Thursday, December 8, 2016

London Food and Drinks

Ok, so here comes part 2 of our London saga.  This will be an entire post devoted and drinks, with a heavy focus on drinks.  I'm going to start with the booze, because...why not?  Just a little context:  Casey and I are huge into reading reviews and looking up all those cheesy "best cocktail bars," "top ten best restaurants," "best bars in the world", etc etc.  We always end up checking out some of the places on those lists (how hipster eh?).  Sometimes we are blown away, and sometimes we are left disappointed and/or dumbfounded.  Life is as life does, or so they say.  So for our trip to London we did that exact same thing, and what we ended up checking out London's top cocktail bars.  Coincidentally, it also happened to be International Cocktail Week, where a lot of the cocktail bars were gearing up for competition, but also on guard for critics and aficionados that may sneak in unannounced.

The first cocktail place we went to was called Dandelyan, and it's head 'mixologist' is Ryan Chetiyawardana, whom also goes by Mr. Lyon, the world's best bartender.  It also had the coolest cocktail menu I personally had ever seen.  It goes into great detail to describe every component of every drink and much more. 

The next cocktail bar we went to was called Nightjar.  It definitely played on a whole speakeasy kind of vibe, with prohibition style d├ęcor and atmosphere.  It had a pretty cool jazzy type of band playing and their cocktail menu was themed based on time eras.  They had pre-prohibition cocktails, prohibition era cocktails(which they had warned us would be very strong), post war, and signatures(modern takes on cocktails or experimental).  It had a significance to me because one of the beverages featured a Kirsch brandy, which my grandpa used to make cocktails with.  I had actually never seen it in a liquor store or out at a bar so I was excited to finally get to try it on what would have been my grandparents' anniversary.

The next(and final I promise) cocktail bar we went to was Artesian.  It was a really cool place as well.  They focused very much on aesthetics(the others did as well, but not like this) in addition to the quality of the drink.  It was very awkward drinking out of a fuzzy glass....especially as I pondered how it may be cleaned from patron to patron.  Nonetheless, delicious!

One thing that Casey really wanted to do was a proper British afternoon tea.  So of course, we had to do it.  And I am very thankful that she wanted to do it, because it's a pretty cool experience that you should check out at least once if you ever get the chance.  I was also very thankful that Casey did her research on proper British afternoon tea, because otherwise I would have been super nervous on how to act, dress, etc.  I actually don't even like tea, but whatever they poured for us that day was really good.  Piece of advice if you do get a chance to try it out:  do not eat ANYTHING before you go that day that is not biologically necessary for survival because there is so much food.  Don't let the formality scare you off, it is definitely cool to check out.  And from what I've read there are less formal tea times as well if you'd rather ease into it.

Tootles for now.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

London part 1

Well the McClarnons went to London!  When planning vacation earlier on in the spring and early summer, we were convinced that Hawaii was in our future.  However, Brexit happened, making a trip to London actually cheaper than going to Hawaii from California.  Perfect for us!  Even more perfect was that around the time we were going to London the Colts happened to be scheduled to play in Wembley Stadium in the NFL International Series!  Needless to say we had to make it happen.  Casey and I had such a blast during our week across the pond.  We had so much to share that it won't all fit into one post.

Right at the beginning of our trip, the Colts happened to be playing in London while we were vacationing(ok, I may have moved the trip to incorporate it).  Watching a soccer match at Wembley Stadium was my initial goal, but seeing my favorite team play overseas was amazing.  The stadium and festivities surrounding the game were awesome.  One weird note:  the British fans don't know exactly what to do on 3rd downs.  Instead of cheering loudly to try and disrupt the play, they boo for some reason...which was weirder than how it sounds as I'm typing this.  The experience of Wembley was great, the outcome of the game........

There were some really cool experiences to be had during our trip.  One such experience was the London Eye.  The London Eye to me seemed like a deathtrap in concept(fear of heights) but it was in actuality really neat.  It took about half an hour to do one complete round on the ferris wheel and it delivers one of the best views of the London skyline.  Oh, and champagne was served.

Of course this trip wouldn't be complete without a shoutout to the royals, or as Casey calls them: relatives.  We had the privilege of visiting Kensington Palace, the home of Casey's kin Will and Kate.  In addition to this it had a few really cool exhibits with Casey's being the royal dress collection.  Needless to say I accidentally didn't budget enough time for the gift shop at the Palace!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Pound Cake

I have always loved baking. My love started when I got my Easy Bake oven many years ago and had to wait like 10 minutes for miniature baked goods that still weren't fully cooked, but were still amazingly delicious. It brought me so much joy to see the look on someone's face when I presented them with one of my baked goods (even though they probably pretended to eat it and threw it away lol). While I don't bake as much as my younger easy bake oven loving self, (it's hard for two people to finish a cake and be healthy, just saying) I still enjoy it and the stress relief it brings me when I do. So for this baking endeavor, I found this pound cake recipe, not made in an easy bake oven (maybe I should get one now haha), and it did not disappoint. It was the perfect combination of dense and moist that made it perfect for eating alone or topped with berries and whipped cream. You can also enjoy it as a dessert or even a sweet breakfast option. My favorite way to eat it is either cold and plain, or cold and with strawberries and whipped cream. I don't know if the cold thing is weird, but I seem to like it better that way. Let me know how you like yours! Enjoy!

Pound Cake

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour (White Lily) *I used cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed for 6 minutes, until really light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat for an additional minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Combine evaporated milk and heavy cream. Add flour mixture and cream mixture to butter mixture alternately beginning and ending with flour (1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cream mixture, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cream mixture, 1/3 flour mixture). Beat at slow speed after each addition. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Remove from pan and continue cooling on wire rack until completely cool.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

IRL at Sonoma Raceway

So on a complete spontaneous weekend, we decided to head up to check out the Indy Car race in Sonoma.  Casey and I aren't huge race fans per se, but I still wanted to check out the track and also thought it would be cool to see the IRL season finale.  Why not?  So we trekked up to wine country, tailgated, and enjoyed some racing. 

The track itself was really cool.  I had never been to a road track for an actual race before.  We were initially confused on where to park for will-call, and then get parking pass.  Once we figured everything out and my stress levels lowered, we had a great time.  It was suuper hot.  In fact it was so hot we found a place in the shade to hang out and watch until the shade seeped over our section. 

The race wasn't particularly exciting.  Early on one of the two drivers in competition for the championship was knocked out for a little bit, essentially ending any championship drama.  Also, Casey and I were pretty disappointed in the crowd.  The attendance was pretty low, and the general enthusiasm for what was going on was less than what we were used to.  Perhaps we've all been spoiled by the atmosphere at the Indy 500 where it is the end all, be all.

All in all it was a fantastic cap to our crazy weekend(the night before we went to a Cards game in San Francisco).  Although we were absolutely gassed by the end of the race(pun intended), we had a blast.  It was really cool checking out a race track in a really pretty part of the country.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


This is one of those simple recipes that you, at least once, have those "Why didn't I think of that?" thoughts. Well since I didn't, I'm sure glad on of my favorite outspoken celebs (Chrissy Teigen) did in her new Cravings: Recipes For All the Foods You Want to Eat Cookbook. She took a classic BLT (which I do crave from time to time) and added a couple items and changed the bread and now you have a completely different sandwich. It's that easy. Plus, you can present it in a way that lets people build their own sandwich, adding as much or as little toppings as desired. The Hawaiian rolls and pineapple add a nice, subtle sweetness to the garlic bacon and your remaining "LT." So they all really compliment each other well. These are great finger sandwiches for a plethora of events; brunches, cookouts, tailgates/sports parties, etc. If you like your BLT's try something a little different. You won't regret it! Enjoy! 

King’s Hawaiian BLPT'S

2 slices cored fresh pineapple
8 King’s Hawaiian slider rolls, split
Unsalted butter, softened
Mayo, as much as you like
4 lettuce leaves, cut to fit the sandwiches
1 large vine-ripened tomato, cut into 8 slices
8 slices bacon, cooked (see the bacon recipe that we used which was delicious!) and halved crosswise
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced into rings

Position a rack 4 to 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler.

Arrange the pineapple slices on a baking sheet and broil until browned on both sides.  Let cool slightly, then quarter them.  (You can also grill the pineapple on a hot grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.)  Leave the broiler on.

Spread the rolls with butter and arrange on another baking sheet.  Broil them until deeply golden, 1-2 minutes.

Spread mayo on the rolls, then layer the lettuce, tomato, bacon, onions, and a pineapple wedge on the roll bottoms.  Top with the other half of the rolls.

Garlic-roasted bacon

12 slices thick-cut bacon
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lay the bacon out on a rimmed baking sheet so the slices don’t overlap.  Sprinkle the garlic all over the bacon.  Roast until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.  (Even if you don’t use the garlic, this is still the best way to cook bacon.)


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Carah Faye and Lindsey Stirling at Mountain Winery


In a moment of spontaneity, Casey and I decided to go see Lindsey Stirling at Mountain Winery. We had been to Mountain Winery before and thought that it would be a really cool venue to see a show.  Lindsey Stirling, for those that don't know, is a violinist.  I seems like a really odd choice for Casey and I.  For some reason when choosing a show to go see her name stuck out to us.  I read later that she was on America's Got Talent one season, so maybe we saw her on there.  Lindsey Stirling not only plays violin, but she dances around and mashes a lot of her music with electronica.  It is actually pretty cool, and you haven't seen a show like it...scoring extra points for originality.

Going to a concert at Mountain Winery was interesting in itself.  There is basically one road that winds guessed it...a mountain.  The drive itself is pretty interesting, however, getting a lot of people up one long, winding road isn't the most efficient process in the world.  It was doubly inefficient on the way down.  The amphitheater at the venue itself was spectacular, it is one of the coolest places I've ever seen a show.  The owners of this venue exploit the uniqueness of the venue by charging outrageous prices for food and drinks(wine).  Even the wine that they produce at the estate was extremely up-charged from normal pricing for the concerts.  It was even worse that stadium pricing at huge arenas/stadiums.  Once you get past the sticker shock and general inconvenience of going up/down a mountain, it was all positives.

The opening act was Carah Faye.  I personally hadn't ever heard of her before but Casey and I enjoyed her show very much.  Upon googling her we found out she is the lead singer of a band that Casey has on her iTunes, Shiny Toy Guns, so it makes sense that we enjoyed her piece.  She is launching a solo career so her album isn't even released yet so it was really cool listening to all new music.  I think she has a single out so I highly recommend checking it out.  On a completely unrelated note, the keyboardist looked exactly like Jason serious doppelganger.

The main attraction was next:  Lindsey Stirling.  Casey and I had no idea what to expect from the show.  Not having expectations was awesome though, because we were blown away.  It was a combination of incredible musicianship combined with really cool dancing(her and her dancers), dubstep-like mashups, light shows, and even periodic video clips.  It was eye and ear candy for the entirety of the show.  Towards the end of the show Carah Faye even came out and sang a guest spot on a song that they collaborated on.  Another surprise was that Jason Sudeikis was the keyboard player for Lindsey Stirling as well.  He was so goofy.  Anyways all in all it was an incredible show.  I highly encourage you all to try and see her if you get an opportunity.  Go into it with zero expectations as we did and you will be blown away as well.  Just as a fyi, she is primarily an instrumental-only artist, so don't fast forward through songs looking for a chorus lol.  If you are wanting to check out a couple of songs on Youtube try The Arena (instrumental) or Something Wild (someone guest sings on it).