Wish Upon A Dish

July 23, 2014

Cruise to Bermuda ♥ Random Bites

A few random pics that were left on the cutting floor.

This is the dockyard in Bayonne New Jersey. Years ago the cruise ships left from the Hudson River docks on the west side of Manhattan. When the cruise industry exploded, the same could not be said for available docks. New York just would not pay the expense to build new ones.
The last one taken was from the Intrepid (the aircraft carrier turned museum).

While you don't sail pass Lady Liberty (it is further south), you get to cruise under the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge,  a double-decked suspension bridge in the U.S. state of New York that connects the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. 

While waiting for the early diners to leave the room and give the staff a chance to reset the tables, we would head outside to see the sunset. This was halfway to Bermuda, in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:15pm.

It was the first time I have ever seen this ocean look like glass. The Mediterranean wasn't even this calm.
We were left speechless.I have to say, the weather was perfect the whole trip, which always makes for a great cruise.

If you book an excursion on a catamaran, this is one of two that you will sail on. When they pulled back into dock, they were all singing and laughing. A good time is always had on these snorkeling excursions.
A must do!

This is Front Street in the capitol of Hamilton. One of the only places left that they drive on the left side of the street. Reminds me of Duval Street, Key West. Shopping, eating and strolling. Was pretty empty the first day we arrived in Bermuda. The second day was packed. Another good tip, don't wait till the second day on land to roam the streets. Everyone with all their strollers, cameras and beach bags are out and about and every place will be packed.

We ate at Flanagan's Pub, one of the oldest Irish Pub's in Bermuda. Very friendly staff and once again, it is expensive in Bermuda. Be prepared to spend over $10.00 for an appetizer. Best to share, they do serve large portions. I ended up leaving half my lunch on the table.

On the way back downstairs, after hitting the head, there was this little local joint where everyone was watching the FIFA Cup. This was the scene at every bar on the island. If you got there before the World Cup started, you could get a front row TV seat, after that, you might as well be the Queen because you would take your life into your hands if you asked to wedge into the bar.....

Bermuda is shaped like a crab with the claws facing north. This was actually the north Atlantic Ocean-side of the island. The blue of the water stretched out for miles. Even nicer than the Caribbean Ocean.

The back of the ship, where when you return there is pizza and snacks and a trio that provides music. It is amazing that as many people sail on each ship, there always seems to be a spot that you can relax and not feel congested. Our favorite spot on each cruise where we would always grab a drink before heading to our room to get ready for the night. Our way of quietly saying good-bye to each port of call and savoring the memories.

And this, was a little guy that I left in my camera. An island owl, fairly large little peep, it just sat by itself checking out the steady stream of people as they walked by.

Hope you enjoyed a few of our Bermuda pictures.
Would I go again? Probably not. There are a few favorites that I love to return to, but Bermuda, like the owl, did not make the cut.

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July 22, 2014

Whiskey BBQ Sauce ♥ Cooking with Spirits - Recipe Redux Challenge July 2014

On my Fortieth Birthday I threw myself a huge pool party in the backyard of my In-Laws house.
Everyone we knew was invited.
College buddies, work buddies, family and all the kids. The place was hopping.

One thing I wanted to do was to give the adults something to participate in besides watching their kids in the pool and the yard just wasn't big enough for a wiffle ball game.
I did what I knew best, I hosted a BBQ Sauce contest. The winner got a full set of engraved BBQ tools, second place got a monogrammed BBQ apron and third place got a mitt and towel set.

Since I am a theme party planner, I choose Kansas City BBQ for the food and the drink. The Nudge scouted two barrels, had them cut in half, made a grill top to fit each one and his college buddy who was a caterer, gave a gift of 80 pounds of ribs. We also had hamburgers, smoked redfish, corn, potatoes, chicken, pork shoulder and, if I remember correctly, a bucket of BBQ'd shrimp.

It was wonderful. We had three judges and they took their job seriously. They tasted each one, eating a piece of bread after each and then ate a rib with the sauce.

My sauce came in second place, I still have the apron and use it all the time. Everyone cried fix, because my mom was a judge but the sauces were not labeled and the bowls were all identical, so no one, even us, knew who's was who's. We had about 10 entries, which I thought was a good turnout. When the judging was completed, everyone could try them on their food.
This was the 2nd place winning sauce.

Whiskey BBQ Sauce
makes about 2 cups

* 2 tbsp. butter
* 1/2 cup minced onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
* 1/2 cup whiskey
* 1/2 cup ketchup
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup cider vinegar
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
* 1 teaspoon smoked Hawaiian sea salt
* 1 teaspoon pepper

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove cover and increase heat. Cook for 5 minutes more to thicken slightly.

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July 21, 2014

Cruise to Bermuda ♥ Home, James!

Let me introduce you to our master of ceremony for our dinner while sailing towards home. Yes, he's as animated as he looks, and more!
There is one thing I know for sure. If you immerse yourself in your surroundings and step out of your comfort zone (not just on your vacation), you will make the most wonderful and surprising memories.

We have experienced the best times of our life, taking a left turn where we should have taken a right and those times were our most memorable. This was a left turn.

The man of the hour (and for the rest of the trip) was this man. A combination Pee Wee Herman and the gayest of Caribbean characters (Birdcage anyone?) you will meet in person. He was so over-the-top, every woman wanted to take him home with them and every man just stared in awe.
What a blast!!

If it wasn't for him, I don't think we would have enjoyed the evening.

Our last day in Bermuda ended at 4:15pm. After we sailed off to the Atlantic and back to New Jersey we got ready for a dinner in one of the specialty restaurants. We were invited as a guest of the Blue Chip Club, to the newest, unique restaurant that serves small plates that you order at your table on a tablet. Not exactly tapas, these were full-sized plates, but meant to be shared.

There were 15 other diners from the same club so it was nice to spend some time outside the casino, getting to know our fellow gamblers.
None of us really knew what to expect except The Nudge & I who just happened to eat at one on our last cruise to Europe. Everything was served family style, our host ordered just about everything they offered, in sets of three (front of table, middle, end). Each of us shared one or two dishes at one time,with 4-5 people.

We started with a salad of mixed greens and a fried medallion of goat cheese. Along with that we ate a Thai-style pork mixture rolled in crunchy rice noodles that was fried and placed in a martini glass with a sauce.
First off it was luke warm, not hot and the noodles were limp from sitting in the sauce by the time we got around to it. I think they called it a bird's nest something or other.
Not something I would try to replicate at home.

The next dish was a shrimp salad in a remoulade sauce that had a digital 'Disco Light' in with the ice.
It was good and entertaining, but again, nothing to write home about. While it was dancing in the ice, it was not dancing in my mouth.

This dish was a Moroccan chicken skewer of zucchini and eggplant, served over saffron rice with a spiced yogurt drizzle. This one flew off the table. I think by now we were so hungry for good food, everyone cleaned the plates.

Finally we were served a three meatball arrangement that looked promising. I love to try different flavored meatballs. I was hoping for inspiration to take home with me. The turkey one (in the middle) was way too salty, had blueberries in the interior (yuck) and had no flavor at all. The ricotta meatball was par but not remarkable (a basic meatball in sauce) and the beef with mushrooms tasted just like a Stroganoff. I was not impressed. I was not the only one.

Right before desserts were served I noticed we never got a taste of the lobster-escargot nibble. I imagine they thought we were full so it didn't make the list. I wanted to taste it and when it arrived, the group on our end wanted to share, so I took one, ordered another serving and was sorry I did. I am not sure if the others enjoyed this dish, but all I tasted was lobster base (yes, like Better Than Bouillon) which totally overwhelmed the escargot and the lobster meat just disappeared. The best part? the brioche cones to dip into the sauce.

Dessert was donuts (too sweet and been there done that), brownie cupcakes (passed) and the best thing served, Neapolitan gelato in miniature SS cocktail shakers, yum!
We ordered three more for our end.

With a large crowd, this was a nice evening, and I enjoyed hearing everyone impressions as to what we liked or didn't. The best part was the conversations, the worst part was the food. I was expecting dishes I would not think of eating at home with a few foams and dry ice presentations.
I know I am a foodie, cook and eat what the average person does not but the general consensus of the group was, they would never pay the extra money that a reservation would cost the traveler (yes, there is an additional fee to eat there).

The food in the main dining room is in par with eating in a French restaurant, was better and included in the price of the cruise. I am sorry I did not bring my camera into that dinning room. We feasted on Duck la'Orange, Veal Bolognese, Gnocchi, Beef Wellington, etc.

If you are on a honeymoon and want to eat alone, the specialty restaurants are a good way to have a date night. Turned out, at our table for 6 in the main dining room, we were the only two that showed all week, so every night was date night. Nothing wrong with that, it was nice, but the one thing I always enjoyed by eating in the main dining room, was the chance to meet a few couples over a nice meal and great wine and a few I am still in touch with today.

Getting people to sit down to dinner together is just as hard on vacation and it is at home.

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