Alphabet Dating - U is for USA themed restaurant

Alphabet Dating – U is for USA themed restaurant

Alphabet Dating – U

…I wasn’t prepared to go Up anywhere. And I wasn’t prepared to go Underwater. The budget unfortunately didn’t stretch to a holiday in the USA so we had to make do with a dinner date at a USA themed restaurant.

We decided to pay a visit to Friendly Phil’s – an American inspired diner. Sadly not one like where Monica from Friends worked (with the rollerskates and singing) but a really nice place nonetheless!

Friendly Phil's diner

Friendly Phil’s serves all the typical American favourites – burgers, hotdogs, mac n cheese, wings…

We found a good Groupon deal that gave us a burger of choice each, a side of choice (fries obviously!) and a milkshake. Sounds like your typical fast food kind of fare but it was alot tastier and much better quality.

What made the date a little more USA A-OK was that our waitress was actually American! We didn’t ask her about it but we have since been back and have been served by English people, so we know it wasn’t just a gimmick.

milkshake

Burgers and fries

I will definitely be returning to Friendly Phil’s (infact I already have several times) but its given us a hankering for a USA road trip… so you never know, if we do alphabet dating again we could be in the USA for real next time ‘U’ rolls around!


To read some more of my alphabet dating adventures, check out my series.

Quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

Looking for a slightly unusual dining experience in Costa Rica? Well I’ll tell you about two quirky restaurants I visited.

Tree House Restaurant – Santa Elena, Monteverde

quirky restaurants in Costa Rica
Quirky restaurant in Monteverde Costa Rica

We spotted this place on our way to our hotel in Monteverde, hard to miss really given that it has a blooming great big tree sticking out of the middle of it!

We were told a few days before by a taxi driver that Costa Ricans don’t like to chop trees down so instead build around them – roads, restaurants, whatever. The Tree House Restaurant was built in 2004 and in the middle sits a huge ficus tree!

Tree House Restaurant - a quirky dining experience in Santa Elena

We stopped at the Tree House for lunch after a morning at Selvatura Park. There’s plenty of choice on the menu. While my husband went for fajitas, I opted for a more traditional Costa Rican dish – Casado. Casado means “married” in Spanish and the dish can be best described as a marriage of food on a plate. Mine was a vegetarian version which consisted of rice, beans, tortilla, salad, veg, cheese, avocado and plantain. I quite enjoy meals where I can try lots of different things, variety is the spice of life after all!

Casado - a typical Costa Rican dish

Dining in a tree house

I don’t know how the casado fared against other restaurants, but I enjoyed it! And if I ever went back to Santa Elena I’d be sure to stop by the Tree House again.

El Avion – Manuel Antonio

El Avion - quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

I thought I’d seen it all when I visited a McDonalds in an aeroplane in New Zealand but no, Costa Rica has a restaurant with a plane too. At El Avion, the plane is the bar area and the restaurant is just behind it.

Situated in the touristy town of Manuel Antonio, the plane is kind of what initially draws the tourists attention but on further inspection its actually the beautiful sunset views you get from the restaurant that makes people want to dine here. If you’re planning on watching the sun set here then get here early as everybody else has the same idea!

El Avion - a place to watch the sun set

Sunset is a popular time to visit El Avion restaurant in Manuel Antonio

We both opted for fajitas which were nice but something didn’t quite agree with me and spoilt the evening. I don’t blame the restaurant though as hubby had the same and he was fine. Having said that though, I think if I ever come back to El Avion it would be for the cocktails!

Bit of a tourist trap but I can’t deny the sunsets were beautiful and it was lovely to spot a toucan in the distance.

Sunset view from El Avion in Manuel Antonio

Toucan in the distance


If quirky restaurants are your cup of tea then you might enjoy reading about the Alice in Wonderland Restaurant Tokyo or some of my other foodie adventures.

Quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

Moroccan and Lebanese Cooking Class - Alphabet Dating Idea

Alphabet Dating – M is for Moroccan Cooking Class

Moroccan and Lebanese Cooking Class

Although the blogging has taken a bit of a back seat to other parts of my life right now, hubby and I are still managing to carry on with our Alphabet Dating, even if it is a little haphazard (much like this blog really!).

April was our ‘M’ date which saw us attend a Moroccan cooking class. Ok… well to be honest, it was mostly Lebanese but we had already done our ‘L’ date so I’m calling it Moroccan!

Based in Surrey, our cooking class was held by a lovely Lebanese-born lady named Mona – the founder and owner of Samara Cuisine, a Lebanese and Moroccan catering company. When we arrived at her house, we were greeted with mint tea and delicious spicy smells emanating from the kitchen. We sat at her large dining table and waited for the other guests to arrive. There were 10 of us, plus Mona, and we were to be making four dishes that day.

Samara Cuisine - Moroccan and Lebanese cooking class

The Moroccan and Lebanese cooking class began with Mona showing us how to make Bistilla, which is a Moroccan chicken pie using filo pastry and an assortment of spices.

Bistilla - Moroccan chicken pie
Bistilla – Moroccan chicken pie

We also made muhamara – a pepper and walnut dip not too dissimilar to hummus and batata harrah aka hot potato salad using lots of tasty ingredients such as garlic and paprika. The last dish was called sfouf, a type of cake using semolina.

Muhamara and flatbread
Muhamara and flatbread
Batata Harrah
Batata Harrah

Although the class was mostly demonstration based, we did get involved in laying out the pastry and chopping peppers, and other people were hands on measuring out ingredients.

Of course, at the end of the class we got to eat what we had made and it was delicious! We had some flatbreads to go with the muhamara and we helped ourselves to the batata harrah. The bistilla was amazing and had a sweetness to it where it had been dusted in icing sugar and cinnamon. I think the only dish I probably wouldn’t make again is the sfouf as it was quite thick and I prefer something a little lighter, sweeter and creamier!

Sfouf - Lebanese cake
Sfouf – Lebanese cake

We had a lovely few hours, our fellow chefs were very chatty and friendly, and Mona gave us all a parting gift of some baklava. I would definitely recommend if you’re looking for something a little different!

Our class was the last class of the year due to wedding season etc, but Samara Cuisine’s classes will be back next year. Click here to book your own Moroccan and Lebanese cooking class, or click here for more alphabet dating adventures!

For an alphabet dating idea why not try a cooking class?
Bon Appetit!
Alphabet Dating J is for Japanese Food

Alphabet Dating – J is for Japanese Food

We put Alphabet Dating on hold for the busy and expensive month of December, which meant that our ‘J’ date fell in January. As we both love Japanese food we decided to try out a new Japanese restaurant.

Black and red decor inside a Japanese restaurant

We went to Love Sushi in Maidstone, Kent on a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was pretty quiet but was kitted out in a smart, stylish black and red oriental style. We had the option of sitting in a booth or next to the sushi conveyor belt. We chose the belt although it was pretty pointless given that there were barely any dishes circulating the belt. Still, we grabbed a random one to share and ordered some hot food – tempura prawns and chicken udon noodles. I also ordered a Philly Cheese sushi roll.

Japanese food - an idea for letter J Alphabet date

Tempura prawns - Japanese food

The food was really good, probably one of the best tempura prawns I’ve tried outside of Japan – and I don’t even like prawns unless they’re covered in tempura batter! The noodle dish was also large and filling and the sushi all very tasty and beautifully presented.

As much as we enjoyed the food, we felt that the restaurant was lacking in… something I can’t quite put my finger on. It may have helped to have a picture menu a la Yo Sushi to help identify some of the sushi dishes and perhaps the atmosphere lacked a little as it was quiet, I don’t know. Still, I’d go back but just not on a Sunday afternoon!

Udon noodles

If you enjoyed this post then whet your appetite with some other of my Japanese foodie adventures, such as my Kaiseki meal at a Japanese Ryokan or my recommendation of 10 foods to try in Japan. Or if you’re London bound then how about an Asian Fusion restaurant in Soho with an interactive menu?

You might also like to read about my other Alphabet Dates!

Alphabet Dating - D is for Dinner Date

Alphabet Dating – D is for Dinner Date

D is for Delayed.

We missed June completely because of returning from Cuba, hubby’s birthday and just generally not knowing what to do for our ‘D’ date. I had found the perfect date – watching Dirty Dancing at the Drive-In Movies, but I saw it advertised far too late. D’oh!

‘C’ date (aka Cuba) was quite an expensive date, so for ‘D’ we decided to go budget and just have a simple dinner date at home. My hubby was in charge of dinner and I was in charge of dessert. The dishes were meant to be surprises but when you share a kitchen, share a fridge and go grocery shopping together, the element of surprise is kind of removed. Oh well, I don’t really like surprises anyway!

For mains we had Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Chicken served with rice and salad, which in my book, tomato + mozzarella + pesto = win!

Baked Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Chicken Breastsserves 2

Pesto, mozzarella and tomato chicken served with rice and salad

Ingredients
2 x skinless chicken breasts
1 x tomato
1 x 125g mozzarella ball
5 tbsp green pesto

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Smother the chicken breasts in the pesto. My husband used around 5 tablespoons but feel free to use more/less depending on your taste.
2. Line a baking dish with foil and place the chicken breasts on top. Cook for 30 minutes.
3. Slice the tomato and mozzarella. Place on top of the chicken.
4. Place the chicken back in the oven and cook for a further 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.
5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice and salad.

Dessert was a sweet and simple Eton Mess – yeah yeah I know it’s easy but I’ve never actually made one before and there’s a good reason why I’m not a food blogger!

Eton Messserves 3 (yeah I made too much!)

Eton Mess - a delightful mess including fresh strawberries and blueberries

Ingredients
Approx 140ml whipping cream
Approx 160g fresh strawberries
Handful of blueberries
3 x meringue nests
Small can of raspberries (optional)
Strawberry sauce (optional)

Method
1. Whisk the whipping cream until it forms peaks.
2. Crush the meringue nests into small pieces and spoon into the cream.
3. Chop the strawberries and add them, plus the blueberries, to the cream and meringue mixture (you may wish to save a couple for garnish)
4. Spoon in a few raspberries and their syrup to give the mixture a sweet pink hue.
5. Mix together and serve. Drizzle some strawberry sauce and garnish with remaining fruit if you wish.
6. Voila! Eton Mess. And your kitchen will probably be an Eton Mess too!

After Dinner comes Dessert, and after Dessert comes… Dishes! Sigh!

If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for E… it’s Exciting!