Tag Archives: travel

Christmas peanut butter cookies

10 Dec

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Christmas in Sydney is a hot and humid affair. There`s none of the snow and ice skating and roasting things by a roaring fire. Here it is a swim after a cold seafood lunch and trying to avoid the flies and sunburn. Continue reading

Hungry for Travel part two – family holiday to Tokyo Disneyland, Japan

23 Oct

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We as a family are blessed. This time last year we visited Disneyland, California and it was the trip of a lifetime. This time two weeks ago we visited Tokyo Disney. I still can’t quite comprehend that we have visited two of the happiest places on Earth in the space of 12 months.

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The two parks are same, yet different, to borrow a phrase. The technology used in the Japanese park is light years ahead of Disneyland CA. For instance, getting into the park each day in Tokyo was less of a palaver than in CA but at the same time there was minimal flexibility using multi-day passes. In Tokyo you need to inform the Disney powers that be which days you intend to go to Disney vs DisneySea (their version of California Adventure Park) for the first 3 days of your pass.

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Trying to change the days around resulted in a difficult, frustrating conversation with the lady in the ticket window who couldn’t comprehend what we were trying to say. Thankfully a lovely man behind us in the queue came to our rescue and helped guide the conversation – the basic idea being we could pay to switch the days around. No thanks.

We weren’t sure if you could flit between the two parks as we did in CA as our Japanese and their English didn’t allow such a conversation to take place.

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The crowds. Oh.My.Lord – I have never seen anything like them. Coming from big, empty Australia it was a total shock. Even rides like the carousel had massive, never-ending lines. Fast passes were often sold out by 10am for the really popular rides. There were rides that, despite us being there for four long days, usually til closing time, that we just didn’t get a chance to go on – I’m looking at you, Jungle Cruise.

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The Japanese are extremely patient and adept at queuing so it wasn’t stressful, just time-consuming. Everyone is super polite and friendly and we managed to have a few conversations in broken Japlish which was fun. And the many beautiful babies to look at helped pass the time – I am a real sucker for babies and they were everywhere!

Where the parks really differ is the parades. We thought the CA parades were amazing, but they pale in comparison to the Tokyo parades. It seems that people spend the day at Disney in Japan just waiting for them – from the time the park opened each day people would stake out a good position, whip out a plastic mat, and just sit and wait. I have never seen anything like it!

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There is also a jaw-dropping projection on the castle twice a night called Once Upon A Time, which combines all the princessy highlights from various Disney films. There was even a glimpse of Miss6’s beloved Anna and Elsa from Frozen – you probably heard her shrieks of delight from across the planet. It was narrated in Japanese but it was easy to get the gist. It was so lovely, it made me cry. PS – I am a sap.

I had read on different Disney blogs that showtimes were the best times to hit rides, and it is true. For instance, we walked straight on to Star Tours (the family’s fav) during one show, came off, went straight back on the line, and waited 45 minutes. It was unbelievable.

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DisneySea is the newer park and despite having some incredible rides I personally preferred the Disney park propr. I felt the same about California Adventure – I love the old school themes and rides (hello spinning tea cups) and the magic feeling.

To give you an idea – we spent just one day out of four at DisneySea and we saw most things. It probably didn’t help that it was stinking hot the day we were at DisneySea and there was very little shade and so much concrete.

If you have young kids you’ll want to kill time at King Triton’s Playground. It is a massive subterreramn area with an eatery with good food, and plenty of rides for younger types. We spent hours in there.

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Food-wise Disney Tokyo wins hands down over Disneyland. The food is Japanese twist on fast foods – no sushi (boo) but plenty of seafood options (yay). Lots of places have cute plates or bags you could get I you paid extra – guess who lugged home many of these items?

I had my birthday in Kyoto but was sick so decided to have a do over at Disney. We lunched at Queen of Hearts, which is all about Alice in Wonderland and located next to the teacups. Again we queued for ages. And ages. It is a funny set-up – sort of like cafeteria style but then you are shown to your table.

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For my bday dinner we went to the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. I wanted to go in CA but it was so expensive. We tried to book a table but were told just to show up. I think I waited at least 45 minutes. The prices in Tokyo Disney were much more reasonable and I even had my most favourite food – lobster. The children weren’t keen on the kid’s set menu so they just had soup and a salad each and it wasn’t a problem. I was worried there would be a minimum spend but it wasn’t the case. In fact they were plied with bread rolls by the (somewhat overly keen) staff. We had been sitting for about 2 minutes when we were asked if we were ready to order.

We didn’t meet any main charcaters as again, you had to queue and queue and queue. We spent countless hours meeting all the princesses and fairies and Mickey and Minnie in Disneyland last year so didn’t feel the need. We did met random, minor characters such as Jiminy Cricket, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Goofy’s Cousin (whaaaaa?).

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Do not miss rides include:

Pooh’s Honey Pot – an incredible ride that it is so much fun. I went on it three times and each time it was different. Get a fastpass and go on it – you’ll want to experience it more than once. Even with a fast pass I think I queued for about 20 minutes.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth – in DisneySea, one of the most exhilarating Disney rides I’ve ever been on. Miss6 hated it and was almost in tears. I did not know it was going to be a rollercoaster-type ride. #badMother

Aquatopia – again, DisneySea. You are in water on some type of vehicle that races around to different areas, often heading in the opposite direction that you were anticipating. We went on it a few times, including at dusk, where it was beautiful.

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Toy Story Mania – the Hungry Dad queued for a fast pass while we went on a ride. I say queue but it was more a sea of people. Despite it being first thing in the morning our pass wasn’t until very late in the afternoon.

Peter Pan – I just love it.

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Star Tours – we loved it in CA and we loved it in Japan. It was the first and last ride in Tokyo and I was even chosen to be the spy on my do over bday! Gals were so envious.

Hungry for travel – a family holiday to Japan

13 Oct

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The Hungry Family recently returned from a trip to Tokyo, Kyoto and Tokyo Disney. It is fair to say that we are all smitten with this amazing country. The food was incredible and fresh and inexpensive, the people were friendly and polite, and everything was spotless – even the toilets at train stations were immaculate. And the shopping. Oh.The.Shopping. Our suitcases were bulging at the seams on our return with Japanese lollies (candy), various spicy sauces, whisky, clothes and Disney everything!  Continue reading

Pumpkin semifreddo and pumpkin snickerdoodles – two baking recipes

8 Nov

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So I have come late to the pumpkin party but boy am I an enthusiastic participant!

I have always loved pumpkin but in Australia it is eaten primarily as a savoury dish. I only discovered its use in baking from the many, MANY cooking blogs I follow. You may have noticed I have a recipe for pumpkin pie on my blog [sooo very delicious] but as canned pumpkin isn’t readily available here it means chopping/cooking/mashing pumpkin before you can even contemplate baking with it.

We recently returned from a US holiday, where we visited Disneyland [oh! So much happiness], San Fran [can I please move there?] and Hawaii. I dragged my poor family to every supermarket we passed [and many others that we had to make long-winded detours for] in order to stock up on baking provisions that aren’t available here in Australia. The legendary graham crackers. Pumpkin spice kisses. Hersey bars. And tins of pumpkin.

I couldn’t wait to get home and start baking with my imported loot and the first thing I made was Tartlette’s pumpkin semifreddo. Oh, what a revelation! Silky, creamy, and pumpkiny. Devine. All I did was change some of the spices to mixed spice & increase the cinnamon because I’m all about the cinnamon. Here’s her recipe: http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2009/11/recipe-pumkin-semifreddo-with-side-of.html

Then, as I had leftover pumpkin, I made a batch of Baked By Rachel’s pumpkin snickerdoodles. Without exaggeration I would rate these as some of the best bickies [or cookies, to speak in the parlance] I have ever made. Here’s the original: http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/2012/10/pumpkin-snickerdoodle-cookies/comment-page-1/#comment-94230

I served the two together because – well, why the hell not.

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Pumpkin semifreddo

Gather:

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup tinned pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon mixed spice

Let’s get to it:

Spray a loaf tin with non-stick spray then line with plastic wrap, allowing for overhang.

Using whisk attachment in a stand mixer beat cream to soft peak stage then put in fridge.
Place honey, sugar, and water in heavy saucepan, stir, then bring to a boil over medium heat until it reaches 114C on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat.

In a clean bowl beat the egg yolks for a few seconds, then slowly but steadily pour in the hot honey mix. Don’t muck around – the honey mix will begin to solidify if you wait.  Whip until the mix is airy and fluffy and incorporated.

Fold one third of chilled cream in, then beat the rest in along with pumpkin and spices.

Gently scrape into loaf tin, cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer overnight.

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Pumpkin snickerdoodles

Gather:

225g butter, diced, at room temp

1 egg

2 ¾ cup plain flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup caster sugar ( I reduced the original recipe)

¾ cup pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon mixed spice

½ teaspoon vanilla

sugar mix:

¼ cup caster sugar

2 tablespoon cinnamon

Stir together in small bowl

Let’s get to it:

Grease and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy then add egg, vanilla and pumpkin (do not over-mix).

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl and add to butter bowl, mixing until everything is combined.

Place in fridge for around an hour, then preheat oven to 180C.

Using your hands make golfball-sized biscuits, then dip into sugar mix.

Place on tray then gently squash down with a fork (I tried skipping this step and they came out too fluffy and big).

Bake 12-ish minutes; allow to cool on tray for a minute then place on wire rack to cool completely.