America · Arizona · California · Food · Travelling

Post-Flight Jet Lag

I’m back in England now and suffering from the curse of flying west to east – Jet lag! I tried to avoid the worst of it – I slept about four hours on the plane (discovering that eye masks are actually a massive help in sleeping was a game changer!), stayed up until the evening and tried to keep to as normal a routine as possible, but it’s not completely worked, so I’m going to be productive and use this time to write about a few of the final thing we have done, places we saw and food we ate in our final days in Phoenix and San Francisco.

On the final Sunday we all went out for brunch at the Biltmore hotel, which was undergoing HUGE renovations at the time – it looked unrecognisable inside from our previous visits! All the interiors were halfway through being repaired, the main entrance in particular was being redone at the time! However, brunch at Frank and Albert’s was still delicious. I decided on the huevos rancheros, which featured a lot of guacamole, cheese and the most delicious chorizo, all with added black bean purée which is always a bonus!


The Biltmore is also the only place where meat and cheese is a necessary addition to a Bloody Mary. This wasn’t my drink so I can’t vouch for if it added to the flavour, but it definitely added interest!


After brunch we took a wander around some of the grounds of the hotel, Nathaniel did some painting and we enjoyed the sunshine for a short while. The hotel has some beautiful features to it and I can only imagine it must be a lovely place to stay! 





In the afternoon, Chloe and I tried to replicate the Arizona baking-cookies-outside challenge, however we chose the wrong week in which to visit for that! Despite earlier in the year having been unbearable for Phoenix, we hit right in the middle of monsoon season. Thunderstorms, yes. Humidity – oh yes! But temperatures hot enough to bake cookies on the hood of your car? Not so much. We nearly made it with one set on the hood of the car inside the garage, but the heat just wasn’t there (and the batter was disposed of before the experiment could be finished…)


Test site one – by the swimming pool. (The shadow is me – they weren’t in the shade). These were not a success – they were disposed of after being eaten by ants and stood on… 


On the car bonnet in the garage – the one closest to working!


On the car bonnet outside – much cooler than in the garage so not a real success either…

The final evening in Phoenix was completed by night swimming (after a steak barbecue and many cakes!) and water balloons- the perfect way to cool down.


If only this was appropriate in England!

The next day (Monday) we flew back to San Francisco, just for one night. Landing in the late afternoon we arrived at our hotel, checked in for our flight the next day and also realised we had got there just in time for cookies – you know it’s a good hotel when they give you tea and cookies/brownies at 4pm! We then headed out to Chinatown and enjoyed a massive Chinese Szechuan banquet for our final meal (we hadn’t eaten yet!)


Chicken and lemongrass potstickers and fried wontons


Spicy beef and vegetables

Apparently I failed to take pictures of the rest but it also included hot and sour soup, cashew chicken and mixed fried rice – alongside the fortune cookies and tea! Absolutely delicious, particularly the beef, but I definitely don’t feel the need to eat Chinese food again for a while!


San Francisco in the evening

The next morning we walked around through the districts of Mission in order to prepare for the long flight ahead, particularly with regard to food – I do not have faith in airline meals! We started with breakfast at Hayes Valley Bakeworks with this wonder:


Maple-bacon-cinnamon rolls – whoever invented this is a genius. I’m a sucker for that flavour combination anyway and this was simply divine!

After walking through from our hotel to Mission and around the surrounding areas for a few hours, we broke for lunch/brunch at about 11 at El Taqueria Farolito, a recommendation which proved to be an amazing find. Absolutely huge burritos – I had the regular and I dread to think what the large would have been like! We made the rookie mistake of ordering chips as well – not a plan! The proteins were also hugely varied – we went for the safer options of carne asada (steak) and chorizo but we could have had beef tongue, beef head or beef brains! Maybe next time!


Finally to complete I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit Bi-Rite Creamery (also in Mission) – another recommendation which I was happy to receive! After vacillating between flavours such as peach cobbler, basil and watermelon-coconut I finally decided to go with the black sesame and strawberry balsamic combination. Definitely a good final dessert in San Francisco.

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America · Travelling

Tombstone – The O.K. Corral

Day one of the Tucson road trip – we headed 3 hours down the I-10 to Tombstone. This city gained fame/notoriety as the location of the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which was acted out for us later that afternoon! Today it is mostly a tourist location and has several exhibitions relating to its earlier history as a bullion boom town (and a very impressive diorama!)





Because what town doesn’t need a ‘mustachery’!


Big Nose Kate’s Saloon


The Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday prepare for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral


The ‘scene of the crime…’


Mining – what Tombstone was originally known for.


Supper had to be steak at CattleTown, Tucson followed by Strawberry Shortcake – both delicious though everyone was confused to find that there was no ‘shortcake’ anywhere near it, but was rather a vanilla sponge cake!



Tomorrow, the Pima Air and Space Museum, followed by Saguaro National Park!

America · Brunch · Travelling

Good Food, Arizona Weather and Wave Pools

So, all quiet on the West Coast here – the last few days have been full of the above. Yesterday we went to a wave pool in Tempe featuring a huge mechanical wave every five minutes – great fun yet eerily reminiscent of the arena in ‘Catching Fire’ (Hunger Games II) when it begins!


Max and Chloe both claim the red water slide was amazing – I did not try it…




What has been particularly remarkable this trip has been the weather – for the first time we have landed in Moonsoon season! This means that unlike the usual weather of this…


There has been unusually large amounts of this:


Also there have been huge rain and thunderstorms every evening and this morning I awoke to many flood warnings – my phone sent me at least three warnings of flash flooding in my local area! The storms have been very exciting (when inside obviously!), full of both sheet and fork lightening. However I can tell you that the iPhone camera is not cut out for storm videography as this is the best I got…


The food as usual has been good but enormous – today we went to Eggstacy for lunch and for $11 Max and I split the following:


Greek-style gyro hash with a poached egg – half a portion pictured


Pecan Pie Pancakes – the full portion!

Other examples of an entire day’s calories in one plate include Chloe’s banana Nutella pancakes:


Or Nathaniel’s mango pancakes accompanied by asparagus hash (Hash not pictured)


Finally I leave you with what I originally thought might be the worst cereal ever (thank goodness it’s not real!)




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

The Great American Road Trip: Phoenix to Kanab

So today was the first day of the road trip, which for those of you not in the know will take us from Phoenix to Vancouver, via many national parks and cities in the process. For the next 10 days I will be (hopefully) trying to blog both a little about the trip itself, but also about the food and other scrummy things that we sample en route!

Today we started by getting the car which is huge, as you can see below – I have a whole three seats to myself! It’s also well stocked with water and a mini tuck shop put together by Chloe (including the adorable sticker decorations!)

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We started up the country by heading to Sedona, land of the red rocks, as you can see below. Now after a while of being in Utah, you get a bit more used to seeing red rocks, but for me the first time it was amazing, more like a painting than an actual place.

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Next we headed to the Meteor Crater, by Wilmsow (via Oak Creek Canyon) Now having a space fanatic in the car made this a must-see, but all of use were slightly amazed at the size of it! My camera can’t get all of it in, and there is a 6 foot spaceman at the bottom who is invisible to the naked eye!
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Next we got back in the car for the long stretch of drive for the day, taking us up to Kanab on the Utah-Arizona border. However before we got their we planned to stop at Horseshoe bend. However, this was easier said than done as we initially took the wrong turn. Not good. However, when we finally got their (and trekked a mile across soft dry sand – my nightmare terrain!) the view was completely worth it, and probably the best thing I saw all day! For some reason no-one but Max and I were standing at the best viewpoint, which I can’t understand, but it did give us a pretty much uninterrupted view!

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From there were drove the final 2 hours to Kanab, where we stopped for the night. Our body clocks were totally out of sync, as we’d forgotten that Arizona and Utah run on different time zones – that’ll be fun tomorrow! However, it was time for food, and as I’d existed for the day on a muesli bar and a few Starburst I was hungry! We planned to go to a small restaurant called the Rocking V Cafe, which was just down the road from our hotel, and despite having to wait a little (we’d arrived at a busy point with no reservation!) it was well worth it! I enjoyed a starter of tomato and basil soup with bread and the most random balsamic vinaigrette – it looked more like mayonnaise! However, it did taste like its namesake, so we can’t complain! This was then followed by a plate of Cajun salmon with wild rice and grains, served with creole-style salad and asparagus, and was totally delicious.

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After this, despite the sizeable meal, when the server asked if we had room for pudding, I couldn’t turn down a piece of Key Lime Pie, it being on my American desserts list and all! I’ve never had this before (only the flavouring in cheesecake form) and was excited to try a real slice! I was initially surprised to realise that the white stuff on the top was whipped cream not meringue, but this was in no way a disadvantage, and actually I quite enjoyed it. It was tart, sweet and smooth and the perfect end to a long day.
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Overall we were really pleased with the Rocking V Cafe, and plan to go back there tomorrow as well. So if you are ever in Kanab, Utah it’s definitely the place to eat!