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SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnUSA_SFWith a lack of wifi in some of our hotels, I haven’t quite been able to keep the pace with our most excellent adventure. As I write this, we’re about to head into our last full day in San Francisco, having already done Anaheim (Disneyland), Carlsbad near San Diego (Legoland), Hollywood and Las Vegas. Tomorrow we’re jumping on an early plane for the wilds of the one and only Big Apple – New York.

While we’ve enjoyed numerous fine dining experiences (more on that later), it’s also been great to check out the street food in various locations. My 2nd favourite so far was at Venice Beach, about an hour’s bus trip from Hollywood central.

USA_SF2My two older sons are mad keen skaters, so getting to the Venice skate park was a big must for this trip. I have to admit, even for me it was pretty awesome to be on the home turf of the legendary Z-Boys – surfers turned skaters, who, back in the 70′s, changed the sport of skateboarding to the high-flying extreme sport we know today. Venice Beach has this kind of magical vibe about it – street stalls, artists, rubbish, homeless folks (not so magical), musicians, and dancers, palm readers and loads of hand-made wares. But best of all was the food.

While there are lots of cafes and restaurants, we were in a bit of a hurry to get the boys to into the Venice Bowl, so we stopped at ‘Big Daddy and sons’ for pizza and burgers, where we were greeted by lovely Liz out the front, who was a great help with the questions we had for the menu (that might have had something to do with her fascination for my youngest son, who has been a HUGE hit in America.

USA_SF3Something to do with the blonde hair and glasses and a bit of an attitude, I think!) Big Daddy’s is basically a few holes in the wall – you order and pay at one, walk around the corner to another window and wait for your name to be called. Pizza is sold by the slice – at $2.99 we were expecting small pieces, so oldest son ordered three – but no, these things are the size of an entire small pizza back in Australia! Check out the pic below of Mr 6 taking on his slice of Margarita!  The pizza and burgers were all fab – not oily at all, and the accompanying fries were crisp and delish. And cheap. Cheap. Did I mention cheap? All five of us ate for around $40.

Not so cheap was the street food at the theme parks. Yeah, we expected that. And most of it tasted pretty much as you’d expect too. We did four days at Disneyland / California Adventure Park, a day at Legoland  and another at Universal Studios. While I stuck mostly to the trusty pizza slice and occasional hot dog, Lovely Husband discovered these: Smoked Turkey Legs. Hmmm. Not quite my thing, and at about $10 each, they aren’t the cheapest snack, but Simon loved them – especially with a beer in the scorching California sun.

Next up – San Fran chowder. Oh, my….

 

 



 Fukuda_TrapFrom author Andrew Fukuda comes The Trap, the explosive finale to The Hunt trilogy—perfect for fans of The Hunger Games!

After barely escaping the Mission alive, Gene and Sissy face an impossible task: staying alive long enough to stop an entire world bent on their destruction. Bound on a train heading into the unknown with the surviving Mission girls, Gene, Sissy, David, and Epap must stick together and use everything they have to protect each other and their only hope: the cure that will turn the blood-thirsty creatures around them into humans again. Now that they know how to reverse the virus, Gene and Sissy have one final chance to save those they love and create a better life for themselves. But as they struggle to get there, Gene’s mission sets him on a crash course with Ashley June, his first love . . . and his deadliest enemy.

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published November 5th 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin (first published October 24th 2013)

ISBN 1250005124 (ISBN13: 9781250005120)

 

This whole series has been a fast-paced and action-packed race for survival. In the first book, Gene has learned to control his human side and ‘hides’ out in the open among the vampires. In the second book, they run for their lives, but end up in the hills in the midst of a cult. Now, in the third book, everything must come to an end, but when they are surrounded by the millions, it’s a very close call.

I was actually surprised by how the series ended. The whole series was above and beyond my expectations and the ending was so different to what I imagined it would be. The plot comes full circle, but the story lives on inside you, open to your own possibilities–not set in stone. It was very fitting.

There are a lot of answers in this final book. Yet, there is also constant movement; it’s a race against time as increasing numbers of vampires catch up to them. I have become a huge fan of vampire stories. I have recommended this series from book one because of the great writing and constantly moving storyline. I have also become extremely fond of survival stories, especially ones where you think there is just no way that most people would find the strength to survive.

Gene, Sissy and Ashley June really make this story as much as the plot does. Ashley June is one of my favourites as every scene she was in kept me glued to the page. I do recommend this series, especially if you love vampires. This isn’t much of a romance read; it’s full of action, suspense and survival. The characters are smart and intelligent. I thought that it was different from other young adult vampire books I have read, and I found the whole series highly enjoyable.



Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: While reading is generally a solitary event, love of books has always been something that people have fiercely bonded over. The emotionally intense journeys inherent to reading demand to be shared, recommended, and dissected with friends, family, or anyone else who will listen.

 

Rest is still inwrittenThis is what made the Hachette Bloggers’ night such a pleasure to attend. Aside from having a wonderful welcome from the evidently passionate and book-mad staff, and the chance to meet the equally enthusiastic Laini Taylor, it was a chance for everyone to finally talk in person to each other about a deep mutual interest.

The bloggers that I met at the event were wonderful – I’m sure the ones that I didn’t meet are just as lovely, but alas, I’ll never know. In fact, the only downfall of the night was that I didn’t have the time to meet everyone, which considering the turn-out would have been quite a lofty achievement.

The people that I did meet, however, have already given me a wealth of information. Rachel from The Rest is Still Unwritten is amazing for finding free YA books on Amazon and sharing her finds on Facebook. On her blog she writes long, passionate reviews of all of the many books she’s read and, considering that her favourite books list shares some hefty similarities to my own, my want list has grown because of her blog. On top of this, it turns out that she was one of the stops in the Shine Light Blog Tour, proving yet again that in YA it’s a small world.

YA book addict.jpgTracey at YA Book Addict is another book blogger who has a wealth of information at her disposal. She’s a bit of a Renaissance woman when it comes to the online community. Her wonderful blog has a wealth of information about YA, and she’s firmly embraced the New Adult genre too. As well as the blog, she has a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, which makes following her easy, no matter your preferred platform.

cuddlebuggeryKat Kennedy of Cuddlebuggery fame was also at the Hachette Bloggers’ Night, which was a huge and lovely surprise – and not only for myself. I think that Kat was almost as in demand as Laini on the night, and didn’t see her alone once. If you haven’t stumbled upon Cuddlebuggery in your online wanderings, I suggest you drop everything and go there now. Anything that Kat Kennedy and Steph Sinclair don’t know about YA books, authors and gossip is not worth knowing, and they tend to share their knowledge with everyone else. They’re also intelligent reader/reviewers, analysing books through a feminist and multi-cultural lens.

The Hachette event was a fantastic way to connect with other readers and reviewers. In a world where so much discussion of books is conducted online, it was a nice change to be able to sit down and talk to people about what they read, what they’d recommend and everything else book related.

Blogger Links 

http://cuddlebuggery.com/

http://youngadultbookaddict.blogspot.com.au/

http://rachybee-the-rest-is-still-unwritten.blogspot.com.au/

 

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnOn our last night at Disneyland, we all (as in, all 16 of us) headed out to dinner at Napa Rose. Napa Rose is a (very) fine dining experience, located within The Disney Grand Californian Hotel, where we stayed.

 

Both the food and service were exquisite. Five big fat stars from me. After a couple of days of fast or mass-produced food, it was so good to sit down to fresh produce prepared with plenty of care. While I might be handing out big fat stars, that’s the last thing the meal made you feel. Sure, we left feeling full and satisfied, but it was a nice change to eat two courses (plus bread) without feeling bloated and greasy.

For starters, I – along with a few others on our table – chose the Pan Roasted Diver Scallops on a Sauce of Lobster and accented with Vanilla. Seriously, *I die*. This has to be one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever eaten. So delicate, so delicious. The balance of textures and flavours was just divine.

For main course I had the Smiling Tiger Salad with Fried Lobster, Spicy Beef, Asian Greens and a Coconut-Lime Vinaigrette. Oh. My. Now, I’m not much of a drinker these days, especially when it comes to wine, but I did share a bottle or two of Moscato with my sisters-in-law, Tamzine and Kerrie. The sweet wine was a great balance to the spice of the Smiling Tiger Beef.

What a way to say good-bye to Disneyland! While Napa Rose might not be the cheapest dining option, it really was a special evening. The staff were efficient and full of personality, and treated the children of our group with just as much care as the adults

None of us could fault The Grand Californian Hotel either (except maybe to say that it is MASSIVE and the hallways are reeeeally long and it’s easy to get lost. But err, maybe that was just me…) If you’re ever fortunate enough to get the opportunity to stay there – DO. With exclusive park access to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, and also to Downtown Disney – there’s not a location more convenient. And, no other location has Napa Rose. 

 

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