Many were surprised lad Anna and I decided to hit Glasgow rather than Edinburgh. The rationale: The flight was only about ten euro cheaper and I had read the The New York Time’s 36 Hours in Glasgow, a particularly curiosity piquing piece. I cannot speak to the Glasgow vs. Edinburgh debate because I have yet to experience Edinburgh, but I will offer this – don’t be too quick to dismiss Glasgow!
What I ate: Poutine and smashed burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and secret sauce.
Finding meals in new cities has become a scavenger hunt of sorts. We hop between TripAdvisor reviews and Yelp, guides from friends and Pinterest posts. One of my favorite tricks is to search for city based Instagram accounts*. For Glasgow, one of the points of reference was @glasgowfoodgeek.
Perusing through her feed while waiting in the plane’s boarding line, thick burger after thick burger flew past my eagerly scrolling fingers. The culprit responsible? Bread Meats Bread. Any pun based restaurant has my affections! After dropping off our bags in the hostel, we decided to venture while there was still a little light and explore the city center. Coincidentally, we happened on Bread Meats Bread and knew it was time for us to join the meeting.
Because of my incorrigible hubris I cannot settle for just a simple burger. No! Make it a three patty stack! With a side of poutine! The aftermath of this meal was that I hobbled around Glasgow for the next 24 hours, complaining that I was slowly morphing into a monstrous Frankenstein human-patty fused creature. But let me tell you – it was seriously good in the moment. While the burger was towering, I am all about the poutine. I would liken poutine to be the curry fries of Canada – and cheese curds make everything better.
What I ate: Avocado toast with smoked salmon and Cranston tea.
A trip to Glasgow is impossible without hearing, seeing and experiencing the name, work and essence that is Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The architect and designer is responsible for many of Glasgow’s most famed buildings and his significance permeates the city. One of his well known works is the classic Willow Tea Room. Tucked unpretentiously onto the Buchanan Street facade, a narrow stair case opens into a room filled with tall backed chairs and dangling glass lamps. The tea room embodies Mackintosh’s influences: European form, Japanese style and unique, modern shapes. When a must-see city landmark happens to double down as a must-eat food stop, I am there when the doors open. Despite being on a recent anti-avocado rampage, I have decided to dial down my venom and slowly welcome back the mercurial fruit. My travels truly have softened my steely demeanor and made me a more forgiving person. Sipping the room’s signature tea brimming with luxurious cubes of sugar, I felt a bit like the Coven’s next Supreme in my tall, creepy chair. I imagine Sarah Paulson also feels similarly about avocados.
What I ate: Classic beef pho.
Described as a “real life” Hogwarts, the University of Glasgow’s reputation for hauntingly beautiful architecture made a trip to the west end a necessity. After a short subway trip, we emerged from the underground to bustling cafes and looming buildings. With no plan, map or expectations, the exploration commenced. We visited Mackintosh’s dramatic home – fit for a season of American Horror Story – in which the strange details were matched by the pale, eerily-staring tour guides silently haunting the house in slow circles. We tumbled through hall after hall of stunning Victorian design. The contents of each museum we fell into creepily echoed the macabre surroundings: Jars of eyeballs and dancing skeletons. All the makings of a strong appetite! On our way towards the university, we had passed a shop with a rooster clad sign:
I didn’t choose the pho life
The pho life chose me”
Glasgow, Scotland is not the first place I would title Pho-Town. But when the pho life chooses you, there is no choice but to answer said call to action. For the past two months, I have been searching for some pho. Thanks to Hanoi’s full bodied broth, my craving for the aromatic soup has been satisfied. The restaurant also provides all the right fixings to fully tease out the dish’s complexities. Refreshing mint and coriander married fiery sriracha and a squirt of citrus as the finishing touch. Once again, I was blown away by not just the food but the staff’s clear knowledge and passion for what they were serving.
What I ate: Crab ceviche tostada, queso fundido and pico de gallo.
I am a taco purist: Corn tortilla, meat filling, cilantro and a hint of lime. Similar to my struggle to find pho in Galway, I also have yet to find a spot serving corn tortillas. Both myself and Anna are huge fans of Mexican cuisine and we could not pass up on an opportunity to indulge in something a little more authentic than Ireland’s Chipotle style Boojum chain.
Glasgow is obsessed with the idea of small plates they refer to as “street food” and always encourage ordering an obscene number of appetizers and main dishes for sharing. Our waitress was baffled that we were bucking the system. I was more confused with myself – after complaining for weeks about tacos, I order tostadas? But at least we dove in on some queso and all order was restored.
Up Next: Berlin
As previously mentioned, we spent the past weekend in Berlin. To quote a text from my dad, “How many meals do you eat a day???” To answer that question – I actually have to eat every two hours to maintain my sense of optimism as well as my floppy physique. In Berlin, I could have eaten every five minutes and found something fascinating to eat – the range of food offered there is fantastic! But more on that at a later date…still digesting.
*Shameless personal plug because it is my blog and I will do what I want: While I post plenty of food photos to my personal Instagram, I actually have a separate account dedicated solely to the many meals I consume. Feel free to hit the follow button on @danifieri if you are interested in a significant number of food photos with mediocre captions.