what i ate wednesday: london, baby!
if you follow me on instagram and snapchat [which you should be, duh!] you’re probably well aware that i spent the first 2 weeks of july in the u.k. and ireland with my family. it was a [much needed] vacation that exceeded my expectations in just about every way imaginable… the food being one of them.
it comes as no surprise that i. love. food. like… i really love food. i consider myself to be a “foodie” and aside from my pescatarian diet, will try juuuuusssstttttt about anything. so, when i started to hear that the food in the places we were going kinda sucked… i was… disappointed… but ultimately decided to brush off the haters and go in with a completely open mind.
and it turns out… those people didn’t know what the eff they were talking about. need proof? look no further! here’s another edition of what i ate wednesday… featuring london, baby!
full english breakfast at muriel’s kitchen:
traveling from l.a. to london involved being in airport/on a plane for nearly 24 hours, so by the time we arrived i was ready for some real food. since we landed in the late morning, brunch it was! i found muriel’s on instagram, and when i saw that they served traditional english breakfast [aka full english] i knew this would be a great first stop… a real “welcome to the u.k.” kinda meal, ya feel me?
a truly traditional full english involves bacon and/or sausage, but luckily for me, muriel’s served a vegetarian version, swapping out the meat for bubble and squeak, another traditional english dish made from potatoes and cabbage. i [obviously] added a mimosa because #vacation… perfect way to kick off the trip!
fish + chips [+ beer!] at the fish house:
naturally, our first dinner in england could have only been one thing… fish + chips! i’m honestly happier than i should be that i had never in my life experienced fish + chips until this moment… i feel like it made it that much better… and i instantly became obsessed [and proceeded to eat way more fried fish over the next 2 weeks than anyone should… so sue me].
the fish house was my favorite of them all… the breading was crispy, the fish literally melted in my mouth, and the chips [aka fries] were just how i like ’em… i normally cannot stand mayo… but in europe served with fries? bring it on.
high tea at the wolseley:
on day 2 in london, my mom, my aunt, and i sent the boys off on their own so we could enjoy afternoon tea at the wolseley, which was recommended to me by a dear friend who grew up between london and new york… oh. my. god. i don’t even know where to begin here.
the scones with jam and clotted cream: insane. the finger sandwiches [egg salad, cucumer, smoked salmon with cream cheese] were made with the softest bread of all time. the desserts, the jasmine tea, the champagne?! this is a meal… no, an experience… that i will remember for the rest of my life. speechless.
indian fare at thali:
ever since i went to india in 2014, indian food has just never been the same. luckily, london is known for having incredible indian cuisine all over the city, and we certainly had plenty of options. i had never tried thali before, but it was a perfect way to have a little bit of everything considering that everything on the menu sounded incredible.
thali is essentially a giant round sampler platter, served with basmati rice in the center and naan on the side… and then gulab jamun for dessert. my thali consisted of saag paneer, spicy red lentils, tandoori potatoes, fried okra with onions and tomatoes, and a yogurt dip. still didn’t live up to indian food in india… but it came pretty damn close… and the naan? i could have had about 4 more servings. so. damn. good.
ice cream at marshfield farm:
on our day trip from london to stonehenge, we stopped in bath for a few hours, and our tour guide insisted that we go to marshfield farm for ice cream. that soft serve on the top there? clotted. cream. ice cream. need i say more?
so, in conclusion… london was pretty spectacular, food-wise. the verdict:
must eat: high tea at the wolseley
must drink: a beer literally everywhere you go
honorable mention: fish + chips at the fish house
next time, for what i ate wednesday, i’ll dive into the food in the isle of man, belfast, and dublin… london really just needed its own post because of how effing good everything was.
where are your favorite london spots?! comment below… i’ll be making it back to this city one of these days!
vacation mode: ACTIVATED
today is a good day. it’s friday. it’s a half day at the office [for most of us] thanks to the 4th of july falling on a monday, but most importantly, for me, today marks the beginning of my first real vacation in almost a year…
… and i’ll be off to the u.k. in a few short hours!
if you’re a regular over here at bananas + bellinis, you already know how i feel about traveling… and if you’re new to these parts, i’ll keep it quick… i’m obsessed with it and nothing makes me happier.
this vacation is big for a few reasons. first, it’s the only extended vacation [two whole weeks!] that i’ve taken since moving to l.a. and starting my job at snacknation [it’s been almost a year ago now… woah]… needless to say, i’m effing ready for a break.
second, all of the places we’re visiting are places i’ve never been. i’ve been lucky enough to have done quite a bit of traveling around europe in the past, but the u.k. is untouched territory for me, and i can’t wait to check some new countries off my list.
finally, this trip is special because i’m traveling with my parents, my little brother, and my aunt and her husband… and we’ll be celebrating my dad’s 64th birthday in liverpool [you know… like the beatles song “when i’m 64″… get it?!]. needless to say, this is going to be an amazing couple of weeks and i’m jumping out of my skin with excitement right now and couldn’t focus on anything if you paid me.
as always, i’ll be active on instagram, facebook, twitter, and snapchat [username kelsey1988] so you can follow along with my adventures in real time… and expect recaps from each city and of all of the food in the weeks following my return.
if any of you guys have recommendations for things to do, places to see, or things to stuff my face with in london, liverpool, isle of man, belfast or dublin… leave them in the comments below or tweet me [@bananasbellinis]… i think the best way to see a new place is to balance the touristy stuff with a more “local” experience, so i’m open to all suggestions! balance can really apply to all aspects of your life, you know?
on that note, i’m signing off! have some loose ends to tie up and a carry-on to pack before i head to the airport this evening. enjoy the long holiday weekend, stay safe, stay balanced, and i’ll see you on the other side… first stop… london, baby!
eurotrip recap part 4: vienna
well, i’m finally wrapping up the eurotrip recap posts with a little post about vienna, austria, the last stop on our 10 day trip. vienna was such a beautiful city and while we only spent about a day and a half here, i think we spent our time well. we spent the majority of our time sightseeing and when we were’t sightseeing, we were eating and/or drinking… because duh. it just so happened that we arrived in vienna on the first day of their oktoberfest [which didn’t really cut it after experiencing the real thing], so naturally we had to check that out! the architecture in vienna was definitely the highlight for me, with our final meal at café central following very close behind.
[beautiful architecture in the city center]
[alphorns at viennese oktoberfest…which is not that similar to actual oktoberfest]
[café central where we enjoyed the last meal of the trip… incredible!]
[hofburg palace at night… goodbye, vienna!]
eurotrip recap part 3: budapest
ahhhh, finally, i get to tell you all about my new favorite european city… budapest! up until this trip, paris had always been my favorite, so it kind of makes sense that budapest, also known as “the paris of the east” would win me over almost instantly. [please note that my actual favorite european city is lugano, switzerland, where i lived and studied abroad for six months in college, but that’s neither here nor there.]
we took the night train [sleeper car and everything!] from munich to budapest so that we didn’t spend an entire day traveling or waste any time in airports and it was actually a great experience. we boarded the train with a selection of bread, cheese, and wine, got some music going and had so much fun that the passengers in the cabin next to us had to come shush us at 1:30am… oops.
we arrived in budapest in the morning and took the metro to our hotel in the castle district. when we came above ground from the metro station, i looked to my left and the first thing i saw was the parliament building, sitting there on the danube, welcoming us to budapest!
as i mentioned, our hotel was in the castle district on the buda side of the city [the city is divided by the danube river into two sides, buda and pest… so budapest]. the rooms were really spacious, the hotel itself was clean, the staff was friendly, the location and the price were great, and i would highly recommend that anyone visiting budapest stay here. we were a short walking distance from shops, restaurants, matthias church, the fisherman’s bastion, and amazing views of the chain bridge, parliament, and the pest side of the city.
[fisherman’s bastion with matthias church in the background]
[view of pest from buda]
[detail on the chain bridge]
so, you can probably already see why i fell in love with budapest. the pest side was equally as beautiful as buda. we visited the dohány street synagogue, which houses a very unique holocaust memorial in its courtyard. there is also a cemetery on site and many stones placed around the grounds in memory of people who have passed away.
[dohány street synagogue]
[holocaust memorial; each leaf on the tree is stamped with the name of a victim from budapest]
[stones are placed throughout the synagogue, each in memory of someone who has passed away]
we also visited heroes’ square in pest which is home to the tomb of the unknown soldier and massive statues of the seven chieftains of the magyars and other important leaders.
[gang’s all here!]
after heroes’ square, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the széchenyi baths. there are bath houses located all over the city and this is definitely a budapest bucket list item! it was so nice to spend the end of the day relaxing in a giant pool of naturally hot water.
the highlight of pest is, hands down, the parliament building. i can’t even put into words how stunning this building is… not only from across the river, but up close. the detail in the architecture is amazing and it’s so massive… it’s almost hard to believe it’s even real and not just a painting.
[pretty solid travel buddies right here, hangin’ out by the parliament building]
so, i loved budapest. and if you’re ever traveling throughout europe, please go, even if it’s out of the way. the food [which i talked about here] is amazing, the people are amazing, the architecture, the culture… i could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. my next eurotrip recap will be my last [for now]… vienna!
eurotrip recap part 2: munich snaps + schloss neuschwanstein
hopefully you have had a chance to read my first eurotrip recap post [and if you haven’t, go check it out!] where i gave a rundown of my experience at oktoberfest, a.k.a. one of the most fun weekends of my life, and while oktoberfest was what brought us to Munich, we did have some time to explore the city beyond the festival grounds. below are a few pictures i took [not the best quality due to the high volumes of beer i was drinking] throughout the weekend while strolling around, taking it all in!
[augustiner biergarten, where we ate/drank one evening]
now onto day 4: after what was basically one of the craziest days of my life [see eurotrip recap part 1, day 3], we decided to take a day trip to schloss neuschwanstein, a castle in the mountains outside of munich that i have dreamed about visiting since i first saw pictures of it many, many years ago. i couldn’t wait to check this one off of the bucket list! i mean, it inspired cinderella’s castle, so like, what girl wouldn’t want to visit this place?! we booked a day trip through mike’s bike tours and had a great experience… the bikes were such a great addition [and a great way to get some exercise in on vacation]! the castle is absolutely beautiful and the history behind it is so fascinating.
to get to the castle we walked about 20 minutes up a hill from the village of schwangau, which is home to a smaller castle where king ludwig II [the king who built neuschwanstein] grew up and dreamed about the castle he would one day build in the gorge near his childhood home. honestly, the pictures don’t even come close to doing this place justice.
[biking in the countryside below neuschwanstein… felt like a fairytale!]
[my mom, my brother + myself with a castle just casually in the background. nbd.]
[how perfect is this view?!]
the last picture is the view of the castle from marienbrücke, a bridge that spans the gorge where neuschwanstein is built. directly behind me was a beautiful waterfall that feeds into the small creek below the castle. the bridge is not very big and was packed full of other people trying to take pictures and due to my extreme fear of heights [have i mentioned that before?] i couldn’t bring myself to hang around long enough to get a picture of that.
we did take a tour of the inside of the castle, which i definitely recommend doing. the interior of the castle was only partially completed because ludwig died mysteriously while it was being constructed, and the 14 rooms [of the total 200] that they take you through on the tour are the only ones that were completed before his death. it definitely left me with a little bit of an eerie feeling, walking through this gorgeous castle that was left unfinished under mysterious circumstances that are still debated to this day.
after our day at neuschwanstein, we arrived back in munich and headed to the train station to catch the night train to my new favorite european city [and topic of the next eurotrip recap post]… budapest!
eurotrip recap part 1: oktoberfest 2014!
happy friday, guys! i hope you had a great week and have lots to look forward to this weekend. rather than doing another recipe or post about “try this to be healthier!” today, i thought i would close off the week with a recap of the first leg of my recent trip to europe, which was spent in munich, germany at oktoberfest!
oktoberfest was the entire reason this trip even happened. one sunday funday last summer, a group of friends and i somehow ended up on the topic… and a few weeks later we had hotel rooms booked. no other plans, no flights, just a hotel in munich for the first weekend of oktoberfest. hotels and hostels book up fairly early since it’s such a huge event that attracts binge drinkers from all over the world, so having this locked down early is something you need to do if you don’t want to sleep in a public park all weekend [yes, i know people who have done this].
day 1: we arrived in munich on the friday before oktoberfest began, so we had some time to explore the city before the madness started. we grabbed a few beers and walked through the city, eventually over to the oktoberfest grounds to scope everything out and then made our way to the englischer garten, a beautiful park located outside of the city center. the seehaus beirgarten sits on the park’s small lake, which is where we decided to have our first steins, brezn [pretzels!!!] and other traditional german fare.
[enjoying our first steins of the weekend at the seehaus biergarten.]
day 2: saturday, september 20th. the first day of oktoberfest 2014. the day we had all been anticipating for months was finally here! we woke up early, like… 5:00am early… and made our way to the schottenhamel tent, where the mayor of munich taps the honorary oktoberfest kegs every year. obviously, when checking something like oktoberfest off of your bucket list, it’s really necessary to go big or go home. the doors would open at 9:00am and the first steins would be served at 12:00pm, but getting there early was the only way to have a chance at getting a seat inside the tent. unfortunately, arriving at 6:00am was still not enough time to guarantee us a seat. by the time we made it into the tent, all of the tables were taken and we had no choice but to sit outside, still at schottenhamel tables, but away from all of the official keg tapping festivities. so, if you ever plan on going to the first weekend of oktoberfest and want to see the tapping of the kegs, get on line like, four or five hours early.
as always, we made the best of a not-so-ideal situation and as soon as the beer started flowing, it didn’t matter that we were outside… we were in munich at oktoberfest drinking beer by the stein. i mean, how bad could life really be at that point?
[our first official oktoberfest steins at the schottenhamel tent… prost!]
we eventually wandered out of the tent and explored the rest of the festival a little bit. oktoberfest isn’t only about drinking [although this is certainly the primary focus] and there are other things to do, like eat german style food [pretzels, bratwurst, schnitzel, apfelstrudel, etc.], play games and win tacky prizes and ride the carnival rides. it was also fun to see all of the people dressed in trachten [traditional bavarian dress] and to walk around and take in the ridiculousness of seeing drunk people just passed out all over the place… ahhhh, oktoberfest.
[girls dressed in dirndls… next time i will get one of my own!]
[do not be fooled, this ride was not scary…. at all.]
[just a couple of people that i don’t know taking a midday nap in the middle of the street!]
day 3: so, this day…. this day… was really, really something. we got ourselves to the hofbräu tent around 10:30am [sundays at oktoberfest are typically a little quieter than saturdays], waited only 15 minutes before securing a table and got down to business. we quickly made friends with our neighbors [some guys from norway, a few from canada, a very drunk german kid who loved how i met your mother], attempted to learn a german drinking song or two and before i knew it, I had lost track of how many steins i had finished. the rest of the day was all a blur if you know what i mean, but one of the highlights was riding the swing ride towards the end of the day [disclaimer: i do not recommend doing this at the end of the day, but you know, just do you]. here are a few gems from the day.
[hofbräu tent… aka heaven]
[the quality isn’t great, but you can get a feel for the inside of the hofbräu tent.]
[the gang with our new friends from norway!]
[the swing ride… try to get this out of the way before you start drinking.]
[this is what pure happiness looks like, everyone.]
i have to say, this was literally one of the best days of my entire life. there was so much beer, i was with some of my best friends, i got to see an old friend and made some new ones and just thrived off of the happy, care-free atmosphere. oktoberfest, i’m kinda obsessed with you.
needless to say, we have already booked hotel rooms for oktoberfest 2015. yea, it was that fun and i can’t wait to do it again, this time, as an old pro.
has anyone else ever been to oktoberfest? what was your favorite tent? would you go back again or was once enough? share your experiences in the comments section below!
what i ate wednesday: eurotrip edition
if you follow me on instagram [and if you don’t, what are you actually doing?], you probably already have a little bit of insight into what my diet looked like while i was in europe. basically, for 10 days straight, my diet consisted primarily of beer, some type of carbohydrates, heavy cream, and cakes or pastries. i was able to sneak in a few salads here and there and yogurt with muesli is pretty much everywhere for breakfast, but fresh fruits and veggies are few and far between. i wasn’t even in countries that really understand the concept of vegetarianism, but thankfully, most restaurants had at least one vegetarian option on the menu. i want to recap all of my european adventures here on the blog, so i thought i would start off with some of the most epic things i ate while in germany, hungary and austria and do a what i ate wednesday post. and please don’t judge me based on what you are about to see! it’s all about balance and enjoying life, not perfection, remember?!
münich: bier, brezn, repeat
i’m not sure if any of you have ever been to oktoberfest before, but woah. what a crazy couple of days. i don’t think i have ever consumed as much beer in one weekend as i did at oktoberfest. the picture below pretty much sums up what i ate/drank all day, e’ry day while we were in münich celebrating oktoberfest. the beer [served only by the liter] is so good, and a little stronger than American beer, which can definitely be a recipe for disaster, and the pretzels or “brezn” are just out of this world. crispy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside with just the right amount of salt. they really put those sh*tty new york city street pretzels to shame.
there is one traditional german dish, spätzl, that is not only vegetarian friendly, but just so happens to be smothered in cheese, so this clearly has “kelsey” written all over it. spätzl is basically a small dumpling-like egg noodle that is extremely hard to describe, but so, so good. if you’re ever in a country where this is a specialty, you absolutely have to try it.
budapest: desserts, desserts, + sugar soaked cucumbers
budapest is easily one of the most beautiful cities i have ever been to. the views, the architecture, the river… everything is so picture perfect. throw in some seriously epic desserts and i’ve found one of my favorite european cities yet. below is a plum pie served with a side of vanilla ice cream and yes! a fruit garnish! the crust of this pie was unlike anything i have ever had and the plum filling… just, wow.
another highlight of my dessert tour of budapest was this hungarian specialty, a nut pastry with sabayon, a very light, whipped custard.
on the non-dessert side of the spectrum, nearly every restaurant we ate at served some variation of a traditional hungarian cucumber salad… cucumbers soaked in vinegar and sugar, and then covered in sour cream and paprika… and i ordered this at almost every meal. i plan on playing around with this and giving it a healthy spin, so keep an eye out for a recipe soon!
vienna: carbs + cakes
we were only in vienna for a day and a half, so we just had time for one truly traditional viennese meal. for our last meal of vacation, we went to café central based on a recommendation from a friend and really just went h.a.m. café central is famous for their desserts [with very good reason], but their dinner menu was fantastic, as well. we had a few bottles of wine with dinner [note the wine stained tablecloth below… oops!] and i had a salad [small victory!] with traditional square viennese noodles.
for dessert, we all had something different so that we could all try a little bit of each other’s selection for the full experience. i ordered a raspberry-yogurt-poppy seed cake which was very unique… i don’t think i’ve see a cake like this anywhere else… and it was awesome. i also sampled two different chocolate cakes and a mousse-filled chocolate dome. let’s just say that café central lived up to their reputation.
as fun as it is to try new foods and indulge in the local cuisine in new places, by the end of the trip i was dying to just eat a salad and drink a green juice. you better believe that i have done both of these things every day since i’ve been home. i’m definitely feeling the side effects of all of the alcohol, sugar, and white carbohydrates, but it was so worth it and i’m confident that i’ll be back to feeling normal within the next day or so… it’s only wednesday and i already notice a difference!
what are some of your favorite food-centric cities? have you found an international dish that you just can’t get enough of? i would love any recommendations… i never know when my travels will be taking me next!
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