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Ah, the Shamrock Shake. This limited-time-only cup of swirly mint goodness is McDonald's small way of paying ode to St. Patrick's Day, but is it Irish at all?
The ingredients, pulled straight from the McDonald's official site, are listed as: vanilla reduced fat ice cream, Shamrock Shake syrup, whipped cream, maraschino cherry. Those last two are purely part of McD's serving suggestion, which we skip to save, like, 200 unnecessary calories.
Although no one official inventor of ice cream can be named, most articles on the history of ice cream agree that its origins can be traced to BC times, when it likely headed from China to Europe and found first popularity in France and Italy as "milk ice." The name only became "iced cream" when the first ice cream parlour opened in America, in New York City, in 1776. From here on, modern ice cream as we know it becomes a wholly American development, since the processes (commercial production, refrigeration, advanced recipes) were Yankee inventions.
As for mint syrup, its most popular use outside of coffee and medicine would be as an ingredient of a mint julep (in place of fresh mint). Mint juleps originated in the American south in the 1700s, right around the time ice cream was coming into its own, so their eventual cooperation in the Shamrock Shake was seemingly meant to be.
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The temperature is on the rise in Australia and summer is just around the corner. That could only mean one thing. Barbeques! The quintessential Aussie thing to do is grab your mates, some raw meat, a few beers (or more) and head to the beach for a bbq. Well, McDonalds down under are getting in on the tradition with the introduction of a lamb burger. And, of course, it is 100% Aussie lamb.
It can't get more Aussie than this (without it being kangaroo meat). A delicious ground lamb seasoned with rosemary, garlic and onion grilled up and served with all of the Aussie accoutrements.
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We've surveyed McDonald's in quite a few places over the years, and the local menu itemsfrom Prosperity Burgers in China to wine in South America to German Sausage in Japanare always at least interesting. There is a breed of self-important traveler who will sneer at tourists who walk into a McDonald's, but as travel writer Leif Pettersen recently reminded his readers, sometimes you just need a burger.
There's also something to be said for the idea that you can walk into a McDonald's almost anywhere on the planet and get at least a minimal level of consistent, tasty, safe food. We wouldn't do it more than once or twice a trip, but it's actually kind of a huge logistical achievement. And by this time next year, you'll be able to indulge in that achievement in 50 new restaurants across the Philippines, including the tropical island destinations on the islands of Boracay and Palawan.
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Never thought we'd ever, ever say this, but McDonalds serves wine...good wine. Don't rush out to the drive-thru just yet, however; the bottle is only available as part of a value meal in the Argentine wine capital of Mendoza.
Billed as the "Sabores Mendocinos" menu, the meal includes a double-patty burger of Angus beef, two meat empanadas, and a 187mL (glass!) bottle of local Malbec produced by Bodega Santa Julia. Want to sample it? "Sabores Mendocinos" will cost you 47.00 Argentinean pesos, or $10.80 USD.
It's definitely not the most expensive McDonalds item we've ever seenthe $17 "1955 burger" meal of Norway holds that honorbut it definitely ranks up there in both priciness and weirdness.
So, what does it taste like? We did the dirty work of drinking the McDonalds wine to find out...
Singapore may be like 22 hours of travel away from the US, but that doesn't mean they haven't got 24-hour McDonalds here and there. One we passed todayjust off the Esplanade near the Fullerton Bay Hotelwas sporting some flashy banners for limited-time-only eats. Curious, we got closer. Holy shnickeys, they're trying to make a buck off of Chinese New Year with the introduction of four special items: Beef Prosperity Burger, Chicken Prosperity Burger, Twister fries and a Prosperity McFizz.
According to the banners, these babies are only around until January 31. According to the internet, this isn't the first McDs has been cooking "Prosperity Burgers." And just exactly how prosperous are these sammies? Well, the patties are dipped in black pepper sauce, topped with onions and finished with a sesame seed bun. Sounds okay, but none of those ingredients were in the traditional Prosperity Salad. The only thing we can tell is that the twister fries can resemble 8, an auspicious number.
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As dedicated as we are to trying out the most local and unique foods for our Foreign Grocery Friday series, we also have a definite thing for investigating the fast food preferences of destinations. This usually involves stalking the pastry cases of Starbucks in Switzerland or snacking as the world's fanciest Taco Bell, but more likely we're around the corner squinting up at the menu boards of a McDonald's.
Hoping for some rice patties or other exotic offerings, we wandered into the Golden Arches in the Central Festival Mall in Phuket Town, Thailand. Instead we came face-to-face with the Samurai Pork Burger, a standard item on Thai McD's menus, and something that sounded safe to try.
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Flying domestic in Thailand through Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport? You've got one choice for grabbing some food in the terminal, and we're not kidding. It's McDonald's.
We spotted this airport food nook after stepping off a Bangkok Airways flight into BKK from HKT (Phuket) last week, and were shocked by their less than appetizing catchphrase: "The Only Restaurant in Domestic." Well, that may be right but the threat of it doesn't mean that we're going to give into a burger and McDs sundae when we're supposedly in the capital of awesome food. Where's the Pad Thai to go, at the very least?!
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An integral part of a balanced Brit breakfast: the McBacon Roll
We will fully admit to having a favorite McDonald's location in London. It's a little one nearby the Marble Arch tube stop, and it sits on the historic location of infamous gallows used for 500 years...until the world decided to kill people with carbs instead of nooses.
As intriguing as this one is, London is about to get an even more controversial McDs in one year, for the occasion of the 2012 Olympic Games. According to the Guardian, the Olympics McDonald's will be appropriately Olympics-sized:
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It's a beautiful day in Norway's second-largest city of Bergen, and a stroll down cobblestone lanes seems like a great idea. There's the fish market, and street vendors selling reindeer pelts and long, knit winter hats. And thenmaking itself at home in a historic building on a corneryou're faced with the dreaded Golden Arches.
Yep, McDonalds has invaded the fresh northern air with its smell of french fries and...hot wings? As usual with foreign McD's, the menu varies:
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"That doesn't look like 'German Sausage,' we said to ourselves, while standing in front of the brightly backlit menu boards at a McDonalds in the equally bright Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo." And what the hell is 'Shaka Shaka Chicken?' Is that pronounced 'Shacka Shacka,' 'Shake-a Shake-a' or "Shock-a Shock-a?'"
We didn't dare even attempt to order anything, but not because of any hesitance on the language frontc'mon, this is McDonaldsbut because a cheap stand-up sushi counter was around the corner and a good meal there costs just about the same as a set meal from McD's.
In the end, we concluded that Shaka Shake Chicken was just a fancy name for large chicken tenders, and that the German Sausage actually lies partially hidden underneath a fried chicken patty on the sandwich above, but we also concluded that foreign McDonalds menus are perfect travel anecdotes.
Get ready to have your minds blown.
As you probably know from all the TV commercials and general hype, McDonald's has briefly re-released the McRib sandwich, which every so often does make limited-time appearances on the chain's menu, but still remains something of a fast food legend. Although you can go out to a McD's and buy and consume a McRib right now, one day soon it'll again be gone. That is, unless you're in Germany. McDonald's in Germany have the McRib year-round, and McDs has just launched a contest to send some American McRib fans over there for a big German vacation.
If a 7-day, 6-night, 3-city German vacation for free, plus a check for $10,000 sounds goodmaybe as good as biting into a McRib, hmmthen McDonald's wants you to submit a short video entry where you talk about your own McRib legend, or something. Here's exactly what they want:
You probably have already eaten lunch for today, but that's just fine as the McDonald's Monopoly Game lasts until November 1. Yep, the game that has you impulse-buying hash browns for a chance at a tropical vacation has returned, and their trip prizes are pretty alright. The odds are impossible, but it's always fun to daydream.
There are only two trip prizes to win with the in-store McDonald's Monopoly game this year. One focuses on beach relaxation and another on tracking your favorite sports teams. Here's the details: