Top 5 Food Fails of 2015

January 2, 2016 • Featured, Travel

From freezer-burned French fries to abysmal apple "crumble" these are the biggest food fails of 2015

There are few things that make my blood boil more than bad food. Life is too short (and hunger too fleeting!) to suffer through soggy sandwiches or freezer-burned french fries!

That being said, I fared rather well in 2015. The marvelous and the scrumptious far outnumbered the dismal and the depressing.

Nevertheless, while kick-starting my New Year’s resolution to finally organize my overflowing photos folder, I found my temperature creeping up as I arrowed through my 2015 food photos. Jumping out at me from among the bounty of delicious dishes were a few sore spots in my year of feasting. Here are the five gravest offenders in my food memory of 2015.

1. Never-Constructed Apple Crumble

The fail of all food fails.

It’s not just wrong, it’s embarrassing.

It took me a few minutes to realize that our dessert had been served after this plate landed on our table. It could not have been a more disappointing ending to an otherwise a scrumptious meal of seared duck breast and venison steak at Koleves in Budapest.

What the menu sold as an apple crumble with pineapple and coconut milk was actually a pile of brown sugar, a tiny ramekin with about a tablespoon of melted icing and an equally minuscule amount of runny pineapple-orange marmalade.

It was, without question, the worst dessert I have ever been served at any restaurant anywhere. Now I understand why the waiter didn’t want to bring us the dessert menu!

2. Toast with Tomato…Ketchup

What may be the most typical of Spanish breakfasts in Madrid was a massive food fail in Tenerife.

Pan con tomate gone so, so wrong.

Wires got seriously crossed at this purportedly “Typical Spanish” restaurant in Tenerife, Canary Islands. Just after arriving on the island, famished and desperate to find a cup of coffee, we stumbled into the first restaurant we could find.

I attempted to order the most typical of Spanish breakfasts: toasted baguette with olive oil and crushed tomato. What I got was the equivalent of what a waiter at, say Applebee’s, may have served me in this situation. Two slices of toasted Wonder bread with small squares of butter and jam.

I tried again. “Could I have some olive oil, please?” (This is still Spain right?!) “And some tomato?” The waiter came back with the lunch salad dressing kit, which thankfully included a bottle of olive oil, and a bottle of ketchup. #FoodFail

3. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Salt Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies made with salt. Definite food fail.

The cookies were as bad as the photo!

2015 was a year of big changes. I changed teaching jobs, started new gigs writing for Spanish Sabores and hosting wine tastings for Madrid Uncorked and published my first full-length city guide. One of the most dramatic changes, though, was moving apartments.

In the disorienting aftermath of moving, it should be illegal to bake for at least two days. This food fail was 100 percent my own fault. While trying to bake “Thanks for Being Amazing Roomies” cookies to leave with my keys at my old apartment, I committed the cardinal sin of cooking. I grabbed the salt instead of the sugar.

The result was a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies ready for a bomb shelter. I’m sure that in whatever landfill they are now in, they are perfectly preserved… 10 months later.

4. French Fry Tortilla

Freezer-burned French fries are not my idea of a fresh tortilla española!

French fries should NEVER be in a tortilla española!

I understand, making tortilla española is hard. I am still hopeless at it. But that does not give any chef the right to serve this monstrosity under the sacred name of a Spanish tortilla.

The chef at Tasco el Olivo in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife apparently does not agree. Under the guise of a tortilla española with Manchego cheese and avocado is this abject food fail. Not only did this miserable Spanish omelet not have a trace of Manchego flavor nor a hint of fresh avocado, it was made with pre-cut French fries. To add insult to injury, those pre-cut French fries were freezer burned.

This was one of many food fails during my trip to the Canary Islands this year. The full story is here!

5. English Piedra Vineyard Tour

Estancia Piedra vineyard in Toro, Spain

Nice glasses, unfortunate tour.

Finding a vineyard tour in the rural Spanish wine region of Toro is nearly impossible. After calling nearly a dozen bodegas, I finally found one that told me they offered English tours. It was a vineyard called Estancia Piedra, a modern bodega about a 15 minute drive south of the town of Toro.

While I’d never heard of the winery nor tried their wines, I had yet to have met a wine from Toro that I didn’t like. Plus, I was desperate to find a tour I could take my parents on when the visited in November. I should have just booked a Spanish tour at one of my go-to Toro bodegas and translated for them.

We arrived at Piedra at 10 a.m., the only time they said they would run the English tour. We were the only people in the tour group with a guide who, I’m sorry to say, spoke about as much English as my third grade students. The wines were okay and the vineyard was pretty enough but the tour itself was nothing short of unfortunate. Not quite the impressive introduction to bold Spanish wine I’d had in mind!


Did you have any unfortunate eating or drinking experiences in 2015? I’d love to hear about your food fails in the comments!

Tags: , , , , , ,

4 Responses to Top 5 Food Fails of 2015

  1. Duncan says:

    Hey Amy — I have had some very similar Spanish wine experiences. The whole scene is SO radically different than what you find in the States or New Zealand or Australia or France or just about anywhere. According to a German Director of Marketing I met in the Rioja the whole tour + lunch + buying wine mafia setup got started way back in the days shortly after Franco departed. And the bodegas are loathe to let loose of that money stream…I know quite a bit about wine & winemaking (worked a harvest or two) and find it so tedious to have to make an appointment to take a tour of a bodega & sign up for a mediocre lunch….It is a shame as an unabashed enjoyer of the juice I really like to visit/see the actual areas that the wines come from as I think it really helps (me) put into my ‘wine memory’…I still get weak in the knees when I think of standing at the tops of the Northern Rhone vineyards in Hermitage & Cornas – you could paraglide off them!

    • Amy says:

      I completely agree Duncan! There is so much amazing Spanish wine out there but getting to it and properly experiencing it is often much more of a circus than it should be. That being said, there are definitely a few bodegas that have joined us in the 21st century of wine tastings. Fingers crossed more follow suit!

  2. Becki says:

    Hi Amy! I’m moving to Madrid this summer and signed up a while back for the Madrid Uncorked meetup after seeing James as one of the leaders of the group (he was the awesome guide for the food tour I took when I visited to see if I even liked Madrid before up and moving there). I’m planning to attend the tastings and look forward to meeting you.

    • Amy says:

      Congrats on the move! Look forward to seeing you at a tasting. We won´t be able to fit one in in January, but hope to see you in February!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge