Osaka,Universal Studios and Kyoto!

Osaka was our next port of call! We flew from Haneda into Itami as we didn’t fancy a long train journey. It was also my 29th birthday so to be spending it on a plane, even for a very short flight, was not my idea of a fun start but with the promise of Universal Studios later that day, I managed to pull up my socks and get on with it.

Whilst perusing through the airport, Alistair decided that some ramen was in order so we ventured into this cute little restaurant and ordered up two bowls of steaming noodles. Whilst we were waiting, the lady rushed over to us and said that I couldn’t partake in the deliciousness because the ramen contained nuts. She politely plopped the money back into Alistair’s hand and quickly set about making his breakfast. I was highly disappointed, to say the least but also eternally grateful that she swiftly corrected her mistake and I didn’t die.

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It was an absolute beast of a bowl and brimming with piping hot ramen noodles and plentiful pieces of pork. I was incredibly jealous and sat there with a face of thunder, I have no doubt. I perked up a bit when it came to watching Alistair attempt to use chopsticks so all in all, it wasn’t a great loss and I was mildly entertained for a couple of minutes.

Now came the challenge of finding something for myself to stifle my rumbling tummy. With the fear of eating anything riddled with nuts, I settled for the very traditional Japanese snack: a cheese hot dog.

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It was actually very good, especially with the ooey gooey cheese and tangy mustard. Granted, it isn’t an authentic Japanese dish but it certainly filled a hole and I was 99.9% sure it wouldn’t kill me which is an added bonus.

Once we landed, we hopped on a coach which whisked us to our hotel, The Park Front Hotel, Universal Studios. The drive was pretty interesting and gave off a completely different vibe to Tokyo. I still wonder why there were so many ferris wheels scattered throughout the city though.

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Once we had arrived at our destination, we quickly deposited our bags at the front desk and set off for Universal! The hotel itself is directly opposite the main gates so we were in the park within a minute. I was excited to see how it would compare to our beloved Universal Studios in Orlando, and even in California! One thing I will say is that visitors are allowed, and even encouraged, to dress up! This is a big no no in Disney World and US in Florida but here, Alistair and I looked like the odd ones out for not joining in. If I’d have known I would have definitely gone all out and embraced my inner nerd. We saw a very convincing Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Snape and Hagrid spotted in the Jurassic Park area which was a bit of a mind melt. Oh, and these guys too:

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How is that even allowed? I also spy a few Jokers in the background.

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So happy they still had Jaws the ride here! It was one of my favourites in Orlando and an absolute classic. As much as I love Harry Potter and Diagon Alley, my heart is still a little put out that they decided to get rid of it in favour of the boy who lived.

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My mum’s all time favourite place to eat in Orlando! My only gripe with them is that they got rid of my beloved hot dog. I also see some Super Mario business going on there!

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Ah, Amity Island, I miss you! And the smell of the water. Weird but true. It’s very nostalgic and brings me back to the time when my brother was petrified of it and would keep his eyes firmly shut for the duration of the ride. Good times.

Seeing as it was only a few days past Halloween, they still had their annual Halloween Horror Nights on. This was one of the main reasons we decided to venture to US as I am an avid lover of anything scary and horror related so I was absolutely over the moon to be attending as the Japanese are renowned for showcasing and producing the goriest, most terrifying and fear inducing movies known to man! We had entry tickets for Insidious: The Last Key and it certainly lived up to all of my very high expectations. We had to go in in a group of four and hold onto a velvet rope so nobody would get lost or potentially run off mid scare! It. Was. Awesome! At one point during our walk through, one of the girls got so scared that she accidentally whacked Alistair on the leg. Poor thing.

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We also managed to snag tickets for SADAKO which was essentially The Ring. I adore this movie and was highly looking forward to seeing her in action. We were seated in a theatre and had no clue what was going on or what was going to happen as it was all in Japanese. Basically, she popped up here and there at random times and sometimes even right in front of your face which was a little disconcerting but it definitely got the heart pumping. Luckily, she didn’t make a face to face appearance for us as Alistair would have more than likely given the dear a bloody nose.

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Alistair was feeling a little peckish after all of our frightful feats so we strolled back to Amity Island where he ordered fried chicken and chips. With two beers, of course. I reckon he only ordered this for the pretty packaging. They really do love going above and beyond for every little thing they do.

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How amazing is that?! The exterior was definitely superior to the food unfortunately as he found the chicken a little greasy. What a pity.

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It was getting pretty late now so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel and than decide what we wanted to do for dinner as nothing had past my lips except that infamous hot dog that morning and a couple/a lot of beers.

I name this pose “Attempting to stop the walls from closing in around me”. Rather poetic.

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Alistair also very kingly gifted me with a Jaws jumper and a Hard Rock Cafe Osaka t-shirt. With Hello Kitty! You can’t get much cuter than that in my books.

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Speaking of Hard Rock, that’s where we wound up eating for dinner. I am a huge fan of this chain and collect their shirts so whenever we go away somewhere, we instantly try to hunt one down so I can add to my ever growing collection.

Drinks wise, I stuck with my trusty beer and Alistair opted for a Long Island Iced Tea.

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Food wise, I ordered my all time favourite: Club sandwich and fries.

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Look how thick, meaty and mighty this looks! The chicken and bacon were cooked to perfection and the tomato was so fresh and juicy. I was in sandwich heaven!

Alistair chose: Fish and chips.

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This was far better than his previous meal and he happily chomped away on this. The batter was crunchy and the fish was flaky and sweet. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. Now all we wanted to do was climb into bed and snooze until sunrise.

The next morning, we had a little walk around City Walk.

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Because who doesn’t love the Moomins?!

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A secret past time of ours is the go exploring in international supermarkets and see what we come across. The weirder, the better! I especially liked this:

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Three slices of bread! My mum could learn a thing or two about this as she constantly throws away half a loaf of bread sometimes because it’s “gone off”. There would be zero waste if we had this in the UK. I do wonder why it’s three slices and not four? Unless they like their triple decker sandwiches in Japan, it is a mystery that will remain unsolved.

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Love their selection of drinks even though you do have to be careful with what you pick up. It’s truly a matter of looking at the pictures on the bottles and trying to determine what it is or could potentially be. We opted for a drink from a vending machine in Disneyland and it tasted like sweat. No joke. We did wind up with a few good’uns though.

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We took the train from Osaka to Kyoto to do a little bit of sight seeing. And to indulge in a McDonalds breakfast too, of course. The walk was stunning and it was so quiet, serene and peaceful.

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And a bonus one of myself, on a bridge, looking dark and ominous. Pretty sure Alistair was willing me to fall in.

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Alistair was famished so we walked to McDonalds to get him a well earned McMuffin.

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He went for the crisp chicken McMuffin and a hash brown. Oh and two very large, very tasty orange juices. He truly enjoyed this and gobbled it down in no time at all. All that walking does give you a hearty appetite, that’s for sure.

Once we had had our fill of Kyoto, we jumped on a train to Dotonbori to check out the famous market and of course, the legendary street food!

The place itself was jam packed and there was so much to look at, that I definitely woke up with a stiff neck the next day. It was vibrant, spirited and the smells hit you from all directions.

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We started out with these delectable crab legs. 

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These were the tastiest, sweetest, freshest little morsels of crab meat that I have ever eaten. All I will say is, they are annoyingly difficult to pick up with chopsticks and I did worry that a) people would stop, stare and laugh at us and b) we would drop these little bites of seafood sensations. A massive 10/10 for the both of us.

Up next, we knew that we just had to sample the sublime Takoyaki or otherwise known as octopus balls. I am not the greatest fan of octopus as it can be extremely chewy and also the look kinda puts me off but I knew that I couldn’t pass up such an iconic dish. We decided to get octopus, plus the safe ham and cheese balls, just in case we didn’t like the prior.

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I was completely fascinated and in awe of how they went about making these little bundled balls. The ladies were on fire with how swiftly and accurately they put these little guys together. I could’ve sat and watched them for hours but that would’ve probably been a little creepy.

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And the finished product!

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These was scolding hot so we had to be extremely cautious and take delicate bites until they cooled down profusely. Again, the chopsticks were more of a hindrance than a help so we struggled somewhat. The octopus was only the tiniest bit rubbery but aside from that, I thoroughly relished every nibble. The ham and cheese ones were also delicious and the cheese especially was very rich and creamy in flavour. Another big hit.

We meandered back to our hotel where we settled in for the night with a couple of very interesting beers and Harry Potter in Japanese. Thankfully, I have seen the films a million times so I knew what was taking place but Alistair hadn’t so he was pretty much out of the loop and kept asking me what was happening, who’s he and my favourite, what’s a Harry Potter? That boy does amuse me.

The beers.

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Yes, you did read that correctly. That can is 9%. And let me tell you, you definitely feel it after a few of those bad boys.

Dinner wise, we were feeling especially lazy and lethargic so strolled over to McDonalds. Yes, McDonalds again. Twice in one day. We were on a roll. I was desperate to try the terriyaki chicken burger so it had to be done. As usual, we ended up ordering way too much food, with three burgers and a large fries each to our name, so we must learn to control ourselves and rein back a bit on the food front. Anyway, it was delicious and it all got consumed so the only down side was the terrible stomach ache I had to endure later that evening and early the next day.

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Time to eat!

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You’ve all surely seen what a Big Mac looks like. It was very tasty and didn’t fall apart nearly as much as ones we’ve devoured before.

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Holy cheesus, this was lovely! I do like a good cheeseburger from McDonalds, it has to be said, so this was doubly tasty. Is it just me, or does anyone else enjoy scraping the cold, congealed cheese from off the wrapper and gorging on it? Nope, just me? Okay then. Moving swiftly on.

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The star of the show! The teriyaki chicken burger was succulent, moist and the sauce was sweet, sour and tangy all at the same time.

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Ignore that random chip in my ketchup. I’m a beast when I’m starving and sauce is the way forward. Oh and I’m also blaming those 9% drinks. They are lethal. With stuffed stomachs, we rolled into bed and let sleep wash over us.

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Goodnight Universal Studios, and thank you for having us!

Up next, Hiroshima!

END OF PART 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traversing through Tokyo and beyond!

Now this was a holiday my husband and I both knew would be out of this world, memorable and full to the brim with food: Japan! We had dreamed about exploring this captivating country for as long as we had been together (over 6 years by this point.. how on earth had we managed not to kill each other in that space of time, I’ll never know!). We knew, without a doubt in our hearts, that Disney was a must! That and bunny island. But we also managed to sneak in a trip to Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. Boy, am I a lucky girl! With everything set in stone, flights and hotels booked, we opted to stay the night at Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, Heathrow. Naturally because we always feel that the night before a long and exhausting flight should be spent in the comfort of knowing that you’re only a stones throw away from the airport itself. And you can just lounge about at your own leisure, having a few drinks and generally just having a breather before all the madness ensues.

After a few ciders downed, we decided dinner was definitely in order. We wandered down to the hotels restaurant, The Garden Grille, and put in our orders.

I love a good pie so happily ordered the: Steak and ale pie with mashed potatoes, saute beans and red wine jus.

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This pie was up there with the best! A buttery flaky crust surrounding a mountain of steak and lots of piping hot gravy. The mash was creamy and the green beans had a nice crunch to them. So far, so good on the food front! Note, I also had a pie the previous evening AND I ordered one for my main meal on the flight so this girl definitely likes her comfort food.

Alistair went for: Mixed grill – A selection of chicken, steak, lamb, sausage, mushroom, onion rings, chips and salad.

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Alistair likes a mountain of meat so this definitely went down a treat! Except the mushroom, of course. Blergh! You can keep your funky fungus far away from me, thank you!

After a very well rested sleep, it was time for our Japanese journey to begin! And in style! We had booked British Airways, First Class from Heathrow to Haneda so first things first, it was only fitting to check out the charming Concorde Lounge and have a little glass of champagne or two to kick start our holiday off in the right direction. You can count champagne as breakfast, right? Right! Of course you can.

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After a few hours of guzzling glasses of our “breakfast” and people watching (it has to be done), it was time to board the plane and let our adventure commence!

Once boarded, we were presented with yet more breakfast juice and our amenity kits.

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And of course, our dining menus! Food has to be, without a doubt, one of the greatest creations known to man and I get excited about viewing a menu that I haven’t perused before. Alistair will tell you that the moment we step through a hotel room door, I quickly dash off to be the first one to find the in-room dining menu. Yes, it is terribly sad but everyone has to have a hobby, am I right?

This was the main menu:

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And desserts:

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With both of our orders in, we chugged a couple more glasses of champagne and let the flight attendants set up our tables ahead of our foodie feast.

The pre-appetisers were presented to us swiftly. This was an antipasti plate featuring Cumbrian air-dried ham, Cumberland salami, Berkswell cheese, olives and sun dried tomato.

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The olive was salty, the salami was flavourful and the cheese was crumbly and all together, this tiny bite of beauty was a big hit from the both of us.

Starters wise, we both went for the selection of Japanese appetisers (start as you mean to go on, and all). This included, prawn sushi, salmon sushi, ahi tuna tataki and wakame seaweed.

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This was presented handsomely and was made even better from the fact that it actually tasted as good as it looks! Alistair and I aren’t sushi connoisseurs in the slightest, having only sampled it a handful of times between us, but every piece was perfect and so fresh, especially given we were stuck on a plane for a good twelve hours or so! It’s a good thing I like his company so much!

Mains wise, I went, for the third day running, a pie. But this time: Chicken, leek and ham hock pie with parsley mashed potato and honey and mustard sauce.

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Once again, this was another excellent pie! The pastry was crisp but not dry in the slightest and the contents were plentiful. Lots of lovely ham hock and when accompained with the parsley mash, it was truly a delight.

Alistair had the: Seared fillet of British beef and salt croquette with dauphinoise potato, cep aioli and caper beurre noisette. Basically beef, potatoes and vegetables in a nutshell.

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Those are some lengthy carrots. The beef was tender, the potato buttery and the vegetables were firm and had just the right amount of crunch.

Dessert time and seeing as neither of us have a single sweet tooth in our bodies, we pushed for the cheese plate featuring Kidderton Ash, Coastal cheddar, Orsom Lester vintage red and Bleu D’auvergne.

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You honestly can’t beat a platter of cheese and this was a very healthy amount. Sometimes, airlines are particularly stingy when it comes to their cheese selection (and portion size) so this was very well received. Also got one of our five a day in there with the grapes which completely counteracts our daily dose of dairy delight right there.

I was fit to bursting so promptly skipped over breakfast whereas Alistair plumped for: The Traditional British Breakfast which comprised of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, back bacon, mushrooms, potato rosti, grilled tomatoes and baked beans.

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As I have commented before, scrambled eggs never quite come out as well as one would like. They’re always a bit.. gelatinous? Either way, Alistair wolfed most of this down and didn’t complain. What a trooper.

Once we had landed, it was off to our hotel we went! We were both so exceedingly excited and a little apprehensive about our trip, just because everything, and I mean everything, is so incredibly different to anything we have ever experienced or came across before. Firstly, the people are so effortlessly polite and friendly and will offer you their shirt off their own back if it looked like we needed it. They always go above and beyond to make sure that you’re looked after and cared for. And can I mention the toilets?! Absolutely amazing in every sense of the word. The Japanese are without a doubt miles ahead of us when it comes to bathroom brilliance. And the streets are SO clean, even though finding a bin is basically unheard of. Everyone just carries their rubbish until they get home which in my opinion, we could learn from explicitly.

Anyway, we arrived at our hotel of choice, Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay, and proceeded to try and check in. We were very early, very tired and all we wanted at that moment in time was to slip into bed and slumber for a couple of hours. Thankfully we were upgraded to club level which meant we could sit and have a drink (lots of apples juices for us and we were starting to flag a little and needed a sugar hit) and just wait it out for a couple of hours in the Club Lounge until our room was ready.

We were given these sweets at the reception and I was bamboozled. I had actually thought that they had printed my previous surname onto these colourful candies to welcome us but it is in fact a brand of confectionery. How bizarre!

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After a short snooze, we woke up feeling a lot more refreshed and ready to hit Disneyland! The monorail station was literally a two minute walk away and there was even a dinky Disney bus to take you there for free, if desired or just plain tired. Once we hoped on and off the monorail, it was another brief stroll to the gates of Disneyland. We were floored by how bright, immersive and detailed everything was.

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I’m pretty sure the only agenda we had that night was to have a good nosey around, take in the sights and sounds and just absorb the fact that we were really in the happiest place on earth, in Tokyo!

We wandered around to The Haunted Mansion as we knew it would be transformed into the Halloween version, Holiday Nightmare aka The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is a very beloved movie of mine so I was excited and intrigued to see how they would incorporate three of my favourite things: TNBC, Halloween and The Haunted Mansion! It was like a dream come true.

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It was incredible! So much thought and patience went into it and I would not expect anything less from the Japanese. They are so skilled, determined and put 1000% into anything and everything they get their hands on. It’s just awe-inspiring.

Dinner was our next port of call and seeing as we demolished a three course meal plus extras only an abbreviated time before, we searched for something small that would fill a hole. We were pulled into Refreshment Corner by the alluring sight and smell of the cheese hot dog and fries.

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These little beauties were just the thing we were looking for. Extraordinarily cheesy and perfect for a quick pick me up. I will say something though, and I know a lot of people will back me up on this. The portions in Japan are tiny. Like minuscule. That chip carton is deceiving as it stopped halfway. For someone who is so used to American sizes, this came as a slap in the face. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, of course. It’s just something that we’re not used to. No wonder everyone is so thin and trim out there.

Still feeling a little bit peckish, we also went for these babies:

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Mickey shaped nuggets! 

So cute! Almost too cute to eat but we managed it somehow. It’s a hard life sometimes. These were crispy and seasoned impeccably well.

We ventured back to our hotel and literally fell into bed, worn out and eager to see what the next day would bring.

Breakfast was the first order of the day and as we were Club Level status, it meant it was free so how could we refuse? Seeing as neither one of us usually indulges in breakfast at home, we thought we would give it a go. It was a buffet so we quickly grabbed a couple of plates and piled them high with bountiful breakfast goods.

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And assortment of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages with added potato wedges for Alistair. Everything was appropriately cooked and prepared and tasted fresh and delicious. This was all washed down with a coffee or two.

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Admiring this stunning view.

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After a very satisfying spread, we went off to gallivant around DisneySea! If we thought Disneyland was breathtaking, that was absolutely nothing compared to the sheer grandness and embellishment of DS! We were wowed from the moment we entered to the moment we left.

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You could’ve told me we were actually standing in Venice and I would’ve believed you, without a doubt. How is it even possible for something to look so splendid?! We spent most of the time walking around with our mouths open, happily catching flies because we were that star struck by the insane beauty.

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Everything was so well themed. It felt like you stepped into a completely different park with every section you delved into.

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There is a bar and restaurant on board the SS Columbia. We visited the bar, The Teddy Roosevelt Lounge, for a few well deserved cocktails and to rest our weary feet. Yes, we are getting old.

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We ambled around some more after a slight breather.

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Tokyo’s take on Tower of Terror is immense and I wish we could’ve gotten round to riding more than the lame one time that we actually did. It is utterly unique and one you would not want to miss, no matter how extraordinarily long the queues may be.

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Journey To The Center Of The Earth was something entirely different altogether. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to play out before us so without giving away any spoilers, it is a blast and a half. Definitely our favourite ride there and we would merrily ride it again and again. Once more, the attention to detail is baffling.

Dinner was now definitely in order so we drifted over to Cape Cod Cook-Off. We both went for fried chicken burgers, fries and two coke zeros.

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The chicken was succulent and I have no idea what sauce they used to top it off with but it was so creamy and delectable. The fries were crisp and how could you not like the adorable Disney packaging? They think of everything to make it as cute and kawaii as humanly possible and I treasure it wholeheartedly.

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We said cheerio to this view for the evening and headed back to rest our fatigued heads.

We emerged bright and early, ready for another ample breakfast. We had nothing planned so we figured we would just have a bit of a lazy day as it had been pretty hectic and non stop thus far. We definitely did not want to burn out after only a mere few days in terrific Tokyo.

Breakfast was served.

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That monstrous heap of salmon was so flaky and fresh, it melted in my mouth. Apologies about the ketchup: I scooped up a few wedges and I cannot, I repeat, I cannot eat any form of potato without a dollop or two of the red stuff. Or mayonnaise. Or ranch. Or tabasco. Literally any sauce you can think of and I will plonk it on my plate.

Alistair’s dish looked a little less beige than mine with the added benefit of broccoli.

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We had a couple of free Kirin beers in the Club Lounge a little later on before venturing down to Maihama Teppanyaki for dinner.

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We opted for one of the various menus which included an appetiser, soup, seafood, a choice of beef steak, rice, miso soup, seasonal pickles and a dessert.

The starter was: Broiled tailfish with Kyoto local Mibuna pickles and ginger flavour. Alistair will tell you that we are not picky eaters in the slightest (apart from mushrooms, snails, anything that resembles mucous for me etc) but we both looked at each other and were like, how are we ever going to eat this? It tasted just as it appears: slimy but a little crunchy. We definitely had to chase this down with a glass of water or two and we had to finish because we did not, in any way, shape or form, want to offend any body in the vicinity.

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The next course was the soup and I was praying that I wouldn’t need another glass of water. Grilled scallop with dried scallop and Chinese cabbage cream.

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It undeniably looked a lot more pleasant than the previous course and appreciatively tasted a lot nicer too! This was so creamy and the scallop was cooked to perfection. We were both scraping the bowls clean.

Up next was the seafood portion of our dinner. Grilled flatfish with Crown Daisy herb butter sauce, Kyoto local carrot and purple yam mashed potato. 

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Again, this was another culinary delight. The fish just fell apart like butter when you cut into it and the sauce was tangy and rich. Absolutely lovely.

Along came the beef steak portion of our feast, which were were most looking forward to as Japanese beef is renowned for being some of the best in the world. I opted for the 100g tenderloin and Alistair chose the 150g sirloin. 

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This was extraordinary and far far better than anything I could ever envision. The steak basically fizzled on your tongue and was gone in a bite or two, something which I am not used to in the slightest as I always seem to find a chewy fatty bit of steak. I savoured every bite. I also chose the Kamameshi cooked rice with broiled duck and burdock which was also immensely full to the rafter with flavour.

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Alistair was equally and sufficiently impressed with his steak. Both were cooked exactly to our liking and all we wished for was more of it. It was that sensational.

Dessert was: Apple caramel compote in basket pate filo with vanilla ice cream.

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I had explained my nut allergy on arrival and was told that I would not be able to partake in this particular pudding so they had to rustle me up something else. Alistair ate this up, no problem and even though he isn’t an avid fan of sweet treats, he said this was the perfect ending to an (almost) perfect dinner.

I had some sort of orange, cream, shaved ice, fruit thing which was actually incredibly refreshing and light after such a hearty meal so I was grateful for that.

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All in all, this was a divine dinner and the waiters/waitresses were so accommodating and kind. That alone would be another reason why we would revisit this exquisite establishment.

Up next, Osaka and Universal Studios!

END OF PART 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans and Orlando

Alistair and I decided another little getaway was in order so we booked flights to New Orleans, Louisiana. This was a place that I had always wanted to visit as I adore anything to do with the supernatural and NO is famous for a it’s ghost gallivants and spooky sights. I wish I had gotten around to watching The Originals, a spin-off of The Vampire Dairies, before traipsing around as I would’ve been enthralled with every twist and turn of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and St. Louis Cathedral. We did stumble upon this places but I would’ve been much more informed about how stood where/who died where etc and it probably would’ve made it that much more entertaining. Oh well, there’s always next time!

We stayed the night at Sofitel, Heathrow Airport, before flying to Louisiana the following morning. We always opt for staying overnight as it gives us a chance to relax and unwind and also really kick starts the holiday off for us. We usually prefer to grab a couple of sandwiches and ciders at Marks and Spencer for dinner as this is very convenient and means we can devour our dinner at our very own pace. This time though, we perused the menu for the hotels restaurant, La Belle Epoque, and settled on having our supper there instead.

We went for a starter and main each and were swiftly brought out an amuse bouche involving crab. I should really learn to write down what these surprise courses consist of as it irritates me thoroughly when I go back through my piles of pictures and cannot fathom what on earth it was. Anyway, it was delicious, that much I do remember.

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Starters wise, I have never consumed frogs legs in my life and have always been a little curious about them, so now was my chance to indulge.

Poached Scottish lobster, tempura frogs legs and sorrel and lemon grass veloute.

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It is absolutely true what they say: they do taste exactly like chicken! I was incredibly happy that I had decided to throw caution to the wind and go for something completely out of my comfort zone. The lobster was also poached to perfection.

Alistair went for: Veloute of cauliflower, poached Norwegian cod, almonds and sea fennel. 

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Alistair is an avid admirer of soup so he lapped this up in no time at all. It was hot, creamy and buttery and the cod was soft and silky.

For my entree, I chose the: Roasted breast of challans duck, confit legs, Jerusalem artichoke, beetroot and preserved cherries.

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If duck is on the menu, I always plump for it because it is just a meat I really enjoy getting my teeth into. Restaurants always seem to pair it with cherries too, which works for me, even though I am not a massive cherry fan. The dream duo compliment each other beautifully and the duck was cooked excellently – not at all dry and not still red raw in the middle. I cherished every bite.

Alistair had the: Roasted fillet of grain fed Irish beef glazed with teriyaki, braised short rib, shiitake, roasted Jersey royal potato mousseline and Mertlot jus.

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Alistair is a rare guy, in all sorts of the word, so this was right up his alley. The beef was tender and the mousseline made for a very welcome change to your typical tattie. It was milky and rich.

When we initially arrived at our hotel room, we were gifted with a pretty package of pastries. Alistair got stuck in and picked the middle one, a coconut-y delight. Next thing I know, he is gagging and gasping. He doesn’t even like coconut but this was a strong reaction even from him. I think he just had a big bite of a flake stuck in his throat. If memory serves me, I think we deposited the rest in the bin after Alistair’s heaving ordeal. They were very pleasing to the eye though.

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The morning after, we headed down to breakfast. I’m not sure if either of us managed to stomach it though, as I have no pictures of our plates. We did snap a shot or two of the offerings though:

The healthy:

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The not so healthy:

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And the barrel of biscuits which I’m certain my dad would’ve pinched as he is a fructose fiend and goes through multiple packs per week.

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Once on board, the flight attendants handed out lunch but we either A) Neglected to have it in the first place or B) decided against photos as plane food is never that photogenic and always comes out looking like slop on a saucer.

Alistair did manage to bag a burger just before landing. Well, a small slider or pocket sized patty, I guess. It was gone in one bite and Alistair doesn’t have a massive mouth so for him, it was a feat and a half.

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I’m pretty satisfied that White Castle need not worry for the time being.

Our view coming in to land:

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Once we had touched down in the oppressively oven like temperature, we caught a cab and made our way to our hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton. Our driver was somewhat eccentric and yelled at some homeless people, hoping to score a buck or two by cleaning cars that had stopped at traffic lights. And when I say yelled, I mean screamed at the top of her lungs yelled. It was terrifying and she could see the fear in my eyes as she asked me if she had scared us. Alistair and I both replied yes/no in unison. I hate shouters but she had obviously had enough for that day and I can see why. People were mindlessly wandering in and out of the oncoming traffic, waving squeegees and sopping buckets around. It was dangerous and careless.

Once we had (safely) arrived at our destination, we wandered up to our hotel room, only to find that it was on the same level as the swimming pool. That doesn’t sound too bad but when we opened the curtains, the pool was literally feet away and we were afraid someone might try to enter our room in the middle of the night. It just wasn’t satisfactory so we complained and thankfully, they managed to place us in another room, pool free and with no chance of sopping strangers entering our abode. With all of that done and dusted, we went in the search of life preserves – beer, water and blue Gatorade. We checked out a couple of local store but the prices were extortionate and one of our pet peeves is when shops do not list their costs and you have to bring your wares over to the counter for them to ring up. It’s always way more expensive than it has any right to be so we walked out and went elsewhere, probably to a CVS.

Food time! We were starving but sleepy so opted to order in from Central City BBQ.

We both wanted a mish mash of things so we could sample as much captivating cookout cuisine as possible.

I went for a mixture of: Chicken, brisket, fries and bacon macaroni cheese.

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The brisket was mouth-wateringly magnificent and the chicken was so juicy and supple. The mac and cheese was a little dry but I can’t pass up pasta so this was gobbled down. The fries were interesting and kind of resembled a flatter chip shop chip to me. Still tasty though.

Alistair had: Pork belly, burnt ends, ribs and fries.

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This plentiful platter was delectable. The pork belly was crispy, the burnt ends were full to the brim with flavour and the ribs just fell apart from the bone.

The next day, we decided to get up early and join the queue for a late breakfast/early lunch at the extraordinarily popular place, Mothers.

We had both heard tremendous tales about this restaurant and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They are well known throughout NO for their piled up po’boys, including the Famous Ferdi special which I sampled. I was going to choose my favourite shrimp po’boy but discovered that the fried version was cooked in peanut oil, so Alistair happily took one for the team and ordered it for himself so he could brag and boast about how delicious it was. Luckily, mine was just as epic.

The Famous Ferdi Special: Ham, roast beef, the original debris with au jus gravy, dressed with shredded cabbage, sliced pickles, mayonnaise Creole and yellow mustards.

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Wow is pretty much all I have to say here. I was in po’boy paradise. The meats were so sweet and succulent and my word, that au jus gravy – I could’ve just swam in it. It was up there with one of the most delectable and desirable sandwiches I have ever indulged in and I have eaten my way through a slew of them. Just utter perfection.

Alistair had the: Fried gulf shrimp po’boy, dressed with shredded cabbage, sliced pickles and mayonnaise

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I looked on in envy as my husband tucked into this treasure. As you can see, there were a plethora of prawns, ready and willing to spill out of the french bread at any given moment. Thankfully, Alistair was there to catch their fall with his mouth. He adored every single crumb and we both exited this establishment feeling simply satisfied.

We rolled (literally, we were both extremely fit to burst at the seams) to Alistair’s entertainment of choice for the day: The National WWII Museum.  Now I have stressed many times before in my blogs that I am not an avid aviation fan whatsoever. It just bores me to death as every aircraft looks the exact same to me. Same with boats. Once I’ve seen one, I’ve seen them all. Alistair thrives on this kind of stuff and it amuses me greatly to watch him float around, recalling facts and figures to me at every exhibit. It is cute that he gets so much pleasure out of visiting these venues though so deep down, I don’t really mind and try to keep my moaning to a minimum. The things we do for love.

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We were flying into my favourite destination, Orlando, the next day so breakfast was our first port of call at Louis Armstrong Airport, New Orleans. We were both ravenous as I think the po’boys were the only previsions we pigged out on the day before. We spotted a Subway and hastily put in our orders.

I opted for a: Foot long Subway Club sandwich on Italian bread which consisted of sliced turkey breast, roast beef and black forest ham with added lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, American cheese and ranch sauce.

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Alistair had a foot long too but I have no recollection of what he ordered and zero pictures. He would’ve definitely added jalapenos and possibly Chipotle southwest sauce.

Upon landing, we dashed off to Disney without a moments notice. We meandered through the Magic Kingdom, stopping to ride Space Mountain and The Haunted mansion, before gallivanting over to our favourite Disney park, Epcot.

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My oh my, what a wonderful day!

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An absolute classic.

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Our expedition around Epcot included the most mesmerizing sunset.

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Hotel wise, we were situated at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, which was located just across the picturesque lake from Disney Springs. The room was pristine (hey, it is Disney after all) with an adequate shower and bathroom amenities and a spacious living area with a cozy bed and a snug sofa, which were adorned with storied stallion cushions such as Philippe from Beauty and the Beast and Maximus from Tangled! Such impressive details were scattered throughout the whole resort and I reveled in it.

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With dinner eagerly decided, we hopped over to The Boathouse at Disney Springs. A cocktail was calling out to us so we both elected for Blueberry lemonade. This little gem was sharp, tart and incredibly boozy so we were both happy bunnies.

Warm glazed bread and wonderfully whipped butter was plonked onto our table incredibly efficiently and we dived straight in, even though we knew we were ordering starters and mains but I cannot physically say no to free bread, especially when it was as luscious as this was. Pure bundles of heaven.

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Starters wise, I went for the: Caesar salad.

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You can’t beat a classic. I loved the dressing and the affluent toss of pleasant Parmesan mixed with the crunchy croutons.

Alistair selected: Oysters.

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Just the appearance of these slippery suckers turns my stomach so it’s a hard pass from me. Alistair marvels in these mollusks and loved every swallow.

Our mains reached us rapidly and I had the: Award Winning Cherrywood Smoked BBQ Chicken with coleslaw and smokey BBQ sauce.

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This bird was bountiful and filled with flavour. Juicy, moist and so succulent that the meat melted in my mouth.

Alistair went for the: 22oz ribeye steak, which was meant to be shared between two people but you know how much Alistair respects his rare ribeyes so he was more than willing to beat this block of beef.

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His knife slid through this beauty like butter and he embraced every morsel.

For sides, if the bread, appetisers and entrees weren’t enough, we pulled our socks up and ordered: Fresh cut fries and Mac and Cheese.

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The mac attack was gooey, goopy, melty, cheesy, and seasoned particularly well. The fries were golden brown and made for a good mopper upper when it came to scraping up the remainders of the oozing cheese. Two simply splendid side dishes and ones we were very happy to indulge in, even though, once again, our eyes were bigger than our bellies.

Animal Kingdom was our first stop for the morning after. This is easily our second favourite Disney park (our order is: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and then Magic Kingdom.) I know people will be huffing and puffing at MK being our least favourite park but that is simply because it is always too crowded and the park itself is too small to contain as many people as it does at any given time. Secondly, the kids. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all children that I’m gonna have a whine about but the majority scream, shout, get in your way, trample on your feet and generally put our backs up. This is probably why Alistair and I are never having children; we just can’t deal with the chaos and calamities. Sorry.

We careered through the African plains on Kilimanjaro Safari’s:

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Avoided the abominable snowman on Expedition Everest:

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And paraded through Pandora:

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Before busing it over to our esteemed Epcot!

We were both feeling a little peckish now so a small snack was definitely on the cards! We didn’t want anything too heavy as we knew dinner plans were going to take place at our favourite, Fishbones (it had been a long time, my sweet) so we strolled over to Refreshment Port and ordered a portion of their: Signature poutine which consisted of fries loaded to the brim with Canadian cheddar, bacon sauce and cheese curds.

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These fantastic fries were every inch as good as they look. Piping hot chips topped with a delicious salty bacon sauce and amassed with the creamiest cheese curds. I could have eaten this all by myself and probably gone back for seconds, it was that tasty.

Our next order of business was dinner at the fabulous Fishbones. I have written many reviews about this place so I will no doubt just keep it short and sweet as it was, yet again, unparalleled and unmatched. It just always comes out on top for us so every visit is an exceptional pleasure.

To kick things off, I went with the delectable sounding: Blueberry mojito – Cruzan Rum, Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice, Fresh Blueberries and Mint.

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This was tangy, zesty and pretty potent so I was incredibly pleased with my option. I have no recollection of what drink Alistair devoured but I’m sure it was just as delectable.

For our mains, Alistair chose: 6oz filet mignon and whipped potatoes with an added lobster tail.

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The steak was prepared as beautifully as ever and was strikingly sumptuous and bursting with flavour. The whipped potatoes were a delight to behold, just like fluffy feathery clouds and the lobster tail was delicate and buttery.

I opted for: Mahi mahi with whipped potatoes.

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The flaky fish was utterly superb and was smoked to precision. The potatoes were, again, mind blowing and I need the recipe in my life so I can create this culinary masterpiece in the comfort of my own home.

We popped over to Universal Studios the preceding day as I was desperate to see some of the Halloween Horror Night’s decorations that they had just started to put up. Halloween is my favourite holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I crave Christmas and eulogize Easter (for the ravishing rabbits, not the chocolate) but Halloween just screams my name. I love horror anything and have done ever since I was a little girl and stumbled upon the television programme, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To this day, that show has my heart and soul entirely.  Monster movies, terrifying TV shows, haunted houses, chilling costumes and creepy critters are the stuff of nightmares for most (sane) people but I flourish from it. I’m not a freak, I promise.

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Can’t make a visit to US without riding Revenge of the Mummy. It’s just the done thing.

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Thinking of opening up an account at Gringotts..

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How cute is this?! If it was acceptable to have this hanging from every tree branch in our garden, I would die a very glad girl. Not sure what the neighbours would say but hey, if people can fly flags, I can pin pumpkin heads.

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It was time to say our grievous goodbyes to Universal, and Florida in general, as we had to jet back to New Orleans for the final part of our vacation.

We did what we do best at a time of crisis to ease our pain: eat!

We chose to get a few appetisers to share from Cask and Larder before catching our flight. Neither of us were extremely famished, and we knew we would be feasting on a hearty meal later that evening, so we selected a few snacks to tide us over until then. We chose: BLT sliders – Crispy pork belly, tomato jam, kale, marinated tomato and adobo aioli and Hot wings – Fermented chili wing sauce, Alabama white sauce and celery.

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These were wonderful! A bitesize burger with the supple saltiness of the pork belly, the sweetness of the tomato and crunch of the kale. Pure deliciousness wrapped up into two pretty patties.

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These babies were hefty! The spicy sauce gave a swift kick and a punch to my mouth but the white sauce toned it down immensely and the two mingled magnificently. We do love a good stick of celery too and feel very strongly that no side of wings should ever be presented without this small sidekick.

Having landed at Louis Armstrong Airport, cabbing it to our hotel, resting, relaxing sipping a few ciders and bolting down some beer, our tummies were frequently prodding us in the gut that a feast was now fitfully feasible.

We scoured restaurants online and settled upon: Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant. Alistair and I shared the: Serious nachos – Tortilla chips piled high, topped with black beans, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole.

These chips meant serious business. They were draped with a liberal amount of gooey cheese and ladled with a copious bulk of beans. We didn’t manage to finish this but I did destroy them the very next day, even though they were stone cold. I’m that weird woman who sometimes prefers food to be frosty instead of flaming. Sue me.

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I went for: The Valley Girl Club – Triple decker club with smoked turkey, ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato on toasted wheat berry bread with jalapeno ranch. Another day, another club sandwich for Kirstie.  This delight was packed with a mountain of meat, cheese, fresh salad and a lovely jalapeno spread. I relished every mouthful.

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Alistair chose: The Juicy Lucy – Served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles.

Juicy was the name, juicy was not the game. From the looks of the picture, anyway. I’m still convinced Alistair wolfed it down without any wailing though as he is not too fussy. Any burger that is jam packed to the rafters with cherished cheese is a winner in my books.

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Alistair figured a McDonalds was in order so we wandered over to the nearest branch for his lunch the very next afternoon.

He picked: Chicken selects and a Big Mac.

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Yes, it is your quintessential fast food joint but it always fills a hole and nine times out of ten, you always know what you’re going to get so that’s a bonus. The chicken selects were hot, seasoned spectacularly and the chicken was supple and soft. The Bic Mac is always a champion choice, it just never lets you down.

After sundown, we ventured to our dining destination, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, which we had decided upon after hearing many rave reviews.

For appetisers, I chose: Tomato blue cheese Napoleon – Thick tomato slices, Danish blue cheese, shaved red onion, crostini, house made rémoulade sauce.

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Give me tomatoes, blue cheese and sauce and I’m in my own personal Nirvana. This was stunning. I loved the contrasting flavours of the rich bitter cheese and the fresh fragrant tomato. It was just a beautiful creation.

Alistair went for: Escargot Aux Champignons – Leeks, garlic, bacon, shallots, tallow butter, fried oyster mushroom.

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There was absolutely no way I was going to even attempt a stab at this dish as mushrooms + escargot = REVOLTING. Both are slimy, rubbery, vile, repugnant and sickening. In my own opinion, of course, but seriously, I don’t know who thought it was a smashing idea to pick up a snail or a fungus and pop it into their willing mouth. That person was insane and should be ashamed of themselves. Ewww. Any who, Alistair thoroughly enjoyed it and took great pleasure in waving around a snail or two in my direction. Classy.

Up next, I chose: 16oz prime rib with creole glaze and horseradish cream.

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I don’t do fatty meats and this had enough of it to give my own body a run for its money. I navigated around it and the pink parts I did polish off were incredibly juicy and moist.

Alistair opted for the: 24oz USDA prime cowboy ribeye.

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He destroyed this bad boy in no time. He is the Sultan of steaks and I know that he also, out of the goodness of his own heart, inhaled my lardy leftovers.

We chose to share the: Au Gratin – Gruyère cheese, gaufrette potatoes

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Cheese and potatoes are my middle name (actually it’s Ann but shhh) and this was everything you could want, hope and need out of a sumptuous side.

It was the finale of yet another first-rate holiday and our we decided to go out with a bang and have our closing dinner at St. James Cheese Company. I consider this to be my best-loved meal as cheesy carbs are my ultimate weakness.

We studied the menu and both liked the epic sounding: Croque Monster – Double-decker ham and cheese sauce broiled over Texas toast. Served with Dijon Mustard.

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Be completely truthful here: have you ever seen anything as beautiful and stupendous in your whole entire life?! I was salivating at the seams and had to dive in before I drowned. Wow. Just wow. The more you plowed through, the tastier and more enticing it became. The cheese was so intensely luscious and the sandwich itself was totally teeming away with plentiful ham. What a joy to consume.

We saw a passing plate of:  Cheesemongers mac and cheese with bacon and knew in seconds that we couldn’t pass up this opulent opportunity.

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This delightful dish was a hero and we were both ecstatic that we plucked up the courage to order this too, even though our stacks of sandwiches were more than enough to master. This was decadent in every sense of the word and even though we attacked it from all sides, it conquered us completely.

Thank you to every single person out there who has either accidentally stumbled across my blog or has actually sought out and elected to click the link. It means so much to me and there’s still plenty more to come!

Up, next, Japan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honeymooning in the UAE Part II

Alistair and I were on our second leg of our journey in the UAE. We traveled from the heavenly Hatta on to the decadent Dubai. We stayed at the absolutely impeccable Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel. Dubai is an incredibly pretty city, full to the brim with amazing architecture, flocks of friendly folks and delectable dishes that neither one of us could wait to dive into.

Our hotel room was exquisite, very roomy and of course, stunningly spotless. The view took my breathe away.

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As you can see, the bed was humongous and could easily fit an entire family, plus a couple of dogs, cats and rabbits, underneath the sheets. And if Alistair managed to annoy me, I could just scoot to the end of it and literally be a mile away from him. Ah, the small pleasures in life.

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Once showered and dressed, we descended to the Chelsea Arms Pub downstairs for a few drinks before dinner. We always manage to stumble upon British or Irish pubs when abroad, not on purpose mind, but we are somewhat attracted to them. Especially if they do Strongbow on tap. I think a lot of Brits tend to this when they’re holidaying away, be it to Spain or Italy etc, because they like to be in a familiar environment, surrounded by a sense of safety, comfort and security . We are creatures of habit, after all.

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Once we had had our fill of cider, we strolled over to Ashiana.

I was a little apprehensive as we had both scoured the menu previously and all of the curries appeared to contain nuts. I explained my allergy to our server and, thankfully, the chef prepared a curry from scratch that was completely nut free. They were so accommodating and kind and the food was exceptional.

We ordered our drinks (some sort of cocktail for Alistair and a beer for me because I’m classy) and some crunchy poppadoms and various dips. Alistair loves a good pop and often refers to them as “giant crisps” which does make me giggle.

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To start us off, they bought out a little taster of what was to come. I forget what this was but again, the chef ensured that every crumb I put into my mouth would be safe and sound so I knew I was in good hands.

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Starters wise, we chose: Batter fried crispy chicken served with mint chutney.

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Anything with “crispy” and “chicken” in the title is gonna grab my attention so this was a must. The chicken was juicy and so flavourful, I just wish the portion size would’ve been a little more substantial. It probably didn’t help that we had just ventured across the US where portions are out of control and could feed a small army with one dish alone.

Up next, I chose: Chicken tikka curry with steamed basmati rice.

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This was truly tempting in every way possible. I didn’t want anything too spicy or heated but I still wanted something to pack a punch so I think I chose incredibly wisely here as it was just delicious. The chicken was succulent, the sauce was creamy and tangy and of course, once paired with the rice, made a fantastic team. I loved every bit of this meal.

I forget which curry Alistair divulged in, but looking over the menu, he probably went for something fiery, just like his temper.

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It certainly looks the real deal, spice wise, so I’m pretty positive that it had a slight wallop to it. Alistair would’ve been in his element here so I’m gonna say it was a smash with him.

The following morning, we decided that we were in need of a few thrills here and there so hit IMG Worlds of Adventure, which is the worlds largest indoor theme park. We were definitely missing our daily dose of rapid roller coasters after departing America so we were curious as to how it would compare to our faithful Florida.

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It was definitely different and I especially liked the fact that everything was enclosed so you weren’t exposed to the searing sunshine. I was not feeling very well this day so a handful of attractions made me a little queasy but I trotted on like a trooper.

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This was my sole purpose of going to IMG. It is called The Haunted Hotel and what with yours truly being an avid lover of anything horror/scary/gory/gruesome/downright disturbing, this had my name written all over it. But alas, it was not meant to be as it was closed. Sob.

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This coaster was pretty decent but very short. Thankfully, no attraction had much of a queue so it wasn’t a complete and total letdown once we had emerged.

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Alistair and I did stumble across a kiddy ride but figured, meh, what have we got to lose? So we boarded Adventure Time – The Ride of OOO with Finn & Jake and took the skies, grateful for a sit down. Now when I said, what have we got to lose, I could potentially say our sanity because we were boggled and befuddled as to what exactly was going on around us. I just remember a lot of oddity’s and freaky figures surrounding us. We rejoiced as it finally came to disembarking. Never again.

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Now if I wasn’t feeling nauseous enough, then this little beauty was about to turn it up a notch. It was a nasty nightmare from start to finish. As soon as walked into the dreadful cinema dome, fitted with rows of seats in a circle, I knew I was in for one hellish ride. I pretty much clasped my eyes shut for the entirety of this obscene ordeal and swiftly dashed to the nearest bathroom as soon as it was over. Luckily, I wasn’t sick but I had gone a ghoulish green colour. Beautiful.

We hopped into a taxi, back to our hotel, and were greeted with these tremendous treasures. Once more, we had been gifted with a delightful bed display and on top of that, a tasty cake and a bottle of wine! What sublime service.

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I was still feeling a bit peaky so decided a sugar hit was in order. I delved into the chocolate cake with gusto and confirmed to Alistair with my gasps of mmm’s and yum’s that it was indeed as good as it looked. We cracked open the bottle of wine, which was superb, before making our way downstairs for a little top up at the Club Lounge. We both ordered beers and sat back and relaxed before ordering a taxi to take us to our highly anticipated dinner at Trader Vics.

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Before we knew it, we had arrived at our dinner destination.

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Cocktails were promptly picked and ordered and we settled for a sharing one first to wet our whistles. We chose the: Rum Giggle which is a combination of light rums, amaretto and juices.

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This was boozy, brash and was brimming with radiant rum. Only problem is, sharing cocktails don’t stand a chance against myself and Alistair so it was gulped down in a matter of minutes and we were already scrutinizing the drinks menu for our succeeding sips.

I neglected to write down any information of my next drink, but it looks pretty and it was without a doubt fruity and fabulous.

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Alistair went for the classic: The Original Mai Tai which contains lime, orgeat, rock candy, orange curacao and aged rum.

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This has forever been Alistair’s go to cocktail. Strong, sweet and succulent. Kind of like Alistair. Not that he needs a bigger head than he already does but I’ll leave it there.

Food wise, we were fairly famished after our day out at IMG so we opted for the: Cosmo Tidbits which came with crispy prawns, crab rangoon, cheese balls and BBQ lamb ribs.

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I love a good ball of cheese so I snapped one up in a hurry. The lamb was tender, the crab ragoons were creamy and crispy and the prawns were well battered. All in all, this was a fantastic starter and one we would gladly order again.

For our entrees, we selected the same dish:  Trader Vic’s Signature Calcutta Curry, both with chicken. To accompany the curries were rice and a vast condiment dish.

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This was mouthwateringly magnificent. There were huge chunks of chicken, swimming in a savoury sauce and topped with a beautiful boiled egg. You know I like my eggs. The condiments complimented the meal wonderfully but I did make the silly mistake of putting a sprinkling of chilies directly into my mouth, thinking it was tomato. Man did I quickly learn my lesson. The roof of my mouth was on fire for a good 10 minutes. I will undeniably make a closer inspection of what exactly I toss onto my tongue next time.

As it was our last full day, we thought even more thrills were required so we set off for Motiongate Dubai.

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It was another scorcher of a day and a lot of the park was not shaded so we had to amble from section to section with the rays blaring down on us. It was very uncomfortable and I was dripping wet from the moment we vacated the lovely air conditioned taxi out into the tropical temperatures.

I must say, we loved this park so much more than IMG. The rides were superior, for one and even though we did struggle with the intense heat, we had a ball.

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Our absolute favourite ride of the entire park was: Dragon Gliders. It was based off the movie How To Train Your Dragon and let me tell you something: Alistair and I are experts when it comes to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida. Like real pros, no kidding. We have ridden every single ride countless times and know them back to front, inside out and upside down so we know a good ride when we see it. And this blew our minds. It was so clever, so smooth and held our attention with every twist and turn.

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We wanted to ride: Shrek’s Merry Fairy Tale Journey was it was unfortunately shut. Boo. I do like a bit of Shrek so I wasn’t happy.

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Throughout the entire day, we managed to sneak on: Madagascar Mad Pursuit (a charming launch coaster), Hotel Transylvania (a whacky ride through a monsters mansion), Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – River Expedition (the one time where I wanted to get positively pelted with water and I merely got a splash), Zombieland Blast-Off (basically an exact copy of Dr Dooms at Islands of Adventure), Ghostbusters: Battle For New York (it’s always fun when a ride is interactive!), The Green Hornet: High Sped Chase (can’t say no to a coaster), Smurfs Studio Tours (silly but entertaining), Panem Aerial Tour (we had to wait forever and a day for this and it really wasn’t even that great so we were a tad disappointed as we probably could’ve had another go on Dragon Gliders), and to bring the afternoon to a wonderful close, Capital Bullet Train which was a walk on.

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The saddest part of the day was without a shadow of the doubt, not riding the excellent sounding Mr. Ping’s Noodle Fling. I would’ve adored being flung round in a bowl of ravishing ramen. It sounds right up my street.

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We had a wonderful day out and would recommend coming here instead of IMG. IMG was fine but this took it to a whole new level and there’s plenty for kids, teenagers and adults alike to partake in and appreciate.

Back at the hotel and we were ravenous so dinner was quickly discussed. We settled on Creekside Japanese Restaurant and I’m certain the reason for this was because I was hankering after some noodles after our encounter with Mr. Ping.

The establishment was wonderful because you could create and customise your very own dishes exactly to your own unique and contrasting tastes.

The chef fixed me a plate of sushi as I explained my allergy and my worries about cross contamination.

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The fish was exceptionally fresh and I adored each and every sliver of the salmon.

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There was a noodle station (thank you Mr. Ping) where you chose each and every one of your ingredients and have a chef personally cook it in front of you to your liking. The noodles were chewy, bouncy and gooey and the desired vegetables and meat offerings were ample. I adored being able to choose exactly what I wanted in a dish and wish that more restaurants were able to replicate this kind of service.

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We had a few more plates of the good stuff including meat skewers and an assortment of fish and mystery meat. I call it that because I am utterly clueless as to what meat it was but I have no doubt that it was delicious.

Our time in the UAE, and our honeymoon,was at an end but we were going out in style. Alistair had booked us Business Class seats on Emirates. I was really interested to see what it would be like and most importantly, how it would compare to British Airways. Okay, so we have never flown Business Class on BA, only economy and First, and I let that little piece of information slip when an air stewardess asked me if I’ve ever flown Business before and I responded “No, I usually fly First”. That has to be up there with one of the most mortifying moments of my life to date. Alistair thought it was hilarious and still brings it up to this day.

Anyway, back to the most paramount part: the food!

To start, we went for the: Salmon gravlax, chickpea salad and a bread roll.

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Presentation was sublime and the salmon was as fresh as could possibly be. I don’t think I had ever had a chickpea in my life so was curious about the salad but I lapped it all up in no time and of course, you can’t have dinner on plane, whether it be in economy, business OR first, without an obligatory bread roll and butter!

For our entrees, we both selected the: Beef with fingerling potatoes and vegetables. 

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This was a hunk and a half of cow plopped on to our plates but it was opulent in every sense of the word. So rich and full of flavour. The potatoes were crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle – just a real joy to bite into.

Dessert time and we both selected the savoury option: A cheese plate with crackers.

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I’m certain the majority of the people do think we’re crackers when we choose cheese over any kind of sweet treat but hey, I guess we’re both sweet enough already. This was the perfect portion of cheese as we were both feeling suitably stuffed from the mighty meal of meat just beforehand.

After a little snooze, we were awoken by the cabin crew presenting us with yet more champagne and a chocolate cake to congratulate us on our marriage. We were still sleepy and sated but happily chugged the drinks and sampled a few forkfuls of cake. It was so soft and not dry in the slightest.

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And that, my readers, is it for our honeymoon happening! It was practically perfect in every way and the ideal start in life as husband and wife. We will never forget this tremendous trip.

Next up, New Orleans and Orlando!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honeymooning in the UAE

Alistair and I woke up, as the sun rose on a brand new day, for the first of many mornings together as husband and wife. We were both still absolutely elated from the previous day and could not get our heads around the fact that we were now happily married. We chatted for a bit and than got packed up, ready to bid farewell to the wonderful Fraser Suites and grab a quick bite to eat before leaving for Glasgow airport that evening. Chris decided to tag along too so we ventured to one of our all time favourites, Hard Rock Cafe, to celebrate the  feat of the previous evening’s festivities.

We all wholeheartedly agreed that it had been a smash and toasted to our very long and very happy life together as Mr. and Mrs. Currie. Everything had gone to plan, nobody tripped, I didn’t spill a drop of red wine down my dress and everybody left alive so all in all, I think it was a success.

We strolled over to HRC where Anneli and Karoline were politely waiting for us. They both looked immaculate (as always) even after the trails and tribulations of the earlier evening. We all scanned the menu and quickly put in our orders. Now we were back on the booze, Alistair and I ordered well deserved ciders, the girls had beers and Chris stuck with a coke as he was driving. Seeing as my stomach had calmed down and shaken off all of those pre-wedding jitters, I was delighted to divulge into a firm favourite of mine.

Club sandwich with added cheese and fries.

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This hit the spot perfectly. Club sandwiches are, quite possibly, my favourite sandwich of all time. But I do love tuna and cucumber. And tuna and sweetcorn. And a BLT. And egg mayonnaise. And ham and cheese. Oh and you can’t beat a baguette. I just love sandwiches, okay?

Alistair had: New York strip steak with fries and fresh vegetables.

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He loves his steak so he was chipper. Glad to see some healthy vegetables thrown on the plate too for good measure. The chips were pretty decent too and not too salty.

Karoline followed suit, Chris stuck with his haggis burger and Anneli had the very tempting twisted mac, chicken and cheese but unfortunately, I decided against pictures as they would’ve probably thought I was a weirdo and would’ve ran out of there rapidly.

With the plates cleared and the check paid, it was then the very depressing time of having to say goodbye to our brilliant buddies. This is always the hardest part because it’s not like they just live nearby so we can pop in and see them whenever we fancy. They live in completely different countries and it honestly hurts my heart so much because you do never know when you’re going to see them next and for how long. With lots of hugs hugged and wonderful words spoken, we parted ways and Alistair and I made our way to Glasgow airport to begin our adventure as honeymooners.

So, when it came to choosing the destination of a lifetime for our honeymoon, we immediately knew straight away that we wanted to go to the UAE and would not deviate from that plan. Alistair spent many of his childhood years growing up in Abu Dhabi with his family and to him, it very much felt like coming home. We had previously paid a visit to this beautiful country in late December 2016 to ring in the new year with Alistair’s dad and his wife. I enjoyed it thoroughly and knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was the perfect paradise for us to relax and unwind in the sublime sunshine.

We had a good few drinks in the lounge before boarding our flight and were even presented with complimentary glasses of champagne to toast our wonderful vacation away and our splendid life together.

The flight was pretty uneventful and shortly after the food was devoured, Alistair had a brisk sleep and I tossed and turned as I find snoozing on an aircraft virtually impossible. As far as plane food goes, it was surprisingly eatable and we both gulped it down in record time.

We both opted for the: Chicken curry with a salad, bread roll, cheese and crackers, chocolate and orange crisp dessert and water.

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The curry had an adequate kick and the chicken was plentiful. The salad was meh but I think all salads on planes are a bit of a hit or miss. I was overjoyed with the savoury side of the dessert as you can’t knock a Jacobs cracker and some cheddar. Cheese over cheesecake any day of the week! Alistair always moans and groans about the bread rolls being stale and hard as rocks but maybe I just have tough teeth as I never find that to be true! Just plonk a bit of butter on it and it goes down a treat.

We arrived to blistering sunshine and heated humidity. I do not do well in any kind of intense weather at all and will often enrage Alistair with my whining about it either being “too hot” or too cold”. I’m more than okay with warm and I can handle chilly but anything other than that and I start grumbling. Just ask Alistair.

We were driven to the magnificent JA Hatta Fort Hotel, situated in the majestic mountains and a stones throw away from the border of Oman. Alistair was a little peeved at our taxi driver though as the guy was adament that you couldn’t drive there without clambering through Oman first, and seeing as we didn’t have visas to allow us into Oman, it would be impossible. But Alistair, being Alistair, corrected him and let him know that he had been there multiple times on various occasions and knew the route to Hatta practically off the top of his head. When we arrived (following Alistair’s directions) I’m pretty sure the taxi driver wanted to exit to vehicle and crawl under a rock. Oh well. I’ve just learned that you don’t fight Alistair on things like this as he has an excellent memory (some have said it’s photographic..) and he pays attention to his surrounding area at all times.

We were greeted like old friends and were welcomed with a delicious and soothing drink containing lime and mint. This went down exceptionally well as we were both fevered, flustered and fatigued from a long plane ride and what felt like, in some ways, an even longer car ride. Two of the staff members, who had been working there from way back when Alistair was a young boy and his family would visit, recognized Alistair immediately (he was cute then, he is cute now) and embraced us both with open arms. Every member of staff from that hotel bent over backwards to ensure that we had the best stay, and the best honeymoon, possible.

We entered our room and if my memory serves correct, collapsed onto the bed pronto and stayed there for a good few minutes as the intense heat had struck us full on in the face. The view was exceptional and I was looking forward to all of the stupendous sunrises and sunsets that we would witness.

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After a quick, snooze, we decided it was now time for dinner and strolled over to Jeema Restaurant, for some much desired dinner.

We have dined here before frequently on our last visit and there were no qualms about getting the absolute legendary starter to share: the caesar salad. Now I know what you’re thinking: Kirst, it’s just a typical run of the mill caesar salad. What’s so great about it? Well let me tell you, you have not tasted a salad like it in your life and probably never will do unless you get yourself to Hatta right now. Alistair was even kindly given the recipe so he can duplicate it at home for me but he is yet to do so. C’mon Alistair, pull your socks up and get on it. Please and thank you. The salad is made directly at your table with the freshest ingredients. The portion size is hearty and the taste is just out of this world.

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It may not look like much, but trust me, it is unbelievable.

We were also given a wee pre appetiser to wet our whistles before the superb salad arrived. I forget what this was but it was tasty as heck.

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For entrees, I chose: Fettuccine with carbonara sauce, unaware that there would be monstrous mushrooms lurking in every corner.

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Once I had de-mushroomed the dish, I stuck in to it hungrily and savoured the taste. The pasta was gloopy and cheesy, just what every girl wants in a perfect pasta.

Alistair had a curry of some kind.

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He reveled in this immensely, with all of the different spices and seasonings coming together with the succulent chicken and the bountiful rice. The portion was plentiful and we both came away feeling sated.

We ambled back to our room and were presented with a pretty petal party on our bed and a scrumptious looking chocolate cake to congratulate us on saying I do. It’s little things like this that always warm my heart and bring a smile to my face.

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The next morning, we went in search of breakfast. It was a buffet style, with a full range of hot offerings such as eggs and turkey bacon and a cold selection of meats and cheeses. We both ordered coffee and then hastily proceeded to fill our bellies.

My plate looked like this:

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Scrambled eggs, a hard boiled egg, turkey sausage, turkey bacon and varied meats and cheeses. I also spy what appears to be a spring roll, concealed underneath a blanket of breakfasty goodness. Oh well, we were on our honeymoon after all so if I wanted a spring roll to start my day off right, then a spring roll was what I was going to get! No judgement here.

Alistair’s looked like this:

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I love that the one piece of healthy cucumber is balanced on top of the not so healthy fried potatoes. Again, we were on our HM so we threw caution to the wind on everything.

We went for a little walk to work off all the greasy goodness that was now settled in our stomachs. The weather was, again, glorious but stiflingly sweltering. Alistair snapped some shots along the way whilst I was attempting, and failing, to not succumb to heatstroke.

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I was really struggling by this point and it was made even worse by Alistair insisting that we climb this “meager” mountain. Okay, it wasn’t exactly a mountain and more like a hill, but in that intense heat, it felt like ascending Everest. The views were beautiful though but on the descent, I began to feel a little light headed. Almost in a drunk kind of way but we hadn’t touched a drop since arriving. I felt a coldness wash over me even though it was easily over 100 degrees. My knees were starting to buckle and I was tottering around like my feet had a mind of their own. Alistair commented that I had turned a dark shade of purple (actually, his words were that I resembled Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants. Thanks Alistair, you sure know how to make a girl feel special) and quickly rushed me back to the hotel room. I had indeed gone an awful maroon colour and downed a Sprite in no time at all, as Alistair said the sugar would help. I had a quick lie down and felt right as rain in no time at all. Thank god, because I have never felt as out of it, stone cold sober, as I did then and fingers crossed I will never have to repeat that dreadful experience any time soon.

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Alistair is a pro with the camera so he managed to take some wonderful images of the wildlife that surrounded us.

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This little guy was definitely giving us a grin or two! Totally working his angles.

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Dinner was calling so we ventured back to Jeema Restarant, but not before indulging in a fruity cocktail or two at the bar. We sipped on a couple inside before taking to the terrace to drink in the sublime sunset that lay before us.

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Back to Jeema Restaurant for a delightful dinner. The caesar salad was calling our name once again so that was wolfed down instantaneously.

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Impeccable, as always!

I then went for the luscious sounding: Spinach, pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni.

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And not a mushroom in sight! I was little apprehensive about the pumpkin part, just because I have never really indulged in it before, but it gave the dish a hint of sweetness which was very much welcomed. The spinach and ricotta melded beautifully together and the layering and topping with cheese was superb.

Alistair had the: Lamb Rogan Josh.

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The lamb was cooked exceptionally well and the sauce was splendid. They sure do know how to make a great curry!

The following morning, our first port of call was breakfast. It wasn’t a buffet this time around so we ordered what we fancied from the menu.

I had: Two hard boiled eggs, turkey bacon, a turkey sausage, hash brown and a grilled tomato.

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My favourite style of egg has always been boiled. Soft boiled or hard boiled, I’m not fussy. Give me any kind of egg and I’m a happy gal. This was incredibly tasty and even though it looks a little small, it filled a hole and I left feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

Alistair had: Two fried eggs, turkey bacon, turkey sausages, hash brown and a grilled tomato.

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He too thoroughly adored his meal although he did ask for two hash browns so I’m not entirely sure what happened there. Maybe it mysteriously ended up on my plate so they compensated it for another sausage. Who knows.

I do have another snapshot from a third visit of us breaking the fast but I’m clueless as to where my picture is. This is without a doubt Alistair’s dish as I would never commit such a crime as to allow funky fungus’ on my plate, let alone touching other wonderful food items. Nope, no way. More than likely, I just wasn’t feeling like food that early so I skipped it altogether.

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Our last dinner rolled around and we prepared ourselves to say a tearful goodbye to the sumptuous salad we had came to know and love.

We were presented with a quick bite to get our taste buds tingling.

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It appears to be asparagus wrapped in some kind of meat, possibly turkey ham. Either way, I’m 99% sure we gobbled it down in no times.

For mains, I joined in with Alistair for a curry as I assured that no nuts were in the formula. We both opted for the: Lamb Rogan Josh.

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I was over the moon with my decision and almost kicking myself that I hadn’t pursued it earlier on in our trip. This was pretty spicy but I am a wimp when it comes to heat (My tolerance has gotten a lot better since then and I will now happily drown my pasta in Tabasco or Marie Sharps sauces, it’s like a  peppery party in my mouth!) I loved the crunchiness of the rice and accompanying dips were very much appreciated, especially the cooling yogurt sauce.

Up next, Honeymoon part 2! Onto Dubai!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Wedding Day 16th June 2018

So today was the big day! The one that we had both been waiting for for an exceedingly long time. I think that every little girl has a clear and concise picture in their mind of exactly what they hope and dream their wedding and marriage would consist of. I definitely daydreamed away daily and would constantly play “wedding day” with my Barbie and Ken dolls, just picturing myself in a wonderful white ball gown and living the rest of my foreseeable future in a fabulous fairy tale with my Prince Charming.  I knew the day ahead of us would be one to remember, the greatest day of our lives and I was more than ready to begin our lives together as Mr and Mrs Currie.

Alistair and I both woke up pretty early and literally bounced out of bed. The butterflies that had previously engulfed me the few days before were now bats: swirling and twirling around in my stomach. I wasn’t especially nervous, I was just incredibly elated and energized to get the ball rolling. We decided against Alistair finding elsewhere to sleep, as we’re not very traditional people in the sense that oh, you can’t see the bride the morning of the wedding as it’s bad luck etc. I didn’t want to spend the last night as a Loveland in a cold empty bed so we had agreed many many months before that nah, it wasn’t happening. Also, neither one of us entertained the idea of having a hen party/stag do. It’s just not “us”. We find them a little tacky. (Apologies to anyone and everyone who has ever had/hosted one – we’re just not that into dressing up, wearing L plates and getting so drunk that your friends might tie you up to a lamp post and cover you in toilet paper.  Each to their own as they say and with that in mind, some HD’s and SD’s can be very classy so I’m not throwing everyone under the bus here, it’s honestly just our opinion and we’re not fans.)

Alistair hadn’t finished his wedding speech (YES, he left it right to the last minute meaning he was scrambling at the last second for silly stories and amusing anecdotes.) I also had to keep the TV on a minuscule volume because it was distracting him. Well Alistair, if you had written your speech weeks, or even months before, you wouldn’t have found every single little thing around you a “distraction” and I could’ve happily sat there sipping my tea and watching Jeremy Kyle re-runs. He promptly finished (phew, I could turn the sound up a notch or two now without straining my ears) and began to pack all of the necessary items that he would need to get ready. As my make-up artist and hair stylist was coming between 7:45AM – 8:00AM, along with Anneli, Karoline, Kirsty, my mum and Alistair’s mum, he needed to make a quick dash over to either A or K’s room, I forget which, so he and his best man Chris could get dressed and collectively calm each others nerves.

Rebekah, the make-up artist, arrived swiftly, set up all of her extensive equipment and was ready to go before I had even began to think of the look I was gonna go for. I neglected to do any make-up trials as A) I didn’t have enough time to travel to Edinburgh and would not want to go alone as I’m a scaredy-cat without Alistair and B) she had previously painted my face for Kirsty’s very own wedding and she did such an unbelievable job that I just knew I had to steal her magical make-up techniques for my very own delightful day.  She did not disappoint in the slightest. Once again, she put me at ease and made me feel especially comfortable. She was positively professional in every sense of the word and talking to her made you feel like you were chatting away to an old friend. She listened impeccably to exactly the look and feel I was going for and after I explained that I suffered from eczema and dry skin, she whipped out product after product and expertly began putting my face together. I knew that I wanted to go with a very natural fresh faced look with a touch of golden brown eyeshadow, a few lashings of black mascara (and some individual lashes thrown on for good measure) and a soft pink pop of colour on my lips to brighten everything up. I was absolutely enamored with the final outcome and could not stop staring at myself in the mirror. (Not in a vain, I-love-myself kind of way, I was just so taken aback at what Rebekah had managed to produce – I don’t think I had ever looked or felt so pretty in my entire life. I’m not the most confident or beautiful girl in the universe so I was pleased as punch with the result. I genuinely felt like a proper Princess and I was just itching to see my Prince now.)

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She also worked her marvelous magic on everybody else and they all came away looking even more beautiful than when they first sat down, if that’s even possible. Anneli is a make-up artist and hairdresser so she opted to do her own make-up, which was completely and utterly fine by me, as she a whizz when it comes to anything beauty related and I knew she would do an impeccable job. Hair wise, I wanted it up for once, in a messy I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-look but not too messy that it resembled a birds nest: I just wanted something other than having it down as that is the look I always go for as it’s easy and I’m not the best with a brush. John (the hair stylist) had been handling Alistair’s families hair for donkeys years so I knew I was in safe hands. He also did an exquisite task and even managed to pick off and place a few of my bouquet flowers in my hair for added effect, along with a tasteful hairband to top everything off.

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Once everyone was dolled up to the nines and had adorned their attire, it was left to me to finally change out of my dressing gown and slip into my dainty dress. This was the moment I had been waiting for and also dreading. I had not tried on my dress since I had purchased it (except for fittings at the Bridal shop etc) and what with Alistair and I rolling back in from the US of A and indulging in whatever we pleased, be it burgers or booze, I was physically shaking and had wave after wave of nausea hit me like a freight train as the moment of truth descended on me: WOULD IT FIT?! This question had been bobbing around in my mind for the last few weeks and all I kept coming back to was: if it doesn’t fit on the day, what the hell do I do? My mum carefully aided me into it and I can not tell you how insanely delirious I felt as it easily slipped on over my chest and waist. I think I actually let out a significant sigh of relief. I was just so overcome with emotions – yes, the dress fit and YES, I was about to get married. It was very surreal. The photographer arrived and proceeded to snap shots of myself with my mum and dad, individual shots of the beautiful bridesmaids and a few of myself and the girls.

It was approximately 1:45PM now and I vividly recall Alistair telling me that if I was one measly minute late, he would high tail it out of there, never to be seen again. Well, I was about 89.7% sure he was joking but you can never be too sure so I promptly lead the way downstairs, grabbed our umbrellas (yes it was raining – that’s typical Scottish weather for ya) and made a break for it. A lot of the streets in Edinburgh are cobbled so I was ecstatic that I chose a very sensible pair of flats as I would’ve more than likely tripped, fell on my face and potentially lost a tooth or two. Maybe my whole face as I am incredibly clumsy. Talking of clumsy, it must run in the family as my brother David had messaged me just as we were being pampered to say that he had taken a tumble in the middle of the road. My mum, being the world worrier that she is, was beside herself and bombarded me with questions such as “Is he hurt/bruised/cut/bleeding/alive/dead?”. You get the gist. In the end, he was fine, brushed himself off and carried on like nothing had happened. Way to go. Anyway, back to our perilous path: the girls were wearing heels so I was hoping in my heart that they wouldn’t suffer the same fate that my brother had. Luckily, they were pros and crossed without a moments hitch.

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We were greeted by the bagpiper, the photographer and David who moaned to me later on in the day that he was trying to get a video of our enticing entrance but kept getting stuck behind the broad bagpipes and the colossal camera. He did manage to film a fantastic video though so I was very grateful.

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We were all ushered inside and told to take our places. My mum and brother had left to take their seats and then, at just before 2:00PM (I was not late – HA Alistair), the bagpiper piped up and we began making our way down the aisle, one by one. First came Anneli, than Karoline, than Kirsty and finally myself and my dad. I can’t quite put into words how and what I was feeling at that very moment. It’s almost like time stood still. I remember feeling a bit shaky but mostly restless and ready to get to my soon-to-be husband who was patiently waiting for me at the other end. When we started our stride, I made it my mission to look at all of our closest friends and family and fill my heart with their smiles, warmth and love. I could not believe how many dear ones had taken the time out of their busy schedules to witness mine and Alistair’s special day, especially those who had traveled far and wide to celebrate with us. It completely overwhelmed me, especially when I saw the love of my life beaming at me, from ear to ear. I guess he approved of the dress after all.

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The next 20 minutes or so sped by rapidly and before I knew it, we were pronounced as husband and wife. A little detail in which Alistair neglected to tell me was that we had to repeat our vowels after they were read aloud to us. Now I’m not dreadful at learning lines but when you’re put under immense pressure, you do feel the heat and all eyes on you. Luckily, the sentences were very short so I didn’t stumble and didn’t have to ask for a repeat. Boy, that would’ve been embarrassing.

We strolled down the aisle, hand in hand, to roaring applause and just as we got to the end, what does Alistair go and do? Stand on my dress, of course. There’s even evidence caught on camera to confirm my claims. Thank god Alistair’s shoes were mud free and my train wasn’t the size of a bus. He would’ve been in tremendous trouble and divorce papers may have been served there and then. Joke.

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The photographer took a handful of sweet shots of the entire group on the stairs before we all sauntered off in the direction of the champagne and canapes. Also, Ed Sheeran made an appearance, much to the amusement and delight of A, K and our Finnish friend Sandra. I reckon a bit of stalking occurred throughout the evening. Alistair, myself and his mum had chosen the winning canapes, wedding breakfast and wines for our grand guests and I think we did an excellent job at selecting the perfect pickings.

Canape wise, we chose: Poached quail egg with aioli, padano crisp and penquin chilli dust, Free-range chicken, Scottish chorizo and panko crumb and New Season sprouting asparagus, Mull cheddar and strudel pastry. 

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This picture was taken when we were doing our taste tryouts so unfortunately the trout didn’t make it to the grande finale as we could only choose three little nibbles. It was also incredibly yummy but we weren’t too sure if our guests would take to the fish so we opted for the other three, just to be on the safe side.

After canapes were consumed and drinks were drained, the immediate family, bridesmaids and best man were called forward for photos. I haven’t even touched on our wedding venue yet and that is because it is honestly the most perfect place anybody could ever wish to say “I do” in and there are no words for how stunning it truly is. I absolutely adore reading so the fact that it was a library drew me in immediately and all day I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast (except Alistair wasn’t the Beast, he is more of a Gaston..) as I traipsed through the spellbinding superstructure. This was our first, and only, choice when it came to venues and I hope our guests left feeling just as awestruck as we were the very first moment we clapped eyes on it.

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Alistair and I were called for our very own private photo shoot as husband and wife as our guests retired to the upstairs portion of the building, ready to partake in some much needed food. (The canapes did not last long, I was told, so everyone was prepared for heartier provisions in the form of our wedding breakfast.)

We were told to try and act as naturally as possible when clambering up the stairs but it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish when you have a flash going off in your face every five seconds. I dimly recall that we spoke about our love for Spongebob and his underwater friends as we climbed higher and higher. That is definitely a very natural thing for us to be doing to it was pretty painless in the end.

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We then stopped for a slight breather on this leather lounger.

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I think we’re being watched..

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Alistair then had a moment with the guys.

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Once our guests had found their tables, speeches were imminent. I was not anxious about Alistair’s or Chris’ in the slightest but with my dad, there was bound to be an uncomfortable tale thrown in here and there and I was not looking forward to having them heard loud and clear for all to snigger at. Thankfully, David had taken it upon himself to write the speech and managed to cut out all the rude bits, all the shameful sagas and all the frightening features of my life up til then. He did however include my undying love for Busted, especially James Bourne (sorry Alistair, I was thirteen at the time, forgive me!) and even snuck in a “Crashed the Wedding” joke which went down fantastically.  He did forget his place here and there which seemed to get the biggest laughs of the night (apart from Alistair’s appalling snow jokes..) – I’m positive our friends and family thought he was putting it on but in all seriousness, he really did get a little confused which was sad.

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Alistair was up next and this was the moment I had been waiting for. Had he really been able to pull off writing a great speech at the very last second or would he crash and burn spectacularly? Well, this is Alistair after all so I should’ve had the confidence to know that if anyone is going to pass with flying colours in as little time as possible, it’s him. Not fair for the rest of us meager peasants, I know. It was magnificent, from start to finish. Just the correct amount of hilarity and romanticism rolled up into one neat parcel. He expressed how well I do when it comes to learning new things including horseback riding, caving, scuba diving and hovering in a hot air balloon and his next mission, should I choose to accept it, is to teach me how to ski. So when I said earlier about his “snow” gags, he mentioned that so far the response was “cold”, that it was “all downhill from here” and that he didn’t want to push me too much in case I got “piste” off. He is good with a pun, it must be “sled”. Hahaha.

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Last but by no means least, it was Chris’ turn. I think he was pretty anxious but he did us both immensely proud. He recounted the time that they went camping and Alistair nearly disappeared off the face of the earth as his breakfast exploded in his face after he came up with the absoloute genius idea of throwing petrol on the flames. What can I say guys, I married a madman.  All in all, the speeches made me laugh, cry and reminisce about going from a Loveland to a Currie. It was a bittersweet moment for me but I had felt in my heart like a Currie for a very long time. Loveland will always be a part of me though and it’s a surname I am deeply proud to have shared for twenty eight years.

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Finally, it was time to eat!

For starters, we went for: Islay smoked salmon, new season asparagus, quails egg and summer beef carpaccio, root radish cream and sprouting pea shoots.

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This was pretty as a picture and definitely something I was not happy about destroying but happy enough to devour in no time at all. The salmon was so fresh and juicy, the quails egg was creamy and the asparagus had an incredible crunch. A fantastic start to a fantastic wedding breakfast.

For mains, we chose: Slow cooked shin of Perthshire beef, heritage golden wonder pomme puree with spring onion tips, vine tomato and candied carrots.

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The beef was so tender and just melted away instantly. The sauce was splendid and mixed with the potatoes and vegetables extremely well. It was so flavourful but not overpowering. I think all of our guests (except the vegetarians) enjoyed this tremendously.

For dessert, we opted for: Classic Edinburgh Fog with whiskey mallows, heather honey bonbon and raspberry shards. 

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Now this was a beauty to behold. Neither Alistair nor I have a sweet tooth in the slightest but this was a little wonder. The raspberry was tart, the whiskey marshmallow was light and fluffy with a swift kick and the bonbon was decadent. If I saw this in a restaurant, I would order it in a heartbeat. It was to die for.

Before we knew it, dinner was over and done with and it was cake cutting time! We ordered our breathtaking cake from Bibi’s Bakery and it was truly a work of art. We went for a different flavour for each tier: the top tier was chocolate orange, the middle was raspberry ripple and the bottom was the classic Victoria sponge. 

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Sadly, the two of us never had a chance to sample one crumb of the delectable dessert as the cake was thrown out the very next day, which infuriated the both of us. It had completely been dissected without the pair of us knowing and was put in the bin because it was deemed “stale”. Surely that was our decision to make and not anybody elses? It still makes my blood boil to this day whenever I think about it because it wasn’t just any cake; it was our wedding cake and sure, we can go to Bibi’s and taste the individual flavours but it just won’t be the same. My brother assures me that it was divine so it puts me at ease somewhat to know that it was well received but still, that’s not the point.

Next up, our first dance together as Mr and Mrs Currie!

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I have to say it – we are not dancers. Not one teeny tiny ounce and the thought of dancing in front of a big crowd makes my palms all sweaty and my heart race. I hate being the centre of attention anyway so this was the part of the whole wedding ceremony that I was looking forward to the least. Alistair too. We gave it a good go though and shuffled around like penguins as best we could. Anyone can move from side to side so it wasn’t completely hopeless and I was so grateful when other couples joined in so I could feel a little less exposed. My not so little brother even confided in me that he cried and that made me well up too!

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Then came the real party and a few adventurous people let their hair down in style! Alistair and I gave up with dancing as soon as we had begun so we wandered off in search of a good natter with our fellow friends and family. Ah, it was nice to back in a comfortable place and not on the dance floor.

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More drinks were drank, more dancing commenced and then savoury pies were brought our for our famished family and friends. Now, again, I did not get a look in here. I didn’t even know that the pies had been served until the very last one was demolished. I don’t even have any pictures of them and that makes me very sad indeed. For anyone who’s curious, we chose: Haggis pies, steak and ale pies and macaroni pies and let me tell you,  they must’ve been excellent if they took off from the table without either one of us knowing about it.

Our wedding day finally came to an end, as I knew it would do, but I was still shocked and stunned when it was all over and done with. It felt like it would last forever and I would constantly be in a bride bubble. I know that people regularly say that their day was perfect and everything went without a hitch but ours genuinely was flawless in each and every way. We are so blessed to know so many incredible, loving, funny, beautiful people and we will never forget the joy and wonder you bought to the most fantastic adventure of our lives.

This was the final picture of myself, Alistair, David and Chris. W’re all looking pretty tired but exceptionally happy and the woman who took this photo for us was a little inebriated and sacrificed her chicken burger to the dirty cobblestones of Edinburgh in order to get a good shot. Bravo, random drunk woman.

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And an added bonus picture of me bibbing it up so I didn’t slop anything down my gorgeous gown. As I’ve previously stated, I am a klutz.

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Thank you to each and every one of you beautiful people who actually manage to sit through my blogs as I continuously ramble on, I appreciate it more than you’d ever know!

Next up: Our Honeymoon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lead up to our wedding!

Mine and Alistair’s wedding week had finally fallen before us. Everything was set and ready to go and we could not be more thrilled if we tried. Our new adventure as husband and wife was just around the corner. The date was set for the 16th of June 2018 and we had decided to fly up to Edinburgh five days prior to this to soak up as much of the atmosphere as possible and to run around getting the last few bits and pieces prepped and rearing to go for the big day.

We flew up to Scotland on The 11th Of June from London City Airport. I had carefully placed my wedding dress into a white box and was determined that no one was going to get close enough to put their grubby their hands on it or to trample on it with their big feet, so we informed one of the flight assistants and she placed a FRAGILE sticker on the side for me which was a huge sigh of relief. I still kept a close eye on it though and did not let it out of my sight the entire time we were there. Because you never know.

We landed and were swiftly on our way to our hotel, Aparthotel Adagio, situated on the grand Royal Mile. Our room was comfortable, extremely clean and very spacious. We wandered around a bit and then opted to stroll to the nearest Marks and Spencer for a quick and convenient dinner.

Now, seeing as we had a microwave in our room, I went for my ever trusty and all round perfect: Macaroni cheese.

Now I do not have an actual picture of my delicious delight but I have mac and cheese so often when I’m at home, that I have an embarrassing mass of pictures to choose from. (yes, a ready meal version – I can’t cook so this will have to suffice for now but you better believe that one day, in the not so distant future, I am going to create a mac so exquisite, so unbelievably cheese and gloopy that it will convert any non fan into believing in the power of the pasta. So there.)

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And you guys even get an added bonus here as this beauty was topped off with a healthy heap of haggis! I am a lover of haggis, it has to be said. And for everyone else out there pulling faces or saying how vile it is without even giving it a go, all I can say to you lovely lot is DO IT. You never know until you try. I was always like, nope, not happening because I couldn’t get my head around what I was actually about to put into my mouth (for those who are eager and want to expand their minds and taste buds, haggis contains sheep heart, liver and lungs, mixed with oats, onions and a range of spices and seasonings, all encased inside a sheep stomach.) I have to accept that it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you would want at a children’s birthday party, but if you just get past what it actually is and take a bite, I promise that you forget all about the heart. And the liver. And the lungs. Maybe. Ahem.

I also had a sandwich! A staple BLT (this was not covered in haggis, do not worry..) Again, I don’t have a picture from that specific evening so this will have to do.

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Just epic in every way. You can never beat a Marks and Spencer sandwich and their BLT is especially brilliant.

I’m pretty certain Alistair also joined me on the pasta and sandwich band wagon but alas, I do not have the foggiest idea of what he bought. Forgive me.

The Monday and Tuesday before the wedding kinda went by in a huge haze so I can’t actually remember much of what we got up to. It definitely involved Alistair’s best man Chris though, as we spent the majority of the week with him as he helped us massively to plan for the big day. I know they both got haircuts and had to hire kilts so that took up a good couple of hours. I do remember that the guy in the kilt shop made a remark about the two of them getting hitched and it did set us all off into a fit of giggles. I don’t think that I ever did correct the poor guy.

For dinner that evening, it was another M&S job. Honestly, they can do no wrong. They have an extensive library larder, ranging from your every day sandwiches and salads, to pastas and pies, to crisps and sweet treats. They also have a modest array of drink selections, including alcohol, but as we were not drinking leading up to the wedding, we passed wistfully by and stocked up on flavoured water and Irn-Bru, because you can not come to Scotland without sampling a can or two of their sacred soda. We had both agreed on abstaining from booze for the lead up to our wedding because we didn’t want to appear bloated or flushed on the big day and in our photographs. Photos last forever, after all. Plus we wanted clear, sharp minds and didn’t want them to be clouded or fuzzy: we wanted to remember every single little detail and then celebrate with a glass of champagne or two on the day with our closest family and friends by our sides.

Back to the food! As if we hadn’t had enough Asian cuisine in America to last us a lifetime, we figured a feast was just what the doctor ordered. And when I say feast, I mean a big, fat, family sized feast. For two people. Yes, we are insane but you probably should’ve worked this out by now. We not only went for Chinese, we meandered around to Japan and Thailand for this culinary cruise.

We indulged in: Beef and black bean sauce, egg fried rice, special chow mein, beef chow mein, fragrant wok beef noodles and a Thai chicken curry.

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Needless to say, our eyes were bigger than our bellies and we struggled to finish. Why oh why did we think we could tackle six heavily laden noodle, rice and meat dishes is beyond me and I wish we would’ve stuck to maybe two each instead of being greedy and thinking we could consume our daily calorie intake in one sitting. The food itself was of high quality, the noodles were plentiful as was the rice and the meat was moist but I do remember Alistair remarking that one of the dishes had an odd taste to it and upon closer inspection, I had to agree. I think it was the fragrant wok beef noodles but don’t quote me on that. We may have just picked up a bad batch as everything else was tasty and it was Marks and Spencer after all and very very rarely do we ever have a grievance with them.

The next day, we met up with our fabulous friend Holly. Now she really is one of a kind, in the best possible way. She is kind, thoughtful, hilarious and beautiful inside and out. Just a real gem. She came to our hotel room and we obviously talked about the approaching Saturday, Disney (we are big Disney nerds, and what?) and food! I do recall her saying that she does love a big ol’ kebab from time to time but she doesn’t like cheese. Macaroni cheese included. Now I am going to let this one slide because she is such a dear friend but if it was anyone else, SEE YA. The hours just flew by and before we knew it, it was 9:00pm. Alistair had been trying to get a reservation for a restaurant called Wedgwood which was literally a stones throw away from the hotel but we hadn’t heard anything from them so figured we were too late and they didn’t have a table for us. Miraculously, they called just as Holly was leaving so we saw her out, bid farewell and strolled into the establishment.

The interior was tiny but dimly lit, homely and made for a very romantic ambiance. Alistair and I were seated immediately and saw that they were doing a tasting menu called ‘The Wee Tour of Scotland’ which grabbed our attention instantly. This consisted of seven courses, one being a surprise, rounded off with coffee and petit fours, otherwise known as chocolates.

The first course was: Lobster thermidor creme brulee, pepper dulse, parmesan shortbread and caviar. 

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This was only the first course and we were both blown away. The lobster was sweet and velvety, it melted in your mouth and made you want more, which in my books, is what food is all about. We both scraped away at the edges with our shortbread finger and spoon, hoping to devour every last drop.

We were presented with the surprise course of the evening: a succulent scallop.

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The scallop was cooked to utter supremacy and just fizzled away on your tongue.

The third course was: Scotch beef tartare, kombu, soy, shaved egg, sea rocket and bone marrow crumb.

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This was tangy and zesty. Alistair adores steak tartare AND bone marrow so to see these two paired on one plate made him one very happy boy.

The fourth course was: Roast North Sea cod, caponata, white beans, chorizo and baby courgette.

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The char on this fleshy fish was intense and held so much flavour. It just fell apart on the fork, just how fish should, and the white beans and chorizo gave it a lovely salty kick.

The fifth course was: Loin and crisp breast of Borders lamb, braised new potatoes, spinach, samphire, onion and radish. 

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If we ever go to a restaurant, and there’s lamb on the menu, I would usually skip right past it and go for my dependable chicken, but if all lamb tasted as wonderful as this, than I would definitely have to rethink my options. This was stunning. The outer edges of the meat were crisp, crunchy and crackled on your tongue. Think of this as your traditional Sunday roast but times it by a thousand. The presentation, scent and wonderful flavour combined made this my favourite dish of the evening.

The sixth course was a pre-dessert and palate cleanser. I’m pretty certain is was some kind of sorbet but the flavour escapes me. Maybe watermelon?

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It did exactly what it was meant to do: refreshed my palate of all meats, juices, vegetables and starchy carbs, ready to propel me into the decadent dessert ahead.

The seventh, and final course, was: Very sticky toff pudding, Bunnahabhain butterscotch and vanilla ice cream. 

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This was ridiculously rich, super sweet and intensely indulgent. We are not sweet/dessert people in the slightest but if I had to pick a favourite pudding, this would be it. We didn’t finish but this rounded off a lovely evening with my very soon to be husband.

The day was creeping upon us ever closer. It was now Thursday and we were extremely excited as our two wonderful friends, Anneli and Karoline were flying in from deepest darkest Norway to celebrate our special day with us as my beautiful bridesmaids. My parents and brother David were also flying up from London so we were prepared for a very long and exhausting day ahead of us. Alistair and I had agreed to meet our friends at the airport, and maybe my family too, seeing as they were all swooping in at around the same time. The taxi ride to the airport was hell on earth. For some reason, my mind has chosen to forget, there was an absolute massive queue to get in and out of the car park. Once we had rounded up A & K, we quickly dashed to the nearest hotel in order to get a lift from there seeing as the airport was in complete and utter chaos. So much so, that my poor parents and brother were stuck inside a taxi, in the car park, for almost two hours, which is obscene.

Okay, so the plan for that Thursday evening was to go to Alistair’s mum house as she had arranged a little get together and a barbecue before the enthralling event on Saturday. Alistair’s aunt, uncle and cousin were there, alongside myself, Alistair, A & K, Alistair’s mum’s boyfriend and eventually, my family, if they ever made it out of the airport car park alive without dying of boredom or annoying each other to death. Probably a bit of both.

We had set off for our hotel first to change and freshen up a bit. We had both opted for the Fraser Suites for a number of reasons. The most important of all was the location. It was directly across the road from our wedding venue, the sublimely stunning, Signet Library. This was logical in the sense that if it rained (and it did), we could swiftly maneuver ourselves across the cobbled pavements with an umbrella shielding our dresses and hair without much fuss. Not too long before, we had discovered that we would be sharing our day with Pride. Now, I was not fussed in the slightest. I loved listening to the shouts and songs whilst I was getting ready on the Saturday – it kinda pumped me up for the wonderful day ahead. I was just a bit concerned about being caught up in it whilst crossing the road because they were planning on parading through at exactly the same time that we were due to make our move over to the venue. Luckily, they were done and dusted by the time we made a dash for it but a number of our friends and family were caught up in the celebrations which probably made a great story to recount.

Anyway, A & K checked in to their respective rooms and we all spent a couple of minutes changing/re-applying makeup/brushing our hair/making ourselves look presentable etc before jumping back into a taxi and on to Alistair’s mum’s house.

The barbecue was had, drinks were drunk and my family turned up eventually, so all in all, it was a very pleasant evening spent with lovely people.

We decided to move on and take A & K around Edinburgh. We stopped at a few pubs and they carried on with their beer drinking whilst we sat there with our Pepsi Max. An amazing, funny time was had by all, especially when Karoline didn’t want the party to end and was shocked to the core to discover that most bars/clubs shut relatively early, especially by Norwegian standards so she was delighted to find a place that didn’t close until 3AM. She also accidentally waved her arms around which in turn hailed a taxi for them both which luckily took them to the aforementioned club. They had a great time and even managed to persuade the receptionist back at the hotel to order them pizza. They are marvelous. Thank you MySpace for bringing us together!

Friday rolled around and it was then that it hit me: I was getting married tomorrow. The whole week had just flown by before my eyes and I could not quite believe that the following day, I would be happily married to the man of my dreams. We were up early because we still had a fair amount of things to do. We met up with Chris and collected their kilts before hastily moving on to the wedding venue and having a quick run through of what was going to happen the next day. We talked through who was going to walk in first (Anneli), where we going to stop and stand, where we were going to sign the register and myself and my dad had a little practice of walking down the aisle. With everything arranged and all of our roles revised, myself, Alistair and Chris decided to go for a spot of lunch as we were starving, as we hadn’t eaten much the night before. Nerves were definitely setting in now for me. A & K wanted to shop til they dropped and as Alistair had very kindly presented each of them with a gift voucher for Topshop (they don’t have it in Norway – boo!), they were off like a rocket.

We walked to Hard Rock Cafe.

We all went for the hefty: Haggis burger and chips.

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You can never go wrong with a packed patty loaded with a generous helping of haggis. This was tremendous but I found myself unable to stomach more than a few bites as my gut had started to play up. Wedding jitters were definitely upon me now.  I wasn’t anxious about marrying Alistair in any way. I knew that this was what my life was leading up to and I could not wait to see my handsome man standing there before me. I was just worried about everything else! Tripping up whilst walking down the aisle, forgetting the words, my ring not fitting (it was a squeeze and a half…), my dress not fitting (it did!), nobody liking the venue/the food/the band/ANYTHING. I was just a bag of nerves so the thought of eating something turned my stomach. Shame though because I really do adore that burger.

We flocked back to our hotel room to grab a few things as Alistair’s dad had organised a little party for some of Alistair’s family and friends and mine to come together and meet for the first time. We were greeted with this sight:

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I thought this was just the loveliest gesture and undeniably did not want to mess it up so we carefully managed to pry them off the bed and set them down on the floor.

We traipsed to Alistair’s dads flat where were greeted by old and new friends/family members. I instantly felt a surge of love and was looking forward to chatting with everyone. There was, again, lots of drinks flowing and food to be had. My dad even managed to bag himself an entire chicken which he was pleased as punch about but obviously, unable to eat the whole thing. It was starting to feel really real now and I remember sitting back on the sofa and thinking, this time tomorrow, we will all be dancing, singing, laughing, drinking and eating the precious night away. I got a bit tearful thinking about that, but the good kind. I was just completely blown away by how much time and effort people had put in to ensure that they would be there, celebrating the most magical moment of our lives. When the party had ended, Chris drove myself, Alistair, Kirsty (Alistair’s sister, my bridesmaid and soon to be sister-in-law) and her husband Mark back to the hotel where we were determined to rest up, take it easy and ready ourselves for what was going to be the absolute perpetual day of our lives.

Coming up next, A wedding to remember! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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San Diego Bound!

Alistair and I boarded the Pacific Surfliner Amtrak train from Anaheim to San Diego with high hopes and anticipation. The ride itself was comfortable and the views outside the window were a sight to behold. We passed by the Pacific ocean and the scenery just took our breathe away.  Before we knew it, we had arrived at our destination and another adventure was unfolding in front of us.

We stayed at the Best Western Plus Island Palms hotel on Shelter Island. The room was impeccably clean and very spacious, with a balcony that showcased the serene sea.

We were both starving by this point so decided that a takeaway was in order and we knew just the ideal place. With a name like The Crack Shack, you can’t exactly go wrong, am I right?

We shared the: Five pieces of fried chicken (yes, I am aware that there’s only four in the box so one of us must have grabbed a breast before getting a snapshot).

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These were extremely crispy and the chicken itself was mouth watering.

For burgers, I went with the: Senor Croque. Crispy chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheddar, miso-maple butter on a brioche bun.

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Can we all please take a moment to appreciate that utter allure of that one piece of bacon. They definitely knew I was hungry and in need of a salty snack. This was basically breakfast in a burger and I loved every moment of it.

Alistair chose the equally exciting: Firebird. Spicy fried thigh, cool ranch, crispy onions and pickles served on a potato roll.

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As you can see, the chunk of chicken was more than a mouthful. It was tender and the potato roll managed to soak up all the moisture but without it going limp. As far as burgers go, these were up there with Fatburger, so we were pretty damn smug with our decision that evening.

We also got a splendid side of: Mexican fries. Schmaltz fries, pollo asado and jalapeño cheese wiz.

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This was messy, sticky, a little fiery but very tasty. Cheese belongs on chips – that’s just a simple fact. And even though it was the artificial cheese from a can, it still got a thumbs up from me.

We decided to go to Seaworld the next day and see how it compared to the one in Orlando. We also used Uber for the very first time and we were both exceptionally surprised at how easy and reliable it was. We haven’t looked back since and will always go for an Uber over a taxi. Well, what can I say. Seaworld in Orlando is fun but Seaworld in San Diego blows it out the water, literally. There were a lot more animals for starters and they had interactive zones where your arms could be eaten alive by miniscule fish (it actually felt surprisingly okay to have slivers of your skin being devoured by twenty different fish all at once) and a huge tank full of stingrays. I also got bitten by one, which was very painful but very funny, according to Alistair. I didn’t even know stingrays had teeth so when it went for my fingers instead of the fish, I was a little taken aback. They also had the most adorable sea lions who would nod at you and honk a “thank you” goodbye when you threw them a fish. I do have this disturbing memory of the little kid beside me, gouging the eyes out of his tray of fish with his fingernails. I moved away hastily.

Back to the food! Alistair is a great fan of spam so when he came across this curious creation, he knew he had to give it a whirl. Fried spam with monterey jack cheese and pineapple on a toasted bun with fries from Pineapple Pete’s Island Eats.

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He’s not the greatest lover of pineapple so he and I were both pleasantly stunned as to how much he liked it. It may have had something to do with the great slab of spam though. We overheard this elderly gentleman telling his wife “Oh there’s a spam sandwich. I’m in” so spam is obviously a very well liked food item wherever you go.

This was my lunch:

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Nah, I kid, I kid.

For dinner that evening we strolled over to the hotels restaurant Blue Wave Bar and Grill. 

I chose the superb sounding: Roast Beef – USDA prime casino roast, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, broccolini, baby carrots, au jus and horseradish cream.

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This was impeccable. The beef was so juicy and tender that the knife slid through it like butter. It was also perfectly seasoned and cooked exactly how I wanted it. The mashed potatoes were creamy and there wasn’t a lump in sight. I do not do lumpy mash. Blergh. This was one of my favourite meals of the entire trip and I liked it so much that I ordered it again for our second visit to the restaurant.

Alistair ordered the: Yellowfin tuna fish with mashed potatoes and spinach.

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This looked like a kids serving next to my colossal beef but I was told that the fish was flaky and just fell apart when you cut into it. Spinach is also an excellent attribute to any meal.

The following morning, Alistair dragged me on board the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. When I say dragged, I mean he was exceedingly close to hauling me on it physically. I am not a boat/plane/car/anything with wheels enthusiast whatsoever but Alistair thrives on it all. I would even go as far to say he is a little nerd. But a cute nerd. I’m not gonna go into detail about what we saw because I have zero clue and have tried to block it from my memory with all my might. I do remember lunch though.

Alistair stopped off for a: Hot dog with added chilli flakes, ketchup and mustard and crisps (or chips if you wanna get all American about it).

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This wasn’t anything to write home about but it filled a hole. I was just happy to be away from all the excruciating tiresome exhibits for a couple of minutes. I apologise to anyone who finds things like this fascinating but it just doesn’t float my boat in the slightest.

We returned to the Blue Wave Bar and Grill for dinner that evening and I repeated my order with the roast beef.

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Equally as tantalizing and alluring as the first time.

Alistair went for: Filet mignon, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, horseradish demi, grilled asparagus, baby carrots and crispy onion.

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The beef was divine and Alistair took no time at all to inhale this delicious dish.

We were flying out to Las Vegas so we stayed at Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport hotel the night before so we didn’t have to rush around the following day. We had a pretty early flight so we wanted to eat at a restaurant that was a) remarkably close by and b) one that had a decent sized steak for Alistair so we roamed over to JW’s Steakhouse.

Again, steak isn’t my thing at all so I went for: Marys farm all natural chicken.

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This was a modest sized portion and the chicken was acutely juicy and soft.

Alistair opted for the: 22oz t-bone steak.

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Alistair enjoyed it but was a little miffed with how stingy the filet was on this steak. It was literally a one bite wonder.

We also decided to share the: Bacon mac and cheese and mashed potatoes. Because double the carbs, double the fun!

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Both were sumptuous and very very filling. The mashed potatoes were thick and buttery. The bacon mac and cheese was gooey and the bacon added a lovely crunch.

At Los Angeles Airport, our tummies were grumbling at us to feed them so where did we stumble into for a nice hearty breakfast? Carl’s Jr, of course! No granola or smoothies for us, nope. It’s all about the massive heart attack meals, especially at the crack of dawn.

We both ordered: The Big Carl and fries.

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They call it The Big Carl and with big reason to! This thing was enormous and considering I don’t normally consume breakfast or lunch, this was a bit of a challenge for me. It was comprised of: Two charbroiled beef patties, classic sauce, two slices of American cheese and lettuce all topped up on a nice seeded bun (where are the seeds at though? I think I see two. Hmm)

This was plentiful and geared us up for the day ahead. The burger alone was a whopping 920 calories so it wasn’t a petite patty, by any means.

Onto Las Vegas and onto a place that we had always wanted to sample in Orlando but ultimately never got round to doing so so Alistair decided to treat himself to the famous: Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken.

He got the: Three piece chicken tenders and fries.

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I think Alistair came to Popeye’s with high hopes but left feeling a little underwhelmed and deflated. He said the chicken was okay but should’ve ordered the spicy version instead. The fries had a nice cajun twist to them and were seasoned beautifully.

That evening, we decided to be a little bit fancier with our restaurant options and advanced over to Caesars Palace and to The Palm.

We have visited The Palm in Orlando previously so we had our fingers, hands, arms, legs and eyes crossed that this would live up to our already mighty expectations.

I went for the delectable sounding: Chicken parmigiana.

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Anything encumbered with cheesy goodness is fine by me. It was certainly a very hearty hefty dish but I loved everything about it. From the slightly tart tomato sauce, to the moist chicken enclosed by the melty cheese, this Italian specialty was wonderful from start to finish.

Alistair had a: 22oz ribeye steak.

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I was told this was tender in every way possible and was served rare, just how Alistair prefers it.

We also settled on sharing another: 4lb lobster.

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It boggles me how people can eat a whole large lobster! Those things are so picky to pull apart and the fact that their carcass still actually resembles an animal kinda puts me off to. Granted, they do taste good but if you ever get a bite of chewy lobster, it is not welcome in the slightest. Again, Alistair ate most of this whilst he broke pieces off for me to consume as I don’t do snapping body parts off my food. He is a good boy sometimes.

Another night, another restaurant to attack! This time, we ventured over to Gordon Ramsay Steak, located inside The Paris Las Vegas Hotel. 

I fancied some fish so ordered the: Loup De Mer.

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I was not expecting it to still have the tail attached but I got over it pretty quickly as the taste of the fish was amazing. It was a really light meal but I felt comfortably full at the end and not oh-god-I-am-never-gonna-eat-again kinda full.

Alistair had: Wagyu rib cap and lobster tail (because he obviously didn’t have enough lobster the other night!).

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Upon observing this dish, it did come across a little small and dainty but Alistair said every single piece of this meal was sublime. Good job Gordo!

And then, of course, we couldn’t go without any sides so we picked: Potato puree – Yukon gold potatoes and creme fraiche and the must have Mac and cheese – Gruyere, white cheddar, paremesan, emmental, comte and gratin.

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Both of these side dishes were insane. The potato puree was whipped to absolute perfection and with THAT many varied cheeses in a mac and cheese, how can it taste any less than heavenly?

We were saying farewell to Nevada and howdy to Arizona so there was only one thing for it for breakfast: Popeye’s Louisiana Chicken.

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Alistair seemed to favour this version over the pervious one. I have to admit, the chicken did look a lot crunchier. This served as a great start to the day.

We landed in Phoenix and made our way to our accommodation. It was an utter shambles. First off, there was a disgusting vile putrid smell coming from the fridge. Like something had just curled up and died in there. Secondly, there was no washing machine etc and even though we were less than likely to use the facilities, it was stated as having them in the description so for it to not have any was just a down right lie. Thirdly, there was a monumental hornet bee flying around the place, which Alistair tried, and failed, to remove from the premises. Although he did attempt to air it out using one of his shoes. All in all, these lodgings were unfit for anyone who intended to stay there and we got the hell out of there promptly.

Alistair managed to snag us a hotel room at the much more sanitary Sheraton Grand Hotel. We were tired, a little stressed and hungry so we kicked back and ordered room service.

I chose: Mac and cheese.

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This was exactly what I wanted and needed after a long day. Such a great comfort food and one that I can never get bored of. I loved the welcome addition of breadcrumbs sprinkled on top too.

Alistair had the: Center cut beef ribeye with parmesan and herb fries.

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The steak was pretty humongous but incredibly tasty and the sauce topped it off thoroughly well. The fries were also a delight to behold.

We shared: Tater tots

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A whole lot of tater tots too! We definitely got our moneys worth here. I love the crisp crunch as soon as you bite into a tot, followed by the mushy melty potato taste, it’s just wonderful and I wish restaurants over here had them on their menus! UK, take note – we want tots!

Room service was calling our name, yet again, so we dove straight in.

I ordered the: Shaved turkey croissant.

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I’m not normally the greatest croissant fan as I kinda think they taste of nothing. Like, you’re literally biting into air. But this pleasantly surprised me! The flaky outer shell complimented the ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato immensely well and I was startled with how much I loved this sandwich.

Alistair had, yet again: Center cut beef ribeye with parmesan and herb fries.

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It was outstanding yet again!

We visited a little town called Tortilla Flats which was stunning. It felt like we were in the real America, far far away from all the tourists and tacky gift shops. We stopped for a bite to eat at the only restaurant for miles and miles around, the suitably named Tortilla Flats.

I chose: Cheese nachos with ground beef.

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This was piled up like a pyramid! So many chips coated with enough cheese, salsa and ground beef to shake a stick at! I gave a very courageous attempt but it conquered me.

Alistair had: The Main Event burger and fries. 

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They certainly don’t skimp on the servings here, no sir! The burger was exactly what you would want a burger to be: meaty, grilled to perfection and stuffed to the brim with everything from bacon to a healthy layer of cheese. The fries were also especially tasty.

You can’t go to America and not have a McDonald’s. I always find that it tastes different in every country you go to (with the Japanese version sitting comfortably in the top spot for us) but the US doesn’t trail far behind. We remarked that they did a triple cheeseburger so we knew instantly that that was obviously going to be included in our meal.

Triple cheeseburger with large fries and their signature sauce.

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I remember weighing it in my hands, opening the wrapper and being a tad crestfallen when I discovered that it was basically just a normal double cheeseburger. Albeit, there were three patties stuffed between the bun and the cheese but they were incredibly thin and flimsy. It still tasted like your standard McDonald’s cheeseburger though so I wasn’t completely heartbroken. The fries were salted wonderfully and the signature sauce was tangy and sweet.

We also went with the standard Big Mac.

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Presentation wise, it was one of the prettiest patties I’ve seen and it tasted just as delightful as it is looks.

The following evening, we elected to get Chinese. Again. I don’t think I have ever had this much Chinese food in such quick succession ever before in my entire life. We ordered from a place called Szechwan Palace.

I chose: Beef chow mein.

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The soft noodles were not slick in the slightest and the beef was of a high quality. Again, I was stumped as to how I was going to finish it all, and didn’t, but I made an impressive dent in this monster mountain.

Alistair had: Curry chicken.

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Not the best picture ever, it’s true, but the spiciness of the curried dish hit you at the back of the throat as soon as you opened the polystyrene container. Alistair loved the mix of the yellow onion and the red pepper among the sliced chicken breast.

To escort his curry, he also went for the: Beef fried rice.

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Again, what is with the angles of these pictures?! Why does it look like we were more interested in photographing the sauces than the actual meals?! Bah, I will never know. Anyway, this was full to the brim with beef, egg, peas and carrots and of course the flavourful fried rice. Alistair thought the blend of his curry and this went hand in hand.

As if all that food wasn’t enough, we also shared: Fried calamari and fried wontons, because there apparently wasn’t enough fried food to go around that day.

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The wontons were crammed with ground pork and made for an excellent starter. The calamari was a little less battered than I would have liked but still palatable nonetheless.

Our heavenly holiday was drawing to a close so we thought one last room service was the ideal way to end the chapter.

I had the: All American Burger and fries.

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I really enjoyed this burger but I was feeling somber as we were heading back to the UK the very next day so I was in a bit of a sulk. This medium rare burger was chockablock with lettuce, caramelized onions and Oregon white cheddar with a pile of pickles on the side. The fries were a bit like Mcdonald’s fries so I was absolutely okay with that.

Alistair picked, for the very last time, his wonderful: Center cut beef ribeye with parmesan and herb fries.steak3.jpg

This went down a treat as always but like myself, he was a bit down in the dumps as we just did not want to leave America.

We wanted to go out with a bang so we shared: Tater tots and Mac and cheese.

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Both were impeccable and the ultimate way to say goodbye to Phoenix.

Alistair and I flew home with British Airways, First Class. We were depressed enough as it was so figured that flying back to London in style would cheer us up a a little. We were given our menus almost as soon as we had taken to the skies so we perused through it efficiently and settled on our choices.

We both had the pre-appetiser of: Antipasto of marinated artichoke and stuffed sweet and spicy peppers.

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I thought this was the perfect little trio to tantalize our taste buds before the succeeding courses.

Starters wise, I was tempted by the duck but I decided against it and went for the: Spiral vegetable tart with balsamic reduction and baby greens.

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I do love a good tart. This particular one was crumbly and the filling was light and airy. The balsamic reduction was vinegary and magnified the flavour of the vegetables.

Alistair went for: Pierre Poivre crusted breast of duck with North German potato-bacon salad, quail egg and truffle.  

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The duck was cooked to perfection and was faultless in every way. Alistair said it was made to his ideal preference and was pink but not raw.

For my main course, I chose the: Pan-roasted halibut with crabmeat, baby fennel, roasted marble potatoes and saffron and Pernod sauce.

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The halibut was roasted beautifully and it just came apart with ease. The potatoes were supple and went tremendously well with the sauce. I really enjoyed this little number.

Alistair was feeling pretty full by this point so skipped the main course and dessert entirely. I kinda wanted cheese but then I felt a wave of guilt ride over me and just couldn’t bring myself to order as I didn’t want to appear gluttonous.

He did sneak in breakfast though so all was not lost.

He went for the: Traditional full English breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, grilled bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and hash brown potatoes. 

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He always comments on how scrambled eggs are never the most appetizing of things to have on a long haul flight as they don’t have the usual consistency one is accustomed to. They always seem to taste a little rubbery and buoyant in texture. Everything else was demolished with a smile.

And so that is it, ladies and gentlemen! My terrific trip around the United of States of America has come to an end. Thank you to every single person who miraculously stumbled onto my blog and delved into our wonderful adventure! I hope you enjoy the next installment.

Up next, our wedding day and honeymoon!

 

 

California Dreaming

After touching down safely in The City of Angels, we took a taxi to our next destination – The Hilton at Universal City. We were tired (what’s new?) from our nearly five hour flight from Florida so we decided to order in Chinese. I’m not the greatest lover of Chinese food, if I’m being honest, because it always seems too greasy and gives me a bit of an upset stomach, but Alistair wanted to order it so I figured I’d muster up the courage and give it a go.

We ordered from Gourmet 88 as it seemed to have pretty shining reviews.

I went for: Chicken soft noodle chow mein.

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If I do ever find myself eating Chinese food, I always go for a noodle based option. From the outset, the noodles did look a little oily but they were actually delicious and were very soft but not slimy soft. The chicken was also pretty good too and you got a fair amount. This doesn’t look like the biggest serving in the world but believe me, I couldn’t even manage half.

Alistair went for the: Chicken curry.

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Again, the portion looks a little measly but Alistair was as suitably stuffed as I was. He really enjoyed the flavour and commented on how it packed a punch.

We also shared an appetiser of: Egg rolls, paper wrapped chicken, fried shrimp, spare ribs and teriyaki beef.

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You can clearly see the spare ribs and teriyaki beef here (both were fabulous – not dry or chewy in the slightest, I was impressed!) and the rest of the gang were hiding underneath. I think perhaps the reason we were both so full when eating our mains was because of this. Again, it doesn’t look insanely huge but it was more than enough for two people to share. I do remember that the fried shrimp was very tasty!

We took the very short walk into Universal Studios the next morning. We knew there was a Mels Diner here and Alistair wanted to observe how vastly different it was to the one in Universal Studios, Orlando. The one in Florida has always been a firm favourite with my family. It had become somewhat of a tradition to go there for lunch each and every time we visited the park and I was happy enough with it until they removed my beloved hot dog off the menu! I was outraged and made a decision to never eat there again unless they brought back said hot dog. Sadly, I am still waiting for that day and feel like I will be waiting forever. Oh well.

Alistair ordered the: Deluxe burger and fries.

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There was absolutely no comparison whatsoever. This beat Mels in Orlando hands down, over and over, again and again. The burger was juicy but not sticky, the lettuce/tomato/onion combo were fresh and the bun held everything together exceedingly well. The fries were crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle which for me, is the hallmark of a great chip. I don’t think we could ever go back to Mels in Orlando as this just blew it right out of the water. Sorry Orlando. Now if you could only bring back the hot dog, I may have a change of heart..

For dinner that evening, we decided on Cafe Sierra, which was located slap bang right in the hotel so we were happy that we didn’t have to tire our aching feet out anymore than was necessary.

We decided to share the: Salt and Pepper Calamari.

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This was a rather hearty portion as you can see. The sweet chilli sauce and the garlic aioli were sublime and made the calamari even more flavourful than it originally was.

For mains, I went with the classic: Club sandwich and fries. 

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So simple, yet so delightful. You just can’t beat a great club. They are always a bit fiddly, but I do enjoy a challenge. The ham was thickly piled on and they were not stingy with any of the other ingredients, that’s for sure! And I love pickles. They are honestly one of God’s best creations in my eyes.

Alistair went for the interesting sounding: Loup De Mer.

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Or Seabass to you and me. Alistair really enjoyed the rich creamy flavour of this fish and the accompaniments were also a pleasant change from the usual fries. I think he especially appreciated the scoopful of mushrooms that took up a third of his plate. As always, I kept well away from the frightful fungus.

We visited an oldie but a goodie the next afternoon – Bubba Gumps. I know it’s a little gimmicky but we have always had a soft spot for this establishment.

Alistair ordered: Boat Trash with Maine lobster and fries.

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Again, I don’t really “do” lunch so I just sat back and sipped on my beer whilst Alistair got stuck into his splendid seafood. Boat Trash comprises of fried fish, snow crab and shrimp (of course – it wouldn’t be a Bubba Gumps without the specialty shrimp) along with fries and an added lobster tail. This was extremely filling but Alistair got through it all like the trooper he is. The fish was buttery and the lobster tail was sweet.

Another exhausting day calls for room service and my cherished club sandwich was calling out my name so who am I to deny its wants and needs?

Club sandwich and fries:

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A nice close up shot of my half eaten sandwich for you! Again, this was perfect and just what I was craving when we ventured back to the hotel room. The fries were also fresh our of the fryer and did not need a pinch of seasoning one bit.

After Alistair’s considerable lunch, he decided to go for something small and somewhat lighter than a main meal.

He ordered the: French onion soup.

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He was really disappointed in this. In fact, he called it the worst french onion soup he has ever sampled in his life which was a real shame because it actually looked incredible. He just said that there was more bread than soup and it just kinda stuck in his throat. The cheese was probably the saviour here as it was immensely gloopy and decadent.

The following day, we were back to Universal Studios as Alistair was in the mood for chicken from Cletus’ Chicken Shack in Springfield, after a very displeasing dinner the previous evening.

He went for his usual: Chicken thumbs and fries.

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Not much to say except that the chicken here is always of a great quality. Never gritty or bitty, just always tasty. The fries were covered in a peppery seasoning which gave them a nice little punch and was unexpected.

Onto Anaheim now! And another takeaway was in order. We were dying to see what all the fuss was about from a little place called Fatburger so we dove in headfirst and ordered our monster burgers, our bellies rumbling from the excitement and anticipation.

We both opted for the: King burger with fat fries.

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Honestly, this was a monster and a half. An epic half pounder with all the trimmings. An ooey-gooey cheesy meaty monstrosity that barely fit into either of our mouths. It was beyond messy, beyond greasy and beyond anything we have ever had the honour of sampling in our lives. It was outstanding. We were in love. The fat fries were also an absoloute delight. We much prefer chunky chip shop chips to frail fries so when we saw this on the menu, it was a match made in potato paradise. 11/10 from the both of us.

Disney time! We are such big Disney nerds so we had a massive spring in our step when we bounded into the park the very next day. Alistair’s port of call for lunch was Stage Door Cafe in Frontierland for: Chicken tenders and fries.

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Once again, I must state that I have no idea what they do to ensure that their chicken nuggets/tenders are super tasty but it is magical and must never stop happening.

We found ourselves ordering takeout again and from a local Chinese, AGAIN. I wasn’t too fussed as I was famished and just wanted some hot food inside me. We scoured menus online and came across a restaurant called Little Dragon that looked pretty decent.

I ordered: Noodles with chicken, beef and shrimp.

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The US does not do small portions! This had a great zest to it and I loved how much chicken, beef and shrimp they managed to pack in under this mountain of noodles. I accomplished about half before admitting defeat but I would definitely order it again and maybe ask if they could downsize it to a children’s portion, perhaps?

Alistair went for the: Chicken curry.

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Lots of lovely vegetables here, cascading over a bountiful serving of chicken curry with the added rice. Alistair loves a good curry so he was more than happy with his choice. It was very colourful and a joy to look at.

We had waiting for what felt like forever to get our hands on the: Lobster nachos at The Cove Bar, Disney California Adventure. We also threw in some Buffalo wings because why the hell not?

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Seriously, these little babies were some of the tastiest nachos we had ever sampled in our entire lives. Look how heavy handed and generous they were with the lobster meat?! And to top it all off, the toppings were present throughout the entire plateful and not just plonked on top, like some restaurants tend to do. We were fighting here and there to get in as much of the luscious lobster bites as we could muster.

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We love wings so we settled on trying our their buffalo wings to see if they matched up in flavour to their counterpart. They were positively plentiful and the sauce was spicy but not overpowering. We were both ecstatic with our choices and left full but fulfilled.

We (yes, that includes me too) had lunch at Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country, Disneyland. 

Seeing as it’s extremely rare for me to eat during the afternoon, I wanted something pretty light so I chose the delicious sounding: Turkey Caesar wrap with fries.

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This was exactly what I needed and it hit the spot effortlessly. The wrap was jam-packed with turkey and lettuce and the sauce was impeccable. I left most of the fries but that was just because I didn’t want to waste any of the wondrous wrap.

Alistair opted for the equally as amazing sounding: Crispy chicken sandwich with fries.

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Neither one of us managed to get a separate picture of the sandwich so this will have to do. He noted that the chicken was fried to perfection and was not greasy or oily to the touch so everything stayed intact incredibly well. Again, he also left the majority of his fries because he relished his chicken sandwich above all else.

We quickly popped to Coco’s Bakery which was literally 10 seconds away from our hotel. We have eaten here before and love that you can get quality fresh produce for small prices. I was craving a salad so I plumped for the: Cobb salad.

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Now I know a cobb salad isn’t the healthiest of salads one can get, what with the blue cheese, bacon and croutons but a salad is a salad, right? I adored this completely as the varying tastes and textures came together so stupendously. They piled it up a mile high for me too so I definitely wasn’t complaining.

Alistair had the: Top sirloin and scampi style shrimp pasta.

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Again, the quality was top notch and the fresh vegetables were a nice touch. The pasta was especially gloopy, just how Alistair likes it, and the lobster butter sauce that it was swimming in was beautiful.

We were both hungry and in the mood for some hot dogs the morning after. We wandered over to Award Wieners in Disney California Adventure for some, hopefully, award wieners.

I chose the: BBQ Crunch dog and fries.

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This was a cheddar sausage loaded with barbecue sauce, cheddar jack cheese and crispy fried onions and yes, it was an absolute pleasure to eat. The cheddar sausage was unexpectedly tantalizing and it paired spectacularly with the fried onions. The fries were a little odd but edible.

Alistair chose the: Bacon Street Dog and fries: 

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This savoury sausage was topped with grilled onions, bell peppers and crispy bacon crumbles. Alistair reveled in the nice crunch of the bell peppers with the salty bite of the bacon bits. He also left most of his “fries” as they were a little soggy and under-cooked.

I swear the heat and extreme fatigue hit us all at once on this leg of our tremendous trip so we did the only thing we could think of to do: we ordered a takeaway again. We do love just sitting back, relaxing with a cider or two, watching trash TV (or Spongebob Squarepants, in Alistair case) and gouging ourselves silly in the comfort of our own hotel room. It’s just so comforting. We decided Italian was in order so we placed our order with a restaurant called: Augustino’s Italian Restaurant. 

To kick start us off, we shared the: Buffalo chicken wings, calamari and mozzarella sticks.

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What more could you want then an absolute feast of fried food?! Everything was sizzling hot with just the correct amount of greasy goodness. The wings were especially yummy.

For my entree, I went for the: Chicken Alfredo.

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This is the dish of dreams. Soft, silky pasta with lashings of rich, fluffy cheese sauce, capped off with tender chicken. Everything was sublime and if you’re an Alfredo fan, get yourself to Augustino’s right now – you will not regret it.

Alistair chose: Spaghetti carbonara.

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I’m not entirely sure why somebody decided to put peas in this. Are peas a staple when it comes to a spaghetti carbonara? Either way, it was as good as it looked and Alistair relished each and every bite.

Before moving on to our next destination, we knew we had to sneak in one more trip to Fatburger, and this time, we meant business.

We both ordered the: Double King burger (XXL) with fat fries and onion rings.

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If we thought the previous burger was a handful, then just tipped it right over the edge. It was gigantic but absolutely perfect in every way. The fat fries were, again, incredibly tasty and the onion rings had just the correct amount of crunch.

Up next, San Diego!

 

END OF PART I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Grand Adventure across The US Part III!

After tiring our feet out from traipsing around Animal Kingdom, we decided to drop in on Rainforest Cafe. We had been to the one previously in San Francisco and we always leave genuinely surprised at how good the food was.

I had the: Parmesan chicken with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and linguine.

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This was an absolute mammoth portion but I am pleased to report that I ate it all, every last mouthful. The chicken was juicy even though it was smothered head to toe in cheese and tomato sauce. I didn’t find it too heavy on the stomach either. The linguine was lovely, a little less gloopy than I would’ve liked but you can’t really ask your waiter/waitress to make sure your pasta is extra slimy. That would be odd.

Alistair had the: Bollywood butter chicken and shrimp.

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He loved this and there was a fair amount of chicken and shrimp mixed in. It was very colourful and the smell hit you in the face immediately with all the spices and aromas. Again, note the vegetables – we do not always eat junk. We do enjoy a broccoli or two.

We are back with Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival 2018 because you just could not keep us away!

We hit the Bauermarkt: Farmers Market Booth for a delicious sounding: Potato pancake with caramalized ham, onions and herb sour cream.

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Just look at that beauty! So crispy, flaky, buttery and crunchy. We savoured every mouthful and we pondered about getting another one but NOPE, we managed to restrain ourselves (somehow) and looked longingly on as we passed onto our next booth, knowing that we had many more delectable delights to come!

Onto The Honey Bee-stro Booth and a Honey tandoori chicken flatbread.

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This was pretty small so it was gone in about 10 seconds. It was slightly too sweet and a bit cold. Not one of my favourites, it has to be said, but I think that was because there were SO many more amazing dishes ahead of us that I was looking forward to a lot more.

We wandered over to the Cider House and chose the: House made potato and cheddar cheese biscuit with smoked salmon tartare.

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Can I just comment on how beautifully presented every single food item was?! I felt bad about tucking in and ruining the presentation but not bad enough to just let Alistair gobble it down. This was a little tricky to eat as the biscuit was a bit crumbly but the salmon was beautiful and brought out all the goodness of the potato and cheese.

Our next stop was for the: Teriyaki salmon with furikake seasoned brown rice from the Hanami Booth.

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Yep, salmon again! This was seared wonderfully. One of our favourite things about fish is that nice crisp char that you get whenever one is grilled so this had a nice bite to it. Rice was, well, rice. But the sauce was fantastic! Very sharp and tangy.

Now you may wanna sit down for this one as this next dish contains A LOT OF VEGETABLES. Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, VEGETABLES. Not an animal in sight. I do love a bit of cauliflower here and there so I’m pretty positive the decision to try this was purely down to me. We settled on the: Roasted cauliflower with buckwheat honey carrot puree, wild rice pilaf, asparagus, blistered grapes and sunflower brittle from the Honey Bee-stro Booth.

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Oh, and a dainty little flower on top. How pretty. The wind might’ve blown that in though, who knows. Anyway, I LOVED it. I wasn’t sure about pairing cauliflower and grapes together but it made for a nice sweet/savoury mixture. I even think Alistair enjoyed it so that was a win win for me.

So with meat back on the menu, we headed to Mexico and to the Jardin De Fiestas Booth for a: Slow braised pork taco served with apple relish, goat cheese and Chile de Arbol.

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Again, small in size and took the total of 5.6 seconds to inhale. The pork was tender and the sauce was a little spicy but not blow your head off spicy. Just a nice subtle heat. All in all, it was a tasty treat.

We decided to indulge in the: Maine lobster ravioli with vodka sauce from The Primavera Kitchen Booth.

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I absolutely went in with the highest hopes possible, which is never a good thing, especially when they fall short. And wow, did this fall short. Like, off the planet short. I figured, lobster + ravioli + vodka sauce = A WINNING COMBO. But sadly, this was not meant to be. First off, look how measly the portion was?! Secondly, where was the vodka sauce? Thirdly, the pasta was rubbery and there was only one piece of lobster. ONE. Needless to say, I was very disappointed and probably cried into my beer.

To cheer ourselves up, we pulled up to The Smokehouse: Barbecue and Brews Booth for a helping of: Beef brisket burnt ends and pork belly slider with garlic sausage, chorizo, cheddar fondue and house made pickle. 

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Doesn’t that just look like a work of appetising art?! Honestly, it was as good as it looks but extremely messy. We needed four and five napkins each just to wipe the grease away but it was good grease, not the bad unhealthy clog your artery kind, oh no, not at Disney! And the pickle was a perfect touch.

Okay, okay. If I say we had cauliflower again in the same day, would you believe it? This time it was fried but still, a vegetable is a vegetable.

Fried cauliflower with capers, garlic parsley and chili ranch sauce from the Taste Of Marrakesh Booth.

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It was beautiful. I actually think we fought a little over the last bite but I let Alistair have it as I’m nice like that. The dipping sauce was also phenomenal. It’s strange how much a sauce can bring out entirely different depths and layers to food!

Whilst we were filling up on our healthy vegetables, we also noticed that the Harissa chicken kebab with dried fruit couscous looked equally as tempting so we quickly got back in line and ordered it.

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The chicken was very very chewy and I even struggled to swallow my last piece so I was not happy. The rice was nice but not overly memorable. I wish we would’ve gone for another cauliflower instead.

I’m gonna point out now, no, I do not know how we managed to eat all of this for our “snacky” lunch and then go on to have dinner but we were walking around the world, so cut us some slack. We were moving and munching.

Up next, we ordered the: Tarte A La Tomate Provencale: Provencal tomato tart with sauteed onions, fresh thyme and rosemary on a flaky pastry crust from Fleur De Lys.

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From the outside, yes, it did look a bit dry and anemic but it was incredibly buttery and delectable. The tomatoes were pretty juicy too which was a plus. We happened to both really enjoy this French dish.

Onto Canada and back to my treasured: Cheddar and bacon soup from Refreshment Port.

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This right here is liquid gold. So creamy and velvety, the cheese and bacon flavour is intense and rich but goes down a treat. Even in the blisteringly hot weather, we both lapped this up in no time at all.

We could not go all the way to Epcot and NOT get our beloved Fish and Chips from Yorkshire County Fish and Chips, even though we did just stuff ourselves silly and were looking a bit green around the gils.

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You just cannot go wrong here. The fish (tilapia) is so flaky and sweet, the batter always has a good ol’ chomp to it and the chips are proper chunky chips, not flimsy fries. The portions are decent and the food is always piercingly hot. This is a firm favourite with us and a must do if you ever venture into the UK Pavillion.

I’m not one for including drinks unless it’s a colourful cocktail and my oh my, was this one colourful!

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We travelled to Bay Lake Tower and up into the clouds at the Top Of The World Lounge. We quickly scanned the drinks menu and this drink stuck out like a very sore thumb so we figured we’d give it a go: The Seven Seas Lagoon Cocktail – Skyy Vodka, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum,Soda Water,Agave,Lime,Pineapple,Strawberry Apple Boboa, Swedish Fish and Life Preserver Candies. To say it was quirky is the understatement of the year. It was fruity, sweet, strong, chewy (the candies and boboas) and a little bit weird but in the best way possible. My only gripe is that they put way too much ice in it for my personal liking but I find that a lot of restaurants/bars do that and I often find myself scooping out the majority and handing it to Alistair as he doesn’t seem to mind so much. It was a pleasant cocktail and I just adored the name.

We had a reservation for, and I had to double and triple check this because the name slips away from me each and every time, Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd Skipper Canteen in the Magic Kingdom. I remember that Alistair was annoyed because we were made to wait a good twenty-thirty minutes or so even though we had a booking so it wasn’t off to the best start.

I ordered: Perkins Thai noodles.

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Jeez Louise, was this hot! Like really hot! Like intense I’m gonna burn the roof off your mouth hot! I noticed that the lady beside me wanted to order this too but was worried about the spice and the waitress said yes, it’s very spicy but we can tame it down for you, if you would like. I was sitting there, sweating and glugging on a glass of water, wishing I’d have been a wimp and asked for the heat to be turned off too. I ploughed on and finished but my lips were burning. I do have to say, as much as I seem to be complaining, it was incredibly tasty, once you got past the intense blaze.

Alistair ordered the: Dr Falls’ Signature Grilled Steak.

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He enjoyed this but I think he was still a bit peeved about having to wait so long when there were plenty of empty tables in the restaurant that were waiting to be filled.

Another vibrant drink I enjoyed was the Tropical Macaw from the Tambu Lounge at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

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This little beauty consisted of Parrot Bay Coconut rum, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. I absolutely adore a nice fruity cocktail! Anything tropical, rum based or tropical AND rum based is just me all over and this was perfect! Sweet, strong and juicy.

As we were staying on site at Disney’s Polynesian Village resort, I decided to get a quick bite to eat for dinner from just downstairs at Capt. Cooks. Alistair wasn’t feeling too hungry at that moment in time but promised me he would eat something later. I hate eating by myself as it makes me feel (and look) immensely greedy so I was in a bit of a grump with him. I am somewhat of a sandwich connoisseur so I figured I would go all out and try the Big Kahuna sandwich and fries. 

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This doesn’t look massive but believe me when I tell you, looks can be deceiving. There were about a million more fries hiding beneath the sandwich. The Big Kahuna contained: turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red pepper spread all on two thick slices of foccacia bread. With fries. A whole lot of them. This was extremely tasty. I love the different combinations of meat and the swiss cheese and red pepper spread cemented it all together very nicely. The fries were just fries but they were appreciated nonetheless.

Alistair’s appetite finally picked up at just after 10pm. By now I was full, sleepy and ready to hit the hay but I was all for Alistair getting dinner because he couldn’t go to bed on an empty stomach, I wouldn’t allow it. So we wandered down to Trader Sams and nourished ourselves with a few cocktails whilst Alistair ate: Kalua pork tacos with cabbage and pickled vegetables.

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He commented, sleepily, that this was just the right amount of food and loved every mouthful. They did look exceedingly good but at that moment in time, I just wanted to drink my Uh-Oa and get some well earned rest.

We hit Animal Kingdom as Alistair had set his sights on going to Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes for lunch.

He chose the very interesting sounding: American Kobe beef hot dog topped with Bahn Mi.

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Again, this is a great twist to your original run of the mill hot dog. He loved every bite and I have to admit, it looked delicious.

We had a dining reservation at ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village. Now, this was a first for us. I had been there for the character breakfast many many moons ago but I’m not a breakfast person in the slightest, even when some of the dishes are Mickey shaped (sorry waffles) so I was much more invested in dinner. Plus, no creepy Lilo and Stitch characters to make you stand up and dance the hula. Always a bonus.

You cannot go to ‘Ohana and not have their signature cocktail, the very famous: Lapu Lapu.

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This is essentially a very boozy beverage inside a whole pineapple. That alone is good enough for me. The Lapu Lapu involves: Myers’s Original Dark Rum and Tropical Fruit Juices served in a fresh Pineapple topped with Goslings 151 Rum. Doesn’t that just look and sound amazing? Well, it was! So much so, I think both Alistair and I called for another round. It was incredibly strong and pineapple-y so if you’re not a fan of the tropical fruit, I would stay well away.

‘Ohana is a family style restaurant that brings your food to the table so you can share with everyone else around you. Alistair and I shared the: ‘Ohana pineapple-coconut bread, pork dumplings tossed in a garlic-ginger sauce, honey coriander chicken wings, noodles tossed in a teriyaki sauce and stir fried vegetables.  

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The servers also comes around with skewers of chicken, steak and shrimp which you are encouraged to splurge on as much as you like. Sadly, I did not get a picture of this which I am still kicking myself for. This place is really an all-you-can-eat kinda place and Alistair was very disappointed in the fact that he only managed, and I quote, “Seven shrimp, three dumplings, two wings, six lumps of steak, three bits of chicken and a cup full of noodles.” We will do better in January, I promise.

Back to Victoria and Alberts once more! We were incredibly lucky and grateful to squeeze in another trip to our favourite establishment so I will let the pictures do the talking of our fantastic culinary adventure.

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There are literally no words in this world to describe how sublime every single dish was and always is. Just utter perfection. I do not know what kinda of magic they are using but I wish they would teach me so I could do anything other than just popping a macaroni cheese into a microwave for five and half minutes and calling that dinner.

The following evening, we dined at The Palm which is located inside the Hard Rock Hotel. We were both excited to eat here as we had seen rave reviews online and as we had already poured over the menu extensively, we were ready to go.

I chose: Veal Parmigiana.

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This was lovely and everything I could’ve wished for it to be. Cheesy, meaty and massive. I ate this up with no problems or complaints whatsoever.

Alistair had a steak and this beast: A 4lb lobster. Which we were meant to share but Alistair had the majority of it as it was a bit picky for me to eat and I was already loading up on cheese and veal goodness. This was an absolute monster and took up most space on the table. I do like lobster but I always end up thinking of it sitting in a boiling hot saucepan and it makes me extremely upset. At least we didn’t have to choose one out of a tank. Alistair would’ve probably named it beforehand, knowing him and his dark/warped sense of humour.

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It was Alistair’s 30th birthday so we decided to go out with a bang and order pizza. Again. But not just one pizza, oh no. Nor two. Don’t be silly. But THREE. THREE WHOLE PIZZAS. The night before we were due to fly to Los Angeles. And what’s a pizza without a bit of mac and cheese?! Not as a side, that’s foolish. But on the pizza. Yep, slopped over an already cheesy pizza. It was glorious. You seriously had to have been there in person to witness the monumental  marriage of two wonderful cheese-laden creations.

Before..

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And after!

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Much better! Slightly regret getting three pizzas though. We were feeling a tad ambitious and left most of it for the following morning, which resulted in us wolfing down a few slices before admitting defeat and chucking the rest in the bin, as painful as it was.

OKAY, I have finally finished Florida! Roll on California! Thank you so much to whoever has spent their valuable time and patience reading all of this, it really does mean a lot to me and I hope you will continue with me on my tasty travels!