I’ve landed in last country on my trip — the USA — and Los Angeles has welcomed me with gorgeous sunshine. There is no lack of things to do and people to see here.
You can spot celebrities, visit the walk of fame and Venice beach, or go shopping on Rodeo Drive, but I quickly discover that you really do need a car!
Known as the land of dreams, everyone comes to LA chasing something. My first stop is to visit Aussie ex-pat Grant Smillie, who is doing just that as co-owner of E.P. & L.P.
After a successful music career Grant changed direction to become a huge hit in the world of restaurants and bars. Back home he owns a few and now in LA he’s killing it with the hottest place in town.
Grant tells me that while I’m in LA I have to eat Mexican — they do it so well here — but apparently I have to be careful with the hot sauce! He has hooked me up with his friend, Elias, so I can taste authentic home-cooked Mexican, because home-cooked is always the best.
Elias, a Mexican American, has always loved cooking and has recently quit his job to become a prep-chef, with the hopes of one day being a top chef. Today, in his home, he’s making a traditional Mexican dish for me, Cochinita Pibil.
You would usually roast a whole suckling pig for this recipe but today we’re just using pork ribs. The technique involves wrapping marinated meat in banana leaves and baking it in a clay pot for several hours. Today Elias is serving the pork with black bean filled tortillas.
While the pork is cooking he teaches me his secret recipe for prawn ceviche — cucumber, lime and beer in the marinade! It’s a gorgeous starter.
Elias’s family join us for dinner and the pork is simply amazing. Tender, flavourful and filling. What a wonderful way to spend my first day in LA!
I only have one more day here so I have to get out and explore the food truck scene. It’s said that LA was responsible for launching the food truck industry when a clever owner introduced the trucks to Twitter — and the rest is history.
We have food trucks in Australia but nothing like this. There is every kind of cuisine you could imagine, all in big parking lots.
You could eat something different every day but I’m headed for Zema, a truck specialising in Venezuelan food. I order up big with fried cheese fingers, a shrimp flatbread sandwich and a traditional Pabellon sandwich with beef, beans, chilli and cheese.
The Pabellon — with a bit of extra chilli for a kick — was definitely the winner for me.
I need to catch a flight to New York but before heading to the airport I take a walk through Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. It’s a place to see and be seen, and the views are stunning.
What a way to finish an all too brief visit to this huge city, but I need to make it back to London soon so it’s time to move on!
My last stop before completing my around the world adventure is New York — the city that never sleeps.
It’s busy and diverse and while I usually think of Manhattan when I think of New York, there are actually five boroughs with distinctly different personalities.
I’m in Queens today to have one of NYC’s must-eat dishes, the pastrami sandwich — and I have been told that Ben’s Best Kosher Deli makes the best in the city.
This place is basically an institution, they’ve been in business for over 70 years, and today I’m working with sandwich artist Marty in exchange for lunch.
First I learn how to make a proper pastrami sandwich (rye bread, pastrami and mustard, with a pickle on the side) and then it’s time to earn my keep.
I made more sandwiches in one day than I usually do in a year, it was great working with these guys and I can’t wait for my sandwich!
I’ve left Queens and headed to the Bronx in search of some real soul food at Sam’s Soul Food Restaurant and Bar. You’d never guess from the outside that there is a busy lounge just through the door!
Soul food dates back to the days of slavery, using the cheapest cuts of meat and vegetables they grew themselves. It’s hearty and resourceful.
Sam showed me how he makes his triple cooked smokey pork ribs — sticky, sweet, smokey and melting off the bone, in short, they were brilliant. I seriously think they are the best ribs I’ve ever eaten.
I pop next door for a bit of boogie to dance off some of those ribs, but I can’t stay long because it’s time to try out Manhattan by night!
It’s a beautiful day but a bit of a sad one as it’s my last day in New York. Today I’m in another borough, Staten Island, at Enoteca Maria for a unique dining experience.
At this restaurant a different grandma each day cooks their own family favourites and today it’s Adelina, an Italian nonna originally from Naples.
I’m getting my hands dirty helping Adelina make Paccheri Ripieni, cheese and vegetable filled pasta tubes. I’ve never crumbed pasta before but it adds a bit of a crunch to the outside that pairs perfectly with the soft filling and the al dente vegetables.
What a wonderful final meal to have in NY. This city and its charms have certainly taken hold of me at every turn!
My flight back to London felt pretty quick — 6 hours in the air was easy considering all the travel I’ve done in the past 30 days!
I started my culinary expedition in a very traditional way at the Reform Club, but now I’m finishing it in a very modern way at the Shangri-La at The Shard, the tallest building in London. What a perfect spot to reflect on all I’ve experienced these past four weeks.
I’m really missing my family so I can’t wait to get home, but I know they’ll be proud of what I’ve accomplished on this adventure.
I set out to go around the world and have had some of the most remarkable experiences and met such generous and warm people in the process — that is the joy of food. What a journey.
Thank you for joining me for Around the World with Manu. You can explore the full list of destinations and recipes here, I hope you enjoyed the ride!
GET THE EPISODE 6 RECIPES:
- Prawn Ceviche
- Cochinita Pibil – Roast Pork & Black Bean Tortillas
- Smokey Pork Ribs
- Pacchetti Ripieni