Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bus from Hell!

Because I'm cheap and waiting waaaay too late to book the Eurostar Oli and Ihad to get an over night bus to Paris, I was pretty optimistic about this,having caught overnight busses in Asia and South America I just assumed thiswould be a breeze.. anyway because we were getting the bust we had the wholeday to wonder around London again, trying to squeeze in everything.

London put on a show (even though I didn't see a show) and it again was justtoo fantastic. The bus to Paris was not. It was hell. WORST. IDEA. EVER!

But please do enjoy my pictures of the last ferry out of Dover at 2.30 AMand then again us pulling out of port in France at 3.50AM (spew) beforearriving in Paris at 8.15 having snatched about 4 hours of sleep.

Bruges? London, London, London

You may be wondering, whatever did happen in Bruges? But you probably aren't because I never really outline my itinerary. In short the two curly haired sibblings (my bro bro and me) decided to sleep in, giving Bruges a miss. However, after one cancelled train, a highly emotional breakdown and large doses of panic we did spend one night in Belgium...
Buuuut then we were in London! London, London, London! It actual felt like home, or as much like home as Orange County does. 

It's such a BIIIIIG city! You always feel like you aren't doing it justice :( 

The first day after the exhausting debarcle of not actually getting to London on time we walked over to Camden Town and had a sneaky look at the markets. They have so much stuff, most of it useless but all of it very cool to look at. I usually find while away I start to like things I would never wear at home or have an extreme desire to dye my hair purple (true story). 

They had all these amazing antiques there too! I mean if there is ever a place to buy antiques it would have to be Europe, things are actually old there... not 200 years but centuries and centuries! Obviously, I wouldn't be able to afford things that were that old but it's an entertaining idea to own something that has a history of its own... that isn't clothing, because with clothes it's like you are wearing a dead person, unless it's thoroughly dry-cleaned I just can't do it. 

Aaaanyway, went out to Shoreditch that night and watched TNGHT a hip hop DJ set with my bro bro, which was pretty awesome. I, being not as awesome as everyone else there did wear ear plugs but I owned it! So what if I couldn't hear people to the point they started speaking to me in French because they thought I couldn't speak English? I mean, how complimentary that someone thought I was French... even if he was mighty high, still a compliment. 

The next day I attempted to play tour guide to Oliver aka bro bro but just got lost and kept finding historically significant areas by accident. It still worked. Then we went back to Shoreditch to meet a friend... the most exciting part of my day was finding out he worked in the SAME COMPLEX AS THE STUDIO IN WHICH JAMIE OLIVER'S 30 MINUTE MEALS WAS FILMED! Such a stretch but it's like I was there! I actually got a photo of the window of the studio (looking in, not out) but it's on my camera camera so you'll have to wait until I get home.

On Saturday our parents arrived, que the beginning of a more classy and luxurious holiday. I had a shower at their hotel (before getting the overnight bus to Paris - see the juxtaposition, it's almost like neglect) and it was deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelightful! I hadn't felt such pressure since leaving home. My hair has developed a second layer of 'sheen' whilst over here - making it mainly flat but whatevs. 

As this holiday is primarily a kind of last hurrah of family holidays for Mum's 50th it is nice to spend some time with them (and enjoy the finer things in life). Obviously, Mum is very excited about this... she has a list of 'dream' places to go that she has been carrying around - literally pages out of traveling magazines (too cute).

The family part of the holiday was intended to begin in Italy in a couple of days so the first couple of days of overlap were a bit of an accident and so, family time was a little splintered. But much of Saturday and Sunday we spent together.

Saturday evening, for instance, we were spoiled with a fabulous dinner at NOPI (blow by blow to come later).

Sunday we attempted to nullify the shopping with an injection of culture at the Tate. We saw Damien Hursts 50 million pound skull - which I'm going to admit I don't really get, it's just super extravagant, before heading off to lunch at Brick Lane. 

A historically significant sight in London
My knowledge of Brick Lane was limited, coming mainly from a few scenes in movies so I expected the markets to be quite exotic.... They weren't... but they were soo amazing! There are such large crowds of people, glorious smelling food and cute little stalls popping up everywhere. The markets stretches for a couple of kilometers and it is hard to resist not buying something! At the end of our short visit we stumbled across a small bagel house that just so happened to be featured in one of Mum's wish lists. I have honestly never seen her so excited.... They served fresh bagels with salt beef, supposedly better than in New York (according to Mum's article which quotes Heston Blumenthal - that's some authority there!) I wouldn't know if it was better but it was super delicious!

The true joy was watching them carve the meet and stack up the sandwiches like well oiled machine!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Sometimes jet lag totally works in your favour! Like when you need to be on a train at 9.30 and can't sleep past 7, super! So getting out first train proved to be a breeze!

After our four hour fast train, blowing minds at 300km accross the German country side( to which I will one day escape gorgeous!!) we stepped off in Amsterdam. We have been considerably lucky with our hostels..always a fluke location seeing as I booked them all last week! So our three day trip was off to a good start!

Having not really planned anything other than accommodation and transfers (a fact that would later come to unravel me) we decided to discover through a little old fashion exploration.

Amsterdam is undeniably one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The houses, parks, rivers, bikes and people are just too much! I could just walk around forever...and that's what we did!

Pretty much for two days we meandered through the gorgeous streets, discovered the hidden ponds of the park and discussed how to accessories my pink beauty (bike) when we get home!

Of course our trip was dappled with much more touristy things. A visit to a coffee shop, a very inspiring and busy visit to the van gough museum ( it's always so annoying when you go to a busy museum..I mean crowds at a museum are the worst especially when you are short. Luckily I have developed fox like reflexes and oft sneak to the front. Rant end.) we mainly walked. In a little bit of a backward step we decided on what would be our final day to do a free waking tour!

**read free to mean with a tip, large crowd and limited info...but ultimately FREE!**

The weather was beautiful, while not summer yet, it's getting there! But I do have a confession. I have no idea what traditional Dutch food is! Even after googling briefly. Of course that's not to say we didn't eat in four days my girth has ballooned considerably...delicious sandwiches etc. the one thing I heard mentioned a number of times was herring. So I ventured off to find some on our last afternoon...

Here is what I wrote:

Herring. Slimy would be okay with some lemon. Has a very fishy taste... That lingers.... Couldn't eat the whole thing texturally. Probably would have been better without bread or like more ceviche style...rude? Perhaps.

Tomorrow we head to London via Bruges! Stay tuned! xx

Three days of Dam no particular order.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Welcome to Frankfurt!

So perhaps we haven't given the city much of chance only spending a day here but after the 24 hour flight the first day was never going to be a fanfare.

We arrived at 6am and found a dink little hotel right next to frankfurt main train station!

Initially we thought the city was just eerily quiet but then we realised it was 8 o'clock on a Saturday... But we did come accross some gorgeous sights! 

 have no idea what any of then are because soon after we were overcome with the desperate need to shower so popped back to the hotel and slipped into a catatonic state which involved staring at this ceiling....

Before hunger brought us to the streets again. Being in Frankfurt we thought it only fit to have a frankfurter...turns put no one in Germany knows what that is. Our hotel friend told us to go to the train station but we couldn't find the bratwurst kiosk supposedly located between platform 10 and 12...and lucky we didn't bevause we did find a delicious fresh food market with bratwurst and curry wurst and apfelwein galore!

We had to choose and embarass ourselves with our feeble German phrases..."one of them, bitte' and spilling tomatoe sauce all down my front (obviously, that was just me) but we did get our frankfurters (and some deep fried elderflower...which is just like a donut only much much larger)

So danke shern Frankfurt it's been swell! Off to Amsterdam tomorrow to play, walk, and eat some more. FYI 'm going to bed's 8pm...solid.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Super Exciting!!

In less than a week I'm of to EEEEEEEEUROPE!!! I'm super excited for everything!!!

But of course the sights and fooood! 

I may not be posting as regularly but I'll try to get some piccies up! I may even get to go to a COOKING CLASS IN ITALY!!! soo exciting! 

Speak soon xx

PS it was really these super cute awesome cookies from the The University of Cookie!

Monday, June 11, 2012

$10 Fettuccine with Lemon, Garlic, and Thyme

Success!! We have success!

Only a few nights ago Harry and I made the most delicious pasta! It contained colour, "balance," and seemed to be nutritious, a salad would probably have added value, but you have to start somewhere. 

We made Fettuccine with lemon, garlic, thyme, and mushroom (no I'm not ripping off the Nigella Lawson recipe - it IS the Nigella recipe but we didn't have linguine). The recipe is so amazingly simple I barely believed it. In fact I didn't believe it! It involves such minimal cooking - literally just boiling up some pasta) so it's super easy for even the most uninspiring cooks!

You can get Nigella Lawson's original recipe here. We followed almost to the letter....AND IT CAME TO A WHOPPING $13.90! (admittedly we were given a lemon from a friend but that would only have added a dollar).  There is one thing I would suggest add the cheese to individual portions because when we added the cheese according to the recipe all the cheese clumped at the bottom, but it is an amazing simple and meets the criteria of the $10 food challenge!

(see! You may also note we bought paper towels etc) 

So go forth and enjoy, this amazing and delicious pasta!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds

Over the weekend I had the opportunity of another ‘fine dining’ experience, I love going out with my parents! This week we went to The Grounds in Alexandria.

The Grounds is a great place, the venue is set up beautifully making you dream of gorgeous summer parties and drinks with friends. The food is delicious, it’s inventive, simple, fresh, and gorgeous looking. One thing to note, however, is The Grounds is not a place to go hungry… it’s more of a “I’ll be hungry in 30-40 minutes” place.  Luckily for the ladies there is a great underwear warehouse next door, to null the pain.

The set-up is beautiful. In this gorgeous – hard to find – warehouse, The Grounds has played into the building but also freshened up the whole barn-yard atmosphere with the great outdoor area (the one where I will hold all my future dream parties). Unfortunately it was very rainy last weekend so there was no outdoor area, but I enjoyed checking out the chicken run anyway!

We got our coffees and beverages fairly quickly. The Grounds knows how to put a flare on the simple things, even hot chocolate! I was so excited when presented with this gorgeous “make your own” hot chocolate. I haven’t been so pleased to see one of these since my first ever visit to Le Pain de Quotidien! Plus it didn’t have any of that hazelnut infused business. The coffees had mixed reaction, mainly due to the strength of the brew.

Looking at the menu, there are a few amazing sounding dishes! It’s like a barn world wonderland – eggs rolled in crispy quinoa ?! What is this madness? Considering by the time we are eating it’s about 2.30 I decided against the eggs instead going for the Confit ocean trout with pearl barley. Mum and I decided we would share so the second half of my meal was Slow Cooked Lamb Salad with Yoghurt. Dad decided to get the wonderland dish.  Lucky me I got to taste them all!

The Confit Ocean Trout was Ah-mazing! There was a delightful crunch of fennel that was sooo finely chopped that they provided a nice fresh crunch. The pearl barley ‘s subtle flavour and smooth texture was the perfect accompaniment to the delicate trout.

The Slow Cooked Lamb Salad with Yoghurt was delicious and comforting. Although there were no real surprises, warm lamb, yoghurt, some chickpeas, sweet potatoe and salad greens, the salad was comfortable, definitely a dish I’d return to on any day.

I didn’t have much of the rolled eggs in quinoa but Dad demolished it all. But I hear the soft boiled egg was complemented by the crunch of the quinoa… that’s all he said. It is definitely an intriguing dish… one I wish to try.

The Grounds has become astoundingly popular in a very short time, but it truly is a great place. The food, atmosphere, and décor are all very exciting! A place that feels comfortable but provides nice surprises to make sure that you will come back… and I know I will.

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