Friday, 31 July 2009

Goodbye Dana (for now)

All too soon Dana's visit home (although if that's where the heart is, hers is definitely Seattle) comes to an end. She flew back today to join Amir in summer temperatures of over 40C and a day out watching an air show on a boat owned by his mentor from Amazon. It's a tough life.

But they'll be back in three weeks :)

The most important part of Dana's stay was visiting Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers (possibly the only thing that Seattle lacks). Here she is with one of their legendary guacamole burgers and an Oreo shake. Can you tell if she's happy?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Cutting the cake

The USA doesn't have enough holidays, but thankfully my favourite restaurant stepped in this week to address that problem.

The Cheesecake Factory announced Thursday 30th July as National Cheesecake Day! This was no cynical marketing ploy as they put their money where their mouth is with 50% off every slice (limit one slice per dine-in guest only). By an amazing coincidence it was also the day of Partners' Lunch...

Look, it's true! Dana proves it at Macy's 8th floor cheesecake paradise.

Ummm...I forgot to take photos before we started eating. This one's Tiramisu cheesecake.

And this one's Dutch Apple Caramel Struesel - truly the food of the angels. Hannah got a take-away slice to reward her hard day of sapping the planet's resources.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

That's the way the cookie crumbles

Jim and Gen, buyers of awesome presents, outdid themselves once again by giving me an early birthday gift while we were staying. And here it is...

Yes, cake tins that allow me to make my own MASSIVE Oreo cookie. How can so much cool stuff exist in the world? And where do they find it?

The base ingredients - butter, chocolate and...that's it.

Look, it's Dana! She flew down especially from Seattle to help me bake the cake, and has decided to stay for a few days (living in her fully furnished and serviced city centre apartment, in walking distance from amazing restaurants, coffee shops, museums, etc., during the beautiful Seattle summer, has made her realise how much she misses University Village).

Now we're cooking on gas.

If you think these look impressive, wait until you see...

...the business side!

Liberally applying the vanilla creamy stuff.

Hannah gives the product a final, thorough quality check ("Does it have chocolate in? Yes? Fine.")

A monster cookie, after being attacked by three cookie monsters. Thank you Jim and Gen!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Back to The Bay

Well, we're home again from Orange County. The local airport - John Wayne - is an interesting one. The pilot explained that, to stop people complaining about noise, the take-off was a little "nonstandard" and involved keeping the brakes on, revving the engines as high as they'll go, letting the brakes off and flying up at as steep an angle as possible. And that's what he did! It was all quite exciting.

Anyway, many thanks to Jim, Gen, and Frankie for their hospitality over the last few days. We said an emotional goodbye at a diner (between mouthfuls of food).

You're making me get in the car again?

The best diners in California, but sadly only the southern bit. Going to a Ruby's while staying with Jim and Gen is something of a traditional pilgrimage.

Come on James, you always order the same thing! A burger, bottomless fries, and a black cherry milkshake.

The view from our dining table.

Hannah faces off against an ostrich at a bizarre petting zoo we walked past. That's all there is to say about this picture really...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Super fair

Today's post is split into three sections for easy contrast to some of the food featured below.

We've spent the day at the Orange County Super Fair (like a normal fair, but more super). Having experienced the one in Alameda we were more prepared for the crazily-priced food, sickness-inducing fairground rides, and strange competitive events. There was also a good range of farm animals on display, with milking demonstrations and honey bee talks, and a couple of extra special treats. But you'll have to wait for the next posts for those!

A couple of pasty Englishmen apply the factor 70.

It's the OC - everything is super!

Hot and popular.

Hannah tries her hand at animal throwing, and wins a granola bar.

We'll be back here later...

On another stall! And this one was impossible to resist.

Here they are (Twinkie - left, Oreos - right).

James tucks into some spongy, creamy, deep-fried goodness.

I'm less impressed with the Oreos. More of a doughnut with an Oreo cooked inside.

Frankie learns about sensible diet choices.

Llamas: always looking down at you.

A watusi, a breed of African cattle that uses its horns to cool itself! Clever.

Popcorn chicken.


Farmer Frankie.

Bees doing some very cool things, like dancing and making honey!

Frankie the surfing lemon.

There were just too many photo opportunities (sorry!)

This stall has no business being at a county fair.

That's better.

Our resolve, such as it was, finally gives way, and James cannot resist a funnel cake (deep fried batter) topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Gen does the honours.



Bigger, Faster, Stronger, More

Who cares which person, with hours of skill and practice, can make the most beautiful quilt? Why bother spending energy and effort baking cakes, knitting, or creating a wonderful watercolour? Do you really want to spend a lifetime breeding the perfect pedigree sheep?

What everyone at a county show wants to see are amusingly shaped and giant vegetables! The OC show did not disappoint.

Most amusing.

Not quite as amusing.

Just wrong.



Not much argument about the winner here.

Or here.



A weak field of contestants.

Spot the difference! (I did ask her mother's permission before using this caption...)