50 States, 50 Plates

The must-have eats in every state (plus, DC) according to James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Zimmern.

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Coconut Tree Grubs in Iquitos

Coconut Tree Grubs in Iquitos

In the heart of the Amazon jungle in Peru, locals harvest coconut tree grubs and sell them in the market skewered and charred over an open flame. These protein-rich grubs taste like crisp rolls of charred chicken skin if they are cooked properly. If not. they taste like pus bags filled with rotted digested wood. 960 1280

  

Hákarl in Iceland

Hákarl in Iceland

Really, the worst tasting foods are the fermented, spoiled ones like Hákarl. Made from the Greenland shark, the meat is poisonous when fresh, so in order to eat it, Icelanders let it spoil in the ground for months and then out in the elements for a few more to dry. It’s a revolting dish to many first timers; eating it without gagging is what separates the men from the boys. While the smell of the putrefied shark itself could make the faint-hearted ill, the taste is ultimately sweet, nutty and faintly fishy … if you like ammoniated wax. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Coral Worms in Samoa

Coral Worms in Samoa

Palolo are tiny, little worms that live in the coral reefs deep off the coast of Samoa in the trenches of the Pacific. They come out of the coral every few years when the atmospheric conditions are right and the locals scoop them off the surface and eat them plain, sautéed or as a spread on bread. It tastes like liver fermented in salt water, but that doesn’t do the bright blue color very much justice. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Fermented Skate in Korea

Fermented Skate in Korea

Both adored and despised in South Korea, fermented skate, or hongeo, has the distinct odor of hospital-floor cleaner mixed with glue solvent.  Mostly served “raw,” the pungent fish is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Be prepared to smell like an outhouse after leaving a restaurant that serves the delicacy -- it’s the price you pay, but it’s worth it. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Giant Sea Squirt in Santiago Chile

Giant Sea Squirt in Santiago Chile

Found off the coast of Chile, these giant sea squirts called pyura are the size of basketballs. They're sliced open with a serrated sword to reveal the little throbbing corpuscles that live inside the spongy, rock-like carapace. They taste of pure iodine dipped in fish oil, but with a squirt of lemon they are transformed into deliciousness. Culinary alchemy at its finest. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Horse-Rib-and-Rectum Sausage in Kazakhstan

Horse-Rib-and-Rectum Sausage in Kazakhstan

People in Kazakhstan eat every conceivable part of the horse, from the fat cap under the mane to the rectum. They don’t waste any part of the animal. One of the best things I tried at Almaty’s Green Bazaar was kazy, a horse sausage made from whole pieces of rib meat seasoned with garlic and salt, torn from the bone and stuffed into natural casings from the horse’s lowermost end, dried to cure and then smoked, resulting in a beautiful mix of meat and melt-in-your-mouth fat. Strange for some I guess, but delicious and very normal in Central Asia. 960 1280

Tito_Herrera  

Sea Cucumber in Alaska

Sea Cucumber in Alaska

The waters off of Sitka, AK, are ripe with exotic sea creatures such as octopus, sea cucumbers and abalone. Sea cucumber, when cooked correctly, is extraordinary. All it needs is a few minutes in a wok with a little soy sauce seasoning. The squishy creatures taste like lettuce-y sea vegetables with a bit of crunch, but mostly yielding a buttery texture. The trick is splitting them open, scraping the innards out, and then using a spatula to peel the “meat” off the rock-hard exoskeleton. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Tarantulas in Cambodia

Tarantulas in Cambodia

We are pre-conditioned in this country to think of tarantulas as scary and poisonous, belonging on Halloween decorations not dinner plates. But they taste great, reminding me of sweet and delicate crabs when they’re fresh. After digging them out of the ground, the tarantulas need to be defanged, washed and then scorched to remove the hair. In Cambodia, they’re deep fried, then wok sautéed with sugar, salt, chilies and garlic. They are superb when they're treated like lobster or crab, taken from their lair to the dinner table as quickly as possible. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Giraffe Weevils in Madagascar

Giraffe Weevils in Madagascar

Try these bugs blindfolded and you’d never know you were eating a beetle that looks like a Dr. Seuss creature. Sautéed in a bit of salty water and butter, they are tender morsels that taste like shrimp. This is the kind of bizarre food that would stop you in your tracks if placed in your hand. And they only live in this one place in the world. 960 1280

Andrew Zimmern  

Ensete in Ethiopia

Ensete in Ethiopia

Ensete is 1 of 2 species of vinifera in a special part of the “false banana” family. It’s also the name of the bread made with the pounded root ball of the same plant although it’s properly called kocho. The bread is made with a fermented paste of the root ball that’s buried underground for months to get its groove on. It’s treasured in Ethiopia as a super food, but it’s an acquired taste to say the least. 960 1280

  

Photos

Gene's Sausage Shop, Chicago

Gene's Sausage Shop, Chicago

Gene’s Sausage is a European market that specializes in 40 different varieties of smoked meats and sausages. 960 1280

  

Ferdinando’s Focacceria, Brooklyn, New York

Ferdinando’s Focacceria, Brooklyn, New York

These legendary links spend 40 minutes in the oven before they’re dropped into a red sauce made with fresh tomatoes, fennel seed and a secret mix of spices known only to the restaurant’s chef-owner Francesco Buffa. 960 1280

  

Ferdinando’s Focacceria, Brooklyn, New York

Ferdinando’s Focacceria, Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn is home to one of the oldest, most venerable sausage specialists in the country -- Ferdinando’s Focacceria. 960 1280

  

Southside Market & BBQ, Elgin, Texas

Southside Market & BBQ, Elgin, Texas

Many customers stop by the Southside butcher counter to take home some of the finest sausage that Texas has to offer. 960 1280

  

Southside Market & BBQ, Elgin, Texas

Southside Market & BBQ, Elgin, Texas

Elgin, TX, is known for just one thing -- sausage. Elgin sausage is so sensational that it’s sold all over America, but the best is still served at the oldest barbecue joint in the Lone Star State: Southside Market. 960 1280

  

Wurstkuche, Venice, California

Wurstkuche, Venice, California

Sweet peppers and onions are a welcome topping to an already succulent Wurstkuche sausage. 960 1280

  

Wurstkuche, Venice, California

Wurstkuche, Venice, California

Wurstkuche restaurant custom-designs 20 sausages, including classics such as Bockwurst, Hot Italian and even Vegetarian varieties. 960 1280

  

Polish Village, Hamtramck, Michigan

Polish Village, Hamtramck, Michigan

The Polish Village cooks its succulent sausage in beer sauce. 960 1280

  

Polish Village, Hamtramck, Michigan

Polish Village, Hamtramck, Michigan

The cooks at the Polish Village come straight from Poland or learned their craft from someone who did. 960 1280

  

Hominy Grill, Charleston, South Carolina

Hominy Grill, Charleston, South Carolina

Like everything else on chef Robert Stehling’s menu, the star of this party is prepared from scratch, using only fresh, locally farmed ingredients. 960 1280

  

Hominy Grill, Charleston, South Carolina

Hominy Grill, Charleston, South Carolina

Hominy Grill opened in 1996 as a Southern neighborhood restaurant in a great Southern neighborhood. 960 1280

  

Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR

Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR

The bangers at the Horse Brass Pub in Portland, OR, offer a trip to England without the passport. 960 1280

  

Horse Brass Pub, Portland, Oregon

Horse Brass Pub, Portland, Oregon

For those who prefer their pig in a blanket, the Horse Brass also serves up a banger sausage roll. 960 1280

  

Old German Beer Hall, Milwaukee

Old German Beer Hall, Milwaukee

The sausage that owner Hans Weissgerber serves up is much the same as what’s been served in Germany for over 500 years. 960 1280

  

Unwrap a Burrito

Unwrap a Burrito

Locals are addicted to bulging burritos stuffed with endless ingredients. Splurge on Papalote’s massive Triple Threat burrito, which packs in nearly two pounds of shrimp, chicken and steak  — a perfect share for a pair of ambitious eaters. Smaller appetites can check out the one exceptional exception to the rice inside the burrito standard at La Taqueria 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Graze at a Farmers Market

Graze at a Farmers Market

San Francisco is full of farmers markets big and small where locals go to sample and score a wide variety of produce  -- for the kitchen or even a quick bite. The most bountiful of the year-round weekly affairs takes place at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays, but don’t overlook the smaller neighborhood farmer’s markets like the Castro Farmers’ Market 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Patronize Old-School Taco Trucks

Patronize Old-School Taco Trucks

Stalwart Mexican taco trucks like El Gallo Giro and Tacos San Buena pre-dated the current proliferation of trucks that serve every type of food imaginable. At $2 or less apiece, they also offer one of the last remaining bastions of extreme food value in the area. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Try New School Food Trucks

Try New School Food Trucks

If you can dream up a meal, it’s probably available on wheels. Off The Grid offers a vast number of weekly truck gatherings with an ever-growing array of international vendors, while converted parking lots like SoMa StrEat Food Park and G Food Truck Lounge provide permanent places for trucks to rotate through. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Seek Ice Cream in All Weather Conditions

Seek Ice Cream in All Weather Conditions

San Franciscans are not fair-weather friends to ice cream; we devour both classic and experimental flavors with passion no matter the temperature. A tin roof sundae at Humphry Slocombe or an avocado milkshake at Mitchell’s Ice Cream warms our hearts all year long.  960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Let’s face it: San Francisco is a food town and Sunday brunch is not a spectator sport. Expect crowds and long lines. We’ve found that Bluestem Brasserie and Foreign Cinema are solid go-tos. They accept reservations and are generally accommodating to larger groups.  960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Top Ramen

Top Ramen

San Francisco’s obscure Japanese noodle soup shops were once the speakeasies of the food world, but now one can’t sling a lucky cat without hitting one. Try homeland exports like Men Oh Tokushima Ramen and Yamadaya (which has locations all over California) for a true taste of different styles. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Two for Me

Two for Me

Afternoon tea isn’t just for old ladies anymore. Fancy it up on a Saturday at the Fairmont or take the guys along on a Sunday picnic on the patio for a hearty tea at Charles Chocolates. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Be Animal Free

Be Animal Free

Vegan restaurants remind us that food can be made without cruelty and still satisfy. Most popular are Asian spots like Golden Era and Cha-Ya, which have achieved cult-like status without using animal products. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Go Off Menu

Go Off Menu

If you grill it, they will come. Secret items are a fun way to keep locals feeling connected to a restaurant. Some, like the off-menu burger served on Tuesdays at Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s Haight Street location, keep insiders wanting more.  960 1280
Dip in a Hot Pot

Dip in a Hot Pot

The best all-you-can-eat action around can be found at the rapidly rising number of hot pot purveyors. Japanese places like Nabe and Shabuway present polite sets of vegetables and thinly sliced raw meat to swish-cook in hot broth, while Chinese spots like i-Pot and Dragon Beaux add dumplings into the mix. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Get Toasted

Get Toasted

The once humble slice of toast has been elevated to a meal requiring a knife and fork at joints like The Mill and Outerlands, where breads are baked on site and then covered in decadent smears or served as the base for open faced sandwiches. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Try a Pop-Up Meal

Try a Pop-Up Meal

A pop-up meal in a temporary location is a wonderful way for a chef to experiment with new ideas. Visit the Michael Mina Test Kitchen for the latest beta project from the popular restaurateur or consult the Feastly calendar and sample meals made by master chefs or tender novices.  960 1280

Kevin McCullough  

Room Service

Room Service

Gone are the days of waiting forever for lousy pizza. Services like Caviar, Seamless and Postmates deliver serious gourmet meals from anywhere in San Francisco to your mouth, typically within the hour.  960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Egg Topper

Egg Topper

Whether it’s a burger or a bowl of ramen, just about everything is better with an egg. Deviled eggs, a star on bar menus across town, might be at their most heavenly when topped with bacon and fried oysters at Hog & Rocks. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Dim Sum on the Fly

Dim Sum on the Fly

Locals love to nibble on the various bite-sized Chinese dumplings, noodle rolls and buns that make up the dim sum category. Delight in the delicious danger of impulse ordering off a roaming cart at City View or from a checklist at Dim Sum Club 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Experience an Exotic Plate

Experience an Exotic Plate

A local in San Francisco has a palate for global cuisine. Travel to exotic destinations without leaving the city limits. Try Laotian and Thai food at Champa Garden; sample Iranian delights at Anar; or sail away to Sri Lanka via 1601 Bar & Kitchen. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Worth the Wait

Worth the Wait

Waiting in line is a necessary evil at Tartine Bakery, where the queue starts forming daily around 4:30 p.m. to catch a baguette or specialty loaf hot and fresh out of the oven.  960 1280
Roll Play With Sushi

Roll Play With Sushi

Just about everyone in San Francisco eats sushi and its prices vary just as the clientele. Visit Ichi Sushi for a high-end experience at still-affordable prices or break the bank at Kusakabe, where a blowtorch provides endless visual entertainment to accompany the fresh fish. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

I Scream

I Scream

Sunny skies and happy lives breed a love for sweet treats in San Francisco. The granddaddy of all desserts here is the It’s-It, a chocolate covered ice cream sandwich that has been made since 1928. 960 1280

Tamara Palmer  

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Central Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon and it continues to be the largest producer in the world. Local distillers formed the bourbon trail in 1999, and its recommended itinerary includes ten distillers. It starts in Louisville at Bulleit and Evan Williams, popular names among bourbons fans, and continues to powerhouses Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark the next day. While in Bardstown, dubbed the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” pop into the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History to view a rare collection that dates back to pre-Colonial times. The tour concludes on the third day in Lexington, after squeezing in the illustrious Four Roses and Wild Turkey.

However, there are plenty of other acclaimed distillers in the region. Step off the official trail to visit beloved brands such as Eagle RareBuffalo Trace (for cult-favorite Pappy Van Winkle) and Willet. Or take a break from driving: My Old Kentucky Dinner Train rolls through bourbon country and offers bourbon-themed rides. 
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Stephen Sak  

Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Kentucky Bourbon Festival

What started as a bourbon tasting and dinner in 1992 has ballooned into a six-day bourbon festival to end all festivals, and is a bucket list must for water-of-life imbibers. Last year’s event attracted more than 50,000 people from the world over. It all goes down in Bardstown, where bourbon’s been made since 1776, and continues to produce the majority of the world’s consumption.

Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, Blanton’s and more will be in attendance, but the festival is more than just bourbon sampling. You can learn what goes into making a barrel, listen to live music, tour local distilleries and peruse craft vendors. For an additional fee, the black tie Tasting & Gala includes dinner and dancing along with the opportunity to hold court with master distillers while quaffing samples from eight local producers.
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Dave Kotinsky / Stringer  

Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Kentucky isn’t the only place that makes bourbon, nor does it have to be produced there to call it such. Woodinville Whiskey Co. is a short drive outside Seattle, and definitely worth a side trip to tour the distillery and learn all about its 90 proof straight bourbon whiskey that took more than five years to make. Back in the city, Oola Distillery is a small-batch producer in the Capital Hill neighborhood, and offers tours every Saturday. Its Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey has won awards and accolades.

2bar Bourbon from 2bar Spirits is made from locally sourced grains, and the distillery is open for tours Thursday-Saturday (be aware that Saturdays book up in advance). Upscale Tavern Law is the place to imbibe bourbon cocktails, or make a reservation at its (not-so-secret) speakeasy, Needle & Thread. Cocktail bar Canon Whiskey and Bitters Emporium claims to have the largest collection of spirits in the Western Hemisphere, and with more than 3,500 options, that number’s hard to dispute.
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Canon Whiskey and Bitters Emporium  

WhiskyFest

WhiskyFest

Now in its 18th year, WhiskyFest is the longest-running whiskey festival in the states. Events are held year-round across the country, and this year’s lineup includes Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and New York. Expect to find more than 350 international whiskies, including bourbon. There are also opportunities to participate in seminars and meet whiskey experts, from distillers to master blenders. 960 1280

Tetra Images  

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland isn’t just the leader on the craft beer landscape; a distillery boom is underway as well. In fact, there are so many that there’s even a Distillery Row, which includes Eastside Distilling, whose small-batch bourbon has won awards. Others, like House Spirits Distillery, offer bourbon-tasting classes, while New Deal Distillery holds whiskey-making classes that tend to sell out. Bull Run Distilling Company has a devoted tasting room and several Straight Bourbon Whiskey options.

Bourbon is readily available at bars around town, and The Pope House Bourbon Lounge offers a wide selection, in addition to private bourbon-tasting classes. However, the hands-down winner is destination-worthy Multnomah Whiskey Library for bourbon nirvana. It’s not easy getting in, but once there, sink back into a leather couch, marvel at more than 1,000 whiskey bottles lining exposed-brick walls, and sip away.
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Dina Avila Photography / Multnomah Whiskey Library  

Hudson Valley, New York

Hudson Valley, New York

Before Prohibition, the picturesque Hudson Valley was home to at least 1,000 distilleries. Tuthilltown Spirits was at the forefront of the area’s resurgence when it opened in 2005. It produces small-batch Hudson Four Grain Bourbon and Hudson Baby Bourbon, and in addition to tours and tastings, it also serves farm fresh fare at its restaurant, located in a historic grist mill. Orange County Distillery uses local grains to make quality bourbons in small batches. Both of its locations offer tastings, but only the aforementioned distillery has a production facility.

At Black Dirt Distillery, the corn used in its namesake bourbon is grown in said black dirt, which is an ancient fertile soil found in the Hudson Valley. To try it, head to the tasting room at Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, which is where the bourbon originated. Hillrock Estate Distillery offers a different twist with “solera”-aged bourbon, a technique that periodically removes small quantities of whiskey and replaces it with new whiskey, helping to create a more complex flavor. Make a tour appointment to learn more, and then visit its rustic tasting room.
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Black Dirt Distillery  

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

This annual festival is traveling to 10 cities in 2016, including Atlanta and Tampa. Besides the requisite beer and barbeque, taste more than 40 bourbons and attend educational seminars. Bourbon exhibitors include Elijah Craig, Yellow Rose and Blanton’s. 960 1280

Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival  

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

It’s rumored that bourbon got its name from famed Bourbon Street in the 19th century, since New Orleans served as a key shipping port. Either way, bourbon still has a strong presence in the city. Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House is first and foremost a seafood restaurant, but it also boasts the largest bourbon selection in town (as well as Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch). The Avenue Pub also has a good selection, from wheated to experimental bourbons, and is also home to the New Orleans Bourbon Society. Chef Emeril Lagasse is behind the annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer, a food and drink extravaganza that features notable chefs, live music, and of course, bourbon. Last year’s event included a signature bourbon cocktail from Buffalo Trace. 960 1280

Tetra Images  

New York City

New York City

In the 1800s Brooklyn was once home to at least 20 illicit distilleries, which prompted ongoing raids known as the Whiskey Wars until none were left. Kings County Distillery was the first to return when it opened in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2010. It makes its award-winning bourbon (along with moonshine and chocolate whiskey) from organic corn, and also holds whiskey-tasting classes. Tours and tastings are available every Saturday, and there’s no need to book ahead. 

Widow Jane Distillery is also based in Brooklyn, and produces a number of organic “farm-to-bottle” bourbons, including heirloom varieties made from ancient grains. It’s not open to the public, but you can find it at whiskey bar and restaurant Maysvillewhich boasts more than 150 American whiskeys. The Flatiron Room is considered a destination for whiskey connoisseurs, and its menu features about 100 bourbons. The Flatiron Room also offers a Whiskey School with classes for all levels, from Whiskey 101 to Pappy Van Winkle, an educational class and tasting devoted to the cult favorite.
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Valery Rizzo / Kings County Distillery  

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Not only does KOVAL Distillery focus on making organic spirits, but it’s also the city’s first distillery since the 1800s. Its Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is unconventional since it employs millet as a supplemental grain instead of the more commonly used rye or wheat. In addition to tours and tastings, it also offers whiskey workshops for furthering your knowledge. FEW Spirits is just north of Chicago in Evanston (ironically, the headquarters of the Temperance Movement, which formed to “temper” alcohol consumption before Prohibition). This small-batch distillery creates an award-winning bourbon whiskey and holds tours.

If you can’t make it there, FEW is served at Fountainhead Chicago, along with other craft and locally made bourbons, such as New Holland Brewing and Journeyman Distillery from Michigan. Fountainhead is also notable for its rare single cask selections. Other places to sip bourbon include The Berkshire Room, an upscale lounge with an extensive bourbon list, from Van Winkle to I.W. Harper, and Untitled Supper Club, a speakeasy burlesque that houses an entire Whiskey Library containing more than 400 American brands.
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Nick Gerber / KOVAL Distillery  

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