Back In NZ And Ready…….

I have exciting news, but first –

We are back from out wonderful trip. It is lovely to come home to New Zealand and all our normality and friends. I may have been born in Brighton but Wellington is definitely home.

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Since leaving the UK we have been to Vancouver for 5 days visiting my sister in law. We went blueberry picking, had a wonderful birthday cake, ate lots of good food and I finally managed to get Miss and Mr Muffin to try poutine. Miss wasn’t too keen but Mr agreed, it is a thing, a good thing. There first poutine experience was at Dunn’s Famous and I do recommend it for trying all things Canadian.

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And now on to the news……

I am the Wellington based contributor for the High Tea Society and you can see my first review here.

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I Am Still Alive!I Have New Chins And Stretchy Pants.

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See the chins?

I am still alive and I really do have new chins and stretchy pants. I also have lots of stretchy dresses. I have been shopping rather a lot.

Us Muffins are currently in Brighton, UK visiting family. I have also been to Barcelona, Spain and up to London for a jaunt with my best friend.

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Harrod’s Baklava

We have eaten out so much since we left New Zealand. Also we have bought things from the supermarket and eaten all the pre-prepared food we fancied. In NZ we do not get a lot in the way of ready prepared so the Marks and Spencer Food Hall is very novel to us. Just today we had a marvellous M&S lunch which included empanadas, mac n cheese bites and French fancies.

 

Me and Miss Muffin have both had birthdays and celebrated with friends and family. Miss turned 13 and chose Thai for her dinner. We went to a proper back street pub in Shoreham By Sea and had a lovely Thai meal with lost of family. She even had a Choccywoccydoodah birthday cake that was rather wonderfull and topped with marshmallows.

My choice was a Chinese restaurant that is a fixed price and you order until you are full. A table of ten of us got through a fair amount of food. My lovely mum made a cake and that was a lime drizzle sponge. It was very good. The indoor firework instead of far too many candles was amusing and turned many heads in restaurants.

Barcelona was marvellous and we enjoyed a lot of tapas. The we in this case was me and 4 girlfriends who I have known forever. Padron peppers were a favourite and I even tried octopus.

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Tapas

 

London was also great. Me and my oldest and bestest friend extended her trip to Brighton so we could go together and do all the food things. On arrival we walked to Harrods and explored the food hall. I have always wanted to try their baklava and chose 4 pieces, the total was £5.05 and I was rather cheeky and paid with a £50 note. The man serving did ask if I had my Harrods card with me. We also did Fortnum and Mason’s, laughed at how many NZ products were for sale. Had cake for lunch and a very special dinner at Ottolenghi’s at Spitafield. The next day we visited Spitafield market and Borough market, both were good. Borough had our heart as it was so very foodie and we had Dosa. Dosa is always good.

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Brighton has a new Mexican and we just had to help the native Brightonians out by trying it, Wahaca was excellent and has a lovely atmosphere. In Brighton we have also eaten very lovely Persian at Shandiz Persian  and enjoyed being daring and having Faloudah for dessert along with baklava. Indian food has also been consumed and much British pub grub. This morning we had a greasy spoon fry up breakfast, writing this I see where the chins have come from.

I am sure there is plenty more eating ahead of us, we are looking forward to the blueberries in Canada.We have a few days left in the UK and will be in Vancouver for a few days before returning home to NZ.

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Hawaii….. I Yelp on and on.

I have been rather absent over the past few months. Work, life and the thought of going on holiday to Waikiki, Hawaii with the family have all taken up my time. Now I am back and ready to keep things going and blogging recipes that I need to remember. Back to Hawaii.

We went on a family holiday for 12 nights to Waikiki.  Mr Muffin has always wanted to go and I was more drawn to an Asian destination.  I was happy to wait to do Asia when Miss Muffin is fully released to the world and our funding is better.  After a few emails back and forward with our lovely travel agent friend Joanna Derveaux we settled on staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

With this destination set, it was time for the menu reading to commence.

I love to read menus, I would happily go on holiday and spend 80% of the time reading menus on the outside of buildings. Technology has now enabled me to obsess about the menu of various restaurants before the credit card has even been authorized.  Fantastic, I say.

Within an hour of our decision to go, I knew our first breakfast would be at the Wailana Coffee House, and it was. This place is a real money spinner and an old-fashioned diner, the kind you dream of finding. Miss Muffin had the strawberry waffle with a side of bacon every visit, Mr Muffin had various meat based meals and I enjoyed French toast stuffed with guava jelly and many variations on the good old pancake all covered in coconut syrup. You have to love a place that uses real fake cream, gives you 3 types of syrup, 4 types of jam and fills your coffee after every couple of sips.

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After finding breakfast, my search continued. I am not one to plan what evening we will eat where, no, I am not that frightening. I do like to have an idea that we can all find something we like and will all be happy. A rough idea of cost is good too.  After independently going through places and getting ideas using Google, I cottoned on to Yelp.

There are many review sites out there but for some reason, I found Yelp the easiest to use. The map feature is great and you can figure out exactly what is near to you at any given time. Through Yelp we went to a few places we wouldn’t have even looked at and this resulted in some very good and cheap Thai and Vietnamese food in real local places. You can find all my reviews at

www.muffin-mum.yelp.co.nz

I am going to make it my mission to post reviews about places in Wellington. This will be a kind of karmic mission and I hope I inspire one of the many tourists through my lovely city to go off the beaten track.  Talking of off track- back to Hawaii.

Everywhere we ate was good. Only one place was a bit just OK and not really that good I suppose. We only had one bad customer service experience and after my Yelp review the company apologized within 12 hours. The serving sizes were incredibly huge and we could have easily shared 2 meals between 3 of us. As most kids meals were around $7 with a drink included, this didn’t happen. The biggest serving size award from the Muffin’s goes to the chain restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory.

When we headed there I went with the image in my mind of just having a salad. Ha ha, how I laugh now. I could have easily taken the salad to a BBQ and a whole group of people would be more than happy. I did go on to help with the sharing of 2 cheesecakes after. You can read about this in my reviews on Yelp.

In conclusion, Hawaii was an excellent destination, the shopping was fantastic, the food was too and we will go back. We swam with turtles, yes, we did. We also shot guns, met a friend for drinks who lives in Melbourne and had fun.

Yelp defiantly helped make things great and no, I am not paid to say that. I don’t even have any followers or friends on there at the time of writing this.

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I am still alive.

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I am currently of on a holiday visiting family and friends in Scotland and England. I just had to post this picture of a culinary delight,  macaroni cheese pie. It was delicious and is the idea of the Scottish.  I love a good pre and mac n cheese. This was heaven.
* I have looked into this recipe and discovered it is made with water pastry, the same as a traditional pork pie. I will try this at home with the help of the gorgeous master baker and his books, Paul Hollywood.