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Man versus food

6 Dec

We’ve not watched much TV, well the children have, but the grown ups haven’t. Partly it’s because we’ve not often had access to a TV in the evenings because the children have been asleep, and partly because we’ve only had the free channels, which aren’t terribly good.

Special mention has to go to two programmes, The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills, which satisfied my I’m a Celebrity longing for a couple of evenings, and Man Versus Food. The latter basically involves a man, can’t remember his name, visiting restaurants around the USA and being challenged to eat gargantuan quantities of food in one sitting. The world’s biggest burger, that kind of thing. Man usually wins. As a format it gets tired pretty quickly, but for keen students of American culture, it has a lot to recommend it.

Today is our last day in America. I made a request that we go out and have a proper American breakfast. Steve chose a restaurant in the less fancy of Waikiki’s two Hiltons because it’s pancakes got a good write up in the Lonely Planet.

We arrived and looked at the menu, $15 for pancakes seemed a bit steep, but we were there and we’re used to sharing our food as portions are so big. Then we noticed the little announcement on the menu, “as seen on Man vs. Food”. We could not have chosen a more fitting venue for our last breakfast.

We just ordered one portion, the Elvis, with bacon, banana and peanut butter. It seemed only right.

Well. Apparently the record for one person to eat a stack of the Hilton’s pancakes is 15 minutes. He didn’t have to pay his bill. There was no way on earth we’d have achieved that. Each pancake was the size of a large pizza. Have you ever tried to eat a pancake the size of a pizza? I can confirm that it’s not easy. We struggled manfully for about 20 minutes with the delicious but ginormous portion, then our friendly waiter offered to box the rest up for us. It was without doubt the most entertaining meal we’ve had in Hawaii, and also the best value. $15 is a steal round these parts. And we’ve still got more than enough for tea.

PS picture above not actual size.

Dickon and the chocolate factory

30 Nov

We have been staying in the arse end of nowhere this week, down a dirt track in the jungle. While it has it’s good points, it’s meant a lot of driving. So we’ve started listening to audio books on our many trips up and down the volcano and to and from the capricious lava flow.

We’ve heard all of the BFG and have just started on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  The latter generated lots of conversations along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be cool if those trees were made of sugar?” and “Look! That’s just like a giant gobstopper.”

This morning, as part of our Auntie Mabel goes global programme, we decided to visit Big Island Candies, a biscuit shop that according to the trusty Lonely Planet, has a window onto the factory floor. As it’s Sunday, we assumed that the factory would be shut, but at least the shop would be open. And it’s in between the waterfall and the beach, so why not?

As we got out of the car, Dickon said, “I hope they have free samples”.  He wasn’t disappointed.  We opened the doors to be greeted by a sight of Christmassy wondorousness, with sparkly red decorations dangling from the ceiling, trees covered in bows and red and white striped paper chains everywhere.  And a friendly lady handing out samples.  We wandered over to look through the large windows into the factory and were happy to see a small production line of ladies dipping all manner of things in chocolate.  “It’s just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!” Dickon gasped, and it really was.  Except the staff weren’t knee high and orange, but other than that…

And then we noticed the samples.  On the shelves, next to each product, was a bowl with samples.  We tried everything, as you do, and there was very little we didn’t like.  Minty brownies, lavender biscuits, shortbread in every guise, macadamia popcorn.  They were all good.

There was a section for products aimed at the many Japanese tourists who visit Hawaii.  These didn’t look quite so appealing, chocolate covered dried squid would be particularly challenging I think.

After trying everything once, Dickon went back for seconds and started emptying bowls, so we left before we were chucked out, but only after buying some minty brownies.

In the car on the way to the beach Dickon said “that is the best place in all of Hawaii.”

Shave ice

13 Nov

Shave ice is a Hawaiian institution.  It’s pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, shaved ice.  With the addition of brightly coloured flavoured syrups, and if you’re lucky, ice cream, aduki beans, cream or other stuff.  Adding ice cream is very good.  Can’t speak for the other stuff.  I’m pretty sure it’s related to Malaysian ABC which also involves shaved ice and beans, but I have no actual proof.

Local Boys shave ice

After exhaustive research (three shave ices) I can confirm that Local Boys shave ice in Kihei is the best on Maui.  Their ice is soft and fluffy, like the purest snow.  A crystally shave ice is not a happy thing.  Their syrups have pleasing names like sharks blood, but taste reassuringly of fruit.  Their ice cream is delicious and made locally.  And you can watch the huge blocks of ice being fashioned into cooling snacks for surf dudes.

Long may it’s power to bribe the children last…


27 Sep

Ned eating Vietnamese frog curry

One of the great pleasures of travelling is trying new foods.  From shave ice and spam sushi in Hawaii, to deep fried crickets in Thailand, the world is one big edible experience.

There is something so right about eating a local speciality in it’s home locality.  I’ll never forget the freezing February day we ate chocolate ice creams watching the vaporettos zip up and down the Lido in Venice.  Or the spicy laksa for breakfast whilst watching a bird singing competition on a humid Sunday morning in Singapore.  Or the bars of Milka chocolate eaten at the top of Swiss mountains, the sound of cow bells serenading our picnics.

I’m looking forward to blogging about food.  First up, airplane food…

This post was written for The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.  This week’s prompt was ‘food’.

On growing up and chocolate cake

27 Jul

This time four years ago, I was sort of, possibly, in labour.  Within a couple of hours, my youngest child had slithered into the world.  Just minutes after his speedy arrival, I felt complete, that our family was complete.  I believe that his lovely birth and his smiley, sunny personality have helped make me into the mother I am today.  Helped me to recapture my pre-children calmness, and to realise that parenting needn’t always be hard, that it’s OK to let stuff wash over me, OK to have fun.  He was loved instantly by his older siblings, he makes us laugh, he’s cheeky, he is sweet and loving.  Of course he can also be whiny and annoying, and he shouts really, really, loudly, but our family wouldn’t be the same without him.  I like being a family of five.

When he was a baby, four years old seemed grown up.  Four years old was our benchmark for when life would change.  We decided to go travelling when he was four years old because it seemed like a sensible age.  We wouldn’t need nappies, buggies, cots.  He’d be able to walk reasonable distances, wouldn’t run off into a crowd, would be able to tell us what was wrong if he was ill.  Most importantly, as a four year old, we hoped he’d get something from the experience.

So it is with very mixed feelings that we celebrate his fourth birthday today.  Sad because we no longer have babies and toddlers, a huge, important stage of our life is over.  Happy because we are entering a new and exicting stage.  Because Dickon being four, means that our trip is rapidly approaching.

When asked what kind of cake he wanted, Dickon first said a dinosaur cake.  A few days ago he changed his mind to a pirate cake.  We settled for a pirate dinosaur.  Covering our bases.

This recipe is for our family birthday cake.  I make it at least three times a year because it is quite simply the best chocolate cake in the world.  Roaring loudly when you eat it is optional.

3oz plain chocolate
7floz milk
9oz dark muscovado sugar
3oz butter softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
5 oz flour
1 oz cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Set the oven to 350 F or Gas Mark 4.  Grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins (or one dinosaur tin).  Put the chocolate, milk and 3oz of the sugar into a pan, heat gently to melt, then allow to cool.  Cream the butter and remaining sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs, vanilla essence and milk mixture.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb and gently fold in, incorporating as much air as possible.  Put into the tins and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Turn out and cool.

Meanwhile, beat together 4oz of butter and 7oz of golden icing sugar in a bowl. Melt 4oz plain chocolate and mix with a tablespoon of milk. Add the choclate the butter and sugar and use to sandwich the cakes together. Coat the top and sides of the cake with the remainder.

This post was written for English Mum’s Big Bake Off.  If I win, I’ll get lots and lots of Green and Blacks chocolate.  To make more cake.


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