America · Ice Cream · Salads · Sweets · Travelling

What I eat in Arizona, Part 1

First of all, Southwest Airlines are hilarious- I’m only ever flying with them again! Airline and a stand-up comedy act? Sold.

Featured highlights:

‘If you’re scared of flying, put your head between your knees and tremble until we bring round the alcohol’

‘You are so lucky to have us as your flight crew’ (no lack of confidence there)

‘My guy in Houston writes these leaflets – I know none of you will read them but you should. If there’s an emergency – tough, you’re on your own! (Only joking, obviously look for a crew member!)

[Paraphrased but the gist is there]

They also give very friendly snacks…



During the first few days we have swum, relaxed and eaten a lot of good food, so here follow the highlights!

The first night we ate at Pita Jungle where I was again reminded of the scale of American portions – I ate the  second half of the meal for breakfast the next morning! I had a lentil fatoosh salad which there is no photographic evidence of – it tasted good though!

Dessert did make the camera though – below is an ice cream sandwich made of a chocolate chip cookie, a s’mores cookie with mint chocolate chip ice cream and hot Nutella (hence the salad before…)


(They also gave us free brownies (2) and 12 white chocolate macadamia nut cookies as we were there at closing time!)

The next day we went to one of my favourite lunch places – Flower Child. Basically a hippie place (even including a ‘yoga mat parking’ spot) it specialises in bowls, salads and other tasty things. I had a Vietnamese salad bowl with tofu which was delicious, but I was also very taken by the drinks – honey-lavender-limeade, elderflower-rose lemonade and strawberry-lemonade, all on tap!


Then we had a quick tour around some of the amazing houses in the local area before heading to Creamistry – my favourite ice-cream place! Based on some – very dodgy – liquid nitrogen freezing principles you can create your own ice-cream by choosing a base, flavourings and toppings. Below we have a creamy base, tiramisu flavour with hot fudge sauce on the top. (Again, salad for supper!)


I do also get hugely excited by watching them make the ice-cream in front of you! We are planning on going again later in the week and then I plan to go a little more experimental with flavours.

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Also, this is what a Malteaser looks like in the States…

Until next time then, happy eating!

America · Travelling

San Francisco- Day Two

So this was meant to be one post about San Francisco, but it took far to long to write the first one – we clearly do a lot! This is now day two – our only full day.

The hotel we stayed in provided us with muffins and coffee for breakfast- I discovered that ‘half and half’ does not make nice coffee… 

Next we started walking through some of the districts including Mission, Castro and Japantown before heading towards the Golden Gate Park. 



(No guesses as to what Castro is known for!)


This is called ‘Alpine Street’ – well named!

Starting at the conservatory we then walked through the Memorial Gardens and towards the lily pond (weirdly foul-smelling) and the Japanese Tea Garden (expensive – $8 dollars if you wanted to go in!)


The conservatory at Golden Gate Park


The less-than-fragrant lily (never saw any…) pond

We then wandered down by the lake where I was surprised to find turtles! I didn’t even think about seeing them in the wild but was struck by how still they were – sat on sticks in the middle of the lake!




Afterwards we caught a bus back to the centre and walked back to Little Saigon to get a Bahn Mi from Saigon Sandwich – definitely the best roast pork sandwich I’ve had for a long time!


Then we walked back to the Piers, heading for Pier 43 and a half, and our boat tour! This took us out to the Golden Gate Bridge, around past Alcatraz and back to the mainland, but was very interesting. After a dodgy start the audio guide was fascinating – very well ordered and gave a good balance of information throughout. The weather was sunny but hugely windy – I was trying to take pictures and several times nearly fell over whilst balancing against the rail with the camera in my hand. I was struck with two things about the bridge – firstly it’s sheer size, and secondly the colour. It’s orange apparently. My whole understanding of San Francisco architecture is a lie.



I was excited to go around Alcatraz- I had wanted to go on a tour but they were all booked up. The boat trip though was great in this respect – it gave a lot of information, slowed down as you went past and circled the island almost completely. The stories of the children who lived in Alcatraz, going to school on the same ferry as the criminals coming to the island and the interviews with people on it were very interesting and I do want to find out more. They also talked about Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the West) and again, being something I knew nothing about did make me want to learn more about it. 


After the cruise we walked back through Chinatown, before aiming to find some supper! One of the most famous Chinatowns in the world, this clearly gave off the impression of being a living district, rather than one created for tourists. We went to a bakery where Max had a Chinese custard tart and I tried an unusual delicacy of a puff pastry filled with a mixture of ginger, yellow soy bean paste and preserved egg – unlike anything I’ve had before but very tasty!


Fisherman’s Wharf – reminds me s bit of Brighton



We then tried to find tea, which turned out to feature a LOT of walking – we had bookmarked several places, most of which were either closed, expensive or not what we wanted at the time. However, our last choice struck gold and we ended up at the Capital Restaurant which served huge portions or delicious food for good prices. If we were hungrier, they had a deal for $15 of spring rolls, egg fried rice, beef and broccoli, sweet and sour chicken, tea and fortune cookies. If the portion sizes were anything to go by, that was probably a week’s worth of food in one meal! Maybe next time!


Thick noodles with cabbage and pork – not the most attractive looking plate of food but very tasty!

America · Travelling

A Few Days in San Francisco 

Before heading onto Phoenix (our main destination) we decided to spend a few days in San Francisco. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I have wanted to go for a long time 
  2. Plane tickets to Phoenix were very expensive! 

However the end result is positive – we got to spend some time there and it didn’t disappoint! As I’m now waiting in the airport for the Phoenix flight it’s time to fill you in on what we’ve been doing!

So on our first evening we were very tired but still decided to go out and explore a little bit, particularly as I had my eye on a specific ice cream sundae shop… We planned to head on the cable cars to go to Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, however we accidentally got on the historical Streetcars by mistake. However, the conductor was lovely and allowed us to carry on and refused to take any money, despite us trying to pay him – instead Max got instructions to buy me flowers! 



Next we headed past the Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghiradelli Square and walked up through the shops. Passing the improvising violinist we went into the chocolate and coffee shop for our sundae – only to find that the new rules say that calorie counts have to be added to menus.

I don’t want to know the number of calories in this one.


(We did share this one)

Afterwards we walked up some of San Francisco’s massive hills and went to the top of Lombard Street (calling itself the windiest street in the world). The pictures are not great due to light, but the road is extreme- speed limit of 5mph! (Dad would like it!)



We then wandered back to the bay front and caught out first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in the early evening, before catching the cable car back to the centre – there was a bit of a ‘Knight Bus’ (Harry Potter link!) feel to this, from the old cable car with huge metal leavers to the screaming driver! I joked on the way up that it looked a little like a really slow rollercoaster going up to the top and when we got to the top of the hill it definitely felt a bit like that!





We then went for some food which weirdly was quite hard to find at 8.30-9pm. San Francisco apparently has the most restaurants of any American city, but they all seemed to be closed! After walking through Little Saigon and the Tenderloin District, past the theatre (where I was hugely excited to find that it was showing ‘Hamilton’) and bypassing a pikachu giving directions (!) we gave it up as a bad job, and went back to the hotel. However en route we passed the ever-open Chipotle! Though disappointed to find that it is $2 more in San Francisco than in Washington DC or other more eastern US cities (they are NOT exaggerating about how expensive San Francisco is!), we got a huge plate of food and learnt what Sofritas is! (Tofu rice bowl for Max). At this point we were definitely ready to collapse (6am English time!) and were definitely ready for bed!


America · Travelling

Day Four: Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls

Today was quite a relaxed day, after the masses of driving we had in the previous days. We started by going back to Temple Square and looking through the several visitor centres, as well as having a second look around the  various buildings. I was particularly impressed with a beautiful model of the inside of the Temple. As non-Mormans we were obviously unable to see the actual temple, so this model was a lovely way to understand a little more of what went on inside. The painted walls in particular were absolutely stunning!

We then went on to explore the rest of the city, including the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art which confirmed that we are not arty people! With the exception of one exhibit about immigration from Mexico, the remainder just seemed a little random!

Far more appealing was the city library which aside from being very modern and arty, also had a great rooftop view of the city! We also stopped here for a quick cup of seafood chowder for lunch.

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In the afternoon we then headed out to Idaho Falls for our next stop, in preparation for Yellowstone tomorrow. The journey was good and we had a lovely hotel, which we had a little time to settle into before supper. We also took the time to have a walk beside the eponymous falls, which were very impressive.

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We then headed for supper at Makers Bar and Grill, which was a great meal. I chooses the Chicken Parmesan with a side of greens, which was delicious! It came with a complimentary salad or soup, which left you very full and satisfied! I chose the pear and pecan salad with raspberry vinaigrette and the starter plate was the size of a main! Brilliant value and very tasty!

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America · Travelling

Day 3: Bryce Canyon and Salt Lake City

Today was a day we were slightly concerned about in terms of length, as it was almost 400 miles in total distance. However, it proved totally worth it. Our first stop was Bryce Canyon, which I knew very little about except that it had ‘Hoodoos’, which also happened to be the name of a beer (other examples shown below)

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Anyway back to the canyon. Another park and ride job, which is a brilliant system that the national parks have got down to a T. It made getting around so much easier! We had a short walk through some woods before we came out onto a small viewing area where we saw this.

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Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t really feel the pictures do it justice, it was so beautiful. The brilliant this was that you could see it from two places – above and below! We started at the high viewing point, but then hiked down to the bottom of the canyon, where you could look up to find most of the sky obscured. Truly amazing.

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However we then had to walk back up. This was not so fun. I think I walked into about three peoples photographs, as I thought ‘If I stop now, I won’t start again!’ Luckily we got back just in time to evade the thunderstorm that was boiling up in the park (a big threat in the area!)

We then headed to Salt Lake City, a drive we were not looking forward to until we realised the speed limit was 80! This made it much more bearable! We stopped off briefly in Provo, but were not impressed – to be honest it looked like a bit of a wreck! There also seem to be a lot of people who hate buses, as lots of trees had black ribbons with anti-bus service messages posted on them.

When we got to Salt Lake City, we went immediately to Temple Square, to see the beautiful buildings. Our first stop was the Tabernacle, where a lovely missionary from California, Sister Howard told us a little about the buildings history and use. I have such a lot of respect for these young girls and men. They give up 18 months/2 years doing missionary work for the church in an unfamiliar place and they can only call home twice a year (at Christmas and Easter) – all other contact is limited to one letter a week. I don’t think I could do that.

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Sister Howard also pointed us in the direction of the highlight of my evening – a chance to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir live in the Conference Centre! They allow the general public to listen to their rehearsals and being given this opportunity to listen to one of the best choirs in the world free was a dream come true! From a musicians perspective it was also really interesting to see the rehearsal process and understand how the music comes together.

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By this point I was starving, and am not really existing well on the breakfast and muesli bar option. We had marked out some restaurant options, but they weren’t in our area so we had to go to Plan 2: the Squatters Pub. This is a brewery, pub and restaurant not far from our hotel, which also serves a wide and varied menu. I chose the Carnitas – slow cooked pork with Southern rice, refried beans with queso fresno, salad, salsa and guacamole, stuffed into tortilla wraps. The pork was so tender it fell apart, whilst the rice and beans were so tasty I couldn’t stop eating them, even when stuffed otherwise! Other dishes sampled were the meatloaf which looked (and tasted!) delicious, and the pulled pork sandwich which was so full of meat the bun couldn’t hold it all!

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We were told on the way into the pub that it was a locals favourite, and we can see why, both of us saying that if we’d stayed here longer we would have come back several times. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun, the food and beer great and the service impeccable – another win!

America · Desserts · Travelling

Day 2: Zion National Park and The Grand Canyon

Today we had two places on the agenda, both of which were in completely different directions to each other, thus necessitating a lot of driving around! We started by going to Zion National Park in Utah. This was an odd drive, as it was not very long before we entered the park itself, but then it took us about 45 minutes of driving through the park to get to the main bit! Parking was also very busy, so we actually ended up driving out the other side to find a space, and then catching the shuttle bus back into the park!

Once inside we took another bus through the beautiful gorges and canyons to the temple of Sirawaya, deep in the park. I was amazed by the height of the rock walls – when in the midst of the canyon you had to look almost straight up to see the top! It also made me think of the Lion King, a thought reinforced by looking at the pictures – does anyone else think this, or am I just odd?
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There were also a lot of posing squirrels, who obviously are used to humans wanting to take their picture, as they have developed almost model-like characteristics!

We then moved on to a long drive back through Kanab and into Arizona again to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which was an amazing experience. Now Max has been to the South Rim and we have both seen the West Rim (and done the Skywalk) previously, but we both felt that neither was a patch on the North Rim! It was so green and beautiful, but whilst still providing you with the awe-inspiring grandeur that the canyon is famous for. We walked out to some viewing points above the canyon, and whilst getting there was terrifying at points, it was worth it for the experience!
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On return to Kanab in the evening, we went to Rocking V’s Cafe again, as we enjoyed it so much last night, and it was again brilliant! We had the same server, Terry who remembered us and was very friendly and helpful, along with the Maître De, and the rest of the staff. Tonight I stuck with the southwestern theme, but went vegetarian, enjoying Corncakes made with polenta and black beans, served with a green chile relish and tomato salsa (along with salad and asparagus). I really wanted a picture to show you, but I was so hungry I didn’t check the shot and so it came out like this.
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It’s the eternal food blogger issue – you want a good picture, but more than that – you want to eat the food!

We couldn’t resist the puddings again, and this time decided to divide and conquer. Mum and I enjoyed the chocolate mousse – dairy free and oh so thick and delicious! I could eat it all day! Max went for creme brûlée, whilst Dad (who has never before ordered dessert in a restaurant!) could not resist the bread pudding with whiskey sauce! After tasting it I can’t blame him – it was phenomenal! Definitely a must try!
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Overall, for a small border town, Kanab has a culinary jewel in the Rocking V Cafe. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and hope it continues to flourish!