reed’s restaurant and food reviews

The Kitchin // Edinburgh // 9.8.16

Where to start with Tom Kitchin and his masterful culinary techniques? First off, Kitchin is the youngest chef to receive a Michelin star… and rightfully so. With Kitchin, it’s all about the ingredients and locally sourcing those ingredients. Here’s a map that we received at the beginning of our experience. This map shows where most, if not all, ingredients are sourced from within the United Kingdom.

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All ingredients sourced from the U.K.

After receiving our map, our waitress approached us and explained the menu to us. We had several options. We could choose any item off the menu and enjoy it a la carte, or we could do one of the tasting menus. We chose the “Celebration Surprise” tasting menu. This was the chefs preferred tasting menu where dishes were brought to us according to what the chef chose to prepare. If you don’t know by now, I am a huge advocate of tasting menus. After we decided the direction for our evening, our first dish was presented.

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4 Crisps

Essentially a 4 crisp amenity… all with different tastes and textures of sweet, salty, crunchy and oh and the one in the back was made of seaweed. All accompanied with a lovely “mustardy” dipping sauce. When I have dishes like this I tend to try each one in its natural state first, and then add the sauce to it after I have tasted it without. This essentially makes for 2 tastings in 1 dish. My favorite was the one drenched in local honey. It was sticky but fingerlickin good. *Becca was not impressed when I licked my fingers*

#2

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Gazpacho

I really have enjoyed eating these gazpacho’s. They work excellent as a palate cleanser and they are just down right refreshing! This one had an exceptional texture because every element was in the shape of a sphere so when it was in your mouth, everything just rolled around on your tastebuds. Brilliant if you ask me!  Light, crunchy and tasty… a perfect way to prepare for the next course! Speaking of..

Here’s #3

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Mackerel Tartare

The presentation of this dish was spot on. I love crushed ice with the seaweed on the outside. Dressed in a seaweed and lemon dressing, the mackerel tartare was salty and acidic. It was a perfect dish to follow the fresh taste of the gazpacho that came previously.

#4

& the highlight of my night

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Bone Marrow // Mushroom // Egg

This dish was served on the bone with a slice of bread and a spoon. The real treat from this dish was realizing that you’re not just eating the elements laying on top of the bone. Scooping into the bone you find a buttery, salty surprise laying underneath all the other delicious elements. The bone marrow was meant to be hallowed out of the bone and eaten with the bread. I had a difficult time making “one perfect bite” since there were so many unique tastes and textures. I took my freshly baked sourdough bread in one hand, my spoon in the other and created what I thought was the perfect bite. The crunchiness from the bread counteracted the soft, creaminess of the marrow. And the small bites of beef, mushroom and egg brought the salty flavors home.

#5

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Half Lobster

This lobster was not your traditional lobster. This was like the twice baked potato of seafood. I am under the assumption that the chef cooked the lobster first with the shell on, then removed the meat from the shell, added some goodies and then put the meat mixture back into the shell and baked again. The reason I say this is because when I dug my fork in, there was no fighting with the shell at all. I really enjoyed this dish because with most other lobster preparations, I struggle to get all the meat off the shell and then I have to drench the meat in butter for it taste good. The preparations at the Kitchin definitely made eating lobster easier and more delicious.

#6

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Wagyu // Aberdeen Angus cross beef

There’s a lot to be said about Wagyu beef.. especially at a place like The Kitchin. It’s comforting to know the quality of the ingredients you are eating before it even hits your table. With The Kitchin’s philosophy of from nature to plate, I knew I was receiving the absolute best cut of meat possible. This dish had the beef prepared several different ways with the brisket portion taking up the majority of the plate. Accompanying the beef was a mixture of deliciously roasted carrots, mushrooms and herbs. The only thing that I didn’t eat from this plate was the stem of the carrot, which thinking now, it probably would have been perfectly acceptable to eat.

Some of these dishes may appear to have elements to them that are very strange. I get the question all the time “Reed, how do you eat all this crazy, weird food?” Well the answer is simple. The food really isn’t that weird at all.  As Americans, a normal or traditional meal includes a meat, vegetable and a starch presented on one plate with the occasional side salad. The reason why these dishes may appear to be weird is because we’re not used to food being prepared and presented like this. Most times these are normal ingredients just prepared in a different way. This is why I always like to encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and try new food.

Slideshow of deserts

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These desserts worked really well for me. I tend to prefer “fruity” desserts instead of “cakey”desserts. The reason being is that I normally am not a big dessert eater but I love all fruits (with the exception of the durian fruit… if you haven’t heard of it, go ahead and google that one.) These fruit oriented desserts left me feeling lighter by the end of the dinner. The elements of edible flowers were a nice touch and I really appreciated those carefully placed elements. All that being said, I thought these were great and complemented the dishes nicely.

All in all, The Kitchin was excellent. I really loved the philosophy “From nature to plate.” I appreciate when restaurants have high quality standards for their ingredients and take great pride in locally sourcing those ingredients. If you’re ever heading to Edinburgh, I highly recommend The Kitchin. Given the chance to come back again, I would love to go back to The Kitchin as well as try Kitchin’s sister restaurant, Castle Terrace Restaurant.

Unit Next Time… Stay hungry my friends.

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The Kitchin

Castle Terrace Restarant

London Calling

Last week, we explored and enjoyed London!

After our week in Ireland, we popped over to London for a few days. Neither of us had ever visited London, so we were excited to explore some iconic London landmarks and historical sites.

Not very familiar with London’s neighborhoods, we resorted to our Starwood hotel loyalty account to help us find a good hotel. We ended up at the Le Meridian Piccadilly. Again, not really knowing where we would end up, this turned out to be the perfect location! Right around the corner from Piccadilly Circus and walking distance to many major sites in London, including Buckingham Palace! Piccadilly Circus is quite a busy tourist area, similar to Times Square. We really tried to avoid the heart of it due to massive amounts of bright lights and tourists. However, just down the side streets off the main square, it almost instantly quiets down and the crowds thin out. These little side streets are lined with cafes, coffee shops and other small businesses. Our location was on the border of Piccadilly and Soho, so we really got a good taste of both.

Upon arrival to our hotel, we dropped our bags and headed out in search of lunch on some recommended streets in Soho. We stumbled upon Dishoom, a casual Indian restaurant with comfortable dining and a quaint courtyard where we dined. I haven’t really experienced a lot of Indian cuisine, but I must say, this place was amazing! Small plates, comfortable seating and friendly staff. There were also many other great restaurants and  cafes in this area, so we would definitely recommend Kingly Street and Carnaby Street for easy dining with lots of options.

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Dishoom in Soho

Our first full day in London, we set out to hit some of London’s most popular sites. We headed straight for Big Ben, the House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Since you cannot go inside Big Ben or House of Parliament, we just admired the two from the street level. Even from there, you can see the intricate detail and amazing architecture.

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Big Ben

We then turned to visit Westminster Abbey. We decided to skip the large group guided tour and opted for the self guided, headphone tour – such a good choice!  With about 20 stops and detailed, historic descriptions of the church, architecture, tombs and memorials on the tour, we were able to experience the church on our own and it was such an experience. I was so consumed with the architecture and beauty of the building itself, knowing its original purpose was to bring praise and glory to the Lord.  The time, devotion, money, design and continued restoration that the building contains just shows He is alive and deserves to forever be praised. We were there also for a time of prayer. The way the prayers echoed throughout the building gave me goosebumps, knowing He was present and He was being glorified.

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Westminster Abbey // Photography is not allowed inside, so I don’t have more photos. However, if you have never been before, do a quick Google image search of the Abbey to see more! 

 

 

Tuesday, we took the Tube to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. Same as Westminster Abbey, we were immediately awestruck at the size and beauty of the cathedral. Its intricate details and decor were equally amazing. We opted for the self guided headphone tour again and were not disappointed. Much like Westminster, St. Paul’s statues and memorials are beautiful. However, what I found more amazing and special about St. Paul’s was all of the detailed paintings and mosaics depicting Christ, Bible stories, the disciples and others on the ceilings and domes. Here, we were able to attend their Eucharist (Holy Communion) service.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral with the statue of Queen Anne in front

As most of you know by now, Reed is a pretty big “foodie” (and I’m happy to follow along on all his food explorations and adventures) and he follows lots of innovative and creative chefs and/or restaurants. When we decided to do this round the world trek, we knew we had to take advantage of our destinations and experience the culinary culture – from world renown chefs to pizza stands and street food – we want to experience it all! We had lots of requests asking Reed to do a food blog, so his first report is about The Clove Club. To read his first food blog, click here.

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Check out Reed’s review of The Clove Club here

Wednesday, we had big plans to explore Buckingham Palace and the exhibits currently open (The Royal Gallery, Royal Mews, The Queen’s wardrobe from the last 90 years, State Rooms in the Palace). However, we arrived to purchase our ticket, only to learn you are assigned a designated time for later in the day to tour the Palace state rooms and current exhibits. Sadly, we couldn’t come back at the later time, the only thing we could fit into our morning was the Royal Gallery. Not knowing a lot about art, Reed and I were initially bummed and only went to the gallery so our ticket wasn’t wasted. I am so glad we went! The Royal Gallery is always rotating exhibits, but the two exhibits available when we went were Maria Merian’s Butterflies and Scottish Artists from 1750-1900. The Butterflies exhibit was really nice, but what we loved was the Scottish Artists’ works. These paintings and drawings created a beautiful collection of commissioned family portraits, Scottish landscapes and drawings collected as mementos from vacations and other visits. No guided tours were currently available, so we happily took the headphone tour and it provided plenty of information regarding the artwork, artist and which royal acquired it. We enjoyed getting to observe the collections centuries of Royals have acquired.

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Scottish Artist exhibit // The Royal Gallery at Buckingham Palace

That afternoon, we got to the part of the week Reed was most excited about – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Reed and I both enjoy any kind of live performance – concerts, street artists, musicians – but our favorite is probably live plays and musicals. Reed also grew up reading the book series, so this was something we were both excited about. Although we both loved the show, its music, actors, and more, they ask everyone to #keepthesecret for those who have not read the latest book or seen the show.

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All in all, London was a great city! We both love New York City, but London might take over as our new favorite. From the history, royal family and traditions, beautiful churches, cathedrals and more,  London was so fun to discover!

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Gates at Buckingham
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Tower Bridge

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reed’s restaurant & food reviews

The Clove Club // London 9.7.16

We had the privilege to experience another sensational tasting menu provided by Isaac McHale and the team over at The Clove Club in London. Our reservation was at 19:00 so naturally, we left our hotel at 18:30 and got there about 15 minutes early so that we can enjoy a cocktail before our meal.  Walking into the dining room was a real experience. As you go through the door, you must walk through the kitchen in order to get to the seating area. The Clove Club has a capacity of 36 persons in their dining room so you can imagine, its pretty excellent being that close to the kitchen. After passing the kitchen (which was smack dab in the middle of the dining room), we were immediately greeted by our server. He asked us if we had any dietary requirements that they needed to be aware of, and continued into the plan for the evening. He told us that we had a couple options for how the evening can play out. The first thing he explained to us was that there was a supplemental course that we could add to our meal if we preferred. I’m not going to say what the course is yet, simply because I want to give you the experience as it came for us. After explaining the supplemental course, he asked us if we would like a wine pairing with our meal. Personally, I prefer doing this when doing a tasting menu. The reason being is that chefs have sommeliers for a reason and they’re the experts in their field, not me. Small disclaimer here… Keep in mind that the pairings are not full glasses. The wine pours are simply tastings to complement the dish as they are presented.

The Clove Club was a seven course tasting menu. If you don’t know what a tasting menu is, then let me explain. A tasting menu is a set list of dishes that the chef has hand selected to prepare based on availability of ingredients, what’s in season, the chefs specialty, etc. In addition to the seven courses, our server told us there was going to be some “snacks” at the beginning of our meal to get us started. The first one was brilliant and surprising.

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Melon Gazpacho

This was a melon gazpacho that really reminded me more of a shaved ice that tasted like Captain Crunch cereal. It was incredible! Not at all what you would expect to come as the first thing you put in your mouth at a restaurant.

The second “snack” was a crab tart. Soft, salty, and meant for one bite. It didn’t last long, but man was it good.

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Crab Tart

The third snack was all about presentation.

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken // Haggis Buns

The absolute best interpretation of fried chicken I’ve ever had!

The fourth snack was a baby sweet corn. When this was served to us, Becca and I were like um… how do we eat this? Needless to say we figured it out!

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Baby Corn

Our first course came after the baby corn. It was cornish mackerel served “sashimi style,” meaning it’s served raw. I hadn’t had mackerel sashimi but It was excellent. It was soft and salty and the presentation was beautiful.

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Cornish Mackerel

The second course was my second favorite of the night. Our waiter explained to us that since truffles aren’t in season right now in the UK, they had to import some from Australia. This was the second raw dish and I fell in love with the combination of the buttery scallop with the truffle. The mushroom added an element of firmness to the dish so that every bite wasn’t “mushy.”

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Scallop // Truffle // Mushroom

Our third dish was served in a bowl. Inside this bowl was a hot green soup with many different flavors. Basil, mint and parsley were the main flavors that stuck out to me as we enjoyed this dish. We asked our server what herbs were in this soup and he said he couldn’t say because there were so many. We laughed.

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Green Soup

After the soup we were presented with some made from scratch bread. This one wasn’t too exciting but was delicious and I probably ate too much of it!

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Bread & Butter

The monkfish was presented next. I’ve never had monkfish before this, and honestly I had to google what it was after I ate it. After looking at the picture I said to myself “Are you kidding me? I ate this?!” Absolutely the craziest looking fish, but works well on my dish, that’s for sure!

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Monkfish & What tasted like an empanada

Now to my favorite dish of the evening. When our server brought this dish he called it “Buckwheat pancake with succulent pig.” He recommended that we fold the edges over and eat it like a taco. I did exactly that. Usually it takes a lot for me to enjoy a pork dish, but this one was done to perfection. The top was crispy like the top of cream brûlée. The middle was lean but soft and perfectly cooked. No signs of pink within the protein which is what I look for in a pork dish. The pancake on the bottom was textured like a corn tortilla but didn’t fall apart and have that strong corn tortilla taste. It was grainy and held together perfectly throughout the entire handling of the dish. All together it was perfectly executed and stuck with me the entire evening.

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Buckwheat Pancake // Succulent Pig

The next course was fun because it was served solely from a wine glass. The sommelier came to our table with a bottle of wine that had been fermenting for over 100 years and a decanter with a mystery liquid. He poured us a small taste of the wine and said to have a taste but to leave a small drop at the bottom of the glass. After we took our sip he took the decanter and poured it in our wine glass. He explained that this was a duck confit and was meant to be sipped. We did exactly that. A dark salty broth exploding with flavor and balances the sweetness of the 108 year old wine.

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108 Year old Wine // Duck Confit

Our first main course was a British meat trio.

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British Meat Trio

Three styles of meat. Sirloin, sausage, brisket. All with different flavors and textures. A Carnivores dream.

Our second main course was the supplemental course that I mentioned earlier. Grouse. For those who aren’t aware what Grouse is, its essentially a large chicken with extremely elegant feathers. (You’ll notice from the picture of the dish what I am talking about.) If you haven’t seen one, I recommend looking them up.  This course came in two parts since each part of the bird had a different taste. It was incredible! The leg had a more “game-y” taste than the breast but it was really interesting that each piece had different flavor.

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United Kingdom Grouse

Now that our mains were done it was time to move into the desserts. Two desserts followed by petit fours. The champagne jello with fresh berries was an extremely creative way to have fruit in a dish without looking like a stock dessert with chunks of fruit slapped on a plate. It was beautiful and tasted amazing. The other desert was a mango sorbet covered with cream and a crunchy sugary top. I found myself scraping the bottom of the bowl on this one and regret nothing.

The last thing that came was two after dinner candies. The candies came with a little story which you can read for yourself below.  We were instructed to put it on our tongue and let it melt. Once the shell melted the candy exploded with flavors from the mint liquid inside. A fun way to end the experience.

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Final Words

Overall, The Clove Club was anything but a disappointment. It was fun, cheeky, casual and a really fun experience. Everything complemented each other. From the different elements on the plates to the wine pairings, everything was planned to perfection. I can’t wait to visit again.

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Ireland… Part 2

Hey friends!

We have wrapped up our week in Ireland. If you didn’t see my post on Connemara, go back and check it out here before reading about the rest of our trip!

After leaving Connemara, we decided to head South. As I said in my Connemara post, we are driving ourselves all around the country, so we have the freedom to stop anywhere or change our itinerary if we choose to do so. On our way to stay at Gregan’s Castle, we stopped in Oughterard for lunch at Power’s Pub where we all had delicious traditional Irish dishes.

Leaving the small village, we stumbled upon Aughnanure Castle. Taking the tour, we learned how these castles were not always for glitz and glamour. Owned by local chieftains and their families, these Gaelic era estates were built with a strong emphasis on protection and defense from outside attacks. Although a seemingly basic rectangular structure, every detail of the castle, from the roofline to the front door and the stairs to the trap doors, was designed to protect from or get rid of unwanted guests. Each floor is more or less one open room, so living was in close quarters with everyone – family and servants alike. This particular castle was built by the O’Flaherty clan around 1300, but there are hundreds of similar castles throughout the country that reflect the Gaelic time period and a family’s need for protection.

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Entrance to Aughnanure Castle

The same afternoon, we made our way to Gregan’s Castle for a quick overnight stay. This quaint, but lovely house is situated in the countryside near Ballyvaughan. Each room is unique and has its own personal style. From the drawing room to the dining rooms and garden, you feel like you’ve just been invited to someone’s personal country home for the weekend.(Also rumored J.R.R Tolkein stayed here!)  Our favorite part of our stay was the amazing dinner served in their dining room. Their award-winning dining room served us an amazing 3 courses with several accompanying “snacks” from the chef, served throughout the meal. Amazing service and we definitely hope to return someday!

Gregan’s Castle

On our way to our next stop, Killarney, we visited the Cliffs of Moher. These cliffs are quite popular for movie scenes, but I think they are even more popular for their sheer size and striking beauty. Being on the coast, it was wildly windy. Paying a small fee to enter the national park, we hiked up the path to the edge of the cliff to view the sheer drop offs, caves and crashing waves below.

Cliffs of Moher

On the national park side (owned by the government), there are barriers and safety guidelines to keep you away from the edge. However, part of the cliffs are privately owned and the owners graciously allow visitors to explore the cliffs on their property. On the private property, there are recommended barriers, but one can easily walk closer to the edge to experience the magnitude of the cliffs. Being the adrenaline junkies we are, of course we jumped the barrier with everyone else to experience the cliffs in all their majesty. These cliffs were amazing and left us awe-struck. I truly felt they reflected the Lord’s divine design as they displayed such power and beauty.

Upon arrival in Killarney, we checked into the Lake Hotel, originally built in 1820 and family owned since the 1940s. This historic hotel sits on Lough Leane and adjacent to Killarney National Park (Ireland’s first national park). We explored Killarney National Park a few different ways. We hiked up to Torc Waterfall on Torc Mountain. Stunning waterfall and gorgeous, green hike. We also explored the Muckross Estate, including the house and abbey. The original estate was over 11,000 acres and used for hunting and fishing. After exchanging hands a few times, the estate was eventually gifted to the government for preservation and history to be accessible by all. We took a guided tour via horse-drawn carriage. Sadly, I did not take many pictures of the house. We then toured the old Muckross Abbey. Although the abbey was originally not kept up as much as the house and most has fallen away, the old monastery still holds so much reverence and you could feel the Lord being honored in the past and present throughout the building.

Torc Waterfall
Our carriage ride with “Paddy”
Muckross Castle
Muckross Abbey
Muckross Abbey

The next day, we drove through the Ring of Kerry. I must admit, at this point, we were so tired of driving, however, this drive was so gorgeous and the views of the countryside were absolutely incredible. We stopped at Ladies’ View, before heading to Blarney Castle to hang upside down to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone! Legend says if you kiss The Blarney Stone (while hanging upside down off a ledge), you are to receive the gift of eloquence. Blarney also included a gorgeous house and intricate gardens on the grounds. We spent an evening in Cork, although we didn’t get to enjoy the city very much due to needing to get to Dublin the next morning.

At the top of Blarney Castle
Blarney House
Lane and Rusty in front of Blarney Castle

Overall, I had no idea what to expect from Ireland, so my expectations were pretty low. However, I was so pleasantly surprised at the food, hospitality, landscape and history of the country. We quickly fell in love with the country! We also quickly learned Ireland takes pride in sourcing as much, if not all, of their ingredients from their own land or waters, so every meal was incredibly fresh and in very generous servings. We can’t think of one meal we didn’t love! You can find my restaurant recommendations at the bottom. Ireland was incredible and I loved experiencing their culture, food and people!

Next stop, London!

So thankful for Lane and Rusty who have invited us on many travels with them. So special to celebrate Lane’s birthday in such a beautiful country!

Restaurant recommendations: Powers Pub in Oughterard; Guy’s Bar in Clifden; Maxwell’s in Galway; Blackberry restaurant in Leenane; Killarney: Castlelough at Lake Hotel, Bricin’s, The Laurels; Cork: Market Lane; Dublin: Gallagher’s Boxty, Rustic Stone 

First stop… Connemara, Ireland! 

We made it across the Pond! 

For our round the world trek, our first stop is Ireland! I will admit, this trip was already planned. My sister, Lane, and her husband had decided to travel to Ireland for her birthday and they invited us to come along, so we decided this was a great starting point for our big trip! 
We are exploring most of the country, so I assumed I would just do one post about our whole week, but we have just completed our first stop and, after that, I realized I probably will not be able to fit all of Ireland in one post! 

Our first stop in Ireland was in the region of Connemara. Set in a gorgeous valley, the Delphi Lodge was originally built in the 1820s as a fishing lodge. Restored in the 1990s, it is now an adorable fishing lodge nestled right near Fin Loch (Lake Fin).  

Delphi Lodge

Upon arrival, we were ushered into tea time. With fantastic weather, we had tea and coffee outside facing the lake. That evening, we went into the small village of Leelane to dine at Blackberry Restaurant. Leelane is a quaint village with just two streets of cafes, pubs and shops. 

The main street in Leenane

The following day, we traveled to Clifden. I should preface, while we have several places we would like to see and experience, we all agreed we’d rather not have an agenda so we could feel free to stop wherever we decided. Driving towards Clifden, we stumbled upon a castle and decided to stop. We found ourselves at Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore was originally built in the 1870s by Mitchell Henry as a private home and gift for his wife. On the property, he later built a private church and mausoleum in her memory after her passing. 

Kylemore Abbey

The church was eventually sold to Belgian nuns who were fleeing World War I. The nuns turned the estate into an Abbey and eventually a boarding school. The property has since been restored and now serves as a monument and museum. We spent the rest of the day driving to and around Clifden exploring shops, cafes, churches and other castles. 

Often called “cathedral in miniature” due to its ornate beauty and attention to detail, despite its petite size

Upon our return, we had a communal dinner at Delphi Lodge’s long dining table with all the other guests. Most of the Lodge’s common areas are designed to facilitate conversation and interaction with other guests. Unfortunately, we didn’t really take any pictures at this dinner. 

On our last morning, Reed and I went fishing on Fin Loch (Fin Lake), which was right off our front lawn. Tom, our fishing guide, taught us the traditional fishing method of “dapping.” Dapping is a combination of fly fishing and top water fishing where a very small bait is designed to look like a fly, floating on the surface of the water and “flying” up every so often. The trout will either snatch the bait from the surface of the water or jump completely out of the water, trying to catch it as it flies. Although we did not catch any fish, we had many fish attempt to get the bait, jumping completely out of the water. We really enjoyed our first “dapping” experience and Reed is hoping to try it again very soon. 

Overall, our time in Connemara was so great and we hope to return soon!  View of front lawn and lake from our room

View from our run around the lake

See you on the flip side… Of the world! 

Hi friends and family!

We are excited to announce we are heading out for a round the world trip! Something we have been dreaming about, but never thought possible, is become a reality!

It all began with a love for traveling together. Since we got married, we have known we just love traveling, especially when together. Traveling together has taken us to places I would never dream of, and not just geographically. We have expanded our palettes, learned so much about ourselves and God’s creation that we live in, and even been challenged and grown in our marriage.

Our “travel bug” has also been inspired by following friends we know and other travelers on social media. The Bucket List FamilyAbbi and Callen Hearne, and Bugs on My Face are just a few who we love to follow and live vicariously through their travels and experiences. Their zest for life and all the adventure that’s out there played a huge role in inspiring us to take such a leap. We have had the blessing to travel previously but we are now ready to take on another adventure!

We sat down with a big map, a calendar, a bunch of sticky notes and a huge bucket list. After making itineraries, adjusting, canceling, rebooking, and planning, we finally nailed down a (loose) itinerary! Starting August 27, we will be heading out for our 4 month tour around the globe. We will be exploring Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia!


When we sat down to begin planning, we asked ourselves what our goal was? What was the purpose? What did we expect from this? After talking about the elements we are the most excited about, we decided our goal for this trip is to experience God’s creation throughout the Earth and creativity He has given people through art, food, music and architecture, celebrating His glory!

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen!” Romans 11:36

We’ve received such an amazing outpouring of love, fellowship, (future) birthday celebrations, support, and prayer over us, but also questions of how friends and family can follow our travels and adventures. That being said, Lamberts on the Loose is launching as a travel and lifestyle blog so others can follow along! I do not claim to be a fabulous writer or professional photographer, but I think this will be a fun way to document and share our travels. We hope you’ll join us along the way!

Much love,

The Lamberts

Follow us on Instagram (@lambertsontheloose) and SnapChat (@beccalambert2 and @reed_lambert)

Alinea

Last weekend, we traveled Chicago, Illinois, to experience the culinary genius and creativity from Chef Grant Achtaz. Invited by some friends who had a reservation, we were so excited to get to experience Achtaz’s surprising culinary style at Alinea.

We had first discovered Alinea through a documentary series. Over the summer, we were hooked on the Nexflix series “Chef’s Table.”  The series interviews and exposes some of the world’s greatest chefs. Most, like Alinea, are Michelin rated, but the documentary series focuses on their background, culinary history and their culinary specialties that keep their reservations booked out for months.

Alinea was featured in the series for many reasons, but if I were to guess, Alinea and Chef Grant Achtaz were featured because of his culinary mission to surprise your senses and allow you to experience and enjoy food in a way you never have before. Our experience at Alinea pushed our senses to a whole new level, encouraging us to indulge in food with more than our tastebuds.

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Chef Grant Achtaz

After their recent complete remodel of the restaruant and menu, we had no clue what to expect going into the evening. Walking into the restaruant, we were seated at a communal table with 16 guests. The first course consisted of 5 small glass containers filled with black tuffle pudding, crab, an herb mix with pickled onions, caviar, and an egg pudding. We were served brioche toast and instructed to “Have fun!” This restaruant being award 3 Michelin stars, I was pleasantly surpised at the very precise, but also relaxed attitude of the meal.

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We were then escorted into the kitchen for a cocktail and bite, giving us an intimate and exposed view of the kitchen, staff and prepartions that go into every dish. Back in the dining room, the room had been transformed to have multiple tables and we were seated with our party. The menu had been revealed, but wanting to keep the element of surprise, few words were used to describe the upcoming courses. I won’t go through all the courses, but I will do my best to elaborate on Alinea’s fun and mind bending dining experience.

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Wanting to keep the element of surprise, the menu is very vague, using only one or two words to describe each course.

Trying to decipher the menu was like trying to decode a treasure map in an unknown language – near impossible – so we resigned to the anticipation and surprise of each course. The “Crunch Paper” course was a surprising twist on sea scallops. Dehydrated sheets of sea scallop were served in a bowl, a sweet corn broth was poured over it while we were provided with chopsticks to use. Served alongside was a sea scallop cannoli. “Yellow” was a sweet potato and yellow curry served in your hand. In “Cloche Bone,” my favorite element was a Wagyu beef rice crispy treat. Yes, steak on a rice crispy. I was expecting to really dislike it, but I was so pleasanly surprised at the flavors contrasting and complimenting each other, all at the same time.

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Multi-sensory courses are a fundamental belief in their dining experience.

The most interesting course was the combining of “Contrast,” “Sparrow-Glass,” and “Swirl.”(Pictured above) Not only were the flavors and ingredients so full of flavor and intrigue, but the ingredients were in fabulously, unique form and presentation. However, the center piece quickly became an active participant in our meal. A teapot poured into our centerpiece, which seemed to be an innocent bowl of fruit, soon began overflowing with the most fragrant smoke as we ate. Light and fresh, it added an extra essence to each bite.

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Dessert consisted of two courses. The first was an edible balloon filled with helium! A little sticky, but the treat left you with a silly, high pitched voice. However, the finale was our favorite! Removing pieces of art from the ceiling, a plexiglass “canvas” was placed on each table. Lights were dimmed and the show began… A series of chefs came by each table sprinkling, tossing and painting the ingredients all over. When the lights came on, it revealed a whole new piece of art on top of the art removed from the ceiling. As a communal dessert, we scooped and scraped up all we could from the dish!

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Although Alinea has earned 3 (well deserved) Michelin stars, their prestige and precision does not overshadow or interfere with their desire for guests’ interaction, sense of wonderment, and enjoyment. Due to its popularity and high ratings, I went in expecting an uptight atmosphere and strict dining experience, but I left feeling laid back and shared several laughs with the sommelier and other staff. I know there are many with more credability who have dined at and reviewed Alinea, but it was truly an experience! We loved the sense of anticipation and excitement of the meal. We will definitely be returning to experience what else Achtaz and his team dream up and create!