Honeymoon Eats Roundup

I’m still recuperating from the wild blogaversary…just kidding! Here’s a rare weekend post because since the honeymoon, I’ve been to New York city and Charleston and have so much to catch up on! I photographed all my meals on the honeymoon. I’ll spare you a week’s worth of delicious three course meals but I wanted to document our favorite dishes.One of the beauties of cruising around Europe was that I got to eat anything I wanted and since meals on the boat are included, I never cheaped out! The downfall is that we weren’t ever in these amazing cities (Florence, Rome, Naples, Palma) at dinner time. Mr. J and I hurried to get  to see all the sites we possibly could in each place so we rarely even stopped for food! Eating buffet breakfast before entering the city kept us full anyway.

We got in the habit of relaxing poolside after running around all day and before dinner. Then, here’s where it got tasty. We would make a cheese plate and go to our balcony to watch as the ship pulled out. That is the life I tell ya.

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Now, let’s get to the meals. I had this pear salad with blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. What wonderful combos of flavors.

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My number 1 best meal I had was risotto with shrimp. DELECTABLE. I think I ate every bite. I loved the arugula on top. Remember risotto is on my list of dishes to make soon.
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Mr. J’s favorite meal was this angus pot roast. It was falling off the bone and he was really happy with this choice. Also, this guy loves any meat that comes with sauce/gravy.
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I ate fish at every opportunity I had. One really good one was tilapia over peppers and potatoes. The sauce was light but creamy and the fish was cooked perfectly. It didn’t look amazing but it was soooo good.
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Mr. J had a NY strip that he liked a lot too.
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Our favorite desert was a bread pudding with sticky toffee sauce. It was sweet without being sickeningly sweet and the egg flavor came though. The top was crispy, the underneath was soft, and the sauce was sticky…wow. There wasn’t definition from one bread chunk to another.
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All the meals were really good. I love Norwegian Cruise Line because of their freestyle dining options. We could show up to dinner at any of the restaurants at anytime and be seated alone. This was especially nice after racing around the cities and taking time to relax by the pool. I highly recommend NCL and hope to go on another soon (hint hint, wink wink)!

Sangria Kickoff

Before the honeymoon, I’d never been to Spain before. I’ve been to England, France, Italy, Greece, and all sorts of random countries in Eastern Europe but never Spain. Barcelona definitely made me want to go back. I loved it! It’s such a beautiful city. We landed, checked into our hotel, and immediately started to explore. I chose a hotel just steps off Placa de Catalunya. What a lovely area! It was also a holiday so it felt like our honeymoon was really off to a great start.We were starving and strolled past a bunch of out door cafes on las ramblas. We found a spot at one and began with some sangria. Ohh. The. Sangria. This is a half order! Mr. J tried it as well only because a when-in-rome mentality and loved it too!
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We each chose a dinner option for 3 house tapas and our choices of paella, pasta, or pizza. The tapas was heavy on fish, but I didn’t mind at all. Mr. J didn’t seem to either. One was a warm potato wedge with a sweet & creamy dressing. I liked it. Another was a crustini with tomato and a sardine. The last was a cold pasta salad with tuna. The sampler was good since we would’ve spent forever picking piece by piece.
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I went with the seafood paella. It was so good! I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I’ve always wanted to try and and I got my most authentic chance ever! There were huge shrimp (with the heads), scallops, muscles, and some sort of tougher fish…calimari-esque but not exactly the same. I could definitely taste the saffron but it wasn’t overpowering.
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I loved it. I ate my first shrimp head since apparently that’s where all the flavor is. I’m not sure if that will happen again or not.

Mr. J got pasta that was good, but not as blog-worthy as paella!

I fell for Barcelona while sipping my sangria, munching on paella, and watching a street festival unfold before my eyes. I guess there were fireworks but I was too tired/jet-lagged to even stay awake until 9 PM (also known as when locals eat dinner).

Happy Halloween!!

Birthplace of Pizza

My honeymoon was simply amazing. Beyond words. We saw some really amazing sites in Italy and Spain and definitely have memories for a lifetime. I loved Barcelona and Florence. They were my favorites. I had such high hopes for Naples and wasn’t a big fan. It’s quite smelly and loud. I just hoped to see a charming town not infiltrated with tourists where we could wander, eat, and repeat.They’ve had a trash problem. It doesn’t explain the lack of ladies hanging their laundry out windows and the guys hanging around pizzarias I was looking forward to. This image in my head wasn’t the case. I mean, this is the BIRTHPLACE OF PIZZA! I thought it had to be amazing!We did have the most delicious pizza I’ve ever tasted. I have to tell you that before I relay our crazy pizza adventure.
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We found this pizzaria called Pizzeria Pellone that Anthony Bourdain went to. The pizza is to die for, but I’m also thankful that we made it out without losing cameras, or fingers, to an intense owner. Seriously. He was very scary and did not at all appreciate us tourists in his restaurant. At all. This blog seemed to catch him on a good day?

Mr. J has serious camera equipment. Like paparazzi style with 2 bodies, multiple lenses, tripods strapped into a camera backpack which suggests he’s hiking across Europe. (Love you Mr. J!) He took the time to put one away into the bag and the other was strung across his chest before we went in. I had my camera in my purse so other than the camera bag, the guy wouldn’t have known I’m snap-happy around my food.
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This man stands guard at the front of the restaurant while his staff scurries around. We were seated in his direct view, by the door. He immediately came over and picked up Mr. J’s camera still strapped to him. This guy wasn’t having it. The other server said something in Italian and he finally backed off. Looking none to pleased. Mr. J remained calm while this guy practically manhandled his camera. Don’t mess with Mr. J’s dog or his camera.

I’m pretty sure they only answered me as to “where is the bathroom” because I asked in Italian.

We decided it best not to take any photos. It was that intense. We hadn’t even suggested that we would be taking photos. We ate the best pizza of our lives, finished our wine & beer and got out of there. Mr. J suggested we take the leftovers to go so at least we could get a photo outside. He’s always looking out for me.

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The bottom crust was so paper thin you’d never pick it up. The sauce was light and pink. It definitely didn’t have any herbs in it. The buffalo mozzarella was to-die-for. So good! Whole leafs of basil were crisped on top.

It was so filling. I don’t know how they each eat a whole one. We split one and didn’t finish it. I’ll remember the meal forever, and especially the pizza forever. I’ll try to recreate.

Rehearsal Dinner Feast

I’m back from my honeymoon with Mr. J. We loved Spain & Italy and had a completely perfect time. I can’t believe it is already over! I have lots to blog about so you’ll hear about it…all in good time.The rehearsal dinner got the wedding weekend really started. I didn’t really need practice eating dinner. I’ve pretty much got that down but it was so nice to relax all together after a stressful start to the rehearsal getting everyone there! We went to Sky which was right next to our hotel. Mr. Js parents hosted a really lovely evening for everyone.

Look at our chocolate puppy Mrs. S made! He looks just like Windsor! Loved it!
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We had a 3 course meal choice in a great size room to ourselves. The table was one huge table for the bridal party, parents, grandparents, significant others, and of course one bride-to-be, and one groom-to-be.

To start we had the choice of a Cesar salad or a wedge. I went with the wedge but forgot to get a shot of the Cesar…oops! The wedge had crumbled bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, and crisp onions. I thought it was great.
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Next I chose lobster mac & cheese. Ohh. My. Goodness. So sweet and buttery with consistently sizeable chunks of lobster. Yum.
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Mr. J had the NY Strip steak with beautiful grill marks. It came with roasted yukon potatoes and asparagus.
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The third choice was a Parmesan encrusted chicken with risotto and green beans.
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The chocolate dog wasn’t the only treat there…for dessert I had the vanilla creme brule and thought it was the perfect sweet treat to end the meal. I love creme brulee and know it isn’t something I could make at home.
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Mr. J had the Boston cream pie which was a modern construction. It was almost biscuit-like.

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Everything was great and we loved it. It was nice to be able to stroll back to the hotel before the big day!

Much Needed Scutra for Dinner

Before we return from our honeymoon, I needed to share a drool-worthy meal we had before the wedding.During major wedding planning crunch time we were lacking groceries, we were in need of a date night, and we definitely needed a fun distraction while racking our brains for creative table themes. The wedding wasn’t a DIY affair, but Mr. J designed everything and the table blurbs in frames was our only project. Luckily we had a gift certificate to Scutra in Arlington that was burning a hole in our pockets!
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It was such a blissful and relaxing evening. We got dressed up, kissed the pup goodbye, and headed to our reservation. Of course I scoured the website menu before going and honestly I’m sure I would have enjoyed everything on the menu. Love Mediterranean food!
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I started with the garlic baked muscles. Garlic butter and feta? YES PLEASE! They were beautiful and thought the feta was great for a touch of saltiness.
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Mr. J had the roasted tomato soup with Parmesan encrusted scallops. He just recently started to enjoy scallops and I think the Parmesan crunchy exterior was a perfect contrast in texture for him.
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These aps were awesome and got us really excited for the main dish. Each was a perfect size to leave us adequate room to keep eating!

I got seafood crusted salmon. Oh. My. Goodness. My perfectly pink salmon was topped with crab and lobster. It doesn’t get any better than that. It was served with an asparagus risotto and a pesto drizzle. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It was hot and flavorful. Such a great combination of flavors that didn’t overpower one another.
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Mr. J got a special, and boy was it special. He had 14oz sirloin steak with a butter and raspberry beer sauce over mashed potatoes. Mr. J heard it listed with the specials and was hooked. He loved it and finished every bite.
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I had a crisp chardonnay knowing I’d have seafood for dinner and Mr. J had a final Sam Adam’s summer ale. I enjoyed every bite. This was such a wonderful dinner. Mr. J was happy with his choices and we definitely got dinners we couldn’t/wouldn’t make at home. There was no room for dessert.

The reviews seemed mixed regarding the service and atmosphere. We thought it had a really nice atmosphere, our server was friendly, and I’d be happy to go back anytime. I liked that it was classy and well decorated, allowing us to dress up a bit for a really special meal.

Have you had a meal recently that you just thoroughly enjoyed AND appreciated happening right when you needed it? This was one for me. I’ll be back next week with LOTS of tastes to relay from my trip to Spain & Italy! Stay tuned!

Restaurant Week Luncheon

Boston’s Restaurant Week now happens several times a year, thus making it not-that-special if you miss it. I don’t always love it because I feel like it’s usually a group outing where we’re trying to accommodate everyone in the groups tastes.Some of the menus are really dumb-downed, the waitstaff hates it, and it feels like the B team in the kitchen. Now it is 2 weeks long so it’s not “a cool find”; it’s something you can’t miss. Long gone are the days where the restaurants pulled out all the stops trying to woo new customers. Let me just get off this soap box now…

Maybe it was the restaurant choice (Marliave), maybe because it was at lunch, maybe it was the menu, maybe they just have good waitstaff, I don’t know what it was but they restored my faith in restaurant week!
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My colleagues and I joined our sister-office for a restaurant week lunch outing at Marliave. I couldn’t get over the menu. It has stayed up on the website for awhile so take a peek! Literally something for anyone. I have just a selection of our choices for a glimpse of the meal.

I started with the mac & cheese. I mean, are you surprised? It was probably the best I’ve ever had…and I’ve had a lot. They use house cut ziti which makes all the difference. The black truffle doesn’t hurt either. It is served in a small caraf that couldn’t be cuter.
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Ms. M had the caprese. Seems like a slightly less filling choice. It had aged balsamic and fresh balsamic. She said she could absolutely tell that it was Italian mozzarella. She lived in Italy as a child. She’s also vegetarian so I totally trust her on this.
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The second course was troublesome for me. So many choices! I ended up with fish & chips which is kind of random for me. I wanted the risotto but knew that wouldn’t pair well with the mac & cheese.
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Ms. M got the mushroom risotto. Apparently if you don’t like mushrooms, this dish still won’t turn you to the other side.
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I really wanted the rarebits, but would be on cheese overload. I also had been eyeing the muscles appetizer. I should have just asked if I could have 2 first courses.

Peeking down the table the trout looked lovely and the portabello would have been good too. I suppose nothing could follow the mac & cheese anyway. I also didn’t eat much of it anyway so choosing something that reheated well was probably wise.
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Dessert just made me want to roll on out of there. I was seriously so full and getting antsy that I couldn’t eat dessert. I chose the box of truffles and brought them back to the office. I really enjoyed them the next day.
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Ms. M had the chunky brownie sundae. It was delicious. She graciously offered me a bite. We all had commented on the butterscotch pudding. I tasted it and really couldn’t get over how creamy but light it was. Yum.
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Based on the size portion of the glorious mac & cheese, I wish our server offered to wrap the massive amount remaining. Also, It took way too long for a weekday lunch that close to the financial district. Our reservation was for noon when it wasn’t busy at all and we had to really push to get the check once dessert. Empty plates showed we were done but we still waited quite awhile.

The mac & cheese was worth the $20.11 (plus tip) alone. They won me over and I’ll definitely have to hit up Marliave again…especially when cocktails are appropriate.

Walk Like an Elephant

I finally got a chance to try Elephant Walk! I’ve been wanting to but just haven’t thought of it when it was actually time to go out! I’ve lived near several locations now so it was about time.
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After a beachy day and before a night on the town, a wonderful gaggle of girls and I ate here for a bachelorette party. I really loved my meal and was totally intrigued by all the other meals! I should confess I had no idea what Cambodians ate…apparently quite similar to their neighbors in Thailand. Lots ‘o rice and meat with veggies.We had our own table in a great little niche downstairs. It was so great to be able to ‘do our own thing’ (read as: be as chatty and loud as we wanted).
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I started with a sweet & pear flavored cocktail. I don’t remember exactly what was in it…wish they posted a cocktail menu online since this would be a fun one to recreate.

We shared some rouleaux and some vegetarian rouleaux.  These spring rolls were fried & crispy like a Chinese egg roll. They came with tuk trey a sweet & spicy sauce for dipping. The rouleaux were great for sharing and came with plenty to go around.
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I chose a shrimp curry dish called Curry de Crevettes…how creative. It came with asparagus, bok choy, snow peas and a mound of rice. I forgot to ask for brown rice though. I like that it’s more flavorful and nutty than white rice. The health benefits don’t hurt either.
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It was a sizeable portion and I ate the shrimp out once I started getting full since I knew I wouldn’t take it with me.

The bride-to-be got a veggie curry entree which looked really good. We made a stop back to her apt before going out so she was smart to take the rest wtih her.
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I thought the presentation on this pork special was great. I usually hate when meat is sliced for me but they made this look good! The crisp greens on top made me very intrigued.
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The beef tips (Loc Lac) seemed like the most simple dish on the menu. They are grilled with black pepper, garlic, & soy. There was a lime dipping sauce I would have liked to try…especially given my love for lime dressing.
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With such a big menu I loved that the French influence made it easy for me to scan quickly to get to chicken or fish! There were tons of vegetarian options (like tofu not just meatless options) and lots of gluten free choices. I liked the sauces a lot and thought everything seemed really fresh and flavorful.

I was really impressed. The food was really good and our servers were great. All of our meals came out at the same time and there were probably 10-12 of us! Like our friend Arnold might say, I’ll be back.

Mediterranean Bliss

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love Mediterranean food? It’s definitely my favorite. I never get sick of it. I love all the dip-able things….and all the olive oil…and all the feta…and all the marinades. I just can’t get enough. I recently enjoyed a Mediterranean meal with some of the most wonderful ladies in my life during my bachelorette weekend.

We went to an amazing winery earlier in the day, more on that later, but our dinner was at Temple in Providence, RI! We started with a few cocktails, in our own room within the restaurant with a less-than-enthused waiter, and the appetizer sampler to share. The Temple Mezze Platter was delicious and perfect for sharing. It had tzatziki, baba ghanoush (the best I’ve ever had, btw), hummus, dolmas, spanakopita, moroccan carrots & warm pita. Loved it! We ordered 2 platters to serve 4 each. It was plenty with some leftover.

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I got a mango lime cocktail. It was sweet but tart and I loved it. temple_drink_200_290
They brought out an assorted bread basket and roasted garlic. So good! temple_garlic_290_200

The menu seemed to have plenty of options for everyone. We ordered from every section of the menu! I got the Maine Lobster Flatbread. It had leeks and St. Andre cheese…also a fav. I’ve loved this buttery cheese but I’ve never melted it. Duh! I’m embarassed to say that I didn’t take a photo of my meal. Gasp!  It was really good but I was full quickly. I ended up eating the lobster off the remaining pieces once I just couldn’t eat anymore. I’d never let lobster go to waste. One Ms. L got the lobster flatbread too but I didn’t bug her to get a photo since I had the same.

Ms. L got Spring Vegetable Fusilli. It was full of all different veggies. The server didn’t think she’d put too much of a dent in it…there just was so much!

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This Mrs. E got Greek Style Chicken in a lemon, garlic, & oregano marinade. Ms. M got this as well.
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Check. Out. This. Flatbread. How amazing does that look?! One Mrs. E and one Ms. L got this sausage and argula flatbread and liked it. Ms. L wasn’t overly into the argula on top. temple_sausage_290_200
Another Ms. L got the Temple Burger. It’s lamb with black olive tapenade and tzatziki. I was eyeing that one. temple_burg_200_290
Ms. A got Greek Salad and Portuguese-Style Caldo Verde. It was leek and potato soup with chorizo. temple_soup_290_200
I loved everything about this weekend and everything about this meal. I was so pleasantly stuffed. Then, just when I thought the meal was over, they bring out these guys: temple_cupcakes_290_200 These are the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. The cake part was so good! Normally I’m just into the frosting on cupcakes from bakeries but these were different. We also amused ourselves trying to identify them. I ate the one that looks like s’mores (bottom left). They were specially delivered by Ms. L’s sis from Nancy’s Fancies. Seriously unlike any other bakery cupcake. What a nice touch to finish the meal with?! I have the greatest friends ever.

Perfect Sauce at Sauce

 

As often as I travel for work, I rarely blog about my eatings during those trips. Seriously. I worked four cities this year so far and this is the first one you’re hearing about. San Fran deserves it though. I simply adore the city and I always know there will be unexpectedly amazing meals coordinated by the local staff. Did you see this other treat in San Fran?
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For the past two years we’ve eaten at Sauce, an unassuming little restaurant & bar in the Hayes Valley area. The menu features comfort food in a classy and sophisticated atmosphere. The food is not pretentious…it’s just all done really well.Feeding our large group, in a timely fashion, on a serious budget is no small feat. That’s why I greatly appreciate how generous and accommodating Sauce is.

Probably 90% of the group visited the bar before dinner. There were fantastic cocktails. I had my eye on a lemon-looking one garnished with a sugared lemon slice!

They started us off with the lincoln logs of portabello mushroom fries and fat boy ranch dipping sauce. AMAZING. These are so lightly battered and make you want to play Jenga when you see the tower. Ms. K who doesn’t even like mushrooms was impressed. We also got the meal going with some bruschetta. I loved it and could have enjoyed the appetizers as my whole meal.
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Dinner was family style with salad, buttery carrot coins, brussels sprouts, veggie lasagna, and a side of meatballs.

I’m not a huge fan of carrots but these were so delicious. They were thin and warm with the littlest bit of pepper made them this memorable.

The lasagna was so good. It was cheesy and the sauce made it bright and really flavorful without being too acidic. The crispy edges made me swoon.
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They served a really delicious chilled red wine. I knew it was coming so I hadn’t hit up the bar. The owner explained it and assured us it was meant to be chilled. Needless to say our table of 6 finished every last drop.

We even got dessert. I also knew this was coming from years past so I kept room. It was delightful cinnamon sugared donut bites with a vanilla burbon dipping sauce. Ooo that sauce! These were the perfect bites to finish the meal.
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I love this place and thought we were so well taken care of. The extras like appetizers, wine, and dessert were greatly appreciated. I loved every sauce we ate. The owner introduced himself and told us how happy he was to have us given his connection to the cause as well.

 

 

Cruisin’ to Bahamas

On the cruise to the Bahamas, sis and I had some some tasty meals!

I started with chipotle shrimp with tempura zucchini strings. The shrimp had a good smoky flavor. I would have liked it as my whole meal!
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Sis started with the onion soup. She thought it was OK but the fried onions on the top lost their crunch.
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She had salad for the next course and I had a weird one. I had spicy pineapple salad. It had fresh pineapple, red pepper, and tomatoes.
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Next for the main course, I had a pork chop with sweet potato and apple. Sound familiar? It was good, but huge! There were about four green beans hidden underneath.
cruise_pork_290_200Sis got the chef’s special roasted chicken. It makes me want to roast a chicken as a right of passage in the kitchen. This one wasn’t a photogenic as it looked in person.
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We both got a chocolate moose dessert. The couple next to us described it as a chocolate peep. It wasn’t good. It was a waste of calories. Didn’t it look good though?
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