Culinary Experiences

Food and drink is so much more than just survival to humans, the variety of food in the world, the preparation, the eating, the social etiquette and the experiences that food and drink gives us truly are something to be celebrated.

Now this is one section where I've tried to go with variety but simply avoided things I generally don't like; there's not much seafood on here, for example, simply because I'm such a picky eater when it comes to fish. I won't do raw meats/meat products through my phobia of vomiting etc. When it comes to recipes I've tried to consider challenge, time and poignance - family recipes that are important to me.

106. Have dinner at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. 107. Eat in 5 different Hard Rock Cafés.

So this started back in 2008 when I went on holiday to Barcelona with my friend Katie and we tried the Hard Rock Cafe there as she'd eaten there on her family holiday the year before. I instantly fell in love, delicious food, rock music and memorabilia, it had my kind of vibe so I wanted to sample a number of different ones. I'n chronological order, I've eaten in Barcelona, Edinburgh, New York, London and Orlando.

108. Eat in a Rainforest Café

We managed to do this as part of our last trip to Orlando since our first full day there we were celebrating Mum and Dad's 32nd Wedding Anniversary. I loved the theme, the decor and the thunder and lightening that would intermittently appear. The staff were really friendly (singing to Mum and Dad and giving them a complimentary pudding) and the food was delicious.

109. Eat food from a food stand/caravan.

I usually try to avoid buying food at stands because it's usually so expensive but the Nottingham Goose Fair was so cold that I needed a burger to warm up!

110. Eat at a Chuck-E-Cheese

This was part of our trip to stay with our dear friends Mary (pictured) and her husband Harvey in Georgia. They decided to fully immerse us in US culture we had to experience a Chuck-E-Cheese (which I loved) we ate some fries and mostly went to play arcade games. It was a really fun afternoon and got our appetites up for all-you-can-eat at the Golden Corral later on.

111. Eat in a Michelin star restaurant. 112. Go to a movie-diner. 113. Attend a dinner show.

This was a bit of a whim as part of our trip to Disneyland Paris celebrating Mum's 50th Birthday! We saw Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which is a dinner show. We ate awesome BBQ food and enjoyed a rodeo!

114. Have dinner in a restaurant alone. This is actually one of the most eerie and lonely experiences I've had. Enjoyment of food certainly increases exponentially with loved ones. I was going through a period of low mood and stress during my final semester at university in my third year and I had fallen out with a couple of my flat mates. I thought going for a curry might cheer me up so I went to the local one (where we'd eaten a number of times) for opening time. The waiters were really kind and friendly but it was just me in there and it was unusual. I ate silently and reflected on what was truly getting me down. I enjoyed my food but certainly wouldn't say it cheered me up, I went home feeling even more alone and miserable than I had felt when I'd left the flat.

115. Have dinner in the sky (in a tower restaurant). 112. Make s’mores over a fire pit.

We only completed this last week (April 2020) because we wanted to make sure it was a warm dry evening for it. I made sure we made proper s'mores and not the English equivalent! We had proper Graham crackers, Hersheys chocolate and soft fluffy marshmallows. They tasted so good, especially as I've been working hard on achieving my ideal weight after all the Easter baking.

117. Bake a successful soufflé.

So I completed this during weekend one of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. It was on my sister Emma's bucket list too so we decided to do it together over video chat, giving each other advice and feedback and generally just keeping each other company. It was really fun! Mine worked successfully but I think that's largely attributed to our excellent quality and adorable Mickey Mouse ramekins, which we received off of our Head of Department to thank us for our hard work. For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe we followed here.

118. Make homemade jam.

The opportunity to make jam really came up because we have an apple tree in our garden, which means we are literally drowning in apples by August. A really simple way for me to boil down and use up a lot of said apples is to create apple and cinnamon jam, dubbed "Becca's Sticky Nemesis" because the first time I made it, it kept boiling over and onto our hob whenever I turned my back for a second (I had been keeping a permanent eye and stirring for 10 minutes prior to this!)

119. Make soup from scratch.

This is again a crafty way to use up the pumpkin leftovers from when I carve them for halloween (and it's delicious, especially with homemade bread). For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe I follow here.

120. Bake a Christmas cake from scratch using the family recipe (from Great-Nanna).

Great-Nanna is of Swedish decent so our family Christmas cake is rather special and not iced like most family Christmas cakes. This one is a hand written family recipe (complete with adorable spelling mistakes) and the secret ingredient is getting each member of the household to stir it up thinking good vibes and thoughts for the New Year ahead.

121. Make a Christmas pudding from scratch. 122. Bake Easter biscuits.

This certainly kept me busy over the Easter weekend (this was Good Friday 2020) while we were stuck inside with the Covid-19 lockdown. These biscuits were so crumbly and delicious - if I do say so myself - and went perfectly with a cup of English breakfast tea. For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe I followed here.

123. Make hot cross buns from scratch

This is always something I'd fancied but I'd stayed away from yeast, in all honesty, telling myself that it was way to complicated for an amateur baker like myself. I was really delighted with my results! For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe I followed here my only word of warning would be that it mentions mixed peel and raisins in the ingredients list then forgets to tell you to put them in, much to my dismay. The buns were lovely though so I will definitely make them again, having already annotated my printed copy of this recipe so I don't make the same mistake again!

124. Bake Christmas cookies.

These definitely hit the spot while I was in the middle of marking my pile of GCSE Mock Papers, depressed at the beginning of December. They were delicious and got me feeling a bit more festive, especially as I paired my marking and munching with watching Home Alone. For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe I followed here.

125. Bake mince pies from scratch. 126. Learn to make pumpkin pie.

This is an amazing way of using up the pumpkin from carving them but a pain to get right. I've been baking pumpkin pies for the past 6 or 7 Halloweens and never quite got it right, until this amazing attempt. I could tell it was delicious because my Mum usually doesn't like it but really enjoyed Pumpkin Pie VIII, hereby known as Legend of Spooksday. For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe I followed here.

127. Make a successful omelette

Generally I'm way to impatient for omelettes and rarely get them right. This one I actually cooked at university and is possibly the most perfect one I've ever made (tasty too!)

128. Make homemade ice-cream.

I'm a rigid recipe follower (I think it's the Scientist in me) so it was to my horror and dismay when I simply could not find a cohesive banana ice cream recipe... so I made one up. I used up the yolks from my soufflé blended with milk and cornflour (don't ask amounts, I kind of just chucked cornflour in until it looked a bit like custard) to that I added banana, coconut and white chocolate chips and froze. I was delighted and excited when I could scoop it like proper ice cream! (Next time, I'll leave the coconut out, it tasted good but gave it a little bit of an unpleasant, gritty texture).

129. Bake a loaf of bread.

Again, one I've avoided through my irrational fear of yeast and perceived level of difficulty. Call it beginners luck or an excellent recipe but this bread was light, fluffy, moist and super tasty! For those of you wanting to give this a go, I've included the recipe I followed here.

130. Make banana bread using Grandma’s recipe.

Now the Christmas cake recipe is one from Mum's side of the family, Grandma was Dad's Mum who sadly passed away after battling ovarian cancer, when I was only seven so I have very few coherent memories of her. I remember her being kind and funny and making some renowned picnics and spreads. Her banana bread though was her crowning glory and something I remember eating when I was little. Now I was lucky enough to inherit her cookbooks when we emptied Grandad's bungalow in 2011 after he passed away to, and they've been tucked away quite forgotten on my kitchen bookshelf. As I started pondering my bucket list I wondered whether her recipe was in there, low and behold much to my excitement it was, so I went ahead and made some delicious, moist Grandma-worthy banana bread. I think she'd be proud!

131. Cook a traditional dish from another culture. 132. Cook Christmas dinner (on Christmas day).

133. Cook with Ben.

We both really enjoy cooking and I'm lucky enough to have a fiance who is willing to pitch in and get involved in cooking with me regularly. Here is a collection of some of my favourites of us cooking together (note Ben putting love and good vibes into the Christmas cake in the bottom left picture).

134. Create latte art.

135. Make food art.

The cake was another one from Grandma's recipe book (and a delicious, light, fluffy cake at that) since I didn't realise that the recipe I'd printed only told me how to construct adorable Easter rabbit from said cakes. I followed this recipe since it fitted with the Easter theme although I deviated slightly and made a salted caramel bunny rather than a vanilla one since my pet bunny, Harry is brown.

136. Make a birthday cake for someone.

This is definitely something I'd recommend doing at least once, I'm a little bit addicted to it! It's really lovely to think about all the amazing flavours you can encapsulate in cake form for your loved ones. Here is a collection of some of my favourites...

137. Pick fresh fruit and make a pudding with it.

As previously mentioned we have an abundance of apples from the tree in our garden so this was a really easy one to do. I picked a few apples and made caramel apple crumble, which I served when we had Ben's parents over for dinner and has since become a very indulgent favourite, closely followed by apple enchiladas, which Ben and I cooked for our friends Lisa and Billy who were hosting a Mexican themed night complete with sombreros and fake moustaches.

138. Make a homemade pizza

I really enjoyed making homemade pizza, mostly because the world is your oyster when it comes to toppings. Ben went super fancy with his and attempted hot dog stuffed crust.

139. Make a gingerbread house. 140. Toss a pancake. 141. Host a cookie exchange. 142. Have a herb garden.

Sadly it's died off a bit now, only the sage and the rosemary had survived the 5 years we've spent in our lovely home (here is Hermes sat by my rather huge sage plant) at one point we had rosemary and thyme too, which I'm definitely going to replant this year and move to a sunnier spot than under our massive willow tree.

143. Grow a vegetable from scratch and eat my produce.

144. Take a cooking class. 145. Enter food I’ve cooked into a competition. 146. Learn to eat using chopsticks. 147. Come home to find I’ve been cooked a romantic meal. 148. Organise a family picnic outing.

149. Go out for ice cream/buy ice cream from a van

This is definitely something I've done many times at various parks and beaches - I've just not got photo evidence... oh no... more ice cream for me!

150. Eat breakfast for dinner.

I've perfected the English fry up so it's not too greasy, using oil spray for my eggs, and grilling low fat sausages and bacon and low sugar baked beans. All things considered it makes a good protein-rich dinner, especially after exercise (we're munching this one after a martial arts class).

151. Cook a 3-course meal for friends from scratch. 152. Have a high tea.

I really love high tea and this is certainly one of the best places in the South West of England for it (in my humble opinion). The Pump Rooms in Bath is beautifully decorated and has a pianist playing live as you eat tiny sandwiches and cakes and sip tea and champagne. Here we are treating Mum to one after our Spa afternoon since we were celebrating her 50th birthday.

153. Eat in an all-you-can-eat restaurant.

I'm a glutton, I've done this lots of times and it's certainly an experience. Pictured is an all you can eat Chinese restaurant, which is a family favourite of ours because the food is fresh and of excellent quality. The Chinese tea here is delicious too.

154. Order takeaway.

We try not to do this too often as it's expensive and unhealthy, but we were celebrating Christmas with our friends so Chinese takeaway was definitely well received.

155. Have a takeaway in another country.

It's certainly interesting to experience other countries takes on takeaway. Emma was delighted that in New York our Chinese food came in the little white boxes like you see in films and TV shows (ours comes in reusable plastic tubs, which are actually very handy). We ordered Dominoes in Orlando and had fun with the website which allows you to pick a theme song and style for your delivery, far more exciting than our service.

156. Eat breakfast in bed. I do this most mornings, followed by doing my makeup in bed, to prolong the time I get to spend warm and cosy. Nothing fancy though, just cereal or toast. I haven't had the full tray with flower in a vase thing.

157. Eat al fresco.

Eating out in the open is something I largely associate with going on holiday. This is by no means the only time I have dined al fresco but was one of the experiences that sticks in my head. We're on holiday celebrating the end of our undergraduate university courses, enjoying tapas together in Tenerife. It was such a chilled evening followed by a walk barefoot along the beach. Eating in the fresh air truly is one of my favourite ways to dine.

158. Eat BBQ in America.

We did this staying with our friends Mary and Harvey on our way back to their house from Atlanta. We stopped at a Sonny's BBQ and munched our way through really tasty meats and sides. Harvey actually challenged me to an eating duel (he won) because he was so impressed with the amount I was able to pack away after seeing me polish off a Waffle House breakfast.

159. Eat fish and chips on the beach. Again, I've done this lots but I just could not find any photos of it - we've gotten into the habit of eating in the restaurant for warmth in recent years. It certainly doesn't quite beat eating them on a sunny day with soft sand between your toes and the sound of waves crashing in the distance.

160. Eat a hog roast. Again, I've done this a number of times at parties and proms, just no photo evidence. Next time I have one, I'll photograph it.

161. Eat a buried pig at a Hawaiian luau.

162. Eat gelato in Italy.

I absolutely love ice cream and could eat it until it comes out of my ears This definitely set the bar high. We found a delicious gelato shop in the Piazza San Marco in Venice and sat eating ice creams at the bottom of the Campanile.

163. Try a voodoo donut.

164. Try a Krispy Kreme donut.

This is another one of those things where I've done said item but simply didn't take a photo (although I do have one in a Krispy Kreme hat which I picked up when I bought some from a Krispy Kreme store in Newcastle). I'd say my favourite is probably a Strawberries and Kreme.

165. Try Baba Ghanoush (Egypt)

166. Eat Baklava

We have a really nice Turkish restaurant in our town and I ordered Baklava for pudding a couple of years ago (it's so sweet and delicious). I then looked back over my bucket list and got really excited to spot it on there!

167. Try caviar. 168. Try a black Truffle 169. Taste Bled cake 170. Eat Borscht 171. Have a cheese Fondue (Switzerland) 172. Try chocolate chicken (Mexico)

173. Try churros (Spain) I've had churros a couple of times in recent years, I've just been busy munching them and forgotten to take a photo. I'll take one for the team and have them again, purely for a photograph you understand...

174. Taste a corn dog 175. Try crab Cakes (Maryland)

176. Taste crème brûlée

I went one further on this one. I made the crème brûlée from scratch during lockdown in April 2020, purely so I could try one. Luckily Ben loves this desert and confirmed it did taste how it was meant to (I was really pleasantly surprised).

177. Try a deep fried Mars bar/pizza

This is another thing I was pleasantly surprised with. I had just eaten a full portion of battered cod and chips so was way to full for an entire one to myself, so I tried a bite of Ben's. It was soft and sweet and much lighter than I expected it to be, I'd definitely have a full one to myself, just not following cod and chips.

178. Eat dim Sum (China – traditional way of eating) 179. Try dolma (Stuffed Grape Leaves - Russia)

180. Have eggs Benedict this has become one of my favourites. Em and I surprised Mum and Dad with a cooked breakfast and a decorated downstairs on their 25th Wedding Anniversary and to make it special we thought we'd cook them an unusual breakfast, going with Eggs Benedict. I love eggs and English breakfast muffins anyway so it's unsurprising I love this breakfast so much.

181. Try escargot (France) 182. Try fried Green Tomatoes (New Orleans) 183. Try cuisses de grenouilles (frogs legs) 184. Taste goulash (Hungary)

185. Try okra

This was a suggestion of Mary's while we were staying with them in Georgia, I had fried okra, which I really loved so she bought me some crunchy, dried okra (equally delicious).

186. Taste Gumbo (Louisiana)

So technically I didn't go to Louisiana to taste this, but I did eat it at Henry's Louisiana Grill in Georgia. Mary ordered the gumbo and gave us all a try - it was super spicy but tasty. I'm not sure I could have managed a full portion of it (I'm don't like mega spicy food).

187. Eat Hangi (New Zealand - way of cooking using heated rocks buried in a pit oven). 188. Try Huevos Rancheros (Mexico)

189. Taste lobster

This was another accidental one. Dad bought lobsters for New Years Eve in 2019 as Nanna loves fish and had never tried one. He bought a few for anyone interested so Ben and I happily sampled lobster too, even though I'm not really a fish-lover. I was pleasantly surprised with lobster, it had a delicate flavour and I'd happily eat it again.

190. Try New England Clam Chowder (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire etc.) 191. Have a NYC Hot Dog

192. Have a NYC bagel

Curse of the family photographer strikes again. I'm usually the one snapping the pictures when we go away, hence I rarely get any shots of me unless I take a selfie. You'll have to take my word for it that every morning we were in New York we caught the Staten Island Ferry (we were staying on Staten Island) picking up a bagel filled with bacon, eggs and all things delicious to munch on our travels.

193. Taste Ossobuco (Milan) 194. Try Pho Soup (Vietnam) 195. Try pierogi (Poland) 196. Try pupusas (Brazil) 197. Taste raw Sugar Cane (Brazil)

198. Eat Red Velvet Cake (USA) I'm fussy with cream products and cream cheese is not my favourite. I have eaten red velvet cake a couple of times, but it's certainly not my favourite, I find the topping sour.

199. Try Sauerkraut 200. Try a cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes (Beverly Hills, California)

201. Attend a cocktail making class.

It was really good fun although we sadly only had chance to make one cocktail each as we did this as part of a hen party (hence the sashes). I was making a mojito, which I shared with my friend Emma.

202. Taste a Martini: Gin, French Vermouth, Orange Bittes. 203. Try a Margarita: Tequila, Lime, Cointreau

204. Try Mojito: Lime, Rum, Mint, Turbinado, Soda

Much like cream, I'm ultra fussy when it comes to alcohol too (I really don't like spirits since they all taste like cough mixture and paint stripper to me). Mojito was okay I guess... I'm glad I tried it. I'll stick to fruit ciders if I drink anything, I don't drink a lot.

205. Try a Gin & Tonic: Gin, Tonic Water, Lime 206. Drink a Cosmopolitan: Vodka, Triple Sec, Cranberry Juice, Lime Juice 207. Attend a beer festival.

208. Go on a pub crawl.

I have a massive phobia of vomiting so drinking alcohol is largely not my scene. However, at the start of each university year there was a pub crawl in the local village, Kegworth (the "Keggie Crawl") which involved dressing up (here we are as a bunch of fruit), which I love and generally just having a nice night out with people. My flatmates were very considerate and didn't drink too much, so I always felt safe and happy with them, even on a night out. My pub crawl days are definitely over though...

209. Attend a tea tasting.

Tea tasting is certainly more my scene. My friend Lisa is super into her teas too and loves Agatha Christie books. For her 30th birthday we took her to Greenway (Agatha Christie's home) which combined the two and was running afternoon teas and tea tasting during November.

210.Taste champagne.

I've been to lots of weddings and had champagne toasts at each of them, we also indulged in a champagne high tea when we took Mum for her 50th birthday in the pump rooms, although drinking some before my food arrived was a bad move, the bubbles when straight to my head!

211. Drink juice from a fresh coconut.

212. Drink a slush drink.

I love a slush drink, Slush Puppies were always treats we had after our weekly swimming lessons as children and they remind me of fun times ten-pin bowling with friends.

213. Try a milkshake.

So many milkshakes, not a single photo that I could find. "Shake-Away" is my favourite UK milkshake company as they literally blend anything into milkshakes (I can't decide which was my favourite, white chocolate Lindor truffle milkshake or Kinder Bueno milkshake...)

214. Drink a smoothie out of a pineapple. 215.Try moonshine.

Yep, curse of Becca the photographer. I still have my moonshine glass, I did sip it, it's just no one thought to actually capture my hilarious reaction for me! So I'll share my "moonshine shots" of Mum and Dad instead (Mum is my favourite and not too dissimilar from mine). We did this in Georgia when we stayed with Mary and Harvey.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All