! Stay awake and alert when you drive. Pull over for a rest if you have to. Fatigue can cause accidents and a high speed accidents can easily by fatal.
- When travelling in remote areas, understand the capacity of your fuel tank and know where you can buy fuel next.
- Always have water in your vehicle and take water with you on remote walks.
- If you breakdown, stay with your vehicles instead of walking off to find help. Many tourists have died walking off to look for help. You are easier to find by your vehicle.
- The sun is strong in Australia. Slip, Slop, Slap i.e. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a broad brim hat.
- Listen to the locals and obey signage when it comes to animals such as crocodiles and jellyfish. Yes, you may be hot and desperate for a swim but there is a reason why no one else is in the water!
- Snakes are usually more scared of you than you are of them. As you tramp through the bush, they will hear your noisy approach and slither off.
- There are some venomous spiders. Just use your common sense and take reasonable care and you’ll be fine.
- DO NOT drive at dawn and dusk. This is when many animals are more active. You are at a MUCH greater risk of driving into a kangaroo or even a cow. If you have to drive at that time, lower your speed and watch carefully. These animals can behave unpredictably and you will have less warning than you think.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
Fuel is a big expense on a road trip especially considering the distances involved in traveling around Australia. Always look for the cheapest fuel along your route. If you deviate a great distance from your route for cheap fuel, it could be a false economy.
You may only save a few dollars each time but the savings accumulate. These websites are useful for finding the cheapest fuel. Most states and territories have accurate fuel prices information provided by the government except for Victoria and Tasmania. The information in Petrolspy in Victoria and Tasmania is crowdsourced so can be inaccurate especially for remote or small fuel stations.
- New South Wales (NSW) – https://www.fuelcheck.nsw.gov.au/app
- Queensland (QLD) – https://petrolspy.com.au/
- South Australia (SA) – https://petrolspy.com.au/
- Tasmania (TAS) – https://www.fuelcheck.tas.gov.au/app
- Victoria (VIC) – https://petrolspy.com.au/
- Western Australia (WA) – https://www.fuelwatch.wa.gov.au/
- Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – https://petrolspy.com.au/
- Northern Territory (NT) – https://myfuelnt.nt.gov.au/
Other tips for saving fuel include
- When planning your trip, do your research and plan an optimised route so you don’t double back to see something you have missed. Minimising the number of kilometres you drive, saves fuel and saves wear and tear on your vehicle, thereby reducing maintenance costs and increasing vehicle re-sale value.
- Take advantage of supermarket fuel discounts. Coles provides a 4c/L discount when you spend more than $30 in their store. The voucher is on the bottom of your paper receipt. Woolworths does similar but their vouchers are automatically stored on your Woolworths Rewards Card. These discounts only apply in affiliated fuel stations (which despite the discount, still may not be the cheapest!)
- G’day park membership gives 4c/L off at Coles Express fuel stations.
- Drive slower. The sweet spot for fuel economy is about 80km/hr.
- Do not speed. Speed radar cameras are used because they are a good revenue earner for the government. Even just 2km/hr over the limit can get you caught and the fines are often steep and you will also get demerit points. Penalties are even harsher on public holiday long weekends to minimise road deaths.
These accommodation tips assume that you will be camping. If you will be staying in hotel type accommodation, the advice is to shop around. For camping,
- Download the Wikicamps app. There is a tiny fee but it will pay back many times over. This app will tell you where you can camp including places you can camp for free. For each place, it will tell what amenities are available e.g. toilets, showers etc. This app is absolutely essential for road-tripping Australia. An inferior free alternative is Campermate.
- Free camp – There are plenty of areas set-up where you can rest overnight or free camp. Some of these will include drop toilets and/or picnic tables. Use Wikicamps to find these or there will road-signs that pre-empt the turn-off to a rest area.
- The two big caravan park chains in Australia are Big4 and G’day parks. Big4 charges consistently more per night but tends to be newer and nicer. Both offer a quality and consistent product. For $50, you can purchase a 2 year membership which will get you a 10% discount for each night stayed and other perks. For value for money and a greater number of locations around Australia, I recommend a G’day park membership. They also often sell their membership at a reduced price of $35. G’day park membership also comes with a fuel discount at all Coles Express fuel stations.
- Plan ahead around busy periods e.g. school holidays. Things get crazy around school holiday times in popular holiday destinations. The price for accommodation goes through the roof and that’s if you can get something! We were quoted $110 a night for an unpowered campsite on the Great Ocean Road on Easter weekend! In Kalbarri, there was absolutely nothing to be had during the school holidays as a recent cyclone had damaged a lot of the pre-existing holiday accommodation.
To save on food in Australia, it is almost always, especially in remote areas, cheaper to cook yourself rather than eat out. If you are in the big cities, there are discounts to be had eating out. These are documented in this blog post.
- Coles and Woolworths are the two nation-wide large supermarket chains. You will find these in all but the smallest towns.
- If you are in a big city, it will be cheaper to shop at Aldi
- If you are heading to remote areas, stock up so you don’t have to shop at tiny, small town supermarkets at a premium price.
- Supermarkets often mark down items close to their expiry date. Take advantage of these if you can. I find Coles is better for these types of discounts.
- Shop at markets and food court stalls near closing time. Often, they are trying to move their stock to avoid waste and will discount heavily.
- Don’t waste your money on buying water. The water out of the tap in Australia (unless marked otherwise) is potable and can be drunk as is without any further treatment e.g. boiling. Drink tap water!
- Join the Woolworths Reward card program and Flybuys for Coles. As you shop, you can accumulate points for additional discounts.
When travelling around the country, you are likely to need some stuff e.g. camping stove, clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, pots and pans etc. Here are some places you could look for this stuff. This list is ordered from least expensive to the most. My suggestion is to look online (if you can) to confirm they have what you want at a decent price before heading to the store.
- Check on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree – secondhand stuff can often be much better quality than you would have purchased new and it’s better for the environment.
- Thrift shops e.g. Vinnies, Salvation Army, Good Sammy – a great choice for secondhand clothing and kitchenware.
- Bunnings – this is a nation-wide chain of hardware stores selling hardware, plants and other household items. Here you can buy 20L water containers, butane cannisters, folding chairs, camping stoves for a reasonable price.
- Kmart, BigW, Target – these stores are nation-wide chains selling clothes, kitchenware, bedding and homewares. If you are looking for casual clothing, bedding or camping gear, check here before heading to more specialist stores. It may not be high end fancy but it will be a decent quality and functional.
- Decathlon – This shop sells outdoor and sporting goods at an excellent price point. Unfortunately, there are only stores in NSW and Victoria so it is not widely available.
- 4WD Supacentre – this store specialises in camping accessories and outdoor gear with a focus on road-tripping. Their prices are good and they often have specials. You can also order stuff online.
- BCF and Anaconda – Do you research and pounce when they go on sale!
- For completeness, I will finish this list with the high end outdoor shops but DO NOT shop here if you are a budget backpacker e.g. North Face, Macpac, Paddy Pallin, Kathmandu.
BUYING AND MAINTAINING A VEHICLE
The most useful resources in Australia when buying a vehicle are;
- Facebook Marketplace
- Facebook groups – there are Facebook groups selling all kinds of vehicles e.g. Vans for Sale NSW, Australia Car Market / Campervans for Backpacker / Traveler etc.
When buying a vehicle, always do your research to understand all the costs and requirements which can vary from state to state. Registration costs can vary depending on state and each state has different requirements in regards to the requirement for vehicle inspections. Understand how much stamp duty will cost.
When buying stuff for your car e.g. engine oil, coolant etc., these are the nation wide stores that sell vehicle stuff in order of cheapest to most expensive. Remember always to check online and compare prices.
For vehicle servicing;
- Try to plan your vehicle servicing for when you are in more populated cities. These are likely to have more mechanics and therefore more price competition. Shop around for the best price.
- Some mechanics may allow you supply your own engine oil. You can then buy your engine oil on sale and pay only for labour. Call and confirm with the mechanic as not everyone will allow this. Make sure you know what oil to get because it will be your fault if you get it wrong!
- Some nation-wide franchised mechanic chains offer a warranty where they will rectify issues caused by their service at their other branches. Some of these chains will even include a roadside assistance service as a perk of getting a service with them. Some nation-wide mechanic chains include; Ultratune, MyCar, RepcoService etc. Do your research as to which one of these provide these types of warranty.
In regards to vehicle insurance, always shop around as the price can vary significantly.
Visiting local parks and botanic gardens are free. These are often well planted with an interesting and diverse range of plants and may be adjacent to picturesque lakes and rivers. They often include additional amenities such as picnic tables, public toilets and sometimes BBQs.
Exploring a town or city is also free unless you join a paid tour. With all the information available on the internet and easily accessible on your phone, it’s easy to learn more about any location. Explore the main street of a small town or drive/cycle along the waterfront roads to gawk at the fancy, expensive houses! Most towns or cities that are built by the water, whether it is a river or the ocean will often have a nicely built waterfront area perfect for a lovely, scenic stroll.
Beaches are free and freely accessible in Australia, in contrast to the paid private beaches e.g. in Europe or areas where private property is built in a way that blocks free public access to the beach e.g. Asia or Europe.
There are many free lookout points in Australia and access to national parks is relatively cheap when considering that the rangers have the never-ending battle keeping out invasive plant species and feral animals, ensuring the walking trails are safe and maintaining toilets and other amenities. National parks are areas of stunning, untouched natural beauty.
Shop around when looking for a phone plan as prices vary greatly. We were with Circles.Life with 100GB plans at $30.
Telstra is the mobile network that has better coverage in remote areas but they can be very expensive. Optus was OK. We had coverage in most populated areas and even in some surprise locations e.g. the campground at Karijini National Park. In a 2WD vehicle, we knew that even if we broke down somewhere without phone coverage, another vehicle would come along soon enough who could provide assistance.
- Toll roads exist in some major capital cities. Either set your GPS to avoid them completely or do your research on the cost and how to set-up for payment.
- There is a minimum wage in Australia therefore, tipping is not the cultural norm.
- When you can, zig when other people are zagging. Try to predict what the masses will be doing and consider if doing the opposite could get your better price e.g. if everyone is heading out of the city for Easter weekend, maybe there is cheap city deal you can take advantage of.
- Don’t throw useful stuff away, sell it on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
Hope this helps you stay safe and save some money. Enjoy your journey around this beautiful country!
Let me know if there is anything I have missed.
I love the buzz of New York City. It’s one of my most favourite places to visit. I love the fact that the population density supports so many small mom and pop owned businesses. Many big cities can start to look very similar with the same globalised, franchised shops in every one. It’s a vibrant, walkable, big city with lots of things happening and fantastic attractions to visit. It is unfortunately, quite an expensive city. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of wonderful things to check out and do if you are on a budget. Here are my favourites.
Check out free attractions.
The stunning Central Park is free, massive and utterly beautiful. I visit every time I am in New York and the park is pleasing in different ways in every season. Check out the Central Park website before you go. They often have free special events and tours. We were lucky to get there when they opened the Hallett Nature Sanctuary to the public. This area is not usually accessible to the public. It’s a pretty, green, rustic haven which is as close to “natural” as you will get anywhere in Manhattan. There were also helpful volunteers happy to discuss their little waterfall or lend you binoculars to spot the cute raccoon sleeping in the tree.
Another free attraction is the 9/11 Memorial Plaza which is set within the footprint of the Twin Towers in downtown Manhattan. It costs to enter the 9/11 Memorial Museum but the plaza is free to access. It’s well worth the trip because the plaza is, in my opinion, is a well executed and touching tribute to those who died.
Suggested Price Only at the Two Big Museums!
The two big museums in Manhattan are definite must-sees in my opinion. Both The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History are utterly massive and absolutely stuffed filled with interesting and often astounding treasures. What is less well-known is that the ticket price at these museums is a suggestion only. You can pay as little or as much as you want. Don’t feel bad paying less. Most Manhattan locals never pay the full price to enter.
This is my favourite painting at the MET. It’s an oil painting by Pierre-Auguste Cot called Le Printemps or Springtime. Look at this romantic duo, totally and utterly smitten with each other! Beautiful!
Go up to the MET rooftop garden
This was by far the best tip I have ever received in NYC. When a French expat heard that I was heading to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, he recommended the rooftop garden. You will probably have to ask the museum staff how to get up to the top because it is a little obscure. Do it! Because the rooftop view is stunning. There is an amazing vista in so many directions. Due to the proximity of the museum to Central Park, you are at canopy level to the trees with a view of the skyscrapers of Manhattan as well. It was such a surprise and thrill to find this extraordinary spot!
Look out for “pay what you want” days
Do your research and check if your visit coincides with “pay what you want” times or days at the museum you want to visit. We braved the queue that snaked around the block to enter the Guggenheim museum during a “pay what you want” evening. I’ve adored this Frank Lloyd Wright building since I first saw it. Inside, you ascend the building on an ascending spiral ramp as you view the artworks displayed. It’s a modernist style, clean, white building with curves!
Whilst I love this building, I cannot say the same for the art they choose to display in it. I was so glad that I didn’t pay full price because I thought most of the modern art pieces inside were just terrible!
Go on “Tips Only” walking / food tours.
I love the “tips only” walking tours concept. These tours are often advertised as “free” and the idea is that you tip the tour guide what you think the tour was worth upon completion. I look for these tours in every city I visit and find the vast majority to be informative, fun and excellent value. How can such a good thing be improved upon? Add awesome food to it of course!! I’ve found in London and New York, there are “tips only” food walking tours. They are awesome. A bit of walking, a bit of history, some trivia and lots of delicious food stops along the way. It ticks all my boxes!!! I did the Greenwich Village food tour and the Flatbush Brooklyn Food Tour. Both were delicious and excellent.
My favourite thing about doing these tours is that you end up places that you would never ever find by yourself. In Brooklyn, we were walking on streets lined with these old style family homes. I would never ever expect these stately, beautiful homes set in green leafy streets to exist in Brooklyn, only a short subway ride from the dense, high rises of Manhattan.
Save money by Self Catering
We all know that you can save money by self catering. It’s also much healthier than eating restaurant food 3 times a day. Healthier for your waistline and for your wallet! Enough preaching, here are a couple of weird and bizarre things I learnt when self catering in New York City.
Firstly, there are no cheap, massive grocery shops on Manhattan. Our preferred choice tends to end up being Trader Joe’s as the prices are reasonable for Manhattan. The crazy thing about this shop is the queue’s. At busy times, the queues for the cashiers snake up and down the isles and there is a staff member at the end of the line who holds up a lollipop sign to indicate that “This is the End of the Line!” I’ve never seen anything like it!
Secondly, Halloween is big business in the US. I’m always amused at the efforts people go to with decorating their houses or businesses. There are pumpkin spiced products everywhere including pumpkin flavoured dog treats for your precious pooch! How insane!
Get cheap Broadway Tickets
If you are in New York, you should catch a Broadway show. The tickets tend to be quite pricey. There are several ways you can save money on the tickets. You can queue up for discounted, same day tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square. Various theatres often hold back a number of seats to release as cheap tickets on the day of the show. Some theatres also hold a ticket lottery about 2.5 hours before the show. If you win, these tickets are at a significantly discount on full price. It helps to do your research to maximise your chances of getting a cheap ticket to the show you want.
If you are in New York for a very short duration and desperately want to see a particular show. You should buy tickets in advance. Many of the biggest named shows will never give out cheap tickets. These tactics I’ve suggested are more appropriate for if you have more time to spare and are less picky about what you want to see.
Use the Subway instead of Taxis
There is no need to use taxis in New York. The Subway system is safe and all of Manhattan island is within walking distance of a subway stop. Wear comfy shoes and ride the subway and explore! One thing I love about Manhattan is emerging from the subway station. There are so many varied areas that every time you surface from the subway, it feels like a different city with its own distinctive vibe.
Walk and Explore
Walking is free and Manhattan island is a very walkable city. Walk, window shop, check out the architecture on the tall skyscrapers and look out for the weird and wonderful just around the corner.
Check out this awesome street art on the side of a building in Little Italy.
We also found an empty block which had been converted to this charming community garden space. It’s a beautiful, quiet and magical sanctuary amongst the tall apartment buildings. A secret green haven to sit and have lunch or read.
Look out for special events
Look out for special events that happen during your visit to New York. These are sometimes free and give an interesting insight into the city. New York is such a big city that there is always something interesting happening.
We were visiting New York during the weekend of Open House New York. This is the one weekend a year that selected, important buildings are opened to the public. It’s a chance to check out some interesting architecture and design.
Also held that weekend was the Marco Polo festival. This is a festival celebrating the Chinatown and Little Italy historic districts. It’s only a small festival with a small parade and a stage set up for the local band and performances by school children. I love it because I’m always amazed that in such a big city, there can still be the feeling of community and family.
Ok. Those were my money-saving tips for New York City. Hope they were helpful. Let me finish up by showing you my favourite sculpture in New York City. This is Atlas holding up the heavens. He’s located in front of Rockefeller Centre. This photo is taken from the back of the statue to catch the blue sky above and the massive Neo-Gothic St Patrick’s Cathedral across the street.
Food in the US is a punch in the face with flavour. It’s not mild or bland, it’s almost like turning up the volume on the taste. I find when I’m in the US that savoury foods are often too salty and sweet foods are too sweet. It’s all delicious though. It’s not healthy but it’s so damn good. It’s all that sugar, salt and fat! It makes our brains light up like Times Square!
Fine dining and Michelin star restaurants absolutely do not have the monopoly on tasty food. Often I think that food cooked with love, hospitality, generosity and plenty is the best. There are lots of cheap and cheerful places all over Manhattan with excellent food. We stayed in East Village and were thrilled to find a large number of excellent places to eat. We also did a couple of food/walking “tips only” tours which were great fun and delicious as well. Here are some of our eating experiences in New York. Nom Nom Nom!!
How can you go to New York and not have a “dirty water” dog! These are the famous New York Hot Dogs. They are called “dirty water” dogs because the sausage is cooked and left in a vat of warmish water and pulled out when a customer requests a hot dog. We were advised that locals would ask for a “dog” and not a “hot dog”. If you ask for a “hot dog”, you reveal yourself to being a tourist and then become exposed to price gouging. We found that most food cart vendors in Manhattan do not advertise their prices openly. This is against the law but they do this to price gouge unsuspecting tourists. Beware! Do not support these unscrupulous vendors. We made a conscious decision only to support food establishments which openly display their pricing.
Enough about pricing, let’s discuss the hot dog. Well, it was very small and underwhelming. The bun is made of fluffy soft white bread which has no substance. The entire hot dog is consumed in three bites and in 15 minutes you’re hungry again.
Instead of spending a few dollars on an average hot dog, get a taco instead with the money. We found Otto’s Tacos in the East Village to be so scrumptious that we went twice during our stay in New York. They prepare each taco as you order them with home-made corn tortillas (really authentic rustic flavour). The chosen proteins are accompanied only with some coriander and sauce. The simplicity allows the taste of the filling and the texture of the taco to really shine. It makes for a religious eating experience!
Also in East Village is an outlet of Xi’an Famous Foods. This shop boasts Anthony Bourdain as one of its biggest fans. They specialities include Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger and the hand ripped spicy noodles. Even though Xi’an is in China, this tastes unlike most Chinese food. Due to the heavy use of cumin, it tastes almost Middle Eastern to me. Xi’an is situated at the start of the Silk Road and it explains the fusion of flavours and Middle Eastern spices. The hand ripped noodles are a surprise with its addictively chewy texture and a spiciness that builds in your mouth as you work through the dish. The lamb burger was delicious. It reminded me of a kebab with the bread and the cumin spiced filling. Everything is served in typical American style for this sort of cheap eatery on disposable plates which of course you throw away once you’re finished.
In America, one cannot visit without having a hamburger. The consumption of a hamburger is totally normalised in the US. It’s not so much an occasional treat but an everyday food. We chose to get hamburgers from Steak ‘n Shake based on a recommendation from a Californian friend. These burgers were indeed delicious but for health reasons, we limited ourselves to only one meal of hamburgers during our visit. Greasy, cheesy burgers are not everyday food! The best burgers I’ve had in the US are from Red Robin, a burger chain on the west coast of the US. Those burgers are utterly divine but also a heart attack waiting to happen! Anyway, what do you expect from the nation that brought us the Hashbrown Double and deep fried cheescake?
One of the most fun ways I’ve found for discovering new places and food is to do “tips only” food walking tours. Whilst in New York, I did a food tour of Greenwich Village and of Flatbush Brooklyn. Both were excellent.
In Greenwich Village, we stopped for falafel at Mamoun’s falafel. These were nice but not the best falafel I’ve ever had. This was followed by two pizza stops. First was Artichoke Pizza followed by Bleecker Street Pizza. It does seem crazy to do two pizza stops in one tour but this is New York City, home of some of the best pizza in the world AND, these two pizza were so very different yet both distinctive and delicious. The speciality at Artichoke Pizza is of course Artichoke Pizza. It’s a bit like creamy artichoke dip on top of a pizza. The crust was more robust to support the topping. It was creamy, tasty and rich. I don’t think you can eat a lot of it. By contrast, the Bleecker Street Pizza had a thin crust and had “Nonna Maria’s” special tomato sauce on it. Much lighter, but still very tasty and the crust was just beautifully cooked and a little crispy.
Onwards to arancini balls at Faicco’s. This store sells lots of different Italian Specialities but on the day, we tried the arancini balls. These are risotto balls coated in breadcrumbs and fried. When I bit into the arancini ball, I was surprised to find a very plain and simple risotto inside and yet the ball contained so much flavour. It was surprisingly good. Often, arancini balls are made with fancy flavoured risottos e.g. sun dried tomato or mushroom but even without the frills, these arancini balls were still so flavourful. Is it the use of parmesan for umami?
At this point of the Greenwich village tour, I’m getting quite full. We are now onto the sweet stops. First is a place called, Bantam Bagels which sell mini stuffed bagel balls. I tried one called “The Jack” which is a cinnamon and nutmeg spiced bagel filled with a pumpkin spiced cream cheese. This was a special flavour due to Halloween coming up. The cream cheese in the centre was yummy! In general, I don’t care for the texture of bagels. I think they are an underwhelming and dense bread and I can’t understand why they are so popular in New York. Give me a chewy sour dough any day!
Last dessert stop. I’m now rolling and waddling along the streets of Greenwich Village when we head into Molly’s Cupcakes for a seat and a cupcake. Due to my extreme state of fullness, I chose a Mini Molly Filled Cupcake. It was chocolate with chocolate icing and a chocolate mousse filling. How many times did I say chocolate in one sentence? Can you understand why I did not remember to take a photo. My mind was clouded in a chocolate fog! I had to laugh when I bit into this indulgent cupcake. It was intentionally tiny but between the icing on top and the filling in the centre, I was amazed at how little cake there was and how that tiny bit of cake could support all the icing and the filling.
Upon completion of that tour, all I wanted to do was to go back for a lie down while all that food digested.
A few days later, we’d arranged to go on a food walking tour in Flatbush Brooklyn. I had never explored Brooklyn before and this was a great opportunity. First stop was De Hot Pot serving classic Caribbean food and roti. Roti is an unleavened flat bread from India. What is awesome is how this Indian originated food travelled with the Indian diaspora to become an integral part of the food culture of the Trinidad and Tobago and of South East Asia (e.g. Malaysia).
In this shop, we tried a Trinidad street food snack called doubles. This is a sandwich of two pieces of fried bread with chick pea curry in the middle and a dash of spicy sauce. The fried bread is similar to poori, a deep-fried Indian bread. What a delicious savoury snack! We saw the shop prepare roti for other patrons as well. Their rotis were huge, maybe 50 cm in diameter and goat curry was spooned into the centre along with other fillings and condiments and the entire thing wrapped up like a burrito wrap on steroids! If you ate that, you would not need to eat for 3 days afterwards!
After a pie stop, at the Pels Pie Company for some sweet treats, we meandered along the leafy green streets and stately homes of Brooklyn before sharing a spicy cocktail at a neighbourhood cocktail bar. This was followed by Jamaican vegetarian food at Scoops & Plates Eatery.
We had a dish of soy based mock chicken and a vegetable stew called Callaloo on a bed of emperor’s rice. Callaloo is a Caribbean dish which varies depending on the region. This particular version was thickened using okra and contained dasheen bush. Dasheen bush is a leafy vegetable. The dishes were served with emperor’s rice or forbidden rice, black rice, so named because it was once reserved for only the emperor and royal family in ancient China.
At the next stop, we tried Jamaican Escovitch fish, which is deep-fried fish marinated in a spicy vinegar and served with pickled vegetables. This was really interesting because pickling the fish helps preserve it for a few days which makes a lot of sense back when refrigerators were not so widespread. Turns out, there are pickled fish dishes in many cultures. A quick Google search showed South African, Indian and Malaysian pickled fish recipes. Isn’t it amazing how the same basic need to preserve food safely has led to a similar approach in vastly different cultures?
Our last stop on the tour of Flatbush Brooklyn is Jerk Chicken at Peppa’s Jerk Chicken. This place is unassuming but produces tasty and surprisingly tender jerk chicken. I can’t wait to try my own version of jerk chicken at home. I think an overnight marinade with jerk spices and a slow roast will give a wondrous result.
I learnt a lot during the Flatbush Brooklyn food walking tour. I had never tried food from Jamaica or Trinidad before. These are entire regions of food which are totally new to me. It always excites me to taste new food and learn new things about the origins of dishes.
I am now starving after writing this post and will now head off to start cooking my dinner!
Happy Exploring and Happy Eating!