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Europe Trip: Part 7-Ireland; Guinness Factory Tour July 21, 2012

Disclaimer: Please bare in mind that I’m sixteen which is considered both underage in both Europe and the US. Contrary to popular belief, the drinking age in Europe is eighteen—not sixteen. One of the Guinness Factory tour guides kindly explained to my sister, Mom, and I about the whole underage drinking thing in Europe. Basically if a place gets caught serving to minors, they could get their alcohol license taken away AKA: they can no longer serve alcohol to anyone—even if at/above the drinking age. My sister and I kept this information running through our minds each time we visited a bar, pub, or restaurant as we tend to come off as at or above the drinking age. 

Our first night in Ireland was basically “Welcome to Dublin now go meet up with the other twelve people in your crew to embrace your Irish blood!”

With twenty-three people in our group, we opted for the private tour at the Guinness Factory which entitled for us to be educated by a Sharon Osborne lookalike.

The tour began with walking around the sweet musky scented building shaped like a pint of Guinness to learn about the five ingredients of Guinness(toasted barely, hops, water, yeast, and Arthur Guinness), distribution and manufacturing of the product, and how to properly drink Guinness with a chance to practice towards the end of the tour.

I personally had a great time on the tour as our guide did a fabulous job at integrate the science of stout making with the history behind the company. I believe it was a few euros extra for the tour guide but from what I heard from someone that went around the place without the guide, the added euros are well spent.

The tour ends with a visit to The Gravity Bar; the uppermost level of the factory surrounded with glass walls providing an incredible view of Dublin. Those with an adult ticket are “fortunate” enough to redeem part of their ticket for either a pint or half-pint of fresh Guinness and invited to enjoy their drink  while admiring the view. Those with a childrens’ ticket were allowed to enjoy a complementary soft drink or if you’re either a Celiac(my aunt) or someone who doesn’t really drink soda such as myself, the air tasted incredible.

Everyone in the bar was relaxed and just enjoying themselves while not rushing anything; a steep contrast from what we endured in five days of London ram-rod. Even my parents who were getting pretty stressed out and frustrated frustrated seemed to be having the time of their lives as they enjoyed their beloved Irish Guinness minus the US preservatives. Pure Guinness and pure happiness.

In fact, my parents love Guinness so much that they named one of our three cats after the beloved stout so when we realized they had a gift shop, you better believe we did some pretty serious damage. And as we arrived to dinner, we noticed Dublin loves the drink just as much as we do:

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Europe Trip 2012: Part 6-London 5/5 July 19, 2012

The final day in London can be summed up in one picture in which I look like total crap:

I figured what better day to wear Pizza John than the day we hit the Science and History(“Collection of shit England stole from other countries”) museums and the National Gallery.

 

Europe Trip: Part 5-London day 4/5 July 18, 2012

[Press play, then read]

I’ve been trying to do it right;

keeping my family in eye sight

as I seek an pinnacle of independence

to bind me to my teenage years.

Freedom felt nice

as that’s where I stood;

wondering if the pictures of the royal gem my sister secretly took

will ever mean more than  likes on Instagram

or saying you shook hands with a headless man.

The only Royal Beast in sight was an employee at the London Tower

which really didn’t matter

knowing tea at Harrods was a ferry ride away

—an extended metaphor to tell the independent gal within;

lemon coconut macaroons taste better while surrounded by kin.

I could rhyme away my desires as long as I live

but knowing  that deep down inside,

I’ll always just be a little kid

doing what I love, loving what I do,

believing my parents always make the rules

even if that means there’s nothing to do

but live in the moment of ‘now’.

Don’t forget about my current give away. Details are here.

 

Europe Trip Part 4: London-Day 3/5 July 16, 2012

There’s information on a givaway for UK readers at the end of this post, so keep reading for more information!

Before my family and I were even fully awake, we had learned a few things:

  1. Almost nothing is open before 9am in London.
  2. Fast food isn’t always shitty.
  3. Being a stereotype has never felt so good. (more…)
 

Death By Chocolate and Sugar “Brookie” July 15, 2012

That’s not my kitchen counter.

And this isn’t labeled something along the lines of “Europe Trip”.

If you recall me stating a while ago that I tried writing a food blog on Word Press and kept one for Creative Writing, [ginger]snaps for you as you’ve probably figured this one out for the most part.

Since arriving home from Europe; I’ve spent around three to five hours a day working on the blog interface(new layout,organization, the like) and writing these plus thousand word posts. Writing wasn’t the awful part(I won NaNoWriMo ’09 in 19 days—first attempt; “come at me bro”); jetlag was…I’d wake up before 4:45 am then pass out like a log sometimes before 7:30am. I even calculated I spent 25% of my hours awake on Friday writing. If it sounds like I’m asking for a pity party because I was privileged to spend 15 days in Europe then “force myself” to blog about it, I’m not—I’m just showing my respect for people who write wholesome, decadent posts daily…they’re three times the writer I’ll ever be.

One of the first texts I received after coming home was from my friend LC. She wanted to have a sleepover…not a slumber party; a sleepover. I spent the night at her house giving her the firsthand scoop on the Europe trip as she vented out her frustrations towards life/society/people; something all realists do.

Chances are if you know who I am in real life, you know I bake. I’ve had people request me to bake certain things for them or to bring in food to share with a class but LC is different. As everyone else just wants the finished good, LC wants to learn how to make it…she wants to learn how. This kinda struck me as odd at first considering my perception on baking(following the recipes directions, making changes as needed, instinct) but then again, we became friends the moment I returned some bullshit right back to her. We didn’t really know each others name yet we knew something more important at that point—we could put up with each other as strangers so why not as friends?

LC had one request for the recipe; chocolate. Brownies with Hershey’s frosting are easily the most fool-proof recipe one can come across yet I wanted to do something more—add perhaps cookies?

As we scurried through her kitchen, we realized our improper ingredients(some sort of odd vegetable oil spread in stick form and egg substitute ) kinda backfired on us;

the brownies turned out mushy with a crisp top as the cookies baked out their indentations

so we mashed the brownies into something like a crust and re-dented the cookies.

the frosting was thinner than normal from my lazy hand whipping skills

so we opted to refrigerate the finished project over night.

we couldn’t find caramel chews

so we melted down the next best thing; Sugar Babies and Rolos. 

The result? Sugary sweet chocolate breakfast.

For your own personal sake, I’d advise to use the proper type of butter and eggs and either strength or a stand mixer.

Death By Chocolate and Sugar “Brookie”

From Cooking For Justice: North Carolina Association of Assistant and Deputy Clerks; submitted by Phyllis Faulkner- Joes County-Assistant Clerk

2 cups sugar

1 cup margarine/butter/spreadable vegetable oil crap you’re not 100% of

½ cup cocoa

3 eggs

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*1/4 cup nuts, if desired

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Bake at 325ºF for approximately 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Let cool then mash into pan.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Sugar Babies
  • 10-12 Rolos
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. We beat the egg/sugar with a hand mixer then just stirred the rest by hand.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  3. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough
  4. Using a teaspoon measure spoon, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  5. While cookies are baking, microwave candies  and heavy cream in medium bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; set aside until a firm liquid.
  6. Once cookies are removed from oven, gently press existing indentations with a spoon. Fill each indentation with a nice blob of the mixture. It’s okay if the mixture is a bit runny and goes all over the cookie—going to taste the same anyways. Set aside until cool.

Hershey’s Chocolate Frosting

Taken from the back of Hershey’s Cocoa

½ cup(1 stick) margarine/butter

2/3 cup Hershey’s Dark Cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in coca. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating until spreading consistency . Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups of frosting. Set aside.

To assemble everything:

Cover brownie with frosting then frosting with cookies.

Refrigerate until firm.

Eat whenever you want as long as you enjoy the massive sugar rush.

Life isn’t perfect nor is this recipe. But hey, you can’t say you started your week enjoying an surprisingly tasty treat of many mistakes.

 

Europe Trip Part 3: London- Day 2/5 July 14, 2012

6:25 am London time…1:25 am EST…my mind struggled at finding a time to accept so just opted to wake up. Besides, I was bursting with the type of excitement gained by a whole new world—the day prior had so many sights, thrills, and people I’ve never encountered in my life; let alone…I got a true test of how much I retained from French I/II:

Je parle UN PEU FRANÇAIS.Désolé! Désolé!

(clearly a lot) (more…)