28 April, 2011

Favorite foreign candy bar and other non-American Nosh.

I find it extremely odd, that in the world's superpower, Americans are living their lives void of some of the world's best foods:

From France and Belgium, Lu's petit Ecolier, "little school child", taste just like Smores to me minus the marshmallow, but are oh so good. I technically have wanted to try and stick a marshmallow on them, but haven't done it yet.




 Aero bars, from the UK, are my favorite. I can find them at World Market here in the US, and they're very popular. They're named Aero due to the bubbles in the bar that are said to aid digestion and the taste. Interesting factoid, car manufacturers looked at the Aero bar and was able to manufacture car parts using the same Aero method to make the parts lighter, thereby making the vehicle more fuel efficient. I couldn't care as long as I still can get a hold of my Aero bars. It's the best candy bar ever!

Then there's Poutine (click link for video). French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds, it's the comfort food of Canada. My son loves poutine so much, that when he went to school they asked him what his favorite food was. He replied "poutine", but they had no clue what it was and though he said "protein". What a little-man, eh?



McVitie's Hobnob Flapjacks. I spent a good part of Christmas 2008 hunting these down. Ended up our good friends in Bristol shipped us some to save the day. While flapjacks in America refer to pancakes, in the UK, it's this granola honey biscuit made by a company called United Biscuit. Hobnobs, can be found in America, but their flapjacks seem to only be available overseas.




HP Sauce, it's like a sweet version of A-1, and it's insanely popular in the UK, and other parts of Europe. It's put on almost everything from fish and chips, to shepherd's pie, to eggs or steak. If you don't have a bottle of HP in your cabinets than you're clearly missing out on one of life's simple pleasures.





Michel et Augustin Petits Carre

So I love trying new things, and today I got my hand's on a Michel and Augustin "Small Square". It's sort of a candy bar replacement that's part digestive biscuit covered in caramel and part chocolate. It's awesome. I've love crackery candy. The solid chocolate confectionery is uniquely American, and English, and sometimes you like a balance of flavor, texture and taste. Something uniquely Parisian. Not too much, not too little. This is definitely it for me.

Michel and Augustin are a couple of childhood friends who peddled all over Paris selling home-made treats till they reached fame and fortune. Their goal now is to make the world smile, and I just love that as much as I do their food. If you see a Michel and Augustin bar, I highly recommend buying it, you won't be disappointed.

More...
Of course there's tons more, like Belgian Kriek, German landjagersSarson's VinegarMince Piesfritessaus, gaufres, and so much more I need to add to this list down the road. What foods do you miss that we have to try?

20 April, 2011

Doctor Who Exhibition in Cardiff

The Doctor is a woman?
The Dr Who Cardiff Exhibition

So on Monday, we boarded a Great Western purple train sat in the quiet carriage and rode off into the beautiful English countryside. Two hours later we were in Cardiff. As I mentioned in the Cardiff post the Doctor Who exhibition was but one of many things we did. It's actually in the the Red Dragon Centre, a sort of a mall slash, entertainment complex, with food, bowling, theatres, and of course The Doctor Who Exhibit. This, all which is directly opposite the famed Millennium Centre, which I believe is  the ultimate "Who" landmark in Cardiff.
Millenium  
It's relatively cheap... If memory serves me right at about £10 a person, and it's worth every pence. Bring your gold card, because there's a fully stocked Doctor Who and Torchwood gift shop at the completion of your visit. Believe me, they're going to be out of stock of Captain Jack merchandise for some time to come, thanks to me.



One of the coolest things about the Doctor Who Exhibit is the soundtrack. As you walk through it has the full-original Doctor Who score, (Murray Gold) which makes you feel like you're a part of the tv show. It also helps that there's fifteen-feet tall murals of David Tennant looking very smashing, staring back at you.

Dorothy,  I mean Shannon, it's just the scarcrow!


Unfortunately just like in United States, the ugly guys are there to hit on you too. At least they put bags over their heads here.

Good thing we knew a secret passageway to escape to a different part of the exhibition!




Shannon of course later hooked up with a cyberman,
then decided it "just didn't feel right."




Six phallic head man did even less to impress.




I've so got to get an outfit like that! The sparkly one...
not the jumpsuit on the pig-man.





Finally Shannon discovers the perfect love for her...
Someone who will serve her every whim... an Ood!



I couldn't forget about K-9!!!
Which subsequently makes me think about Mickey.

So I mean, I get the whole "Wizard of Oz" connection in Doctor Who, I really do. What was odd was in order for us to go on our trip to Oz. The wicked witch literally had to come get Toto. I can't explain how it is things like this happen, they just do.

You don't know how bad I wanted to jump up on the
mirrored time machine display and pretend I'm Donna!




Don't turn around, Don't blink! The Doctor Who Exhibit wouldn't have been complete without this guy, the Weeping Angel. It's hands down probably my second favorite episode in the whole series. The first is, of course, Doomsday. In fact I feel like Rose every time I have to leave the U.K.





Of course the finale of the Doctor Who exhibition is the Daleks. (see above video) It really was cool! Afterwards we spent a good seventy dollars on a Torchwood Poster for myself, and some "secret" birthday presents for Chance's upcoming birthday.

After leaving the Doctor Who exhibition we dropped by
Torchwood Three for a unique photo opportunity.




Then to another Torchwood filming location, Castle Cardiff.



Torchwood III's Front Door. Someone order pizza?


You might also recognize this restaurant from Doctor Who.



Or several others shooting locations from this shopping center:
Mermaid's Quay.
We ate at Strata, an Italian restaurant at Mermaid's Quay and loved it! Shannon got a bit tipsy on the wine and thought she was flying in a Tardis...

That's not a time machine, Shan!
The minutes were counting, and soon we had to make it back to the train station to head back to London. It was tough saying goodbye.
The train of melacholy!

I of course, as usual began to cry. By the time we got back into London, my mascara was down my face and all I could hear in my head was this:







All in all, I'm glad we got to embrace our inner child. It was a truly incredibly fun experience.

Liv must leave the dream now, and return home. :(





Germany in America | Zehnder's Frankenmuth MI, and Ober Gatlinburg

Holy Brook bridge.
Germany is well and alive in America, from Michigan to Tennessee, if you can't make it to the real thing, a visit to the commercialized equivalent here in the red white and blue might be the ticket:







#1 Zehnder's in Frankenmuth Michigan:
Is fried chicken German?
Michigan. It used to be next to Ohio. I spent the first eight years of my life in a suburb of Toledo. One of the common places you go as a family when you live in Northern Ohio, is Frankenmuth. I had all but forgotten the place until I by luck I happened to land upon The Zehnder's website. Suddenly, childhood memories came rushing back in. This actually would be a perfect example of why every town and city should have a theme.

Okay first a primer on the subject; Frankenmuth is a Bavarian town in Michigan. Think Fat Germans, beer, sauerkraut and lawn gnomes, and you get the picture. Zehnder's is a restaurant in Frankenmuth known for their world famous chicken dinner. Let me clarify. It's so world famous, that Zehnder's dining room sits 1500 people. It holds the world record as the largest Dining Room. Actually it's 10 Dining Rooms, but hei, hei, hei, it's an all-you-can eat for $18.95 miracle of German chicken precision:

Finger licking Germany?
Includes Noodle Soup, Cabbage Salad, Cheese Spread and Chicken Liver Paté Frankenmuth Family Style Chicken Dinner With Garlic Toast, Freshly Baked Breads and Butter, Preserves, Cottage Cheese, Chunked Pickles, Frankenmuth Golden Fried Chicken, Grandma Zehnder's Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Giblet Gravy, Noodles, Vegetable, and Ice Cream.

Add a side of chicken livers for $1.95


The Zehnders resort is actually a replica
 of George Washington's home. 
Not convinced yet that Zehnders is one awesome place. Zehnder's has an indoor water park. Kind of cool when Michigan and Toledo are buried in seven feet of snow. Sure Waterloo is great, but can you top the Willy Wonka version of this charming indoor attraction?


Zehnders also has shopping, a hotel, and a unique covered bridge named "Holz Brucke". The 230 ton structure which took two years to build and accommodates two lanes of traffic and pedestrians which is built from Douglas Fir, and shingled with cedar.





2 Ober Gatlinburg, Ski Resort & Amusement Park

Ober rink?
We decided to drive up to Ober Gatlinburg, which sits high up on the Tennessee mountaintop over-looking Gatlinburg. First you need to know that there are two ways to get there. One by tram, from downtown Gatlinburg, or two drive a steep inclined road to the top of the mountain. While I'm sure the tram is a nifty way to take in all the sights, it is often expensive, and $9.95 per person. Drive, and you'll find a convenient parking lot overlooking the Smokey Mountains. 

During the winter months, Ober Gatlinburg is a ski resort, with an indoor shopping center, arcade, skating rink, restaurants and more. 

Around March Ober Gatlinburg shifts gears, and begins opening its amusement park rides, such as go-carts, a down hill concrete luge, sled track and other attractions.

So much fun!
We took part in the go-carts, and the luge both which will cost you $5.00 a person, per ride. The sled track is unique because you begin your journey riding up a ski lift to the top of mountain. The first warning sign that something might make this cool  is the ski warnings that only advanced skiers take this lift. Below our feet we could see the concrete track weaving in and around the mountain. Ten minutes later we're at the top and loading a sled onto the starting ramp to the track. Simple instructions on how to brake, and speed up are marked on the sled. We scooted off the starting ramp and began our descent. Quickly hitting speeds in excess of 40 MPH, you hit near vertical embanked curves where your forced in and out of the corners with incredible speeds. What seemed to take a long time to go up the mountain, seems to go by so fast in a high-speed bob-sled. 

Seriously this place is more fun then a Republican at a gay bar, ran by illegal immigrants. It was so nice to go to a place where the kids could have some fun, and we could too. Ober Gatlinburg is awesome.