Aside from having the good fortune (or misfortune, depending on your perspective of family pecking orders) of being the first-born in my family, I’m rarely the first at anything else. I don’t even consider myself to be part of the competition in any sporting endeavours, let alone there being the possibility of coming first. Even in things that I could potentially have a chance at winning (random quizzes, debates, Connect 4 challenges) I think I lack that cut-throat competitive edge to really excel. So can you imagine my surprise when I came first at something, without even trying.
There we were, sitting at the bar in Ginza Onodera, studiously reviewing the cocktail list when I casually commented to the bartender that it sounded like they were still putting the furniture together downstairs. The sound of drilling and plastic sheets rustling around will do that. Turns out that yes, the finishing touches to the dining room were being made and we were in fact, the first people through their newly refurbished doors. Fancy that, me, first in a restaurant… I think I can officially call myself one of the obsessive London food set! I did suspect it as being a bit of friendly bartender banter until I stepped into the vast, very much on the swish side, and absolutely pristine dining room. Yep, I’ll take first place this time.
When did cruises become a cool holiday choice? Recently, I’ve had a few cruisers in my company – people who have either just come back or gearing up to set sail; they’re always really excited and, here’s the true shock, they have all been under 60. I know it’s a total cliche, but I kind of thought cruises were reserved for those in their golden years. That stage in life when one is less enthused about their hotel being a euphemistic, brisk away from anything of note, and the thought of someone planning your days is a godsend. Don’t lie, you were thinking it too.
Honestly, the idea of a cruise makes me a little nervous… being on a gigantic boat out at sea doesn’t really appeal to someone who is scared of deep water. On a more pragmatic level, I have other reservations – is there enough to keep me occupied while we’re at sea? Can the cabins really be as big as any other hotel room? Does the food stand any chance of being decent? All the shiny brochures will say a resounding yes, but that’s their job… I wasn’t quite convinced, so the only thing to do was to jump on board and see for myself!
How would your significant other respond if you told them you were headed to Harrods after work on Friday, and they would be coming with you? Some lucky ladies and gents might have received an enthusiastic nod of agreement but nope, not me. I’d settle for a ‘yeah, sure’ shrug, but instead got the ‘you’re on your own there’ smirk. And people think I’m the harsh one.
A certain someone doesn’t like shopping, he doesn’t do crowds, so a combination of both with the added bonus of tourists walking way too slowly, would mean that going to any department store like Harrods would be pure torture. Even when administered by his beloved girlfriend, still torture. But what if she threw in the promise of freshly made sushi…?
Do you remember your first time? Or maybe you’ve never even tried it before…
I remember mine; my hands were getting a bit warm which is less than ideal, my eyes darted around the room searching for reassurance, I was starting to get nervous. Anxious thoughts went through my mind at every step- is it supposed to be this sticky? Am I holding it too tight? Should I give it a squeeze when I’m done? But in the end I needn’t have worried, my first attempt resulted in a pretty passable roll of sushi.
A couple of weeks on and I still remember that moment fondly… none of the embarrassment usually related to first times (like those rock-resembling bread rolls or the raw in the middle but burnt on top lasagne) this was surprisingly triumphant and stress free! Given my love of sushi, which I’ve proclaimed to you at least once or twice before, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never really got my hands dirty and made my own so when the food-loving folk at Zomato invited me to their latest Zomato Meetup, a sushi-making class at Kuriya Keiko, I cleared the diary. Coincidentally, this meetup was another first for me but was far less daunting because what’s not to love about spending an evening with other food fanatics who don’t bat an eyelid at taking five shots of that plate of sushi from all angles.
Those of you who have been following along will have realised by now that food is probably my favourite aspect of travel. I love eating what the locals eat and tasting the speciality dishes of the country or region, be it the street food stand everyone lines up for or that restaurant-of-the-moment where the chef is pushing the boundaries and giving the cuisine they know and love a modern spin.
I really enjoy going to museums and breathtaking churches but I equally enjoy walking through the aisles of a foreign supermarket- is that weird? I love taking in the views of a city and just getting lost in the streets soaking up the atmosphere of everyday life, but I’m also always on the look out for a bite to eat in those streets. Food can tell you a lot about a country’s culture and heritage; this may be through the story behind a certain dish, the produce most frequently used or even the styles of fusion food which have developed. But while all this is true, at the end of the day, I eat because I enjoy good food!
When the lovely Frankie, also known as The Mayfairy, nominated me to whip up my own Celebrity Cruises Taste of Travel Menu, I thought it would be pretty easy. I was wrong. I have eaten so much wonderful food on my travels so far that I have been umming and aahing about it for the last couple of hours, but here goes…