Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Summer Road Trip 2013 Highlights ft. Ginger Peach Mint Juleps

August 1st was finally here! After months of waiting, planning and counting down the days, it was vacation o'clock and time for the Turnip & Bean Summer 2013 Road Trip Adventure!

WARNING: This is a long post, but (we think) worth the read!


The Drive

The early morning came and we packed up the car, along with our best, four-legged, furry gal, Steele.

Our first, and possibly most important stop of the road trip was just two blocks away. Coffee. And not just any coffee; a rich, bold, piping hot latte from one of our favourite neighborhood coffee joints, The Morning Owl. We popped into to see our friend and barista extraordinaire, Tommy, who heated us up two breakfast sandwiches and whipped up a couple of lattes (with soy-milk for Alex, of course!). We took those back to the car, impatiently scarfed them down, and hit the highway!

Alex was at the helm and driving was pretty smooth. Because we were up so early, hunger (and a restroom break) started to set in around 10:30 am. We decided to pull over at an ON Route stop, grab some gas and pop in to use the facilities. We had thought ahead for nourishment. The evening before we packed a healthy picnic lunch. Unfortunately, what we had thought would be a leisurely picnic under blue skies, turned out to be a soaking wet, humid, in-car, stuffing-our-faces-with-hummus-and-pita-fest. Despite the inclement weather (which, by the way, cleared up about 90 seconds after we finished eating), lunch was delicious! It was a quick and fast take on the Veggie Naan'wich with Feta and Chickpea Mash recipe by Sprouted Kitchen.

The drive continued down through Southern Ontario to Niagara. Traffic was great, songs were loud. We arrived safe and sound and ready to start relaxing.

Welland Pizza

Prior to our road trip, Tina kept talking about "Welland Pizza" and how Alex hasn't had real pizza until she tried it. Well, in essence, pizza in Canada, like in the US, varies from region to region. In Southern Ontario, pizza is much different that in Eastern Ontario, for example.

So, on our first night in Niagara, after the long drive down, we were famished. We decided to order Luciano's Pizza. They claim to have the best pizza in Welland. While it cannot be confirmed with absolution that this is true, the pizza is definitely delicious and a reminder of home for Tina. A sweeter sauce with fresh toppings resting atop perfectly browned cheese. Also, in Welland when you order wings 'hot', they are actually spicy (as Alex discovered).

Key Lime Marshmallows (and other bizarrely delicious US food purchases)

Our second day, we hopped over the border with Tina's mom Bev, to Niagara Falls, NY for some much needed retail therapy. We were ready for all day shopping but as always, we became hungry, very quickly. Half-way through our shopping day, we decided to go to the Olive Garden. To make a long story short, the waitress totally screwed up Alex's order and we ended up getting free wine, a free meal, plus an extra pizza. For three people our bill came to about $17. The food and service was mediocre, but "at least we got a free meal!". After the Olive Garden debacle, we were stuffed with carbs (from bottomless salad and salty bread sticks), but it was time for the best part of shopping in the US - food! There are so many different, weird food items that can be purchased in the states, and we were in search of them! We went to both Walmart and to Tops Friendly Market. The following is a delicious list of fun food stuffs we found:

Key Lime Marshmallows (Actually so delicious, but better on their own and not roasted over the fire and eaten in s'mores. We tried it. Trust us on this.)
Peanut Butter Cheerios (Cereal made by angels!)
Italian Sausage-filled Chef Boyardee Raviolis (Sweeter than normal canned raviolis with a slight fennel taste. Verdict: pretty good!)
Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat Beer (Just, "Yum!")

Peaches galore at the Welland Farmer's Market

Next up on our trip was the farmer's market! Welland has a beautiful farmer's market held every Saturday morning. Busy, bustling, vibrant and alive with smiles and smells of summer. We were particularly excited to go because it happens to be peach season! A glorious time of year in the Niagara region when stone fruit are at their perfect ripeness. We picked up a bunch of things at the market to make a healthy and delicious dinner for our gracious hosts (Tina's parents). Peaches were included, of course, in that bounty. For dinner we made peach and rhubarb crumble (topped with whipped cream), which was out-of-this-world!

Breakfast at the Bleu Turtle Bistro & Niagara-on-the-Lake Fudge

Sunday we headed into St. Catharines to the Bleu Turtle Bistro for breakfast. If you follow our Facebook or Twitter, you may have already seem some tantalizing photos of our breakfast.   

Alex had Smoked salmon and cream cheese eggs benny on corn bread with tomato caper salsa.

 Tina had two poached eggs with crab cakes, toasted corn bread, potatoes and guacamole. 

Absolute breakfast heaven.

From St. Catharines, we went on to Niagara-on-the-Lake to look through the shops. The drive down to that region is so beautiful in the summer; blue skies and grapevines as far as the eye can see.

After doing some window shopping (and dreaming of making plans to move to the area to buy and run a Bed & Breakfast) we stopped in to get a treat at Maple Leaf Fudge. Alex got Mint Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chocolate; Tina got the classic Maple fudge. So addictive!

Family, friends and (mountains of) food

Sunday afternoon we planned to have a barbecue at Tina's Aunt and Uncle's house in the country. It promised to be a big gathering of friends and family and literally mountains of delicious food; it definitely delivered. The barbecue was vaguely southern themed. Tina's dad spent hours smoking and cooking a brisket to perfection. A truckload of ribs made by Tina's cousin Taylor, a budding-chef, were excellent. Also, delicious were the appetizers, dips, salads, desserts, and drinks made by everyone else. You wanted to stop eating, but everything was just too delicious.

To accompany an afternoon of relaxation, good conversation and swimming, we decided to make a drink. Recently, featured by the LCBO and also in Bon Appetit magazine were versions of a mint julep including our favourite seasonal fruit, peaches! We took a crack at make our own! Here is the recipe!

Ginger Peach Mint Juleps

Recipe is for one drink, but can be easily multiplied.






1 ripe peach, peeled and cut into slices
1 shot (2 oz) bourbon
1 handful of mint leaves
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
Squeeze of lemon juice
ginger beer

Add the peaches, mint, lemon juice and sugar into a glass. Muddle them using a spoon. Fill the glass with ice. Pour over the bourbon, and then the ginger beer. Stir.

Simple, easy and so refreshing!

Ice cream & the Midway on Clifton Hill

For our last evening, Tina and her sister Alyssa took Alex down to see Niagara Falls - her first time! We parked and walked down Clifton Hill through the crowds, picked up huge soft-serve ice cream cones and marveled at the falls. Then, we walked back up the hill and stopped in at the Great Canadian Midway. A must-do activity if you are in Niagara Falls. We played a ton of fun games, including Big Bertha and a time-consuming, not to mention nerve racking, round of Jurassic Park (Tina's favourite shooting game). After spending more money than we'd like to admit on game tokens, we claimed our prizes!

The next morning we packed up the car, said our 'thank yous' and 'good-byes' and were on the road, back to Ottawa. All-in-all road trip well-spent!


Friends go on journeys together by Tina

As the last part of this really long post (we apologize!), I wanted to write something special to my home girl, my sista from another mista, the Louise to my Thelma, my blog partner: Alex.

When I proposed this trip to Alex, she didn't hesitate once. She was up for anything. Little did I know months before when planning the trip, a visit with family, accompanied by a friend, would be so needed. Life has been a bit turbulent for me lately. A few select people have acted like solid rocks in my life in recent months. Alex, is one of those people.

I know she is reading this, and is saying to herself "That's what friends are for!" and "You would do the same for me!". She is absolutely right. But, it doesn't diminish the fact that she has been a friend, a sounding board, and an unrelenting supporter and for that she, at the very least, deserves a public "Thank you" from me.

Friends go on journeys together;  be they, vacations, trips to the market, emotional roller coasters, walks down memory lane or road trips. Alex, thank you for going on this journey with me. I cannot tell you how much I needed it. Cheers to us, and to many, many more adventures in years to come (until we are fabulous old ladies wearing an obscene amount of quirky jewelry, walking with canes, fighting with young people to snag the best clothes in the thrift stores).

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