Sydney, Hunter Valley and Another McDonald’s

Earlier this month it was Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year if you’re keeping it PC. I never know, things change. Most of the signs for sales here said Chinese New Year or CNY. But I digress. CNY meant a long weekend here in Singapore, because it is an official public holiday. Now, originally J and I didn’t have any plans to travel for the long weekend because everyone else is on holiday at the same time and prices for airfare triple. Seriously worse than the Christmas Travel Effect.  But then J’s work wanted to send him to a training in Sydney that week. And since I was already going to be on vacation…I decided to tag along!

So I thought I’d share with you some of my Sydney Travel Insights (lol, from my whole four days there!) and of course, as per the usual I dropped in to a McDonald’s to check out the local menu. So first things first, we stayed in an area of of Sydney called “The Rocks”  which is a historical district right on the harbor and is walking distance from everything. It’s got great views, great ambience, great culture and was just really easy access.

In the morning I went for a nice run around the Circular Quay, past the Opera house and into the Royal Botanical Gardens, Um, seriously, seeing the Opera House on your morning run, pretty great way to start the day. [Read more...]

McDonald’s Istanbul, Turkey

I’ve told you before that my secret ambition in life is to eat McDonald’s in every country I visit, right? Yeah, I’d like to make sure that I eat it on every continent. I know that’s a lofty goal, I’d have to figure out a way to travel to Antarctica and bring the McDonald’s with me…I’ve heard the closest McD’s is in Argentina and I imagine by the time that I get the food to Antarctica it probably won’t taste so good anyway. But I digress. This is about McDonald’s in Turkey, specifically McDonald’s in Istanbul.

First, J woke up early and headed out to get us McDonald’s breakfast. It was about a fifteen minute walk from the flat we had rented, but it took him about an hour and a half to get there, get food and get back. Why might you ask? Well the signs said they opened at 7. So J was there at quarter past 7 and they didn’t open until nearly 8. This happened quite a bit to us in Istanbul and we thought perhaps the clocks on our Iphones had adjusted to wrong time zone (as the host of the flat we’d rented was nearly two hours late meeting us the previous day! Ooops!) But it seems they just do things on their own time in Istanbul, which wasn’t exactly new, coming from the Middle East where they only hurry when they are driving.

In any case he brought back delicious McDonald’s breakfast, yum! Hashbrowns and Egg McMuffins (well a sausage egg mcmuffin for J) But sadly, no biscuits available here either. Is the only place they serve biscuits for breakfast at McD’s the US?! Sad.

We ate at McDonald’s again at the Sirkeci tram station. This time we got to test out the whole “Yes, I’d like a cheeseburger without meat” thing. It went surprisingly well! The young man at the counter thought it was quite hilarious that I didn’t want any burger on my burger and laughingly went explain this to the folks at the grill who made the sandwich up just right, the first time, yay! They all laughed as they passed it along to me and we headed upstairs to enjoy the food and the view.

Overall, the bun and cheese tasted just like it was supposed to. The potatoes for the french fries tasted like home as well, but the ketchup was a tad too sweet.

The COOLEST thing we discovered about McDonald’s in Istanbul though was, wait for it…they deliver!! Yeah, there was a portly man on a little motorbike outside making deliveries!  Check out his striped shirt! Doesn’t he look a lil like the Hamburgerler? C’mon! You know he does!

Verdict: So far, McDonald’s in Turkey has probably tasted the most like McDonald’s in the US.  Except that pesky ketchup. But I’d have to say that the breakfast seems to be pretty consistent across the globe. Except for the absence of the delicious biscuits :( Who can I contact at corporate to work on that!?
Happy Eating!

~Nikki

McDonald’s Around the World!

I have a confession to make. I love McDonald’s. I know, I know, with so much wonderful food and variety out there why, oh why McDonald’s?? Well, I suppose there are a couple of reasons why those lovely and sinful golden arches call my name. The two of us, well let’s just say we have history. Growing up we rarely ate fast food. McDonald’s, or Mickey D’s, as my mom genially refers to it,  was a special treat. Once a month or so (and only if we had done our chores) we’d be treated with those magical cardboard boxes and those crunchy golden fries. It was then we learned to eat our french fries first or risk mom snacking on them. Later, during warm summer days, if we “agreed” to go with on for a walk with our mom after the 2 ½ miles there, we’d be treated to a delicious McD’s soft serve cone and a soda (and then have to walk to the 2 ½ miles back!).
In high school, my relationship with McD’s only got stronger…yep, I worked there. People always said that after you’d worked there eventually you get sick of the food and don’t want it anymore…not true! Instead you learn tasty new tricks to customize your orders (like how to make a grilled cheese by inverting the buns in toaster–yum! PS this is actually on the breakfast menu in Prague! Called a McToasty!)
And then a while back, J and I watched this documentary called Food Inc., and well I suppose the idea was to get you not to eat McDonald’s…or rather it really was supposed to encourage you to think about what you eat, why and where your food comes from. But what really intrigued me about the film was the lengths McDonald’s has gone to to ensure that their food tastes the same where ever you eat it and regardless of the source. Naturally, in the name of science and all things food, I felt compelled to test this.
So, when we travel I make a point to visit McDonald’s. It’s nice when you’re a little homesick (or your tummy is feeling a little homesick!) to have some comfort food. And it’s super entertaining to try to order a cheeseburger without meat in a foreign language!

The Elusive McRib @McDonald’s Munich, Hauptbahnhof

I'm lovin' it

This  “pork” sandwich has a strange cult like following. There are people who eat at McDonald’s daily or almost daily during the brief periods of availability.  Devout followers can become fans of a facebook page dedicated to McRib Sightings. In 2010 McDonald’s even hosted a McRib launch party at the Times Square location! I suppose part of the appeal is you never know how long the McRib will be around for or when it will reappear, so you have to enjoy your fair share (or more) when it is available.  I can’t pretend to understand the mystic surrounding this elusive rib-shaped, porkish sandwich, but what I do know is J absolutely loves it. His friends even taunted him via Facebook when the McRib made it’s comeback this November (about one month after he’d moved here!).

The McRib sandwich at McDonald's in Munich.

So then you can imagine his excitement when we finally ventured into the McDonald’s in Munich’s Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and found the McRib on the menu! Our only regret was waiting until the day before we left to head to McDonald’s. Hey, we were eating so much good food, we just forgot! Sadly, J only enjoyed one McRib on our vacation. But we did learn that it’s on the menu year round, so if the craving strikes, it’s only a 6 hour flight!

I even felt adventurous and instead of my standard cheeseburgers without meat I tried the Veggieburger, which appeared to be made from a deep fried veggie patty and was rather delicious (btw someone, please, please explain to me what compels nearly all restaurants to offer one vegetarian option and then take this single option and improve the taste by breading and deep frying it?? Because really, nothing says healthy like deep friend veggies, right?).

I'm pretty sure this veggie burger patty is deep fried.

Of course the menu had some uniquely German offerings, including a burger made from not one, not two but three sausages! We skipped that and the tasty looking farmkartoffeln (potato wedges) and instead continued with our theme of deep fried and extremely nutritious, er delicious, and shared an order of käsegipfel. The käsegipfel were cheese sticks with a European twist, instead of the traditional deep fried mozzeralla, they were bites of breaded and deep fried brie with a cranberry dipping sauce. Classy for a burger joint! And deliciious!

Verdict: J says the McRib was just as tasty in Germany. The cheese and bun on the Veggieburger was exactly what I expected. And most importantly, those french fries were spot on as was the ketchup. Yum!

Happy Eating!
~Nikki