Year in Review: 2014

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I’m changing things up from previous years. While I did travel a lot with enough photos to represent each month, this slideshow represents my year quite well. It was my last.. and only.. full summer in the UK. While I’ve lived there for a while, I’ve been away for business each summer. Knowledge that I was leaving, having less work as I wound down, and finding a perfect travel partner were all elements that lined up perfectly to give me my UK summer. Boy, did I see a lot. Enjoy and get a taste of my summer.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sign

To the parents out there: if you can give me tips on how to ask a passing family if I could borrow their child in a way that doesn’t send them running to the authorities, let me know, please. I feel like I missed out on a life-time opportunity here, because I wasn’t a child and didn’t qualify for this special school.

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Hadrian’s Wall, England, UK

Restaurant Review: Maze Sushi

I believe I have mentioned my goal to sample all the Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London while I am here. As I progress through the list, I’ve mentally ranked all of them in order of preference.

Current king (queen?) of the list is: Maze Sushi. Specifically the sushi bar, which took separate reservations than the Maze Restaurant or Maze Grill.

The ranking might not be particularly fair.. but sushi done well has always had a special place in my heart. If anything, I walk away regretting the years of not knowing and opportunities to visit this place more regularly.

Of first note was the bar. The sushi bar was really an extended addition to what would have been the bar counter itself. Perched in the corner, we had a great view over the bar.. and saw three large glass canisters of some liquid infusion. Intrigued and distracted from the drink menu, we kept guessing what it could be until one of us worked up the curiosity and courage to ask a server. What novel solution. The answer? Maze infuses and makes their own flavoured spirits. How awesome is that? Of course we had to order something that incorporated those ingredients, and fruit martinis all around it was. They were gorgeous, sweet but not overly, flavourful and deceptive. It was tempting to gulp the whole glass down and order a second.

We opted for the Chef’s Menu, as expensive as it was:

Edamame
Salt and pepper soy beans

Kani snow crab
Snow crab flakes, wakame seaweed
pickled wasabi

Sea bass truffle
Sea bass, shiso, ponzu,
truffle oil

Hamachi pecan
Yellowtail, yuzukosho
pecan nut, pecan oil

Sushi platter
California roll
Spicy tuna roll
Seared salmon belly
Hamachi
Tuna
Sea bass
~
Main
Dumpling of lobster,
Tiger prawn and salmon,
Aromatic lemon grass broth
~
Sweet
Strawberry and mint sundae
~
Lemon meringue pie

I had my desserts substituted with sorbet because of my lactose intolerance. Actually, they forgot, so as an apology, we got an additional scoop of sorbet. What a lovely and unexpected gesture.

 The extra bonus wasn’t the sorbet or the consideration. It was the service. We felt truly valued as customers. The restaurant was busy, but Laura, our server, always came back to us with her bouncy enthusiasm and follow up. Her asking how the food was didn’t feel like routine, but a sincere interest in ensuring that we were happy with our plates. At the end of the day, good food is easy to come by, but good service is what keeps us coming back.