Trip to Maui, HI & Los Angeles, CA 2015

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This Easter vacation I was taken along with the family on my parents dream vacation, particularly that of my mother’s to Hawaii and specifically, the island of Maui, with the route back home stopping in L.A. to visit family, the sights and whatnot, of course.

Maui was and was not what I was expecting; there’s the beaches and palm trees of course, with deep blue seas, but the island is as a whole very lush and green and mountainous, with one area looking like the African Savannah, the next a drier version of a South American rainforest, and yet another looking like a northern European pine forest…it’s a very diverse place in terms of nature, and if you ever get a chance to go, I really recommend doing tours of the island that include the forests, the waterfalls and so on, since I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it!

Naturally, this isn’t at all, all the photos — there’s too many! — but keep an eye out for them on my two tumblr feeds, holycrabness.tumblr.com, and holycrabnessportfolio.tumblr.com

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Matcha white chocolate macadamia nut brownies

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Let me talk about these brownies. No recipe, unfortunately, because I stuck to the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s magazine (the issue 54, if I don’t have that wildly incorrect), and I did follow that recipe pretty much to the T, bar nearly tripling the cooking time (umm, weird).

No, seriously, it said like twenty-thirty minutes. I was a little dubious because some brownies can take far longer when they’re not the packet-mix version, but my dish was pretty big too so the batter wasn’t all that thick or anything…and they just did not cook. They really refused to. I was going back and forth every five, and eventually every ten minutes, until they finally decided to rest in that wonderfully gooey-sticky but firm stage. I’m so glad I persevered.

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Yup, this one’s a keeper.

Captain Kirk’s Seafood, Downtown Naples, FL.

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As I’ve mentioned before, there was so much food and sweet treats and just generally delicious things on my most recent trip to the USA just before Christmas, that I’m not doing a one-by-one posting schedule (if you’re interested, however, I totally recommend checking out my instagram feed!).

But, this place is worth a special mention. Most people were confused/surprised at the thought of  a Naples in Florida, but those who did know the place almost always mentioned one thing; stone crabs.

Now, I’m totally a seafood person. I can’t get enough of it. It’s amazing. But crab? It’s great, it just doesn’t seem to taste of all that much. I guess it’s just in comparison to other types of seafood that makes me not get all that excited about crab.

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But was I really going to say no these amazingly huge jumbo stone crab claws?

Um, yeah. Of course I wasn’t!

Course’, it wasn’t cheap (at all). But was it worth it? Definitely. Massive crab claws (seriously, huge, like the size of my whole hand), plus a deliciously sweet-sour mustardy sauce to go alongside. Yes.

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On top of that, I couldn’t resist sampling a little of their (rather reasonably priced) seafood bisque (plenty of crab was in there too!), since a cup of it was like less than 7 dollars or something. Superb. If you are ever in the Naples area, then yes, I too will totally recommend you try the stone crabs, even if just once!

Trip to Naples, FL, USA – Dec 2014.

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You may well have noticed I’ve been AWOL for a while. I have to admit, in amidst everything going on, I completely forgot to check my posting schedule. Oooops. However, part of that blip in posting has been due to being away for quite a while in Naples, Florida, just a few hours away from Tampa and on the opposite coast from Miami.

In case you were interested in catching up on all the good food I ate (there was SO much), I sincerely recommend checking out my instagram (there’s a link to the right that should help, and my username would be emmasarahax), and scrolling a little bit down to see all the delicious plates.

And, man, I get the hype about Florida now.

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I mean, it’s just gorgeous. Blue sea, blue skies, so green, and errr….gators? Great times. But to get back to things, it’s such a beautiful state, full of good food and good sceneries. I totally see why it’s a retirement haven. So in amongst all the outlet shopping and lazing like a gator on the beach, I did have some killer food. Those chicken, avocado, three cheese, salsa and veg quesadillas? Killer.

This lobster roll?

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Fab. Enough lobster to feed an army. I’ll tentatively say I get the love for lobster rolls now. It’s pretty damn good.

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We stayed right by the beach in Naples, but most of the place is just so lush and green. I’m totally in love.

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And to have a quick glance at some other things I ate, here’s a few other snaps (but like I said, instagram’s gonna be the best catch-up around for my trip. Just scroll down a little until you hit mid-Dec–you’ll be able to tell by the palm trees!)

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A fantastic dulce de leche sponge cake. So fluffy!

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Some brown-rice sushi from the Whole Foods Store for breakfast in bed. This was just a normal store in Naples, but it kicks the butts off the ones in London for sure! I wonder what the giant flagship ones would be like…

So all in all, I’m a bit like this gator right now…can’t…move…after…eating. Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, and have a wonderful New Years!

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Dinner at Vinotheque, St. Julian’s, Malta.

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Yes, I realise we’re talking a long time ago. Like, months ago. But you know, I realised I hadn’t posted these gorgeous pictures, and it’s bitterly cold and the frost seems to bite your cheeks and nose when you’re out, so what better time for a little reminiscing on sun and summer? (more on sun in a minute, in case you’ve noticed I’ve been quiet for a little while now).

So, without further ado, I present these gorgeous plates from a wonderful evening at a restaurant from our summer trip to Malta. Vinotheque utilises the French style of cooking, and though we returned for a second night and it was much less successful (it was a sort of grill/buffet evening, probably where we went wrong there), this first trip was utterly delightful from start to finish.

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First up, I chose rabbit livers on brioche. Too much goodness, seriously. Plating, unless at one of those swanky-slate-plate-types of places, is usually incredibly generous in Malta. But, in this case, I didn’t hesitate to scrape the plate clean. So creamy, so indulgent.

(I would regret it in the end not really.)

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Dad chose the chicken liver pate, with toasted brioche. Again, very generous with three thick slices of the pate. Again, creamy and rich, but delicious.

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Mum chose a lighter starter (very wise) and went for the special, beef carpaccio. Look at those colours! I have to say, most places in Malta do a very good beef carpaccio. Clearly a favourite around the island, and when the quality is like this 99.9% of the time, I can definitely see why.

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And for the mains. Oh, boy. This first trip happened to coincide with a special lobster-centred menu, and all 3 of us chose from that menu for our mains. Dad and I both went for this risotto with two gigantic claws. I honestly could not finish my plate for the life of me–it’s the one fault I find with Malta, the portions are entirely too big! However, I presume that’s precisely how the Maltese like it…

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And for my mother, the lobster spaghetti. Simply beautiful, and again, a wiser portion size decision. Despite the less successful second try, this restaurant honestly impressed me so much. A little quirky, with the décor clearly mimicking the interior of a French bistro, service was great, and the food was phenomenal. What more do you want?

Review; Dinner at the King’s Head (Yet Again)

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Yeah, okay, I went to the King’s Head again (I promise I’m not paid by them!), it just so happens that they’re only just down my street and they consistently serve such good food that my parents usually take me here when I visit from university, just as a little treat for some time for all three of us (as I write, we have another visit booked…)

Since the new owners of the place took over, I have to say, this place serves some of the most consistently good food around in Suffolk. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dish that was anywhere near average. Everything is pretty well thought out (even if not always to my direct taste), and the standard is most often excellent.

So, without further ado–above, a beautiful pea panna cotta starter. I thought this was a wonderful idea, and considering I despise peas with the fervour of a fussy two-year old at the dinner table, I’d say the fact that I liked it says a lot about the dish! Beautiful flavours, beautiful presentation.

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Above, a duck, cabbage and potato fondant main. Very generous portion of duck, could have had it a little pinker but considering I’m that person who likes her steak on the side of uncooked, that may just be me talking. It was still pretty rare for a restaurant in my opinion.

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Here the pearl barley risotto and scallop main (also served as a starter) — I’m not usually a fan of pearl barley at all, but this was beautifully creamy and paired with the scallops so well. Scallops were not at all overcooked at all either.

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And what did dad have? Risotto, of course. Courgette and rocket risotto. Good as always, whoever’s making the risotto in the kitchen is a risotto master.

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And, to end, a lemon curd and meringue deconstruction, with chocolate sorbet. I found the sorbet taste a little odd, but I’ve never been a fan of chocolate ice-cream, or even chocolate itself…The meringue was amazingly melt-in-the-mouth though. All in all, another great night at the King’s Head, East Bergholt.

Contact & Address:
King’s Head, Burnt Oak, East Bergholt, Colchester
CO7 6TL
01206 298190

Review; Lunch at the Sun Inn, Dedham, Essex

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This is a pub (the fancier gastro kind mind you) that’s fairly local, in that it lies in a village/small town not to far from my own little village, and you can walk a few miles along the river to get to it, crossing the border between Suffolk and Essex. Basically, you get to exercise for your food! If EB is full of gingerbread little houses, Dedham have beautiful town houses, more like Georgian style in various colours along the small streets. Like EB, there’s a few pubs, three if I’m not mistaken, plus a tearoom and a lunch place, but the Sun Inn is where we remain faithful to.

Above is my usual, the antipasto platter–they change these regularly, often every few weeks (the menu itself rotates every single day depending on fresh produce), and can be served for just one or for a few people. For one, it makes a perfect light lunch. Here we have parma ham, the most amazing oiled anchovies, tomato bruschetta, pulled lamb bites (delicious), wild black mushroom bruschetta, and country salami. Often in the months of availability, you also get oysters in various styles; I really recommend them.

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My friends both took the English classic–a country ploughman’s each, a cheese board with chutney and pickled vegetables and plenty of fresh, fluffy, home-baked bread.

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And my father took on the role of my mother in having the crab with tomato bruschetta. Hidden behind the tomatoes was a second pile of crab just visible there, so there was plenty enough from just a starter portion. The sizes are pretty generous! The dishes cost around £7-12, so it’s not the worst price ever for a good amount of lovely food.

The Sun Inn
High Street
Dedham
Essex
CO7 6DF

01206 323351

Their website.