Well, hello there! Apologies for the radio silence, I’ve had a pretty intense week. I started with a quick trip to Universal Orlando in my new guise as food writer for iVillage, to cover Mardi Gras and to cook Gumbo (fun & yum). I then bounced back to London, landed with a thud, and with very little sleep launched myself into the final phases of intense recipe testing, required to conclude my book. I can’t quite believe that I submit it in two weeks. It’s all hugely exciting and it is very, very busy.
Florida was great fun. I had no idea that I was quite the adrenaline junkie that I turned out to be. Not expecting to enjoy the rides at Universal at all, I found myself obsessed with them. Especially Harry Potter, which was a ball of nerve wracking, tumbling fun and the best stress release that I have ever experienced.
I tried butterbeer, very sweet butterscotch rich soda, kids will love it. I ate lots of beignets (above, light fluffy icing sugar covered doughnuts), funnel cake (pic below), po boys (short for poor boy, usually battered shrimp or oysters in New Orleans style French bread). I have made them at home before and I love them, I will definitely share the recipe soon. I had biscuits for breakfast, Southern fluffy scones with gravy, which is a bechamel of sorts with chopped sausage in, and gumbo for dinner.
Lots of fluffy buttermilk pancakes featured. Why we can’t we get buttermilk here as easily as in Ireland or the US, I just don’t know. Those tiny overpriced pots of industrial cultured buttermilk drive me nuts. Buffalo wings with blue cheese dip were everywhere, so I did indulge. Spicy and rich with a soothing pot of blue cheese dip, they demand to be recreated here too.
I had to try Pat O’Brien’s, an Irish pub from New Orleans that started out as a prohibition era speakeasy, famous for their hurricane parties and hurricane drinks. Typically Irish to poke fun at fate in such a manner. It is more commercial now with four locations, and shamrock heavy as most US Irish bars are, but it was fun. We had a few hurricane drinks and rolled home smiling.
For now some pics of the food and of Mardi Gras – it really was so much fun. The chef at Universal has kindly shared his authentic gumbo recipe with me, and has allowed me to reproduce it here too. I will be back with that tomorrow.
Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando runs until April 23rd with parades and live music at weekends.